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Author Archives: Sabrina I. Pacifici

A Year of (Literal and Figurative) Ups and Downs for Our Waterways

Casey Trees: “Every other year, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation releases a State of the Bay. Similar to our annual efforts with the Tree Report Card, this report is a comprehensive measure of the Bay’s health based on 13 indicators in three categories: pollution, habitat, and fisheries. The report finds the bay “dangerously out of balance,” giving it a D+ grade, down from a C- in the last report, in 2016. Most health indicators dropped or remained the same. The three biggest slides were in nitrogen and phosphorus pollution and water clarity, each of which received an F. The drop was largely due to increased pollution from roadways, farms, and humans and poor water clarity caused by record regional rainfall. Still, there are heartening signs that the Bay is building resiliency. Bay grasses remain intact and recent studies indicate an improving trend in underwater dead zones over the long term. But the system remains dangerously out of balance. And new challenges like climate change and increasingly lax environmental protections are threatening success.

Closer to home, this past year was the very first year the Anacostia River posted a passing grade on the Anacostia Watershed Society’s State of the River Report Card. The grade — a 63, or D — is an accomplishment for a river that has failed every annual check for 10 years. Much like the Bay, booming aquatic vegetation is cause for celebration whereas water clarity and levels of toxins and trash are still much too high.

Both of these rivers suffer mightily from stormwater runoff or rainfall that flows over the ground surface. Stormwater runoff is a major issue because water flowing from impervious surfaces (e.g., roads, parking lots, driveways, roofs) brings numerous pollutants to streams and generates torrential stream flow, which causes streambank erosion and makes the water cloudy and inundates the river with sediment. The runoff also carries fecal matter, trash, and other pollutants to the river, the effects of which can clearly be seen in the Anacostia River and the Chesapeake Bay….”

CRS – Can the Department of Defense Build the Border Wall?

Via FAS/Secrecy News: “If the President were to declare a national emergency in order to justify building a “wall” on the border with Mexico, there would be certain legal authorities that he could invoke to initiate construction operations. But the scope of those legal authorities is uncertain and would almost certainly trigger litigation to challenge their… Continue Reading

The Super-Secure Quantum Cable Hiding in the Holland Tunnel

Bloomberg – Banks and governments are testing quantum key distribution technology to guard their closest secrets: “Commuters inching through rush-hour traffic in the Holland Tunnel between Lower Manhattan and New Jersey don’t know it, but a technology likely to be the future of communication is being tested right outside their car windows. Running through the tunnel is… Continue Reading

Redefining Representation: The Women of the 116th Congress

The New York Times – photographs of all but one (Liz Cheney of Wyoming) of the women (80% of them are Democrats) of the 116th Congress of the United States of America. “Just over a century ago, Jeannette Rankin of Montana won a seat in the House of Representatives, becoming the first woman ever elected… Continue Reading

The Hunt for the Nazi Loot Still Sitting on Library Shelves

The New York Times: “The hunt for the millions of books stolen by the Nazis during World War II has been pursued quietly and diligently for decades, but it has been largely ignored, even as the search for lost art drew headlines. The plundered volumes seldom carried the same glamour as the looted paintings, which… Continue Reading

The Top 10 Tech Issues for 2019

Via Linkedin – Microsoft CLO/President: By Brad Smith and Carol Ann Browne “This past year we’ve addressed some of history’s most important innovations in our Today in Technology blog and video series. Our focus is always on what we can learn from the past and apply to today’s issues. Today we look back at more recent… Continue Reading

Report – world has become more “permissionless” because of the diminished power of traditional gatekeepers

Via Axios – PERMISSIONLESS: What It Means, How It Happened, Will it Last: “While the Internet revolution enabled “permissionless” business models in finance, entertainment & politics, such unregulated disruptors are under growing attack. From the tech sector to the White House, many object to the divisions these new actors exacerbate or the externalities they often… Continue Reading

Once-revolutionary smartphone is losing its power to amaze and maybe its singular hold on our lives

WSJ [paywall] The Big Hangup: Why the Future Is Not Just Your Phone The once-revolutionary smartphone is losing its power to amaze—and maybe its singular hold on our live: “Steve Jobs took to a stage a dozen years ago this week to introduce a revolutionary new product to the world: the first Apple iPhone. That… Continue Reading

The data casualties of the federal government shutdown

Pew: “The ongoing shutdown of large parts of the federal government – now at 18 days and counting – has left hundreds of thousands of federal workers either furloughed or working without pay indefinitely, reduced staffing at national parks to skeleton levels, and closed down popular museums. It’s also squeezed the daily flood of data from federal… Continue Reading

Location data is ground zero in privacy wars

Axios: “Our phones’ GPS and location capabilities are a key part of what make them magical — enabling them to speed our commutes, hail rides and find the devices when we lose them. These capabilities are also ground zero for the looming fight over defining the boundaries of privacy and acceptable uses of our personal… Continue Reading

Impact of Partial Federal Gov’t Shutdown on Legal Information

AALL: “As of midnight December 21, 2018, the President and Congress were unable to agree on the provisions of a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the federal government. As a result, a partial shutdown of some government operations now enters its fourth week. This is a politically dynamic event, and AALL continues to monitor federal… Continue Reading

Impact of Government Shutdown Across America

The New York Times – “In many parts of the United States, the shutdown has underscored how deeply the federal government is connected to everyday life. “From the start, it has seemed like the federal government shutdown with no end in sight. More than three weeks later, with Washington still gridlocked over President Trump’s demand… Continue Reading