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Who Killed the Virtual Case File?

How the FBI blew more than $100 million on case-management software it will never use

36 min read
Photos: Steve Helber/AP Photo; Kenneth Lambert/AP Photo
Photos: Steve Helber/AP Photo; Kenneth Lambert/AP Photo

In the early 1990s, Russian mobsters partnered with Italian Mafia families in Newark, N.J., to skim millions of dollars in federal and New Jersey state gasoline and diesel taxes. Special Agent Larry Depew set up an undercover sting operation under the direction of Robert J. Chiaradio, a supervisor at the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Washington, D.C., headquarters.

Depew collected reams of evidence from wiretaps, interviews, and financial transactions over the course of two and a half years. Unfortunately, the FBI couldn't provide him with a database program that would help organize the information, so Depew wrote one himself. He used it to trace relationships between telephone calls, meetings, surveillance, and interviews, but he could not import information from other investigations that might shed light on his own. So it wasn't until Depew mentioned the name of a suspect to a colleague that he obtained a briefcase that his friend had been holding since 1989.

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Make IEEE Your Home Base

The association offers networking opportunities and professional development programs

3 min read
group of young people smiling at the camera

These IEEE members connected with each other at this year's IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, held in London.

IEEE

The word home evokes a sense of belonging and welcoming. IEEE aims to create a similar feeling by offering services for members at every stage of their career and by building a community among them.

IEEE President and CEO K.J. Ray Liu is committed to making IEEE the professional home for members. As he announced in his March column in The Institute, he’s doing that by “examining ways in which the organization could evolve to best meet the needs of all technical professionals in the years ahead.”

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Home Heating With Hydrogen: Ill-Advised as it Sounds

Several studies reveal serious drawbacks

3 min read
Two white boilers mounted on a wood wall, with pipes and tubes.

An old central heating boiler (L) and a hydrogen boiler inside the Hydrogen Experience Center in the Netherlands.

Sem van der Wal/ANP/Getty Images

Hydrogen, if it comes from splitting water with renewable electricity, has its role as a climate-friendly energy source. It could help decarbonize challenging sectors like heavy industry, shipping, and aviation.

But hydrogen makes absolutely no sense for heating homes and buildings, according to a new review of several international studies. It is simply much too expensive and inefficient for that purpose, says Jan Rosenow, Europe director at the Regulatory Assistance Project, an energy think tank in Brussels, who authored the commentary published in the journal Joule.

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