Jody Bottum reviews ‘The Darkening Web’

Well-written review by Jody Bottum of The Darkening Web by Alexander Klimburg. Here’s an excerpt from the review:

The Darkening Web asks us to distinguish three different species of computer attacks. The first is the genuinely and immediately violent: the cyber equivalent of actual war in which we hack a system to turn off automated defenses or cause a dam or a power grid to fail. The 2015 Russian assault on the Ukranian electrical system makes for a clear example.

The second form of computerized attack is the hack for information—loudly announced when done for political effect, but often kept quiet as secret spy work. The phishing attack that cracked the Democratic party’s email servers during the 2016 presidential race is an obvious case of an attack in search of embarrassing or sensitive information.

Finally, there is the role of propaganda through the internet, in the form of pushing fake news or the form of restricting disfavored speech. Russia dominates recent press accounts about the first form, but China is the master of the second. Under pressure from Beijing, Apple recently removed from its app store hundreds of apps for its Chinese customers, including the app for the New York Times. The list of words banned by China for social media runs for pages.

Bottum starts this fall as a fall as a faculty member at Dakota State University in Madison.

Annual report shows South Dakota labor conditions

State government’s Department of Labor and Regulation has issued its 2016 analysis of employment and wage data by industry. There is a two-page summary that shows:

Workers covered by unemployment insurance increased 1.1 percent to 420,466;

Within that group, average annual pay rose 2.5 percent to $41,168;

Workers in the construction sector who were covered by unemployment insurance saw their average annual pay rise the most, at 6 percent;

Workers in the leisure and hospitality services sector had the lowest average annual pay at $16,053; and

Workers in the financial activities sector had the highest average annual pay at $55,399.

Opioid prescriptions in South Dakota during 2015

The July report from the state Health Department offers a chart that portrays, county by county, the levels of opioid pain-killers prescribed in South Dakota during 2015.

A handful of counties top the list. They are Haakon, Mellette, Tripp, Gregory and Yankton. Next highest are the counties of Fall River, Hughes, Walworth, Beadle, Hutchinson and Union.

The page also carries a U.S. map and a link to a report from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzing opioids prescribed through retail outlets for 2006 through 2015.

The federal report notes: “The amount of opioids prescribed in the United States peaked at 782 morphine milligram equivalents (MME) per capita in 2010 and then decreased to 640 MME per capita in 2015. Despite significant decreases, the amount of opioids prescribed in 2015 remained approximately three times as high as in 1999 and varied substantially across the country.”

The federal report also said: “In 2015, drug overdoses accounted for 52,404 deaths in the United States, 63.1% of which involved an opioid. Among opioid-related deaths, approximately 15,000 (approximately half) involved a prescription opioid. In addition, an estimated 2.0 million persons in the United States had opioid use disorder (addiction) associated with prescription opioids in 2015. The economic burden of prescription opioid overdose, abuse, and dependence is estimated to be $78.5 billion each year in the United States.”

The national commission assigned by President Trump to study opioid abuse issued recommendations recently. At the top of its list, the commission called for the president to declare a national emergency. On Tuesday, he declined to do that.

Trump approval at lowest point as president

President Donald Trump’s approval rating fell to its lowest point since he took office Jan. 20, according to the latest survey released this morning by Morning Consult / Politico.

Trump’s approval dropped to 40 percent as of Aug. 3-6, when the survey was conducted among 1,992 voters, and his disapproval rose to 55 percent.

The Republican president’s approval has slipped six points while disapproval of him rose 18 points during his time in office, according to Morning Consult / Politico..

Governor names members of new midwives board

For state government’s new Board of Certified Professional Midwives, the picks from Gov. Dennis Daugaard are in. He appointed:

Autumn Cavender-Wilson, of Granite Falls, Minnesota, to serve until Oct. 31, 2018

Kimberlee McKay, M.D., of Sioux Falls to serve until Oct. 31, 2020;

Debbie Pease of Centerville to serve until Oct. 31, 2020;

Susan Rooks of Oral to serve until Oct. 31, 2019; and

Pat Schwaiger of Billings, Montana, to serve until Oct. 31, 2019.

The Legislature approved SB 136 establishing the board this year. Pease lobbied for its passage.

The thrust of the measure was spelled out in section 13: “For the purposes of this Act, the practice of a certified professional midwife is the management and care of the low-risk mother-baby unit in an out-of-hospital setting during pregnancy, labor, delivery, and postpartum periods.”

The prime sponsor was Sen. Brock Greenfield, R-Clark. He is Senate president pro tem, the top presiding member of the Senate (the lieutenant governor is the Senate president under the South Dakota Constitution). The Senate voted 29-6 for it.

The lead House sponsor was the Rep. Lee Qualm of Platte, the House Republican leader. House members voted 52-16 for it.

The governor’s selection of someone from outside South Dakota was specifically allowed under the new law, which said: “However, until at least five certified professional midwives meet the residency requirement, the Governor may appoint certified professional midwives, who are licensed in this state, who reside in other jurisdictions to serve on the board.”

Past efforts failed in the Legislature. The 2016 measure, HB 1162, would have put the midwives under state government’s Board of Nursing. Its prime sponsor, Rep. Kris Langer, R-Dell Rapids, got the bill through the House on a 54-13 vote but ran into a dead-end in the Senate where it lost 16-19.

The 2016 failing came after Sen. Deb Peters, R-Hartford, amended Langer’s bill so that no licenses would be issued and the Board of Nursing didn’t have to establish an advisory committee until more than $20,000 had accumulated in a special regulatory account. Peters voted against the 2016 legislation. She was one of the six who also opposed the 2017 measure.

Tony Venhuizen, the governor’s chief of staff, said Tuesday there is what he described as “a chicken-and-egg problem” for the board’s initial appointments.

“The law requires a certain number of board members to be licensed midwives; yet, there are no South Dakotans who are licensed because it is the new board that will issue the licenses,” Venhuizen wrote in an email.

“The way to accommodate that initially is to rely on out-of-state licensed midwives to provide the input of members of the profession on the new board. This is why the board initially has appointees from Minnesota and Montana,” he continued.

“When Wyoming created its board, they had the same issue, and our appointee from Montana also served on the Wyoming board for the same reason,” Venhuizen said. He added that once the new South Dakota board has time to operate, and a community of licensed midwives emerges in the state, future appointees will be able to come from that pool.

SDBA elects officers

The South Dakota Bankers Association recently selected its new officers for 2017-2018.

The new chairman is Dave Rozenboom of Sioux Falls. He has been president at First PREMIER Bank in Sioux Falls since 2011.

Rozenboom succeeds Paul Domke of Redfield, where Domke is president of Heartland State Bank.

Chairman-elect is Karl Adam of Pierre. He began in 1995 as a trainee at Dakota State Bank in Blunt and rose to president. Adam joined First Dakota National Bank in Pierre in 2016 as market president.

The new vice chairman is Shawn Rost of Rapid City. He is South Dakota market president for First Interstate Bank. He first worked as an intern for First Western Bank (now First Interstate Bank) while a senior at Black Hills State University. He has been with First Western / First Interstate for 25 years.

The new SDRS trustees

The latest issue of Outlook, the newsletter for the South Dakota Retirement System, arrived and on page 2 is an article about the newest trustees and the new leadership.

Let’s start with the leadership shift. Elmer Brinkman of Watertown, a Codington County Commission member, was chairman for the retirement board. Brinkman lost his run for re-election to the county post in November. That meant he needed to leave the retirement board, where he represented elected county officials.

Selected as the new chairman at the trustees’ April meeting was South Dakota Supreme Court Justice Steve Zinter of Fort Pierre. Zinter had been vice chairman. He’s been a trustee since 1995.

The new vice chairman is James Johns, who represents public safety employees on the board. He is a Rapid City police captain. He’s been a trustee since 2006.

Laurie Gill, who serves in the cabinet of Gov. Dennis Daugaard as commissioner for the Bureau of Human Resources, didn’t seek re-election this spring as mayor of Pierre. She had been a trustee representing elected municipal officials. No one ran for election to replace her on the retirement board.

The governor appointed Gill to one of the governor’s two seats on the board, which has 16 voting members. She replaced Jason Dilges, the former commissioner for the state Bureau of Finance and Management.

The trustees chose Roy Lindsay, the mayor of Madison, to fill the elected municipal official seat created by Gill’s decision to not seek re-election as mayor.

The trustees also selected Myron Johnson, a Codington County commissioner, to serve the remainder of Brinkman’s term.

Newly elected as a trustee representing school teachers is James Appl from the Aberdeen school district. He began as a board member July 1. He succeeded Steven Caron, who also was an Aberdeen teacher but didn’t seek re-election as a trustee.

Re-elected were James Hansen of Pierre, who represents retirees and has been on the board since 1993; KJ Peterson of Rapid City, who represents county employees and has been on the board since 1997; and Laurie Gustafson of Pierre, who represents state government employees and has been on the board since 2005.

The retirement system covers employees of state government, state universities, municipal and county government, participating school districts and various special units of local governments. The Legislature at the board’s request has split the system into two benefit plans covering employees hired before July 1, 2017, and employees hired on or after that date.

Who opposed the change on ballot measures?

Twenty-one of the 105 legislators cast votes earlier this year against SB 59 that changed the date to July 1 for constitutional amendments, initiated measures and referendums to take effect in South Dakota.

Sen. Jim White, R-Huron, sponsored the bill. It gathered zero support from Democratic lawmakers. It moves the effective date back seven months. The previous law had ballot measures take effect the day after the State Canvassing Board completed its official canvass.

The Senate approved it 28-7 on Jan. 24. Nays came from six Democrats — Billie Sutton of Burke, Troy Heinert of Mission, Craig Kennedy of Yankton, Jason Frerichs of Wilmot, Kevin Killer of Pine Ridge and Reynold Nesiba of Sioux Falls — and one Republican, Stace Nelson of Fulton.

The House of Representatives took it up Feb. 27 and passed it 53-14. Pushing their red buttons in opposition were 10 Democrats and four Republicans.

The 10 Democrats were Spencer Hawley of Brookings, Julie Bartling of Gregory, Dan Ahlers of Dell Rapids, Shawn Bordeaux of Mission, Oren Lesmeister of Parade, Steven McCleerey of Sisseton, Ray Ring of Vermillion, Jamie Smith of Sioux Falls, Karen Soli of Sioux Falls and Susan Wismer of Britton.

The four Republicans were Blaine Campbell of Rapid City, Drew Dennert of Aberdeen, Dan Kaiser of Aberdeen and Isaac Latterell of Tea.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard, a Republican, signed SB 59 into law March 8.