Business

  • Grid in western U.S. can handle more renewable energy

    A new study says 35 percent of electricity in the western United States could come from solar and wind — without expensive new backup power plants; the findings provide a strong counterargument to the idea that the existing power grid is insufficient to handle increasing amounts of renewable power

  • Transport Canada turns inspection of air freight over to shippers

    Transport Canada initiates a new air cargo security system requiring all companies involved in a supply chain to be part of inspecting the goods; critics say the program means that companies will be policing themselves; says once critic: “It’s like me showing up at an [airport inspection] line and saying, ‘Hey guys, there’s no change in my pockets and I don’t have any fluids, so I’m okay to get on the plane.’ I don’t think they’d let me on”

  • Private security gets big play at World Cup

    Rampant crime and corrupt and ineffective police force have created a huge private security sector in South Africa; with trained bodyguards available for around 300 Euros a day, those who can afford it are turning to the country’s parallel private army for protection; there are more than 4,700 registered security firms in South Africa, employing more than 300,000 people to guard homes and businesses — and even police stations; this private security army is gearing up to protect the World Cup

  • Private security companies flourish

    Private security is a booming business in Harris County, Texas; private security experts say guards are better trained, but the job is more dangerous than ever. They often confront the same violent suspects as police but without advanced training and enforcement power

  • Wooden or plastic pallets are a dangerous link in food chain

    Pallets are often stored in warehouses or outside behind grocery stores, where they are easily reached by debris from garbage or bacteria from animals; new sanitation tests found that about 33 percent of the wooden pallets it tested showed signs of unsanitary conditions, where bacteria could easily grow; 10 percent tested positive for e. coli, which can cause food poisoning, and 2.9 percent had an even nastier, and often deadly, bug called listeria

  • Faulty cement plug may have caused oil rig explosion

    As part of the oil drilling process, a cement plug is placed at the bottom of the well in order temporarily to shut it off prior to pumping the oil out; while the cement is drying, mud is loaded into the top of the well to prevent a gas surge; before removing the mud, pressure tests are carried out to ensure the plug is holding; James Dupree, a senior BP official, has claimed that the results of the tests on the Gulf of Mexico plug, carried out on 20 April, were inconclusive — yet the mud was removed

  • Michigan's billion-dollar experiment in diversifying state's economy yields mixed results

    In 2006 Michigan embarked on a bold experiment to save its economy: making loans to fledgling companies, investing money in venture capital firms and awarding millions in grants to university professors and nonprofit groups; the project’s record is mixed, and some of the goals are yet to be achieved, but supporters say it is too early to judge the results

  • Coral snake antivenin to run out in October

    If you live in Florida, you should now be doubly careful not to be bitten by the poisonous coral snake; the only company making antivenin for coral snake bites is no longer producing the drug — and the last batch will hit its expiration date in October.

  • U.K. second-generation ePassports project appears doomed

    A clause in the coalition agreement between the Conservatives and the Liberal democrats call for chopping the second generation e-Passport scheme initiated be the departing Labor government; the U.K. biometric industry may not like this, but it is not yet clear what the impact on the industry will be; depending upon the water-tightness of contracts already signed with suppliers, the ID card project could still be fundamentally redesigned, rather than scrapped in its entirety; also, many other U.K. biometric projects will continue — IDENT1, Border Agency’s visa application program, eBorders program, and various Ministry of Defense documents that use the technology

  • New study confident about prospects of voice biometrics

    Commercial deployments of voice biometrics have been slow; in the past, this was because of the technology’s instability; yet, despite marked improvements and the ability to create robust solutions, voice biometrics still has not enjoyed the widespread proliferation which advocates of the technology anticipate; this is about to change

  • Safer food imports goal of public-private venture

    With imports accounting for 15 percent of the U.S. food supply, the United States needs a better way of ensuring food safety than border inspections; the University of Maryland teams up with a Massachusetts company to launch training center for foreign foodproducers

  • U.K. firm investigated over sale of dirty bomb material to Iran

    British company sells cobalt aluminate; the material can be used to produce alloys as well as the lethal radioactive isotope cobalt 60; for this reason its sale to nations like North Korea and Iran is tightly limited; cobalt is considered by nuclear experts as more likely to be used in a dirty bomb than in a nuclear warhead

  • TSA awards CSC a $489 million IT infrastructure contract

    TSA awards CSC an IT infrastructure protection contract worth approximately $489 million for a five year life cycle; the contract is for the deployment, maintenance, and enhancement of TSA’s IT infrastructure capabilities

  • World's largest airship inflated Wednesday for the first time

    The world’s largest airship — 235 feet long and 65 feet in diameter — was inflated on Wednesday for the first time; the test took place inside the Garrett Coliseum in Montgomery, Alabama which, the proprietors state, can hold as many as 1,500 cattle (“with milking parlor”); the airship features many innovations, including propelling ducted fans which are mounted along the centerline of the hull rather than beneath it, so that the nose does not lift when more power is applied

  • Federal agencies outline government's cybersecurity goals

    Government representatives outlined to the attendees at the IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy the current U.S. cybersecurity research and development goals — and needs; the representatives outlined the need for a better understanding of the economics of security in order to gain a clearer picture of what types of investments would help defenders, and they asked for solutions that might again shift the advantage away from attackers