ProfNet Experts Available on Paris Attacks, Election Auditing, Trans-Pacific Partnership, More

Also in This Edition: Jobs for Writers, Media Industry Blog Posts

Nov 18, 2015, 08:13 ET from ProfNet

NEW YORK, Nov. 18, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Below are experts from the ProfNet network that are available to discuss timely issues in your coverage area.

You can also submit a query to the hundreds of thousands of experts in our network – it's easy and free! Just fill out the query form to get started:


  • How the U.S. Should Respond to Paris Terrorist Attacks
  • Election Auditing
  • Important Reminder in Texas Judge's Shooting
  • EEOC's DNA Proposal Raises Concerns
  • Security: A New Top Priority for Law Firms
  • Religious Objections May Give Zubik Advantage
  • Trans-Pacific Deal Sets Data-Sharing Rules
  • Geothermal Cooling
  • Oilfield Budget Cuts Take Deadly Toll


  • Reporter – The York Dispatch (PA)
  • Photojournalist – The Goshen News (IN)
  • Multimedia Journalist/Reporter – WICS ABC 20


  • Media 411: Digital Tools for Journalists
  • ProfNet Success Story: Tara Kachaturoff, Michigan Entrepreneur TV
  • Want to See Your Picture in Times Square? Here's How


How the U.S. Should Respond to Paris Terrorist Attacks
Harlan Ullman
The Killowen Group
"It is time NATO declared war on the Islamic State as it did the day after Sept. 11 on al Qaeda. The attacks will grow in size and impact; the Russian airliner is indicative. The U.S. must provide leadership and mobilize the coalition of 63 already in place against ISIS. The U.S. must engage with Russia and Iran -- but discreetly, due to internal politics here and there. The G-20 meeting is the perfect opportunity. Iraq must be made to end the De-Baathification and Sunni persecutions, as this is the cause of IS -- the Shia revenge against Sunni outrages under Saddam."
Based in Washington, D.C., Ullman is a former naval officer with combat commands in the Vietnam War and later in the Persian Gulf. He chairs The Killowen Group, which advises leaders of government and business at the highest levels, including presidential candidates here and abroad, through a brains-based approach to strategic thinking. Since the 1980s, he has developed a reputation as a strategic thought leader and thinker in the public and private sectors. He is known for the doctrine of shock and awe and sits on advisory boards for the Supreme Allied Commander Europe and Commander US Forces Europe. Currently a senior advisor to the Atlantic Council and Business Executives for National Security, he was a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the National Defense University and professor of military strategy at the National War College. He is the author of several books, including "Finishing Business: Ten Steps to Defeat Global Terror," "Shock and Awe," "A Handful of Bullets -- How the Murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand Still Menaces the Peace," and more.
Contact: Mark Goldman,

Election Auditing
Suzanne Mello-Stark, Ph.D.
Associate Teaching Professor of Computer Science/Cybersecurity
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
"Each election, voters rely on machines from proprietary vendors to carry out democracy. We cast our vote and walk away with no evidence that our vote has become part of the official tally."
Mello-Stark is a forensic cybersecurity expert whose area of focus is voting machines: specifically, digital forensics, cryptography, security and network implementation in current election technologies -- and what it means to the public's trust in our election system. She has served as an advisor for two state election boards. She also teaches computer science, cybersecurity, and digital forensics, and manages the WPI CyberCorps: Scholarships for Service program, funded by a $4.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation. She can discuss: the technology of voting machines, old and new, and the potential vulnerabilities; cybersecurity related to electronic voting machines and their data; the Election Assistance Commission and what it does; the Help America Vote Act (HAVA); how the federal voting system test program works; trends in and concerns with election technologies, old and new; creating a forensically sound audit trail/process for post-election; ensuring voting security while maintaining privacy; improving transparency in election software/processes; increasing public trust in elections; applying digital forensic techniques to election technology; and making recommendations for future elections/voting technology.
Contact: Alison Duffy,

Important Reminder in Texas Judge's Shooting
Jonathan Smaby
Executive Director
Texas Center for Legal Ethics in Austin
The disclosure that authorities have identified a "person of interest" in the recent assassination attempt of Texas District Court Judge Julie Kocurek may have helped calm some fears, but it doesn't diminish the dangers faced by judges and lawyers who work in the criminal justice system. Says Smaby: "Although threats are not uncommon, actual attacks are very rare but still remain an extreme threat to our system of justice. Criminal court judges and prosecutors probably face the greatest dangers, but others are just as susceptible when they work in emotionally charged environments, such as family law courts. We all should be concerned when intimidation and violence are used to prevent judges from carrying out their duties."
Contact: Bruce Vincent,

EEOC's DNA Proposal Raises Concerns
Caleena Svatek
Chamblee, Ryan, Kershaw & Anderson in Dallas
Under a newly proposed Equal Employment Opportunity Commission rule, companies with voluntary wellness programs could offer participating employees a savings of up to 30 percent off the cost of their group health plans. But that incentive would be tied to allowing the insurer access to certain health information, including some genetic details, about employees and their spouses. Says Svatek: "This rule could open a Pandora's box of potential issues. Wellness programs can be a good way to get workers to pay more attention to their health and help slow rising insurance costs. But once even a limited amount of genetic information is released, it may be difficult for an employee to control or prove how that data is used." Last year, more than half of companies with wellness programs offered financial incentives to employees that were tied to personal health goals such as losing weight or improving cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Contact: Barry Pound,

Security: A New Top Priority for Law Firms
Joe Kelly
Legal Workspace in Dallas
Data security has become the No. 1 concern of law firms nationwide, according to a recent survey of International Legal Technology Association members. "Security" replaced "email management" as the key priority of respondents, and "security assessment/software purchases" ranked fifth in projected expenditures. Experts say the results indicate that firms are becoming more nervous about the exposure of client information through their own data breaches, and highlight the need for heightened data protection to conform with federal regulations. Says Kelly: "Law firms are recognizing that technology is not just about their internal business processes, but also about meeting the needs of clients and fending off threats from outside forces. The survey respondents also noted the steady migration of firms to cloud-based applications, which can actually offer greater security along with improved mobility."
Contact: Barry Pound,

Religious Objections May Give Zubik Advantage
Chad Ruback
Dallas Appellate Attorney
The U.S. Supreme Court recently agreed to review Zubik v. Burwell, which asks whether religiously affiliated organizations such as universities, hospitals and charities can decline to play any role in providing their employees with contraceptive coverage. Recent precedent suggests that those challenging the Affordable Care Act on religious grounds might have the upper hand. The Supreme Court already has ruled on three ACA challenges, rejecting the first two, which were not based on religious grounds. In Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, however, the court sided with the challengers, who objected to the law based on religious convictions. Says Ruback: "That suggests that basing a challenge to the ACA on a religious ground might be sufficient to tip the balance toward the challenger. Nevertheless, because the Hobby Lobby case was decided by just one vote, there are no guarantees. Anytime that religion, birth control, and health care converge in the Supreme Court, the only thing certain is that there will be vigorous dissent among the justices."
Contact: Mark Annick,

Trans-Pacific Deal Sets Data-Sharing Rules
Mark Thibodeaux
Privacy and Data Security Lawyer
Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP, Houston office
Among the areas covered by the recently unveiled Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement are data sharing and cybersecurity protections. The agreement allows for cross-border sharing of data and prevents laws requiring local network servers for global companies. Says Thibodeaux: "There's been a move in some regions to go all protectionist on certain information, making it very difficult for U.S. companies. This deal would prohibit that, which is a good thing." Thibodeaux pointed to the recent ruling by the European Union's highest court, which struck down a trans-Atlantic pact that allowed the transfer of Europeans' personal data to the U.S., making it difficult for companies that are simply trying to share the personnel data of Europe-based workers with U.S. headquarters. The TPP also would criminalize data theft. Adds Thibodeaux: "That doesn't change the landscape much in this region. However, the thinking is that China may want to join the partnership someday, and this could toughen Chinese standards."
Contact: Kit Frieden,

Geothermal Cooling
Mark Stimson
Manager Engineering Solutions
Bosch Thermotechnology
"Geothermal heating and cooling isn't new, but there's always been a barrier to using the earth's thermal properties to heat and cool homes and commercial properties -- high installation costs. That may no longer be the case. With utility owned, third-party owned, and third-party owned with utility participation, homeowners and commercial property owners can now benefit from this kind of energy-efficient, green heating and cooling technology in residential or commercial applications without the barrier of large upfront costs."
Stimson is co-author of a white paper, "Overcoming the First Cost Barrier to Ground Source Heat Pump Technology: The Utility Ground Loop Service Provider Concept."
Contact: Michael Monahan,

Oilfield Budget Cuts Take Deadly Toll
Frank Branson
The Law Offices of Frank L. Branson in Dallas
On-the-job fatalities for oil and gas workers increased 27 percent last year, with Texas accounting for half of all oilfield fatalities in the U.S., according to a recent federal study. The increase underscores the dangerous nature of oilfield work, where workers die in preventable incidents involving explosions, electrocutions, falls, burns, defective equipment, and negligent operations. Says Branson: "It would appear that the recent decline in the price of oil and natural gas has caused energy companies to make drastic cuts in operating costs. And in our experience, these companies attempt to cut corners by eliminating costly safety programs and personnel first. I fear that energy companies watching their bottom line will view reducing safety as a cost of doing business in the current marketplace, and that could make energy sector jobs even more dangerous now and in the future."
Contact: Robert Tharp,



Following are links to job listings for staff and freelance writers, editors and producers. You can view these and more job listings on our Job Board:

  • Reporter – The York Dispatch (PA)
  • Photojournalist – The Goshen News (IN)
  • Multimedia Journalist/Reporter – WICS ABC 20



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