• Muslims in EuropeMuslim students in Switzerland must shake female teachers’ hands

    Muslim students in Switzerland’s Basel Country can no longer refuse to shake a female teacher’s hand on religious grounds, according to the canton’s office of education, culture, and sport. If they refuse, they would face a fine of up to $5,000. The canton’s authority added that the public interest outweighed “considerably” the private interests of the pupils. This public interest included equal treatment of men and women, the integration of foreigners into Swiss society, and a well-organized school system. In addition, shaking hands was an important social gesture for one’s future career, the educational authority said in its statement.

  • ISISDeclassified documents offer insights into ISIS origins, how to defeat the group

    Drawing from more than 140 recently declassified documents from the predecessors of the Islamic State, a new study shows that the group has been operating for years with remarkable continuity in its philosophy, methods, and goals, including the long-standing aspiration for creating a caliphate. The documents show that the leadership consciously designed the organization not just to fight, but also to build a state governed by the laws dictated by its strict Islamist ideology.

  • Personal protection equipmentCotton candy machine inspires lighter bullet proof vests, and more

    It is “boots on the ground” in this Harvard lab where the researchers are on a mission to protect U.S. troops on the battlefield. Researchersare developing next generation nanofibers at the Harvard Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC). The researchers draw their inspiration from the cotton candy machine. They use their own version of that technology to spin a wide range of polymers, both natural and synthetic, into new fabrics and materials for military use.

  • HurricanesImproving hurricane intensity predictions through early use of “hurricane hunter” data

    Data collected via airplane when a hurricane is developing can improve hurricane intensity predictions by up to 15 percent, according to researchers who have been working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Hurricane Center to put the new technique into practice.

  • TsunamisA warning system for tsunamis

    Right now, tsunami warning systems rely on region-specific scenarios based on previous patterns in that area. This is because scientists use sensors in the ocean, which can detect abnormal movements but cannot make accurate projections of how much water will hit a coast and how hard. But “most likely” is not a sure thing. Seismologists have created a new algorithm that could one day help give coastal cities early warning of incoming tsunamis.

  • FloodsFlood preparedness: There’s a new USGS app) for that

    During the recent Texas flooding, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) unveiled a new tool that gives users real-time water, weather and National Weather Service flood forecast information all in one place. When water levels are rising, it can be hard to quickly get all the information you need about your area, especially when you are not in front of a computer.

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  • TerrorismTerrorists “stockpiling explosives in Europe”: EU security official

    Manuel Navarrete Paniagua, the Head of the European Counter Terrorism Center at Europol, said that terrorist cells in the EU are probably stockpiling explosives for future attacks. Europol said it had foiled 211 terror plots in the last year, but that the threat of similar attacks on the scale of November 2015 Paris attacks and the March 2016 attacks in Brussels in March remained a concern.

  • TerrorismViolent extremists are not on the run -- they are on the march: Rep. Michael McCaul

    U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), after returning from a trip to the Middle East, last week shared his frank observation with an audience at George Washington University: “A worldwide terrorist exodus is underway, and we are woefully unprepared to deal with it,” he said. “We are not winning this war,” McCaul said. “Violent extremists are not on the run, as the president says. They are on the march.”

  • Cultural terrorismMali Islamist will plead guilty in ICC to cultural-destruction war crime

    Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi, a jihadist from Mali, has pleaded guilty to destroying ancient world-heritage Islamic sites in Mali. The destruction took place during the short 2012-2-13 reign of the Islamist Ansar Dine movement in break-away northern Mali, which the group called Azawad. Mahdi is he first person to face cultural destruction-related war crimes charges before the International Criminal Court (ICC).

  • Terror & businessStudy probes impact of terror on business travelers, managers

    A joint study of terror’s impact on business travelers and business travel managers revealed surprising results, especially with regard to traveler fears and anxiety. Among other findings, the study found that 31 percent of business travelers worry that a reluctance to travel could hurt their career, and that 6 percent would not feel comfortable expressing their concerns to upper management.

  • MigrationMethod developed for including migration uncertainty in population projections

    Statisticians have developed the first model for projecting population that factors in the vagaries of migration, a slippery issue that has bedeviled demographers for decades. Their work also provides population projections for all countries worldwide — and challenges the existing predictions for some, particularly the United States and Germany.

  • CybersecurityMaritime vessels at risk of cyberattack because of outdated systems

    Maritime vessels are under significant threat of cyber-attack because many are carrying outdated software and were not designed with cyber security in mind, according to new research. But operators could easily mitigate against such dangers by updating security systems, improving ship design and providing better training for crews.

  • Food securityBetter understanding of how climate change threatens agriculture

    Climate change expected over the next decade may cause food production in a key agricultural region of Brazil to decline by up to 13 percent. The decline reflects both reductions in crop yield — how much is produced per area harvested — and how crop failures and farmers’ decisions together lead to cultivating less land and growing only one crop in a season instead of two. “Some amount of climate change is inevitable,” says a researcher. “So we’re asking, How vulnerable is the agricultural system, and what are the remedies?”

  • Coastal resilienceTrump-owned resort cites sea level rise in application for seawall permit

    Donald Trump may believe that the scientific evidence about global warming is a “hoax,” or the result of a Chinese plot to undermine the American economy, but the professional managers of his coastal properties believe that global warming is real, and that one of its consequences – sea level rise – poses a real threat to the Trump properties they manage.

  • TerrorismTaliban leader Mullah Mansour posed “imminent threat” to U.S.: Pentagon

    The Pentagon has said it killed Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour because he posed a danger to the United States. The Islamist militant chief was killed in a U.S. strike in Pakistan last week. President Obama called the death of Mansour “an important milestone,” and that the United States had “removed the leader of an organization that has continued to plot against and unleash attacks on American and coalition forces.”

  • SyriaISIS bomb attacks in Syria’s Alawite heartland kill 148

    ISIS militants set off bombs that killed more than 140 people in the Syrian towns of Jableh and Tartous, in the Assad regime’s Alawite-controlled coastal heartland. The Alawite region on north-west Syria, from which the Assad family and most of Syria’s higher echelon hail, has so far escaped the worst of the fighting in Syria’s civil war.

  • TunnelsGazans fear being used as human shields as Hamas builds tunnels under homes

    Palestinians in the Gaza Strip increasingly fear that the ongoing construction of Hamas tunnels in residential areas means that their lives will be in danger if a future war breaks out between the terrorist group and Israel. While Israel destroyed 32 terror tunnels during the 2014 war, Israeli officials have been warning for some time that Hamas has rebuilt much of its underground infrastructure.

  • Airport securityTSA’s head of security dismissed against backdrop of long waits at security lines

    Kelley Hoggan, TSA’s head of security, dismissed after a contentious Hill hearing on long airport security lines. Travelers in Chicago’s O’Hare Airport complained of two-hour waits. Questions raised about $90,000 in bonuses and awards given to Hogan.

  • BiodefenseBiodefense Panel welcomes key provision in defense authorization bill

    In October 2015, the Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense found that insufficient federal coordination on strategy, budgeting, and policy; inadequate collaboration with other levels of government and the private sector; and lagging innovation in areas like biosurveillance and medical countermeasure development make the United States vulnerable to biological attacks and infectious disease outbreaks. The Panel welcomed the passing by the House of the National Defense Authorization Act, H.R. 4909, which includes a provision addressing one of the Panel’s most important recommendations.

  • Zika virusA tool to help public health decisions on Zika virus to be cost-effective

    A new study presents a cost-effectiveness tool that can help guide decisions regarding resource allocation to fund interventions targeted at curtailing the ongoing Zika virus outbreak. Analyses using the tool suggest that proposed funds to combat Zika in the United States and other countries would be cost-effective, based on quantification of the serious health conditions associated with Zika infection.

  • Man-made earthquakesUpdate on earthquakes: Newest results from Oklahoma Commission look “encouraging”

    By Robert Lee Maril

    The Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC), the regulatory agency overseeing the state’s oil and gas industry, now has data that may suggest their directives to owners of production and induction wells have successfully contributed to a decline in seismic activity in the most volatile areas prone to earthquakes.Scientists at the Oklahoma Geological Survey (OGS) continue to remind the public that there are a wide variety of unanswered questions about immediate and long-term remedies even with the new directives in place. 

  • DetectionSpeedy terahertz-based system could detect explosives

    By Larry Hardesty

    Terahertz spectroscopy, which uses the band of electromagnetic radiation between microwaves and infrared light, is a promising security technology because it can extract the spectroscopic “fingerprints” of a wide range of materials, including chemicals used in explosives. Spectroscopic system with chip-scale lasers cuts detection time from minutes to microseconds.