• ISISBattle casualties, desertions reduce ISIS ranks by 20%: U.S.

    A U.S. intelligence report, cited yesterday by a White House spokesman, says that the number of ISIS fighters in Syria and Iraq has fallen from about 31,000 to 25,000. Senior U.S. officials point to battlefield casualties and desertions as the main reasons for the roughly 20 percent decline, adding that the intelligence report offers evidence that the U.S.-led campaign, which relies mostly on air attacks on ISIS targets, was working.

  • Super BowlF-15s to protect skies over Super Bowl 50

    U.S. Air Force planes will be protecting the skies over the Super Bowl this weekend. Civil Air Patrol National Commander Maj. Gen. Joe Vazquez said F-15 Eagles from the Air National Guard will be on the ready to escort any unidentified aircraft from the area.

  • ISISSaudi Arabia to send ground troops to Syria

    Saudi Arabia said it was ready to send ground troops to Syria to fight ISIS. Saudi sources added that thousands of Saudi Special Forces could be deployed, probably in coordination with Turkey. Saudi gains in the war against pro-Iranian rebels in Yemen have freed Saudi resources to be directed to Syria, and the fact that Russia and the Assad regime focus their military effort on fighting the moderate rebels means that these rebels need more outside help to withstand the pressure both from ISIS and the Syrian regime and its allies.

  • TerrorismTwo Israeli teenagers receive long sentences for murdering Palestinian boy

    Two Israeli teenagers were sentenced to long jail terms for kidnapped the Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khdeir in 2014, and burning him to death. The older of the two, aged 17, was sentenced to life in prison, while the other teenager, a 16-year old, was sentenced to twenty-one years. The 16-year-old Abu Khdeir was grabbed off the street and beaten. He was then taken to a forest outside Jerusalem, and was set afire while he was still alive.

  • Muslims in Europe U.K. regulators to investigate political broadcast critical of Turkey, Muslims

    OFCOM, the U.K. communication regulator, said it was considering more than thirty complaints about a political broadcast by UKIP, the Euro-skeptic, anti-immigration populist party. OFCOM said that UKIP’s Wednesday night broadcast on ITV and the BBC may have crossed the line in giving racial offense, promoting Islamophobia, and engendering bias toward Turkey.

  • Zika virusPlanes arriving from Zika-infected regions to be sprayed with insecticides

    The U.K. government announced that planes landing in the United Kingdom  from areas affected by the Zika virus will be sprayed with insecticide as part of the government’s response to the outbreak. So far there have been no Zika cases reported in the United Kingdom, but two adults in Ireland were confirmed to have been infected. Both have since fully recovered.

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  • GRIDHelping to optimize grid

    The nation’s electric power grid is becoming more complex. As the system incorporates more sources of renewable energy, such as solar and wind power, utilities need new ways to manage it more efficiently, and the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Argonne National Laboratory says it is responding to that need.

  • Rare earth elementsExtracting rare-earth elements from coal could soon be economical in U.S.

    The United States could soon decrease its dependence on importing valuable rare-earth elements (REEs) which are widely used in many industries, according to a team of researchers. who found a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way to extract these metals from coal byproducts.

  • TerrorismBin Laden’s 9/11 plot “inspired” by EgyptAir flight 990 crash: Al-Qaeda

    Osama bin Laden planned the 9/11 terrorist attacks after being “inspired” by a chance discussion about a plane crash into the Atlantic Ocean. An al-Qaeda publication claims that bin-Lade, discussing EgyptAir Flight 990 — which crashed into the Atlantic Ocean during its journey from Los Angeles to Cairo, killing all 217 people on board – asked: “Why didn’t he crash it into a building?”

  • RadicalizationU.K.’s anti-radicalization program “sowing mistrust and fear” in Muslim communities: Watchdog

    David Anderson QC, the independent reviewer of the U.K.. terrorism laws, said that the government’s flagship anti-radicalization program, Prevent, should be reviewed because it is sowing mistrust and fear in the Muslim community. Anderson said that the program, particularly its requirement that schools spot and report signs of radicalization in students, has become a “significant source of grievance” among British Muslims, encouraging “mistrust to spread and to fester.”

  • Zika virusFlorida declares state of emergency in four counties with Zika virus

    Florida Governor Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency in four counties where nine residents have been diagnosed with the Zika virus. Miami-Dade in south Florida, Hillsborough in Tampa Bay, Lee County in southwest Florida, and Santa Rosa County in Florida Panhandle have all been affected under the executive order. Health officials believe, however, that the residents became sick outside the United States.

  • Public healthFBI launches investigation of lead poisoning of Flint’s drinking water

    The FBI has launched an investigation into the contamination of drinking water in Flint, Michigan, which has left Flint children and other residents poisoned by lead. In a hearings on the Hill yesterday, lawmakers from both parties described what is happening in Flint as a “a man-made public health catastrophe.” Flint’s drinking water became contaminated with lead in April 2014 after a state-appointed emergency manager ordered city officials temporarily to switch the city’s water source from Lake Huron water treated by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to water from the Flint River, treated at the Flint water treatment plant. The order by the state-appointed emergency manager was part of the state’s cost-cutting measures.

  • Public healthIn kids, even low lead levels can cause lasting harm

    By Robert L. Fischer and Elizabeth Anthony

    Until a few years ago, the federal standard for action was 10 micrograms per deciliter of blood, and in 2012 it was lowered by half in recognition of evidence showing a lower threshold of concern. But the truth is there is no known safe level of blood lead for children, and the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have said as much. The medical research community has documented negative impacts on children with even lower levels of lead exposure than the current 5 micrograms per deciliters standard. With that view, we might consider every child with a confirmed nonzero lead test as at-risk. Testing lead blood levels in children is simply too late. This is akin to the TSA searching for lethal weapons after the passengers have boarded the flight and the plan has taken off. Once the lead is in the bloodstream, the damage is real and lasting for these children, and the options for response are far fewer and less effective. Children living in low-income neighborhoods, children of color, and children whose families live in rental housing are statistically at the greatest risk of exposure to lead. That means the children most at risk of lead exposure also disproportionately face the effects of poverty, low-resource communities, and trauma.

  • AuthenticationVulnerability found in in two-factor authentication

    Two-factor authentication is a computer security measure used by major online service providers to protect the identify of users in the event of a password loss. Security experts have long endorsed two-factor authentication as an effective safeguard against password attacks. But what if two-factor authentication could be cracked not by computer engineering but by social engineering?

  • CybersecurityHyperion cyber security technology receives commercialization award

    The commercial licensing of a cybersecurity technology developed at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory has been recognized by the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer (FLC) as a good example of moving technology to the marketplace. Hyperion, which has the capability automatically to analyze executable programs and recognize behaviors that signal malicious intent and vulnerabilities, was licensed to Virginia-based R&K Cyber Solutions, LLC, in late 2014.

  • GunsGun deaths in U.S. highest among high-income nations

    New study finds that the United States, despite having only half the population of the other twenty-two high-income nations combined, accounted for 82 percent of all firearm deaths. In addition, the United State accounted for 90 percent of all women, 91 percent of children aged 0 to 14 years, and 92 percent of youth aged 15 to 24 years who are killed by firearms.

  • GridRealistic data needed to develop the 21st century power grid

    Say you have a great new theory or technology to improve the nation’s energy backbone — the electric grid. Would it not be great to test it against a model complete with details that would tell you how your ideas would work? But it is a challenge, because existing sets of data are too small or outdated; and you do not have access to real data from the grid because of security and privacy issues. To overcome this problem, is helping to create open-access power grid datasets for researchers and industry.

  • SyriaBritain: Russia’s goal in Syria is to carve out Alawite mini-state for Assad

    Philip Hammond, Britain’s foreign minister, has said that Russia’s real goal in Syria was to carve out an Alawite mini-state in Syria for its ally President Bashar al-Assad. Hammond said this was the reason why Russia’s massive bombing raids have targeted the Syrian opposition forces instead of fighting ISIS. Hammond’s comments offered a rare insight into the Western assessment of the Kremlin’s objectives for Syria.

  • InfrastructureLA, Calif. file criminal charges against SoCalGas over massive methane leak

    Criminal charges were filed on Tuesday against Southern California Gas, the utility company whose blown-out natural gas well forced thousands of people in the Los Angeles area to evacuate their homes. The charges claim that the company failed to report the massive leak to the authorities, as it operating license requires.Papers filed in court yesterday claim that the company allowed the release of 80,000 metric tons of methane into the atmosphere.

  • Iran dealIran nuclear deal: how to ensure compliance?

    By Kalman Robertson

    The U.S. and European countries lifted nuclear-related sanctions against Iran on 16 January as part of a deal in which the country agreed to limit its nuclear activities and accept a new system of international inspections. The issue now is how the international community can be confident that Iran is not violating the deal. Iran agreed never to develop nuclear weapons when it signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1968. There’s no ironclad method to prevent Iran from breaking its promise and developing nuclear weapons, but this new agreement builds in a number of strong protections. In conjunction with U.S. and allied intelligence capabilities, these rules mean even a sophisticated and carefully executed secret plan would carry a high risk of detection.Looking at the deal as a whole, Iran’s best strategy for acquiring nuclear weapons would simply be to wait for restrictions on its declared enrichment program to be lifted. Assuming that the deal does not fall apart sooner, most of those provisions are scheduled to expire in 2030. In the meantime, the deal helps make a nuclear-armed Iran a less immediate prospect.

  • MuslimsCalls for banning Muslims from entering U.S. impractical, harmful: Expert

    Duke sociologist Christopher Bail, who studies how anti-Muslim organizations use social media, says that calls to ban immigration of Muslims to the United States are missing two important points. First, there is no conceivable mechanism whereby the United States could identify Muslims — short of visual cues such as headdress or religious garb, which are not worn by most Muslims. Second, and perhaps more importantly, it is surprising that people think that groups such as ISIS could not disguise terrorists they want to send to the United States as non-Muslims.

  • Facial recognitionFaster airport lines with facial recognition

    More and more people are travelling by plane, so automating airport security checks makes sense. The use of biometric features is a way to identify people at airports. New technology detects and tracks you from the second you arrive at the airport until you’re out of the arrivals hall at your destination.