• NYC terrorist captured: What we know so far

    Ahmad Khan Rahami, the suspect in placing two bombs in Manhattan on Saturday – one of them exploded, injuring twenty-nine people, while the other was disarmed — has been arrested in Linden, New Jersey. He was spotted by residents sleeping in a vestibule next to a bar, and they called the police. Fire was exchanged as the police closed in on him, and two policemen, and Rahami himself, were injured, but not seriously. The Rahami family’s chicken restaurant had problems city ordinances in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and in 2011 the family sued that city and its police department for discrimination and harassment.

  • X-ray vision: Bomb technicians strengthen their hand with Sandia’s XTK software

    X-Ray Toolkit (XTK), an image-processing and analysis software developed at Sandia National Laboratories, has been adopted by the military and emergency response communities in the United States and around he world. “XTK is the standard in the field not only nationally, but internationally. It made the average bomb tech a better bomb tech,” said Craig Greene, a special agent and bomb technician at the Albuquerque, New Mexico FBI. “In the past twenty years, the bomb technician community has progressed from the Stone Age to the twenty-first century in terms of equipment and procedures, and XTK is a major part of that progression.”

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  • What causes mass panic in emergency situations?

    In emergency situations such as terrorist attacks, natural catastrophes, and fires, there is always a risk of mass panic leading to deadly crowd disasters. But what causes mass panic and where are the danger zones? Because these questions are difficult to study in the real world, researchers exposed experiment participants to an emergency in a three-dimensional virtual environment.

  • Climate change poses “strategically significant risk” to U.S. national security

    Twenty-five national security and military leaders the other day released a statement declaring that: “the effects of climate change present a strategically-significant risk to U.S. national security,” and urging a “comprehensive policy” in response. The authors of the statement say that stresses resulting from climate change can increase the likelihood of intra or international conflict, state failure, mass migration, and the creation of additional ungoverned spaces, across a range of strategically-significant regions. They add that the impacts of climate change will place significant strains on international financial stability through contributing to supply line disruptions for major global industries in the manufacturing, energy, agriculture, and water sectors, disrupting the viability of the insurance industry, and generally increasing the political and financial risks of doing business in an increasingly unstable global environment.

  • Disaster communications: Lessons from 9/11

    What we and the other responders learned on 9/11, under the pressure of a disaster of incredible scale, scope and urgency – not to mention the international media spotlight – went on to spark major changes in U.S. emergency response communication. By ensuring that – no matter what happens – we can communicate with each other, the emergency response community keeps the memory of 9/11 alive in our own way every single day.

  • U.S. destroys large ISIS chemical weapons manufacturing facility

    The U.S. on Monday destroyed an ISIS chemical manufacturing facility in Iraq, which posed a “significant chemical [weapons] threat.” Footage of Monday air strikes showed twelve aircraft hitting a sprawling industrial site in Mosul. The hits were followed by huge explosions in multiple buildings and storage facilities. The buildings were quickly engulfed by flames, and heavy plumes of dark smoke rose into the air. USAF spokesman said that fifty individual targets were hit in the attack.

  • Command under attack: What we’ve learned since 9/11 about managing crises

    Major disasters pose difficult challenges for responders on the ground and for higher-level officials trying to direct operations. Some events are novel because of their scale, while others involve challenges that no one may ever have envisioned. Communities need to bring their response agencies together regularly to plan and practice. This can develop and maintain knowledge and relationships that will enable them to work together effectively under the high stress of a future attack or disaster. Any community can do this, but many have not. Where training and practice have taken place, these tools have worked. They can be improved, but the most important priority is getting more communities to practice using them more regularly, before the next disaster. One important way this nation can honor the victims of 9/11 is by using these lessons to create the conditions for even better coordination in future events.

  • U.S., Israel sign record 10-Year, $38 billion defense package

    After nearly a year of negotiations, Israel and the United States have signed a record $38 billion, 10-year military aid package. The deal is “the single largest military assistance package — with any country — in American history,” American ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro said

  • New forensic method identifies people using human hair proteins

    In an important breakthrough for the forensic science community, researchers have developed the first-ever biological identification method that exploits the information encoded in proteins of human hair. The new protein identification technique will offer another tool to law enforcement authorities for crime scene investigations and archaeologists, as the method has been able to detect protein in human hair more than 250 years old.

  • Tsunami evacuation plans: A case study in Alameda, California

    Tsunami evacuation planning in coastal communities is typically based on maximum evacuation zones that reflect a combination of all potential extreme tsunamis. However, in the case of a smaller tsunami, this approach may result in more people being evacuated than need to be, and in doing so, may overly disrupt the local economy, and strain resources needed during emergency response. Evacuations are intended to keep a population safe and reduce losses, but what are the costs of lost work and wages, or accidental injuries that may occur during an evacuation?

  • N. Korea’s test of miniaturized warhead, submarine-launched ballistic missile, are game changers

    North Korea has conducted its fifth nuclear test last night, marking the 68th anniversary of the nation’s founding. Military analysts say the test shows a worrisome improvement in North Korea’s nuclear capabilities: It was the most powerful nuclear test to date, with a 10-kiloton yield – slightly smaller than the yield of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, estimated to have been between twelve and eighteen kilotons. The warhead tested in the explosion was miniaturized, indicating that North Korea now has the capability to mount a nuclear warhead on a missile. Last night’s test, together with North Korea’s proven progress in launching ballistic missile from submarines, mean that the country is getting closer to possessing a nuclear arsenal capable of hitting the United States.

  • Report: Hamas spends $100 million annually to build up its military infrastructure

    Hamas spends an annual $100 million on its military infrastructure in order to prepare for its next war against Israel. Roughly $40 million is spent on employing around 1,500 diggers to build the Iran-backed terror organization’s network of tunnels. Despite the financial hardships experienced by Gaza residents, Hamas, which in 2014 had a budget of around $530 million, is intent on increasing its military spending. In addition to digging tunnels, it hopes to upgrade its capabilities, which were degraded during its war with Israel two years ago, and is seeking to develop more precise rockets that could evade Israel’s Iron Dome defensive shield.

  • Why ratifying the Chemical Weapons Convention is in Israel’s best interest

    When the time came to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first major use of chemical weapons, it seemed there was at last a real chance of ridding the world of all chemical weapons in the very near future. Almost all countries had already joined the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which commits countries to the supervised destruction of all stockpiles of chemical weapons – with only two states as yet unwilling to sign: North Korea and Egypt. But there’s another exception: Israel, which has signed the convention but is refusing to ratify it. Chemical weapons have no place in a civilized society. They have little to no use as a tactical deterrent, and their effects are indiscriminate and appalling. We have a unique opportunity to rid the world of this scourge, and we’re so close to doing so. It’s high time Israel joined the rest of the world.

  • Syria chlorine attack claims: what this chemical is and how it became a weapon

    New claims that the Syrian government has dropped barrel bombs full of chlorine on a suburb of Aleppo are the latest in a series of allegations of chemical weapon use. Although the Syrian government denies using chemical weapons, a recent UN-led enquiry found it had used chlorine on at least two occasions. The first gas attack using chlorine was launched on 22 April 1915 in the trenches on the Western front, near Ypres. Gas masks were developed to protect against chlorine attacks and other chemical warfare agents were developed. But chlorine remains the simplest chemical weapon and reappeared on the battlefield during the Iraq War and allegedly now in Syria. In the Second World War, both sides of the conflict knew that the other side had weaponized chlorine and refrained from using it. Today in Syria, it sadly appears this may not have been the case.

  • Rules governing targeted killing by U.S. drones need clarifying

    Since the beginning of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States has dramatically increased use of unmanned drones, developing technology to target and kill those identified as being terrorist leaders. Current U.S. policies on using drones for targeted killing are characterized by ambiguities in interpretations of international law and too many generalities, despite recent efforts by the Obama administration to clarify the policies, a new report finds.