Monday, March 17, 2008

Russia/US Missile Talks, Drills, CSC, + News

Russia Sets Tone for Missile Talks
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates speaks to reporters aboard his plane enroute to Moscow Sunday, March 16, 2008. Gates and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will meet their Russian counterparts March 17 and 18 to discuss missile defense, non-proliferation and counterterrorism

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday he had received a letter from President Bush that lays out U.S. missile defense provisions and the two sides can probably reach agreement, although Russia's incoming president predicted intense negotiations to come.
"Six months have passed and we believe that in some of these issues we can probably dot the I's and reach final agreement," Putin said, referring to the last round of U.S.-Russia negotiation on the Bush administration's plans to build a missile defense system in Europe.
Putin called the Bush letter a "very serious document." Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said it outlined what Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice wished to talk about during Tuesday's scheduled talks with their counterparts in Moscow.
"If we can reach agreement on its most important provisions than we will be able to state that our dialogue is proceeding successfully. there are still a lot of outstanding problems that need to be discussed," Putin said, sitting across at table from Rice and Gates ahead of their meeting.

Drill at VMI helps crews prepare for large emergency
First responders from more than a dozen agencies gathered at VMI today to prepare for a large-scale emergency.
VMI has been planning for a wide variety of natural and man-made disasters. Monday's exercise was a chance to bring together the outside agencies that would respond in the event of a large-scale emergency.
"You cannot have an exercise like this without learning something," says VMI spokesman Stewart MacInnis. "Everybody who came today learned something valuable, from individual actions to how we organize and coordinate it all. That's probably the greatest benefit of this whole exercise."
Four-legged robot walks on any terrain with a shockingly creepy gait.
March 17, 2008 - From an enthusiast's point of view, the Japanese and Koreans have seemed to dominate the modern robotics field in recent times. Honda's ASIMO is world famous, both for walking up, and falling down, flights of stairs, and both nations have displayed the results of highly active academic programs tasked with building increasingly lifelike robots designed to help the elderly and teach children in schools. Such programs are great for public relations, and are key to easing the public's fears of a future in which robots will be ubiquitous and in constant interaction with humans. America isn't ignoring the developing robotics revolution, but as one might guess, our creations aren't the type that'll be playing with toddlers and finding the TV remote for grandma. Indeed, ours are being designed for fields quite removed from playgrounds, which is to say, the fields of battle. DARPA has been leveraging a serious budget to develop a wide range of technologies that will become part of the Army's Future Combat System, and today, new footage of the product of a $10-million R&D grant and some genius engineering by Boston Dynamics has been released. The company's BigDog robot is a quadruped platform designed to help ground infantry cover longer distances by carrying a stockpile of their gear, thereby lightening the 60- to 90-pound loads soldiers currently carry on their backs. What makes the BigDog unique, and also quite frightening, is Boston Dynamic's application of biologically-inspired movement, balance, and obstacle avoidance systems that, working together, make the BigDog appear horrifying lifelike as it walks over just about any terrain a human on foot could potentially tackle. Nothing, it would seem, can unbalance the BigDog, be it a solid kick to the side or a slippery patch of ice or snow. The mannerisms of the BigDog AI's movements in stumbling and then recovering could well be those of a deer's natural instincts, which is a pretty serious advance in relation to the usual robot attitude of falling over and then continuing to try to walk why lying face down. The newest BigDog prototype shown in the video is significantly improved over previous versions and is now capable of carrying up to 340-pounds of equipment. The bot has also gained the ability to jump, which is also pretty scary looking. There's no word on when final products could be fielded, but some Future Combat Systems are expected to enter service as early as 2012. We expect a Fox special, "When Good BigDogs Go Bad" shortly thereafter, followed by the Great Robot Wars of 2023.
Peabody to hold terrorist response tabletop exercise drill Thursday (MA)
PEABODY-Mayor Michael Bonfanti and the Northeast Homeland Security Regional Advisory Council (NERAC) announced the completion of the “Southern Essex Regional Area Planning Council” daylong tabletop exercise drill hosted by Peabody Thursday morning.The drill, moderated by Precision Planning and Simulations, Inc., was designed to help determine the North Shore’s ability to respond to hypothetical terrorist attacks by exploring key emergency response roles and communications protocols. Over 15 North Shore communities participated in the exercise, including members of the Peabody Police and Fire Department, as well as Peabody Emergency Management officials.

Israel to hold massive emergency drill
In the face of a possible escalation with Syria and Iran's efforts to obtain a nuclear weapon, parts of the country will shut down next month in what security officials say will be the largest emergency exercise in Israel's history.

The drill, which is being organized by the newly-established National Emergency Authority, will take place over five days starting on Sunday, April 6.
CSC wins task order for CDC
Computer Sciences Corp. has won a task order from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to continue developing and supporting the National Electronic Disease Surveillance System Base System, the company said Monday.
The order continues work that CSC was awarded in 2000 under a $16 million contract that had been extended under a $25 million 2003 contract, according to a release. The task order includes one base year and two one-year options, according to a release and is worth $16 million if all options are exercised.
The system, which is part of a public health information network, electronically links surveillance activities to improve the ability to track and identify emergind infectious diseases and potential bioterrorism attacks, according to a release. The system is currently operational in 16 states...

How much Homeland $ecurity?
The Department of Homeland Security, which turned 5 years old the first of this month, has requested another $50 billion for the coming budget year, but it's not clear the money will be well-spent or make us more secure.....

Innovative Biosensors, Inc. and Universal Detection Technology Partner on Marketing of Biological Detection and Identification Systems for Environmental Monitoring

HHS issues pandemic planning guide for states
DARPA funds mechanical nanocomputer

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