Public Safety

  • NIST report on iris aging flawed: researchers

    In July last year, NIST released a report, titled “IREX VI: Temporal Stability of Iris Recognition Accuracy,” which concluded that its “best estimate of iris recognition aging” is so small that there should be no concern about the possibility of iris recognition accuracy degrading over time. University of Notre Dame biometrics researchers Kevin Bowyer and Estefan Ortiz have release a paper which points to errors in the NIST report on how iris aging affects the accuracy of iris recognition. They describe specific methodological errors in the NIST report, and present a list of suggestions to be addressed in a revised version of the report.

  • Pentagon to fund new “kill vehicle” for missile defense

    The Pentagon’s fiscal 2015 budget includes $8.5 billion in funding for missile defense programs. About $300 million will be used on a new kill vehicle and it support systems. A Pentagon official said that a new kill vehicle was needed because the current system suffered from “bad engineering” and has failed several tests.

  • App helps save people trapped by avalanche

    For the person buried under the weight of an avalanche, each minute is precious. A person saved from the snow mass within fifteen minutes has a 90 percent chance of survival. After forty-five minutes that chance has diminished considerably. Researchers develop an app that makes it possible for skiers with smartphones to find people buried in the snow.

  • U.S. Army releases first field manual for war in the electromagnetic spectrum

    Sergei Gorshkov, former Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union, once remarked that “the next war will be won by the side that best exploits the electromagnetic spectrum.” The U.S. Army agrees, releasing its first field manualfor Cyber Electromagnetic Activities (CEMA). The Pentagon defines cyber electromagnetic activities as activities leveraged to seize, retain, and exploit an advantage over adversaries and enemies in both cyberspace and the electromagnetic spectrum, while simultaneously denying and degrading adversary and enemy the use of such capabilities, and protecting the mission command system.

  • Israel intercepts ship carrying Syrian missiles from Iran to Gaza

    In its most daring – and logistically demanding –military operation in about a year, Israeli naval commandos earlier yesterday (Wednesday) intercepted an Iranian arms ship in the Red Sea, more than 900 miles from Israeli shores. The ship was carrying dozens of Syria-manufactured M-302 medium-range missiles from Iran to Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip. The M-302 missile would have dramatically increased the capabilities of militant organizations in Gaza. It carries a warhead of 150 kg and has a range of about 300km.

  • Radiation problems on San Francisco’s Treasure Island persist

    The Army Corps of Engineers created San Francisco’s Treasure Island for the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition, with plans to turn the island into a civilian airport after the exposition. When the United States entered the Second World War in 1941, the Navy used the island for the Treasure Island Naval Station, where nuclear war training exercises were conducted. The Naval Station was decommissioned in 1993, and parts of the island were transferred to SF for civilian use. Radiation levels on the island are still high, however, and critics charge that the Navy did not do enough to clean the island while downplaying the risks of radiation that still remain.

  • Virtual lab for nuclear waste repository research

    A nuclear waste repository must seal in radioactive waste safely for one million years. Researchers currently have to study repositories and their processes in real underground laboratories, but a virtual underground laboratory will soon simplify their work.

  • Libyan Islamists tried to ship mustard gas to Syrian rebels

    Libyan officials report that they have recently apprehended several members of a Libyan Muslim extremist militia planning to ship chemical weapons to anti-Assad rebels in Syria. Colonel Mansour al-Mazini of the Libya army said that the Islamists had been caught with a container of mustard gas. The gas was confiscated by Libyan soldiers.

  • Energy Department suspends work on controversial plutonium reprocessing project

    The Obama administration has decided to put on hold its plans to complete construction on a South Carolina reprocessing facility which would convert nuclear weapon-grade plutonium into reactor fuel. The suspension of work on the project is part of the fiscal 2015 budget plan the administration unveiled Tuesday. The project has been hobbled by delays and massive cost-overruns, and experts says security and safety concerns have not been adequately addressed.

  • Proposed 2015 budget cuts funding for nuclear nonproliferation programs

    The Obama administration 2015 budget proposal shows that the administration will spend less on nuclear nonproliferation initiatives in 2015 than it would in 2014. The budget of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), the agency responsible for various nuclear weapons and nuclear nonproliferation programs, will be cut by 20 percent, from the $1.9 billon Congress approved for fiscal 2014 — which in turn was a $289 million cut from fiscal 2013 levels — to $1.6 billion in 2015.

  • Black Hawks downed: Bird threat to U.S. military helicopters

    Many types of aircraft are vulnerable to bird strikes, estimated to cost the aviation industry $1.2 billion worldwide per year. A new study of strikes to military rotary-wing aircraft found that there were 2,511 strikes to U.S. military aircraft. Each strike costs the military between $12,184 and $337,281. While strikes were recorded in almost all states, Florida, New Mexico, and Georgia had the highest number of incidents.

  • Employees exposed to radiation at nuclear waste disposal site

    Thirteen employees at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant(WIPP),a nuclear waste burial site in New Mexico, have been exposed to  radioactive radiation after a leak in one of WIPP’s underground tunnels. Energy Department officials say it is too soon to determine the scope of health risks the employees will deal with. The employees inhaled plutonium and americium, both of which can irradiate the body’s internal organs with subatomic particles for a lifetime.

  • Islanders’ radiation worries 60 years after Bikini Atoll atomic test

    Sixty years ago, On 1 March 1954 the United States tested a 15-megaton hydrogen bomb – a thousand times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hsroshima —- at Bikini Atoll, part of the Marshall Islands. The explosion vaporized one island, and exposed inhabitants on neighboring islands to radioactive fallout. The United States relocated many of the islanders and spent years – and more than $45 million – to clean up and decontaminate the islands, before allowing the relocated inhabitants to return. Many were forced to leave again, however, after they were found to be exposed to residual radiation. From 30 June 1946 to 18 August 1958, the United States conducted 67 atmospheric nuclear tests in the Marshall Islands.

  • USAF improves, streamlines personnel reliability program

    Changes are coming to the U.S. Air Force’s program used to ensure personnel who perform nuclear-related duties are of sound mind and body on the job. The decades-old Personnel Reliability Program, or PRP, is used by all branches of service with duties tied to nuclear weapons to ensure personnel are reliable to perform nuclear-related responsibilities, and its standards apply on and off duty. The USAF says the time has come to streamline it to ease management and implementation.

  • DHS drops plans for national license-plate database

    DHS has recalled its solicitation for bids by private companies to help the department create a national license-plate database which would allow unlimited access to information obtained from commercial and law enforcement license plate readers (LPRs). DHS wanted to use the database to track fugitive undocumented immigrants and others sought by law enforcement, but the database, which could have contained more than one billion records, raised privacy concerns and questions about the safeguards which would be used to protect innocent citizens.