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Brazil, 3-D Printing, ISIS

Dated: 27 Oct 2014
Posted by Christine Chan
Category: International, Security, Technology, Uncategorized
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Brazil: President Dilma Rousseff was reelected on Sunday with 51.6 percent of the vote—the narrowest win in thirty years of Brazilian elections. After a tumultuous election, Rousseff must not only reconcile a politically divided country, but also revive a stagnant economy as Brazil entered a recession earlier this year. Meanwhile, shares of Petrobras plummeted 15% on the news.

3-D Printing: 3-D printing at the micro-scale, which was previously unachievable, has been accomplished by a team of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers. Using additive manufacturing to develop “smarter” silicone cushions and by architecting the structure at this level, they are able to control macro-scale properties previously impossible with foam materials. The researchers are aiming to replace the foams currently in defense and aerospace applications.

ISIS: the Islamic State’s recruitment of children as young as six, and what it means for the long-term fight against Islamic extremism: “The Islamic State has put in place a far-reaching and well-organized system for recruiting children, indoctrinating them with the group’s extremist beliefs, and then teaching them rudimentary fighting skills and subjecting them to witness executions. The militants are preparing for a long war against the West, and hope the children being trained today will still be fighting years from now. While there are no hard figures for how many children are involved, refugee stories and evidence collected by the United Nations, human rights groups, and journalists suggest that the indoctrination and military training of children is widespread.”

US Economy, The Grid, Math App

Dated: 22 Oct 2014
Posted by Christine Chan
Category: Technology, Uncategorized
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US Economy: In the face of the recent market pullback, the deceleration of the BRICs, and global volatility, the US economy is showing signs of strength and currently at a crossroads.  With economic bellwethers Alcoa and GE posting impressive quarterly results, unemployment claims at 14 year lows, and a revival of the manufacturing sector (work week averages of factory workers at levels not seen since WWII), some investors are beginning to move back into the market.  Furthermore, among major world economies, the U.S. is less reliant on export demand from overseas, which will reduce headwinds if the global markets do not improve. Exports account for only about 14% of U.S. gross domestic product—the lowest for any developed nation—well below the 51% for Germany or 26% for China, according to the World Bank.

The Grid: Fear that utility companies remain vulnerable to hackers, terrorists and natural disasters has the Pentagon pushing construction of independent power grids at military bases across the U.S.  One such base, which is using a system of small power plants, solar panels, batteries and diesel generators, is already saving $10 million a year in energy costs.  Indeed, solar is providing additional cost savings elsewhere: “solar panels have become almost as common on bases as flagpoles. Photovoltaic panels provide nearly a quarter of the electricity at Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas. The panels already save the base about $1 million a year, said Jeffrey Blazi, base energy manager, and a proposed expansion would double the output”.

Math App: A newly unveiled app, PhotoMath, for iOS and Windows Phone uses your smartphone’s camera to scan math equations and not only solve them, but show the steps involved.