This week in New York, strict security operations are underway at the United Nations General Assembly 2018. Safety is the highest priority as President Donald J. Trump and other world leaders prepare for high level meetings and discussions, at the UNGA stage, which began on 18th September.

Diplomatic security is busy facing the largest protective effort of the year, as important dignitaries descend on the United States of America and visit New York in motorcades. The majority of attendees in attendance arriving from countries globally.

With safety being the most important factor on the streets of Manhattan, some key roads are closed, and heightened law enforcement and state department police are placed in strategic positions. Protestors of various international groups are a concern and have to be carefully managed, so the city avoids caotic disruptions, and harmful demonstrations.

According to reports, nine months of planning go into this 10-day UN General Assembly. Security official are responsible for setting up monitors and vast surveillance systems to oversee the event, and be vigilant for threats to the members and dignitaries.

Fifteen state and federal partners are tasked at working with 750 other team players to establish a significant band-with of security. Threats to the UN General Assembly are varied; in addition to camera monitoring security, there is a need for physical protection as well high security for potential cyber hacking.

Last year, the cost of the efforts to protect the UNGA were stated to be close to 30 million US dollars. New York Police Department Officers (NYPD), the cornerstone of Manhattan safety, is coping with the arduous management of barrackading entrances with concrete blocks, and blocker vehicles.

The PEAK of the Atlantic hurricane season is known to fall anywhere between mid-August to the end of October and this week is proof of that, as Hurricane Florence emboldens its way towards the Carolinas. Predicted to be a close catastrophic category 5, Florence is speeding towards the South East coast of the USA.

What is most unique about this hurricane, is the havoc it will create as it arrives head-on into land bringing with it extraordinary high rising sea levels and dangerously severe wind gusts, in the range of 150mph (230 kph). Officials are calling it “life-threatening”.

Security concerns are not just for the safety of residents in the area, but there is fear that the storm direction will fall close to multiple power plants, industrial waste facilities, coal ash pits, as well as poultry and hog farms.

As Hurricane Florence crosses a warm Atlantic ocean, all the components of nature are in place, to fuel its intensity. Governors of South Carolina and Virginia have ordered mandatory evacuations for coastline residents and those in low-lying areas. President Trump approved a state of emergency for North Carolina on Monday. Other states that have been declared emergencies are South Carolina, Maryland, and Virginia. More than a million people are being impacted by this storm.

Meteorologists are fearing wide-spread heavy rain, lightning, thunderstorms, along with flooding and tornadoes from tropical cyclones caused by this weather pattern. The communities affected could be without power for weeks and need to take cautionary measures.

People are being warned to be proactive and take this hurricane advisory seriously. It is important to fill up cars with gasoline, and store up on emergency supplies and provisions that will last at least 3 days, if not more.

Weather forecasters are keeping an eye on other hurricanes, following the wake of Florence, namely, Helene and Isaac.

Some experts are predicting that Hurricane Florence could be one of the largest and most dangerous hurricanes in the history of the United States.

RealNetworks, a Seattle based company, specializing in digital software, is optimistic in working to find solutions to the U.S. school shooting epidemic, by offering to schools in North America, a free version of its facial recognition system.

The intention of the system is to check the face of each student attending their educational institutions. The database of such schools, contains information related to problematic students, expelled students, sex offenders, plus even disgruntled employees, and is able to identify individuals according to their profile.

Numerous school shootings in the U.S. have undoubtedly generated great concern for faculty, parents, and students alike, and adopting an eye facial recognition system such as this provides hope of better security and safer spaces.

RealNetworks can be complimented for providing SAFA Facial Recognition solution, with NO COST, to every K-12 school in the U.S. and Canada. In a statement on July 17, from Seattle, the company released the following:

“a leader in digital media software and services, today announced the free and immediate availability of SAFR™ for K-12, an AI and machine learning based facial recognition solution to help enhance safety in over 100,000 K-12 schools in the United States and Canada. At no cost, and for the first time, K-12 schools can now confidently apply state-of-the-art facial recognition technology to better protect the school environment. “

Experts are confident that had such equipment been installed throughout the buildings of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida, an Expelled student, Nicolas Cruz (the perpetrator), would have quickly been identified and contained by security personnel, thus preventing an uncontrollable mass attack.

RealNetworks, are demonstrating intentions of being part of the solution to preventing painful school shooting incidents that can possibly be prevented with the correct equipment to assist with intervention.

“School safety has become one of the top national issues in the United States in 2018,” said Rob Glaser, chairman and CEO of RealNetworks. “We are proud to give our leading-edge SAFR for K-12 technology solution to every elementary, middle, and high school in America and Canada. We hope this will help make schools safer.”

The 2018 Aspen Security Forum just closed its doors after a week of intense intellectual security events at Deloitte Base Camp. Attendees have gone home with forum badges, master programs and packets as keepsakes, but the most valuable souvenirs are the memories of listening to keynote speakers such a Christopher Wray, the Director of the FBI; Kirsten Neilsen, Secretary of Homeland Security; Daniel Coates, Director of National Intelligence; and Rod Rosenstein, Deputy Attorney General, US Department of Justice, to name just a few.

One of the topics on the 2018 Aspen Security Forum agenda, aimed at “China Rising”, moderated by David Ignatius, Columnist and Associate Editor, The Washington Post, who led a panel of experts, Michael Collins, Deputy Assistant Director, East Asia Mission Center, Central Intelligence Agency; Marcel Lettere, Former Under Secretary of Defence for Intelligence, Ashok Kumar Mirpuri, Ambassador of Singapore to the United States; Susan Thornton, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

“ Having consolidated power and extended his term, President Xi Jinping is now the mightiest Chinese leader since Mao. And, his rise to political primary coincides with a moment in history when China itself is rising – economically, militarily, and geopolitically. It coincides, too, with a moment in history when America is both withdrawing from the global stage and riven internally by toxic partisanship. Is China on its way to becoming the new global hegemon and, if so, what are the geostrategic implications?”

A week of high level discussions with the most powerful minds together at the 2018 Aspen Security Forum, highlighted the subject “ A New Nuclear Arms Race”, moderated by Michael Gordon, National Security Correspondent, The wall Street Journal, with panelists, Bonnie Jenkins, Former Coordinator for Threat Reduction Programs, US Department of State; Frank Klotz, Former Administrator, National Nuclear Security Administration; Franklin Miller, Former Senior Director for Defence Policy and Arms Control, National Security Council and Andrew Weber, Former Assistant Secretary of Defence for Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Defense Programs.

“Reminiscent of the Cold War, the US and Russia are racing to develop a new generation of more powerful nuclear weapons, making the prospect of cataclysmic war more realistic than at any time in generations. Can the nuclear arms race genie be put back in the bottle?”

Another hot conversation in the media that deserved a key panel was “Taking Fate into our Own Hands”, moderated by Terry Moran, Chief Foreign Correspondent, ABC News, who led panelists, Emily Haber, Ambassador of Germany to the United States,; John McLaughlin, Former Acting Director and Deputy Director, Central Intelligence Agency; Michael Murphy, Deputy Assistant of State for European and Eurasian Affairs; as well as David O’Sullivan, Ambassador of the European Union to the United States.

“Thus, German Chancellor Angela Merkel famously summed up Europe’s reaction to Trump’s America First agenda. For the first time since its founding, the strength of the NATO alliance is being questioned. Would a President who said that he was elected to “represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris” really go to war to save Vilnius? And, it appears that Europe is as much in the President’s crosshairs for trade imbalances as China. In short, is the Trans-Atlantic partnership, the bedrock of the global order since WWII, being consigned before our eyes to the dustbin of history?”

All in all, it was indeed a valuable week of international and national discussions and debates, with experts from all over the world, and everyone looking to find the same solid solutions – sound security for a better world.

Highly regarded companies such as Goldman Sachs take great pride in boasting on their websites how “implementing facial recognition correctly”, may demonstrate great potential towards protecting one from a breach in cybersecurity. Securing the activity of one’s finance details with such advanced facial recognition technology has proven to be a positive and effective trend.

Microsoft, however, is questioning whether facial recognition technology is working for everyone’s advantage. In a recent blog posting, titled FACIAL RECOGNITION TECHNOLOGY: THE NEED FOR PUBLIC REGULATION AND CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY, written by Brad Smith – the Microsoft President is crying out for “the need for government regulation”.

Smith makes a passionate plea, due to what he considers the rapid evolution of technology and devices, “Advanced technology no longer stands apart from society; it is becoming deeply infused in our personal and professional lives”. He is demonstrating his concern about government tracking. In some instances Smith highlights how positive facial recognition technology is indeed useful for finding missing children or helping first responders identify a terrorist, however, the issues he feels a strong objection to is how facial recognition relates to “US government projects related to separating children from their families at the border”.

The elaborate details Smith illustrates in his blog post, regarding how facial recognition ought to be addressed through government regulation are many, but the emphasis in his starting points, clearly show his concern is focused on personal privacy and personal consent.

• Should law enforcement use of facial recognition be subject to human oversight and controls, including restrictions on the use of unaided facial recognition technology as evidence of an individual’s guilt or innocence of a crime?

• Similarly, should we ensure there is civilian oversight and accountability for the use of facial recognition as part of governmental national security technology practices?

• What types of legal measures can prevent use of facial recognition for racial profiling and other violations of rights while still permitting the beneficial uses of the technology?

• Should use of facial recognition by public authorities or others be subject to minimum performance levels on accuracy?

• Should the law require that retailers post visible notice of their use of facial recognition technology in public spaces?

• Should the law require that companies obtain prior consent before collecting individuals’ images for facial recognition? If so, in what situations and places should this apply? And what is the appropriate way to ask for and obtain such consent?

• Should we ensure that individuals have the right to know what photos have been collected and stored that have been identified with their names and faces?

• Should we create processes that afford legal rights to individuals who believe they have been misidentified by a facial recognition system?

The President of Microsoft bespeaks passionate objectives in the area of facial recognition technology, “this is a national issue that requires national leadership by our elected representatives”.

To read the entire blog by Microsoft President, Brad Smith visit: https://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/2018/07/13/facial-recognition-technology-the-need-for-public-regulation-and-corporate-responsibility/

Volcanoes can be deadly as we learn from history when the volcano of Mount Vesuvius, opened up and swallowed the settlement of Pompeii, in Italy, thousands of years ago. In AD 79, there was no way of detecting volcanic eruptions; communities perished and nature took its course.

Honeywell has changed the course of history in the form of gas detection technology, which is able to read air quality associated with volcanoes and take spot samples of gas levels.

Dramatic media coverage from Hawaii recently has reported 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit magma flow from multiple fissures created by the erupting volcano Kilauea. Hawaii’s Big Island has suffered over 200 earthquakes and the hot flowing lava has destroyed at least 400 homes and livelihoods. Fortunately, lives have been protected due to evacuation procedures that were implemented by first responders. The situation has been closely tracked by the assistance of the MultiRAE wireless detector and AeaRAE Pro: two multi-threat transportable monitors.

In instances where time is of the essence, and toxic levels of air can obstruct the nose and throat, severely burning the airways, and impeding breathing, the monitors have played a tremendous part in the health and safety of the community at large. Deadly elements such as carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide, and sulfur dioxide are volcanic gases that the Honeywell devices can monitor, in tandem with the quickly changing winds.

Reports state that explosions are currently active as well as ongoing in the region. The volcanic activity can be seen by astronauts in space who describe the sightings as extraordinary, with cracks in the earth and merging lava fields that are violent and growing. These Honeywell devices are vital in helping Hawaiians during this unstoppable destructive situation.

The US National Guard is on alert as the unpredictable volcanic situation is constantly unfolding, and are focused on finding evacuation sites.

Voice biometrics is being used to identify cardholders and secure their accounts. The United States of America’s bank industry is very keen to use automated speech recognition systems to prevent fraud and protect personal banking information.

Cardholders frequently call their respective bank’s customer service for various reasons in relation to their finances. It is a customary protocol for the cardholder to be presented with a barrage of questions, such as mother’s maiden name, last four digits of social security number, etc. before personal details are released. It can be a frustrating ordeal.

Sophisticated technology is now being used through biometrics that can rapidly recognize vocal patterns and voice prints, which secure the identification of the caller. This effective authentication system saves time for the customer and agent and is a safe way of doing business over the phone.

Convenience is the name of the game when one’s voice acts as the password to one’s banking and credit card accounts. The days of entering pin numbers are on the way to being outdated, as the evolution of biometrics for security progresses.

As well as being a protected function for call centers, voice recognition technology systems can be operative and compatible with mobile apps as well as the web.

The Fourth of July is one of the most celebrated days in America; it is a time when the country comes together to recognize its Declaration of Independence. People gather together on this national holiday to enjoy patriotism in the form of family, friends, fireworks, and barbecues.

As you celebrate America’s birthday, whether it is at the beach, the park or in one’s own backyard, it is important to follow a few guidelines:

GRILLING OUTDOORS:

1) Only grill outdoors NEVER indoors, or in enclosed areas.
2) Be mindful of anything that may be inflammable close to the barbecue grill.
3) Select one main person to supervise the barbecue grill when cooking outdoors.
4) Do not allow children or animals to stray close to the grill.
5) Be careful of alcohol and hot barbecues. If it spills it can cause flare-ups. If the person is drinking too much they can accidentally burn themselves.
6) Use the charcoal and lighter fluid products careful and read instructions.
7) If the flames on the grill leap high, try to cover them with the barbecue lid, as soon as possible to extinguish the oxygen.
8) Use the appropriate barbecue cooking tools.
9) Keep a small fire extinguisher handy and a household first aid kit.
10) Always make sure the barbecue is turned off and any charcoals fully put out before leaving the barbecue.

FIREWORKS:

1) Fireworks cannot be purchased in all states due to safety laws.
2) Attending public fireworks operated by professional companies are safer than private displays in one’s own garden.
3) Stay in long range of firework display.
4) Do not allow children or animals to come in close contact to fireworks even when unlit.
5) A sober adult should light fireworks with care at arm’s length them back away quickly. If the firework doesn’t activate immediately leave it alone. It could explode in one’s face.
6) Never throw a firework.
7) Animals may be afraid of the noise of firework – please respect their space. Keep pets indoors and secure.
8) Keep water handy in case of an emergency.

SUNSCREEN:

1) Most July 4th days are extremely hot since the celebrations fall in the heat of summer. Be mindful of direct exposure to the blistering sun. Sunburn and even sunstroke can occur if one doesn’t take precautionary measures.
2) Wear a sunscreen lotion with a high factor count preferable over 15, and apply regularly, especially if at a beach or by the pool (water may dilute the effect).
3) Wear sandals, sneakers, flip-flops or any kind of foot protection that prevents feet from burning on hot sand at the beach or hot paving stones by the pool.
4) Keep sunglasses handy to protect eyes.
5) Drink plenty of non-alcoholic beverages and water to stay hydrated in the heat.
6) Stay as close to an air-conditioned or fan operated area, if at all possible.

For further information on 4th July or summer safety in America, please go to websites such as FEMA, American Veterinary Medical Association, and Fireworks Safety. org, to learn more.

Rapid DNA is a program funded by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) Resilient Systems Division, to verify legal kinship of family members. According to the DHS report, it is a DNA based, quick and cost efficient way to “ improve immigration efficiency for legal kinship applicants, reduce kinship fraud, identify mass casualty victims, provide for family reunifications, and conduct DNA watch list checks”.

Currently, The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USICS) is dependent upon “documentary evidence and testimony elicited during interviews to verify family relationships”. These procedures prove to be prolonged and drawn out.

Professional field officers will be able to execute the Rapid DNA testing quickly. Rapid DNA is promoted by the US government, as a biometric tool, to be used at the United Sates borders where a common overwhelming influx of illegal immigrants is causing national concern.

Due to the recent situation of migrants flooding the border of Mexico to enter illegally into the United States, the DNA testing is upsetting some, who feel it may be a breach of privacy.

Border Patrol officials have reported that many children crossing the border illegally, are not actually with members of their biological family and are being trafficked and exploited. Some adults produce birth certificates stating the children they cross with illegally are theirs, however instances have proven that a lot of these documents are counterfeit.

Agents at the border state that they would be working with this method of Rapid DNA, in the hopes that parents will understand that protection of illegal children, is the prime factor of importance and this type of verification ( although there are those that may argue), is said to be, ultimately, for the child’s best interests.

Security has been stepped up in newsrooms all across America, after a deadly shooting at the Capital Gazette newspaper offices in Annapolis, Maryland, on Thursday. Armed with a shotgun, the lone shooter assailant killed 5 employees and seriously injured others, as confirmed by police.

A targeted attack, involving newsroom employees, brings to people’s minds many questions of how to be safe in one’s workplace. According to reports the victims murdered were working at the Capital Gazette at the time of the shooting when perpetrator Jarrod Ramos, bearing smoke grenade canisters blasted through a window with a shotgun. The alleged intention of the shooter was to cause grave harm.

Seemingly Ramos’ motive was due to a grievance he had with Capital Gazette, related to a lost defamation case against the paper in 2015. A 2011 column in the newspaper covered the issue where Ramos was accused of criminal harassment to a woman over social media and his guilty plea in court.

Police received praise and recognition for their swift action of arriving at the scene quickly to deal with a frightening situation. First responders carefully evacuated over a hundred people who worked in the building or were in the proximity. Many more lives may have been lost had their presence been delayed. Unfortunately it was too late for editors, Gerald Fishman and Rob Hiassen; reporter, John McNamara; sales assistant , Rebecca Smith and special publications, Wendi Winters. All five innocent victims, who were just doing their job, sadly were at the mercy of the killer and lost their lives.

Phil Davis, a Gazette reporter, used Twitter to describe the situation as a “war zone”, as he hid in the newspaper’s offices, “ There is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you’re under your desk and then hear the gunman reload”.

The Capital Gazette is a local paper owned by the Baltimore Sun.

Jarrod Ramos 38, is being held without bond on five counts of murder.