• Oroville dam danger shows how Trump could win big on infrastructure

    This near catastrophe at Oroville dam — America’s tallest dam — is just the latest symptom of the chronic ill-health of America’s civil infrastructure, which has suffered from decades of under-investment and neglect. But the Oroville dam crisis could provide an unexpected opportunity for the new Trump administration to take on both problems – and win. The main problem in dealing with U.S. infrastructure is money, as up to $1 trillion would be required to repair or replace ageing dams, bridges, highways, and all the other components that support modern civilization. But there is a way for Trump to harness market forces and persuade corporate investors to invest in U.S. infrastructure. The Oroville dam near catastrophe demonstrates that some of the largest imminent threats to infrastructure will increase through climate change, and provides compelling evidence of the hard economic costs of inaction on infrastructure. If Trump moves away from climate change denial and accepts the strong balance of scientific evidence and opinion about human contribution t climate change, then a pathway to dealing with U.S. infrastructure could open up by appealing to “natural capitalism” – a market-driven economics which centers on the value of natural resources. Accepting man-made climate change could provide Trump with a chance to deliver on one of his major campaign promises, change the face of capitalism, and perhaps even save the world along the way.

  • DHS has found only $20 million of the $21 billion needed for border wall

    President Donald Trump’s pledge to use existing funds to launch the construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border has run into an obstacle: There is only little money available to start the project. DHS has identified only $20 million that can be reallocated to the $21 billion project. DHS searched for available funds only within its $376 million budget for border security fencing, infrastructure and technology. Redirecting funds from other departmental accounts would require congressional approval. The funds currently available would cover 0.1 percent of the project’s cost — or pay to build 2.5 miles of border barrier.

  • DHS awards U Texas San Antonio $3 million to develop, deliver cybersecurity training

    The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has selected a team led by the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) to develop and deliver cybersecurity training through the Continuing Training Grants (CTG) Program. The 2016 CTG is a $3 million grant to develop and deliver cybersecurity training to support the national preparedness goal to make the United States more secure and resilient.

  • NIST’s regional approach to addressing U.S. cybersecurity challenge

    NIST has awarded grants totaling nearly $1 million for five projects that are taking a community approach to addressing the U.S. shortage of skilled cybersecurity employees. The NIST-led National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE), a partnership among government, academia, and the private sector, will oversee the grants as part of its mission to support cybersecurity education, training, and workforce development.

  • TEEX Center awarded $22 million through DHS national training program

    The Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) announced it will receive $22 million in federal funding for its National Emergency Response and Rescue Training Center (NERRTC), which provides specialized homeland security and disaster preparedness training nationwide. Since it was established in 1998, NERRTC has enhanced preparedness by training more than 560,000 emergency responders, senior officials, public works staff, and medical personnel through delivery of more than 13,000 courses to state, local, tribal, and territorial jurisdictions.

  • How Congress is failing on Zika

    Three times Congress has taken up legislation to fund the continuing response to the Zika outbreak. Three times the bill, which would allocate $1.1 billion to fight the disease, has fallen short of attracting bipartisan support. While Congress delays action on Zika, the number of infected people keeps climbing. As of mid-September, there were over 3,000 reported cases in the fifty states and close to 18,000 when you count in U.S. territories like Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. One thing the Zika crisis has made clear is that solving emerging disease outbreaks increasingly involves navigating treacherous political waters. Congress’ lack of understanding of the real scope of voucher program – which aims to spur development of new drugs for neglected diseases — compromises efforts to find new ways of encouraging R&D in neglected diseases like Zika. Its inaction when it comes to extending funding for a major outbreak may endanger the health of thousands of Americans.

  • Sizable increase in U.S. R&D spending

    U.S. research and development (R&D) performance rose to $477.7 billion in 2014 — an increase of $21.1 billion over the previous year — and is estimated to hit $499.3 billion in 2015. adjusted for inflation, growth in U.S. total R&D performance averaged 1.2 percent annually between 2008 and 2014, matching the average pace of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP).

  • U.S. spending on war on terror since 9/11 to reach $4.79 trillion in 2017

    In 2002, Lawrence Lindsey, George W. Bush’s chief economic adviser, estimated that the cost of waging war in Iraq would not exceed $200 billion. As the fifteenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks approach, the United States has spent or taken on obligations to spend more than $3.6 trillion in current dollars on the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Syria and on the Department of Homeland Security. The total expenditure for the wars in the Middle East and the war on terror rises to $4.79 trillion when dedicated war spending for the coming fiscal year is added in, along with the nearly $32 billion requested for the Department of Homeland Security for 2017.

  • DHS awards $3 million in Small Business Innovation Research awards

    The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) last week announced a total of $3.1 million in competitive research awards for twenty-nine small businesses located across twelve states and Washington, D.C. Each business was awarded approximately $100,000 in preliminary funding through DHS S&T’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. Thirty-one contracts were awarded in ten topic areas.

  • DHS announces $40 million funding opportunity for new Criminal Investigations Center of Excellence

    DHS S&T earlier this week announced a $40 million funding opportunity for an institution to lead a new DHS Center of Excellence (COE) for Criminal Investigations and Network Analysis. This new COE will conduct end user-focused research to enhance investigation strategies of transnational criminal organizations’ (TCO) activities and other homeland security-related crimes.

  • Congress restores funds to NYC counterterrorism program

    Senator Charles Schumer (D-New York) said on Thursday that Congress is set to approve a Homeland Security budget which would restore $600 million in anti-terror funding. The White House had proposed a budget with cuts to the anti-terror program. The proposed cuts involve reduction of the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI), which would be funded at $330 million for fiscal year 2017, after being funded at $600 million in 2016.

  • Rising world military spending in 2015

    World military expenditure totaled almost $1.7 trillion in 2015, an increase of 1 percent in real terms from 2014. The increase reflects continuing growth in Asia and Oceania, Central and Eastern Europe, and some Middle Eastern states. The decline in spending in the West is also levelling off. At the same time, spending decreased in Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean. Thus, the global military expenditure picture is mixed. The United States remained by far the world’s biggest spender in 2015, despite its expenditure falling by 2.4 per cent to $596 billion.

  • U.K. substantially to increase the number of U.K. spies

    George Osborne, the chancellor of the exchequer, said the government spending review, due out on 25 November, will substantially increase the number of intelligence officers in the three U.K. intelligence agencies who are responsible for investigating, analyzing, and helping thwart terrorist plots. The chancellor said: “The changing nature of war, espionage and terrorism meant government itself had to change in its response.”

  • West Coast lawmakers ask Obama for $16.1 million to complete earthquake early warning system

    Last Wednesday thirty-six Members of Congress from western states urged President Barack Obama and the White House’s Office of Management and Budget to increase the funding level for earthquake hazards programs in their 2017 budget request — more specifically, to provide $16.1 million dollars in funding for an on-shore Earthquake Early Warning System (EEW) being developed by scientists in Southern California and along the West Coast. The lawmakers say that such an early warning system would be helpful in providing residents and first responders with advance notice that could help save lives, avoid injuries, and avert major infrastructure damage by slowing trains to prevent derailment, stopping elevators, pausing surgeries, and taking other actions in the event of a major earthquake.

  • U.S. defense agencies dominate federal synthetic biology research

    A new analysis finds the Defense Department and its Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) fund much of the U.S. government’s research in synthetic biology, with less than 1 percent of total federal funding going to risk research. Between 2008 and 2014, the United States invested approximately $820 million dollars in synthetic biology research. In that time period, the Defense Department became a key funder of synthetic biology research. DARPA’s investments, for example, increased from near zero in 2010 to more than $100 million in 2014 — more than three times the amount spent by the National Science Foundation (NSF).