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NewsBytes... More White House IT issues... and a concert violinist

I'm starting with the White House e-mail... but jump to the bottom of this item to read the story about whether if a concert violinist is in a busy subway station, does anybody stop and hear him. It's a fascinating read.... But first...

Yes, more on the White House's use of non-official e-mail for somewhat official work. The LAT this morning has this story:

GOP-issued laptops now a White House headache [LAT, 4.9.2007]
Democrats say a private e-mail system was used in violation of federal rules

WASHINGTON — When Karl Rove and his top deputies arrived at the White House in 2001, the Republican National Committee provided them with laptop computers and other communication devices to be used alongside their government-issued equipment.

The back-channel e-mail and paging system, paid for and maintained by the RNC, was designed to avoid charges that had vexed the Clinton White House — that federal resources were being used inappropriately for political campaign purposes.

Now, that dual computer system is creating new embarrassment and legal headaches for the White House, the Republican Party and Rove's once-vaunted White House operation.

The WSJ also has more on the White House e-mail story today:

The widespread use of private email accounts by some top White House officials is sparking a congressional probe into the practice and whether it violates a post-Nixon law requiring that White House deliberations be documented.

Other items:

* ABC News.com's The Blotter blog reports that the Office of Special Counsel is investigating potential Hatch Act violations by GSA Administrator Lurita Doan. Is that really new? I have trouble keeping track of all the investigations these days.

* Time Magazine's cover story this week is about the Army, which Time says, is "broken down."

Broken Down [Time, 4.6.2007]
What the war in Iraq has done to America's Army--and how to fix it. A Time investigation

* The WSJ.com's Morning Briefing column has this:

A Privately Funded Military Internet Program [WSJ, 4.9.2007]

Cisco Systems, satellite operator Intelsat and the Pentagon have teamed up on a program to provide high-speed Internet connections to military units that are in motion, The Wall Street Journal Reports. "The demonstration project requires private investors led by a fledgling private-equity fund to shoulder the entire cost of a networking system for directing messages," the Journal says. About $800 million is budgeted for the first installation on an Intelsat satellite already under construction, with hopes to raise more to pay for four similar projects. "We get to test something for a fraction of what it would cost" if the Air Force funded it, Mike Florio, the military's manager for the program, tells the Journal.

If you have problems with the link, try this one... at least temporarily.

* USA Today reports that New Orleans and Louisiana, swamped when the city's storm protections failed during Hurricane Katrina, demand the federal government pay a damage bill that is more than double the entire cost of the massive Gulf Coast rebuilding effort, and so many claims have been filed against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that the agency needs at least another month even to tally the floor-to-ceiling stacks.

* A Google brain drain? The San Jose Mercury News reports that less than three years after going public, Google is confronting one of the more confounding consequences of its phenomenal success: a potential brain drain if its earliest -- and richest -- employees quit after earning the right to cash in the last of the stock options that made them millionaires.

* Also from the SJMN:

Early this year, Tech Notebook reported Sun Microsystems Chairman Scott McNealy thought business school ethics courses were a waste of time. When it comes to ethics, he said, "either you're born with it or you learn it from your parents." McNealy seemed to think corporate policies weren't going to do the trick either. Two Hewlett-Packard executives recently said they disagreed.

* BusinessWeek has a pro-con piece about whether the government should stop companies from outsourcing jobs:

Outsourcing: Where's Uncle Sam?

* Another BusinessWeek piece on how the makers of the FireFox Web browser are working to incorporate Web 2.0 tools.

Look What's Cooking in Mozilla's Lab

It's experimenting with ways to incorporate popular features, like social networking applications, into the Firefox browser

Finally... Two stories that I really loved yesterday.

This one from Wired:

Young Scientists Design Open-Source Program at NASA

Jessy Cowan-Sharp and Robert Schingler set up CosmosCode to help NASA develop open-source software for space exploration.

NASA scientists plan to announce a new open-source project this month called CosmosCode -- it's aimed at recruiting volunteers to write code for live space missions, Wired News has learned.

The program was launched quietly last year under NASA's CoLab entrepreneur outreach program, created by Robert Schingler, 28, and Jessy Cowan-Sharp, 25, of NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. Members of the CosmosCode group have been meeting in Second Life and will open the program to the public in the coming weeks, organizers said.

But my very favorite story of the day was in the WP Magazine on Sunday:

Pearls Before Breakfast [WP, 4.5.2007]
Joshua Bell is one of the world's greatest violinists. His instrument of choice is a multimillion-dollar Stradivarius. If he played for spare change, incognito, outside a D.C. Metro station, would anyone notice?

It is an amazing read and I think it really says something about our 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week world, and unfortunately, I probably wouldn't have stopped either.

Posted by Christopher Dorobek on Apr 10, 2007 at 12:16 PM


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