• SyriaWorld powers agree on “full cessation of hostilities” in Syria within 1 week

    Major world powers have agreed to a deal which would end hostilities in Syria and allow for the delivery of humanitarian aid to civilians. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, meeting in Munich, early Friday announced the agreement, calling for a broader ceasefire. The agreement raises hopes that a diplomatic breakthrough may be possible.

  • TerrorismDNA of Paris attacks’ mastermind not on discarded suicide vest

    French police found no DNA traces of Salah Abdeslam, the fugitive terror suspect who helped mastermind the 13 November Paris attacks, on a suicide belt they thought he discarded in Paris. Another unidentified DNA found on two vests could be that of the bomb maker.

  • SurveillanceNYPD has used Stingrays since 2008 -- with lower-level court orders rather than warrants

    The NYPD has confirmed that it owns and operates Stingrays— surveillance devices that spy on cell phones nearby and which can be used to track location. In response to an NYCLU FOIL request, the NYPD disclosed it used Stingrays nearly 1,016 times between 2008 and May of 2015 without a written policy and following a practice of obtaining only lower-level court orders rather than warrants. This is the first time the extent of the use of Stingrays by the NYPD has been made public.

  • ImmigrationTexas to re-classify immigrant detention centers as child-care facilities

    In 2015 a judge ordered Texas to shut down two immigration detention centers – but in order to escape implementing the judge’s order, Texas is considering re-classifying the two detention centers as “child-care facilities.” The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services had to address a July 2015 decision from federal Judge Dolly Gee. Gee ruled that the country’s three family detention centers (a third facility is in the process of being shut down) were holding children in “deplorable conditions” that “failed to meet even the minimal standard” for a safe and clean environment for children.

  • Law enforcementHelping local law enforcement to share data

    DHS Science and Technology Directorate’s (S&T) First Responders Group’s (FRG) Video Datacasting Project transmits encrypted live video and data over existing broadcast television signals to a targeted audience within public safety. Users can download data in the field, improving interoperability at minimal cost and effort in the furtherance of public safety.

  • Emerging threatsBetter Greenland, Antarctica sheet modeling helps predict sea-level rise

    The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets will make a dominant contribution to twenty-first century sea-level rise if current climate trends continue. However, predicting the expected loss of ice sheet mass is difficult due to the complexity of modeling ice sheet behavior. Better to understand this loss, a team of Sandia National Laboratories researchers has been improving the reliability and efficiency of computational models that describe ice sheet behavior and dynamics.

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  • Food security Food for billions: Inland fisheries and global food security

    Inland capture fisheries are much more crucial to global food security than realized, according to the first global review of the value of inland fish and fisheries. The review shows that although aquaculture and inland capture fisheries contribute more than 40 percent of the world’s reported finfish production, their harvest is greatly under-reported and value is often-ignored. Topping the list of the value of inland fish and fisheries is food and economic security: these fisheries provide food for billions of people and livelihoods for millions worldwide. They are a primary animal protein consumed by many of the world’s rural poor, especially those in developing countries.

  • Refugee crisisNATO fleet deployed in Aegean Sea to stop refugees coming from Turkey

    NATO has deployed its fleet to the Aegean Sea in an effort to end the flow of refugees crossing from Turkey in order to enter the EU zone. The deployment, announced yesterday, will involve warships, rather than coast guard boars, meet refugee boats outside Greece’s territorial waters.

  • Middle East“Palestine” does not exist “because [Arabs] can't pronounce the letter ‘P’': Israeli MP

    Israeli politicians who oppose the creation of an independent Palestinian state have found a new argument to support their position: The fact the Arabic does not have the letter “P.” Linguists and Middle East scholars expressed surprise at this line of argument, noting that in Arabic, the name of the people – and their country – begin with the letter “F,” not “P.” In Arabic, “Palestine” is pronounced “Falastin.”

  • TerrorismSpanish judge frees puppeteers jailed for glorifying Basque terrorism

    A judge has freed two Spanish puppeteers who were jailed Saturday for glorifying terrorism after they staged a violent puppet show which made references to Basque militant group ETA. ETA has killed more than 800 people since it launched its campaign in the early 1980s to establish a Basque state in northern Spain and southern France.

  • EarthquakesThe number of 2015 earthquake around the world – 14,588 -- on par with previous years

    Globally there were 14,588 earthquakes of magnitude 4.0 or greater in 2015. This worldwide number is on par with prior year averages of about forty earthquakes per day of magnitude 4.0, or about 14,500 annually. The 2015 number may change slightly as the final results are completed by seismic analysts. In 2015, there were 19 earthquakes worldwide with a magnitude of 7.0 or higher. Since about 1900, the average has been about 18 earthquakes per year. More than 143 million residents living in the 48 contiguous states may potentially be exposed to damaging ground shaking from earthquakes.

  • Nuclear fuelExtrusion technique creates new fuel from depleted uranium

    Advanced nuclear reactors will use new types of fuel. To ensure such systems are safe, experimental fuel samples must be fabricated and tested in safe research environments. Marking an important step toward the advancement of a new type of reactor, Idaho National Laboratory (INL) employees recently completed the first successful test of fabrication equipment in the Experimental Fuels Facility (EFF). Specifically, they finished depleted uranium extrusions — a process of shaping material by forcing it through a die.

  • EnergyWorld economy unlikely to stop relying on fossil fuels: Study

    On the heels of last year’s historic climate agreement in Paris, a new study concludes that fossil fuel consumption is likely to grow without clear and decisive global action to put an adequate price on carbon dioxide emissions and increased clean energy technology.

     

  • Food securityNurturing the future of agriculture

    Climate change and man-made events put global food security at risk. But researching how plants produce seeds and evolve could help us find new ways to ensure food security. For the first time in its history, the Global Seed Vault on the Svalbard Islands, Norway, has authorized a withdrawal. It was requested in 2015 by Syria, a country where the war is endangering the local agricultural seed collections.

  • EncryptionEncryption prevents FBI from cracking San Bernardino attackers’ phone

    U.S. law enforcement agencies have been unable to access a telephone used by the two Islamist attackers in the San Bernardino shooting, FBI director James Comey said Tuesday. Comey stressed that the post-Snowden end-to-end encryption some technology companies are now offering their customers make it impossible for law enforcement to learn more about terrorists and criminal networks, even after terrorist or criminal acts have been committed and even if a court has approved access to the information.

  • SurveillanceIntelligence agencies could use Internet-of-things to spy on people

    James Clapper, the director of U.S. national intelligence, told lawmakers the other day that the Internet of things — baby monitors, TV set, home security devices, voice recognition dolls – may be used by intelligence services to spy on people. Clapper, testifying yesterday before a Senate panel, said that intelligence agencies might be able to use this new generation of household devices to increase their surveillance capabilities.

  • ISISChechen special forces on the ground in Syria, infiltrated ISIS ranks: Chechen leader

    Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov said that Chechen Special Forces loyal to Vladimir Putin are on the ground in Syria, operating in ISIS-controlled territory. He claimed that the operation is part of a Russian-led intelligence-gathering mission. The Kremlin refused to confirm or deny Kadyrov’s claims, but the fact that Kadyrov, a self-described “foot soldier for Putin,” made them offers evidence of disagreements in Russia over the Syria strategy and suggests Kadyrov is seeking a greater role for Chechnya in regional affairs.

  • Batteries & flightsNTSB issues safety recommendations for on-flight lithium batteries

    The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued two safety recommendations Tuesday physically separate lithium batteries from other flammable hazardous materials stowed on cargo aircraft and to establish maximum loading density requirements which restrict the quantities of lithium batteries and flammable hazardous materials.

  • ImmigrationU.K.'s citizenship tests act as barriers to naturalization

    Citizenship tests are requiring immigrants to become “super-citizens” and act as barriers to naturalization, according to new research. In the first academic article to consider the experience of people taking the tests, researchers found that they provided immigrants with little useful or practical knowledge and were considered disparaging by requiring them to know things that citizens-by-birth would not.

     

  • Public healthAre tighter EPA controls on mercury pollution worth it?

    By Noelle Eckley Selin and Amanda Giang

    Over 300,000 babies every year are born in the United States with levels of mercury that put them at risk of neurological and developmental problems. How much would you be willing to spend to reduce this number? This might seem like an abstract question, but the judgments regulators make on this question can determine whether or not a proposed regulation survives challenges in court. This was a key question addressed when the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) was reviewed by the Supreme Court. In a 5-4 vote in June 2015, the Supreme Court held that the EPA should have considered costs when deciding to regulate mercury. Research suggests that including a larger set of health effects of high levels of mercury – namely, both IQ and heart attacks – and the impact on specific populations could lead to mercury-related benefits estimates that are orders of magnitude larger than those reported by the EPA. Regardless of the approach used to weigh advantages and disadvantages of policy, the research is now clear: the benefits of MATS are substantial.

  • AviationPassengers on trans-Atlantic flights will spend more time in the air as a result of climate change

    Planes flying between Europe and North America will be spending more time in the air due to the effects of climate change, a new study has shown. By accelerating the jet stream — a high-altitude wind blowing from west to east across the Atlantic — climate change will speed up eastbound flights but slow down westbound flights, the study found. The findings could have implications for airlines, passengers, and airports.

  • FloodsLevees may make flood risk higher, not lower

    People living behind levees on floodplains may not be as immune to flood damage as they think, according to results of a new study. U.S. floodplains are lined by more than 100,000 miles of levees, many of which are in questionable states of repair.