Today in OpenGov: Anonymous tips


In today's edition, the healthcare industry launches an ad blitz against Medicare for All, the US Ambassador to Germany calls out journalists for blocking him on Twitter, flights out of Hong Kong are canceled amid ongoing protests, and more. 

washington watch

Image via Pixabay.
  • The healthcare industry is targeting 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls on Medicare for All. "A group of major drugmakers, insurance companies and private hospitals staunchly opposes Medicare for All and other healthcare plans proposed by 2020 Democrats. And it is spending big on ads in August to tell Americans why. The Partnership for America’s Health Care Future — whose members include Blue Cross/Blue ShieldPharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America and the Federation of American Hospitals— is spending more than $200,000 on TV ads this month, according to an analysis of Federal Communications Commission filings available in OpenSecrets’ political ad database." (Center for Responsive Politics)
  • The federal government is prepping a new way for ethical hackers to report software vulnerabilities. "The U.S. government is experimenting with a secure and anonymous portal for reporting software vulnerabilities to encourage closer collaboration with ethical hackers. The initiative is a recognition of the lingering reluctance that some security researchers have felt in flagging bugs for federal officials, despite a longstanding program run by the Department of Homeland Security. The project would use SecureDrop, the open-source software that some news organizations rely on for anonymous tips, to submit vulnerability information." (CyberScoop)
  • How music can help break down organizational silos. "Silos spell trouble, notably for advocates and policy professionals. These teams often get the short end of the stick when it comes to funding and other vital resources, making them especially reliant on other work channels for help and thus especially vulnerable to the operational inefficiencies silos create. In late June, advocates met at the Advocacy Leaders' Council to discuss their experience with silos in their own organizations. Having spent thousands of hours at the keyboard as a musician, I've found that lessons learned from performing music also apply to overcoming silos." (Congressional Management Foundation)


  • The U.S. Ambassador to Germany is calling out journalists for blocking him on Twitter. "U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell is calling out several journalists he says have blocked him on Twitter. Grenell tweeted screenshots on Sunday that he had been blocked by NBC News journalists Chuck Todd and Kristen Welker, as well as Mark Landler of The New York Times…A source familiar with knowledge of the accounts told The Hill that the NBC journalists blocked Grenell years ago. Spokespeople for the Times and NBC were not immediately available for comment. Grenell’s Twitter has drawn controversy in years past." (The Hill)
  • State Department hiring freeze impacted safety and morale, according to new IG report. "A 16-month hiring freeze at the State Department hurt both safety and morale within the department, according to a report released Friday by the State Department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG)…For example, the Bureau of Diplomatic Security said it was unable to fully staff its command center, which is responsible for monitoring potential threats against U.S. diplomats and American citizens abroad, during the freeze, according to the report." (The Hill)
  • The Trump administration wants to strip immigration judges of their right to unionize. "The Trump administration is looking to strip immigration judges of their rights to unionize, taking aim at a labor group that has vocally criticized some of the president’s major policy initiatives.  The Justice Department filed its petition with the Federal Labor Relations Authority on Friday in an attempt to decertify the National Association of Immigration Judges. The union—originally certified in 1979—represents about 400 judges around the country. The administration is arguing they serve in management positions and are therefore not eligible to unionize. The effort follows a similar, and unsuccessful, strategy pursued by the Clinton administration." (Government Executive)

around the world

Protesters at Hong Kong's airport on July 26th. Image via Wikimedia Commons.
  • Flights out of Hong Kong's airport canceled amid escalating protests. "All remaining flights out of Hong Kong airport were canceled today as thousands of protesters continued to occupy the main terminal. Passengers who had already checked in for departing flights this morning could still leave, but all flights after 6 p.m. were canceled. According to the airport's website, most incoming flights were expected to arrive on schedule. The cancellation of hundreds of flights marks a serious escalation of the protests, now in their ninth week." (POLITICO)
  • Chinese propaganda gets tech savvy to change with the times. "Earlier this year, a new app was launched in China to put the patriotism of Chinese citizens to the test. Named “Study Xi to Strengthen the Nation”, the app quizzes users on all things related to President Xi Jinping – his policies, activities, achievements, theories and thoughts. Users can earn points and win prizes for correct answers and compete with colleagues and friends to see who knows the most about China’s leader. The app is the latest example of a rethink by the Communist Party when it comes to its propaganda efforts and how best to justify the legitimacy of its one-party rule, extol the virtues of the party, and promote patriotism to an audience of young, tech-savvy Chinese." (The Conversation)
  • Journalists under more pressure than ever as India tightens control over Kashmir. "In early August, the government of Narendra Modi, India’s recently reelected Hindu-nationalist prime minister, moved troops into the Kashmir Valley, which is majority-Muslim, then cut the region off. The internet and landlines went down; TV channels were taken off the air. Prominent local politicians were detained. Without consultation, Modi revoked the special autonomy Kashmir has long enjoyed under a provision of India’s Constitution, and split the wider Jammu and Kashmir state into two territories subject to governance by New Delhi. Since then, the area has been on lockdown. Yesterday, during the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha, the streets were mostly empty, and mosques were mostly closed. Practicing journalism has never been easy in the Kashmir Valley, a conflict-torn region whose status has long been contested between India and neighboring Pakistan. In the past nine days, it’s become almost impossible." (Columbia Journalism Review)


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