Afternoon Coffee: Qatar Crisis Shakes up the World’s Helium Supply Chain, Industrial Robots Dangerously Open to Hacking

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The ongoing political crisis in Qatar has produced a perhaps unexpected victim: helium. As The Atlantic writes, the supply chain for the essential material used to make semiconductors, magnets, rocket fuel, balloons and more was dependent on land and shipping logistics in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Since Qatar currently produces 25% of the world’s helium, companies, research operations and the like are now scrambling to find alternative sources in what turns out to be an inflexible, fragile supply chain.

Robot Mutiny 

Companies like Amazon are gaining notoriety for upgrading their warehouse and logistics operations with robots. But are those industrious little helpers actually a serious cybersecurity risk? As Supply Chain Quarterly reports, a new research report from the cybersecurity company Trend Micro and Politecnico di Milano says many robots in factories and distribution centers have outdated software and weak authentication systems, leaving them open to being hacked.

Economic Slowdowns 

The U.S., U.K. and Russia are likely heading for economic slowdowns this year, according to leading indicators released by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. As the Wall Street Journal reports, dashed expectations for increased business investment and tax cuts under President Donald Trump and reduced consumer spending due to inflation in the U.K. are starting to take their toll on those economies.

Consumer Credit 

And finally, a follow up on Tesla: The electric vehicle manufacturer rolled its first Model 3 off the production line last week but encountered a major problem in one of its largest potential markets. According to Quartz, nobody in Hong Kong wants to buy a Tesla anymore, with exactly zero newly purchased models recorded in April.

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