January 13, 2012
In 1978, the Supreme Court ruled in FCC v. Pacifica that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had the power to police public broadcast radio and television programming during times when children typically watch and listen to radio and television (6:00 AM and 10:00 PM). This week, the Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments over whether the FCC should still have a role in regulating the public airwaves or whether its indecency regulations violate guarantees of free speech. Broadcasters say the FCC policy is unconstitutionally vague and violates free-speech rights. Specifically, Fox Television Stations is requesting the Supreme Court to abandon a rule that allows more government regulation of broadcast, compared with cable, because of the scarcity of the airwaves and the pervasiveness of broadcast TV and radio. Proponents of the regulation, however, argue that broadcasters utilize public airwaves that the government is entitled to regulate in order to prevent the proliferation of indecency during traditional family viewing hours.
Question of the Week: Should the FCC continue to monitor public broadcast airwaves to prevent indecency during family viewing hours?
( ) Yes, the FCC should continue to monitor public broadcast radio and TV content.
( ) No, the FCC should cease policing public broadcast programming.
( ) I am unsure.
( ) Other (leave your comments below)
Take the poll here.
Find the results of last week's instaPoll here.
June 24, 2011
Imagine if the federal government could ask the “what if” questions about a wide variety of national disasters from natural to manmade. Imagine a crisis that could be solved in hours or days, rather than months, or, better yet, prevent it altogether. Imagine a virtual command center where hundreds of ideas from across the nation could be simulated, rated for effectiveness, and placed into effect across all federal agencies within a matter of moments. Imagine if our nation had had the opportunity to train and prepare for disasters like Hurricane Katrina and the Gulf Oil Spill before they even happened.
This week, the 6th Annual Congressional Modeling and Simulation Expo showcased ways in which that can be done through the use of modeling and simulation technology. In today’s high-tech society and with the increasing potential of global threats, the federal government must be prepared for national emergencies, and M&S is uniquely positioned to provide practice for responding quickly and effectively to disasters like Hurricane Katrina and the Gulf Oil Spill.
Read more about the Congressional Modeling and Simulation Caucus, which I founded and chair, here.
Here are some photos of the event.
May 27, 2011
Recent news reports are now suggesting that energy-hungry China is ‘cranking up the heat’ in its efforts to reach nuclear fusion, a scientific achievement that has long eluded the United States.
China has previously been involved in a collaborative $21 billion effort toward developing a viable nuclear fusion program with the multinational International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) program, which involves hundreds of scientists from China, the European Union, Japan, India, Korea, Russia and the United States. However, a recent report reveals that Beijing is planning to train 2,000 more of its own experts to independently pursue research and development into magnetic confinement fusion, which would use magnetic fields to produce the high-pressure conditions necessary for fusion.
Read the Wall Street Journal article below to learn more about the significance of China’s decision to pursue its own research of fusion technologies, or click here.
May 26, 2011, 7:49 PM HKT
China Cranks Up Heat on Nuclear Fusion
Is China’s latest technological drive going to end up producing yet another Sputnik moment for the U.S.?
That has to be one question on the minds of scientists, researchers and politicians in the U.S. as China unveils its latest attempt to reach for one of science’s brass rings: viable nuclear fusion technology.
According to a report in the state-run China Daily, the central government is planning to train 2,000 experts to pursue research and development into magnetic confinement fusion, which seeks to use magnetic fields to create the high-pressure conditions necessary for fusion.
A number of research institutes and private companies around the world are racing to perfect magnetic confinement.
China is already a signatory and participant in the France-based International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project, that is perhaps the largest project pursuing magnetic approach. Arguably one of the most world’s ambitious multinational scientific undertakings, the project has a price tag of at least $21 billion and involves hundreds of scientists from China, the European Union, Japan, India Korea, Russia and the United States.
One concern among Chinese scientists is that the nation is not getting enough value out of its investment the ITER project. “China is trying to dispatch more qualified scientists to work on” the project, Cao Jianlin, vice-minister of science and technology, told China Daily.
Right now China provides 10% of the funding for the project, but supplies only 5% of the scientists, which means the country is missing out on valuable training for its would-be fusion experts.
Chinese engineers and scientists are currently responsible for building components such as heating, diagnostic and remote maintenance equipment for the project, as well as transporting it to Cadarache in the south of France, where the ITER reactor will be built.
Another researcher quoted by the China Daily thinks it’s not nearly enough and complained about the lack of exposure Chinese scientists are getting to the new technologies that could reshape the energy market.
“The ITER is related to 34 core scientific engineering technologies and management subjects,” Wan Yuanxi, dean of the school of nuclear science and technology under the University of Science and Technology of China, said. “Chinese researchers only work on 11 of them, which means we have no involvement in more than 60 percent of its core scientific engineering technologies and management subjects.”
In addition to its international efforts, China is also pursuing its own research into fusion technologies in research around the country, including at a laboratory in Chengdu.
An April guideline issued jointly by China’s Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Education, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the China National Nuclear Corp. recommends the government subsidize at least 200 researchers who intend to pursue doctorates in magnetic controlled fusion.
Currently there are 1,254 researchers have been involved with magnetic controlled fusion-related projects in China, according to the China Daily report.
Not to be outdone, the U.S. has spent billions of dollars on fusion research, in addition to the work it is doing to promote ITER projects domestically and on the main project in France, although funding for the European project has been a political football in the past. Like China, the US is responsible for around 9% of the ITER project’s total costs, with the EU has taking on the bulk of financing.
Indeed, institutions globally are all racing to find some way to commercialize technology that seems almost too good to be true – providing cheap, nearly unlimited power with no harmful emissions.
It’s a quest that has created some strange bedfellows. In the U.S., supporters of fusion technology range from the original “Penthouse” magazine publisher Bob Guccione to some of the nation’s premiere technology investment firms.
March 08, 2011
Last week during a hearing in the House Armed Services Committee, I asked Secretary of the Army John McHugh how important modeling and simulation is to the Army and what kind of future he sees for this technology.
Secretary McHugh responded by saying that modeling and simulation is absolutely essential. He went on to say that modeling and simulation offers some of the best ways we can ensure our soldiers are acclimated and prepared for what they see in theater, and he said the technology is becoming increasingly important to our military.
You can watch our exchange in this video:
Secretary McHugh's comments are critical. Modeling and simulation technology is so important to our United States military as we face both the realities of significant budget constraints and twenty-first century warfare.
As the founder and chairman of the Congressional Modeling and Simulation Caucus, I have championed the use of this technology in our military. I’ve also joined with other Members of Congress to look at ways to take modeling and simulation beyond the battlefield by increasing collaboration around this technology as a tool to better respond to national catastrophes, both natural and man-made.
You can read more about modeling and simulation here.
January 14, 2011
"It's an area with no rules, there are no boundaries, it happens with the speed of light," the military's top officer Admiral Mike Mullen said at the Washington Foreign Press Center.
He was referring to cyberspace, an area that is considered a “lawless terrain.”
Admiral Mullen went on to warn that the threat of a cyber attack on the U.S. is substantial, and that it could have a devastating impact on our nation.
Many individuals do not realize the extent to which cyberattacks could impact us as a nation. The U.S. is more dependent on our computer systems than any other country – from military readiness to transportation and energy grids to banking systems to national security operations to civilian infrastructure. An infiltration of any of these systems could sabotage power plants or financial markets with an online attack, stop transportation systems with a hacking of communication systems, or result in billions of dollars in annual losses to businesses around the globe.
I have long said that it is not enough to simply promise to deter and protect our national systems; we need to have a whole-of-government and state-of-the art strategic cyberdefense plan. I have requested hearings on cybersecurity plans, and intend to do the same in the 112th Congress so we can begin moving towards a solution.
I am also a member of the House Cybersecurity Caucus, whose purpose is to actively create dialogue among members of Congress to identify challenges and make recommendations on cybersecurity.
Weigh in on this issue: Do you believe the U.S. is prepared for a cyber attack? Do you think enhancing the state of cyber security in the U.S. should be a priority?
December 07, 2010
I wanted to make sure you saw this must-read article in today’s Wall Street Journal on why cybersecurity should be one of our prime strategic objectives:
How to Fight and Win the Cyberwar
By MORTIMER ZUCKERMAN
Several years ago, during the presidency of George W. Bush, many banks and Wall Street firms were knocked offline. The financial industry, which had long been considered to have the best safeguards against cyberinfections in the private sector, discovered its computers had been penetrated by a worm, so-called because a virus grown on one computer can worm its way to millions of others. Mr. Bush asked then Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson to examine what it would take to protect our critical infrastructures. The upshot was that steps were taken to strengthen the security of the military networks, but little else was done.
The major shock about the mischievous WikiLeaks—even more than the individual headline items—is that it dramatizes how vulnerable we still are. Digitization has made it easier than ever to penetrate messages and download vast volumes of information. Our information systems have become the most aggressively targeted in the world. Each year, attacks increase in severity, frequency, and sophistication. On July 4, 2009, for instance there was an assault on U.S. government sites—including the White House—as well as the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq. There were similar attacks that month on websites in South Korea. In 2008, our classified networks, which we thought were inviolable, were penetrated. Three young hackers managed to steal 170 million credit-card numbers before the ringleader was arrested in 2008.
The Internet was originally intended for thousands of researchers, not billions of users who did not know and trust one another. The designers placed a higher priority on decentralization than on security. They never dreamed the Internet could be used for commercial purposes or that it would eventually control critical systems and undergird the world of finance. So it is not surprising that the Internet creators were comfortable with a network of networks rather than separate networks for government, finance and other sectors.
A symbol to many of the open communication of American culture, the Internet has thus evolved into a two-edged sword. Our extensive systems facilitate control of pipelines, airlines and railroads; they energize commerce and private banking. They give us rapid access to medical and criminal records. But they also offer a growing target for terrorists and thieves.
Most people who experience "malware" have been victims of so-called phishing, whereby criminals pretending to be bank employees, for example, trick the gullible into revealing account numbers and passwords. But cyberwarriors can do damage on a much larger scale, as former White House counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke points out in his revealing book "CyberWar," published earlier this year. They can tap into these networks and move money, spill oil, vent gas, blow up generators, derail trains, crash airplanes, cause missiles to detonate, and wipe out reams of financial and supply-chain data. Havoc can be created at the blink of an eye from remote locations overseas. Criminal groups, nation-states, terrorists and military organizations are at work exfiltrating vast amounts of data from the U.S. public and private sectors.
August 30, 2010
I want to share with you this article by David Prentice from the Family Research Council on the recent U.S. District Court injunction that stops federal taxpayer funding of unethical human embryonic stem cell research. In his article, he highlights the importance of noncontroversial adult stem cell research. As you may know, I have introduced a bill - the Patients First Act - which would prioritize federal government funding for ethical stem cell projects that have the greatest chance for near-term benefit for patients.
Opinion: A Stem Cell Victory for Patients
By David Prentice
(Aug. 25) -- The U.S. District Court injunction that stops federal taxpayer funding of human embryonic stem cell research should make patients happy.
The judge ruled that federal funding for embryonic stem cell research violates a current law, passed annually since the Clinton administration, prohibiting government funding for research that involves the destruction of human embryos.
He added that there is a limited amount of federal funding for stem cells, and funding embryonic stem cells competes with adult stem cells. But only adult stem cells are treating people. The good news is that this ruling should free up more funding for adult stem cell research -- which is legal, uncontroversial and already helping treat thousands of patients.
Here are just a few examples of the published scientific successes of adult stem cells:
Italian doctors used patients' own adult stem cells to grow new corneal tissue to restore sight to people blinded by chemical burns, including one patient who had been blind for 50 years.
German doctors reported in June the results of a five-year study on patients with chronic heart failure. The 191 patients treated with their own bone marrow adult stem cells showed significant improvement in heart function, with decreased death and no side effects.
Another recent Italian success involved growing new windpipes for cancer patients. Doctors used cadaver windpipes stripped of their cells, bathed the cartilage with the patients' bone marrow stem cells and then transplanted the reconstructed windpipes. The two young women were released from the hospital just weeks after their surgery, and are now in good condition.
In August, University of Minnesota scientists transplanted donor adult stem cells into children with a fatal genetic skin disease and repaired the damage. The scientists said regarding adult stem cell treatments, "Patients who otherwise would have died from their disease can often now be cured. It's a serious treatment for a serious disease."
For sickle cell disease, published medical papers note that donor adult stem cells are the "only curative therapy." Other patients have had hip repairs using their own adult stem cells, and nonhealing bone fractures have been healed. Published medical papers in journals such as the Journal of the American Medical Association and The Lancet document improvements in patients treated with adult stem cells for juvenile diabetes and multiple sclerosis.
It is adult stem cells that are treating people now, people like Laura Dominguez. A quadriplegic after a car accident, Laura was treated for spinal-cord injury with her own nasal adult stem cells, and she has regained movement and sensation in her lower body. Laura continues to work hard at her physical therapy, bluntly stating, "I'm going to walk again." You can see Laura's story and others at Stem Cell Research Facts.
Noncontroversial adult stem cells from bone marrow, umbilical cord blood and other tissues are treating thousands of patients around the globe, with an estimated 50,000 adult stem cell transplants occurring annually worldwide. For some diseases, adult stem cell transplants have become the "standard of care," meaning the treatments are so effective that they are a doctor's best choice for sick patients.
Embryonic stem cells, in contrast, are ethically controversial since obtaining them requires the destruction of human embryos. However, millions in funding has led to no patient treatments. Adult stem cells in contrast are contained throughout the body, raising no ethical concerns.
The federal government has funded much research on adult stem cells, often for bone marrow transplants. But it can do more. Bipartisan legislation called the Patients First Act (H.R. 877), sponsored by Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., and Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., would prioritize federal government funding for stem cell projects that have the greatest chance for near-term benefit for patients, based on the scientific and clinical evidence.
Shouldn't we put patient treatments first? After all, it's not just tax dollars that are wasted on poor science; real lives have been lost.
David Prentice is senior fellow for the Center for Human Life and Bioethics at the Family Research Council.
July 22, 2010
HamptonRoads.com: Researchers: Va. ready to lead in wind power
Virginia and other mid-Atlantic states are positioned to lead an effort to establish an offshore wind technology demonstration program and test center, researchers argue in a new analysis to the federal government.
Baptist Press: Study: Adult stem cells successful in restoring sight
Adult stem cells have restored sight to more than three-fourths of patients blinded by chemical burns to their eyes, according to a new research study.
Newsweek: The Creativity Crisis
For the first time, research shows that American creativity is declining. What went wrong—and how we can fix it.
Richmond Times-Dispatch: Young women encouraged at math and science program
The annual five-week math, science and technology program on the campus of the University of Richmond featured 10 guest speakers, all on hand to share with the girls in the program -- about two-thirds of 150 participants this year are girls -- stories of success through hard work and perseverance.
CNN: Where are all the science majors?
In a move to measure its workforce not too long ago, Nationwide Insurance surveyed its 36,000 employees at the time. Its CEO was in for a shock. The single largest employment category had nothing to do with insurance and was instead "technology." The story is told by Brian Fitzgerald, executive director of the Business-Higher Education Forum (BHEF), to dramatize the transformation of the U.S. workforce.
Computer World: Russian spy ring needed some serious IT help
The Russian ring charged this week with spying on the United States faced some of the common security problems that plague many companies -- misconfigured wireless networks, users writing passwords on slips of paper and laptop help desk issues that take months to resolve.
June 23, 2010
In 2008, the Virginia modeling and simulation industry was responsible for employing 11,500 private sector employees and produced a direct economic output of $1.6 billion. Not only is the M&S industry vital to Virginia’s economic success, but it is also a key player in helping America to stay competitive in a rapidly changing, high-tech world.
Stay connected with my work as Chairman of the Congressional M&S Caucus by signing up for my weekly newsletter or following me on Facebook or Twitter.
April 09, 2010
What is human space exploration worth to our nation? A prominent astrophysicist addresses that very question in this video in light of the Administration’s proposed NASA budget, which would essentially abandon U.S. spaceflight.
“What does the [proposed White House] program allow? It says we’re not going to the Moon anymore. Maybe we’ll go to Mars one day… I don’t know when… Without a plan to go somewhere outside of low earth orbit, we’ve got no force on the educational pipeline of America. NASA as best as I can judge is a force of nature like none other.” - Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Take a few minutes to watch what Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson says in this YouTube video about the importance of investing in human space exploration for the future of our nation.
It’s not optional, it’s Constitutional
Question of the week: Do you believe that reducing the carrier fleet will leave the United States less capable of meeting national security needs?
Less power for the IRS
Patients vs. politics
Question of the week: Do you believe that preserving open space is a permissible use of eminent domain?
New Opportunity for High School Students: Congressional STEM Competition