Georgia editorial roundup
Posted May 11
Recent editorials from Georgia newspapers:
The Macon Telegraph on the concealed carry on campus legislation:
As expected, Gov. Nathan Deal signed into law the campus carry bill. The legislation, similar to what he vetoed last year, will allow those with concealed carry permits have their weapons on public college, university or technical college campuses.
In a statement Deal said, "At the present time, assailants can, and do, target these students knowing full well that their victims are not permitted to carry protection, even those who are weapons carry license holders, because they are either going to or coming from a campus where no weapons are allowed."
Last year Deal asked the leaders of the House and Senate to exempt on-campus child care facilities, faculty or administrative office space and disciplinary meetings and they refused. This year's bill excludes those areas and more:
? Buildings or property used for athletic sporting events.
? Student housing, including, but not limited to, fraternity and sorority houses.
? Any room or space being used for classes related to a college and career academy or other specialized school.
? Any room or space being used for classes in which high school students are enrolled through a dual enrollment program, including, but not limited to, classes related to the "Move on When Ready Act."
We guess concealed carry permit holders who aren't students might feel somewhat safer when they are moving through the cities where schools are located or while driving through a campus, because this bill certainly doesn't make it any safer for students. If they live on campus, they can't keep their weapons in their dorm rooms. We guess they'll have to store them in their vehicles, if they have one. For other visitors on campus, where you can carry and can't is so convoluted it will be hard to tell when you're legal or not. Not to worry on that point. If you're caught carrying a handgun where you're not supposed to, the fine is only a $25 misdemeanor.
What will this do for Georgia's higher education reputation? The Franklin College Faculty Senate passed a resolution before Deal signed the measure that stated: "We continue to believe that a robust and open academic environment requires that all feel safe and free from intimidation and/or potential violence. If this legislation is enacted, and students and faculty are hesitant to discuss sensitive or controversial topics because of the presence of guns on campus and in our classrooms, the academic integrity of UGA will be greatly compromised." They also stated that the campus carry law would make it harder for UGA to recruit and retain instructors.
Here's a novel idea. Next legislative session, the same right that concealed permit holders now have on college and university campuses should be extended to the Gold Dome.
The Augusta Chronicle on how Augusta Technical College plans to ride crest of the "cyber tsunami:"
That word has been ringing loudly throughout the CSRA since the U.S. Army decided in 2013 to build a new Cyber Command headquarters alongside the National Security Agency's facilities at Fort Gordon.
The ring got louder when Augusta University, then Georgia Regents University, launched its Cyber Institute in 2015, to expand research and academic opportunities in the growing field of cyber-security.
The fort and the university have been the two biggest and most conspicuous players in planning for, and capitalizing on, what AU President Brooks Keel has referred to as a coming "cyber tsunami."
So maybe you haven't heard much about the cybersecurity work at Augusta Technical College.
Maybe, one faculty member quipped, that's because they're too busy working.
Tech's cybersecurity department is booming. It currently boasts 232 students — second in size only to the school's nursing department.
This week, about 20 Augusta Tech students will collect the school's associate of applied science degrees specifically in cybersecurity. The first students through the program graduated last December.
But it's nothing new for Tech. Its students have been delving into cybersecurity before it was even called cybersecurity.
Jim Poarch is Tech's cybersecurity department head and the director of its Cyber Center. He joked that the newer "cyber" prefix makes the work sound "more jazzy" than what it used to be called: information security.
Tech has been incorporating security into its computer networking program for about 20 years, and students would earn various security certifications. But when the Army's Cyber Command relocated to Fort Gordon in 2015, Poarch was tasked by Tech to develop and recommend a separate cybersecurity program. Mindful of the fort's needs, he outlined a curriculum that adhered to NSA and U.S. Department of Homeland Security guidelines.
Tech became the first school in Georgia's tech college system to offer a cybersecurity program, replacing existing information security programs, and several other schools either have the cybersecurity curriculum or plan to adopt it.
Some people erroneously try to lump all of information technology together as "cyber," when actually it's a very specific computer discipline — the identifying and preventing of activities that can damage a computer system's hardware or software. Buzzwords we hear in the news — viruses, denial-of-service attacks, data-stealing, spoofing, phishing - all describe the types of activity cybersecurity experts are trained to prevent.
"We're more tactile, that's the word I like to use, as opposed to theoretical," Poarch explained. "We are theoretical, but we feel like you have to learn the hands-on portion of it, too."
The Tech rationale is that you first need to know about networking before you can correctly learn about cybersecurity. After that, students learn about protecting a network, and such measures as virtual private networks and firewalls.
The next step is penetration testing, the term for a simulated attack on a computer system to ferret out its security weaknesses. Ethical hackers who perform these security tests are known as "white hats."
Then it's forensics — finding out what happened to a breached network, and how to fix it.
Augusta Tech also is helping develop the cybersecurity curriculum for high schools in Richmond and Columbia counties. Students can take a class introducing them to digital technology in general, then two classes on cybersecurity specifically. Also in the works is developing a technical certificate of credit, which would award students college credit for the cyber classes they took in high school.
Jack B. Patrick, who was president of Tech from 1977 to 1996, was fond of saying: If you want an education, go to Augusta State. If you want a job, go to Augusta Tech.
Many businesses are eager to pay top-dollar for skilled cybersecurity experts. According to federal labor statistics, the median annual salary for cybersecurity professionals was more than $90,000 in 2015.
With an expected influx of cyber experts coming to the CSRA, their healthy salaries will pump more money into the area economy. You don't have to be an Augusta Tech graduate to do the math and figure out the ways that would benefit everyone.
One of Tech's next short-term goals is to attain coveted recognition from the federal government as an official program among the Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense. Tech has to show collaboration with a wide variety of schools — K-12 through four-year colleges — and demonstrated sustained success in several areas. Poarch said Tech is on track to apply for that designation next year.
In the longer term, Tech is looking at developing other cybersecurity programs tailored for specific needs. Under discussion are curricula focusing on accounting and manufacturing industries.
All this is big stuff. And it's plugged into something even bigger.
The Alliance for CyberSecurity Education is an area consortium developed by and composed of Augusta Tech, Aiken Technical College, the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce, the CSRA Alliance, the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce, Fort Gordon, Augusta University and the school systems in Richmond and Columbia counties.
A key goal of ACE is to introduce grade-school pupils to cyber education, effect a seamless transition into college and cultivate a workforce for the military, the defense industry and just about any other ancillary player who'll be riding the CSRA's cyber tsunami.
Just Wednesday, G.B. Cazes, a former executive with the National Cyber Research Park, told the Georgia Department of Economic Development's board of directors in Augusta that the CSRA could leverage cyber activity into a $1 billion-a-year industry.
With so many community leaders buying in, the dividends could be enormous.
The Savannah Morning News on "Operation Rolling Thunder:"
The objective of high-visibility traffic enforcement campaigns like Operation Rolling Thunder, which kicked off over the weekend in Savannah and will continue through the summer, isn't to pad police arrest statistics or to fill local government coffers with more revenue from traffic citations.
NO, the objective is to prevent unsafe driving. It's to convince thick-skulled idiots who are behind the wheel to slow down and obey speed limits, not to drink and then get behind the wheel, and to hang up and drive and keep those fingers off the cellphone key pads.
Those who believe such traffic stops smack of heavy-handed, if not unconstitutional, police tactics should become familiar with the ongoing slaughter of innocent people who are dying because of preventable accidents on local roads. Over the past two years, 120 people have lost their lives in motor vehicle accidents. Chatham has consistently had one of Georgia's highest traffic fatality rates outside the Atlanta area, which is like a huge demolition derby.
"Far too many people are not with their families - their parents, spouses and children - at the end of the day due to these crashes," Metro Police Chief Joseph Lumpkin said. "We must drive down the number of these terrible outcomes, and Operation Thunder is here to help." He's exactly right.
The first weekend of Operation Rolling Thunder, proved to be a tremendous success, as the operation resulted in more than 900 citations. But officers also issued more than 400 warnings for traffic offenses, which means of out of the 1,300 motorists who probably deserved a ticket, about one out of every three motorists who were stopped got a break.
Call it a teachable moment. Motorist who may have been forgiven and spared a citation for not having their seat belts fastened or committing a minor traffic violation should consider themselves lucky and vow to pay more attention to the rules of the road.
The next time they mess up, they may not be as fortunate. Worse, they might cause an accident and wind up killing someone or dead themselves.
Chief Lumpkin said he wants the public to see that his officers are serious about reducing fatalities and serious injuries from crashes.
"We hope as the operation continues we'll see less arrests or citations and more voluntary compliance," the chief said. So should the motoring public.
Operation Rolling Thunder is making its third visit to Savannah since 2007. Metro officers are being assisted by troopers from the Georgia State Patrol and HEAT units throughout the state.
It's no surprise that speeding topped the list of offenses with 249 citations and 80 warnings. Too many motorists put the pedal to the metal here in too many neighborhoods across the area, endangering themselves, other motorists and pedestrians. But perhaps the most encouraging number were the 40 motorists who were ticketed for distracted driving, which is any activity that diverts attention away from driving.
One of the most common distractions in today's society is talking or texting on a cell phone.
People who complain that police officers should do more prevent motorists from texting while driving should cheer these 40 citations that were written over the weekend. Let's hope this life-saving crackdown continues by Metro police, with or without the help of the state patrol.
Motorists who feel the need to use their cellphone while driving should do themselves and other motorists the courtesy of either pulling over or hanging up and drive. They might save themselves an expensive ticket and an increase in their auto insurance premiums, as well as something far more priceless — someone's life, or perhaps their own.
Live-saving efforts like Operation Rolling Thunder merit thunderous applause for trying to teach all the idiots who are behind the wheel some important lessons. Let's hope it pays off in terms of fewer traffic fatalities and safer roads for everyone.