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January 17 2015

January 19, 2015

17 January 2015

Newswire

A blog at https://newswirefeed.wordpress.com/

 

Air Force losing more drone pilots than it trains

By Jeff Schogol, Staff Writer 3:28 p.m. EST January 9, 2015

http://www.airforcetimes.com/story/military/careers/2015/01/09/air-force-losing-drone-pilots/21503301/

 

The Air Force expects to lose more remotely piloted aircraft pilots to attrition than it trains this fiscal year, Air Combat Command spokesman Benjamin Newell said Friday.

The active-duty Air Force already has a shortfall of RPA pilots, in part because more RPA pilots are joining Air National Guard units, an Air Combat Command official told reporters Thursday.

On Friday, Newell told reporters that the loss of active-duty RPA pilots to the Air National Guard is not the main reason why the Air Force projects that it will train fewer RPA pilots than it loses in fiscal 2015.

“We are losing them through a combination of factors,” Newell said in an email to Air Force Times and other media outlets. He did not elaborate what those factors are.

“Factors leading to a decrease in the number of pilots available to fulfill surge level mission requirements are manifold, but we’re in the planning and coordination stage at the moment,” Newell said in a follow-up email to Air Force Times. “We’re not able to discuss specific measures, because we don’t yet know which ones we’ll use.”

The head of Air Combat Command recently wrote a memo to Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh explaining the RPA community was coming under increasing stress to fly all of the combat air patrols being asked of pilots, as first reported by The Daily Beast.

“We are above our program of record,” Col. Ray Alves, of Air Combat Command, told reporters Thursday. “We’re actually at surge capacity right now – and surge, by definition, we cannot maintain forever. So we need to start looking at … how do we ensure that the enterprise is correctly manned to continue to meet the levels of demand that the combatant commanders are putting upon us.”

 

Defense Industry Running out of Time; Mergers Loom

http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/policy-budget/industry/2015/01/09/defense-industry-mergers/21495523/

By Paul McLeary 11:30 a.m. EST January 9, 2015

 

NEW YORK — For the past several years, defense watchers in Washington have been anxiously awaiting an expected surge in merger and acquisition (M&A) activity among the big prime defense contractors as the Pentagon budget tightened.

But that hasn’t happened to the level that many analysts expected.

Other than the April announcement of an agreement between Orbital Sciences and Alliant Techsystems to combine their businesses into a $4.5 billion, 13,000-person space, defense and aviation developer and manufacturer, most of the primes have instead been filling niche needs and spinning off smaller business segments.

Some Wall Street analysts have said that the fiscal 2016 budget will represent the seventh year of the current downturn in defense spending, which has been coupled with the disruption of the budget cuts and the congressionally mandated sequester cuts, which kick in if the Pentagon doesn’t stick to its budget caps.

“In the absence of clarity of where the Pentagon exactly wants to go going forward, the grand strategy [for defense contractors] is a simple one” said Pierre Chao, managing partner at Renaissance Strategic Advisors, on Jan. 7.

The primes have adopted what he descried as “a holding strategy, to make sure I can generate enough returns to the street in the forms of dividends and share buybacks until I can get that clarity, develop a strategy and move forward,” he said at a conference hosted by Bank of America here.

So far that strategy has worked, as the primes have consistently posted record profits in their quarterly and yearly reports, a fact that has struck many as being incongruous with the pleas of budgetary disaster coming from the Pentagon.

That disconnect, said Todd Harrison, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, has come about because industry saw the budget cuts and dearth of new start development programs coming, “and did what it needed to do to prepare. Cutting people, closing facilities, and getting more efficient … industry is reaping the benefits now.”

But the share buybacks and cost-cutting measures that the defense industry has used to return value to its shareholders can’t last forever. “It’s a somewhat temporary benefit,” Harrison warned, because “you can only get more efficient and downsize to a certain point until it starts to hurt you.”

Chao echoed the point, telling the audience of analysts and investors that the strategy has worked — but time may be running out.

Prime contractors’ efforts to lay off staff, close facilities and conduct share buybacks has “been rewarded, it’s been holding in place,” he said. “There’s enough cash and capital in place, there’s enough running room in terms of leverage … for that to last another 12 months, maybe 14, 15 months. We’re certainly in the latter innings rather than in the beginning. The success of that strategy is sowing the seeds of its own destruction — obviously the higher they push up the multiples, the less return on investment capital that share buyback scheme generates at some point.”

All of the schemes undertaken by the defense industry to increase shareholder value has been a positive force for the industry’s shareholders overall, said Frank Finelli, a managing director of the Carlyle Group.

“They’re doing a very effective job in running their companies,” he said. Still, with the budget uncertainty in Washington “it’s going to be hard to get things done.”

Jeffrey Bialos, a partner with Sutherland, Asbill & Brennan, added that he thinks the defense industry will try to sustain the buyback and efficacy efforts as long as they can “before they start mergers.”

And once those mergers begin, he expects them to be “more in dual use and aerospace but not so much in strictly defense,” since the market has become so interdependent.

Renaissance Strategic Advisors’ Chao added that he sees 2015 as a year when the primes start moving on the M&A front. In 2014, he said there was about “$13 billion worth of transactions that got that close, but somebody blinked at the last minute.”

“If the companies in ’13 were frozen by sequestration and weren’t moving, the mood last year was the beginning of ‘I can’t afford to be frozen, I need to start doing something or at least start thinking about it,” he added.

It’s assumed that fiscal 2016 will be the low point for the defense budget’s topline, The cap instituted under the 2011 Budget Control Act is slated to begin moving up in 2017 from $499 billion to $512 billion.

There is little expectation that Congress will lift the Budget Control Act’s spending caps, although the White House has said that it will continue to ignore the caps in its yearly requests. Sources have told Defense News that the ’16 budget request slated to be released on Feb. 2 should blow by the $499 bill budget cap by about $35 billion, which doesn’t take into account the yearly supplemental wartime funding request, which it has been reported will be $51 billion in ’16.

“There’s enough money in the system overall to fund competitive solutions … the issue is how you allocate those funds in a constrained environment,” said Bialos, a former deputy undersecretary of defense for Industrial Affairs in the Clinton administration.

Despite budget caps and the sequester, “there’s enough money for us to do what we need to do and for industry to prosper.”

 

Russia Overhauls Military Doctrine

By Jaroslaw Adamowski 3:43 p.m. EST January 10, 2015

http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/policy-budget/policy/2015/01/10/russia-military-doctrine-ukraine-putin/21441759/

 

WARSAW — Russia’s new military doctrine calls for a more aggressive stance toward NATO, boosting presence in the Arctic and strengthening cooperation with India and China.

“Global developments at present stage are characterized by an increasing global competition, tensions in various interstate and interregional areas,” said the document, signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Dec. 26. “There are many regional conflicts which remain unresolved. There is a tendency to force their resolution, including those which are in the regions bordering the Russian Federation. The existing architecture of the international security system does not provide an equal level of security to all states. ”

The new doctrine brings significant changes to the country’s defense strategy in a number of fields, and names the expansion of NATO in Russia’s neighborhood as one of the principal threat factors.

In response to efforts by NATO to extend air and anti-missile defense coverage over Europe, the document enables the joint setting up of missile defense systems by Russia and allied countries, which was not possible under the previous doctrine. The document says these efforts by NATO states are “undermining global stability and violating the balance of power in the nuclear-missile sphere.”

Referring to the ongoing military conflict in Ukraine, where Moscow is backing pro-Russian rebels in the country’s east against the government in Kiev, the document explicitly identifies “the expansion of NATO’s military potential on the Russian border” as a security threat. As a response, the doctrine calls for developing cooperation with other BRICS countries, which stands for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The document points to this as one of the “main tasks of the Russian Federation to contain and prevent armed conflicts.”

Local analysts say Russia is already a major supplier of arms to some of the BRICS states, such as India, where it is partnering on joint defense projects.

“[T]he strategic partnership between the two countries remains critical for India’s defense needs, especially now that India has permitted foreign direct investments in the defense sector, up to [a share of] 49 percent. Until 2013, India [represented] 38 percent of Russia’s major weapons exports, with Moscow supplying 75 percent of India’s imports of major weapons,” said Monika Chansoria, senior fellow at the Centre for Land Warfare Studies think tank in New Delhi. “However, what primarily took off as a buyer-seller relationship has now fully evolved into a joint venture association.”

Fifteen years following the signing of the Indo-Russian Declaration on Strategic Partnership, there is an “amplified collaboration between Moscow and New Delhi in joint design, [research and development], and development and manufacturing of defense systems and technologies extending to space applications and aviation,” Chansoria said. “This is only likely to be further enhanced with announcements such as … the cooperation on the production of 400 Ka-226 military helicopters.”

Petr Topychkanov, an associate at the Carnegie Moscow Center’s Nonproliferation Program, said the Indian arms market is “promising for Russia, because Russia not only exports weapons to this country, but also cooperates in production of new systems like BrahMos or the Su-35MKI” fighter jet.

The BrahMos is a supersonic cruise missile jointly developed by NPO Mashinostroeyenia, a Russian design bureau, and India’s state-run Defence Research and Development Organisation.

Meanwhile, local observers say Russia’s push to intensify ties with other BRICS countries, as expressed in the new doctrine, is a natural continuation of Moscow’s earlier foreign policies.

“Russia has always intended to have a more sustained and fully structured cooperation between all the BRICS countries …. while, at the same time, a number of security topics are much more ripe and relevant to deal with not within BRICS, but, rather, within other formats [of Russia’s international cooperation],” said Victoria Panova, assistant professor at the Department of International Relations and Foreign Policy of Russia at the MGIMO University in Moscow.

“South Africa or Brazil would not be interested in the issue of [weapons of mass destruction] non-proliferation or disarmament the same way as the other three countries,” Panova said. “All five countries could be very interested in common policies and deepening their cooperation regarding information and cybersecurity.”

The sanctions imposed on Russia by the West following its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, including those hampering imports and exports of military gear, are another major factor contributing to Moscow’s drive toward closer cooperation with the remaining four BRICS states, local analysts say.

The new doctrine is also calling for expanding Russia’s military presence in the Arctic. This follows statements by Russian political leaders. In April, Putin said the region has always been a sphere of “special interest” to Russia.

The decision by the country’s Defense Ministry to set up an Arctic Strategic Command last December, and related plans to acquire aircraft, radars and other military equipment for the newly-established force, demonstrate Moscow’s commitment to enhancing its military capabilities in the Arctic.

 

CENTCOM’s Twitter account hacked by Islamic State supporters

http://www.militarytimes.com/story/military/2015/01/12/centcom-twitter-hacked-by-isis/21638489/

By Andrew Tilghman, Staff Writer 5:35 p.m. EST January 12, 2015

 

At first glance, the words were chilling.

“AMERICAN SOLDIERS, WE ARE COMING, WATCH YOUR BACK! ” read one tweet.

Another tweet read: “We won’t stop! We know everything about you, your wives and children.”

Hackers claiming to support the Islamic State group seized control of the social media sites for U.S. Central Command on Monday afternoon, including Twitter and YouTube. They posted a spate of threatening remarks along with seemingly sensitive documents revealing contact information for general officers and maps about a potential war with China and North Korea.

In a news release issued Monday evening, CENTCOM officials said “we are notifying appropriate DoD and law enforcement authorities about the potential release of personally identifiable information and will take appropriate steps to ensure any individuals potentially affected are notified as quickly as possible.”

The group, which calls itself the Cyber Caliphate, took control of CENTCOM’s Twitter account about 12:45 p.m. on Monday. CENTCOM’s Twitter account was suspended as of early Monday afternoon East Coast time.

Upon closer inspection, the documents revealed did not contain highly classified material and the biggest impact may be limited beyond some obvious public humiliation.

“It’s embarrassing as all get-out for CENTCOM,” said Matthew Aid, a cybersecurity expert, in an interview Monday afternoon.

“It looks like rather low-level classified documents,” said Aid, who is the author of “Intel Wars: The Secret History of the Flight Against Terror.” Nevertheless, Aid said, “They came off a protected network. Regardless of the low level of sensitivity, the fact that it was done should scare the crap out of people.

“The question is: Where did they get this stuff? Did they hack CENTCOM and get this stuff or did they hack this material from some other site and just post it?” Aid said.

A Pentagon spokesman emphasized that Twitter is responsible for security on its own site and CENTCOM only maintains an account with a user name and a password, just like thousands of other users.

“CENTCOM did not get hacked,” said Army Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman.

“This is little more, in our view, than a cyber-prank. It’s an annoyance. We wish it wouldn’t happen because we have to spend our time on it. But it in no way compromises our operations in any way shape or form.”

Warren downplayed the sensitivity of the documents revealed and said there is no sign that they were obtained through a hack.

“Right now there’s no evidence that any DoD systems or any DoD networks have ben compromised or breached,” Warren said.

But Aid noted that the lag time between the hack and CENTCOM’s suspension of the account suggests the Florida-based command was not keeping close tabs on its social media account.

“They should have done a better job of monitoring their own site. According to what I was reading, this stuff was on their site for 35 or 45 minutes before it was suspended. Someone should have been on top of that,” Aid said.

The ” Cyber Caliphate” hacked the websites of several regional news outlets in early January, including the Albuquerque Journal in New Mexico and a TV station in Salisbury, Maryland. An FBI agent in New Mexico said federal agents were looking into the matter, according to news reports.

 

Obama calls for new cyberprotections


David Jackson, Gregory Korte and Elizabeth Weise, USATODAY 6:17 p.m. EST January 12, 2015

 

WASHINGTON — Lawmakers need to promote the benefits of Internet commerce while minimizing the risks of identity theft and other cybercrimes that can damage the economy, President Obama said Monday.

“If we’re going to be connected, then we need to be protected,” Obama told employees of the Federal Trade Commission as he proposed legislation designed to protect the online privacy of consumers and students. “As Americans, we shouldn’t have to forfeit our basic privacy when we go online to do our business.”

The president asked Congress to pass a law requiring companies to inform customers within 30 days if their data have been hacked. Obama called for a law that would prohibit companies from selling student data to third parties or otherwise using information about students for profit.

Citing recent high-profile hackings at Sony and other major companies, Obama said business owners should inform consumers as soon as possible when there has been a data breach.

A federal standard would replace a “patchwork” of different state laws throughout the country, he said in proposing the Personal Data Notification and Protection Act.

The Internet has revolutionized American commerce, Obama said, but “with those benefits come risks.” Credit card theft costs Americans billions of dollars, he said, and identify theft poses a “direct threat” to economic recovery.

There are also national security implications. Even as Obama spoke, the Twitter and YouTube accounts of the U.S. Central Command appeared to be hacked by supporters of the Islamic State militant group.

 

Obama pitches free two-year college plan in Tennessee

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/01/12/obama-federal-trade-commission/21632097/

 

This week will be devoted to the Internet, cybersecurity and privacy. Tuesday, in addition to a meeting with congressional leaders at the White House, he will visit the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center in Arlington, Va. He’ll roll out a broadband proposal in Iowa Wednesday and tout job opportunities in the cybersecurity field in Norfolk, Va., on Thursday.

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said he welcomes Obama “back” to the discussion over cybersecurity. Thune said Obama should have been more active in recent years, when a major cybersecurity bill got held up in the Democratic-run Senate.

Obama’s “engaged support for similar legislation this Congress would help address cyberthreats, improve privacy protections and would also begin to address concerns over the president’s go-it-alone approach of unilateral executive actions on cyber and other issues,” Thune said.

Obama’s proposals cement the staunch pro-privacy position of this administration, said Peter Swire, a professor of law and ethics at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Swire is a former special assistant to Obama for economic policy and served as chief counselor for privacy in the U.S. Office of Management and Budget during President Clinton’s administration.

Obama’s is “the first administration to support online privacy legislation,” Swire said. “The announcement suggests its continued opposition to cybersecurity legislation that would compromise privacy.”

An industry group, the Retail Industry Leaders Association, said Monday it applauded the White House focus on cybersecurity, but it stopped short of endorsement until it sees the full proposal.

 

New DoD cloud security requirements coming Tuesday

http://www.federaltimes.com/story/government/cybersecurity/2015/01/12/dod-cloud-security-guidance/21653107/

Aaron Boyd, Senior Writer 10:11 a.m. EST January 13, 2015

 

The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) is poised to release final security guidance for purchasing cloud services on Tuesday as the Defense Department shifts to commercial providers.

After receiving more than 800 comments on the draft guidelines, DISA reorganized the security levels to allow certain work areas to exist in virtual private networks while still keeping the most sensitive data physically separated on DoD networks.

The final draft also tweaks the authorization requirements to track closer to the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) except in specific areas where greater security assurance is needed.

Per a Dec. 15 memo from the DoD Office of the CIO, defense agencies have been given more authority to purchase cloud services from commercial vendors rather than using DISA as the sole broker. While the move is intended to speed up the acquisition process, DISA is charged with ensuring that security standards don’t flag with the use of commercial providers.

“Where is that right balance point that will allow us to get the full benefits of commercial cloud providers while doing that with the right level of security?” Mark Orndorff, mission assurance executive and designated accrediting authority for DISA, said during a DISA panel hosted by the AFCEA D.C. Chapter Monday. “This is an opportunity to get the agility, economic and technical advantages from commercial cloud and do that without putting the department at risk by leveraging the virtual separation capabilities that commercial cloud providers have, up to a level of sensitivity.”

The original draft listed six classes of security requirements for different levels of data. Those have been pared down to three in the final document, combining two levels at each new tier.

 

•1&2: Data lives in the commercial cloud. Not requiring physical separation or access to DoD network — information is fully public or discoverable through FOIA requests.

•3&4: More sensitive business systems that support operations of the department. Data will be separated into a virtual cloud environment that will require a secure connection to DoD networks.

•5&6: National security systems will exist in a physically separate environment not connected to a virtually accessible cloud.

 

Orndorff said DoD might consider allowing national security data into a virtualized network at some point in the future, though at this time it is not a hard goal. For now, information at that security level will live in physically separate, private networks within DoD.

“We just want to spend more time before we decide if that’s a goal,” Orndorff explained. “We are very open minded to it but we want to do due diligence to assess: what is the risk, what are the mitigations and how do we want to press forward.”

DISA also revised the vendor assessment requirements to be slightly more rigorous than FedRAMP.

The majority of assessment controls use FedRAMP as a baseline, “asking for additional security requirements only when it’s absolutely necessary and makes sense for DoD-legitimate reasons,” Orndorff said.

“The net-net is that we will gain more in efficiency and effectiveness by allowing the virtualization for a set of DoD work than we will put at risk,” he added.

Orndorff noted the final guidelines were expected a week earlier but were held up for final revisions.

“The risk guys wanted to take more risk than the lawyers were ready for us to take,” he said. “So we took a little more time to make sure we had all our ‘i’s dotted and ‘t’s crossed.”

DISA will publish the final guidance document on the Information Assurance Support Environment website by end-of-business Tuesday. http://iase.disa.mil/Pages/index.aspx

“This is a challenge the DoD is definitely up for,” said DISA CTO David Mihelcic. “There’s potentially huge savings long-term for certain workflows to be moved to this commercial cloud environment.”

 

CNN cleared to test drones for reporting

by Press • 12 January 2015

http://www.suasnews.com/2015/01/33818/cnn-cleared-to-test-drones-for-reporting/?utm_source=sUAS+News+Daily&utm_campaign=8a75dfa527-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_b3c0776dde-8a75dfa527-303662705

By David Goldman

CNN will explore the use of drones for reporting, after receiving special permission from the U.S. government.

In the first program of its kind, the FAA will allow CNN to test camera-equipped drones for news gathering and reporting purposes.

CNN has partnered with the Georgia Tech Research Institute to collect data for the program. The FAA said it will analyze that information to develop rules about using drones for news gathering.

“Our aim is to get beyond hobby-grade equipment and to establish what options are available and workable to produce high quality video journalism,” said David Vigilante, CNN’s senior vice president of legal.

Vigilante said he hopes that the test program leads to the safe and more widespread use of drones in U.S. airspace.

The FAA has restricted drone use in the United States out of fear that they could come in contact with airplanes. Drones could also cause damage or injury by falling out of the sky.

There are no drone pilot licenses, and several drones have come close to making contact with planes — in October, 41 pilots reported seeing a drone, or unmanned aircraft, during flight, according to the FAA.

As a result, the FAA has set up a handful of largely uninhabited regions across the country where people can test out drones for commercial use. Currently, the agency only allows certain lightweight drones for commercial flights of up to 400 feet.

But the FAA is expected to soften some of the rules this year, as drone technology become more commonplace. Drones can be used in search and rescue operations, and they can be flown into dangerous areas to broadcast news to the public.

“Unmanned aircraft offer news organizations significant opportunities,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “We hope this agreement with CNN and the work we are doing with other news organizations and associations will help safely integrate unmanned news gathering technology and operating procedures into the National Airspace System.”

Several other companies are making big investments in drones as well. Facebook (FB,Tech30) is hiring people for its drone team. Amazon (AMZN, Tech30) has said it wants to use drones to deliver small packages over short distances. And Google (GOOGL, Tech30)acquired Titan Aerospace, which makes high-altitude, solar-powered drones.

http://money.cnn.com/2015/01/12/technology/cnn-drone

 

Docker, a Software Start-Up, Sees a Future in Containers of Code

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/13/business/a-small-software-company-sees-a-future-in-containers-of-code.html?_r=0

By QUENTIN HARDY

JAN. 12, 2015

 

SAN FRANCISCO — A tech start-up called DotCloud was on its last legs in 2012. Now called Docker, its software has been downloaded 70 million times.

“It’s exhilarating and it’s frightening,” said Benjamin Golub, Docker’s chief executive. “We are absolutely punching way above our weight class.”

Docker is at the forefront of a new way to create software, called containers. These software containers are frequently compared with shipping containers. And as their popularity grows, building big computer networks could become remarkably simpler.

Like the big metal containers that can move from ship to ship to truck without being opened, software containers ship applications across different “cloud computing” systems and make it easy to tinker with one part, like the products for sale on a mobile application, without worrying about the effect on another part, like the big database at the heart of the corporate network.

 

“It absolutely makes it easier to write applications,” said Eric Brewer, Google’s vice president for computer infrastructure. Google developed the first type of container, for internal use, about eight years ago, which helped it build its Internet services quickly.

Docker took the Google innovation and made it easy for people to use across computers.

“It’s a huge efficiency gain in how you write code,” said Mr. Golub, who started his career teaching business courses in Uzbekistan. “You don’t have to rewrite everything, then fix all the breaks when it goes into production. You just work on what you change.”

Mr. Golub’s office has a turtle, he jokes, “so that I’m not the worst coder.”

Some big companies have noticed what the 70-employee start-up is doing. The European bank ING uses Docker to update 1,400 different applications a day. Gilt Group, an online store, turned seven big applications in its website into 400 smaller pieces, making it easier to update. And Goldman Sachs uses Docker to build and deploy the software it runs internally.

 

“Our underlying software was getting so spread out” that it was difficult to manage, said Don Duet, a global co-head of technology at Goldman. “Docker is a central place where you can put everything.” A 26-year technology veteran, he compares software containers in importance to Java, a programming language created in the 1990s that led to rapid growth of the commercial Internet.

At least for now, Docker’s small size and independence may be assets, since it is able to play with the giants without seeming like a threat. Microsoft in October announced it would work with Docker to put its Windows operating system in containers (Docker already works with several types of Linux, the operating system commonly used in the servers of many big clouds). IBM is working with Docker to increase the international deployment of containers. And Google and Amazon have both endorsed Docker at their events for software developers.

For all the success, Mr. Golub has reason to worry, too. His company, still private and unprofitable, has raised about $65 million. It makes some money advising companies, and is working on commercial management software that it hopes to sell. That will help manage a product Docker distributes to open source software developers — outside contributors who help create software and share it free.

He also has competitors. Google’s commercial offering, called Kubernetes, can manage the free Docker tool, something that could make Mr. Golub’s commercial product unnecessary. Another container project, CoreOS, claims to offer more options on how to build software, possibly with more security.

Mr. Golub acknowledges the unlikely nature of Docker’s success. “It’s strange, going from a feeling I know — your company is about to close its doors — to a feeling that you won’t be able to deliver on your promise,” he said.

He went to Uzbekistan in 1993, after he finished graduate school at Harvard in business and government. His teaching position there lasted all of five months. He returned to the United States and started working in tech during the Internet’s early days, mostly in marketing at VeriSign, an online domain-name and security company.

In 2005, when social media was just starting, he was asked to become chief executive of Plaxo, which created an early tool for managing address books. Plaxo infuriated users by raiding their personal information to send spam emails.

Plaxo was sold to Comcast in 2008 for about $150 million, according to reports at the time. Mr. Golub, by then something of a Mr. Fixit for struggling tech companies, in 2010 became chief executive of Gluster, which specialized in software for data storage. Red Hat, another software company, purchased Gluster for about $140 million in 2011.

DotCloud, the precursor of Docker, was in the business of helping developers build online applications by focusing on things like spreading use across several computers.

“Software developers need to be able to work easily with complicated infrastructure,” said the company’s founder, Solomon Hykes. “It was clear that cloud applications would have to be written efficiently, become part of the Internet, update constantly, and be always online, for all kinds of industries.”

DotCloud was one of many such services, and could not find many customers. But there was a container-type function in DotCloud, like the one Google had built. Mr. Hykes, who was talking with Mr. Golub about what the company could do to generate interest, worked at building a way for one container to work over the many versions of the Linux operating system.

His project was demonstrated at a five-minute talk in March 2013 in Santa Clara, Calif., for fans of the computer programming language Python, popular for creating interactive websites. A video of the talk went viral, and Mr. Golub joined DotCloud soon after. Mr. Hykes is now the company’s chief technology officer.

Docker, as the project was called, officially began in September of that year and used the open-source process for building software. The company name was changed a month later. The open-source project has attracted about 700 outside contributors, and over 65,000 applications have been “Dockerized,” or made capable of global creation, deployment and updating.

Docker’s rapid rise has accelerated the creation of alternatives. Besides CoreOS, which was founded about the same time that Mr. Hykes’s video was made, another company, Mesosphere, focuses on the management of containers among different cloud systems. Microsoft’s shift to containers is likely to include the kind of management software Mr. Golub hopes to sell.

“I used to tell my students in Uzbekistan that competition is good,” Mr. Golub said. “You don’t need to know what the future is going to be to know what is going to get you there.”

 

Bills Would Give Feds a 3.8 Percent Pay Raise

By Eric Katz

January 13 2105

http://www.govexec.com/pay-benefits/2015/01/bills-would-give-feds-38-percent-pay-raise/102762/?oref=govexec_today_pm_nl

Lawmakers in the both the House and Senate introduced bills on Tuesday to raise federal employees’ pay 3.8 percent across the board in 2016.

The Federal Adjustment of Income Rates (FAIR) Act was introduced in the House by Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., with several Democratic cosponsors. Sens. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, and Ben Cardin, D-Md., introduced identical legislation in the Senate.

The proposal marks a slight uptick from the 3.3 percent raise the group of fed-friendly lawmakers introduced last year. Those measures stalled out in committee in both chambers.

Connolly said the bill was necessary to stop the “alarming rate of attrition” of federal employees. Citing a Partnership for Public Service analysis, Connolly noted more than one-quarter of the federal workforce has left government since 2009. The 3.8 percent across-the-board raise would also apply to hourly employees.

Federal employees received a 1 percent pay raise in each of the last two years after seeing their pay frozen for the previous three. Those increases did not keep pace with either inflation or the private sector, Connolly noted. Private sector wages have outpaced federal pay by 6.3 percent over the last five years, according to the Employment Cost Index. Even by the federal government’s own standards, the 1 percent raises were historically low.

“Our federal workers deserved to be fairly compensated for the important work they do on behalf of Americans across the country,” said House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, a cosponsor of the bill. “So many of the public functions we often take for granted are the purview of the hard working men and women who constitute our federal workforce, and they deserve fair pay and benefits. Advancing the FAIR Act will help the government recruit and retain the top-quality workforce the American people need and deserve.”

President Obama has not yet proposed his federal employee pay raise for 2016, which is typically released in conjunction with his budget blueprint. Last year, lawmakers waited until after Obama issued his 1 percent raise proposal to introduce their bills.

Federal employee groups have criticized the 1 percent pay bump for the last two years, calling it insufficient and even “pitiful.” Richard Thissen, president of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, said new employees are already seeing smaller paychecks as they must contribute more toward their retirement pensions.

“We rely on these men and women to take criminals off our streets and keep them behind bars, assist our military at home and abroad, help prepare us for and recover from severe weather, and much more,” Thissen said. “Providing our public servants adequate compensation is about more than just fairness, it is about maintaining an efficient and effective federal government.”

William Dougan, president of the National Federation of Federal Employees, said Congress has already targeted federal employees enough for deficit reduction, which has damaged their productivity.

“After being treated like a punching bag for years by too many members of Congress, it is no wonder that the federal employee viewpoint survey is showing decreasing workplace morale,” Dougan said. “Now more than ever, we genuinely hope members of Congress understand the importance of addressing the dwindling morale of federal employees. Raising morale, through legislation like the FAIR Act, will allow the government to recruit and retain top-tier candidates, which results in better services to the citizens of our country.”

 

Pilots Report Hundreds of Drone Sightings to FAA


http://www.uasvision.com/2015/01/14/pilots-report-hundreds-of-drone-sightings-to-faa/?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=a758c9b2ff-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_term=0_799756aeb7-a758c9b2ff-297557637

January 14, 2015

 

Pilots have reported hundreds of drone sightings in the United States, with some of them right here in Chicago, and they’re saying that it’s not safe. Especially at busy airports like O’Hare International Airport.

In July of last year, the FAA said a Republic Airways flight from Kansas City reported seeing a radio-controlled aircraft operating at 500-feet, only a mile from O’Hare.

Three months earlier a drone was found crashed on the property of Tech Cor in Wheeling, less than half a mile from Chicago Executive Airport.

Those two incidents are among 190 near-misses and pilot sightings of drones and other unmanned aircraft systems reported to the FAA from January to November of last year.

Captain Lee Moak, the President of the Airline Pilots Association told a congressional hearing that close encounters with drones are on the increase and more regulation is needed.

“I think many people don’t realize they are flying them in commercial airspace and it could cause a significant hazard,” Moak said.

The FAA said it is drafting new rules that drone pilots must follow.

Already they must fly under 400-feet and within sight of their operators. Drones are supposed to stay five miles away from airports.

But some drone enthusiasts, like Adam Eidinger, worry that the new rules will go too far.

“These things are really not on the radar as a public threat or a safety threat, however as more and more people start flying them they could be,” Eidinger said. “But for now they are not and I think the government has really overreached.”

But drones were such a popular gift over the Holidays that the FAA produced a public service announcement to educate their operators.

Some airline pilots say more drones in the sky means a greater chance that one could strike an airplane full of passengers.

“The bottom line is they should not be allowed around an airport or the approach to an airport because that can be significantly dangerous,” Moak said.

Source: NBC Chicago

 

Hagel backs Air Force plans for long-range strike bomber

By Andrew Tilghman, Staff Writer 6 a.m. EST January 14, 2015

http://www.militarytimes.com/story/military/pentagon/2015/01/13/hagel-backs-air-force-plans-for-long-range-strike-bomber/21713815/

 

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told airmen here Tuesday that the nation’s nuclear mission is as important as ever and he voiced strong support for the Air Force’s plans to build a costly new long-range strike bomber.

On one of his last trips as the Pentagon’s top official, Hagel came to this rural air base to speak to the airman who fly and fix the B-2 Spirits, the iconic nuclear-armed stealth bombers. While the aircraft is rarely used in operations, Hagel said it is nevertheless critical to national security.

“It’s always about strategic deterrence so that we don’t have to send our men and women into conflict,” Hagel told several hundred airmen. “Our adversaries have to know and have to believe, and essentially have to trust that we have deterrent capability, that in fact we have everything we say we have.”

Hagel said the military should invest billions of dollars in developing a new aircraft to replace some of today’s aging bombers, in particular the B-52, which are more than 50 years old. He said the new aircraft program, known as the Long-Range Strike Bomber, or LRS-B, will be well funded in the budget request slated for release in February.

“I think the Long-Range Strike Bomber is absolutely essential for keeping our deterrent edge. … We need to do it. We need to make the investments. We’ll have it in the budget. It’s something I have particularly put a priority on,” Hagel told reporters here Tuesday.

Officially, the Pentagon launched the LRS-B program last year with a request for proposals from defense contractors. But it is widely believed that production of the aircraft is well underway, jump-started with money from classified budgets, according to the Congressional Research Service.

As the Pentagon is facing pressure to cut its budget, the LRS-B is emerging as one of the few big-ticket programs that the top brass remains fully committed to.

For now, plans call for building about 80 to 100 bombers, at a price tag of about $550 million each, to enter the fleet in the mid-2020s. The final design may have an option at flying unmanned. Those new aircraft would likely replace the 76 B-52s in today’s fleet.

Hagel is making a three-day trip across the country to visit with soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines. After resigning in December, Hagel is expected to leave office in February and said he wanted to make some final visits to thank them for their service.

Hagel has paid special attention to the nuclear force during his two-year tenure. The focus was driven in part by scandal. Dozens of nuclear launch officers who operate the Air Force’s 450 intercontinental ballistic missiles were disciplined earlier this year for misconduct that included drug use and cheating.

The high-level advocacy for the nuclear mission reflects concerns that morale is suffering and the Air Force is not drawing the best and brightest into the nuclear-related career fields because those jobs lack prestige and offer limited opportunities for promotion.

Like other parts of the nuclear force, the Air Force’s long-range bomber community has been marginalized to some extent during the past couple of decades. After the Cold War ended, the sense of urgency about the nuclear missions faded. And in the post-9/11 era of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Air Force focused on shorter-range tactical aircraft that could provide close-air support for ground troops.

Without a robust replacement program for today’s aging B-52s, the long-range bomber force could face a manpower crisis, some experts say.

“We are now approaching levels where you have to question whether the remaining force is going to offer a viable career field for young men and women entering the military and contemplating careers as bombers,” said Mark Gunzinger, a retired Air Force pilot who is now a defense expert at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a think tank in Washington.

“If you are a brand new second lieutenant and you’re contemplating where you might bid for a career coming out of pilot training, do you want to go into career field that has one wing commander? Compared to the intelligence field or unmanned aircraft and other fields where there is clearly more slots, more opportunities to progress up the leadership ladder?” Gunzinger said in a recent interview.

The Air Force’s has 159 aircraft in its long-range bomber fleet, including a total of 20 B-2s and 63 B-1s that are on average 28 years old and are slated to remain in the fleet into the 2040s, according to the CRS.

“We have to have a career field that can attract the brilliant, young talent that we need to maintain a safe and secure for into the future,” Gunzinger said.

 

Ten News Outlets to Test Drones for Journalism

by Press • 16 January 2015

http://www.suasnews.com/2015/01/33884/ten-news-outlets-to-test-drones-for-journalism/?utm_source=sUAS+News+Daily&utm_campaign=50d76708eb-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_b3c0776dde-50d76708eb-303662705

By Gerry Smith

 

A group of 10 U.S. media companies, including the New York Times Co. (NYT), the Associated Press and NBCUniversal, will test the use of drones for news gathering, seeking to persuade the government to broaden the commercial use of the small unmanned aircraft.

The news organizations will join Virginia Tech University to study the use of drones at one of six test areas approved by Congress, according to a statement today.

The media companies are trying to gain U.S. approval for the use of drones to cover breaking news events that would otherwise be too expensive or dangerous to capture in person. The Federal Aviation Administration prohibits the commercial use of the small aircraft, though it has made some exceptions.

“The AP is excited to join with these other leading media companies in exploring the safe and responsible use of drone technology for news gathering purposes that further our understanding of current events,” Santiago Lyon, the news wire’s director of photography, said in the statement.

Other media companies that will participate in the drone testing are Advance Publications Inc., A.H. Belo Corp., Gannett Co., Getty Images, E.W. Scripps Co., Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. and the Washington Post.

CNN said on Jan. 12 that it will also begin testing the use of drones for news gathering in partnership with Georgia Tech Research Institute.

Using Technology

The widespread interest in unmanned aircraft is another example of how news organizations are embracing technology for reporting at a time when many are reducing staff members to cut costs. Last year, the Los Angeles Times published a story about an earthquake that had been written by a computer algorithm.

The FAA is working to establish rules to regulate the commercial use of drones that have become increasingly popular with civilians, and the agency has made some exceptions to its ban. Some film companies have been given permission to use drones and they have been approved to inspect oilfield equipment, map farmland and photograph homes for real estate marketing.

The FAA, however, typically requires drone operators to notify the agency three days in advance. News organizations say giving such notice would be impossible because breaking news is unpredictable.

 

Cost Savings

Drones offer several potential benefits for newsrooms. Unmanned helicopters and fixed-wing planes can be bought at hobby shops and online for less than $1,000. By comparison, it costs news outlets about $1,500 per hour to rent a helicopter and owning one can cost “hundreds of thousands” of dollars each year for pilots, fuel, maintenance and other expenses, said Matt Waite, a journalism professor at University of Nebraska at Lincoln.

Drones also would enable news organizations to film in locations where few journalists would be willing to go. Last fall, CBS’s “60 Minutes” used a drone to capture aerial footage of the villages around Chernobyl, which has been largely abandoned after a nuclear plant explosion in 1986.

The use of drones for journalism also raises potential safety and privacy issues, especially near densely packed crowds where news and sporting events often take place. In 2013, a drone crashed into a grandstand at Virginia Motorsports Park, causing minor injuries to several spectators during an event.

 

State Restrictions

At least 44 states have proposed or enacted laws that restrict the use of drones, according to Mickey Osterreicher, general counsel for the National Press Photographers Association, which advocates the use of unmanned aircraft for news gathering. In addition, most news organizations don’t have insurance that would cover drone accidents, Waite said.

“I get phone calls from editors who say ‘Hey, we’re going to buy a drone. What should we buy?’ I say ‘Hold on a second. Do you know the rules here?” Waite said.

The FAA’s current ban on the use of drones for journalism has not deterred some hobbyists from sharing their drone footage of breaking news events with news outlets. News organizations say they want to use drones themselves.

“We view this as just another tool for news gathering, like a satellite truck or a helicopter,” Osterreicher said. “And hopefully a more cost-efficient and safe one.”

http://mobile.bloomberg.com/news/2015-01-15/10-news-outlets-to-test-drones-for-journalism.html

 

Skydio Lands $3 Million to Keep Drones from Crashing

by Press • 15 January 2015

 

DEBORAH GAGE

 

YouTube is full of videos of drones crashing or running off course, and the Federal Aviation Administration has banned commercial drones in the U.S. while it figures out how to regulate them. Yet interest in the flying machines remains high.

Skydio Inc. is the latest drone technology startup to emerge, raising $3 million for software that its co-founders say should be able to keep flying drones on track. The seed funding is led by Andreessen Horowitz, with Accel Partners also participating in the round.

The company was founded last year by three graduates of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology—Adam Bry, who has a masters degree in Aero/Astro engineering; Abe Bachrach, who has a Ph.D. with a focus on applying machine learning and computer vision to autonomous vehicles; and Matt Donahoe, who has a masters from the MIT Media Lab.

Mr. Bry and Dr. Bachrach also co-founded Google GOOGL -0.23%X’s Project Wing, a system that Google is developing to use drones to deliver goods. Skydio started out in Dr. Bachrach’s dad’s basement and has since relocated to Atherton, Calif.

Mr. Bry, who is chief executive, said Skydio is tackling the hard problem of developing algorithms and software that are able to extract 3-D structure from a 2-D image, allowing a drone to navigate and avoid obstacles.

“It’s easy for humans, but hard for computers,” he said. “We’re trying to build the visual cortex for drones, for seeing and understanding.”

Skydio isn’t the only company working on making drones easier to control. In December, The Wall Street Journal reviewed some other efforts.

But Skydio’s co-founders say they believe their company has the best technical approach, along with patient investors who are willing to give them the time to figure it out.

Using lightweight sensors helps too, Mr. Bry said. “You can use heavier things like lasers and radar, but the size and weight of the system determines safety.”

Skydio is working with partners, although it won’t name them. The company aims to release software over the next 12 months, although no date has been set. Although the software is designed to work on anything that flies, the computer and camera on vehicles will be tuned to take advantage of Skydio’s algorithms, he said.

In a demonstration for journalists, Skydio was able to point an iPhone at a drone and control it, commanding it to take off, fly and hover without running into anything. (More videos of Skydio’s drones are here.)

Skydio is Andreessen Horowitz’s second investment in drone technology. The first company, Airware, also founded by a graduate of MIT, has raised more than $40 million from investors including GE Ventures.

Andreessen Horowitz General Partner Chris Dixon has written a blog post calling Airware and Skydio complementary, according to a spokeswoman, with Airware developing a drone operating system and Skydio providing a critical application on top of that operating system.

http://blogs.wsj.com/venturecapital/2015/01/15/skydio-lands-3-million-to-keep-drones-from-crashing/

 

 

Air Force Space Programs on Hold as New Architecture Studied

January 2015

 

By Stew Magnuson

http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/archive/2015/January/Pages/AirForceSpaceProgramsonHoldasNewArchitectureStudied.aspx

 

It’s called “the vicious circle of space acquisition.”

Large satellite systems take a long time to develop.

As the years stretch on, the temptation to change requirements and add new capabilities is too hard to resist. For once the spacecraft is launched, it’s impossible to swap out the hardware.

Schedules slip. Production lines go cold, increasing the contractors’ costs.

By the time the satellite is sent to orbit, the technology aboard is already generations behind what is available in the commercial marketplace.

This was all described in a 2012 paper co-authored by Lt. Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski, then Air Force Space and Missile Center commander.

“Since the mid-1990s, we have seen some of the longest delivery times for major space systems since the beginning of the space age,” she wrote in “Space: Disruptive Challenges, New Opportunities, and New Strategies” published in Strategic Studies Quarterly.

However, deliveries of new space systems of late have all but come to a halt. The communication satellites being launched now are based on designs dating back to the early 2000s. The last major contract award was in 2008 for the third-generation GPS satellites.

That was also the year the Defense Department canceled the Transformational Satellite Communication System, or T-Sat, a six-year effort to create a next-generation spacecraft that came to naught.

Six years later, there are no new Air Force satellites on the horizon.

The Air Force is in the throes of conducting several studies that service officials say may lead to a radically new space architecture. Meanwhile, as the paper noted, getting space system acquisition right is more important than ever.

The nature of how it is employed by the military has changed over the past dozen years.

The Cold War era was marked by strategic applications such as nuclear command and control, and remote sensing satellites searching for rocket launches and large-scale troop movements.

The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq brought space down to the troop level with GPS, tactical communications and command and control of drones bringing immediate benefits to those who were fighting insurgents.

“Without exaggeration, the combat effects we have come to expect from our smaller, more mobile force structure would not be possible without space capabilities,” wrote Pawlikowski, who has since moved on to become the military deputy at the office of the assistant secretary for Air Force acquisition.

The buzzword in policy circles has been “disaggregation.”

Instead of large satellites and small constellations, the Air Force could deploy smaller spacecraft in larger numbers. It could also save funding by piggybacking payloads on other commercial or government satellites, a concept known as “hosted payloads.”

Placing an instrument on a large satellite that has extra space can reduce deployment time from seven to eight years to two to three years, she wrote.

“Disaggregation will allow us to realize more affordable and resilient capabilities for the theater war fighter while at the same time allowing smaller, nuclear hardened cores to be retained,” the paper said.

In the aftermath of a 2007 Chinese anti-satellite weapons test and incidents where GPS signals have been jammed, “resiliency” has been part of the equation along with affordability. Space systems have increasingly been seen as vulnerable.

Paul Hamill, director of strategy communications at the American Security Project think tank, said, “We have a system right now where we have big, one-off, specialized satellites that need huge rockets and engines to get them up there. … We need to move away from that model.”

He agreed with the notion of making space more “responsive,” with the deployment of smaller satellites that can be launched more rapidly.

“Let’s get smaller stuff up that can do bits of everything because let’s face it, if we have a state actor or non-state actor shoot one of these down, it’s not easily replaceable. If you shoot three down, we’re in serious trouble.”

Pawlikowski said the Air Force should adopt a “payload-focused” strategy where requirements for communications, sensors or other capabilities are more frequently produced and sent to orbit on smaller satellites. That will keep manufacturers’ production lines hot, stabilize requirements, reduce the economic consequences of losing vehicles and deny adversaries the opportunity to do widespread damage by destroying one spacecraft, she wrote.

If that is accomplished, “We can see a path to unwinding the vicious circle facing today’s space acquisition,” she added.

Todd Harrison, senior fellow of defense budget studies at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, was skeptical that the Air Force had put its space acquisition woes behind it.

“To go in a new direction, you have to start a new program of some kind, whether it is more of an existing system, leveraging current research or hosted payloads … and in this budget environment, that is incredibly difficult,” he said.

If the Air Force were to start a new, clean-slate design of a large communications satellite, it would likely repeat the mistakes of the past such as T-Sat, he said.

“I don’t think we have fixed the root causes. The primary problem with T-Sat was the temptation to place every possible feature on one satellite,” he said.

“We were trying to build the next big thing for protected communications and place all the requirements for wideband onto it. It proved to be too technically far reaching and expensive.”

He noted that after six years of work on T-Sat, the expected launch date had slipped by six years.

“We were no closer to launching it when the program was canceled than when we began,” Harrison said. “That’s the problem of building these big, “Battlestar Galactica type satellites.”

As the Air Force continues in a state of limbo when it comes to new start programs, Harrison sees a lack of interest on the part of Pentagon leaders. The series of studies the Air Force is conducting on new space architectures is just a way to buy time, he added.

“While everyone recognizes space as a critical enabler for the war fighter at all levels of conflict, from low to high end, it is not the sexy weapon system that puts hot metal on a target. So it doesn’t attract much interest from senior leaders,” he said.

The pause in acquisition programs could probably continue for three to five years, but after that, if the Air Force doesn’t kick off some kind of new program, it could begin to see capability gaps, Harrison predicted.

Said Hamill: The acquisition pause will continue “for as long as Congress is willing to let it go on.”

 

Hamill has seen renewed interest in space topics on Capitol Hill in the wake of the RD-180 rocket engine controversy. The Russian-supplied engines are critical for launching large satellites. Talk of cutting the United States off from acquiring the engines as tensions with Russia grew in 2014 prompted lawmakers to take a new look at the program.

Current National Defense Authorization Act language demands that the Air Force begins an effort to build its own heavy lift engines.

Incoming House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, and ranking member, Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., will push for acquisition reform, and space will be a part of that, Hamill noted.

“I think the issue of us funding Russia has livened this issue up in Congress especially with … Mac and Adam. It has reawakened some interest in this,” Hamill said.

And presumptive Secretary of Defense “Ash Carter knows this issue back to front. It also helps that he a physicist,” he added. “I believe that he is going to take this issue on.”

Launch is important because the idea of disaggregated space architecture, which is more responsive to requirements, demands less expensive and dependable access to space.

Pawlikowski wrote that increased frequency of the launches will result in economies of scale and bring down prices.

Hamill said the private sector is ready and willing to step in and provide lower cost launches, and even build an RD-180 replacement if necessary, at no cost to U.S taxpayers.

“The military side of space issues and launch capabilities are stuck in the early 1990s. We’ve actually got private companies out there who can do this. Industry and the private sector have moved on. It’s the public sector who haven’t,” Hamill said.

On the terrestrial side, the Air Force recently embarked on a study to determine whether commercial satellite communications providers can take over the day-to-day command and control of military satellites using their networks of ground stations.

Four commercial satellite providers received contracts in October to study the idea.

A statement from one of the companies, Intelsat, noted that it alone had some 400 antennas scattered throughout the world with 99.9 percent availability. It costs a com-sat provider one-fifth of what it costs the Air Force to operate the same system, it said.

Harrison said the idea is certainly worth looking into, especially since systems such as the Air Force’s Wideband Global Satcom technology are based on commercial communications satellites.

As for military protected communications, which have unique command-and-control requirements, “probably not,” he said.

 

Rasmussen Reports

What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls

 

Bottom of Form

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Bob Dylan once declared, “Something is happening here, but you don’t know what it is.” That could well describe America’s response to radical Islam.

Sixty-four percent (64%) of Likely U.S. Voters think there is a global conflict in the world today between Western civilization and Islam 

Yet the president of the United States and his top aides refuse to use the words “radical” and “Islam” in the same sentence.

The men responsible for the massacre at the Charlie Hebdo magazine offices in Paris shouted an Islamic expression of faith and said after the killings they had avenged the prophet Mohammed. But only 24% of Americans think the actions of the killers represent the true beliefs of Islam. Just 16% believe the Taliban in Afghanistan represent true Islamic beliefs following their massacre of 130 school children in Pakistan, and 27% say that of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) which regularly beheads innocents on YouTube. 

However, 52% of voters also think that Islam as practiced today encourages violence more than most other religions. Seventy-five percent (75%) agree that Islamic religious leaders need to do more to emphasize the peaceful beliefs of their faith.

Those murdered in Paris were killed for mocking Islam. Americans have mixed feelings about how media organizations treat religion in this country, but they strongly defend their right to say what they want to. Still, 65% believe it is likely an attack will happen in this country in the next year on those critical of Islam.

But 60% of voters think American society as a whole is fair and decent, the highest finding in nearly two years. Just 20% think most Muslims are treated unfairly in the United States because of their religion. By contrast, 66% believe most Christians living in the Islamic world are treated unfairly because of their religious faith.

Americans still believe most of their fellow countrymen aren’t racist but think race relations in this country have taken a decided turn for the worse. Whites, in particular, have grown much more pessimistic about the racial picture.

Only eight percent (8%) of all voters think race relations are better since Barack Obama’s election in 2008, and unlike many questions dealing with race, blacks and whites don’t disagree much on this one. 

A year ago in his State of the Union address, the president argued that income inequality was a major problem for this country and vowed to confront it. Fifty-six percent (56%) of voters still believe that in America today the rich still get richer, while the poor get poorer.

In his upcoming State of the Union address Tuesday night, Obama will formally propose making the first two years of community college free for millions of students. Voters tend to like the community college idea as long as it doesn’t cost them anything.

Most voters aren’t looking for new federal programs: They don’t like the government, and they think it should downsize. Voters want the government to do more to help the economy, but what they want it to do is cut spending.

As the national unemployment rate continues to drop, most Americans remain opposed to long-term government help for those out of work.

Voters are more convinced than ever that government contracts go to the companies with the most political connections, not the ones that offer the best service for the price.

Suspicious of how their government functions, voters also like the constitutional system of checks and balances to keep their elected officials in line. Most believe the federal government should only do what the president and Congress agree on. They also say a president should not be able to change laws passed by Congress on his own, even as congressional Republicans challenge Obama’s decision not to enforce the deportation of up to five million illegal immigrants.

After all, most voters continue to believe that securing the border is more important than legalizing the status of undocumented workers already here. They think plans to offer legal status to such individuals will just encourage more illegal immigration.

Many favor the use of the U.S. military along our southern border to stop illegal immigration. We asked Americans if the U.S. military would be best used at home or abroad.

Despite the political bickering, consumer and investor confidence remain near their highest levels since 2007. 

The president’s daily job approval ratings remain higher since Election Day.

Democrats and Republicans are tied on the latest Generic Congressional Ballot.

In other surveys last week:

— Thirty percent (30%) of voters say the United States is heading in the right direction.

— Gas prices are hitting near-record lows around the country,
but Americans suspect the rock-bottom prices won’t last for long.

— While several economic indicators suggest the U.S. economy may finally be recovering, car buying doesn’t appear to be one of them.

— Over half (53%) of Americans now say they’ve gone an entire week without paying for anything with cash or coins.

— Forty percent (40%) of Americans say they have had credit card or debit card information stolen, and 45% of these adults say they have lost this information through a major data breach at a retailer they’ve bought things from.

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