• Nuclear wasteFinding new clues for nuclear waste cleanup

    Technetium-99 is a byproduct of plutonium weapons production and is considered a major U.S. challenge for environmental cleanup. At the Hanford Site nuclear complex in Washington state, there are about 2,000 pounds of the element dispersed within approximately 56 million gallons of nuclear waste in 177 storage tanks. The U.S. Department of Energy is in the process of building a waste treatment plant at Hanford to immobilize hazardous nuclear waste in glass. But researchers have been stymied because not all the technetium-99 is incorporated into the glass and volatilized gas must be recycled back into the melter system.

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  • Nuclear wasteIdentifying the right sites for storing radioactive waste

    In 2008, a Swiss government agency identified six regions in Switzerland, approved by the Federal Council, which could be used to store radioactive waste. An EPFL research project has developed a detailed profile of the sites selected to store radioactive waste from Swiss nuclear power plants. The project helped identify the two sites that meet both safety and feasibility requirements.

  • Food securityMajor deposit in the world’s largest seed collection in the Arctic

    A major seed deposit critical to ensuring global food security was made to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in the Arctic Circle today. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is the largest collection of agricultural biodiversity in the world. Located in Longyearbyen, Svalbard, the Seed Vault is owned by the Norwegian government. Seed samples for some of the world’s most vital food sources like the potato, sorghum, rice, barley, chickpea, lentil, and wheat will be deposited at Svalbard in the coming days, bringing the total number of seed samples at the facility to 930,821.

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  • Water securityAs climate warms, Colorado River flows will keep shrinking

    Warming in the twenty-first century reduced Colorado River flows by at least 0.5 million acre-feet, about the amount of water used by two million people for one year. From 2000 to 2014, the river’s flows declined to only 81 percent of the twentieth-century average, a reduction of about 2.9 million acre-feet of water per year. One acre-foot of water will serve a family of four for one year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. From one-sixth to one-half of the twenty-first-century reduction in flow can be attributed to the higher temperatures since 2000. As temperature continues to increase with climate change, Colorado River flows will continue to decline.

  • Law enforcementMore black police will not result in fewer police-involved homicides of black citizens

    Hiring more black police officers is not a viable strategy for reducing police-involved homicides of black citizens in most cities, according to new research. The study finds that, for many cities, it would take a massive increase in the percentage of black police officers to reduce the number of police-involved shootings of black citizens. Adding just a few black officers, the researchers say, won’t help and might make matters worse.

  • Grid securityCybersecurity of the power grid: A growing challenge

    By Manimaran Govindarasu and Adam Hahn

    Called the “largest interconnected machine,” the U.S. electricity grid is a complex digital and physical system crucial to life and commerce in this country. Today, it is made up of more than 7,000 power plants, 55,000 substations, 160,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines, and millions of miles of low-voltage distribution lines. This web of generators, substations, and power lines is organized into three major interconnections, operated by 66 balancing authorities and 3,000 different utilities. That’s a lot of power, and many possible vulnerabilities. The grid has been vulnerable physically for decades. Today, we are just beginning to understand the seriousness of an emerging threat to the grid’s cybersecurity.

  • U.S.-MexicoMexicans worry Trump's deportation plan will see refugee camps emerge along border

    There are growing worries in Mexico that Trump’s aggressive deportation scheme would lead to refugee camps popping up along the U.S.-Mexico border. Trumps plan called for an immediate start of deportation to Mexico not only of Mexicans – but of all Latin Americans and others who crossed into the United States illegally through Mexico. Earlier U.S. policy called for deportation to Mexico only of Mexican citizens, while “OTMs” – Other Than Mexicans – were flown back to their home countries.

  • Domestic terrorismThreats of violent Islamist and far-right extremism: What does the research say?

    By William Parkin, Brent Klein, Jeff Gruenewald, Joshua D. Freilich, and Steven Chermak

    The 9/11 attacks were perpetrated by Islamist extremists, resulting in nearly 18 times more deaths than America’s second most devastating terrorist attack – the Oklahoma City bombing. More than any other terrorist event in U.S. history, 9/11 drives Americans’ perspectives on who and what ideologies are associated with violent extremism. But focusing solely on Islamist extremism when investigating, researching and developing counterterrorism policies goes against what the numbers tell us. Far-right extremism also poses a significant threat to the lives and well-being of Americans. This risk is often ignored or underestimated because of the devastating impact of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.It remains imperative to support policies, programs, and research aimed at countering all forms of violent extremism.

  • CybersecurityA computer’s blinking light could transmit data

    A desktop computer’s tiny blinking LED light would hardly arouse the suspicions of anyone working in an office after hours. However, that LED could be silently winking out an optical stream of the computer’s secrets to a data-stealing drone.

  • CybersecurityCybersecurity degree approved for Kennesaw State

    The cybersecurity field in the U.S. will need an additional 1.5 million workers by the year 2020. The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia on Tuesday approved an online Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity at Kennesaw State University. The cybersecurity major includes elements of information technology, information security and assurance, and criminal justice, giving students a combination of technical knowledge and information security management skills.

  • ZikaDevice rapidly, accurately, inexpensively detects Zika virus at airports, other sites

    About the size of a tablet, a portable device that could be used in a host of environments like a busy airport or even a remote location in South America, may hold the key to detecting the dreaded Zika virus accurately, rapidly and inexpensively using just a saliva sample. While scientists across the world are scrambling to find some sort of immunization, researchers are working to develop a diagnostic tool to reduce the impact of the outbreak until a vaccine is identified.

  • FloodsOver time, nuisance flooding can cost more than extreme, infrequent events

    Global climate change is being felt in many coastal communities of the United States, not always in the form of big weather disasters but as a steady drip, drip, drip of nuisance flooding. Rising sea levels will cause these smaller events to become increasingly frequent in the future, and the cumulative effect will be comparable to extreme events such as Hurricane Katrina or Superstorm Sandy.

  • Water securitySnow science in support of U.S. water supply

    More than one-sixth of the world’s population relies on seasonal snow for water. In the western U.S., nearly three-quarters of the annual streamflow that provides the water supply arrives as spring and summer melt from the mountain snow packs. Right now, predictions of streamflow can vary widely due to limited ground measurement sites. This is one of the reasons scientists and resource managers are interested in a comprehensive view from space of what they call snow-water equivalent — the amount of liquid water contained in snow cover. Scientists use snow-water equivalent to estimate the amount of water that will melt into mountain streams, rivers and reservoirs.

  • Emerging threatsNew climate model predicts likelihood of Greenland ice melt, sea level rise, dangerous temperatures

    A new computer model of accumulated carbon emissions predicts the likelihood of crossing several dangerous climate change thresholds. These include global temperature rise sufficient to lose the Greenland Ice Sheet and generate seven meters of long-term sea level rise, or tropical region warming to a level that is deadly to humans and other mammals.

  • Border securitySupreme Court considering case of Mexican boy killed by Border Patrol agent shooting across border

    The Supreme Court appears to be evenly divided about the question of whether the Mexican parents of a teenager who was shot dead by a Border Patrol officer could use American courts to sue the Border Patrol agent who fired across the U.S.-Mexican border and killed their son. Lower courts dismissed the parents’ lawsuit – but the Supreme Court has taken up the case in order to determine whether non-citizens who are injured or killed outside the United States — by actions of an American from inside the United States — can pursue their case in American courts.

  • GunsAssault weapons not protected by Second Amendment: U.S. appeals court

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth circuit ruled 10-4 to uphold Maryland’s ban on assault weapons, ruling that assault weapons are not protected under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. “Put simply, we have no power to extend Second Amendment protection to the weapons of war,” Judge Robert King wrote. “Both before and after Newtown, similar military-style rifles and detachable magazines have been used to perpetrate mass shootings in places whose names have become synonymous with the slaughters that occurred there,” he wrote.

  • ISISLoss of territory contributes to significant drop in ISIS funding

    Islamic State’s income has more than halved since 2014, due to its shrinking territory in Syria and Iraq and subsequent losses of significant sources of revenue, according to a new study. Whilst it is impossible to say exactly how much money Islamic State has at its disposal, findings show that the most significant sources of revenue are closely tied to the territory it controls. Most recent evidence suggests that total income from taxes/extortion, oil, kidnapping, antiquities, looting, and confiscations has decreased from up to $2 billion in 2014 to less than $800 million in 2016. There is also no evidence that the group has been successful in creating new sources of revenue.

  • ImmigrationTrump administration directs Border Patrol, ICE to expand deportations

    By Julián Aguilar

    The Trump administration on Tuesday moved one step closer to implementing the president’s plans to aggressively rid the country of undocumented immigrants and expand local police-based enforcement of border security operations.

  • How governments and companies can prevent the next insider attack

    By Matthew Bunn and Scott D. Sagan

    Insider threats could take many forms, such as the next Edward Snowden, who leaked hundreds of thousands of secret documents to the press, or the next Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood mass killer. Indeed, in today’s high-tech and hyperconnected world, threats from insiders go far beyond leakers and lone-wolf shooters. A single insider might be able to help adversaries steal nuclear material that terrorists could use to make a crude nuclear bomb, install malware that could compromise millions of accounts or sabotage a toxic chemical facility to cause thousands of deaths. How can we better protect against the enemy within, no matter what it is that needs to be protected? In our high-tech society, the insider threat is ever-present. High-security organizations, governments and companies alike need to take action to counter the organizational and cognitive biases that often blind us to the insider danger – or future blunders will condemn us to more disasters.

  • Trade securityPreferential trade agreements bolster global trade at the expense of its resilience

    The global commodity trade is a complex system where its network structure, which may arise from bilateral and multilateral agreements, affects its growth and resilience. At time of economic shocks, redundancy in this system is vital to the resilience of growth.

  • Public healthContact tracing, targeted insecticide spraying can curb dengue outbreaks

    Contact tracing — a process of identifying everyone who has come into contact with those infected by a particular disease — combined with targeted, indoor spraying of insecticide can greatly reduce the spread of the mosquito-borne dengue virus. The new approach of using contact tracing to identify houses for targeted insecticide spraying was between 86 and 96 percent effective in controlling dengue fever during the Cairns outbreak. By comparison, vaccines for the dengue virus are only 30 to 70 percent effective, depending on the type of virus — or serotype — involved.