• Bloomberg vetoes bills aiming to curb NYPD’s stop-and-frisk

    New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg vetoed two bills aiming to limit the NYPD’s stop and frisk policy. The policy has been criticized by civil rights advocates, and has also been highlighted by those opposing Police Commissioner Ray Kelly’s candidacy to replace Janet Napolitano as DHS secretary.

  • Non-toxic fire retardants developed

    Fire retardants are often extremely harmful to health. Despite this, they are found in many types of synthetic materials which would otherwise ignite quickly. Researchers have now succeeded in producing non-harmful flame retardants.

  • Using invasive trees to develop jet fuel for U.S. Navy fighter jets

    In western U.S. rangelands, native juniper and pinyon pine trees are spreading beyond their historical ecological niches and disrupting the environmental balance of their expanded range. Preliminary estimates suggest harvesting some of these hardy invaders every year could supply enough biomass to produce millions of gallons of renewable jet fuel for the U.S. Navy fighter jets.

  • Are nuclear weapons safe from cyber-attacks?

    Research will look into whether today’s nuclear weapons are safe from computer hacking. Specifically, the research seeks to address the question of whether the ability to use and the confidence in nuclear weapons is being eroded by new cyber capabilities being developed by an increasingly large range of actors.

  • New underwater robots mimic designs found in nature

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    In recent years, robotic underwater vehicles have become more common in a variety of industrial and civil sectors. Now, a new class of underwater robot has emerged that mimics designs found in nature. These “biomimetic” vehicles promise to lead to new underwater technologies that could help the oil and gas industry, underwater humanitarian demining, environmental monitoring, search and rescue operations, anti-terrorist activities, harbor surveillance, coastal security and fisheries management, and more.

  • Young engineers compete in underwater robotics race

    Student-built autonomous underwater vehicles will speed through the depths of a Navy pool in a battle for supremacy at the 16th International RoboSub Competition. The competition is being held this week (22-28 July). In addition to building autonomous underwater vehicles, teams are also responsible for creating Web sites and writing journal papers that outline their work.

  • Hollow-core optical fiber to enable high-power military sensors

    The intensity of light that propagates through glass optical fiber is fundamentally limited by the glass itself. A novel fiber design using a hollow, air-filled core removes this limitation and significantly improves performance by forcing light to travel through channels of air, instead of the glass around it. DARPA’s spider-web-like, hollow-core fiber design is the first to demonstrate single-spatial-mode, low-loss and polarization control — key properties needed for advanced military applications such as high-precision fiber optic gyroscopes for inertial navigation.

  • Angry lawmakers warn NSA to curb surveillance operations

    John Inglis, the deputy director of the National Security Agency (NSA), told angry lawmakers yesterday that his agency’s ability to analyze phone records and online behavior is greater than what the agency had previously revealed. Inglis told members of the House Judiciary Committee that NSA analysts can perform “a second or third hop query” through its collections of telephone data and Internet records in order to find connections to terrorist organizations. Representative James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin), the author of the 2001 Patriot Act, warned the intelligence officials testifying before the committee that unless they rein in the scope of their surveillance on Americans’ phone records, “There are not the votes in the House of Representatives” to renew the provision after its 2015 expiration. “You’re going to lose it entirely,” he said.

  • Automatic license plate readers used to collect, store data on millions of Americans

    Automatic license plate readers are the most widespread location tracking technology available to law enforcement. Mounted on patrol cars or stationary objects like bridges, they snap photos of every passing car, recording their plate numbers, times, and locations. At first the captured plate data was used just to check against lists of cars law enforcement hoped to locate for various reasons (to act on arrest warrants, find stolen cars, etc.). Increasingly, however, all of this data is being fed into massive databases that contain the location information of many millions of innocent Americans stretching back for months or even years.

  • Highly sensitive fingerprint technique developed

    Researchers have developed a new and extremely sensitive method for visualizing fingerprints left on metal surfaces such as guns, knives, and bullet casings. The technique utilizes color-changing fluorescent films and the researchers say that it can be used to complement existing forensic processes.

  • Thermal imaging could bolster biometric security

    Fingerprints and iris recognition will soon give way to thermal imaging.The pattern of blood vessels located just beneath the skin of a person’s face can be isolated using an infrared thermal imaging camera. The blood vessel patterns are as unique as a fingerprint and iris, but are almost impossible to forge.

  • Training volcano scientists saves lives

    Scientists and technicians who work at volcano observatories in nine countries are visiting Mount St. Helens and the U.S. Geological Survey Volcano Science Center’s Cascades Volcano Observatory this week to learn techniques for monitoring active volcanoes. The International Training Program in Volcano Hazards Monitoring is designed to assist other nations in attaining self-sufficiency in monitoring volcanoes and reducing the risks from eruptions.

  • Giuliani says political correctness hampers fight against domestic terrorists

    The Department of Defense initially described Army Major Nidal Hassan’s Fort Hood shooting spree as “terrorism,” but quickly changed that definition to “workplace violence.” Testifying before a congressional panel, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani criticized DoD’s decision, and political correctness more generally, saying that “You can’t fight an enemy you don’t acknowledge.”

  • Consolidation expected among large cybersecurrity contractors

    Europe’s largest defense company, BAE Systems, says the number of military contractors selling data protection services to governments will decrease as clients demands for ever-more-sophisticated products  increase.

  • U.S., South Korea teaming up for bioterrorism exercise

    Officials from the United States and South Korea were in Seoul, South Korea last month for the third annual joint anti-bioterrorism exercise in Seoul. Around eighty U.S. officials and between 120 and 130 South Korean military officials participated in the tabletop exercise.