A Titanic Geopolitical Struggle Is Underway


source: axios.com, contributed by FAN, Bill Amshey  |  image: pexels.com

There are many ways to explain the two biggest conflicts in the world today, but my own shorthand has been that Ukraine wants to join the West and Israel wants to join the Arab East — and Russia, with Iran’s help, is trying to stop the first, and Iran and Hamas are trying to stop the second.

While the two battlefronts may look very different, they actually have a lot in common. They reflect a titanic geopolitical struggle between two opposing networks of nations and nonstate actors over whose values and interests will dominate our post-post-Cold War world — following the relatively stable Pax Americana/globalization era that was ushered in by the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the collapse of the Soviet bloc, America’s chief Cold War rival.

Yes, this is no ordinary geopolitical moment.

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What to know about China’s cyber threats?

source: axios.com, contributed by FAN, Bill Amshey  |  image: pixabay.com


China has become the top hacking threat in 2024 with a recent series of attacks targeting critical U.S. infrastructure.

Why it matters: It’s rare for public officials to share as many details as they have in recent weeks about ongoing cyber threats — underscoring just how concerned the Biden administration is about a Beijing-backed cyberattack.

Driving the news: The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the National Security Agency, and the FBI released an advisoryWednesday detailing how the Volt Typhoon hacking group is infiltrating the U.S.

The advisory presented a stark picture of the “persistent” threat, with China having access to some infrastructure for “at least five years.”

  • Typical malware detection tools can’t detect these hackers’ movements.
  • And in some cases, Volt Typhoon had enough access to tamper with basic essential services, like water and energy controls.

The big picture: This is just the latest example of Chinese hackers targeting not only U.S. infrastructure, but also American businesses in the last year.

  • But keeping tabs on everything going on — or even recalling what all has happened — has become a daunting task.

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SpaceX Launched Military Satellites Designed to Track

Hypersonic Missiles

source: wired.com  |  image: pexels.com

The prototype satellites hitched a ride on a Falcon 9 rocket.


Two prototype satellites for the Missile Defense Agency and four missile-tracking satellites for the US Space Force rode a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket into orbit Wednesday from Florida’s Space Coast.

These satellites are part of a new generation of spacecraft designed to track hypersonic missiles launched by China or Russia and perhaps emerging missile threats from Iran or North Korea, which are developing their own hypersonic weapons.

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Humanizing a popular holiday with AI

source: https://www.armstrongeconomics.com, contributed by FAN, Steve Jones  |  image: armstrongeconomics.com


In his submission, Steve writes “This video is rather interesting from the technology point of view as well as how people are viewed from their image.    I think the impact of a first impression , body language, and  eye contact are more important now-a-days than a handshake.    Similarly the smile gesture and body language is just as important as appearance.”

This short video will undoubtedly “wow!” you…and probably make you want to view it at least a couple of times.  It’s AI at its finest and worthy of a look-see!  Click on the image below.  It’ll take you to the source site where the video resides!


NASA’s new supersonic jet goes so fast it can’t have a windshield. Here’s how pilots will fly it

source: fastcompany.com  |  image: nasa.gov


Today NASA is officially trotting out the finished version of an experimental aircraft that looks like a stretched-out arrowhead. Painted in red, white, and blue, the plane is called the X-59, and it has a lofty goal: to fly faster than the speed of sound over land, but do so in a quiet enough way that no one below is startled by a sonic boom. (You can watch the event here.)

The aircraft’s most noticeable feature is a nose that measures 38 feet long, which represents more than one-third of its total length of 99 feet and 7 inches. Tucked into a compartment behind that nose will be space for one pilot. But because the cockpit sits totally flush with the top surface of the aircraft—it’s embedded in the body of the plane—there is no forward windshield for the test pilot to look out of when they fly. Instead, they’ll fly using a camera system and a screen inside the cockpit to reveal what’s in front of them. 

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Russian Intelligence Is Pushing False Claims of U.S. Biological Testing in Africa, U.S. Says


source: https://www.wsj.com, contributed by FAN Chuck Miller  |  image: pexels.com


Media disinformation operation with Wagner Group link takes aim at American influence on continent


WSJ: Michael R. Gordon, Gabriele Steinhauser, Dustin Volz, and Ann Simmons

Russian intelligence agencies are trying to undermine U.S. influence in Africa by spreading disinformation that Africans have been the unwitting test subjects in Pentagon biological research programs and casting aspersions on Western public-health programs, U.S. officials said. 

The effort is part of a Russian campaign to counter the U.S. in Africa and Latin America as Washington and Moscow battle for public opinion around the world. 

At the heart of the Russian campaign is “African Initiative,” an online news service set up late last year that has used social media to promote criticism of Western public-health efforts in Africa and convened a conference in which participants disparaged Western pharmaceutical companies.

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Virginia Tech researchers receive grant to create way for developing underground power lines

source: https://www.wdbj7.com, contributed by FAN, Steve Page  |  image: vt.edu


BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) – There are thousands of power lines underground that allow us to use our phones, laptops and devices daily.

A Virginia Tech research team will be using a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy(ARPA-E) to develop new technology that will enhance how underground power lines are made.

“The problem that we’re trying to solve is challenges with the current way our electrical grid [is] set up,” said Dr. Joseph Vatassel, an assistant professor with Virginia Tech’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. “So most of our electricity that we get to our homes, or to our businesses is through overhead power lines.”

Dr. Vantassel will lead a team to revamp how underground power lines around the country are built.

“What we’re looking at is the alternative of drilling underneath the ground. And this is something that’s been done. It’s very expensive right now, it’s very risky right now,” Dr. Vantassel adds.

The research is being funded by a $2.5 million grant for technology designed to make underground drilling safer.

“What we’re proposing is a system that is going to allow the drill operator to essentially see ahead of where they’re drilling,” explained Dr. Vantassel. “So we have sensors on the drill head itself. We have complementary sensors at the ground surface. And then we’re going to use this artificial intelligence machine learning predictive model to take the data coming from the drill head, the data we’re measuring at the surface, put that all together and present it to the drill operators.”

Congressman Morgan Griffith (R- 9th District) announced the grant on behalf of ARPA-E. He said he is excited for this project because is important now more than ever

“Whenever you have high winds and cold temperatures, you are more likely to have power outages as we as we see here,” said the Congressman. “Same thing with ice storms. The reason that your power goes out in an ice storm is that ice builds up on the lines and the lines collapse.”

Underground power lines can also help prevent catastrophes like the fires in Maui we saw last year.

“We held a hearing last year related to the Maui fires, which were caused by power line,” explained Congressman Griffith “If they’d been underground, you wouldn’t had those problems.”

Congressman Griffith also mentioned as technology advances, our power grids need to as well.

“There’s so many more electrical devices, we are going to have to put in more power lines and the more that we can do, where we’re able to do some of that underground, the stronger the grid’s going to be. I think that’s important,” he said.

Although the research will be based at Virginia Tech, Dr. Vantassel says the research will not only impact our hometowns; it will help the entire country.

“The idea is really to develop this system to be used across the United States. So we’re looking not just at how do we improve the electrical system here at Virginia Tech, but really across the whole us,” said Dr. Vantassel. The whole United States has these challenges with how do we underground utility lines. And I think that’s why you’re seeing the Department of Energy put so much resources behind developing these projects, funding our project, and all of these.”

Dr. Vantassel is teaming up with colleagues at Virginia Tech along with Brigham Young Universityand the Colorado School of Mines. He plans on using grant money to begin research immediately.

China had “persistent” access to U.S. critical infrastructure

source: https://www.axios.com, contributed by FAN, Steve Page  |  image: pexels.com


China-backed hackers have had access to some major U.S. critical infrastructure for “at least five years,” according to an intelligence advisory released Wednesday.

Why it matters: The hacking campaign laid out in the report marks a sharp escalation in China’s willingness to seize U.S. infrastructure — going beyond the typical effort to steal state secrets.

  • The advisory provides the fullest picture to-date of how a key China hacking group has gained and maintained access to some U.S. critical infrastructure.

Details: The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation released an advisory Wednesday to warn critical infrastructure operators about China’s ongoing hacking interests.

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In 2024, Biosensors Are Becoming More Accessible: What It Means for You

source: cnet.com  |  image: medicaldevice-network.com 

New biowearables are giving people with Type 2 diabetes more options. Those without diabetes can get even more insight into their health.

Deep in your body, under your skin, are measurable elements of your health that affect your risk of developing some of the most common diseases worldwide. Some of these things, like blood oxygen and sleep quality, can be detected through a traditional wearable or smartwatch. But some of the other useful data people can actually act on to become more healthy has either been restricted to prescription devices or simply hasn’t been available in the US. Think your blood sugar levels.

Improvements in biosensing technology are inching closer to changing the wearable status quo. At CES this year, companies came forward with the latest developments in biosensors, which have been in the works for years but only recently started to shape into something the “average” consumer could benefit from. This includes the one in three US adults in “prediabetes” territory, where blood sugar levels are high but not yet high enough to constitute a Type 2 diabetes diagnosis. 

Could biosensors, which dig for and retrieve even more information than what we’re used to, benefit someone in a window of opportunity, where choices made today could turn around or reverse a future health condition? If they’re able to reach more people, possibly. 

“People are familiar with wearables, and we see biowearables as the next step in that technology,” said Marc Taub, divisional vice president of technical operations for Abbott’s diabetes care business. The devices can give people “insight into their bodies they never had before,” Taub said during a digital health panel at CES last week.

What are biosensors? 

Biosensors are a wearable you stick to a part of your body, like your arm, to lift health data using a tiny sensor. Continuous glucose monitors, or CGMs, for people with Type 1 diabetes have been the main product. 

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Satya Nadella on the bigger vision behind Microsoft’s new battery

source: fastcompany.com  |  image: pexels.com

Working with a national lab, the software giant used AI to tackle the flaws of today’s lithium batteries—and pave a new path for scientific discovery.


Recently, Microsoft built a clock.

Well, “built” may be overstating things. Members of the company’s quantum computing team found a small digital clock in a wood case on Amazon—the kind you might mistake for a nicer-than-usual trade show tchotchke. They hacked it to run off two experimental batteries they’d created in collaboration with staffers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). Then they dressed up its enclosure by adding the logo of Azure Quantum Elements, the Microsoft platform for AI-enhanced scientific discovery that had been instrumental in developing the new battery technology.

The point of this little DIY project was to prove the batteries worked in a visceral way: “You want to have a wow moment,” explains Brian Bilodeau, the head of partnerships, strategy, and operations for Azure Quantum. And the person the quantum team hoped to wow was Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

Not that getting Nadella’s attention was such a daunting prospect. Throwing vast amounts of Azure high-performance computing (HPC) resources at a big, hairy technical challenge such as materials research is the sort of challenge he’s predisposed to take a personal interest in. Still, the tangible evidence of success made for a memorable moment: “I was very, very excited to see it come through,” Nadella remembers.

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