President Obama has repeatedly said his top counterterrorism goal is to prevent terrorists from acquiring the building blocks to make nuclear or “dirty” bombs. In April of 2009, Obama announced a new international effort to “secure all vulnerable nuclear material around the world within four years.” Since then, the Department of Energy has dispatched scientists around the globe to collect hundreds of pounds of the stuff.
But according to a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), issued late last Friday afternoon to little fanfare, thousands of pounds of highly-enriched uranium and separated plutonium remain. American officials may never get a chance to ensure its security.
That’s because the U.S. can’t track or fully account for 5,900 pounds of “weapons usable” nuclear material that it once shipped overseas. Instead, U.S. officials have to rely on foreign governments’ assurances that the potentially cataclysmic stuff is safe. And when those officials occasionally visit the sites holding the nuclear material, nearly half the places “did not meet International Atomic Energy Agency security guidelines,” according to the GAO, Congress’ investigative arm.
Former vice president Dick Cheney promised to have ‘heads exploding’ with his new memoir, In My Time. Here are some revelations from the book:
- Eats his tuna can-and-all
- Throughout book, American public told to shut up
- When he said American troops would “be greeted as liberators” in Iraq, he meant it, and he still believes it
- Somehow obtained and continues to possess all of the U.S. nuclear launch codes
- Is only able to speak out of the left side of his mouth due to a massive stroke that has been ongoing since 1983
- Once in late 2003, he let out a series of coarse wheezes that he confirmed was human laughter
- He first got the idea for water-boarding after watching his entire family slowly drown
- Really just the nicest guy you’ll ever meet
Ecovative is taking on an important, intractable problem: foamed polystyrene. The question, as with many of its peers, is whether it is can take a good idea, and have a real impact on the way things are done.
The single greatest contributor to landfill, polystyrene is ubiquitous, practically non-biodegradable, toxic to marine and other life, and not really recyclable (it can be re-used, but the secondary product is often thrown away). And, until recently, there were few alternatives, save for not using it.
New York-based Ecovative is mixing agricultural waste, such as rice husks and oat hulls, with “fungal mycelium” (mushroom roots) to create super-strong materials that are fire-resistant, and use no heat, electricity, or oil to produce. It is already working with Dell andSteelcase on packaging materials, with Ford on bumpers and side doors, and getting into the construction materials and furniture markets.
But can it really reach its potential if it is has to grow, instead of manufacture, its products?
Chief scientist Gavin McIntyre is confident. In May, Ecovative received investment worth $6.5 million, including funding from 3M, and it recently acquired a building in Green Island, New York, where it will build its first full factory.
“It’s going to be like a vertical farm,” he says. “It’s got 30-foot ceilings. We’re going to have racks upon racks of incubating parts, which have a five-day growth cycle. They slowly transition through the staged rack, starting at one side, until they complete colonization and are on the other side, ready for processing. Our entire process is automated and continuous.”
So you’ve been on the Space Shuttle Atlantis and Russian Soyuz spacecraft, served at the International Space Station, and even spent some time working at Google. What can you possibly do next? Ed Lu, the man with the aforementioned C.V., this week announced that he is joining Liquid Robotics as the chief of innovative applications (“Grand poo-bah was taken,” he jokes).
Liquid Robotics is the company behind the Wave Glider robot, the first marine robot to use the ocean’s wave energy to propel itself forward–a trait that means the robot has zero emissions, requires no fueling, and doesn’t need any power. The robot–which travels at a snail’s pace of one to one and a half knots but can potentially travel for years on end–can also hold solar-powered sensor payloads that transmit data via satellite.
Are you an aspiring filmmaker who wants to produce a spy thriller? Well, you’re in luck because the CIA has a pile of script ideas lying around.
Ironic, you say, that an organization known for secrecy is doling out helpful hints to Hollywood? The CIA doesn’t think so. For them it’s all about image control. And they’re just the start of it. The Department of Defense and just about every branch of the military has an entertainment industry liaison similar to the CIA’s.
If you want to make a war film and need a fleet of F-22s, a crowd of Marines, or a Navy aircraft carrier, just call up the Department of Defense’s entertainment media office and they’ll tell you if the Army can spare that M1A1 Abrams tank you’ve always wanted for a day or two of filming.
“The scripts we get are only the writer’s idea of how the Department of Defense operates,” Vince Ogilvie, deputy director of the Defense Department’s entertainment liaison office, told Danger Room. “We make sure the Department and facilities and people are portrayed in the most accurate and positive light possible.”
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) managed several hurricanes and natural disasters during his two terms as the state’s executive, but now he is preparing to respond to storms from the helm of a for-profit company instead of from within the governor’s mansion.
Bush’s newly created firm, Old Rhodes Holding LLC, joined forces with O’Brien’s Response Management to form a for-profit disaster response company, the Maritime Executive reported.
O’Brien’s is a subsidiary of SEACOR Holdings.
“We are pleased to enter into this partnership with one of the leading response organizations in the United States, backed by SEACOR’s global network,” Bush said. “Together we look forward to helping a broader array of organizations and communities become more resilient through preparation, response, communication and recovery.”
The news that a "rogue trader" (I hate that term – more on that in a moment) has soaked the Swiss banking giant UBS for $2 billion has rocked the international financial community and threatened to drive a stake through any chance Europe had of averting economic disaster. There is much hand-wringing in the financial press today as the UBS incident has reminded the whole world that all of the banks were almost certainly lying their asses off over the last three years, when they all pledged to pull back from risky prop trading.
Today, Sunday, the German Pirate Party is expected to be voted into Parliament in Berlin. This is the second time the nascent political movement will be felt worldwide — the first being in 2009, when the Swedish party took seats in the European Parliament.
They won’t be writing history. They’ll be making a direct copy of it and distributing it to others.
President Obama on Monday will call for a new minimum tax rate for individuals making more than $1 million a year to ensure that they pay at least the same percentage of their earnings as middle-income taxpayers, according to administration officials.
With a special joint Congressional committee starting work to reach a bipartisan budget deal by late November, the proposal adds a new and populist feature to Mr. Obama’s effort to raise the political pressure on Republicans to agree to higher revenues from the wealthy in return for Democrats’ support of future cuts from Medicare and Medicaid.
Mr. Obama, in a bit of political salesmanship, will call his proposal the “Buffett Rule,” in a reference to Warren E. Buffett, the billionaire investor who has complained repeatedly that the richest Americans generally pay a smaller share of their income in federal taxes than do middle-income workers, because investment gains are taxed at a lower rate than wages.
This will pass shortly after Congress passes the Endangered Unicorn Act..