• Israeli security cabinet holds “significant” meetings to discuss threat on northern border

    Israel’s security cabinet has convened several times in recent days, holding “extremely significant” meetings to discuss the threats on Israel’s northern border, as well as necessary diplomatic activity to prevent Syria from turning into a foothold for Iranian forces. News media reports stated that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held telephone conversations with world leaders and warned them of Iran’s growing influence in Lebanon and Syria through their terror proxy Hezbollah and Iranian-backed Shiite militia forces in Syria.

  • Russia says 13 drones used in attack on its air base, naval facility in Syria

    Russia says thirteen armed drones have recently been used to attack its air base and its naval facility in western Syria. The Russian Defense Ministry said on 8 January that there were no casualties or damage as a result of the attacks on the Hmeimim air base and Tartus naval facility. Russian forces were able to overpower radio signals for some of the drones and gain control of them during the attacks overnight on 5-6 January, a statement said.

  • Racial, political identities influence people’s view of fatal police encounters

    People’s racial and political identities strongly shaped how they viewed the causes of several recent widely publicized police encounters that resulted in the deaths of African-American men, according to a new study. African-Americans, liberals and Democrats generally attribute the cause of fatal encounters between officers and black citizens to broader problems in policing. Others generally would view the encounters as phenomena limited to the actions of a few actors.

  • U.S. imposes sanctions on Iran over ballistic missiles, signals further measures

    The United States imposed sanctions on Thursday on five Iranian entities over their involvement in developing ballistic missiles and signaled that more punitive measures are in play in response to the Islamic Republic’s crackdown of anti-government protests. The five designated companies are all subsidiaries of Iran’s Shahid Bakeri Industrial Group (SBIG), which is part of the Iranian Defense Ministry.

  • Did far-right extremist violence really spike in 2017?

    Intense media coverage of a so-called “alt-right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which turned deadly last August fueled the notion that far-right violent extremism in the United States in 2017 was a growing and severe threat. But has it really increased? The average number of far right-inspired attacks from 1990 to 2016 was 7.5 per year, and the average number of victims was 11 per year (these figures exclude the 1995 Oklahoma City attack, in which 168 people were killed, and attacks by far-right extremists in which ideology appeared not to have been a motive). In 2017, there were 8 far right-inspired attacks, which killed 9 people. If the number of fatal far-right extremist attacks in 2017 was average, why is there a perception of an increase? The short answer would be that ideologically motivated homicides are not the only way to measure extremism. More importantly, in many ways, an “average” year demonstrates the perseverance and deadliness of far-right extremism, with its fringe ideology continuing to appeal to a minority of Americans. For decades, it has adapted to cultural and technological shifts in American society, for example, utilizing the internet and social media for recruitment and the proliferation of extremist ideas. Far-rightists also pose a grave threat to racial, ethnic, religious and other minorities in the United States. Whether they are wearing white hoods and burning crosses or wearing button-up shirts and carrying Tiki torches, the underlying ideological tenets of racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, paranoia and anti-government sentiments pose a violent risk to the American public.

  • Allowing mentally ill people to access firearms is not fueling mass shootings

    As has been the case with the overwhelming majority of other mass shootings in recent memory, media and political coverage focus on his mental health status of the shooter. This narrow focus on mental illness reignited calls for broader restrictions on firearm access for people with mental illnesses, despite evidence that mental illness contributes to less than 5 percent of all violent crimes and that most individuals with severe mental illness do not behave violently. Still, these calls beg the question: Are mentally disordered people with access to firearms really driving America’s gun violence problem? Our study finds that the reality of firearm-related risk among individuals with mental illness lies not in the potential for harm to others, but in the risk of harming oneself. There is certainly an argument to be made for the temporary removal of firearm access for individuals actively experiencing mental health crises. However, the threat of permanent loss of one’s Second Amendment right could cause harm, as people might avoid treatment for fear of losing their guns. One of the most disturbing aspects of our study is that it emerges from what amounts to an empirical vacuum. The 1996 passage of the Dickey Amendment effectively prohibits federal funding of gun violence research. Since its enactment, scholars have been unable to conduct comprehensive research projects to better understand gun violence. The Dickey Amendment is also the reason that no comprehensive, nationally representative studies have been conducted in recent years to examine the causes of gun violence. As a result, gun lobbyists have been free to compose the narrative of their choice, namely that mass shootings are a mental health problem. We just don’t have enough data to know the causes.

  • Subterranean Challenge: Revolutionizing underground capabilities

    Underground settings are becoming increasingly relevant to global security and safety. Rising populations and urbanization are requiring military and civilian first responders to perform their duties below ground in human-made tunnels, underground urban spaces, and natural cave networks. DARPA two weeks ago announced its newest challenge — the DARPA Subterranean Challenge – to accelerate development of critical lifesaving capabilities.

  • Redneck Revolt says it aims to protect minorities, promote social justice -- with guns

    A far-left militant group calling itself the Redneck Revolt says it aims to put “the red back in redneck” – “red” as in communist red – and use aggressive tactics to promote social justice and protects minorities. Armed members of Redneck Revolt can often be seen providing protection to minority groups such as Black Lives Matter and to other left-leaning groups conducting marches and demonstrations. Redneck Revolt insists that the group should not be compared to another leftist militant group — the Anti-fa group. Members of Redneck Revolt explain the difference as mainly one of tactics: Anti-fa are willing to engage in property destruction, cover their faces in “black bloc,” and occasionally punch Nazis on the street. “We don’t do that,” a member of Redneck Revolt said firmly. “We do everything within the law.”

  • Three new war crimes recognized by ICC

    On Thursday 14 December, in New York, the Assembly of State Parties to the International Criminal Court (ICC) added three new war crimes to the Rome Statute: the use of biological and toxin weapons; the use of weapons causing injuries by fragments which in the human body escape detection by X-rays; and the use of laser weapons causing permanent blindness.

  • Promising new wildfire behavior model may aid fire managers in near real-time

    Wildfires continue to scar California beyond the normal fire season in what’s been a particularly catastrophic year for natural disasters across the U.S. But a new big-data solution for predicting wildfire spread is also heating up, and it may become a useful tool in the firefighters’ arsenal, according to wildfire researchers.

  • DARPA’s Software Defined Radio (SDR) Hackfest explores solutions for spectrum challenges

    The DARPA Bay Area Software Defined Radio (SDR) Hackfest came to a close on Friday, 17 November at the NASA Ames Conference Center in Moffett Field, California. During the weeklong event, over 150 members of the SDR community came together to discuss, innovate, and ideate around the future of software radio technology and its potential to address challenging communications issues that are emerging due to the increasingly congested electromagnetic (EM) spectrum and the proliferation of wireless-enabled devices.

  • GAO: DoD needs to do more on climate adaptation

    Last week, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), issued a report titled Climate Change Adaptation: DoD Needs to Better Incorporate Adaptation into Planning and Collaboration at Overseas Installations. The report found that the Department of Defense (DoD) needs to better incorporate adaptation to climate change into planning and collaboration at overseas installations.

  • FAA declares seven nuclear research facilities no-drone zones

    The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has granted a request from the Department of Energy (DOE) to declare seven DOE’s nuclear research facilities no-drone zones. Starting 29 December, drone operators would not be allowed to fly their UAVs within 400 feet of these facilities: The FAA said it is currently considering more “no-drone zone” requests from federal agencies.

  • Helping secure first responder apps from cyberattacks

    In emergency and disaster situations, mobile devices and apps enable public-safety professionals to receive and share critical information in real-time, which enhances the delivery of life-saving services. As reliance on mobile technology grows, it is important that mobile apps used by public safety are free of malware or vulnerabilities.

  • Computer modeling aids solder reliability in nuclear weapons

    Solder isn’t the first thing that comes to mind as essential to a nuclear weapon. But since weapons contain hundreds of thousands of solder joints, each potentially a point of failure, Sandia National Laboratories has developed and refined computer models to predict their performance and reliability.