Outside the Circle

Anastazia Vanisko and Mark Patteson

Brazil seeks to create a more secure email service
Anastazia Vanisko

Following the discovery that Brazil was a target of the National Security Agency (NSA), Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff announced via Twitter her country’s plans to create a more secure email service. The country’s Federal Data Processing System was put in charge of developing the new system.
However, it is possible that a new email service will do little to stop potential spies. In order to protect from foreign espionage, the email system must have no contact with services based outside the country. This is virtually impossible due to the level of international business being done. For example, any email sent to someone using Gmail becomes viewable by the NSA.

In 2014, the Brazilian government plans to host an international summit to discuss internet security and possibly to call for the transfer of some power from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers and the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, two US-based organizations, to the United Nations.

Britain’s prime minister attacks EU regulation

Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom hopes to cut the European Union’s (EU) regulation on British business. He stated that the regulations are prohibiting the growth of small businesses and are costly to implement.

Reducing regulations could increase businesses’ profits and lower costs, but at the same time it would worsen the conditions for workers. Areas included in the over 30 recommendations on regulation reform were paid maternity leave and limits on working hours. Trade union leaders responded to these suggestions by saying that reducing regulations would “erode workers’ basic rights.”

Cameron’s announcement comes just before a meeting with European Council members, and is an integral part of his campaign to reshape Britain’s position in the EU. This issue also may play an important role in convincing conservative party members not to switch sides before the next election in 2015.

Some national parks reopen with state funding

Even though they still lack national government funding, some national parks managed to reopen with the help of local and state money. Many states chose to let their parks remain closed, but Utah, Arizona, South Dakota, Colorado and New York all reopened at least one park.

Though the reopening of a single park costs thousands of dollars, the millions of dollars the tourist attractions bring in every day can make up the difference. Local communities greatly depend on the income tourists bring, and every day the national parks are closed means increased risk for these towns. Utah was hit especially hard since national parks are the backbone of many of Southern Utah’s rural economies.

Due to cost, the parks have reopened for a limited time only. State officials said it was considered especially important that the parks be open for Columbus Day weekend, and many are open for a 10-day period.

Dead man walking: court declares living man legally dead
Mark Patteson

A Hancock County judge has decided that a 1994 ruling which declared an Ohio man legally dead cannot be overturned, even though the man was alive enough to attempt to reverse the ruling in court. The man disappeared in 1986 after losing his job and accumulating a large amount of debt. After failing to reappear, a court declared him legally dead eight years later.

The man returned to Ohio in 2005 only to discover that he was officially dead while attempting to register for a driver’s license. He went to court, but a three year limit on changing death rulings meant that the judge could not overturn the declaration, even though the man stood living and breathing in front of him.

U.S. Army reveals combat armor project reminiscent of science fiction classics

By next year, The U.S Army Research, Development and Engineering Command hopes to create a prototype combat armor suit. Called the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit, or TALOS, the armor will host biomedical monitoring devices with self-applying healing foam, a camera system similar to Google Glass, and a “bulletproof exoskeleton made of magnetorheological fluid” that almost instantly solidifies when punctured.

Researchers can hardly help comparing the project to similar advanced armors from science fiction. In an interview with National Public Radio, MIT professor Gareth McKinley noted, “It sounds exactly like Iron Man.” Inspiration comes from other sci-fi sources. The suit could also include a strength boosting hydraulic system like Sigourney Weaver’s from Alien and an onboard computer like the MJOLNIR armor from Halo.