Nancy Scola

Nancy Scola is a writer based in New York. Her work has appeared in Science Progress, Politics Magazine, AlterNet, and the Columbia Journalism Review.

Recent Articles

The Secret Rules of the Cybersecurity Game.

The White House's cybersecurity coordinator Howard Schmidt is getting attention for his effort to make U.S. cybersecurity strategy more "transparent," by posting summaries of the 12 principles driving the approach. That sketch of the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative's framework is, as of yesterday afternoon, posted on the National Security Council's Web site. Included are things like treating federal networks as a single protected entity and boosting cybersecurity education. That's all well and good, as far as it goes. The federal government, particularly during the Bush years, has certainly fallen into the trap of reflexively stamping "TOP SECRET" on every report, document, and Staples receipt. But there are things that this release is, and things that it isn't. And one of the things that the Schmidt release isn't is constructive guidance for American corporations, network providers, and other potential strategic partners looking to work with the federal government to...

Colorado's Udall Backs a Public Option Revival.

There's certainly been disagreement on the left over whether it makes good strategic sense to reinsert the public option back into the health-care debate at this point in the process. But it's smart to separate that debate from the remarkable success that the grassroots push orchestrated by Democracy for America, Credo, and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee have had in shaping that debate. What the netroots has done on the public option is something of a master class in how you might go about doing effective online organizing. DFA, Credo, and PCCC have been using an online call tool to aggressively "whip" the Senate to get members on record on whether they'd back the idea of having Harry Reid call a yeah or nay vote on a public health-care option to compete with private providers, should health-care negotiations move towards reconciliation. The goal is to swell momentum around the public option possibility. They've done that job quite well. Who would have thought we'd be, once...

Compensation for Black Farmers.

After decades of discrimination, litigation, and negotiating, it looks today like an agreement has been reached on compensation to black farmers. This is one of those times that government works that Paul Waldman wisely counsels us to celebrate. So, a few words of praise for the real progress made by President Obama's negotiation of the Pigford agreement . The root of today's agreement between Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack goes back to the decades after World War II when black American farmers were denied federal loans and generally iced out by government agricultural agencies. The number and stature of black farmers plummeted. In 1999, the Pigford v. Glickman class-action-suit settlement set up payment to black farmers. The problem was some 70,000 of them missed the application window. As a new senator, Obama sponsored legislation to reopen the compensation process. There was general agreement that the government had an obligation to make further payments, but the USDA...

Securing Cyberspace.

Yesterday, the Bipartisan Policy Center ran a "cyber attack" exercise designed to demonstrate what it would look like if cell phone networks were attacked, Internet resources were damaged, and portions of the U.S. electrical grid brought low. Former White House officials and national security experts like Michael Chertoff and John Negroponte participated. A few points: You should really go read James Fallows' recent piece on the threat China poses on the cyber-front, which bleeds into how unprepared the U.S. is to cope with an attack on its technological infrastructure. The consensus of experts, writes Fallows, is "that only a large-scale public breakdown would attract political attention to the problem." Here's hoping that a mock breakdown helps to focus interest. Fallows' colleague Marc Ambinder focuses his remarks on the question of "cyber hygiene." Companies have incentive to secure their assets to the degree that it benefits them, but their country might require network security...

Google Everywhere

Google Buzz raised hackles over privacy concerns, but it should also make us consider how omnipresent Google is becoming.

(Flickr/Missha)
When I heard that Google was rolling out yet one more application, in the form of Google Buzz, the first thought that came to mind was that the Internet is starting to feel like a one-company town. I was soon online, catching up on the fascinating story of Pullman, Illinois. Built on the edge of Chicago by the Pullman Palace Car Company in the 1880s, the 300-acre town was the company's answer to the industrial-age conundrum. How do you reap the efficiencies of gathering workers in one place without descending into urban chaos? Pullman did it by controlling everything. Workers and their families attended Pullman schools, shopped in Pullman groceries, and worshiped in Pullman churches. All went along well enough in Pullman, it seems, until the summer of 1894. That's when a wage riot was put down by U.S. marshals and army troops, according to a contemporaneous report by federal investigators I stumbled across. The Pullman Company's paternalism was blamed for creating a repressive and...

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