David Fletcher's Government and Technology Weblog : news & perspectives from a long-time egov advocate
Updated: 3/3/2003; 7:00:39 AM.



Friday, February 28, 2003
Power Plant of the Future

Coal-powered plant in southern UtahEnergy Secretary, Spencer Abraham, just announced a project to build a new prototype for coal-fueled power plants.  The project is a $1 billion venture that will combine electricity and hydrogen production with the "virtual total elimination of harmful emissions, including greenhouse gases."  Secretary Abrahams said,

"FutureGen will be one of the boldest steps our nation has taken toward a pollution-free energy future.  Knowledge from FutureGen will help turn coal from an environmentally challenging energy resource into an environmentally benign one. The prototype power plant will serve as the test bed for demonstrating the best technologies the world has to offer."

Coal is the most abundant fossil fuel in the United States with supplies projected to last 250 years or more.  Utah has extensive coal reserves and should be very interested in this project.  In fact, coal is the official Utah state rock.

Utah Fuels the West: A History of Utah's Coal Industry

Utah Historical Coal Production

The State of Flux of the Utah Coal Sector

Utah Energy Office: Coal Data

Top 10 Coal Producing States

Utah State Profile of Exposure to Coal-Fired Power Plants

Coal's Resurgence in Electric Power Generation (Feb. 2003)

EPA: Clear Skies in Utah

EIA Coal Infrastructure and Reserves

4:44:32 PM    
Identity Theft Group Dismantled

News just released by the Utah Attorney General's Office:


Authorities hope that a well-organized identity theft ring that victimized banks, businesses and individuals has been dismantled. Today federal, state and local law enforcement officers arrested 9 people suspected of forgery, distributing methamphetamine and illegally possessing a weapon. Two others have also been charged in connection with the undercover investigation.

The eleven defendants are charged with 45 felony counts. The investigation is ongoing and more arrests and charges could be forthcoming.

"These suspects took stolen Drivers Licenses, checks and bank cards and turned them into fake ID's and checks. Then they used the cash to buy meth and guns," said Jade Pusey, Director of Law Enforcement at the Attorney General's Office.

Jeni Armbrust was one of the victims. Investigators discovered her credit cards and check book during the investigation. "It was devastating," said Armbrust. "It's absolutely scary that someone has your identity and is pretending to be you all over town and passing your checks."

The following people have been charged and arrested:

* Christopher Owen Young, 35, One 1st Degree Felony, Controlled Substance

* Messalina Dejongh, 27, Two 1st Degree Felonies, Controlled Substance

* Rachel Sutton, 41, Three 3rd Degree Felonies, Forgery & Possession of a Writing Device

* Mark Allen Leake, 35, Fourteen 3rd Degree Felonies, Unlawful Possession of Card & One 1st Degree Felony, Controlled Substance

* Jody Lee Turnbow, 36, One 1st Degree Felony, Controlled Substance

* Troy K. Miller, 39, Five 3rd Degree Felonies, Possession of a Forged Writing

* Shayne Grover, 36, Two 3rd Degree Felonies, Possession of a Writing Device & Possession of a Handgun by a Restricted Person

* Anthony (Tony) Vinucci, 38, Four 3rd Degree Felonies, Forgery

* Manuel Pacheco, 39, Five 3rd Degree Felonies, Forgery & Possession of a Forged Writing

The following people have been charged and have not yet been arrested:

* Seth Plexico, 31, Four 3rd Degree Felonies, Forgery & Possession of a Writing Device

* David Ray Hymas, 30, Two 3rd Degree Felonies, Forgery & Possession of a Forged writing

The multi-state investigation included law enforcement officers from the Attorney General's Office; FBI; Joint Terrorism Task Force; Joint Criminal Apprehension Team; Department of Corrections STG/Gang Investigation Unit and their SERT team; United States Secret Service; United States Customs Department; Utah Department of Public Safety; State Computer Crime Lab and their Special Bureau of Investigations; Utah Highway Patrol; Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office Metro Gang Unit and their SWAT team; Midvale Police Department; West Valley Police Department; Grand County Sheriff's Office. Representatives from Key Bank, Wells Fargo Bank, and Zions Bank and the Utah Bankers Association also helped in the successful undercover operation.

The Utah Attorney General's Office started investigating identity theft last July to help deal with the increasing incidents of violence associated with the crime.

"Everyone involved in this investigation should be congratulated for protecting more people from facing the misery that comes with having your identity stolen," said Attorney General Mark Shurtleff.

Consumers can find out more about identity theft and ways to reduce their risk at http://www.attorneygeneral.utah.gov/CA/IdFraudMain.htm.

3:52:51 PM    
Do Not Call List
OK, earlier I mentioned that the Federal government would be creating a do-not-call database to allow citizens to specify their preference to not be solicited by telemarketers.  Utah Senate Bill 194 requires the implementation of a state database to support implementation.  Responsibility for the system is assigned to the Division of Consumer Protection in the Department of Commerce.  There are fees that apply both to the person that wants to be included in the "no call" database and to the person or company that wants to solicit by telephone.  There is a fiscal note of $120,000 in 2004 that increases to $148,500 in 2005.  The FTC will be maintaining the Federal "Do Not Call Registry."  I'm not sure why each state should maintain a separate registry, because of the way that this is really a national issue.
11:38:13 AM    
Bills passing the Utah Senate

Senate Bill 151 (Utah), which makes changes to the governance structure of information technology in the state just passed out of the Senate (9:35 am) on a vote of 26-0.  There has been a lot of commentary on what this bill will accomplish.  It will now move to the House where I expect it to pass pretty easily.

Senator Blackham's immunity bill, Limitation of Judgements against Governmental Entities, also just passed the Senate.  The bill places caps on the exposure of proprietary activities of government.  In a concession to trial lawyers, a sunset date of December 31, 2004, was added.

9:52:36 AM    

In an interesting essay on Futurology in the Journal of Digital Information, Jenny Weight asks the question, "are digital information systems like a consciousness?"  She refers to Mark Napier's fascinating digital art entitled p-Soup.  Check this out during your lunch hour for a interesting digital experience.

Of interest: the Journal maintains a special collection of essays entitled Chinese Collections in the Digital Library.  Charles Muller and Michael Beddow write about their implementation of the CJK-English Dictionary using XML.

8:43:28 AM    
Router Security Courtesy of NSA

As a public service, the National Security Agency provides a series of security recommendation guides online.  It's a good place to get started when developing network security policies.  The Router Security Configuration Guide was updated earlier this month and contains these recommendations:

  •  Router security policy written, approved, distributed.
  •  Router IOS version checked and up to date.
  •  Router configuration kept off-line, backed up, access to it limited.
  •  Router configuration is well-documented, commented.
  •  Router users and passwords configured and maintained.
  •  Password encryption in use, enable secret in use.
  •  Enable secret difficult to guess, knowledge of it strictly limited.
  • if not, change the enable secret immediately)
  •  Access restrictions imposed on Console, Aux, VTYs.
  •  Unneeded network servers and facilities disabled.
  •  Necessary network services configured correctly (e.g. DNS)
  •  Unused interfaces and VTYs shut down or disabled.
  •  Risky interface services disabled.
  •  Port and protocol needs of the network identified and checked.
  •  Access lists limit traffic to identified ports and protocols.
  •  Access lists block reserved and inappropriate addresses.
  •  Static routes configured where necessary.
  •  Routing protocols configured to use integrity mechanisms.
  •  Logging enabled and log recipient hosts identified and configured.
  •  Routerís time of day set accurately, maintained with NTP.
  •  Logging set to include consistent time information.
  •  Logs checked, reviewed, archived in accordance with local policy.
  •  SNMP disabled or enabled with good community strings and ACLs.

I suppose that the agency has changed quite a bit from where it was in the seventies and early eighties during the Cold War and when Bamford's The Puzzle Palace was required reading.   NSA is still looking for good SIGINT analysts.


The Center for Contemporary Conflict is new to me even though I spent two years in Monterey near the Naval Postgraduate School where the Center is located.  Their strategic insights series is a source of perspectives on US involvement around the world.  We used to spend time down at El Estero lake and Dennis the Menace park just down the road from NPS.

8:23:53 AM    

© Copyright 2003 David Fletcher.

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