• Hate groups

    The right-wing terrorist threat is more significant and more challenging than perhaps the public debate gives it credit for,” the U.K.’s counterterrorism chief has said. “There are many Western countries that have extreme right-wing challenges and in quite a number of those the groups we are worried about here are making connections with them and networking,” he said, declining to give further details. Last year the British authorities foiled ten Islamist and four far-right terrorist plots.

  • Chemical agents

    Several Food and Drug Administration-approved antidotes are available for cyanide poisoning, but they have severe limitations. To develop effective antidotes for chemical agents, such as cyanide and mustard gas, scientists need analytical methods that track not only the level of exposure but also how the drug counteracts the effects of the chemical.

  • Designer pathogens

    Julius Caesar is said to have stated “alea iacta est” (the die is cast) as he led his army across the Rubicon river, triggering a point of no return in Roman history. In many ways, the horsepox synthesis, published by two Canadian scientists last month, is considered a new Rubicon for synthetic biology and the life sciences. Experts say that now that we’ve ventured across the river, it seems that we may be learning more about dual-use research in general. One expert notes that “Beyond the immediate issue of whether the horsepox work should have been performed (or published), the horsepox synthesis story highlights a more general challenge facing dual-use research in biotechnology: the unilateralist’s curse.” Research unilateralism contains an “action bias”: Horsepox synthesis is more likely to occur when scientists act independently than when they agree to a decision as a group.

  • Terrorism

    Information from Israeli military intelligence helped prevent the downing of an Australian passenger jet, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said. An Australian government minister confirmed that Israeli information helped in finding the attack suspects. Two Lebanese brothers living in Australia tried to smuggle a powerful bomb, concealed inside a meat grinder, onto an Etihad jet scheduled to fly from Sydney to Abu Dhabi.

  • Dirty bombs

    Researchers have developed a new technique that uses existing technologies to detect potential airborne radiological materials in hours instead of days. at present, emergency responders who are characterizing potential radiological risk need to take an air sample and ship it to a radiochemistry lab after preliminary screening analysis. The process means it can take days or weeks to get quality results that authorities can use to make informed decisions.

  • Medical countermeasures

    Preparedness against a chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear (CBRN) threat requires a sustained and multi-pronged approach by both the public and private sectors. An essential component of this strategy is the development, procurement, and stockpiling of diagnostic tests, drugs, and vaccines in response to a potential event, as well as the ability to distribute these products where needed.

     

  • Biothreats

    Five finalists were announced today for Stage 1 of the $300,000 Hidden Signals Challenge. Issued by the DHS S&T, in collaboration with the Office of Health Affairs National Biosurveillance Integration Center (NBIC), the challenge calls for the design of an early warning system that uses existing data to uncover emerging biothreats. The announcement was made at the American Society for Microbiology’s 2018 ASM Biothreats meeting.

  • Florida shooting

    A spokesperson for the white supremacist group Republic of Florida (ROF) claimed to the Anti-Defamation League on Thursday that Nikolas Cruz, the man charged with the previous day’s deadly shooting spree at a Parkland, Florida, high school, was associated with his group. If Cruz’s role is confirmed, the Parkland school shooting would be the second school shooting by a white supremacist in the past two months. In December 2017, another young white supremacist, William Atchison, engaged in a shooting spree at a high school in northwest New Mexico, killing two students before shooting himself.

  • School shooting

    When deadly school shootings like the one that took place on Valentine’s Day in Broward County, Florida occur, often they are followed by calls for more stringent security measures. While some of these measures seem sensible, overall there is little empirical evidence that such security measures decrease the likelihood of school shootings. Surveillance cameras were powerless to stop the carnage in Columbine and school lock-down policies did not save the children at Sandy Hook. We believe what is missing from the discussion is the idea of an educational response. Current policy responses do not address the fundamental question of why so many mass shootings take place in schools. To answer this question, we need to get to the heart of how students experience school and the meaning that schools have in American life. It is time to think about school shootings not as a problem of security, but also as a problem of education.

  • Homegrown terrorism

    University of Arkansas researchers recently received a $716,000 grant from the National Institute of Justice to study where terrorists prepare their acts as opposed to where they commit domestic acts of terrorism. The goals of the three-year study are to better understand spatial connections between a terrorism incident and the steps leading to it, and to create a model that could help assess terrorism risks for specific geographic areas or locations.

  • Bioweapons

    The suspicious letter which was sent to Vanessa Trump, the wife of Donald Trump Jr., was postmarked from Boston and contained corn starch, law enforcement officials told CNN. Vanessa Trump and two other people were taken to New York Presbyterian-Weill Cornell Medical Center as a precautionary measure.

  • Israel-Syria

    The incursion on an Iranian drone into Israeli airspace and the subsequent Israeli response on Saturday shows that Israel considers Iran’s efforts “to consolidate their strategic position” in Syria and Lebanon to threaten the Jewish state “unsustainable,” two experts say. They characterized the downing of the drone after it entered Israeli airspace and the subsequent attacks by the Israeli Air Force against targets in Syria as “the most significant clash to date between Israel and the so-called Axis of Resistance—Iran, Syria’s Assad regime and Hezbollah—since Iran began deploying soldiers and proxies to Syria six years ago.”

  • Hate groups

    The 11 August 2017 Unite the Right event in Charlottesville, Virginia, brought white supremacists of all stripes together for a weekend of protest that turned to deadly violence. Six months later, what has happened to the far-flung and disparate groups that make up America’s white supremacist movement? Analysts say that for America’s white supremacist movement, the period since Charlottesville has been a time marked by seismic structural shifts and more than a few power struggles. Divisions have deepened, and the spirit of solidarity that animated the racist crowds in Charlottesville has long since dissipated. And yet, by some measures, evidence of white supremacist activism and engagement is more conspicuous than ever before.

  • Hate groups

    In a new study, University of Utah geographers sought to understand the factors fueling hate across space. The researchers found that in all U.S. regions, less education, population change, and ethnic diversity correlated with more hate groups, as did areas with higher poverty rates and more conservative political affiliation. The Utah geographers assert that organized hate is motivated by the desire to protect a place from the perceived threats that “outsiders” pose to identity and socioeconomic security. The contemporary expression, “hate,” is shaped by the intermingling histories and present-day conditions of a place. A hate group is defined as an organized group or ideology with beliefs or practices that malign an entire class of people due to their immutable characteristics.

  • Air travel security

    Students from James Madison University (JMU) will be tackling air travel security issues for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) as part of their spring semester of the Hacking 4 Defense (H4D) class. The H4D team will look for innovative approaches that will enable the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to be able to associate passengers with their personal belongings.

  • Israel-Iran

    For the first time, Iran sent a military drone from one of its bases in Syria, in response to which Israel, for the first time, bombed Iranian targets in Syria, killing several Iranian soldiers. An Israeli jet was shot down by an Iranian anti-aircraft missile, and in response Israel bombed and destroyed nearly half of Syria’s air defense systems, in addition to attacking other Syrian and Iranian targets.

     

  • Israel-Iran

    The interception of an Iranian drone that targeted Israel suggests that the chances for a war between Israel and Iran-led forces, the first Israel-Shia war, have increased, General (ret.) Amos Yadlin, the former head of Israel’s military intelligence, said. “There is a determination by Iran to build a military force in Syria and Lebanon, and there is determination by Israel not to let it happen. And the two vectors are colliding,” Yadlin said. “Maybe instead of the first northern war, we should call it first Shia war, Israel-Shia war. Because it will be the Shia axis, led by Iran, with Hezbollah and the Syrian regime and Shia militia from all over the Middle East.”

  • Hemispheric security

    The Colombian FARC’s political movement announced earlier today (Friday) that it was suspending its campaigning activities for the 9 March legislative elections because threats and violent protests have disrupted its rallies in several cities in Colombia. Two years ago the Colombian government signed a peace agreement with FARC, ending a violent insurgency which began in 1964. Colombian are evenly divided over whether or not an accord with FARC was a good idea, but polls show that the overwhelming majority of Colombians – around 80 percent — believe that even with a signed accord, former guerrilla members should be in prison, and, if not in prison, that they should at least not play a role in national politics.  

  • Designer pathogens

    Synthetic biology has led to the creation of new products, markets, companies, and industries. At the same time, the technology poses potential risks to biosafety and biosecurity, as recently demonstrated by the synthesis of horsepox virus, a cousin of variola, the virus which causes smallpox. DHS S&T sponsored a workshop to discuss the evolving role of databases which contain genetic sequences of pathogens and toxins — termed “sequences of interest” — which pose safety or security concerns.

  • Terrorism

    Mediterranean migrant boats headed for Europe could be carrying fugitive ISIS fighters, Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano has asserted at a Rome conference, where he has been hosting African, EU, and UN officials. “It is in our interests, to defeat the business model of traffickers whose profits are used to finance organized crime and, we have the evidence for this, terrorism,” Alfano said. Analysts note that as a result of increased operations by the EU’s border agency, Frontex, in the central Mediterranean, migration pressure has shifted west to Algeria and Morocco as migrants, still intent on reaching Europe, head for Spain, some via its African outposts of Ceuta and Melilla.