Fitch warns an extended shutdown could hurt the U.S. credit rating

As the partial U.S. government shutdown dragged into its 19th day, Fitch Ratings warned Wednesday that an extended shutdown might damage the country’s Triple-A credit rating if lawmakers are unable to pass a budget or manage the debt ceiling. While President Trump spars with Democratic leaders over $5.7 billion for a border wall and funding for nine government agencies, hundreds of thousands of workers are caught up in the shutdown, furloughed or working without being paid, and much of the federal government is paralyzed. The day after Trump took his fight for the wall to prime-time TV on Tuesday, Fitch’s global head of sovereign ratings, James McCormack, said that if the shutdown keeps lawmakers from being able to address the debt ceiling in early March, the inefficiency and ripple effects might do lasting damage to the country’s credit.

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Government Business, Cybersecurity

Synack earns FedRAMP Moderate Authorized status to extend leadership in public sector security testing

PR Newswire | January 04, 2024

Synack has achieved the Moderate "Authorized" designation from the U.S. Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP), demonstrating Synack's premier security testing platform meets the cloud compliance framework's rigorous requirements at the Moderate level. The milestone approval means additional U.S. agencies can deploy Synack's best-in-class penetration testing and vulnerability management solutions – even in systems that process Controlled Unclassified Information and other official or sensitive data. "This achievement is a gamechanger for our federal clients," said Dr. Mark Kuhr, Synack CTO and co-founder. "It also sends a clear message to all our customers: You can trust Synack to keep your data secure as we deliver pentesting of the highest caliber." The Government Accountability Office has warned that "malicious actors are becoming more willing and capable of carrying out cyberattacks" on federal targets, with the potential to seriously harm national security. FedRAMP is a cornerstone of the U.S. government's efforts to realize that vision and combat threats as agencies continue to shift critical data to the cloud. Additionally, White House requirements such as Memorandum 22-09 require agencies to adopt a zero trust architecture strategy by September 2024. Operating dedicated application security testing programs is a critical component of a zero trust strategy, and Synack proudly empowers agencies to conduct such services in a FedRAMP Moderate Authorized environment. "This FedRAMP designation clears the way for Synack's premier security testing platform to protect more government systems," said Synack vice president for public sector Catherine Bowen. "We are doubling down on our goal to improve the security posture of agencies and companies handling mission-critical government applications, internally and externally." To qualify as Moderate Authorized from FedRAMP, Synack successfully enforced 325 security controls and underwent extensive third-party vetting of its security infrastructure. Achieving full authorization reflects Synack's ongoing commitment to making the world more secure by providing on-demand access to the Synack security testing platform and the 1,500-plus vetted security researchers who make up the global Synack Red Team. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) sponsored Synack's successful bid for FedRAMP authorization. Today's announcement builds on Synack's FedRAMP Moderate "In Process" designation achieved in 2022, when Synack was first listed on the FedRAMP marketplace. Synack has worked with HHS and dozens of other federal agencies to test internal assets and elevate their security postures. The company participated in the Defense Department's inaugural "Hack the Pentagon" program in 2016, helping find and fix high-impact vulnerabilities in a range of military networks. DoD would go on to host a follow-up initiative featuring Synack, aimed at normalizing a trusted, crowdsourced approach to security testing. ABOUT SYNACK: Synack's premier on-demand security testing platform harnesses a talented, vetted community of security researchers and smart technology to deliver continuous penetration testing and vulnerability management, with actionable results. We are committed to making the world more secure by closing the cybersecurity skills gap, giving organizations on-demand access to the most trusted security researchers in the world. Headquartered in Silicon Valley with regional teams around the world, Synack protects federal agencies and a growing list of Global 2000 customers, uncovering over 13,000 vulnerabilities for clients in 2023 alone.

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Emerging Technology

Mkango Subsidiary Maginito and CoTec Form HyProMag USA Joint Venture and Commence Process to Appoint EPCM Provider for the Feasibility Study

GlobeNewswire | January 04, 2024

CoTec Holdings Corp. and Mkango Resources Ltd. are pleased to announce that CoTec and Maginito Limited ("Maginito") have formed a 50/50 joint venture entity which will roll out HyProMag Limited’s (“HyProMag”) Hydrogen Processing of Magnet Scrap (“HPMS”) recycling technology into the United States. The newly formed joint venture company, HyProMag USA, LLC (“HyProMag USA” or the “Joint Venture”), plans to develop a low cost, low carbon, sustainable rare earth magnet recycling and production business underpinned by HPMS. HyProMag has sublicenced the HPMS technology to HyProMag USA. HyProMag is 100 per cent owned by Maginito, which is owned on a 79.4/20.6 per cent basis by Mkango and CoTec, and is commercialising rare earth magnet recycling in the UK, Germany and United States. Revenue from the Joint Venture is targeted for 2025/2026. HyProMag USA will initially focus on completing a bankable feasibility study (“Feasibility Study”) through a hub and spoke model using three HPMS vessels and one magnet manufacturing hub (together the “US Project”). The Joint Venture has recently initiated a “Request for Proposal” process from leading Engineering, Procurement and Construction Management (“EPCM”) providers and has ordered three HPMS reactors to expedite the development of the US Project. Following completion of the Feasibility Study, CoTec and Mkango will make a joint decision as to whether the Joint Venture will proceed with the construction of the US Project. Julian Treger, CoTec CEO commented: “HyProMag is supported by the Minerals Security Partnership1 and we are looking forward to working with leading EPCM providers to design and build these facilities using HyProMag’s considerable experience from the plants being developed in the UK and in Germany. CoTec and Mkango are focused on delivery and will be exploring US Government funding and strategic partnerships for feed supply and rare earth element (“REE”) magnet offtake in the first half of 2024. “We look forward to working and collaborating with local, state and federal stakeholders targeting the completion of the feasibility study”. Will Dawes, Mkango CEO commented: “We see the United States as a core component of our growth strategy and look forward to progressing the US feasibility study over the course of the year, in parallel with further development of operations in the UK, Germany and other jurisdictions. HyProMag’s recycling technology has major competitive advantages versus other recycling technologies and is a key enabler for cost effective and energy efficient separation, recycling and production of rare earth magnets with a significantly reduced carbon footprint. We are receiving strong interest for recycled magnets from potential customers and for recycling solutions from original equipment manufacturers (“OEMs”), and automotive and recycling companies.” HPMS technology was developed at the University of Birmingham, underpinned by approximately US$100 million of research and development funding, and has major competitive advantages versus other rare earth magnet recycling technologies, which are largely focused on chemical processes but do not solve the challenges of liberating magnets from end-of-life scrap streams –HPMS provides the solution. Maginito Maginito is owned 79.4 per cent by Mkango and 20.6 per cent by CoTec. It is focused on developing green technology opportunities in the rare earths supply chain, encompassing neodymium (NdFeB) magnet recycling as well as innovative rare earth alloy, magnet, and separation technologies. Maginito holds a 100 per cent interest in HyProMag and a 90 per cent direct and indirect interest (assuming conversion of Maginito’s convertible loan) in HyProMag GmbH, focused on short loop rare earth magnet recycling in the UK and Germany, and a 100 per cent interest in Mkango Rare Earths UK Ltd (“Mkango UK”), a company focused on long loop rare earth magnet recycling in the UK via a chemical route. About Mkango Resources Ltd. Mkango's corporate strategy is to develop new sustainable sources of neodymium, praseodymium, dysprosium and terbium to supply accelerating demand from electric vehicles, wind turbines and other clean technologies. In parallel with development of its mining assets, Mkango plans to become a market leader in the production of recycled rare earth magnets and alloys via its interest in Maginito. This integrated Mine, Refine, Recycle strategy differentiates Mkango from its peers, uniquely positioning the Company in the rare earths sector. Mkango is listed on the AIM and the TSX-V. Mkango is developing its flagship Songwe Hill rare earths project (“Songwe”) in Malawi with a Definitive Feasibility Study completed in July 2022 and an Environmental, Social and Health Impact Assessment approved by the Government of Malawi in January 2023. Discussions regarding the Mine Development Agreement (“MDA”) for Songwe Hill are ongoing with the Government of Malawi. In parallel, Mkango and Grupa Azoty PULAWY, Poland's leading chemical manufacturer have agreed to work together towards development of a rare earth separation plant at Pulawy in Poland (the Pulawy Separation Plant) to process the purified mixed rare earth carbonate produced at Songwe Hill. Mkango also has an extensive exploration portfolio in Malawi, including the Mchinji rutile exploration project, the Thambani uranium-tantalum-niobium-zircon project and Chimimbe nickel-cobalt project. About CoTec Holdings Corp. CoTec is a publicly traded investment issuer listed on the Toronto Venture Stock Exchange (“TSX- V”) and the OTCQB and trades under the symbol CTH and CTHCF respectively. CoTec is an environment, social, and governance (“ESG”)-focused company investing in innovative technologies that have the potential to fundamentally change the way metals and minerals can be extracted and processed for the purpose of applying those technologies to undervalued operating assets and recycling opportunities, as it transitions into a mid-tier mineral resource producer. CoTec is committed to supporting the transition to a lower carbon future for the extraction industry, a sector on the cusp of a green revolution as it embraces technology and innovation. It has made four investments to date and is actively pursuing operating opportunities where current technology investments could be deployed.

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Infrastructure

Verizon delivers 5G to U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii via “Dragon Tower”

GlobeNewswire | January 08, 2024

Verizon today announced it is providing 5G coverage to the U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii’s Helemano Military Reservation (HMR) via a newly constructed cell tower, nicknamed the “Dragon Tower,” as part of a $1 million project. Military families, personnel and visitors at HMR will experience improved wireless coverage and enhanced network services. “The main purpose of our partnership with Helemano is to improve quality of life for base personnel,” said Marta Lacroix, associate vice president of network engineering. “The strength of the Verizon network will help ensure that those serving our country have continuous access to emergency services and can readily connect with their loved ones.” Located approximately five miles north of the town of Wahiawa, HMR offers military housing for approximately 2,000 service members and families stationed at Schofield Barracks and Wheeler Army Airfield. HMR is a remote location that has historically struggled with connectivity. The new cell tower and accompanying 5G coverage aims to redress that precedent. "As professionals in the field of communication, we understand the significance of this cell phone tower in our close-knit community,” said 307th Expeditionary Signal Battalion – Enhanced Commander Lt. Col. Izabella Lundy. “This infrastructure will provide our soldiers and their families with reliable access to emergency services, facilitate communication with loved ones, and support the seamless conduct of daily business.” The tower is located on the grounds of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service’s (Exchange) HMR Express store in the center of the reservation and is nicknamed “Dragon” for the 307th ESB-E, which is headquartered on HMR. The military community and Exchange celebrated the milestone with a ceremony attended by Brig. Gen. Kevin Meisler, 311th Signal Command (Theater) commanding general; Command Chief Warrant Officer Robert Christian, 311th Signal Command (Theater); Command Sgt. Maj. Jonathan DeHart, 311th Signal Command (Theater); Col. Andrew Brokhoff, 516th Signal Brigade commander; Command Sgt. Maj. Dominique Davis, 516th Signal Brigade; Lt. Col. Izabella Lundy, 307th ESB-E commander; Chief Warrant Officer 2 Nathaniel Floyd, Jr., 307th ESB-E data operations warrant officer; and Command Sgt. Maj. Mahoma Tello, 307th ESB-E. Joining from the Exchange were Col. Jason Beck, Pacific Region commander; Sgt. Maj. Generose Green, Pacific Region senior enlisted advisor; Michael Ryan, Hawaii Consolidated general manager; and William Earls, connectivity telecom program specialist. The Dragon tower is one of 13 new or in-progress cell towers from the Exchange to bring expanded connectivity and reliability to military communities throughout USAG Hawaii.

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