• New Obama policy sets higher standards for drone use

    In a major policy speech Thursday, President Obama announced plans to set higher standards for the use of drones in the fight against terrorists. He defended the use of the unmanned vehicles in that war, however, including when, in extreme situations, they are used to kill American citizens.

  • DHS: it is impossible to stop 3D plastic guns from getting past security checkpoints

    A DHS intelligence bulletin starkly warns it may not be possible to stop 3D-printed guns from being made – or from getting past security checkpoints undetected. DHS notes that 3D-printed firearms can be made without serial numbers or unique identifiers, making ballistics testing difficult, and that advancements in technology and decreasing 3D printer costs will mean even more sophisticated printed guns will become easier to acquire.

  • New technologies help in tornado prediction

    Scientists are working to increase tornado warning times. A new method, known as “warn-on forecasts,” will issue warnings based on forecasts rather than on observations. These warnings could increase the warning time to one -to-six hours before a tornado touches down. Another methodology being developed would give meteorologists the ability to tell people how strong the tornado will be before it hits the ground.

  • Syrian army attacks Israeli army patrol; Israel retaliates, issues stark warning

    Syrian forces have fired at an Israeli army patrol Tuesday, and for the first time since the beginning of the conflict in Syria, the Syrian government publicly took responsibility for the firing. In response, Israel launched a cruise missile and destroyed the Syrian position from which the Syrian soldiers fired into Israel. Israel’s military chief warned: “We will not allow the Golan Heights to become a comfortable space for Assad to operate from.”

  • GPS technology offers 3-minute tsunami alerts

    Researchers show that by using global positioning systems (GPS) to measure ground deformation caused by a large underwater earthquake, they can provide accurate warning of the resulting tsunami in just a few minutes after the earthquake onset.

  • FBI defends handling of Boston bombing, admits FBI-CBP miscommunication

    FBI director Robert Mueller yesterday defended the way his agency handled the Russian request that the FBI pay attention to Tamerlan Tsarnaev in the months before the 15 April attack on the Boston Marathon. The two key junctures: following the FBI’s March 2011 investigation of Tamerlan, an investigation which found no ties between him and terrorism, the FBI twice, in September and October 2011, asked the Russian security services for more information about why the Russians suspected Tameraln, so the FBI could dig more deeply, but the Russians never responded. Still, the FBI went ahead and placed Tameraln’s name on a low-level watch list, which meant that his travel was tracked. The CBP Boston office, however, took no action in response to two FBI’s electronic messages – from January and June 2012 — about Tsarnaev’s travel to Russia.

  • Israel warns Assad: if you attack Israel, you “risk forfeiting [your] regime”

    Israel has issued a highly unusual public warning to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. The warning, couched in no uncertain terms, consists of two parts: First, if Syria and Iran again try to ship game-changing weapon system to Hezbollah, Israel will destroy these shipments, as it has already done three times, on 30 January, 3 May, and 5 May. Second, if Syria retaliated against Israel in the wake of such attacks, Israel would inflict crippling blows on the Assad regime and force Assad from power.

  • DHS refuses FOIA requests for the Tsarnaev brothers’ immigration papers

    DHS has rejected repeated FOIA requests for the federal immigration records of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects, as well as Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s records on Tamerlan Tsarnaev, saying they are still conducting an investigation. 

  • Oakland wants to write its own gun control laws

    The leaders of Oakland, California, say that state gun laws are not suitable for their crime-infested city. They want to write their own gun law, saying it would not ban guns, but would allow the city to have tighter controls on who owns and who is selling them and buying them.

  • U.S. secretly obtains AP phone records to identify source of story

    In what the AP calls a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into the news organization’s news work, the U.S. Justice Department secretly gathered two-months-worth of telephone records of the agency’s reporters and editors. The AP says the records listed incoming and outgoing calls to the offices and homes of reporters and editors. The Justice Department began collecting the phone records in order to identify the source or sources of a 7 May 2012 AP story which detailed a secret CIA operation in Yemen to intercept an al Qaeda-sponsored attempt to load an IED onto a U.S.-bound airplane.

  • The two sides in the gun control debate are gearing up for Round 2

    A few weeks ago, when the Senate was considering legislation to expand background checks for gun buyers and other gun-control measures, gun-rights advocate successfully organized and campaigned at the grass-root level, exerting pressure on enough wavering Senators, including four Democrats from Red stated who face re-election in 2014. Now, as the Senate majority leader is getting set to introduce the gun-control measures again, supporters of gun control legislation are trying to emulate the grass-root mobilization performance of gun-rights advocates.

  • Pennsylvania emergency professionals receive WMD training

    The Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP) in Alabama hosted more than a hundred emergency professionals from the Pennsylvania South Central Mountains Regional Task Force’s Health and Medical Committee for in-depth response-to-WMD training.

  • U.S. considering revamping wiretap laws

    The White House is reviewing an FBI plan to overhaul surveillance laws in order to make it easier for law enforcement officials to wiretap citizens using the Internet to communicate rather than phone services.

  • Master “remote” control for all military unmanned systems

    Historically, unmanned systems have been developed and fielded as individual items built by different vendors, which has led to increased spending, from $284 million in 2002 to more than $3 billion in fiscal year 2010. Researchers have developed something similar to a master remote control for separate components of differing brands of entertainment systems: it is called the Common Control System, and it will control military ground, air, and undersea unmanned systems across the services.

  • Japan has an earthquake early-warning system, but California is yet to deploy one

    The 2011 Fukushima earthquake claimed many lives, but at least some lives were saved by an early warning system designed ten years ago at Caltech and deployed in Japan in 2007. The system gives people about a minute to prepare for the impending tremor. California is yet to deploy the system.