• Dirty bombsQuicker response to airborne radiological threats

    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.

  • Florida shootingFlorida white supremacist group admits ties to Parkland School shooter

    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.

  • GunsWhy American teenagers can buy AR-15s

    Nikolas Cruz was too young to buy a pistol at a gun shop. But no law prevented the teenager from purchasing the assault-style rifle he allegedly used to kill at least 17 people at a high school in Parkland, Florida. Florida is not unique. In most states, people can legally buy assault-style weapons before they can drink a beer. Federal law stipulates that gun stores and other licensed dealers may not sell a handgun to anyone under the age of 21, but they can sell long guns — that is, rifles and shotguns — to anyone who is at least 18. Twenty-three states have set minimum age requirements for the ownership of long guns, ranging from 14 in Minnesota to 21 in Illinois and Hawaii.

  • Nuclear weaponsQuestioning the need for forward-deployed U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe

    NTI has just released “Building a Safe, Secure, and Credible NATO Nuclear Posture,” a report addressing the security risks, credibility, and financial and political costs of maintaining NATO’s current nuclear posture, including forward-deployed U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe. The report urges U.S. and NATO leaders to re-evaluate whether storing nuclear weapons at multiple sites across multiple countries makes sense in light of today’s threats and escalating costs—and, importantly, whether the weapons are still required elements of NATO defense policy.

  • Mass shootingUnderstanding mass shootings in America

    At least 17 people were killed Wednesday afternoon in a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The gunman, a former student at the school, was armed with a rifle and multiple magazines, officials said. The shooting came 23 days after a 15-year-old student shot 16 of his classmates, two of them fatally, at Marshall County High School, in Benton, Kentucky. The FBI does not count “mass shootings,” but rather “mass murder,” which the bureau defines as an event in which four or more people are killed — excluding the perpetrator, and not including domestic violence incidents — at one time. Despite the attention they garner, mass shootings account for just 2 percent of gun deaths in the United States.

  • School shootingWhy security measures won’t stop school shootings

    By Bryan Warnick, Benjamin A. Johnson, and Sam Rocha

    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.

  • Quick takes // By Ben FrankelCompeting rights: Florida shooting highlights tension between two rights

    Many Americans accept the current gun trade-off: Much easier access to guns relative to other advanced societies – with a far larger number of gun fatalities relative to these advanced societies. Unless this general acceptance of the current trade-off changes – and this would amount to a cultural change — we are not going to see any meaningful legislative changes to the issue of access to guns. But the question that events such as the Florida school shooting raises should still be considered: It has to do with the clash between two constitutionally protected rights: The right to bear arms and the right for life and liberty. Americans have the right to bear arms, but they also have a fundamental right to life, that is, the right to live, which also means the right not to be killed by another human being. To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln’s words (in his “All the laws but one” response to Chief Justice Taney): Should we be so adamant and so narrowly restrictive in our refusal to read the Second Amendment more broadly, even if the result of this absolutism is that other rights – fundamental rights, like the right to life —are being eroded?

  • Spy lizardsKhamenei military adviser: West uses lizards to spy on Iran’s nuclear program

    Saying that their skins absorb “atomic waves,” a top military adviser to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei charged that Western countries use “lizards, chameleons” to spy on Iran’s nuclear program. Hassan Firuzabadi, a former chief-of-staff for Iran’s army, said that the spy lizards were released in various places in Iran to find out where inside the Islamic republic of Iran we have uranium mines and where we are engaged in atomic activities.”

  • Israel-SyriaExperts: Drone incursion shows that Israeli-Iranian status quo is unsustainable

    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.”

  • Israel-IranIsrael destroys Iranian drone, hits targets in Syria after losing F-16

    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-IranFmr. IDF intelligence chief: Shootdown of Iranian drone could be prelude to Israel-Shia war

    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.”

  • IED detectionSpotting IEDs from a safe distance

    Landmines, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and other homemade bombs struck 6,461 people worldwide in 2015, killing at least 1,672. Survivors are often left with devastating injuries. In a study published in BMJ Open, 70 percent of people hit by IEDS in Afghanistan required multiple amputations. These homemade bombs are often hidden—nestled in bushes, buried underground, or sometimes stuffed inside other objects. To keep soldiers away from these deadly weapons, researchers are developing technology that can spot explosive hazards precisely and from a safe distance.

  • Secure communicationA quantum leap for quantum communication

    Quantum communication, which ensures absolute data security, is one of the most advanced branches of the “second quantum revolution.” In quantum communication, the participating parties can detect any attempt at eavesdropping by resorting to the fundamental principle of quantum mechanics — a measurement affects the measured quantity. Thus, the mere existence of an eavesdropper can be detected by identifying the traces that his measurements of the communication channel leave behind. The major drawback of quantum communication today is the slow speed of data transfer, which is limited by the speed at which the parties can perform quantum measurements. Researchers have devised a method that overcomes this speed limit, and enables an increase in the rate of data transfer by more than 5 orders of magnitude.

  • Alarms & alertsLessons from a false-alarm

    On 13 January, by contrast, residents and visitors in Hawaii were alerted to an impending missile attack for which they had perhaps twenty minutes to take action. After thirty-eight minutes, they were told the alert was a false alarm, triggered by an emergency worker’s mistake. “We know a lot about what people do in terms of a hurricane, how they make decisions on such things as whether to evacuate, but this incident in Hawaii was different,” said an expert who went to Hawaii to study how people reacted to the alert. While many residents and tourists reported being frightened during the incident, the most common reaction was confusion during the alert and frustration after learning that it had been issued in error.

  • WMD detectionEpigenetic technology to help in fight against WMD proliferation

    Intelligence officers in the field, in trying to determine the presence or use of WMDs, would benefit from being able to check the epigenetic markers of an individual who may have come into contact with WMDs, read a history of any time he has been exposed to threat agents, and start piecing together a chain of evidence right there in the field, in real time. The epigenome is biology’s record keeper. Though DNA does not change over a single lifetime, a person’s environment may leave marks on the DNA that modify how that individual’s genes are expressed. DARPA’s new Epigenetic CHaracterization and Observation (ECHO) program aims to build a field-deployable platform technology that quickly reads someone’s epigenome.