Ivy League study finds the United States trails Asia in e-government
President Bush and the science community weren’t kidding about global competitiveness. The United States is trailing South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore in the latest e-government study conducted by Brown University researchers.

South Korea’s e-government system earned the highest marks in Brown’s “Sixth Annual Global e-Government Study.” According to the report, the country’s eGov Web portal provides more than 500 online services, while other departmental pages offer the opportunity to electronically pay taxes, check bar exam results and search for lost relatives in North Korea.

“Also notable are the interactive features available for users — virtually every site contains a prominent guestbook or forum as well as the option to petition the particular department,” the report states. “Furthermore, the Korean pages feature a clever design characterized by colorful drawings and icons that are appealing to the eye and allow for easy navigation.”

Today’s lesson: We need better math and science classes — and better art classes.

Senate Appropriations bill disses DARPA Cognitive Computing program — again
The Senate Appropriations Committee passed its fiscal 2007 Defense Authorization bill July 25 and, like last year, chopped the Cognitive Computing program at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, to the dismay of the Computing Research Association.

In response to the Senate’s repeat performance, Peter Harsha, CRA’s director of government affairs, repeated his sentiments from an Oct. 20, 2005, blog entry. Last year, he wrote that “work in this area includes research responsible for the Command Post of the Future — a software system currently deployed and very widely used in Iraq to coordinate battle plans and integrate multiple intelligence reports…and cited by Secretary [Donald] Rumsfeld as the major contributor to victory in the first phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom.”

The president requested $220 million for fiscal 2007, a 35 percent increase compared with fiscal 2006 funding levels. But the Senate Appropriations Committee approved only $149.3 million, which is 32 percent less than the president’s request. The House included the full $220 million in its bill.

Dittoing last year’s argument, Harsha wrote that “cutting support so significantly for this research will hamper advancements in defense-related IT in the short- and long-term and will slow technological advancements essential to current and future military operations in Iraq and around the globe.”

Harsha wrote that cutting support runs completely counter to recent concerns of Congress, the President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee and the Defense Department’s Defense Science Board. All three organizations have raised strong concerns about the shift of DARPA’s resources away from fundamental research at universities, especially in IT, he added.

Visitors to Moussaoui trial site may find U.S. e-government too accessible
Marking the first time a federal court has made so many exhibits from a criminal case available online, 1,202 exhibits from the United States v. Moussaoui trial went up on the Internet July 31. Seven classified or sealed exhibits were withheld.

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia created the home page, and it strongly recommends that users have a broadband connection to access recordings, videos or images. The home page warns that some exhibits include images or sounds that might disturb some people. Some exhibit labels caution that “viewer discretion is advised” or “listener discretion is advised.”

Prosecution exhibits include a photograph of a body found inside the Pentagon after Flight 77 crashed into the building. They also feature a picture of a can of red pepper spray found in luggage at Boston’s Logan International Airport and a 52-minute “Nightline” broadcast of John Miller’s interview with Osama bin Laden, recorded May 28, 1998.

The defense evidence includes copies of report cards and a psychiatric interview of Omar Moussaoui, Zacarias Moussaoui’s father.

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