Today's news

  • IrelandQuestions raised about Provisional IRA’s possible return to its violent ways

    It has been assumed that Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) has “gone away,” in the words of Sinn Féin’s leader Gerry Adams. In the wake of the 13 August killing in Belfast of a former IRA operative, police north of south of the border have launched an investigation into whether PIRA is still engaged in violence. Separately, a former member of PIRA, who is now a historian working in theBoston College Belfast Project, has charged that hackers affiliated with Sinn Féin have hacked his and his wife’s communication and leaked some of it to the press. U.S. courts allowed the Northern Ireland police access to portions of the archive, leading to arrests of several prominent Belfast Republicans.

  • EMS personnelCritics question the need to equip EMS personnel with protective gear

    The longer a wounded victim on a scene of a crime must wait for medical treatment, the lower the likelihood of that victim’s survival. Medical personal, however, must wait until the police secure the scene before they are allowed to approach the wounded. More and more EMS units now carry Kevlar helmets and bullet-proof vests with them so they can rush to help the wounded even if the crime scene is not completely secured. Some residents of San Leandro, California say, however, that the decision by the city council to purchase an armored vehicle and convert it into an armored ambulance is going too far.

  • BiolabsNew book details safety, security methods for biosciences sites

    Recent mishaps at laboratories which mishandled potentially dangerous biological substances and the transmission of the Ebola virus in a U.S. hospital are symptoms at bioscience facilities that two Sandia National Laboratories researchers think could be prevented by implementing the practices in a new book on biorisk management. The new book, Laboratory Biorisk Management: Biosafety and Biosecurity, is the first full-length manuscript on the detailed implementation of biorisk management.

  • Coastal resilienceFIU launches Sea Level Solutions Center

    With rising seas threatening coastal communities all across the world, Florida International University (FIU) has launched the Sea Level Solutions Center to help people understand, adapt and persevere. FIU says that the center combines expertise in the natural, physical, and social sciences, along with architecture, engineering, computer sciences, law, communications, business, health, and tourism management to develop long-term strategies in the face of rising seas, noting that FIU’s Miami location will be key in advancing the center’s mission. South Florida is particularly vulnerable because of the large number of assets exposed to the effects of sea level rise.

  • Coastal resilienceRestoring and sustaining Louisiana’s eroding coast

    Measures taken over the last ninety years to prevent a repetition of the 1927 New Orleans flood — the construction of improved levees, spillways, and dams as well as associated flood and additional navigation management structures designed to contain overflows and manage and stabilize a deep-water channel – have starved adjacent wetlands of the freshwater and sediment needed to stave off the Gulf of Mexico’s rising tides. The resulting land loss across the Delta is leading toward catastrophic collapse. Over the last century, almost 1,900 square miles of deltaic wetlands, an area approximately the size of Delaware, have disappeared from Louisiana. Every hour, a football field-sized swath of land drowns in the Gulf’s advancing tides. A Louisiana independent initiative, with the support and participation of the State of Louisiana and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, has called on experts from the private sector to develop and assess new designs for the Lower Mississippi River (below New Orleans). The winning proposals were announced last week.

  • Coastal resilienceCoastal uplift along Pacific Coast lower than expected, exacerbating sea-level rise impact

    A new study shows that uplift rates across the Pacific Coast of the United States and northern Mexico have been overestimated by an average of more than 40 percent. These lower uplift rates this may have important implications for coastal management, including earthquake hazards and the potential impact of sea-level rise to coastlines across the Pacific Coast. If the Pacific Coast’s uplift rate is lower than had been estimated, this means that sea-level rise would have an even greater impact on coastal communities and infrastructure. Higher coastal uplift rates would have negated some of the effects of rising sea levels, something lower uplift rate will not do.

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  • ClimateSubjecting countries to “targeted punishments” could tackle climate change

    Targeted punishments could provide a path to international climate change cooperation, new research in game theory has found. The research suggests that in situations such as climate change, in which everyone would be better off if everyone cooperated but it may not be individually advantageous to do so, the use of a strategy called “targeted punishment” could help shift society toward global cooperation.

  • Food securityRepurposing wasted food would feed the hungry, create jobs

    Roughly one third of all global food gets wasted. In the United States, that number is even higher, with nearly 40 percent of all food going to waste, making it one of the most wasteful countries in the world. Researchers have developed a new model for recovering would-be wasted — or surplus — food and repurposing it to feed hungry people, generate revenue, and even create jobs. The model — Food System-Sensitive Methodology (FSSM) — was recently piloted in West Philadelphia. The researchers say that applying FSSM nationally would likely yield about 1.1 billion pounds of recovered wasted food annually.

  • Migration & refugees: EuropeBalkans at center of Europe’s worst refugee crisis since WWII

    Europe is searching for a solution to its worst refugee crisis since the Second World War. Hungary is building a fence along its 110-mile border with Serbia, and is considering using its military to protect its southern border, as thousands of migrants, many of them fleeing Syria, are desperately trying to enter the European Union zone. Greece saw fifty thousand refugees arrived on Greek shores during the month in July alone, . and the Greek authorities have taken to ferrying many of them – mostly Syrian refugees — from Greece’s overwhelmed islands to Athens, from where they head north by buses provided by the government. The Serbia authorities said that about 10,000 refugees were passing through Serbia at any time. As Hungary border fence building advances, more and more of these refugees remain in Serbia, unable to cross into Hungary or go back into Greece.

  • Migration & refugees: EuropeU.K. foreign-born population exceeds 8 million

    This Thursday, the U.K. Office for National Statistics (ONS) will publish a new set of migration statistics. The data will cover many different topics, but two numbers are likely to attract attention: one relating to the “flow” of migrants in and out of the United Kingdom, the other relating to the “stock” of foreign-born people living in the United Kingdom. In the last quarter’s data, net migration was estimated to stand at 318,000 — just 2,000 below the highest level previous recorded in 2005. The U.K.’s foreign-born population is expected to exceed eight million for the first time in the published ONS data. Experts say that the more fundamental questions about migration policy successes and failures are more nuanced than a set of figures, and these questions include how immigration affects the U.K. labor market and whether it makes existing U.K. residents wealthier.

  • CybersecurityDraft guide to help energy companies reduce cyber risk

    DHS reported that 5 percent of the cybersecurity incidents its Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team responded to in fiscal year 2014 were tied to weak authentication. Four percent were tied to abuse of access authority. The National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE) is requesting comments on a draft guide to help energy companies better control who has access to their networked resources, including buildings, equipment, information technology, and industrial control systems.

  • CybersecurityCalif. state auditor: Many state entities vulnerable to cyberattack, disruption

    In the past few years, retailers, financial institutions, and government agencies have increasingly fallen victim to cyberattacks. California state auditor says that given the size of California’s economy and the value of its information, the state presents a prime target for similar information security breaches. Despite the need to safeguard the state’s information systems, the state auditor says that its review found that many state entities have weaknesses in their controls over information security. These weaknesses leave some of the state’s sensitive data vulnerable to unauthorized use, disclosure, or disruption.

  • Cybersecurity grantsDHS S&T awards Mobile Technology Security (MTS) research grants

    The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) on Monday announced a $759,727 cybersecurity Mobile Technology Security (MTS) research and development (R&D) award which will help secure mobile devices for the federal government. The goal of the next-generation mobile security management tools project is to look at innovative technology solutions which protect the operating layer of the mobile device, but also incorporate user identities and actions to protect against vulnerabilities.

  • FloodsPost-Katrina flood damage resulted from Corps of Engineers' errors, was preventable

    A decade after hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, experts say the flooding that caused over 1,800 deaths and billions of dollars in property damage could have been prevented had the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers retained an external review board to double-check its flood-wall designs. Researchers contend that the main fault in the failure of the flood walls along the city’s principal drainage canals was the misinterpretation of a full-scale load test carried out by the Corps in the Atachafalaya Basin a few years prior to Katrina. After these so-called E-99 tests, it was determined that flood walls in the city should be installed at a depth of 17 feet, instead of the initially estimated depths of 31 to 46 feet.

  • Coastal resilienceU.S. coastal communities face increasing risk of compound floods

    In 2010, 39 percent of the U.S. population lived in coastal communities — a number which is expected to continue to increase in the next five years. The confluence of storm surges and heavy precipitation can bring dangerous flooding to low-lying coastal regions, including major metropolitan areas. A new study of the United States coastline has found the risk of such flooding is higher on the Atlantic coast than the Pacific, and the number of these compound events has increased significantly in many major cities in the past century.

  • LeveesCalifornia levees face risk of catastrophic failure as a result of historic drought

    Earthen levees protect dry land from floods and function as water storage and management systems. Over 21,000 kilometers of earthen levees deliver approximately two-thirds of potable water to more than twenty-three million Californians and protect more than $47 billion worth of homes and businesses from flooding. Scientists say that the ongoing extreme drought in the state poses a risk of catastrophic failure to California’s levee systems and highlights an urgent need to invest in research regarding the vulnerabilities of these systems under extreme climatic events.

  • Food safetyEU-funded research: Climate change and food safety

    The global fresh produce supply chain must take into account climate change in order to ensure food safety, warn EU-funded researchers. This was the key recommendation of the EU-funded VEG-I-TRADE project, which was launched in 2010 to assess the safety of fresh produce in a rapidly evolving context of climate change and expanding international trade.

  • TerrorismPalestinians to pay $10M to terror victims while appealing $218.5M verdict

    The Palestinian Authority and the PLO, found liable in a lawsuit over Americans killed in terrorist attacks, must pay $10 million in cash and an additional $1 million monthly payment while the case is on appeal, a U.S. judge ruled on Monday. A jury awarded $218.5 million in damages earlier this year in a lawsuit brought by victims and survivors of bombings and shootings by Palestinian terrorists in Israel from 2002 to 2004. The damages were automatically tripled, to $655.50 million, by the U.S. Anti-Terrorism Act.

  • Real IDSome 200,000 federal building to be affected by REAL ID as of 10 October

    Beginning 10 October, security screeners in roughly 200,000 federal buildings may deny access to visitors who present a driver’s license or identification card from a state which is non-compliant with REAL ID rules. A passport or ID specially approved by the federal government may be used as proof of identity. The Government Services Administration (GSA) says there are 275,195 buildings which are owned and leased by the federal government as of 2014. Enforcement of the REAL ID Act has so far been limited to only 217 of these buildings.

  • Law enforcementWith 5% of world's population, U.S. had 31% of the world’s public mass shooters in 1966-2012

    Despite having only about 5 percent of the world’s population, the United States was the attack site for a disproportionate 31 percent of public mass shooters globally from 1966 to 2012, according to new research. The study is the first quantitative analysis of all reported public mass shootings around the world that resulted in the deaths of four or more people. “My study provides empirical evidence, based on my quantitative assessment of 171 countries, that a nation’s civilian firearm ownership rate is the strongest predictor of its number of public mass shooters,” the study’s author said. “Until now, everyone was simply speculating about the relationship between firearms and public mass shootings. My study provides empirical evidence of a positive association between the two.”

  • ResilienceThe lessons of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita

    As the tenth anniversary of hurricanes Katrina (29 August) and Rita (23 September) approaches, memories of the storms vividly remain for Texans. Katrina killed more than 1,800 people and Rita forced the largest evacuation in Texas history, with more than three million people leaving the Houston-Galveston area. There are lessons to be learned from both, experts say.

  • ResilienceClimate change and Hurricane Katrina: what have we learned?

    By Kerry Emanuel

    Theory and computer models show that the incidence of the strongest hurricanes — those that come closest to achieving their potential intensity — will increase as the climate warms, and there is some indication that this is happening. Global warming, however, is occurring far too fast for effective human adaptation. Adapting to the myriad changes expected over the next 100 years is such a daunting prospect that otherwise intelligent people rebel against the idea even to the extent of denying the very existence of the risk. This recalcitrance, coupled with rising sea levels, subsiding land, and increased incidence of strong hurricanes, all but guarantees that New Orleans will have moved or have been abandoned by the next century.