• Most Americans could be fed by food grown or raised within 100 miles of their homes

    The popularity of “farm to table” has skyrocketed in the past few years as people become more interested in supporting local farmers and getting fresher food from sources they know and trust. Even large chain restaurants are making efforts to source supplies locally, knowing more customers care where their food comes from. New farmland-mapping research published the other day shows that up to 90 percent of Americans could be fed entirely by food grown or raised within 100 miles of their homes.

  • USMobile launches Scrambl3 mobile, Top Secret communication-standard app

    Irvine, California-based USMobile, a developer of private mobile phone services, yesterday launched Scrambl3, a smartphone app that enables users to create their own Private Mobile Network. When Scrambl3 users communicate with each other, Scrambl3 creates a Dark Internet Tunnel between their smartphones. This Tunnel cloaks the calls and texts by making them invisible on the Internet. Scrambl3 App for Android-based phones is available for a 60-day free beta offering from the Google Play Store.

  • Rumor-detection software detects, corrects erroneous claims on Twitter

    A week after the Boston marathon bombing, hackers sent a bogus tweet from the official Twitter handle of the Associated Press. It read: “Breaking: Two Explosions in the White House and Barack Obama is injured.” Before the AP and White House could correct the record, the stock market responded, dropping more than 140 points in a matter of minutes. Losses mounted into the billions. The market recovered just as quickly, but analysts said the timeframe could well have been long enough for in-the-know perpetrators to profit through trading. Researchers have developed software to help society identify and correct erroneous claims on Twitter.

  • Exciting time ahead for power industry: Energy expert

    New developments in the field of power electronics could lead to greater flexibility for the U.S. electrical power grid, says an expert in power engineering. The key, she says, will be advancements in power electronics — instruments that control and convert electric power, such as semiconductor switching devices. “Power electronics are going to make the power system more flexible, allowing us to really control how the power flows in the system much like you might consider traffic lights controlling traffic flow,” the expert says.

  • Western 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.

  • Groundbreaking 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.

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  • Companies 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.

  • Israeli 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.

  • Tech 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.

  • NRC 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.

  • Updated 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.

  • One 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.

  • New 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. 

  • How 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.”

  • Airlines 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.