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ISIS, Iranian-Pakistani Tensions, Aircraft Sensors

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

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.