October 22, 2014

National Cyber Security Awareness Month – BBB scam alert

This is National Cyber Security Awareness Month and the Better Business Bureau – Nebraska is doing everything they can to help consumers and businesses do a better job securing their personal information. President and CEO Jim Hegarty says after big data breaches at businesses and restaurants they are holding a seminar on Thursday in Omaha.  

Hegarty says they are partnering with the National Cyber Security Alliance and will hold a program this Thursday, October 23rd. He says consumers and businesses can come and spend a couple hours with representatives with the FBI, Homeland Security and Nebraska’s security officer. They will share information on how to protect your personal information from large data breaches that happened at Target, Jimmy Johns, Chase and Home Depot. The program starts at 7:30 at Mammel Hall at the University of Nebraska – Omaha. The event is free and breakfast will be served.

Hegarty also wants consumers to be alert to possible scams surrounding the Ebola scare. He says be very careful clicking on email alerts or warnings about the virus. He says some could contain malware. He says those wanting to donate to Ebola relief efforts should only do so through reputable charities.

With the Kansas City Royals in the World Series, Hegarty says fans may also be victimized. Those wanting to buy tickets online need to check the seller’s history to see if he or she has a good reputation. Those buying tickets to auction sites also need to be very careful. He issues this reminder – if the deal is too good to be true it probably is.

Candidate Ashford claims public is put off by negative ads against him

Sen. Brad Ashford/Photo courtesy of Unicameral Information Service

Sen. Brad Ashford/Photo courtesy of Unicameral Information Service

The 2nd District U-S House of Representatives race has taken a nasty turn.

Television ads by the National Republican Campaign Committee display Democratic candidate Brad Ashford’s picture next to convicted murderer Nikko Jenkins. It claims Ashford, a state senator from Omaha and chairman of the legislature’s Judiciary Committee, supports Nebraska’s “good time” law, contending the law let Jenkins out of prison early. All indications are that Ashford is in a very close race with Republican Lee Terry, the incumbent.

Ashford says it is time to move on. He says this campaign has nothing to do with the “good time” law and it has nothing to do with the Jenkins case.

“What I think isn’t the issue,” Ashford says. “What the people of the district think is what the issue is and almost everyone I have talked to are put off terribly by them.”

It is only two weeks until Election Day. Ashford says public opinion polls indicate the race is a toss-up.

Ebola patient being treated in Omaha may be released this week

After spending more than two weeks in Nebraska Medicine – Nebraska Medical Center’s Biocontainment Unit in Omaha, Ebola patient Ashoka Mukpo may soon be going home. Infectious Disease Specialist Mark Rupp says it all depends on the last round of tests sent to the U-S Centers for Disease Control.

Dr. Rupp says Mukpo is very weak and it will be a while before he is completely recovered but he is doing quite well. He arrived in Omaha on October 6th after contracting Ebola in Liberia while working as a video journalist.

Dr. Rupp also hopes fears about the virus are now eased a bit after 43 people are no longer on a watch list in Texas that had contact with an Ebola patient that died. Dr. Rupp says people should not be afraid to take their kids to school or get on a plane. He says in Omaha children of biocontainment workers have been shunned by others and he hopes this good news calms public hysteria.

Innovation Campus is one of six components of NU’s biennial budget request

It has been nearly five years since the University of Nebraska acquired the former state fairgrounds in Lincoln to develop the Innovation Campus. Dan Duncan is the Innovation Campus Executive Director and says Phase 1 is ahead of schedule with facilities taking shape. 

The 4-H Building is linked to a new building forming the Innovation Commons. A Food Innovation Center is scheduled to open in 2015 and it will house UNL’s Department of Food Science & Technology.   ConAgra Foods is a private collaborator and they will conduct joint research projects with UNL. There is also a 45,000 square-foot greenhouse center underway.

The Innovation Campus is one of six components of the $20-million economic competitiveness package contained in the University of Nebraska’s 2015-17 biennial budget requests. Other components include the Rural Futures Institute, the National Strategic Research Institute, the Peter Kiewit Institute, the Health and Science Education Complex in Kearney and business engagement and workforce development initiatives throughout their four campus system.

Federal moratorium on state and local taxes on Internet access soon expires

Home and business internet service and that provided by cell phone carriers could cost more after December 11th. Scott Mackey is the co-author of the Wireless Taxation in the United States 2014 Report and says for more than a dozen years there has been a moratorium preventing state and local taxes on internet access.   Mackey says the concern is if the moratorium expires then states and local governments can decide this is a telecom service and taxes and fees will then be charged.

Mackey says the U-S House of Representatives already passed a bill continuing the moratorium and there is a lot of support for a similar bill in the U-S Senate. However, Mackey worries it could get tied up with other issues in the rush to adjournment during the lame duck Congress.

Nebraska already has the second highest tax and fee rates on wireless use in the nation.