Apple vs. the FBI: A Closer Look

SETH MEYERS

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Seth takes a closer look at Apple's refusal to unlock their customer's phone for law enforcement.

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Arkansas Department of Higher Education

The mission of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education is to advocate for higher education; to promote a coordinated system of higher education in the State; and to provide for the orderly and effective development of each of the publicly and locally supported institutions of higher education in the state - all geared toward improving the delivery of higher education services to the citizens of Arkansas.

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Bond elections catalyze numerous contracting opportunities

Article | September 9, 2020

People often believe that bond elections only fund construction projects. Although it’s true that construction opportunities do occur when bond packages are approved, sales of certificates of obligation or general obligation spawn hundreds of other contracting opportunities. Companies that provide services related to technology, energy systems, furniture, landscaping, and security also benefit. Voters already have approved an abundance of bond packages this year, and more are pending in November elections. Although it’s true that construction opportunities do occur when bond packages are approved, sales of certificates of obligation or general obligation spawn hundreds of other contracting opportunities. Georgia The state of Georgia has funding of $1.133 billion that will be used for new projects, the purchasing of equipment, repairs and renovations to existing facilities. Some of it will also be used to launch new construction projects. School districts have been allocated approximately $378 million and $302 million is available for projects at the University System of Georgia. The Department of Transportation will receive over $152 million for roads, bridges, and rail projects, and the Technical College System of Georgia will receive approximately $99 million for various projects. The state also allocated $20 million for a new conference center at Lake Lanier Island and $12 million for infrastructure improvements at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. West Virginia The Cabell County Board of Education authorized the issuance of $87.5 million in public school bonds after it was approved by voters in August. Architectural firms and design teams will be in high demand soon as construction is planned for early 2021. Projects include rebuilding Meadows Elementary and Milton Elementary and construction of a new Davis Creek Elementary facility. Other school buildings will receive major renovations including new windows, doors, roofing, HVAC systems, sprinkler systems, and security upgrades. New York Bond funds were approved in Lewis County for a $33 million capital project to construct a new surgical pavilion and renovation of the existing Medical-Surgical floor. Bidding will be solicited in January and February 2021 with construction to begin immediately. The project includes construction of a 36,224 square-foot surgical pavilion as well as the renovation of about 18,889 square feet of the existing Medical-Surgical inpatient floor. California The state of California recently announced the sale of $2.65 billion of revenue bonds to benefit various projects at the University of California (UC). About $1.15 billion will be spent on campus projects. Regents for the university system announced that about than 50 construction projects at all 10 UC campuses are planned. Projects include improvements to the Agriculture and Natural Resources Research and Extension Center and Franz Hall. Seismic upgrades are planned for the Irvine Campus, the engineering tower, four gateway quad buildings, and the social sciences buildings. More earthquake-resistant improvements will be made at a number of additional facilities. Louisiana In August, $140 million in bonds were approved for construction of a new high school and the completion of 13 other construction and improvement projects for Ascension Parish Public Schools. Approximately $79.5 million has been set aside for a new high school which will be located in Prairieville. Solicitation documents for contractors will be released in 2021. Other projects that have been approved include $27 million in renovations at East Ascension High School, $7.5 million for artificial turf at four high school stadiums plus the stadium at the new high school, $4.4 million for a classroom addition at St. Amant Primary, and $2.3 million for improvements at Donaldsonville High School. Texas Voters recently approved $76.6 million for the Plainview Independent School District and this funding will be used to consolidate and restructure elementary and middle school facilities. Some of the revenue will also be used to update security and technology. The proposed building plan consolidates six elementary campuses into three with pre-K programs and increased capacity at each campus. Some solicitation documents are expected in November, and others are planned for early 2021. Hawaii The state of Hawaii successfully sold $995 million of general obligation bonds, and the funding will be used to finance capital improvements for various public buildings, elementary and secondary schools, community college and university facilities, public libraries, and parks. As 2020 draws to a close over the next few months, millions more in funding for all types of projects will result as November bond packages are placed on the ballot for voter approval. Even in the midst of a pandemic, public assets must be maintained, expanded, and made safe for citizens. The activity generated by the bond elections stimulates local economies, and the projects that result create thousands of jobs as well. Mary Scott Nabers is president and CEO of Strategic Partnerships Inc., a business development company specializing in government contracting and procurement consulting throughout the U.S. Her recently released book, Inside the Infrastructure Revolution: A Roadmap for Building America, is a handbook for contractors, investors and the public at large seeking to explore how public-private partnerships or joint ventures can help finance their infrastructure projects.

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Public continues to support funding for school expansions, upgrades

Article | July 10, 2020

There is great angst related to every aspect of reopening of schools in the U.S. What to do? How to do it? When to do it? The questions are numerous, and there is little certainty about anything. However, one thing is not in question – schools and our education system are critically important to our lives, our future, and our economic destiny. American taxpayers have shown no indication that neglecting schools is an option they want to consider. Citizens everywhere appear to be committed to the premise that America must provide modern educational facilities, leading edge technology, and outstanding teachers. To substantiate that point, one only has to take a quick look at what is happening throughout the country. Educational leaders are announcing plans for expanding, rebuilding, and enhancing campuses for tomorrow’s students. And, taxpayers are solidifying their support by approving the required funding. Here are but a few examples. Oregon The West Linn-Wilsonville School District will rely on $206.9 million in funding that was approved by voters to make major expansions. The funding includes $39 million for a new primary school, $18 million for technology upgrades, $25 million for expansion of the Wilsonville High School auditorium, and $15.25 million to secure school entrances, purchase lockdown hardware, and install shelter-in-place curtains. The funding also will cover costs for additional parking and a project to significantly increase the seating capacity of the high school football stadium. Texas In June 2020, the Cleveland ISD approved the first of many projects as part of a $198 million bond package that was approved by voters. Some projects have begun and other planned projects will include the renovation of Northside Elementary and the construction of a sixth elementary school and a new junior high school facility. Additionally, the funding will be used for the addition of a teacher learning center and administrative office as well as for upgrades to the softball and baseball fields at Cleveland High School. Continued growth in this part of the state has required the district to find temporary solutions such as costs of $3 million for portable buildings for classrooms while construction is underway. New Jersey Taxpayers approved a $37.6 million bond election for the Deptford Township School District. It includes replacement of some mercury-infested floors at a number of schools and construction of 16 additional classrooms at the district’s middle school. The funding also will be available for construction of two new science labs, an auxiliary gym, a cafeteria, a new main office, and a new central district office. In Woodbury Heights, voters approved a $2 million bond proposal for construction and renovation projects. The school needs a new main office and a security vestibule. Officials also want to convert some classrooms into a larger area that can be used for group instruction. Nebraska Bennington Public Schools will get a fifth elementary school and second middle school with a $72 million bond issue that was approved in March. The plan was to solicit proposals as quickly as possible with a goal of having construction completed by August 2021. The plan calls for the new middle school to open in 2022. The district also plans for other improvements district-wide, including to the high school softball and football stadiums, and middle school track. Bond money will be used to purchase land for a second high school. California The Oakland Unified School Board voted to place a $735 million construction bond measure on the November ballot to upgrade aging facilities. If approved by voters, the district will upgrade and expand seven schools and construct a new $50 million administrative building. Additional funding will go toward new kitchens at three schools and a cafeteria at one campus. The board also agreed that about $200 million could be used to fund districtwide safety repairs and possible improvements based on COVID-19 requirements at dozens of schools. Another $10 million is allocated for school expansions or other new projects. The cost estimates used by the board were based on the district’s Facilities Master Plan. Michigan The Clio Area School District has announced different plans because the district will downsize. However, voters approved a $40.6 million bond in May. With that funding, the district will begin to consolidate Garner Elementary School, Carter Middle School, Clio High School, and the transportation building. The remaining schools will receive extensive renovations and improvements including ceiling and flooring replacements, air-conditioning, new security systems, and updated technology. The Kenowa Hills School District also received voter approval in May for a $67 million bond proposal. The funding will be used to target multiple areas including, modernizing classrooms, replacing technology, expanding the Early Childhood Center, upgrading facilities and infrastructure, enhancing security, and creating a new STEM lab (science, technology, engineering, and math). In spite of uncertain times, schools are held in high regard and citizens and taxpayers continue to show their support for preserving public assets, enhancing safety, and providing the technology required for quality instruction. Mary Scott Nabers is president and CEO of Strategic Partnerships Inc., a business development company specializing in government contracting and procurement consulting throughout the U.S. Her recently released book, Inside the Infrastructure Revolution: A Roadmap for Building America, is a handbook for contractors, investors and the public at large seeking to explore how public-private partnerships or joint ventures can help finance their infrastructure projects.

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NERC CIP Compliance in Azure vs. Azure Government cloud

Article | April 20, 2020

As discussed in my last blog post on North American Electric Reliability Corporation—Critical Infrastructure Protection (NERC CIP) Compliance in Azure, U.S. and Canadian utilities are now free to benefit from cloud computing in Azure for many NERC CIP workloads. Machine learning, multiple data replicas across fault domains, active failover, quick deployment and pay for use benefits are now available for these NERC CIP workloads.

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TOP 5 REAL-LIFE MACHINE LEARNING EXAMPLES

Article | May 7, 2020

Machine learning is a subset of artificial intelligence that can be found almost anywhere. Believe it or not, even coffee roasters are beginning to employ machine learning algorithms to better understand when coffee lovers will crave their next cup of joe. The ability to innovate is one of the most highly prized qualities in today’s tech-driven world, which has led to a stunning range of machine learning applications across multiple industries. Here are the top five real-world examples.

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Arkansas Department of Higher Education

The mission of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education is to advocate for higher education; to promote a coordinated system of higher education in the State; and to provide for the orderly and effective development of each of the publicly and locally supported institutions of higher education in the state - all geared toward improving the delivery of higher education services to the citizens of Arkansas.

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