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ISIS, Iranian-Pakistani Tensions, Aircraft Sensors

Dated: 24 Oct 2014
Posted by Christine Chan
Category: International, Security, Technology

ISIS: Iraqi officials said that ISIS used chlorine gas in its advances north of Baghdad last month, after about forty Iraqi security forces showed symptoms of chlorine gas poisoning. Similar reports have emerged from Kobani in recent weeks. The United States is conducting an investigation to confirm the latest reports.

Iranian-Pakistani Tensions: Iranian and Pakistani forces have exchanged cross-border fire, as increased tensions prompted the two states to hold a meeting in Tehran on increasing intelligence cooperation.  This comes after last week when Pakistan said a soldier died and three were hurt by Iranian guards. The reports that Pakistani forces have returned mortar fire are highly unusual and represent an increase in tensions that have marred this region for years.

Aircraft Sensors: Nine commercial aircraft are carrying sensors that monitor their structural health as part of an FAA test to prove their use for routine aircraft maintenance. About 100 sensors are being installed on Delta Air Lines planes to show that the sensors can sustain the operating environment, while providing the proper signals for flaw detection. Structural health monitoring could help airlines save money by basing maintenance on the actual condition of the aircraft, rather than fixed schedules and inspection routines that might not be necessary.

Oil and Gas, Sweden, UUVs

Dated: 20 Oct 2014
Posted by Christine Chan
Category: International, Technology, Uncategorized

Oil and Gas: Traders in the oil markets are currently debating Saudi Arabia’s strategy. One theory is that Saudi is happy to see oil’s slump because it will harm the U.S. shale industry. The lower prices go, the more difficult it will be for shale oil projects to make a decent return on investment. Therefore, the idea goes, shale production will come off line, causing a supply squeeze that will soon see oil prices recover.  However, shale projects may not come off line even if prices fall further. Productivity gains and hedging activities by shale oil producers mean their break-even prices on investments are falling all the time.  For example projects in the major shale oil fields of the Bakken, Permian and Eagle Ford could break even with oil prices at $60 per barrel.

Sweden: Sweden released on Sunday a grainy photo of a mysterious vessel in Stockholm’s archipelago, as the military hunted for a foreign submarine or divers in the country’s biggest such mobilization since the Cold War. The search in the Baltic Sea less than 30 miles (50 km) from Stockholm began on Friday and reawakened memories of the final years of the Cold War when Sweden repeatedly sought out suspected Soviet submarines along its coast with depth charges.

UUVs: MIT researchers unveiled an oval-shaped submersible robot, a little smaller than a football, with a flattened panel on one side that it can slide along an underwater surface to perform ultrasound scans.  Originally designed to look for cracks in nuclear reactors’ water tanks, the robot could also inspect ships for the false hulls and propeller shafts that smugglers frequently use to hide contraband.  Because of its small size and unique propulsion mechanism — which leaves no visible wake — the robots could, in theory, be concealed in clumps of algae or other camouflage. Fleets of them could swarm over ships at port without alerting smugglers and giving them the chance to jettison their cargo.