• Integrating climate change into U.S. national security planning

    On Wednesday, President Barack Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum to address climate change and national security. The Department of Defense calls it a “threat multiplier.” The Department of Homeland Security considers it a major homeland security risk. As President Obama said in to the G-20 Summit in Hangzhou, China, “the growing threat of climate change could define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other challenge.”

  • 3 percent of U.S. gun owners own half of all privately owned firearms in U.S.

    Half the guns in private hands in the United States are owned by just 3 percent of American adults, according to a new study. An estimated 7.7 million adults in the United States – a group of gun super-owners – are stockpiling between eight and 140 firearms per person. On average, these super-owners own seventeen guns each. Half of the estimated fifty-five million gun owners in America own either one or two guns.

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  • Between 300,000 and 600,000 guns are stolen in U.S. every year – an average of 1,600 every day

    Between 300,000 and 600,000 are stolen in the United States every year – for an average of more than 1,600 guns stolen every day, or more than one every minute. The number of gun deaths in the United States averages 33,000 a year, and the number of gun injuries averages 120,000 a year. The researchers note that the 1,600 guns stolen on average every day provide a weapon for each and every instance of gun violence – death or injury — in the United States each year, several times over.

  • Low-cost security imaging device uses inexpensive radio components

    Currently, scanning devices that detect hidden weapons or contraband in airports rely on millimeter-wave cameras, which can cost more than $175,000. The cost of the technology is a significant limiting factor in determining where, and whether, to use these scanners. Researchers have used computer models to demonstrate the viability of a low-cost security imaging device that makes use of inexpensive radio components.

  • New alert system aims to protect responders, drivers at roadway incident scenes

    Whether distracted by the latest cell phone game, driving while intoxicated, driving carelessly, or in low-visibility scenarios, the trend of first responder roadside strikes unfortunately looks likely to continue. DHS S&T has chosen Applied Research Associates, Inc. of Albuquerque, New Mexico, to develop technology that aims to reduce dangerous vehicle strikes on first responders. The project will integrate several existing technologies into a system that can be easily deployed.

  • TEEX Center awarded $22 million through DHS national training program

    The Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) announced it will receive $22 million in federal funding for its National Emergency Response and Rescue Training Center (NERRTC), which provides specialized homeland security and disaster preparedness training nationwide. Since it was established in 1998, NERRTC has enhanced preparedness by training more than 560,000 emergency responders, senior officials, public works staff, and medical personnel through delivery of more than 13,000 courses to state, local, tribal, and territorial jurisdictions.

  • 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.”

  • 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.