• CybersecurityCybersecurity expert: Iranian hacking is a “coordinated, probably military, endeavor”

    On the heels of a report this week documenting Iran’s increasingly aggressive hacking attacks around the globe, a cybersecurity expert assessed that the advanced nature of the attacks suggests a “coordinated, probably military, endeavor.” A report released this week, by FireEye, a cybersecurity firm, noticed increased and increasingly advanced cyber-espionage efforts by groups that have been tied to Iran, and to the nation’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

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  • TerrorismSuspect held in NYC attempted terrorist attack

    A 27-year old Bangladeshi immigrant who lived in Brooklyn was detained by the police Monday morning after detonating an explosive device in the New York City subway tunnel during the morning commute. The suspect, Akayed Ullah, was injured in the 7:20 a.m. attempted attack, as were three passers-by. The explosion occurred in a passageway near 42nd Street and 8th Avenue, in midtown Manhattan near Times Square. The injuries were not life-threatening.

  • WMDDHS establishes the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction office

    Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen last week announced the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) Office. DHS says that the CWMD Office will elevate and streamline DHS efforts to prevent terrorists and other national security threat actors from using harmful agents, such as chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear material and devices to harm Americans and U.S. interests.

  • Gas masksBetter gas mask filters

    In research that could lead to better gas mask filters, scientists have been putting the X-ray spotlight on composite materials in respirators used by the military, police, and first responders, and the results have been encouraging. What they are learning not only provides reassuring news about the effectiveness of current filters in protecting people from lethal compounds such as VX and sarin, but they also provide fundamental information that could lead to more advanced gas masks as well as protective gear for civilian applications.

  • WildfiresControlled burning of forest land limits severity of wildfires

    Controlled burning of forestland helped limit the severity of one of California’s largest wildfires, geographers say. The researchers studying the Rim Fire, which in 2013 burned nearly 400 square miles of forest in the Sierra Nevadas, found the blaze was less severe in areas recently treated with controlled burns. “You can fight fire with fire. You can fight severe fires using these more controlled fires under conditions that are suitable,” says one expert.

  • Water securityRobot detects underground water leaks

    The United States faces a looming crisis over its deteriorating water infrastructure, and fixing it will be a monumental and expensive task. In Los Angeles alone, about two thirds of the city’s 7,000 miles of water pipes are more than 60 years old — and nearing the end of their useful lives. Water main breaks can cause flooding, leading to serious structural damage and soil erosion. Even small leaks can exacerbate water shortages and allow potentially harmful contaminants into our drinking water. But locating a leak within a vast network of underground pipes is almost impossible. Researchers are developing an autonomous robot that could quickly and inexpensively detect damage in water pipes — even those buried meters below the ground.

  • Climate threatsExplaining differences in climate change views among college graduates

    The average American college student has just a 17 percent chance of learning about climate change before graduation through required core courses. The finding may help explain why having a bachelor’s degree doesn’t always lead to increased acceptance of human-caused global warming, according to new research.

  • Our picksNuclear war is one “tantrum away”; Nazi-puncher’s dilemma; order from cyber chaos, and more

    · Nobel Peace Prize winner warns that nuclear war is one “tantrum away”

    · LA cyber center hopes to be a model for cities nationwide

    · The most secure account of all—if you can stand it

    · If terrorists hit Dallas, would first responder radios be ready?

    · U.S. intelligence community claims North Korea transferred 3 nuclear warheads to Iran

    · The North Korea debate sounds eerily familiar

    · The Nazi-puncher’s dilemma

    · Making order in cyber warfare law

  • Hemispheric securityFormer Argentinian president ordered arrested for covering up Iran’s role in terror attack

    An Argentinian judge on Thursday ordered the arrest of the country’s former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, accusing her of covering up Iranian involvement in the 1994 bombing at the Buenos Aires Jewish center that killed 85 people and wounded 300. The former president, who now serves as a senator, is accused of signing a 2012 deal with Iran that would have allowed senior Iranian officials implicated in the attack to be investigated in their own country, rather than in Argentina.

  • The Russia connectionLawmakers request additional documents from DHS re: Kaspersky investigation

    U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) sent a letter Tuesday to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requesting documents and information related to the DHS directive to all government agencies to identify and remove Kaspersky Lab software from their computer systems.

  • Airport securityBiometric solutions to bolster security at U.S. airports

    World events over the last decade—and even in the last year—have shown that airports are an attractive target to terrorists. At the same time, the number of international air travelers is increasing. More than 119 million international travelers arrived in fiscal year (FY) 2016, an almost six percent increase from FY 2015 and over a 35 percent increase since FY 2009. It is estimated that international arrivals will continue to grow at more than four percent annually. In this changing security landscape, finding effective and scalable solutions to increase security and efficiently process travelers is imperative. The need is critical and will only grow as many airports are already operating at or near capacity.

  • WildfiresSmaller branches drive the fastest, biggest wildfires

    As the West tallies the damages from the 2017 wildfire season, researchers are trying to learn more about how embers form and about the blaze-starting potential they carry. Preliminary findings indicate the diameter of the branches that are burning is the biggest single factor behind which ones will form embers the most quickly and how much energy they’ll pack.

  • WildfiresHow to fight wildfires with science

    By Albert Simeoni

    In the month of October nearly 250,000 acres, more than 8,000 homes and over 40 people fell victim to fast-moving wildfires in Northern California, the deadliest and one of the costliest outbreaks in state history. Now more wind-drive wildfires have scorched over 80,000 acres in Ventura and Los Angeles counties, forcing thousands to evacuate and closing hundreds of schools. What is the most efficient way to protect the wild and-urban interface – the area where houses meet or intermingle with undeveloped wildland vegetation? And what is the best way to evacuate? Fire conditions are constantly evolving, and basic research coupled with engineering solutions must keep up. Designing more resilient communities and infrastructure and protecting people more effectively are not onetime goals – they are constant. Currently nations are failing to meet the challenge, and impacts on communities are increasing.

  • Border securityWith border arrests down, some question Trump administration's push for more agents

    By Julián Aguilar

    The Department of Homeland Security’s announced this week a near-record decline in the number of people caught trying to enter the country illegally. Yet the Trump administration still wants to hire thousands of more border agents.

  • GunsA jump in gun sales, accidental gun deaths followed Sandy Hook Shootings

    The Sandy Hook school shooting five years ago prompted a political response that led to significantly higher gun sales; this resulted in greater numbers of accidental deaths by firearms for both adults and children, according to a new study. The research concluded that, in the wake of the 14 December 2012, Sandy Hook school shooting, the number of guns purchased in America spiked by 3 million compared with baseline levels, leading to 60 additional deaths related to firearms, 20 among children and 40 among adults.

  • GunsAnalyzing recent research on causes of gun violence

    In 2015, over 36,000 people died from gunfire in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with roughly two-thirds of those deaths being classified as suicide. America’s gun-murder rate is 25 times that of the other high-income nations, and the gun-suicide rate is eight times as high. Despite these numbers, the last extensive analysis of research into the origins of gun violence, conducted in 2004, was inconclusive. Consensus is growing in recent research evaluating the impact of right-to-carry concealed handgun laws, showing that they increase violent crime, despite what older research says.

  • EarthquakesShakeAlert System progresses toward public use

    A decade after beginning work on an earthquake early warning system, scientists and engineers are fine-tuning a U.S. West Coast prototype that could be in limited public use in 2018. The development of ShakeAlert has shown that a dense network of seismic stations, swift transfer of seismic data to a central processing and alert station, speedy paths for distributing alert information to users, and education and training on how to use the alerts are all necessary for a robust early warning system.

  • EarthquakesEarthquake codes used in 2017 Gordon Bell Prize research

    A Chinese team of researchers awarded this year’s prestigious Gordon Bell prize for simulating the devastating 1976 earthquake in Tangshan, China, used an open-source code developed by researchers at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC). Using the Sunway TaihuLight, which is currently ranked as the world’s fastest supercomputer, the team developed software that was able to efficiently process 18.9 Pflops (18.9 quadrillion calculations per second) of data and create three-dimensional visualizations of the 1976 earthquake that occurred in Tangshan, China, believed to have caused between 240,000 and 700,000 casualties.

  • Tornado warningImproving tornado warnings for deaf, blind communities

    Researchers awarded a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to study how tornado warnings could be improved in their accessibility and comprehension by members of the Deaf, Blind and Deaf-Blind communities. Alabama says that the grant will enable this team to build and test a system whereby Deaf people can view a local weather broadcast in a split-screen format.

  • Our picksWhy Los Angeles is burning; quantum computing risks; killer robots, and more

    ·The firestorm this time: Why Los Angeles is burning

    · Did climate change worsen the Southern California fires?

    · Appeals court considers legality of latest Trump travel ban

    · Border agents in training

    · Quantum computing is the next big security risk

    · DHS needs to better protect employees’ sensitive info, IG says

    · White House watch: Get ready for infrastructure year

    · “As much death as you want”: UC Berkeley’s Stuart Russell on “Slaughterbots”

  • InfrastructureDark fiber: Sensors beneath our feet to tell us about earthquakes, water, other geophysical phenomenon

    Scientists have shown for the first time that dark fiber – the vast network of unused fiber-optic cables installed throughout the country and the world – can be used as sensors for detecting earthquakes, the presence of groundwater, changes in permafrost conditions, and a variety of other subsurface activity.