• President Obama’s State of the Union Echoes Recommendations from the Pell Center

    The Pell Center’s work on cybersecurity has proven to be a step ahead when these topics reach the national stage.

    President Barack Obama has previewed some of the key issues he plans to discuss during his State of the Union address, especially new cybersecurity initiatives in areas from ID theft to consumer privacy. One of the more notable proposals is the creation of a national data breach notification law that would require all companies and financial institutions to notify customers that their personal information has been compromised within 30 days of a breach. The new cybersecurity proposals also call for updated laws to prosecute cyber criminals.

    “The spiraling increase in cyber-attacks and disruptions of service cannot go unanswered,” says Pell Center Adjunct Fellow Ellen Giblin. “The President must propose a new federal data breach law that brings together all stakeholders in this complex problem and allows for greater harmonization for companies in reporting data breaches and cyber-attacks.”

    Pell Center Adjunct Fellow Ken Bell stressed that “specific, accurate, and timely notification of a breach is fundamental to give consumers and companies the ability to respond.”

    Since January 2014, the Rhode Island Corporate Cybersecurity Initiative (RICCI), hosted by the Pell Center, has focused attention on data breaches. In September 2014, the Pell Center hosted a workshop for public and private leaders from across Rhode Island to review gaps in the current RI notification of breach law and to propose methods to strengthen the existing law.

    Informed by the results of the Pell Center’s September workshop, RI State Senator Louis DiPalma introduced a comprehensive data breach notification bill. As Cyber Leadership Fellow Francesca Spidalieri explains, “the new law would raise the cost of data breaches in Rhode Island; better protect state customers’ personal information; provide state companies with a specific timeframe and process to follow in the case of a data breach; and define the role that state agencies and law enforcement would play in those instances. In addition, this law would apply to all companies that own, license, or manage RI residents’ personal information, and not just cover companies based in RI.

    Similarly, the bill proposed by President Obama intends to protect consumers while providing much-needed focus on concrete steps that can be taken in case of a breach. The president’s proposal would simplify the maze of state breach laws that currently exist. While most states, including Rhode Island have existing data breach notification laws, there are no national standards.

    Lawmakers have tried for nearly a decade to pass a federal bill to replace the patchwork of state laws, but have repeatedly failed, in part because either the laws went too far, or didn’t go far enough. DiPalma’s bill could be a model for the nation.

    Additional cybersecurity proposals that the President is scheduled to announce include a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights that would give consumers more control over their digital data; a Student Data Privacy Act, which would prevent information collected about students from being used for anything but educational purposes; and a broadband expansion plan.

  • The Case for the New Congress to Restore Defense Earmarks

    Pell Center Executive Director Dr. Jim Ludes and Ms. Kelly Mendell, President of MIKEL, a RI based defense company, published an op-ed today calling for the restoration of Congressional earmarks for defense research and development.  An excerpt is below.  The full piece is available at at RollCall.com.

    A Rose by Any Other Name: It’s Time to Bring Earmarks Back to Defense R&D

     By James M. Ludes and Kelly Mendell
    Nov. 5, 2014, 5 a.m.

    In 2010, congressional Republicans campaigned in the midterm elections on a promise to end earmarks — the direction of appropriated dollars to specific projects, typically in a lawmaker’s district. Proponents of the ban championed it as a step towards fiscal discipline. In reality, the ban has come at the expense of America’s small businesses and our national security, and it coincides with an historic period of legislative inertia. It’s time to restore earmarks.

    Small businesses are the lifeblood of the American economy. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2011 (the last year for which data is available) there were nearly 5.7 million small businesses — a firm with fewer than 500 employees. In total, small businesses employed nearly 55 million Americans that year and paid nearly $2.2 trillion in wages — and it wasn’t a fluke. From 1993 to mid-2013, small businesses created 63 percent of the net new jobs in the United States. The truth is that the economy grows as small businesses grow.

    Small businesses also play an important role in the American defense industrial base, where small, high-tech firms rapidly churn out or integrate cutting edge technology. Previously, these businesses lobbied Congress for earmarks to support investment in important, but unfunded, research and development (R&D). The resulting earmarks brought new thinkers to specific challenges with impressive results, such as the Predator drone.

    The signature vehicle of American aerial strike since 9/11, the Predator began with a series of earmarks secured by Republican Reps. Buck McKeon and Jerry Lewis of Southern California. The local beneficiary of their efforts was a small, eight-person shop: General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. The firm is now one of the world’s leading developers of drones and employs thousands of workers. . . .

    To continue reading, click here.


  • Quick Hit: The President’s Strategy for ISIL Assessed

    Obama Address to Nation (140910)

    In 15 minutes of remarks tonight , President Barrack Obama laid out his strategy to confront the threat posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL.) The president’s much awaited strategy can be condensed to this:

    1. Train and equip local forces—whether Iraqi or Syrian—to fight ISIL on the ground. Provide additional American advisors to support these local forces.
    2. Use American airpower to support forces on the ground—including in Syria.
    3. Take necessary measures to harden America’s homeland defenses while also countering extremist ideology. And
    4. Respond to the humanitarian crises spurred by ISIL’s rampage and the Syrian civil war.

    The strategy presented tonight bears a strong resemblance to the approach described by President Obama in his May commencement address to the graduating class of 2014 from the United States Military Academy at West Point.

    Things the President Did Well

    1. Stating an objective. The president said: “I can announce that America will lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat. Our objective is clear: We will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL….” You can parse that anyway you want, but the president gets high grades for simply stating the problem in clear language.
    2. Insisting on political progress in Iraq as a precursor for deeper American involvement. One reason ISIL was so successful in Iraq this summer was the condition of Iraqi politics.
    3. Recognized that the problem can’t be solved in Iraq or Syria alone. This is a transnational problem and will need to be addressed on both sides of the border.
    4. Follow the Money. The sources of ISIL’s financial sustenance have been well documented. The President rightfully prioritized cutting off the flow of seemingly endless financial resources to ISIL.
    5. Seal the Borders. Foreign fighters continue to pour into Syria from neighboring countries—especially Turkey. Turkish forces can and should make that transit much more difficult.
    6. Counter the ideology. I’ve gone on at length about both the Obama and Bush administrations failing to mount real counter-ideological campaigns. The plan described by the President tonight sheds no additional light on this element of the struggle–but he did mention it and for that he should get credit.

    Things the President Didn’t Do Well

    1. Boasting. The President bragged that when Russia grew aggressive in Ukraine, the world looked to the United States. It was poorly conceived for the President to call out Russia now when in the same speech, he expressed his intention to chair a meeting of the UN Security Council to seek more international support against ISIL. In case anyone forgot, Russia still has a seat–not to mention a veto–on the Security Council.
    2. Describe the political end-game in Syria. And here’s the rub. Even if we get Iraq “right,” without a political end-game in Syria, it’s incredibly difficult to imagine how this campaign ends.
    3. Focused too much on tactical military operations. The President’s strategy, as described tonight, really is focused on the application of armed force. That’s not to say it’s inappropriate. But the conversation in this country would benefit from a President who took the time to educate the public about real strategic choices and not simply tactical options.

    What seems most likely is a period of persistent conflict with the terrorist army known as ISIL. The American military will kill a lot of extremists. Our aircraft will destroy their pickup trucks and the equipment they’ve seized from routed Iraqi forces. After several years of conflict, American pundits–if not some leader–will declare ISIL dead. And that organization will, ultimately, be killed. But the extremist threat will continue on as long as the ideas that undergird ISIL go unchallenged.


  • D-Day + 70 Years

    Ike's draft of a statement ad D-Day failed.

    Ike’s draft of a statement had D-Day failed.

    I originally posted this on June 6, 2008 on the Flashpoint Blog of the American Security Project.  I’m re-posting it here today, the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

    General Dwight D. Eisenhower, USA, Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Forces, drafted a statement on the eve of the D-Day invasion.  He intended to issue it to the press should the invasion fail and be pushed back into the sea.

    He wrote:

    Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops.

    My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available.  The troops, the Air and Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do.

    If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt, it is mine alone.

    As I researched my dissertation about President Eisenhower, I came across the statement.  I had read it before in various books that told the tale of the D-Day invasion and Eisenhower’s leadership.  But what had never occurred to me–or been explained in the accounts I had read–was that Eisenhower corrected his own draft, by hand.

    The original draft read:

    Our landing in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and the troops have been withdrawn.

    This operation at this time and place was based upon the best information available.  The troops, the Air and Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do.

    If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt, it is mine alone.

    Note the important edits.  After getting the idea on paper, he eliminated the passive voice and he clarified responsibility.  Where he could have said, “the troops have been withdrawn,” he instead said, “I have withdrawn the troops.”  Where he could have said, “This operation at this time and place,” he instead said, “My decision to attack at this time and place.” He accepted responsibility and he did not pass the buck.

    As a recovering editor, I recall working with staff to instill the appropriate contempt for the passive voice. It eliminates the active agent from language and contributes to fuzzy thinking.  “Mistakes were made,” is a classic in Washington.  Well, who made those mistakes?  They didn’t happen just by themselves.  Someone, some individual, some person made those mistakes.

    What’s so striking about the Eisenhower note is that in it, he eliminated the passive voice to say, clearly, “I made the mistakes.”

    I was thinking of this in the last two days, not just because of the D-Day anniversary, but also because the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence finally was able to release its Phase II report on the use and misuse of pre-war intelligence on Iraq.

    Since it first became apparent in the summer of 2003 that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction, we’ve heard variations on the old refrain of “Mistakes Were Made:”  the intelligence was flawed; other intelligence agencies believed that Iraq had WMD; or members of Congress believed the same thing the administration was saying.

    But if we go back to Bob Woodward’s account of a key briefing of President Bush in December of 2002, we see the President didn’t believe what he was selling, either.  After the briefing by Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet and Deputy Director of Intelligence John McLaughlin, Bush said:

    Nice try. . . . I don’t think this is quite–it’s not something that Joe Public would understand or would gain a lot of confidence from.

    Woodward continued:

    Bush turned to Tenet.  ‘I’ve been told all this intelligence about having WMD and this is the best we’ve got?’  From the end of one of the couches in the Oval Office, Tenet rose up, threw his arms in the air.  ‘It’s a slam dunk case!’ the DCI said.

    Read the context, carefully.  Tenet wasn’t saying it was a “slam dunk” that Iraq had WMD.  He was saying that the public would buy the argument.

    We did.  Congress did.  The press did.

    There comes a time in life when you have to think for yourself.  You have to arm yourself with knowledge, trust your own judgment regardless of what others might say, and make informed decisions about your future.  Those who look to you for advice and leadership depend on you to be honest, to be a person of integrity, to put country above self.

    I’m not looking for an Eisenhower moment in this administration because I don’t believe they made “mistakes.”  The Senate report confirms what Scott McClellan alleged in his new book, What Happened.  The administration mounted a propaganda campaign against the American people to build the case for war.

    That’s not a mistake.  It’s a crime.

    As we mark the 64th anniversary of D-Day, it’s worth asking if our leadership has been worthy of our country.  Some might argue that it doesn’t matter how we went to war because we are there now.  But of course it matters.  It matters because so many of the same people who took us to war argue that we can’t end it now.

    By D-Day, Eisenhower had done everything he could to make sure that the men under his command had everything they needed to succeed.  If they failed on the beaches, then he had failed them.  He would not try to dodge blame with laments about going “to war with the Army you have, not the Army you want,” as Donald Rumsfeld once said.  Eisenhower took responsibility for his leadership.

    I miss Ike.

  • Pell Center Announces Inaugural Nuala Pell Fellowships

    12 Salve Regina University Students Selected for Leadership Program named for Mrs. Nuala Pell

    Newport, RI—The Pell Center has named the inaugural class of Nuala Pell Fellows—members of the Salve Regina University class of 2017 who have been selected from a highly competitive pool of applicants to receive leadership development training over the course of their sophomore year at the University.Nuala Pell Honors Scholars

    Salve Regina University President Sister Jane Gerety, RSM, praised the students for their commitment to leadership and service. “We are called by our mission and our vision for this institution to prepare students for lives of distinction in service to others,” said Sister Jane.   “These young men and women have embraced that call and we are so very proud of them.”

    The Nuala Pell Leadership Program in Public Service is named for long-time Salve trustee Nuala Pell who was also the wife of Senator Claiborne Pell. Through her own service and leadership, she made important contributions to her community with a humility and grace all too rare today. Although Mrs. Pell passed away earlier this spring, last summer she helped design and create the program which now bears her name.

    As Nuala Pell Fellows, the students selected from the class of 2017 will participate in nearly 60 hours of seminar instruction on leadership and the complex challenges facing effective leaders today. They will also undertake a community service project and turn their attention to public issues with an understanding about how their voices can change the conversation.

    The program will be delivered by the core staff of the Pell Center and members of the University faculty. Seminars will be leavened with outside speakers whose personal experience or story of leadership will educate and inspire.

    “The Nuala Pell Leadership Program in Public Service is intended to be a transformative experience for its participants,” said Pell Center Executive Director Jim Ludes, Ph.D. “This generation of young Americans will have to address a long list of challenges—from a changed climate to demographic and resource shifts that will challenge the familiar and the comfortable. As a nation we will need leaders committed to service to meet these challenges head-on. We’re thrilled that the Pell Center can honor Mrs. Pell while at the same time contributing to the public good for years to come.”

    “Anyone who was blessed to know Nuala knows the gentleness of her spirit and the dignity with which she treated everyone she met,” continued Sr. Jane. “We believe the grace she embodied in her life is essential to effective leaders today and we’re delighted that the Pell Center is home to this initiative.”

    About the Pell Center

    The Pell Center is a multi-disciplinary research center—or think-tank—on the campus of Salve Regina University. Named for former-Senator Claiborne Pell, the center promotes and studies good governance, public engagement, and effective leadership at home and abroad.

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  • Pell Center and Naval War College to host “An Evening with Senator John McCain”

    Senator John McCain

    Senator John McCain

    NEWPORT, RI ̶ On Thursday, June 12, 2014 the Pell Center and the U.S. Naval War College will host “An Evening with Senator John McCain.” The Arizona Senator and 2008 Republican Party nominee for President will speak in Spruance Auditorium at the Naval War College from 6:30 PM – 8:00 PM.

    Pell Center Executive Director Jim Ludes welcomed the opportunity to host a national hero, saying, “We are delighted to work with our colleagues at the Naval War College to host Senator McCain. His legacy of faithful service to the United States is an inspiration and we are eager to welcome him to Newport.”

    “We also owe a debt of gratitude,” continued Ludes, “to Rhode Island’s own Senator Sheldon Whitehouse for bringing us all together for what promises to be a very special night.”

    Senator John McCain entered the Naval Academy in June of 1954. He served in the United States Navy as a pilot until 1981 and received numerous awards, including the Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart, and Distinguished Flying Cross. He graduated from the National War College in Washington, D.C. in 1973.

    Senator McCain was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Arizona in 1982 and elected to the United States Senate in 1986. Some of the key issues Senator McCain focuses on include agriculture; budget, taxes and economy; defense and national security; education and healthcare.

    Limited seating is available. To register, please click here.

    Date: Thursday, June 12, 2014

    Time: 6:30 PM – 8:00 pm

    Place:  Spruance Auditorium

    U.S. Naval War College

    686 Cushing Road

    Newport, RI


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  • Pell Center receives RI Foundation Grant to Support Innovation in RI Cities and Towns

    Cohort 1 of Leadership Matters includes leaders from Middletown, Newport, and Pawtucket, as well as Salve Regina University.

    Cohort 1 of Leadership Matters includes leaders from Middletown, Newport, and Pawtucket, as well as Salve Regina University.

    Newport, RI—Investing in the human capital so important to Rhode Island’s cities and towns, the Rhode Island Foundation awarded a $45,000 grant to the Pell Center at Salve Regina University to support Leadership Matters—a multi-community leadership development initiative in its first year.

    Leadership Matters is a three-phase program for public leaders in Rhode Island. In the first phase, teams from Middletown, Newport, and Pawtucket, as well as one from Salve Regina University, received 64 hours of professional development training in facilitation practices for public leaders; systems thinking; negotiation; and strategic alignment for high performance. In the second phase, the three participating communities are adopting innovation projects with mentored support made possible by the RI Foundation’s grant. In the third phase, participants will gather at the end of this year for a lessons-learned conference—an important step in creating a culture of shared learning across communities.

    “The Rhode Island Foundation is a vital institutional pillar in Rhode Island,” said Pell Center Executive Director Dr. Jim Ludes. “We’re grateful for the support and the confidence they’ve placed in us to deliver a program that will help some of the state’s most dedicated public servants achieve more for their constituents.”

    In developing Leadership Matters, the Pell Center has partnered with the Public Sector Consortium (PSC), a Cambridge, Massachusetts non-profit with an extensive track-record in providing leadership programs to public-sector audiences. The PSC’s president, Georgianna Bishop, praised the Rhode Island leaders already involved in the program. “I’ve worked with public leaders across the United States,” said Bishop, “and the people we’re working with in Rhode Island are truly exceptional for their talent and their desire to serve the public’s interest. We are thrilled to be a part of this effort and grateful to the Rhode Island Foundation for their support.”

    “The fiscal challenges facing Rhode Island municipalities make it more important than ever to invest in developing public sector leaders who can do more with less,” said Jessica David, the Rhode Island Foundation’s vice president for strategy and community investments. “We hope the Pell Center will be able to leverage our support to expand the circle of sponsors as the program delivers innovation in our cities and towns.”

    Pawtucket Mayor Don Grebien said, “The mentored support, made possible by the grant from the Rhode Island Foundation, is helping my team work better in Pawtucket.  That’s why we all signed up for this program—to help us serve our communities better—and we’re doing just that.”

    “This is real work,” said Jane Howington City Manager in Newport. “My team has taken this and begun to apply the lessons to the way the city delivers services. It’s investing everyone in the outcome, and we’re beginning to see results.”

    “This second phase is critical to the design of the program,” continued Dr. Ludes. “We built it to provide communities with support so they could tackle big issues. It’s the practical application of theory—and it would not have been possible without the support of the Rhode Island Foundation.”

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  • Podcast: Carolyn Deady on Incarceration in the U.S. and Abroad

  • Pell Center pays tribute to Jennifer Cook, Member of its Story Board

    Newport, RI –Pell Center director Jim Ludes released the following statement regarding the loss of Rhode Island College professor Jennifer Cook:

    “We are heartbroken by the passing of Jennifer Cook in a tragic accident this past weekend.  We had only just begun to work with Jennifer, but know how gifted she was as a teacher and as a storyteller. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family and friends, and also her colleagues at Rhode Island College.”

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  • $1,000 available for high school, college student producers in short film contest

    NEWPORT, R.I. – High school and undergraduate college students are being challenged to address the pressing issue of childhood poverty in a filmmaking contest. The competition is part of Story in the Public Square, a joint initiative of the Pell Center at Salve Regina University and The Providence Journal.

    The maker (or makers) of the winning film will receive $1,000 and two other films will be selected for honorable mention.

    All three will be honored during this year’s Story Day conference, April 11, 2014, when participants will explore the theme of Moving Images: Public storytelling in film, video, TV and animation. Winning productions will be published online by the Pell Center.

    Winners also will have the chance to meet and share the stage with Danny Strong, the 2014 Pell Prize winner and keynote speaker. The Emmy Award-winning actor, producer and screenwriter Strong’s script credits include Recount, Game Change, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, and Mockingjay, the two-part Hunger Games finale, set for release later this year and in 2015.

    “Nearly a quarter of American children live in poverty today,” said G. Wayne Miller, who directs Story in the Public Square. “In a recent speech to Rhode Island Kids Count in Providence, Marian Wright Edelman, founder and director of the Children’s Defense Fund, said ‘If we don’t stand for ending poverty in the richest nation on earth, we don’t stand for anything.’

    “So, we challenge students to tell a story through a short video, film or animation that would enlighten viewers about childhood poverty – and move people to take action individually, collectively or through public policy.”

    Contest Rules:

    * All entries must be uploaded to YouTube no later than 11:59:59 p.m. Sunday, March 30, 2014. Early entries are strongly encouraged.

    * After successful upload, send your YouTube URL/link, along with your name(s), your school’s name(s) and a valid email address, to: [email protected] with “2014 contest” in the subject field.

    * All productions must be the original work of the maker(s). If a team wins, members will divide prize proceeds. By submitting your entry, you agree to have your film published by the Pell Center.

    * Productions must be no longer than 3 minutes (3:00).

    * Productions may be either fiction or non-fiction, but they must address childhood poverty.

    * All contestants must be enrolled as a high school or undergraduate student at an accredited U.S. school, college or university at the time of the contest and provide proof of enrollment prior to award.

    * All awards will be decided by a committee of judges. The committee reserves the right in its sole discretion to make no award if judging criteria have not been met. The decisions of the committee are final.

    Rules are available online at: http://www.salve.edu/pellCenter/projects/publicSquare/studentContest.aspx

    Criteria for Judging:

    * Does the production address childhood poverty?

    * Could it inspire action?

    * Is it well done?

    To learn more about the conference and to register, visit www.publicstory.org.

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