• Lasers to Detect Weapons-Grade Uranium from Afar

    It’s hard enough to identify nuclear materials when you can directly scan a suspicious suitcase or shipping container. But if you can’t get close? A technique for detecting enriched uranium with lasers could help regulators sniff out illicit nuclear activities from as far as a couple of miles away.

  • National Security in the Age of Pandemics

    For the first time since the Second World War, an adversary managed to knock a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier — USS Theodore Roosevelt — out of service. Only this time the enemy was a virus, not a nation-state. Gregory D. Koblentz and Michael Hunzeker write in Defense One that the fact that we “lost” the ultimate symbol of American military power to an invisible opponent should send shock waves through the national security community, because in its race to prepare the country for renewed great power competition with Russia and China, it has largely ignored a potentially greater threat: pandemic disease.

  • Rethinking Biosecurity Governance

    Perhaps the most important lesson we can learn from the current coronavirus pandemic is how to learn future lessons without having to experience a pandemic, whether natural in origin or made by humans. We must rethink and test assumptions about relationships between biological research, security, and society to plan for biosecurity threats.

  • False Memories of Crime Appear Real When Retold to Others

    People are no better than chance at identifying when someone else is recounting a false or real memory of a crime, according to a new study.

  • How to Protect Privacy When Aggregating Location Data to Fight COVID-19

    By Jacob Hoffman-Andrews and Andrew Crocker

    As governments, the private sector, NGOs, and others mobilize to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen calls to use location information—typically drawn from GPS and cell tower data—to inform public health efforts. Compared to using individualized location data for contact tracing—as many governments around the world are already doing—deriving public health insights from aggregated location data poses far fewer privacy and other civil liberties risks such as restrictions on freedom of expression and association. However, even “aggregated” location data comes with potential pitfalls.

  • U.S. Designates Russia-Based White Supremacist Group, Leaders as Terrorists

    The United States has designated the ultranationalist Russian Imperial Movement (RIM) along with three of its leaders as terrorists, marking the first time the classification has been applied to a white supremacist group. The decision comes after Trump signed an executive order in September 2019 that expanded sanctions for combating terrorism by allowing the terrorist designation to be applied to groups that provide training to terrorists.

  • New Report Outlines Tactics of Modern White-Supremacist Terrorism

    On Monday, as the U.S. Department of State, for the first time ever, designate a white supremacist group as a terrorist organization, a new report on white supremacist terrorism was released, analyzing the evolution of the threat presented by violent white supremacists. The report notes that, until Monday’s announcement of the Department of State’s decision, none of the 69 organizations designated by the U.S. Department of State as Foreign Terrorist Organizations is a white supremacist organization, despite the dramatic uptick in that threat.

  • Why China's Coronavirus Lies Don't Matter If It Plays the Long Information Game

    The world will never be the same after COVID-19 –but Mark Payumo writes that this will not be because people sheltered in place and reacquainted themselves with traditional family bonding, but because China opened a new front in information warfare. “This front is global in scale and one that Beijing has laid the groundwork for a decade prior to the pandemic,” he writes. “As it unravels, it underscores one fact that we already know: that the world, especially truly-functioning West democracies, continues to fail in responding to Chinese global statecraft that may threaten civil liberties as we know it.”

  • DOJ: Deliberately Spreading COVID-19 to Be Prosecuted as Domestic Terrorism

    As panic and fear spread with the COVID-19 pandemic, stupid, or malicious, acts may soon be considered criminal offenses and subject to terrorism laws. DOJ has circulated a memo to law enforcement and federal prosecutors saying that deliberate acts to spread the coronavirus could be prosecuted under federal terrorism laws given that the virus is a biological agent.

  • Climate-Related Disasters Increase Risks of Conflict in Vulnerable Countries

    The risk for violent clashes increases after weather extremes such as droughts or floods hit people in vulnerable countries, an international team of scientists finds. Vulnerable countries are characterized by a large population, political exclusion of particular ethnic groups, and low development. The study combines global statistical analysis, observation data and regional case study assessments to yield new evidence for policymakers.

  • Cloud-Based Electronic System: Helping First Responders Better React to Natural Disasters

    Every year natural disasters kill around 90,000 people and affect close to 160 million people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. Such disasters also result in the destruction of the physical environment of the affected people. Now, researchers have developed a new tool to help first responders and disaster relief organizations better provide assistance to developing countries. The researchers created a cloud-based supply chain management system for emergency response to track inventory and distribution in countries struck by disasters.

  • Pandemics and the U.S. Military: Lessons from 1918

    The novel coronavirus will hit the U.S. military and its allies hard — how hard will depend on a number of variables, some having to do with the virus itself (how and to what extent it mutates, whether it comes back in subsequent waves, etc.) and others having to do with what measures militaries take to protect themselves. Michael Shurkin writes that, fortunately, we have a historical example that could offer some clues on how the virus might affect the military, and the policy choices that at some point today’s military leaders may face. He is referring to the 1918 influenza epidemic — commonly referred to as the Spanish flu.

  • How Fire Causes Office-Building Floors to Collapse

    Engineers and technicians at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) spent months meticulously recreating the long concrete floors supported by steel beams commonly found in high-rise office buildings, only to deliberately set the structures ablaze, destroying them in a fraction of the time it took to build them.

  • Most Mass Shootings Occur Closest to Non-Trauma Hospitals

    In an analysis of 2019 mass shootings and hospital locations, researchers found that the closest hospital to more than 70 percent of mass shootings was a non-trauma center, where sudden, high casualty loads were more likely to overwhelm capacity and trauma-specific care options may have been limited. They also found that in more than half of mass shooting events, the nearest pediatric trauma center was more than 10 miles away.

  • U.S. Announces Narcoterrorism Charges Against Venezuela's Maduro

    The U.S. Justice Department on Thursday announced narcoterrorism charges against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and other top officials, accusing them of collaborating with a leftist Colombian guerrilla group to traffic cocaine to the United States.