Today's news

  • TerrorismU.S. tightens scrutiny of U.S.-bound airline passengers

    Roughly 1,000 of the 4,000 fighters who traveled to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS carry passports of one of the thirty-eight Visa Waiver Program countries – countries whose citizens do not need a visa to enter the United States. U.S. officials are now reviewing methods used to screen airline passengers with passports from Visa Waiver countries before they board U.S.-bound flights.

  • TerrorismLawmaker says more needs to be done to counter domestic radicalization

    House Homeland Security Committeechairman Mike McCaul (R-Texas) says the Obama strategy to defeat ISIS fails to discuss plans for battling home-grown terrorists. McCaul wants the White House to appoint a lead agency to oversee the government’s counter-radicalization programs, adding that the Obama administration has no clear way of measuring the impact of its current initiatives to counter terrorist recruitment efforts.

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  • HazmatWest Virginia mulls releasing crude oil shipment information to the public

    In May 2014, the U.S. Department of Transportation(DOT) ordered railroads operating trains carrying more than one million gallons of Bakken crude oil to notify state emergency officials in states through which oil-carrying trains travel of the expected movement of such trains. The order came to allow first responders to be better prepared should an accident occur. CSX Corporation agreed to share shipping information with West Virginia officials, but refused to release the information to the public citing concerns about terrorism. DOT made it clear that citing terrorism concerns does not exempt crude oil shipment information from being released to the public.

  • Coastal infrastructureRural towns lose to urban centers in competition for coastal protection funding

    Infrastructure protection planners say there are only three ways coastal communities can defend themselves against rising sea levels: defend the shoreline with both natural and man-made barriers; raise key infrastructure such as buildings and roads; or retreat from the shoreline. Each of these options costs a fortune to follow. Smaller, more rural coastal communities in many states are finding that they are having a hard time competing with more powerful interests in coastal urban cities over funding for protection against sea-level rise.

  • Cybersecurity$5 million for new cybersecurity building at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

    Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) is a central component of the new “CyberSpark” initiative, a multi-component cyber eco-system. It is the only complex of its type in the world which is a government-academic-industry partnership and includes Fortune 500 companies and cyber-incubators, academic researchers and educational facilities, as well as national government and security agencies. A $5 million contribution will underwrite construction of the building that will house the Cyber Security Institute.

  • FrackingPeople living near “fracking” sites report more health symptoms

    Little is known about the environmental and public health impact of certain natural gas extraction techniques — including hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking” — that occur near residential areas. A Yale-led study has found a greater prevalence of health symptoms reported among residents living close to natural gas wells, including those drilled by hydraulic fracturing.

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  • WaterCheap, easy-to-install water purifying system for remote communities

    About 1.5 million people — and 90 percent of them children — die every year from consuming untreated or contaminated water. University of Adelaide mechanical engineering students and staff have designed a low-cost and easily made drinking water treatment system suitable for remote communities in Papua New Guinea (PNG) — using foil chip packets and some glass tubing.

  • ISISME Sunni states join anti-ISIS coalition

    The U.S. strategy to confront and defeat the Islamic State (ISIS) received a major boost yesterday when Middle Eastern governments formally agreed to join the war coalition against the Islamist group. The details are yet to be worked out — for example, what country will make what contribution, how to conduct the war against ISIS inside Syria in a way which will strengthen the moderate opposition rather than the Assad regime — but the fact that Sunni countries in the region have agreed openly to side with the United States against fellow coreligionist is important. The Obama strategy would have to be calibrated carefully. A major element of Obama’s strategy is the strengthening of the moderate Syrian anti-Assad rebels so they can become a more effective force against ISIS. The moderate rebels’ greater military capabilities may well, at some point, be turned again against the Assad regime, and regional supporters of the moderate rebels such as Saudi Arabia would want the now-strengthened rebels to finish the job of removing Assad from power. The administration has studiously avoided becoming involved in the Syrian civil war, but the campaign against ISIS inside Syria may see the United States getting sucked into that conflict.

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  • SyriaUN report indicates Syrian army used chlorine in April attacks on rebel-held villages

    The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said that a toxic chemical, probably chlorine, was used as a weapon to attack three Syrian villages in April. The agency investigators did not specify who had launched the chlorine attacks, but the full report, which so far has been shared only with governments, leaves little doubt that the Syrian government was responsible for the attacks.

  • CybersecurityVirtually every agency of the U.S. government has been hacked: Experts

    DHS’ National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) has so far responded to more than 600,000 cyber incidents this fiscal year; has issued more than 10,000 alerts to recipients to help secure their systems; and in seventy-eight cases deployed DHS experts to provide technical assistance.Robert Anderson, the executive assistant director for the FBI’s Criminal, Cyber, Response, and Services branch, told lawmakers that virtually all agencies of the U.S. government have in some way been hacked.

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  • Social mediaPolitical traffic by Arabs on social media overwhelmingly hostile to, suspicious of U.S.

    Researchers found that a great deal of the political and social traffic by Arabs on social media is deeply hostile to and suspicious of the United States. U.S. officials are concerned that Internet users in the Arab world understand history and current events in ways fundamentally different from the American version. “Suspicion and opposition to U.S. foreign policy appear to be so deep and so widely shared, even by those on opposite sides of other contentious issues, that it’s hard to imagine how the U.S. could begin to rebuild trust,” said one expert.

  • ISISObama’s new strategy still misses Islamic State’s weakest link

    By Denis Dragovic

    President Barack Obama was right to say in his speech on Wednesday that “ISIL is certainly not a state.” While IS does not have standing as a state among the community of nations, its strategy is focused on establishing an Islamic State. That’s why any response by the United States should be focused on preventing it from doing so. Unlike terrorist groups that seek to disrupt society, IS is focused on the establishment of a new society. Doing so requires IS to build the three pillars critical to a functioning state: Creating legitimacy; providing public security; and catering to the basic needs of the population, such as water, food, health, and shelter. Seeing Islamic State as an overextended rogue state, rather than a terrorist network, and working to weaken the civil pillars of the state it is trying to establish, offers the best chance of stopping IS.

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  • Seismic vulnerabilityNot all Oakland buildings are equally seismically vulnerable

    A mobile app which allows Oakland resident to check on whether their buildings are seismically vulnerable reveals that there is a vast inequality between safe and vulnerable homes in the city, as residents living in less-affluent, older multi-unit buildings would suffer the most in a major quake. Oakland is home to hundreds of those vulnerable buildings that may collapse in a major earthquake, and there is no law mandating property owners to retrofit buildings to safer standards.

  • RecoveryColorado recovering as it marks one year anniversary of devastating flood

    On 29 September 2013 Colorado experienced the most severe natural disaster that had ever befallen the state. Within three days much of the state had experienced a rainfall equivalent to its total for the entire year. In the end, nine people died, nearly 1,000 were evacuated by helicopter, and 1,800 homes were destroyed. The total cost of the damage reached $2.9 billion. Now, a year later, Colorado is finally coming back.

  • TerrorismCounter-ISIS campaign must include a robust effort to stop Westerners from joining it: Experts

    President Barack Obama last night outlined a 4-step strategy to defeat the Islamic State (IS). Administration officials indicated that the campaign against IS might take up to three years. Counterterrorism experts say that while the United States and its allies engage IS militarily, they must address the growing threat of young radicalized Western Muslims, many of whom have traveled to join the terrorist organization in Syria or Iraq.

  • TerrorismNo consensus over whether killing terrorist leaders weakens their organizations

    U.S. counterterrorism officials anticipate that killing the leader of a terrorist organization may weaken the group and begin the degradation of its capabilities. Targeted airstrikes or raids aimed at leaders of terrorist organizations are a main component of President Barack Obama’s counterterrorism strategy, but analysts are disagree whether decapitation weakens such organizations or lead them to be more radicalized and violent.

  • CybersecurityMoving cybersecurity technologies from the lab to the real world more expeditiously

    Through the Department of Homeland Security’s Transition to Practice (TTP) program, cybersecurity technologies developed at Sandia National Laboratories — and at other federal labs — now stand a better chance of finding their way into the real world. The TTP program, spearheaded by DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), helps move federally funded cybersecurity technologies into broader use. Getting research discoveries and new technologies over the so-called “valley of death” — the gap between early, promising research on one side and technology that’s in use on the other — is a pressing need in the national lab community.

  • CybersecurityA tool helps malware identification in smartphones

    With the massive sales of smartphones in recent years (more than personal computers in all of their history), malware developers have focused their interest on these platforms. The amount of malware is constantly increasing and it is becoming more intelligent. Researchers have developed a tool to help security analysts protect markets and users from malware. This system allows a large number of apps to be analyzed in order to determine the malware’s origins and family.

  • EncryptionDay of commercially available quantum encryption nears

    If implemented on a wide scale, quantum key distribution technology could ensure truly secure commerce, banking, communications, and data transfer. Los Alamos National Laboratory signs the largest information technology agreement in the lab’s history which aims to bring quantum encryption to the marketplace after nearly twenty years of development at the national-security science laboratory.

  • SuperbugsBacteria from bees as possible alternative to antibiotics

    Thirteen lactic acid bacteria found in the honey stomach of bees have shown promising results in a series of studies. The group of bacteria counteracted antibiotic-resistant MRSA in lab experiments. The bacteria, mixed into honey, have healed horses with persistent wounds. The formula has previously been shown to protect against bee colony collapse.

  • Infrastructure protectionSea level rise affecting the infrastructure, psychology of key mid-Atlantic towns

    Scientific research and flooding trends have led many to speculate that the Atlantic coast of the United States is already sinking. Mid-Atlantic towns on the coast stretching from Virginia to South Carolina have been experiencing increased flooding and receiving reports and satellite findings from government agencies, leading many of those living on the mid-Atlantic coast to wonder whether their hometowns are doomed.

  • STEM educationKickstarter-funded video game teaches kids how to code

    Computer scientists have successfully funded on Kickstarter a new and improved version of CodeSpells, a first-person player game they developed that teaches players how to code. The game’s previous iteration has been in use in dozens of schools throughout the world for more than a year. The researchers have been using the game as a platform to learn about the best ways to teach children how to code.