For roughly a quarter century there has been a hiatus in nuclear-plant construction in Europe and North America. Now new plants are being built in France, Finland, and Russia, and new reactor proposals are gathering steam in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada. But to undergo a true resurgence—which many analysts argue is necessary to help reduce global greenhouse gas emissions—the nuclear power industry needs a coherent plan for dealing with its reactors’ radioactive and toxic leftovers. Burying the waste is a slow, politically painful process that leaves much to be desired. The long-planned U.S. repository under Yucca Mountain in Nevada has been immensely controversial. Yet if built as currently planned, it may be too small when it finally opens to accommodate all the high-level waste that has piled up in the country during half a century of commercial nuclear energy. Lately, nuclear advocates, particularly in the United States, say they’ve found … [Read more...] about Nuclear Wasteland
Washington state secretary of state
In the early 1990s, Russian mobsters partnered with Italian Mafia families in Newark, N.J., to skim millions of dollars in federal and New Jersey state gasoline and diesel taxes. Special Agent Larry Depew set up an undercover sting operation under the direction of Robert J. Chiaradio, a supervisor at the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Washington, D.C., headquarters. Depew collected reams of evidence from wiretaps, interviews, and financial transactions over the course of two and a half years. Unfortunately, the FBI couldn't provide him with a database program that would help organize the information, so Depew wrote one himself. He used it to trace relationships between telephone calls, meetings, surveillance, and interviews, but he could not import information from other investigations that might shed light on his own. So it wasn't until Depew mentioned the name of a suspect to a colleague that he obtained a briefcase that his friend had been holding since 1989. “When I opened … [Read more...] about Who Killed the Virtual Case File?
It is conceivable, as one of his colleagues has suggested, that Theodore Postol could be more effective “if he did not eventually accuse just about everybody of fraud or malfeasance or stupidity.” Over the past two years, for instance, the MIT professor of science, technology and national security policy has publicly accused the defense technology corporation TRW of perpetrating a hoax on the U.S. government. He has charged the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency (formerly known as the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization) with committing an “elaborate scientific and technical blunder,” compounded by fraud and misconduct. He has charged the authors of a report investigating those alleged frauds-who include two staff scientists at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory-with committing scientific fraud themselves to cover up the frauds they were allegedly investigating. He has charged the Pentagon’s Defense Security Service, in a letter to John Podesta, who … [Read more...] about Postol vs. the Pentagon
China is an economic catastrophe waiting to happen. China is poised to become the world’s largest economy by 2025. Both these statements are true. They provide the context we must understand in order to evaluate rightly what the Chinese are attempting to do in the sciences. When Deng Xiaoping came to power in the early 1980s, China was a Third World country, its vast population mired in poverty, trapped by massive economic failures and structural rigidities. Deng decreed that China must have the benefits of capitalist modes of investment and competition. He declared, also, that the foundation of economic and so of national greatness is science and technology. A quarter-century later, the dynamism of the Chinese economy is without precedent – steel, automobiles, toys, textiles, household appliances, on and on. Official statistics put the year-on-year growth of gross domestic product at 7.5 percent in 2001, 8.3 percent in 2002, 9.3 percent in 2003, 9.5 percent in 2004. Some … [Read more...] about The Great Chinese Experiment
John Guarino is the owner of TecAngels, a two-man computer consultancy in Manhattan. Give Guarino your ailing Windows PC, and in two or three hours he’ll return it to you in perfect health. Often, he can solve his customers’ problems over the phone. But last summer, Guarino came across a problem he couldn’t fix. In the process of flushing out the spyware and viruses infecting his customers’ computers, he began to find the same mysterious intruders in machine after machine. They were strangely named files lurking deep inside the “registry” where Windows stores settings and instructions that control all of a computer’s hardware and software.To Guarino, the files looked like a rootkit – software that tricks an operating system into overlooking worms, viruses, and any other files a hacker might want to conceal inside a user’s computer. The files didn’t seem to be causing damage, and Guarino’s antivirus software … [Read more...] about Inside the Spyware Scandal
Just as our everyday lives depend on the Internet, the backbones of nations increasingly rely on the Internet for communication, coordination, and financial transactions. But relying on the Internet also exposes those core functions threats from anywhere in the world. Need examples? Two weeks ago, some 30,000 systems at South Korean banks and broadcasters were wiped out in a coordinated attack – it might have come from North Korea, but investigators are still chasing basic details. Last week, a cyber-brawl apparently between Spamhaus and CyberBunker has caused localized collateral damage and may have shaken some top-tier Internet providers.Earlier this month, the U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper offered an assessment of current worldwide threats to the United States. The list included terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, competition for dwindling natural resources, and even pandemics. But the first item? Cyber threats.Why are online threats now the top … [Read more...] about Will the next 9/11 be digital?
In a move that’s sure to turn a few heads, Washington will become the first state in the nation to let residents register to vote through a Facebook app, reports the Associated Press. State leadership hopes the app will entice more younger residents to register. The app, dubbed MyVote, will reportedly launch as soon as next week, though it could arrive later.The MyVote app will be accessible through the secretary of state’s Facebook page. Users must agree to allow Facebook to access their information, just as many apps do now. In an interview with Ars Technica, Shane Hamlin, Washington’s co-director of elections, said that the MyVote app (which, incidentally, was created by Microsoft, a Washington-based company) will pull users’ names and ages straight from Facebook, “then it operates exactly as it does if you’re not in Facebook,” he said. While speaking with the AP, Hamlin said that users need not worry about privacy — … [Read more...] about Washington state to launch Facebook voter registration app
Data Analysis Pulse of the Planet Monitored Over the Next 10 Years Nearly 60 countries and the European Commission agreed to a plan that, over the next 10 years, will revolutionize our understanding of Earth and how it works. Agreement for a 10-year implementation plan for a Global Earth Observation System of Systems, known as GEOSS, was reached by member countries of the Group on Earth Observations at the Third Earth Observation Summit held in Brussels. Nearly 40 international organizations also support the emerging global network. In just 18 months, from the first-ever Earth Observation Summit held on July 31, 2003 in Washington, D.C., the number of participating countries has nearly doubled, and interest has accelerated since the recent tsunami tragedy devastated parts of Asia and Africa. In the coming months, more countries and global organizations are expected to join the historic initiative. "By adopting an implementation plan for the GEOSS, we have accomplished … [Read more...] about Pulse of the Planet Monitored Over the Next 10 Years
Security Entomological Society of America names 2010 Insect Science Award winnersESA is pleased to announce the winners of its 2010 awards. Professional awards will be presented at the Opening Plenary Session of the ESA Annual Meeting in San Diego, California, Sunday, December 12, 5:30-7:30 p.m. The student awards will be presented on Tuesday, December 14, 8:00-9:00 p.m. The awardees are listed below. HONORARY MEMBERS?Honorary Membership acknowledges those who have served ESA for at least 20 years through significant involvement in the affairs of the Society that has reached an extraordinary level. Dr. George G. Kennedy (Honorary Member) is currently William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor of Agriculture and head of the Department of Entomology at North Carolina State University. He holds B.S. and Ph.D. degrees in entomology from Oregon State University and Cornell University, respectively. He served as assistant professor of entomology at University of California, Riverside … [Read more...] about Entomological Society of America names 2010 Insect Science Award winners
There's no denying that the Internet has changed the world for both good and bad, but few elements of its dark side inspire more fear than its use by terrorists.Observers around the world were horrified when a video of the 2002 beheading of American journalist Daniel Pearl was disseminated on the Web, and other gruesome images have followed. It may not always be clear where such communications originate, but one thing has become certain: Terrorist organizations are making full use of the Internet today."All the capabilities and advantages the Internet provides for businesses and individuals are equally attractive for terrorist organizations and criminals of every kind," Herbert Strauss, research vice president at Gartner focusing on national security, told TechNewsWorld. "Even more disconcerting is that the level of sophistication among terrorist organizations is increasing," he added."We know criminals are exploiting technology to further their criminal activities, and there's no … [Read more...] about Web of Terror, Part 1: Extremists Take to the Net