• Emerging threatsClimate disasters increase risk of armed conflict in multi-ethnic countries

    Climate disasters like heat-waves or droughts enhance the risk of armed conflicts in countries with high ethnic diversity, scientists found. Each conflict is certainly the result of a complex and specific mix of factors, but it turns out that the outbreak of violence in ethnically fractionalized countries is often linked to natural disasters that may fuel smoldering social tensions.

  • GunsMost guns recovered by Pittsburgh police not in possession of legal owners

    Nearly 80 percent of perpetrators carrying a gun recovered by Pittsburgh Police were not the lawful owners, a strong indication that theft and trafficking are significant sources of firearms involved in crimes in southwest Pennsylvania, a new study finds. The finding suggests a timely opportunity for collaboration between public health and law enforcement officials better to understand and reduce violent crimes involving firearms.

  • First responseHazmat Challenge tests skills of hazardous materials response teams

    Ten hazardous materials response teams from New Mexico, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Nebraska test their skills in a series of graded, timed exercises. The event requires participants to respond to simulated hazardous materials emergencies involving aircraft, rail and highway transportation, industrial piping, a simulated radiological release, and a confined space event.

  • CybersecurityRussian government hackers leaked DNC e-mails: Cybersecurity experts

    Robby Mook, Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, said on Sunday that Friday’s release by WikiLeaks of Democratic National Committee (DNC) internal e-mails was the work of Russian government hackers. The leak, Mook said, was part of an effort by President Vladimir Putin and people in his circle to weaken Clinton and increase the chances of a Donald Trump victory in November. Cybersecurity experts support Mook’s claims.

  • GermanySyrian asylum-seeker who blew himself up in Ansbach, Germany, was about to be deported

    A 27-year old Syrian refugee whose asylum application had been denied, and who was about to be deported to Bulgaria, blew himself up Sunday evening outside a wine bar in the Bavarian town of Ansbach. Twelve people were injured in the explosion, three of them seriously. The past week was a particularly violent week in Germany, with a 21-year-old Syrian refugee knifing a woman to death in the city of Reutlingen on Sunday, and a mentally unstable 17-year old German teenager of Iranian descent, who was obsessed with mass shooting, killing nine people on Friday in a shopping mall in Munich, before turning his gun on himself.

  • HezbollahReport: Next war with Hezbollah could cause “thousands of civilian deaths” in Israel

    Israeli officials believe that a future war with Hezbollah, with its advanced Iranian-supplied rocket arsenal, could lead to “thousands of civilian deaths,” according to a new study. Hezbollah is now believed by Israel to possess about 150,000 rockets, which exceeds the combined arsenals of all non-U.S. NATO countries and is ten times larger than its arsenal before the 2006 war.

  • Gene drivesThree ways synthetic biology could annihilate Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases

    By Andrew Maynard

    There are tried and tested approaches in the arsenal of weapons against the mosquito-borne disease, but to combat Zika and other mosquito-borne disease, more is needed. Gene drives, synthetic biology-based genetic engineering techniques, offer one solution by reengineering mosquitoes or obliterating them altogether. Yet we still have only the vaguest ideas of how the systems we’re hacking by using gene drives actually work. It’s as if we’ve been given free rein to play with life’s operating system code, but unlike computers, we don’t have the luxury of rebooting when things go wrong. As enthusiasm grows over the use of synthetic biology to combat diseases like Zika, greater efforts are needed to understand what could go wrong, who and what might potentially be affected, and how errors will be corrected.

  • Gene drivesGene-drive modified organisms not yet ready to be released into environment: Scientists

    The emerging science of gene drives has the potential to address environmental and public health challenges, but gene-drive modified organisms are not ready to be released into the environment and require more research in laboratories and highly controlled field trials, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences.

  • Policy makingDo think-tanks matter? Expert says “think again”

    A recently published study found that public sector workers judged studies and reports generated by scholars affiliated with universities to be more credible than reports or studies purported to be from a think-tank or advocacy group.

  • EducationNew UAlbany undergrad major in emergency preparedness, homeland security, cybersecurity

    The University of Albany’s College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity has received approval from the New York State Education Department to establish the bachelor’s degree program in emergency preparedness, homeland security, and cybersecurity at the start of the 2016-2017 academic year. The college is the first stand-alone academic institution in the United States dedicated to emergency preparedness, homeland security, and cybersecurity.

  • Coastal threatsNew research predicts a doubling of coastal erosion by mid-century in Hawai’i

    Chronic erosion dominates the sandy beaches of Hawai’i, causing beach loss as it damages homes, infrastructure, and critical habitat. Researchers have long understood that global sea level rise will affect the rate of coastal erosion. Newresearch team developed a simple model to assess future erosion hazards under higher sea levels.

  • Water securityCape Cod susceptible to potential effects of sea-level rise

    Cape Cod is vulnerable to rising water tables and, in some areas, groundwater inundation as a result of rising sea levels, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study (USGS). Groundwater inundation occurs when the water table reaches or exceeds land surface. The challenges associated with the issue are likely to become more prevalent as seas rise. Depending on the severity, it may make areas unsuitable for residential and commercial development.

  • TerrorismThere is no manual on how to defeat ISIS – “we’re writing it”: John Kerry

    Speaking Thursday at the opening of a 3-day meeting in Washington, D.C. of thirty countries currently engaged in fighting ISIS, Secretary of States Joh Kerry said, “We are engaged in an historic effort. Nothing like this coalition has ever before been assembled. And we’re not following a manual on antiterrorist coalition-building, we’re writing it.”

  • TerrorismBrazil's police arrest 10 ISIS sympathizers suspected of Olympics terror plot

    With two weeks to go to the opening of the Olympic Games in Brazil, the Brazilian police have arrested ten alleged ISIS sympathizers in the states of São Paulo and Parana on suspicion of planning acts of terrorism during the games. Two other suspects are still at large. Brazil’s intelligence agency ABIN has worked with foreign intelligence services to provide the information that led to the arrests.

  • TerrorismNice terrorist had accomplices, was planning the attack for a year

    Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, the truck driver who killed eighty-five people in Nice on Bastille Day, had accomplices – and he had been planning his attack for months, the prosecutor leading the investigation said. Prosecutor Francois Molins said five suspects were facing terrorism charges for their alleged roles in helping the driver.

  • ForensicsSeparating the DNA of identical twins

    Since its first use in the 1980s — a breakthrough dramatized in recent ITV series “Code of a Killer” — DNA profiling has been a vital tool for forensic investigators. Now researchers at the University of Huddersfield have solved one of its few limitations by successfully testing a technique for distinguishing between the DNA — or genetic fingerprint — of identical twins.

  • Nuclear powerAs nuclear power plants close, states need to bet big on energy storage

    By Eric Daniel Fournier and Alex Ricklefs

    Nuclear power plants saw their heyday in the early 1970s and were praised for their ability to produce large amounts of electricity at a constant rate without the use of fossil fuels. We are now observing a trend whereby long-running nuclear power plants are shutting down, and of utilities moving toward renewable electricity generation, such as solar and wind. Can utilities supply electricity around the clock using these alternative generation sources? And crucially, can energy storage technologies provide the power on demand that traditional generators have done? It is clear that energy storage is the major limitation to achieving a carbon-free electricity grid. Careful planning is needed to ensure that energy storage systems are installed to take over the baseline load duties currently held by natural gas and nuclear power, as renewables and energy efficiency may not be able to carry the burden.

  • Nuclear powerFukushima and the oceans: What do we know, five years on?

    A major international review of the state of the oceans five years after the Fukushima disaster shows that radiation levels are decreasing rapidly except in the harbor area close to the nuclear plant itself where ongoing releases remain a concern. At the same time, the review’s lead author expresses concern at the lack of ongoing support to continue the radiation assessment, which he says is vital to understand how the risks are changing.

  • WindstormsNIST leads federal effort to save lives, property from windstorms

    Congress recently designated NIST to be the lead agency for the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program (NWIRP). In one of its first actions as lead agency, NIST has announced in the Federal Register that it is establishing a panel of external experts to “provide advice on windstorm impact reduction and represent related scientific, architectural and engineering disciplines.”

  • EducationPenn State adds new homeland security offerings

    Penn State is expanding its portfolio in homeland security with a new graduate-level certificate that focuses on how to ensure that hospitals and medical care facilities stay functional during emergencies and disasters. In the coursework for the 15-credit certificate, students will learn the ways to prepare hospitals for and respond to emergencies, such as mass-casualty events, floods, earthquakes, disease outbreaks, or terrorist attacks.

  • STEM educationEnrollment in U.S. science and engineering graduate school increases

    After remaining essentially flat for the past two years, the number of full-time graduate students enrolled in science and engineering (S&E) programs rose by 2.4 percent in 2013, to nearly 425,000 students. The increase was largely due to a 7.9 percent rise in full-time enrollment of foreign graduate students on temporary visas. Foreign enrollment hit an all-time high of 168,297 students in 2013, or 39.6 percent of the full-time S&E graduate student population—up from 35.9 percent in 2008.

  • Domestic terrorismBaton Rouge gunman was a member of black “sovereign citizen” group

    Gavin Long, the 29-year old former Marine who on Saturday killed three Baton Rouge police officers, was a member of a black antigovernment sovereign citizen group whose members believe they are indigenous to the United States and beyond the reach of the federal government. Members of the Washitaw Nation believe that they are descendants of black people who occupied the North American continent tens of thousands of years before white Europeans arrived, and, therefore, they fall outside federal authority.