• U.S.: UN should investigate war crimes committed by Russia, Syria in Aleppo

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that the military campaign by Russia and Syria against civilians in Aleppo amounts to a war crime, and that the UN must launch a war crime investigation into the two countries’ actions. Military analysts noted that the Russian and Syrian campaign aims not only to kill civilians directly by dropping barrel bombs on Sunni neighborhood. Assad and his Russian allies deliberately increase the death toll by using bunker-busting munitions systematically to destroy the city’s civilian infrastructure — hospitals, clinics, water treatment facilities, and power stations. The analysts say that Assad’s ultimate goal is to make life in the city impossible, thus forcing hundreds of thousands of Sunnis to flee, making it easier for his Alawite and Shi’a forces to control the city once they recapture it from the rebels.

  • Clown threats may be unnerving, but they are not terrorism

    The fear of clowns has been around for decades, perpetuated by Stephen King’s 1986 novel “It” as well as dozens of TV shows and movies. But what previously was an underlying nervousness recently has mushroomed into a more immediate threat as a result of media reports of clowns approaching or appearing to threaten children. Some have called the incidents “clown terrorism,” but a terrorism expert says that despite the growing sense of fear, it is important to avoid calling the threats and attacks acts of terrorism.

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  • A military view on climate change: It’s eroding our national security and we should prepare for it

    U.S. military leaders and defense planners have been studying climate change for years from a perspective that rarely is mentioned in the news: as a national security threat. And they agree that it poses serious risks. Here is how military planners see this issue: We know that the climate is changing, we know why it’s changing, and we understand that change will have large impacts on our national security. Yet as a nation we still only begrudgingly take precautions. The next president will have a choice to make. One option is to continue down the path that the Obama administration has defined and develop policies, budgets, plans, and programs that flesh out the institutional framework now in place. Alternatively, he or she can call climate change a hoax manufactured by foreign governments and ignore the flashing red lights of increasing risk. The world’s ice caps will not care who is elected or what is said. They will simply continue to melt, as dictated by laws of physics. But Americans will care deeply about our policy response. Our nation’s security is at stake.

  • DHS S&T announces 10 start-ups for first responder technology innovation

    DHS S&T has announced the selection of ten startup companies to be part of EMERGE 2016: Wearable Technology, a program designed to bring startups, accelerators, and other strategic partners together in a common research and development effort. The program is focused on wearable technology that can be modified specifically for first responders.

  • Terrorism fallout shelters: Is it time to resurrect nuclear civil defense?

    Fifty-five years ago, on 6 October 1961, President John F. Kennedy advised Americans to build an underground protective room, commonly known as a “fallout shelter,” in their homes. The American people heeded his advice and began an enormous grassroots effort to construct fallout shelters in every private residence and public building. Today, smaller nations and terrorist groups, such as al-Qaeda, are seeking nuclear weapons. Some nations, like North Korea, already have them. Others may be a decade away. It is not unreasonable to believe that the use of a single nuclear weapon by a rogue nation or a terrorist group now poses a more likely scenario for a nuclear confrontation than a nuclear war between Russia and the United States. We need a strategy to protect ourselves against these adversaries, and right now we don’t have one, except screening cargo. If we don’t find a more effective strategy to thwart nuclear terrorism soon, we may be forced to go back to fallout shelters as our only protective option, whether we like it or not.

  • A nerve agent antidote taken before a chemical weapons attack

    Nerve agents are molecular weapons that invade the body and sabotage part of the nervous system, causing horrific symptoms and sometimes death within minutes. Few antidotes exist, and those that do must be administered soon after an attack. Now, scientists an early-stage development of a potential treatment that soldiers or others could take before such agents are unleashed.

  • FCC updates, strengthens Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA)

    The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) two weeks ago adopted rules to update and strengthen Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA), a system that delivers critical warnings and information to Americans on their wireless phones. The updated rules are intended to promote the wider use and effectiveness of this lifesaving service, especially for state and local authorities to convey important information to their communities.

  • Comparing U.S. deaths from terrorism vs. gun violence

    The number of Americans killed in acts of terrorism – both on U.S. soil and abroad — between 2001 and 2014 is 3,412 (including the victims of the 9/11 attacks). During the same period, 440,095 people died by firearms on U.S. soil (homicides, accidents, and suicides). In 2014, for every one American killed by an act of terrorism in the United States or abroad, 1,049 Americans died in the United States because of guns.

  • Yahoo stealthily scanned customer e-mails on behalf of U.S. intelligence agencies

    A report on Tuesday accuses Yahoo of secretly building a customized software program to search all of its customers’ incoming e-mails for specific information provided by the U.S. intelligence company. The company, complying with classified NSA and FBI directives, scanned hundreds of millions of Yahoo Mail accounts. Yahoo is the first U.S. Internet company to agree to such a blanket request.

  • Russia’s ultimatum to US: Reduce commitment to NATO, lift sanctions – or nuclear deal is off

    The Kremlin, in an unprecedented series of ultimatums on Monday, said Russia would suspend an agreement it had signed with the United States to turn weapons-grade plutonium into nuclear reactor fuel unless the United States rescinds the sanctions imposed on Russia because of its annexation of Crimea – and also cuts its military commitments to NATO. The Kremlin said that both the economic sanctions and the U.S. military commitments to its NATO allies are “unfriendly” acts to ward Russia.

  • From 2012 to 2014, FBI submitted 561 Section215 applications: DOJ OIG

    The Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) last week released a June 2016 report examining the FBI’s use of the investigative authority granted by Section 215 of the Patriot Act between 2012 and 2014. The report notes that from 2012 through 2014 the DOJ, on behalf of the FBI, submitted 561 Section 215 applications to the FISA Court, all of which were approved.

  • The apartheid bomb: First comprehensive history of South Africa's nuke program

    The Institute for Science and International Security has today (Friday) released a new book, Revisiting South Africa’s Nuclear Weapons Program: Its History, Dismantlement, and Lessons for Today, by David Albright with Andrea Stricker. It is the first comprehensive, technically oriented history of South Africa’s nuclear weapons program and its dismantlement. The lessons of this dynamic and complicated nuclear weapons program remain valid today. “Although none of the nine states that currently possess nuclear weapons appears on the verge of following South Africa’s example, the South African case contains many valuable lessons in non-proliferation, disarmament, export controls, and verification,” the Institute says.

  • Countering enemy IEDs in culverts

    Culverts are creeks or streams that run under roads to prevent flooding, and that terrorists often use these areas to kill soldiers. The Joint Improvised-threat Defeat Agency (JIDA) challenge, held 13-21 September at Fort Benning, tested industry vendor equipment from around the United States in order to counter enemy improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in culverts.

  • Sudan used chemical weapons against civilians in Darfur

    An Amnesty International investigation has gathered evidence of the repeated use of what are believed to be chemical weapons against civilians, including very young children, by Sudanese government forces in one of the most remote regions of Darfur over the past eight months. The investigators, using satellite imagery, more than 200 in-depth interviews with survivors, and expert analysis of dozens of images showing babies and young children with chemical weapons-related injuries, the investigation indicates that at least thirty likely chemical attacks have taken place in the Jebel Marra area of Darfur since January 2016. The most recent was on 9 September 2016.

  • High-tech early warning system for hurricanes, tornados, and volcanic eruptions

    Earlier this year, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) was able to detect a gravity wave wafting through space from two colliding black holes billions of years ago. Now a group of researchers has built a much smaller ring laser interferometer to explore how it could detect geophysical effects such as earthquake-generated ground rotation and infrasound from convective storms and have demonstrated the technology’s potential as an early-warning system for natural disasters.