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17

Jul

Marine tech experts suggest solutions to finding missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370

WASHINGTON—Marine technology experts said equipping planes with longer-range transponders as well as pingers could help avoid another Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared during a trip from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8.

Executives from Teledyne Marine Systems, Bluefin Robotics and Phoenix International, all companies involved in the futile search for the aircraft, discussed technology advances that could help find missing flights.

While pingers emit a continuous sound lasting 30 to 45 days from the time they hit water, a transponder waits for a request to send out its signal. Transponders can last from six months to several years.

“There are already rulings in Europe and the U.S. to get longer range pingers to add to the current systems, not replace them,” said Tom Altshuler, vice president and group general manager of Teledyne. “It will be attached to the aircraft, not the black box, so this is more to find the plane.”

 Airlines, however, are reluctant to add longer-range transponders, as they take up valuable space and weight on an airline. Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 did have a transponder, but it was turned off at some point before the plane vanished.

Altshuler said another feasible option is to use a plane’s Wi-Fi to transmit data to a server, eliminating the need to search for an aircraft’s black box, which contains the pinger.

“There’s virtually no net cost. I just need an Ethernet cable to connect this to this and I change the paradigm,” Altshuler said. “I’d expect to see that in the next few years.”

The future of the search for Flight 370 depends on what contract the Australian Transport Safety Board accepts for a renewed effort, but the executives said that search will likely include side-scan sonar technology, which has been used before.

“The award for that opportunity is pending,” said Peter LeHardy, manager of Phoenix International, “It could come at any moment.”

 Malaysia Airlines was not immediately available for comment as the airline dealt with another plane that crashed in eastern Ukraine — reportedly shot down while carrying 295 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

By: Cat Boardman 

Twitter: @CEBoardman

Malaysian plane crashes in the Ukraine

16

Jul

Overcrowding in prison cause for concern

WASHINGTON — State officials told a House panel Tuesday that overcrowding in prisons is pushing their penal systems to the breaking point. Lack of attention on the back end – what to do when prisoners are released – is one cause for concern.

 “The State of Alabama faces a great crisis in our Department of Corrections,” said Alabama legislator, Cam Ward, in testimony before the House Judiciary subcommittee on crime, terrorism, homeland security and investigations.

 Ward was joined by John E. Wetzel, head of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, Jerry Madden, former chairman of the Texas House Corrections Committee and  Nancy G. La Vigne, director of the Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center.

 The witnesses said they were pressing for meaningful prison reform in their respective states.

 “Every decision throughout our corrections system must keep one target in mind: that when someone leaves of our prisons and is successfully reintegrated into the community, we’ve proactively impacted crime,” Wetzel told the subcommittee.

 The Pennsylvania Transportation Department has implemented a simple, yet effective plan. The state agency provides identification cards prior to a prisoners’ release. Last year, more than 9,000 released prisoners got the Ids, helping them reintegrate into society..

 “The release of offenders with their Ids enables them to connect with services that are available to them more readily, thereby removing an imposing barrier,” says Wetzel.

 Texas prisons have added beds in their facilities that can also be used to treat substance abuse cases handled by parole and probation departments. They’ve also added alcoholic treatment programs.

 Additionally, the Texas system introduced intermediate sanction facilities for former inmates on probation and parole. Individuals who violate their parole or probation would be given a short-term alternative of two to three months instead of facing longer sentences.  

 In Alabama, community corrections programs are beginning to offer alternative punishment options for judges to alleviate the overcrowding and congestion within penitentiaries. The options available for sentencing criminal defendants are expanding. Low to medium-risk offenders may be diverted elsewhere.

 One theme prevailed – the need for more support on the “back end” – allowing ex-prisoners to more smoothly reintegrate into society  – with honesty and integrity. 

Rachel Menitoff for Medill News Service

Today in Medill's DC newsroom

15

Jul

Etiquette, what’s that?

What’s the worst way to break up with someone? If you chose the dreaded Facebook break up, you’re not alone. Respondents to a new 60 Minutes and Vanity Fair poll overwhelmingly said a Facebook break up is worse than splitting over sticky note, text or IM, phone call or email. 

In these days of ever-changing standards, 60 Minutes and Vanity Fair asked their readers and viewers what they believe the rules of etiquette are now. Though most people can’t last through dinner without checking their phone, respondents said emailing and texting during meals was the activity they’d prefer to stop, over not letting people off elevators before they get on, using bags to save seats at the movies, and blocking a climbing lane on the escalator.

Respondents also voted that the formality to be kept alive is men opening doors for women. Boyfriends: take note if you want to avoid a Facebook break up.

And the rudest question to ask on a dating profile: How much money do you make?

Though these standards may seem foreign to some, 39 percent of people say they simply trust their gut instinct when it comes to etiquette questions. But if texting between bites of pad Thai and asking the salary of someone you just met doesn’t seem rude, you can consult the other options: your mother or grandmother, your spouse or significant other, the Internet, a friend or Emily Post. 

14

Jul

The monthly gun control protests at National Riffle Association continues this morning. It is hosted by a Virginia-based gun violence prevention groups. Following the recent prevalence in school shooting, the group hopes that the NRA will stop standing in the way of sensible gun legislation reforms. Follow Katie Schubauer with the development of the issue.

The monthly gun control protests at National Riffle Association continues this morning. It is hosted by a Virginia-based gun violence prevention groups. Following the recent prevalence in school shooting, the group hopes that the NRA will stop standing in the way of sensible gun legislation reforms. Follow Katie Schubauer with the development of the issue.

10

Jul

Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., heads the Senate appropriations hearing on the $3.7 billion the Obama Administration is requesting to remedy the most recent border and immigration crisis.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., heads the Senate appropriations hearing on the $3.7 billion the Obama Administration is requesting to remedy the most recent border and immigration crisis.

08

Jul

Benefits of globalization of the defense industry include both enhanced competition and broader avenues of technology, William J. Lynn III, the CEO of Finmeccanica North America explained. 

Lynn’s talk was followed by a Q&A session with Steven Grundman, a George Lund Fellow at the Atlantic Council. View the Q&A here

Follow reporters @Larson_Eliza and @AlixHines on Twitter for updates on the defense industry. 

07

Jul

States, including Ohio, debate minimum wage

Thirteen states, including Ohio, are increasing their minimum wages instead of waiting around for Congress to act. While minimum wage employees and activists are happy with the raise, economists are split.

usatoday:

The scientific name for cacao trees translates to “food of the gods.” That sounds about right. Happy Chocolate Day!(Photo: Shutterstock)

usatoday:

The scientific name for cacao trees translates to “food of the gods.” That sounds about right. Happy Chocolate Day!

(Photo: Shutterstock)

01

Jul

USA vs. Belgium

Don’t be alarmed if you notice some of your colleagues shouting at their computers today. The United States faces Belgium at 4 p.m. ET in a do or die game. The winner advances to the final eight and the loser is sent home.

Not up to speed with World Cup predictions or standings? No problem. Here’s a little cheat sheet: (Information compiled by Bloomberg)

Overall

Belgium is favored to win this match.

Odds of winning: BEL (74.6 %) and USA (26.0%)

USA

FIFA World Rank: 13

World Cup Appearances: 9

Best Result: Third Place (1930)

Team Nickname: The Stars and Stripes

Key player: Clint Dempsey. He is a forward and is from the Seattle Sounders. 

Belgium

FIFA World Rank: 11

World Cup Appearances:11

Best Result: Fourth Place (1986)

Team Nickname: Rode Duivels (Red Devils)

Key Player: Eden Hazard. He is a forward and plays for Chelsea. 

30

Jun

Ex-Im Bank: a legacy from the Great Depression

Not many people really knew the Ex-Im Bank until recently. It was originally created in 1934 to promote trade with the Soviet Union. It is an official export credit agency in America, not a commercial bank. Its mandate is to facilitate exports and promote export-related jobs by providing loans and guarantees to foreign companies that purchase American goods and service. Lately, the Democrats and Republicans are debating if the government should re-authorize the bank. If it cannot get a new charter at the end of September, its business will be suspended.

Proponents of the bank believe it helps create jobs, improve US trade balance and fill up the gaps where private lenders ignore. However, many opponents argue the bank crowds out private lending and does not create new jobs.

The question is if the bank is shut down, how does it impact the economy? Will export drop? Will people lose their jobs? Will private lenders be able to do a better job to fill in the gap? It takes a long article to explain all these questions. But here’s one quick answer. Government subsidies do not affect the overall level of exports. A country’s current account is determined by its investment and savings. It’s macroeconomics 101. If there is nothing that the private lenders can’t do, perhaps it is time to think about ending this legacy from the old days. 

Stay tuned with my coming story about the Ex-Im Bank.

@lingjiaomo