NASA’s Mars Exploration Program


The goal of the Mars Exploration Program is to explore Mars and to provide a continuous flow of scientific information and discovery through a carefully selected series of robotic orbiters, landers and mobile laboratories interconnected by a high-bandwidth Mars/Earth communications network.

Source: NASA’s Mars Exploration Program

Influencer engagement: how people can earn $100,000 per Instagram post | Vox


According to the influencer management platform Traackr, 72 percent of major brands say they are dedicating a sizable portion of their marketing budgets to influencers — people with a strong relationship to an audience who can heavily sway decisions like purchasing habits. Fashion bloggers and gym instructors, they believe, are the next step in advertising.

They connect with people more deeply than a page in a magazine and can therefore sway potential customers.

The influencer space, which once consisted of semi-famous bloggers making some extra cash on the side, has turned into a bona fide career path.

Source: Influencer engagement: how people can earn $100,000 per Instagram post – Vox

Jim Jordan wants to keep a check on House Democrats investigations | Vox


.. Jordan and Meadows, and the Freedom Caucus more broadly, have ruffled many feathers along the way. They have a reputation, even among Republican colleagues, for being ideological to the point of obstructionist.

They vote against Republican leadership, force legislation to move further to the right, and push more moderate lawmakers into difficult votes.

House Freedom Caucus members have often been left out of key leadership positions for this reason, serving as a sort of punishment for not being team players. And it’s no secret that they’re not the most loved lawmakers around; just this month, Jordan lost a bid for minority leader against McCarthy by a huge margin.

Source: Jim Jordan wants to keep a check on House Democrats investigations – Vox

Trump confronts new Russia test with Ukraine crisis | TheHill


Russia’s seizure of three Ukrainian ships has served up a new test for President Trump.

The issue is looming over the Group of 20 (G-20) summit this weekend in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where Trump will be under pressure to deliver a firm response to Moscow.

Trump on Thursday canceled a one-on-one meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin because “ships and sailors have not been returned to Ukraine from Russia.”

Source: Trump confronts new Russia test with Ukraine crisis | TheHill

Trump cancels Putin meeting over Russia-Ukraine sea dispute


Coming just hours after the Kremlin said the meeting was on track, the declaration was a departure from much of Trump’s past dealings with Putin. Throughout his presidency, Trump has sought to improve relations despite tensions over election meddling, arms control and the war in Syria.

But Russia’s stepped-up action in the Kerch Strait, stemming from its yearslong occupation of Eastern Ukraine, threw another contentious issue into the mix. Russia recently seized three Ukrainian vessels and crews. Russia said Ukraine didn’t have permission to pass between Russia’s mainland and the Crimean Peninsula.

Ukraine insisted its vessels abided by maritime laws.

Source: Trump cancels Putin meeting over Russia-Ukraine sea dispute

Parents are borrowing more and more to send their kids to college—and many are struggling to repay


The Parent Plus program was launched in 1980 with limits on what parents could borrow. Those caps were subsequently lifted by Congress. Since 1993, parents have been eligible to borrow up to the cost of attendance (minus aid received by the student) to finance the cost of an undergraduate’s education.

The elimination of borrowing caps combined with tuition increases, changes in the institutions and programs students attend, and regulatory changes have led to increased loan burdens and worsening repayment outcomes for parents.

Today at least 3.4 million Parent PLUS borrowers owe $87 billion (not including any consolidated loans). That’s about 6 percent of all outstanding federal student loans.

Parent loans issued today are charged a 4.248 percent origination fee and an interest rate of 7.6 percent.

Source: Parents are borrowing more and more to send their kids to college—and many are struggling to repay

Risk Management Framework adoption hits stumbling blocks at DOD | FCW


Moving the Defense Department’s authorization process for IT systems from the DOD Information Assurance Certification and Accreditation Process to the Risk Management Framework was supposed to provide better results. But the culture of compliance seems to be an impediment.

“It’s hard to train people to assess risk,” DOD Acting Deputy CIO for Cybersecurity Thomas Michelli said during a keynote presentation at the ACT-IAC’s membership meeting Nov. 28. “People like compliance because it’s black and white.”

Source: Risk Management Framework adoption hits stumbling blocks at DOD — FCW

Treasury places digital currency addresses on sanctions list | FCW


The Treasury Department has publicly flagged two cryptocurrency addresses associated with two Iranian individuals indicted for their role in a worldwide, multimillion dollar ransomware campaign dubbed “SamSam.”

The move was announced in conjunction with a criminal indictment unsealed the same day and represents the first time the Office of Foreign Assets Control has ever publicly attributed a digital currency address to individuals in a criminal scheme.

It also represents a new step in the federal government’s efforts to track money laundering and other criminal activity conducted via anonymous cryptocurrencies.

Source: Treasury places digital currency addresses on sanctions list — FCW

Pentagon looks to exoskeletons to build ‘super-soldiers’ | Reuters


For the U.S. military, the appeal of such technology is clear: Soldiers now deploy into war zones bogged down by heavy but critical gear like body armor, night-vision goggles and advanced radios. Altogether, that can weigh anywhere from 90 to 140 pounds (40-64 kg), when the recommended limit is just 50 pounds (23 kg).

“That means when people do show up to the fight, they’re fatigued,” said Paul Scharre at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), who helped lead a series of studies on exoskeletons and other advanced gear.

Source: Pentagon looks to exoskeletons to build ‘super-soldiers’ | Reuters

Oil falls as high inventories outweigh likely OPEC cuts | Reuters


The two global oil benchmarks, North Sea Brent LCOc1 and U.S. light crude CLc1, have had their weakest month for more than 10 years in November, losing more than 20 percent as global supply has outstripped demand.

Brent fell $1.05, or 1.8 percent, to a low of $58.46 a barrel on Friday, before recovering to around $58.70 by 1315 GMT. U.S. crude futures dropped $1.14 to a low of $50.31.

Both contracts were almost flat on the week after seven weeks of falls.

Source: Oil falls as high inventories outweigh likely OPEC cuts | Reuters