Business

  • TerrorismWestern countries, businesses facing increased terrorism threat: Aon

    Risk levels are rising in Western economies due to the increased terror threat presented by Islamic extremists, according to the Aon Terrorism and Political Violence Map. The map, launched earlier this week, provides insight for business aiming to reduce risk exposures. Top risks for business include increased terrorism threats across developed economies, and a progressively uncertain and dangerous geopolitical environment, where the risk of armed conflict is growing amid changing and unstable regional balances of power.

  • BiolabsGroundbreaking for new Biosafety Level 4 lab in Kansas

    Officials on Wednesday broke ground for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF), a $1.25 billion animal research facility near the campus of Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas. NBAF will be the U.S. only Level 4 biosafety lab – a designation which means that the lab is secure enough to handle, and conduct research on, pathogens that do not currently have treatments or countermeasures. Critics argue that locating the lab on the campus of KSU — in the heart of cattle country and the middle of Tornado Alley – would not be a good idea. NBAF will replace the aging biolab in Plum Island, New York.

  • Immigration & businessCompanies gaming the system to get their H-1B visa applicants approved

    Many foreign applicants for the 65,000 yearly available H-1B U.S. work visas, which allow U.S. companies temporarily to employ foreign workers in specialty positions, are finding that their paperwork is not even being considered due to the fact that many companies are using various behind-the-scenes schemes better to control their own employment interests, disrupting the system while also highlighting the inefficiency of the current registration process.

  • African securityIsraeli military technology sales to Africa increase by 40%

    Israeli weapons exports declined by nearly $1 billion in 214 compared to 2013, but export of Israel-made weapons to African countries increased by 40 percent in 2014 compared with 2013. Israeli armaments industries signed deals worth $318 million in Africa, compared with $223 million in 2013, which itself was an all-time record. Asian and Pacific countries were much larger customers of Israeli arms, though, buying $3 billion worth of Israeli military technology in 2014.

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  • EncryptionTech companies urge rejection of push by FBI, DOJ for electronic devices “backdoors”

    In a 19 May letter to President Barack Obama, a group of Silicon Valley tech companies, cyber-security experts, and privacy advocacy groups urged the president to reject the implementation of “backdoors” in smartphone and computer encryption. The letter offered evidence of the  strong objection of the tech industry to demands from the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to allow secret backdoor passages into consumer electronics, which would make it possible for law enforcement to read encrypted private communications and data.

  • Nuclear powerNRC ruling raises questions about future of Diablo Canyon reactors

    In a major victory for those who pointed, post-Fukushima, to the risks involved in having a nuclear power reactor operating too close to a seismic fault, as is the case with the Diablo Canyon nuclear reactors, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commissioners have ruled – in a decision that could mark the beginning of the end of Diablo Canyon — that an Atomic Safety Licensing Board will decide whether Pacific Gas & Electric Co. was allowed illegally to alter the plant’s license. This alteration was made in an effort to hide the risk from powerful earthquake faults discovered since it was designed and built.

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  • Crude-by-railUpdated crude oil regulation worries environmental groups, increases shipments

    Following several deadly explosions of oil-tanker railroad cars in towns across the United States and Canada in the past several years, the Department of Transportation (DOT) issued an emergency order that required railroads publicly to inform states of movements of 100 crude oil tanker cars or more as part of any single shipment. However, on 1 May the agency revised the order with a long-awaited rule which would require carriers to upgrade tanker cars instead of having to report the information, leading some to question the safety of the new ruling.

  • CybersecurityOne false tweet sent financial markets into a tailspin

    A false tweet from a hacked account owned by the Associated Press (AP) in 2013 sent financial markets into a tailspin. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 143.5 points and the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index lost more than $136 billion of its value in the seconds that immediately followed the post. Once the nature of the tweet was discovered, the markets corrected themselves almost as quickly as they were skewed by the bogus information, but the event, known as Hack Crash, demonstrates the need better to understand how social media data is linked to decision making in the private and public sector.

  • Cargo inspectionNew state-of-the-art inspection facility for Port of Boston

    Passport Systems has started construction on a non-intrusive cargo inspection facility at the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport), Port of Boston, Conley Container Terminal in South Boston. The facility aims to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of cargo screening at the Port. The facility will use a 3D automated cargo inspection system hat can detect, locate, and identify contraband at ports and border crossings as well as automatically clear or confirm alarms. 

  • WaterHow best to adapt to the U.S. water shortage?

    The water crisis in the western United States — most notably in California and Washington — may be the most severe and most publicized, but other threats to the nation’s water supply loom, says a water expert. “We have settled in places and undertaken industrial and agricultural activities largely based on water availability,” he says. “When that availability changes, we must adapt. If the change is rather rapid, we often face a crisis.”

  • AviationAirlines ban shipments of lithium-ion batteries following cargo fires

    Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries may soon have to be imported by other means than air shipments after at least eighteen airlines have banned shipments of the product this year following devastating cargo fires such as the one that caused a United Parcel Service (UPS) freighter to crash near Dubai in 2010. Roughly 30 percent of the 5.5 billion cell batteries produced each year are shipped by plane.

  • Video analyticsSandia Lab helps small security company thwart thieves

    Sandia has a long history, dating back to the 1970s, of testing sensor and video technologies for physical security systems, so in response to the security needs of a New Mexico security company, Sandia and Los Alamos labs researchers worked together to configure and test a reliable, affordable outdoor security system that helped the company more than triple its staff and clientele over five years.

  • CybersecurityOngoing attack against oil tankers aims to defraud oil brokers

    A new report details a malicious and largely unknown targeted attack on oil tankers. First discovered in January 2014, the ongoing attack on oil cargos began in August 2013, and is designed to steal information and credentials for defrauding oil brokers. Despite having been compromised by this cyber-attack, which has been dubbed the “Phantom Menace,” none of the dozens of affected companies have been willing to report the invasion and risk global attention for vulnerabilities in their IT security networks.

  • BiolabsDHS S&T awards $834 million contract for construction of Manhattan, Kansas biolab

    DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) yesterday announced the award of a contract for the final phase of construction of the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) being constructed in Manhattan, Kansas. The $834 million award by S&T’s procurement support partner, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers (FLETC), modifies the existing contract for McCarthy Mortensen NBAF Joint Venture, which was selected in 2009.

  • GridU.S. West's power grid must be “climate-proofed” to lessen risks of power disruption

    Electricity generation and distribution infrastructure in the Western United States must be “climate-proofed” to diminish the risk of future power shortages, according to researchers. Expected increases in extreme heat and drought events will bring changes in precipitation, air and water temperatures, air density, and humidity. the changing conditions could significantly constrain the energy-generation capacity of power plants — unless steps are taken to upgrade systems and technologies to withstand the effects of a generally hotter and drier climate.