• Nuclear matters

    Since 2008 the Department of Energy’s Web site offered the public a virtual how-to manual for attacking a nuclear plant with an airplane; The document showed the areas that a plane could hit at a reactor with maximum effect, and it cited buildings or targets that a plane could strike and cause radioactive release; the document has now been removed

  • One of the more controversial schemes of the Rumsfeld-era Pentagon was the Prompt Global Strike: equipping ICMSs with conventional warheads, and using the missiles to strike any target around the world — such as terrorists fleeing the scene of an attack — within an hour; there was only one problem with the plan: the missile launch could start a Third World War because, as a congressional; study said: “For many minutes during their flight patterns, these missiles might appear to be headed towards targets in [Russia and China}”

  • The Taliban is suspected in three separate poisonous gas attacks on girls schools in northern Afghanistan; eighty-eight girls were admitted to hospitals with what doctors describe as symptoms associated with “unknown gasses”; the Taliban banned education for women during its rule from 1996 to 2001, and girls education is still a controversial issue in Afghanistan today

  • The war against terrorists require weapons that can destroy targets in densely populated urban areas — without causing unnecessary damage to the surrounding neighborhood; the U.S. military has developed the new FLM (Focused Lethality Munition) bomb which will use a composite (carbon fiber) casing and replace some of the normal 127.2 kg (280 pounds) of explosives with 93 kg of explosives surrounded by high density filler (fine tungsten powder)

  • Some lawmakers want to toughen up the chemical plant safety legislation, due for renewal before it expires this fall; the chemical industry prefers the continuation of the current measure, which was passed in 2007; the key debate is over whether or not DHS should be in a position to impose the use of safer and less volatile chemical on those plants closest to large urban centers; the industry points out that many plants have already made the switch voluntarily

  • Many building materials — like cement and brick — are extremely porous; getting contaminants off surfaces like these is difficult, since they can inhabit cracks and pores; cleaning up chemical-contaminated structures can be difficult, costly, and time-consuming; what if terrorists attacked an urban center with chemicals? Researchers say the answer is to use laser to decontaminate an area after a terrorist attack or an industrial accident

  • The current chemical plant security law was passed in 2006 and expires in October; some lawmakers want to strengthen it, while the chemical industry want the law renewed without changes, saying chemical plants have taken steps to prevent accidental or terrorist-induced releases of dangerous compounds

  • World Cup watch

    In advance of the June-July 2010 World Cup tournament, South Africa this weekend is conducting a comprehensive aviation security drill; the exercise will resemble security precautions which will be put in place during the soccer event, which begins 11 June; an expansive security envelope will be established around the stadiums where the games are played, and other air travel restriction will go into place; the drill this weekend will examine how the SA security forces respond to various violations of these security rules

  • Al Qaeda terrorists fire two Grad rockets from the Egyptian-controlled Sinai peninsula at the Israeli resort town of Eilat, at the northern tip of the Red Sea; the rocket miss Eilat — one hit the neighboring Jordanian port city of Aqaba, the second fell into the sea; in 2005 al Qaeda terrorists used the same area of the Sinai to fire Katyusha rockets at a U.S. warship docked in the port of Aqaba

  • Nuclear matters

    There is a lot of weapon-grade nuclear material in the world — 1,600 tons of HEU and 500 tons of separated plutonium; keeping these stockpiles safe will take more than barbed wire; one method is a seal for HEU fuel rods with a pattern of flaws visible on ultrasound scans that cannot be removed without leaving telltale signs; the seals were installed last year in Romania and Pakistan; scientists work on other detection and safety methods

  • The future commander of U.S. Northern Command says that the U.S. military is increasingly concerned with small, hard-to-detect terror plots; the nation’s most serious challenge, he added, is protecting the country from extremists using weapons of mass destruction

  • The Israeli security authorities are now alerting pet owners that their pets, if they look like “suspicious animals,” may be subjected to X-ray screening before boarding; if the owners refused, the pet would not be allowed on the flight; more than four million pets are flown across the world each year

  • The Oklahoma bombing: 15 years on

    MSNBC is airing ‘The McVeigh Tapes: Confessions of an American Terrorist,’ tonight at 9:99pm EST; the film draws on forty-five hours of never-before-released interview audiotapes recorded during McVeigh’s prison stay; the film reveals the bomber’s descriptions of the planning and execution of the horrific attack and offers insight into how a decorated American soldier became a dangerous, anti-government terrorist

  • The Israeli security authorities are now alerting pet owners that their pets, if they look like “suspicious animals,” may be subjected to X-ray screening before boarding; if the owners refused, the pet would not be allowed on the flight; more than four million pets are flown across the world each year

  • Nuclear matters

    The nations of the world together have in their possession about 1.6 million kilograms of highly enriched uranium (HEU) and about 500,000 kilograms of plutonium; it takes only about 25 kilograms of HEU or eight kilograms of plutonium to make a crude nuclear bomb; thus the weapon-grade material now available in the world could yield 64,000 HEU-based bombs and 62,500 plutonium-based bombs

  • Nuclear matters

    Reviews ordered by President Obama have found weaknesses in the U.S. government’s stewardship of its nuclear cache, from weapons to the ingredients and classified information that go into them; before opening the nuclear summit earlier this week, Obama said that “Unfortunately, we have a situation in which there is a lot of loose nuclear material around the world”; this is true for the United States as well

  • Domestic terrorism

    DHS officials and lawmakers have been warning for months that law enforcement agencies are unprepared to deal with what they say is a mounting threat. Experts note that Michigan, in particular, is vulnerable because of its growing number of anti-government militia groups and the attractiveness of its large Arab-American population to radical Muslim groups

  • FCC will move forward on the with key recommendations in its national broadband plan — even though a federal appeals court this week undermined the agency’s legal authority to regulate high-speed Internet access; plan calls for advancing “robust and secure public safety communications networks”

  • Hamas claims Israeli intelligence uses information Palestinians from Gaza put in their profiles on Facebook to pressure them to become spies for Israel; it is not clear how someone can be blackmailed or coerced into a risky spying career using information in the public domain, and it seems more likely Israel is using social networking to map contact networks

  • The United States is replacing broad screening of all in-coming travelers with a more targeted approach; the intelligence-based security system is devised to raise flags about travelers whose names do not appear on no-fly watch lists, but whose travel patterns or personal traits create suspicions