Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Why the world needs more U.S government debt.The U.S. generates more income than any other country, and will keep doing so for many years to come. The federal government can generate a lot of revenue by taxing this income a power that puts it in a unique position to issue the kind of extremely safe bonds that are in great demand among the world's investors.The yield on a 20-year inflation-protected Treasury bond, at just over 0.5 percent, is nearly two full percentage points lower than it was 10 years ago. This means that the price is near record highs, suggesting that the U.S. government's supply of such safe investments is falling far short of demand. In other words, we're starving the world of desperately needed financial safety.To some, the idea that the U.S. government isn't issuing enough debt may seem counter intuitive after all, federal debt outstanding has more than doubled over the past 10 years. But scarcity is not about supply alone. In the wake of the financial crisis, households and businesses are demanding more safe assets to protect themselves against sudden downturns. Similarly, regulators are requiring banks to hold more safe assets. Market prices tell us that the government needs to produce more safety in order to meet this increased demand.The scarcity of safety creates hardships for people and businesses. Retirees can't get adequate returns on their nest eggs. Banks can't earn enough on safe, long-term investments to cover the costs of attracting deposits (interest rates on which can't fall much below zero).
Saturday, April 23, 2016
Government officials are urgently warning employers in the United States to take major steps to protect their employees from getting the zika virus.As the outbreak worsens, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued new guidelines that are aimed at employers working in areas where the zika virus is a threat, according to a CDC statement.Those who work outdoors and are pregnant are most at risk, and employers should take preemptive steps to protect them, the CDC says.Although a full-scale breakout of the zika virus in the United States is a fairly low risk, the CDC warns that people should not underestimate their risk for getting the virus.Since zika is transmitted via mosquitoes, the best way to protect yourself is by wearing protection designed to stop mosquitoes from biting, like sprays and nettings, and avoiding stagnant water where mosquitoes like to breed.Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent zika, so the only protection against it is preemptive measures.“Zika virus is primarily spread through the bites of infected mosquitoes,” the CDC statement reads. “There is no vaccine to prevent Zika virus infection, and there is no specific treatment for people who become infected. Although Zika virus is primarily spread by infected mosquitoes, exposure to an infected person’s blood or other body fluids may also result in transmission.“Outdoor workers may be at the greatest risk of exposure to Zika virus,” it continues. “Some workers, including those working with insecticides in areas of active Zika transmission to control mosquitoes and healthcare workers who may be exposed to contaminated blood or other potentially infectious materials from people infected with Zika virus, may require additional protection. Although there are no reports of transmission of Zika virus from infected patients to health care personnel or other patients, minimizing exposure to body fluids is important to reduce the possibility of such transmission.”
Saturday, April 16, 2016
Computer technology company Microsoft has brought a legal case against the U.S. government.Microsoft says a law that permits agencies to demand to read emails or online files without their owners knowledge violates the Constitution.The Reuters news agency reports that the company believes the government’s actions violate the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. That amendment bans“unreasonable searches and seizures.”Reuters also reports that Microsoft says the law violates the company’s First Amendment right to free speech.The law in question is the Electronics Communications Privacy Act of 1986. It permits government investigators to examine emails and other electronic files without telling the owners of the documents. In Most cases, a judge must give the investigators permission to do so. Microsoft says the law was written before distant computer data storage centers, known as the cloud,were developed.Microsoft is a major operator of cloud storage for computers. It says the government is using the new technology to increase its power.Microsoft says it received more than 5,600 federal demands for access to files between September 2014 and March 2015. It says more than half of the requests did not permit the company to tell the owners of the files that their information was being read.
Tuesday, April 5, 2016
The United States Government has founded a program that allows hackers to hack the pentagon so they can find bugs in there security. Hackers will soon be able to probe U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) systems for security bugs under a new pilot bug bounty program.The DoD has now opened registrations for the US government's first commercial bug bounty under a one month pilot dubbed "Hack the Pentagon". The program will award hackers with cash for finding new security flaws in certain DoD systems.The DoD announced last week that it will be partnering with HackerOne, a firm that coordinates bug disclosures and facilitates payments to hackers around the world. The firm recently landed Uber on its platform with rewards of up to $10,000 for ferreting out critical bugs.The department flagged the program in March but still hasn't revealed exactly how much hackers will receive for finding different classes of bugs. Payments will come from $150,000 in funding for the program, though it's not clear how much of that fund has been allocated to awards.hackers won't be paid unless they submit to a "basic criminal background check to ensure tax dollars are spent wisely", according to the Pentagon.Participants will be alerted prior to the screening and may opt-out of the process, however avoiding the background check will result in no compensation.To join the pilot hackers will need to apply through HackerOne and submit signed tax documents.
Saturday, March 26, 2016
The investigation into this week’s deadly attacks in Brussels has prompted worries that the Islamic State is seeking to attack, infiltrate or sabotage nuclear installations or obtain nuclear or radioactive material. This is especially worrying in a country with a history of security lapses at its nuclear facilities, a weak intelligence apparatus and a deeply rooted terrorist network.On Friday, the authorities stripped security badges from several workers at one of two plants where all nonessential employees had been sent home hours after the attacks at the Brussels airport and one of the city’s busiest subway stations three days earlier. Video footage of a top official at another Belgian nuclear facility was discovered last year in the apartment of a suspected militant linked to the extremists who unleashed the horror in Paris in November. Since the threat the British national security advisor Michael Fallon has reported that there is a new threat emerging. Terrorists can obtain enough highly enriched uranium and then turn it into a nuclear fission bomb seems far-fetched to many experts, they say the fabrication of some kind of dirty bomb from radioactive waste or byproducts is more conceivable. There are a variety of other risks involving Belgium’s facilities, including that terrorists somehow shut down the privately operated plants, which provide nearly half of Belgium’s power. The fears at the nuclear power plants are of “an accident in which someone explodes a bomb inside the plant,said Sébastien Berg, the spokesman for Belgium’s federal agency for nuclear control.The other danger is that they fly something into the plant from outside.That could stop the cooling process of the used fuel, Mr. Berg explained, and in turn shut down the plant.
Tuesday, March 15, 2016
The Obama administration is reworking its plan to open the southern Atlantic coast to offshore oil exploration because of strong opposition from the Pentagon, which says the activity could hurt military maneuvers and interfere with missile tests the Navy relies on to protect the coast.Early this week, Interior Department officials from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management expect to release an update of its draft proposal to lease federal waters to oil and gas companies off the coasts of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.The Pentagon confirmed Sunday that it provided an assessment of Interior's map for oil exploration on the coastal outer shelf "that identifies locations.Interior confirmed last week that an update was in the works but declined to discuss specifics. Under the draft plan released in January 2015, the department would sell leases in federal waters over five years starting in 2017 to companies hoping to prospect for oil, gas and other minerals. Actual drilling might not start for a decade.The update could dampen the enthusiasm that oil industry representatives and southern coastal-state governors showed when the draft was released. According to Interior's estimates, more than 3 billion barrels of oil is recoverable on the outer continental shelf, plus more than 30 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.