National / International News
The military is in the market for a replacement for its iconic and ubiquitous vehicle: the Humvee.
The army’s joint light tactical vehicle program — or JLTV — aims to buy around 55,000 of these new vehicles over the next 25 years, says Brian Friel, a government contracts analyst at Bloomberg.
The Humvees are outdated, but they also developed something of a reputation during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that was for being ill-equipped to deal with IEDs, or improvised explosive devices. The military reacted to the growing threat by fortifying existing Humvees and bringing in MRAPs, or mine-resistant, ambush-proof vehicles.
“The JLTV is seen as the longer-term fix to a problem that was sort of Band-Aid patch,” Friel says. Those battlefield improvisations came as at a cost: they were too heavy.
The new JLTV will get back to basics: light, quick and ubiquitous.
Lockheed Martin and Oshkosh Defense have submitted bids, and so has AM General, which made the original Humvee.
Byron Callan, an analyst with Capital Alpha, says all bids are not created equal. “Lockheed Martin, you know, this will probably be a picture and a footnote in their annual report if they win it,” he explains.
On the other hand, winning the contract might be make or break for AM General, he says.
On Tuesday, the Transportation Security Administration is under the microscope again on Capitol Hill. A House subcommittee is expected to take a closer look at how the TSA vets airport workers after an investigation found that 73 workers with ties to terrorism passed background checks.
Earlier this month, the TSA’s acting director was reassigned following reports that in undercover checks, airport screeners failed to detect mock explosives and weapons 95 percent of the time.
Critics of the administration are calling for a cultural shift at the agency. But that doesn’t happen overnight, says Michael Useem, who teaches leadership and corporate restructuring at the Wharton School.
“Typically, if it’s a big organization — this is one of America’s biggest, obviously — it can take six months to a couple years,” he says.
Click the media player above to hear more.
Persuading the public to pony up for infrastructure can stump the best politicians. It can also frustrate the engineers and scientists warning about the dangers of ignoring crumbling roads, bridges and water systems.
Lucy Jones, a seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, knows the feeling. But when she and 300 other academics, businesspeople and government officials published a 2008 study called “The Shakeout Scenario,” she discovered that “stories matter.”
“Scientists don’t believe we should do stories,” Jones told colleagues in a recent speech. “The reality is that is how people communicate, and when we reject the stories, we are rejecting a lot of the ways that we can connect to other people.”
“The Shakeout Scenario” still inspires yearly earthquake drills. The authors used scientific and economic data to create a plausible story about Los Angeles after a hypothetical 7.8 quake on the San Andreas Fault. It starts 10 minutes before the quake and ends six months later. Buildings collapse, others burn. Water and power fail. Businesses shutter. Jones said the scenario was helpful in persuading civic leaders to make seismic resiliency a priority.
“The Shakeout was an attempt to bridge the gap between scientific analysis and the human need for stories,” the seismologist says.
U.S. Geological Survey/film by Theo Alexopoulos
Jones notes that historically, San Francisco has been particularly active on earthquake issues. “Part of it is because they have a civic memory of catastrophe,” she says, referring to the 1906 earthquake that nearly burned the city to the ground.
In contrast, Los Angeles' “earthquake story” is the Northridge quake in 1994, which was smaller. Jones says that story “is of resilience and recovery and 'look how great we did.' So it’s harder to believe you have to make the difficult investments.”
Jones says city leaders want to make those investments. Late last year, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a plan to tackle the city’s earthquake vulnerabilities. Now it’s a matter of funding the recommended changes.
Jones, meanwhile, has her own “earthquake story.” It takes place in 1957 in Ventura, California. She says it’s her very first memory. “I’m home with my mom and siblings, and I remember my mother getting us into the hallway and crouching over and protecting us and my Siamese cat screaming.”
A screaming Siamese cat. Now the scientist has our attention.
Pope Francis is taking on climate change in a leaked draft of a papal letter, known as an encyclical, to be published on Thursday, in which he couches climate change as a moral issue and one of wealth inequality.
The pope says wealthier countries have to help developing ones in dealing with the problem.
"Once the encyclical letter comes out, then priests all around the world are going to work it into their sermon," says Andrew Hoffman, professor of sustainable enterprise at the University of Michigan.
"Right now, the primary messengers on climate change are democratic politicians, environmentalists and scientists. And we need more messengers from different domains," Hoffman says. "The pope coming forward can make a moral argument where others can't."
The letter's timing is important. About 200 countries plan to meet at the end of the year to sign a new climate change agreement. The pope wants to influence that process.
In his letter, the pope appears to be against carbon credits — a financial instrument that puts a price on air pollution. In his letter, the pope argues carbon credits could "give rise to a new form of speculation."
That's the number of Mexican agricultural workers who are being held at the border because of a computer glitch. The error has prevented the government from issuing the immigrant visas that would allow them to come into the U.S. for the summer harvest. As the Wall Street Journal reports, it is estimated that California agriculture is losing up to $500,000 to $1 million a day because of the holdup.70,000
That's how many cars travel per day on the Pulaski Skyway, a 3.5-mile stretch of elevated "superhighway" that connects the Newark airport to the Holland Tunnel. It's a particularly important and difficult-to-fix piece of the highway system, and it's the case study that kicks off our new series on infrastructure.73
That's how many TSA workers who passed the vetting process had ties to terrorist organizations, as revealed in a recent investigation. On Tuesday, a House subcommittee will review the process by which airport workers are screened before getting hired. But re-organizing hiring practices may not be as simple as, say, when a company rewrites its rule book. Critics are calling for a larger culture shift within the organization, and that kind of change can take much longer to enact.190 million
That's how many users Facebook has in the U.S., with virtually unlimited ways to divide them based on demographic information, "likes," browsing history and more. It's an absurdly powerful platform, National Review notes, and it's one 2016 presidential candidates are already leveraging for donors. The killer feature for this election cycle is video, which is far more ubiquitous, targeted and cheap than it was in 2012.71.5 percent
That's the portion of revenue rights holders will get from Apple Music, Re/Code reported. That's not out of bounds with similar on-demand streaming services, like Spotify.$524.1 million
That's what "Jurassic World" made in its record-smashing opening weekend, and about a fifth of that came from the growing but restricted Chinese market. The folks at Vulture talked to an expert in insurance involving "rare and unusual risks," and it turns out there's some precedent for the kind of coverage a real-life Jurassic World would have to get.
Insurance coverage for maternity care is deemed essential under the Affordable Care Act. But adult children on a parent's plan still may be on the hook for the cost of childbirth. And it's not cheap.