Wednesday, January 29, 2014

It's a bit of a shock and a bit of panic, but since we don't really understand it, it doesn't take long to forget the concerns and “get back to normal.”
Anne D’Innocenzio of Associated Press reports:
American shoppers say they are very concerned about the safety of their personal information following a massive security breach at Target, but many aren’t taking steps to ensure their data is more secure, according to a new Associated Press–GfK Poll.
The poll finds a striking contradiction: Americans say they fear becoming victims of theft after the breach that compromised 40 million credit and debit cards and personal information of up to 70 million customers. Yet they are apathetic to try to protect their data.
In the survey, nearly half of Americans say they are extremely concerned about their personal data when shopping in stores since the breach. Sixty-one percent say they have deep worries when spending online, while 62 percent are very concerned when they buy on their mobile phones.
But just 37 percent have tried to use cash for purchases rather than pay with plastic in response to data thefts like the one at Target, while only 41 percent have checked their credit reports. And even fewer have changed their online passwords at retailers’ websites, requested new credit or debit card numbers from their bank or signed up for a credit monitoring service.
Read more on KMSP.
So… have the card issuers’ reassurances that consumers won’t be responsible somewhat backfired by making consumers too complacent? If so, what’s the solution?

Say all the right things, do whatever it takes?
Recently, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) launched a new practical manual for law enforcement officers on “Human Rights in Counter-Terrorism Investigations.” The manual, produced in partnership with the OSCE Strategic Police Matters Unit, provides practical guidance for law enforcement policy and training on conducting counter-terrorism operations in a human rights compliant matter.

(Related) (See above)
CNN today provided the most detailed account yet of the latest U.S. drone strike, carried out this past weekend in Somalia. US officials (quoted anonymously by CNN) said the strike targeted al-Shabaab suspect Ahmed Abdi Godane. The report also notes that the strike was carried out by the Defense Department, and that officials said that it was unclear yet whether Godane was killed in the attack.
The report also contains a detail that raises questions about what rules the U.S. applies to its strikes in Somalia.

For all my students. Interesting that they don't have downloadable versions yet.
Free definitive guide to verifying digital content for emergency coverage
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on January 28, 2014
“Authored by leading journalists from the BBC, Storyful, ABC, Digital First Media and other verification experts, the Verification Handbook is a groundbreaking new resource for journalists and aid providers. It provides the tools, techniques and step-by-step guidelines for how to deal with user-generated content (UGC) during emergencies.” [Currently available on the web. Printed, ePub and free PDF versions will soon be available.]

Oh look, Math students! A “Real World” use for “all this math stuff!”
Dominant Wireless Broadband Providers Overcharge U.S. Consumers by $15 Billion Per Year
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on January 28, 2014
“The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) today released a report entitled Abuse of Market Power for Broadband Internet Access Service: Blind Theory and Bonehead Analysis Can’t Hide the Problem, demonstrating that the recent analyses of broadband prices and services from the Phoenix Center and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) are fundamentally flawed and purposefully misleading.
“CFA’s comprehensive, fact-based analysis stands in stark contrast to the error and bluster we’ve seen from the Phoenix Center and ITIF,” Dr. Mark Cooper, Director of Research at CFA and author of the report, said. CFA’s latest report was filed as an ex parte supplement to the record in several ongoing Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proceedings that are that are vital to broadband policy and on the agenda for the Federal Communications Commission Open Meeting on January 30, 2014. “The FCC prides itself on being a data-driven organization, and in these proceedings seeks an accurate picture of the status of prices and product offerings in broadband Internet access service to inform sound broadband policy,” Cooper said. “However, there is little factual data to be found in the Phoenix Center/ITIF reports. Indeed, by simply correcting their math, we show that the dominant incumbents actually overcharge customers by about $15 billion per year for wireless service.” “Utilizing data from the New America Foundation (NAF) global survey of rates, terms and conditions of wireline and wireless service, CFA found that U.S. providers charge more, offer slower speeds and, in the case of mobile broadband, have lower caps and more onerous penalties for exceeding those caps than their non-U.S. counterparts,” Cooper added.”

(Related) Son of a gun! Two “real world” examples in the same year! Maybe there's a use for this stuff after all! (Answer “Yes” to that question on the next quiz)
Anne Milgram: Why smart statistics are the key to fighting crime
When she became the attorney general of New Jersey in 2007, Anne Milgram quickly discovered a few startling facts: not only did her team not really know who they were putting in jail, but they had no way of understanding if their decisions were actually making the public safer. And so began her ongoing, inspirational quest to bring data analytics and statistical analysis to the US criminal justice system.

Are “College students (and parents)” a large enough voter block to get Congress interested?
Report – Fixing the Broken Textbook Market
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on January 28, 2014
U.S. PIRG: “The cost of college textbooks has skyrocketed in recent years. To students and families already struggling to afford high tuition and fees, an additional $1,200 per year on books and supplies can be the breaking point. As publishers keep costs high by pumping out new editions and selling books bundled with software, students are forced to forgo book purchases or otherwise undermine their academic progress.
  1. High textbook costs continue to deter students from purchasing their assigned materials despite concern for their grades. 65% of students said that they had decided against buying a textbook because it was too expensive. The survey also found that 94% of students who had foregone purchasing a textbook were concerned that doing so would hurt their grade in a course. More than half of the students felt significant concern for their grade.
  2. High textbook costs can have a ripple effect on students’ other academic decisions. Nearly half of all students surveyed said that the cost of textbooks impacted how many/which classes they took each semester. Students attend college seeking job preparation and/or degree attainment. Careful course selection is often necessary in order to yield the results that a student is seeking within the timeframe they are prepared to study. It is especially concerning that this process may be being undermined by high textbook costs.
  3. Students want alternatives, expressing support for textbooks that are available free online and buying a hard copy is optional. 82% of students felt they would do significantly better in a course if the textbook was available free online and buying a hard copy was optional. This is exactly how open textbooks are designed. Not only is the open textbook an ideal alternative to a traditional textbook from a student point of view, but it is the only product in the marketplace that can directly challenge the high prices that publishers charge for new editions. These high prices, which outpace inflation, underpin the entire textbook marketplace, and drive market conditions for other alternatives such as the used book and rental markets. Overall, this study demonstrates that despite recent steps forward in the marketplace, high textbook costs will continue to be a problem for students unless the cost of high-priced, new editions of college textbooks comes down.”

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