SolarWinds cybersecurity consultant and former CISA director, Chris Krebs

Since December, the bottom has fallen out the United States government’s capacity to assure that the computer networks and infrastructure it uses to do business are in any way secure. It is unable to protect itself, or the rest of the country, and we have been reminded of that on a regular basis for better than a decade. December’s revelation of the cyber operation carried out against network management goliath SolarWinds and the more recent news of a major compromise of Microsoft’s Exchange messaging infrastructure in tandem offer irrefutable evidence that most of the U.S. …


What post-truth politics means for the future of American democracy

Infamy or Idiocracy?

On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to be a guest on Ernie Manouse’s Town Square program (a commons of sorts) on NPR’s Houston affiliate KUHF. While we started off discussing the ramifications of the SolarWinds hack that has been in the news since December, we moved on to my budding area of interest in how the communication ecosystem around us is upending institutions and norms in our society. This is a fundamental issue with which our society must grapple if our democracy and liberties are to continue to flourish.

When we got onto the matter of whether social media companies…


What capabilities and coalitions may emerge in war’s newest front?

Armenian T-72 tanks targeted by an Azeri drone

The latest round open warfare between Armenia and Azerbaijan goes on despite a ceasefire agreement. Armed clashes between the two have been far bloodier than those which occurred in 2016, representing a significant break in the shaky peace that has held since 1994. Renewed conflict between Yerevan and Baku has been quite lethal, with combat deaths are rumored to be in the hundreds. Concern that Azeri forces may seek to overrun Nagorno Karabakh and engage in ethnic cleansing is palpable.

Although aging Soviet Bloc arms form the bulk of both countries’ arsenals, increasingly sophisticated weapons have been introduced including drones…


How 80s nostalgia drives subscription entertainment.

The producers of Class Action Park, the documentary covering the rise and inevitable fall of America’s most dangerous theme park, is a nostalgia trip for any resident of New York Tri-State Area who was a teenager there in the 1980s. Until I watched this movie on HBO Max (more on that later), I didn’t know who Gene Mulvihill was, but it makes sense that his property in Northwest New Jersey was an investment too risky for Donald Trump even.

For me, Action Park became Traction Park when I saw an older teenager wipe out…


What data means Citizen Lab, assorted Do Gooders, and Uncle Sam

Censorship diagram from the Citizen Lab’s March 2020 Censored Contagion Report

There are many forms of information control, but censorship is perhaps the most pernicious as it is an attempt to erase the truth. Censorship makes forms of disinformation easier. Recent publications by the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab and the U.S. Government illustrate a larger cyber conflict, for opinion, belief, and well, whatever truth means, domestically and globally. We are at a point where political actors attempt to shape narratives, from readily acceptable to farcical or patently ridiculous. …


News that staff at the People’s Republic of China’s consulate in Houston, Texas were burning documents in a courtyard on Tuesday night came as a surprise. Burning of papers is a signal of significant change in a diplomatic mission. As someone who has been responsible for securing classified government information in a U.S. diplomatic post abroad and drilled on that process regularly, the burning of documents typically signals impending closure of the post. Only days before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, staff at Japan’s consulate in Honolulu were noticed by FBI agents watching it. …


NOTE: This morning my 13-year old daughter asked me about where to get the news. Here is my rather long-winded response to her question. She will be awake again later today and comes back to my house for another two-week haul of quarantine co-parenting tomorrow. She asked a really important question. As parents, we need to talk to our kids about understanding the news and the problems with news outlets. Her query came in via Instagram while I slept. See my reply, below.

We are now on split schedules.

Hey Gaby,

Great question! I can pass along some thoughts on reputable sources of news. When I…


Today, I believe that I can safely argue that the international system is evolving pretty rapidly. We are at one of those points in which trend lines from the past aren’t as helpful as they usually are in mapping out what lies ahead. In the face of epochal change, reading history allows us to think about how the past provides lessons for, or even shapes, contemporary politics. In the last few months, I’ve read that we are living through events similar to what occurred in 1918 (Spanish influenza), 1929 (beginning of the Great Depression), and 1968 (Vietnam and civil rights…


UPDATE: From the New York Times – “The Trump administration has walked back a policy that would have stripped international college students of their U.S. visas if their coursework was entirely online, ending a proposed plan that had thrown the higher education world into turmoil.” This appears over for now and hopefully until the end of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s notice regarding international students’ status is as draconian an anti-immigration policy as has been manufactured since ICE’s creation in 2003. No, it may not look as bad as the detention centers that continue to house intending…


Throughout the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic I have been reinvigorated by the higher education Twitterverse. I see a lot of what I thought Twitter was good for back when I was working in @eDipAtState — that is quickly passing brief messages in a crisis or other rapidly evolving situation, for instance the devastating 2010 Haiti earthquake. The problem we are having in academia (not diplomacy) now is that we are overhauling almost everything we do to avoid face to face contact. Side note: faculty should be reimbursed for their home IT services, its like MetroCheck for packets.

Anyway, one of the great…

Chris Bronk

Associate Professor at the University of Houston. Research in politics and information. Go Orange! Go Badgers! Go Coogs!

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