• Better communication key to reducing earthquake death toll

    A major problem in conveying earthquake risks to the public is that scientists are unable to predict when, where, and with what strength the next earthquake will strike. Instead, they use probabilistic forecasting based on seismic clustering. Earthquake experts have long grappled with the problem of how to convey these complex probabilities to lay persons.

  • Sandia Labs taking a modern approach to evaluating nuclear weapons

    Components of nuclear weapons age, and scientists and engineers address that through life extension programs or less comprehensive alterations. The United States last conducted underground nuclear testing in 1992 and has been in a moratorium ever since. Since then, Sandia Lab has used non-nuclear tests, experiments and computer simulations to study environments weapons might face, such as vibration, radiation or extreme cold or heat.

  • Humans have dramatically increased extent, duration of U.S. wildfire season

    The United States has experienced some of its largest wildfires on record over the past decade, especially in the western half of the country. The duration and intensity of future wildfire seasons is a point of national concern given the potentially severe impact on agriculture, ecosystems, recreation, and other economic sectors, as well as the high cost of extinguishing blazes. The annual cost of fighting wildfires in the United States has exceeded $2 billion in recent years. Humans have dramatically increased the spatial and seasonal extent of wildfires across the United States in recent decades and ignited more than 840,000 blazes in the spring, fall and winter seasons over a 21-year period, according to a new study.

  • Experts: Iran advancing nuclear program with help of North Korea

    Iran is using its strategic ties to North Korea to advance its illicit nuclear weapons program, experts say. Nuclear and ballistic missile ties between the two nations are longstanding and ongoing, though unlike Iran, North Korea already has developed nuclear weapons. While Iran is temporarily constrained by the nuclear deal, it can contribute to the development of North Korea’s program by sharing its technology and through finance.

  • More black police will not result in fewer police-involved homicides of black citizens

    Hiring more black police officers is not a viable strategy for reducing police-involved homicides of black citizens in most cities, according to new research. The study finds that, for many cities, it would take a massive increase in the percentage of black police officers to reduce the number of police-involved shootings of black citizens. Adding just a few black officers, the researchers say, won’t help and might make matters worse.

  • Threats of violent Islamist and far-right extremism: What does the research say?

    The 9/11 attacks were perpetrated by Islamist extremists, resulting in nearly 18 times more deaths than America’s second most devastating terrorist attack – the Oklahoma City bombing. More than any other terrorist event in U.S. history, 9/11 drives Americans’ perspectives on who and what ideologies are associated with violent extremism. But focusing solely on Islamist extremism when investigating, researching and developing counterterrorism policies goes against what the numbers tell us. Far-right extremism also poses a significant threat to the lives and well-being of Americans. This risk is often ignored or underestimated because of the devastating impact of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.It remains imperative to support policies, programs, and research aimed at countering all forms of violent extremism.

  • Assault weapons not protected by Second Amendment: U.S. appeals court

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth circuit ruled 10-4 to uphold Maryland’s ban on assault weapons, ruling that assault weapons are not protected under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. “Put simply, we have no power to extend Second Amendment protection to the weapons of war,” Judge Robert King wrote. “Both before and after Newtown, similar military-style rifles and detachable magazines have been used to perpetrate mass shootings in places whose names have become synonymous with the slaughters that occurred there,” he wrote.

  • Increase in arms transfers driven by demand in the Middle East, Asia

    The volume of international transfers of major weapons has grown continuously since 2004 and increased by 8.4 percent between 2007–11 and 2012–16, according to new data on arms transfers published today by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). Notably, transfers of major weapons in 2012–16 reached their highest volume for any five-year period since the end of the cold war.

  • Bulletproof origami shield to protect law enforcement

    Engineering professors have created an origami-inspired, lightweight bulletproof shield that can protect law enforcement from gunfire. The new barrier can be folded compactly when not in use, making it easier to transport and deploy. When expanded — which takes only five seconds — it can provide cover for officers and stop bullets from several types of handguns. The ballistic barrier is made of twelve layers of Kevlar.

  • Hate groups increase for second consecutive year, while Patriot groups decline

    The number of hate groups in the United States rose for a second year in a row in 2016, according to the SPLC annual census of hate groups and other extremist organizations, released yesterday. The most dramatic growth was the near-tripling of anti-Muslim hate groups — from 34 in 2015 to 101 last year. Figures compiled by the FBI dovetail with those of the SPLC – and the latest FBI statistics show that hate crimes against Muslims grew by 67 percent in 2015, the year in which Trump launched his campaign. In contrast to the growth of hate groups, antigovernment “Patriot” groups saw a 38 percent decline — plummeting from 998 groups in 2015 to 623 last year.

  • Russia violates landmark arms-control treaty by secretly deploying banned cruise missile

    The Trump administration may be facing its first challenge from Russia as news emerged that Russia had secretly deployed a new cruise missile. The development and deployment of the cruise missile violates a landmark arms control treaty, signed in 1987 – the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty) — which prohibited the development and deployment by the United States and Russia of land-based intermediate-range missiles.

  • Trend: Americans building “doomsday bunkers” in large numbers

    It may be a fad of the moment, or an indication of a deeper trend, but people across the United States are building and buying “doomsday bunkers” in large numbers. It is not exactly a new business, but demand for underground bunkers is at an all-time high according to industry insiders. A Texas bunker company saw its sales increase 400 percent in the past two months.

  • No link between immigration and increased crime: Research

    Political discussions about immigrants often include the claim that there is a relationship between immigration patterns and increased crime. However, results of a new study find no links between the two. In fact, immigration actually appears to be linked to reductions in some types of crimes, according to the findings. “It’s important to base our public policies on facts and evidence rather than ideologies and baseless claims that demonize particular segments of the U.S. population without any facts to back them up,” says one of the researchers.

  • Israel prepares for possible Hezbollah naval commando attack

    The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is preparing for a possible Hezbollah incursion using marines and other naval commandos in the country’s north. A group of commandos could try to infiltrate north of Nahariya while protected by mortar and anti-tank fire from Lebanon, the IDF believes. It also believes that Hezbollah will attempt to capture Israeli territory and hold it, even temporarily, in order to declare a victory against Israel.

  • TSA continues to use unscientific, unreliable program blamed for profiling

    Thousands of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers use so-called “behavior detection” techniques to scrutinize travelers for yawning, whistling, being distracted, arriving late for a flight, and scores of other behaviors that the TSA calls signs of deception or “mal-intent.” The officers then flag certain people for additional screening and questioning. Documents the ACLU has obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit show that the TSA itself has plenty of material showing that such techniques are not grounded in valid science — and they create an unacceptable risk of racial and religious profiling. Indeed, TSA officers themselves have said that the program has been used to do just that.