• Worst flooding since 1998 leaves $33 billion economic toll in China

    The new Global Catastrophe Recap report, covering July 2016 disasters, reveals that much of China endured substantial seasonal “Mei-Yu” rainfall that led to a dramatic worsening of flooding along the Yangtze River Basin and in the country’s northeast. Total combined economic losses were estimated at $33 billion. Meanwhile, the United States recorded six separate outbreaks of severe convective storms and flash flooding from the Rockies to the East Coast. Total combined economic losses were minimally estimated at $1.5 billion. Only 2 percent of China damage is covered by insurance, compared to nearly 70 percent for U.S. storms.

  • Hacking hotel magnetic-stripe based key cards is easy

    If you travel a lot for business or pleasure, and stay at hotels at the places you visit, you may not like the information presented at the DefCon 24 event in Las Vegas. A security expert will tell the attendees that the magnetic-stripe based key cards guests are given to enter their rooms have major weaknesses which could allow an attacker to modify these cards to enter guests rooms.

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  • 80% of EU oil imports now supplied by non-European companies

    Non-European companies supply four-fifths of Europe’s oil imports, with Russian firms supplying more than one-third (36 percent) of imported crude, a new study on Europe’s foreign oil dependency has found. Just two of the top ten oil suppliers to the EU are European, and most of our imported oil is supplied from unstable countries.

  • U.S. terror victims file suit against Facebook for failing to block Palestinian incitement

    The families of five Americans recently killed or injured by Palestinian terrorists have filed a lawsuit against Facebook for allowing the terrorist group Hamas to incite violence on its network. The plaintiffs are seeking $1 billion in punitive damages under the Anti-Terrorism Act, which allows American citizens who are victims of overseas terrorist attacks to sue in U.S. federal courts.

  • Banning Muslim face veil at the work place not discriminatory: Austria’s Supreme Court

    Rejecting employees’ requests to wear a veil at work is not discriminating against them, Austria’s highest courts has ruled. In the landmark decision, Austria’s Supreme Court (OGH) ruled that if items of clothing prevent communication, an employer may legally ban them at the work place. The question of whether or not Muslim women should be allowed to wear the Islamic veil at the work place or public schools – or even at public — is the subject of intense debate in Europe, and many states have legislated against it.

  • Ending extortion: Researchers develop a way to stop ransomware

    Ransomware — what hackers use to encrypt your computer files and demand money in exchange for freeing those contents — is an exploding global problem with few solutions. The FBI issued a warning in May saying the number of attacks has doubled in the past year and is expected to grow even more rapidly this year. It said it received more than 2,400 complaints last year and estimated losses from such attacks at $24 million last year for individuals and businesses. Researchers have developed a way to stop ransomware dead in its tracks.

  • Bahamas warns young men traveling to U.S. to “exercise extreme caution” around police

    The government of the Bahamas late last week has issued a travel guidance to young Bahamian men travelling to the United States on holiday, warning them to “exercise extreme caution” when interacting with the U.S. police officers. “Do not be confrontational and cooperate” with the police, the Foreign Ministry’s travel guidance says.

  • U.S. suffered at least $8 billion climate-related disasters so far this year

    We are only halfway through 2016 and the United States has already seen eight weather and climate-related disasters* that have each met or exceeded $1 billion in damages. These eight disasters resulted in the loss of thirty lives, and caused at least $13.1 billion. Since 1980 the United States has sustained 196 weather and climate disasters in which overall damages/costs reached or exceeded $1 billion. The total cost of these 196 events exceeds $1.1 trillion.

  • Understanding California electricity crisis may help prevent future crises

    Between 2000 and 2001, California experienced the biggest electricity crisis in the United States since the Second World War. Exactly how it happened, however, is complex. New research now reveals insights into the market dynamics at play, potentially helping regulators standardize the market and prevent future crises.

  • Don’t believe the Brexit prophecies of economic doom

    The shock and horror at the Brexit vote has been loud and vociferous. Some seem to be reveling in the uncertainty that the referendum result has provoked. But there are plenty of reasons to reject the consensus that Brexit will be costly to the U.K.’s economy. Even though markets appear stormy in the immediate aftermath of the vote, the financial market reaction to date has more characteristics of a seasonal storm than of a major catastrophe. There will undoubtedly be winners and losers from the U.K.’s decision to leave the EU. But indexes for volatility are already lower than they were in February this year, suggesting that markets are not abnormally worried about the outlook, and U.K. government borrowing costs are at an all-time low. This is further reason to reject the pre-referendum consensus that Brexit would bring economic doom.

  • Brexit: Europe’s new nationalism is here to stay

    The British referendum that has delivered a vote for “Brexit” is the latest, dramatic indication that the atavistic nationalistic impulses of the twentieth century – impulses which the construction of the EU was supposed to lay to rest — are here to stay. This nationalism has brewed largely in reaction to how the EU has evolved over the past few decades. What started as a common market grew to embrace a single currency, the Schengen area, and integration in justice and home affairs. What we have witnessed with the rise of Euroscepticism is the recrudescence of a robust form of populist nationalism. It is sincerely anti-intellectual, offers facile solutions to complex problems, prefers what it calls “plain-speaking” over a well-articulated elocution, and is utterly unapologetic in its disdain for the establishment. Unless the EU can infuse its institutions with greater democratic legitimacy — voters need to be able to identify with the people who make decisions on their behalf — this populist nationalism will persist for the foreseeable future. The United Kingdom may be the first country to leave the EU but it may not be the last. Europe’s new nationalism is here to stay.

  • Iran’s use of civilian planes to arm Assad could jeopardize $25B Boeing deal

    The $25 billion aircraft deal that Boeing recently struck with Iran could be jeopardized by Tehran’s continued support of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. Boeing’s jets will be sold to the state-owned Iran Air, which was sanctioned by the Treasury Department in 2011 partially due to its transport of “potentially dangerous Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)-related cargo” and “missile or rocket components” to Syria. A Western intelligence report seen by Reuters in 2012 noted that Iran continued using civilian aircraft to transport large amounts of arms and personnel to aid Assad.

  • Tips on how to avoid ransomware attacks

    Individuals and businesses have become targets to a growing online fraud scheme known as ransomware. Ransomware is a form of malware used by cyber criminals to freeze your computer or mobile device, steal your data and demand that a “ransom” — typically anywhere from a couple of hundreds to thousands of dollars — be paid. The FBI, ransomware victims lost more than $18 million between April 2014 and June 2015.

  • Preparing for the worst case scenario

    The number of incidents involving armed attackers (active shooter incidents) has been on the rise over recent years with attacks taking place around the world — from the United States to India, from Norway to France to Kenya. Control Risks says that its Active Shooter training helps increase awareness of the threat and, in the worst case scenario, how best they can protect themselves.

  • Terrorism and tourism: what cities should do to prepare for an attack

    Citizens of the U.S. and the world were deeply shocked and saddened when a gunman shot and killed about fifty patrons at an Orlando nightclub this past weekend. While the shooter’s primary targets were the people enjoying an evening out, a secondary object of such incidents is typically tourism, with the aim of terrorizing a population so much that people don’t travel there, thereby harming the economy. An examination of how cities and other destinations react to shootings and other situations that negatively affect tourism reveals that there are several important lessons about what cities can do to assure tourists they can maintain their safety. Destinations that take a greater leadership role and provide accurate, relevant, and timely information to their visitors are more likely to win in this zero sum game. Those that are unorganized or silent are more likely to lose. Ultimately, tourists vote with their pocketbooks, and a destination’s relative safety may determine where they take their next trip.