• Thousands of people didn’t evacuate before Hurricane Matthew. Why not?

    As Hurricane Matthew approached the Atlantic coast earlier this month, many residents followed orders to evaqcuate, but others stayed in place. Hurricane Matthew illustrates the challenges of managing disaster evacuations effectively. By understanding who is likely to obey or ignore evacuation orders, authorities can use data to reduce the number of false alarms and concentrate limited resources on groups who are most likely to choose to shelter in place. It is critical to grapple with these issues so we can do a better job responding to the next storm, which likely won’t be ten years away.

  • “Drop, Cover, and Hold On”: Worldwide ShakeOut drill to be held 20 October

    USGS scientists recently determined that nearly half of Americans are exposed to potentially damaging earthquakes based on where they work and live. Still others will be at risk when traveling. USGS asks Americans to be prepared to join millions of people from around the world participating in Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills worldwide on 20 October. During the drill, participants practice “Drop, Cover, and Hold On.” This is the recommended safety action to take during an earthquake.

  • 3 Kansas men arrested for plotting massive attack on a complex housing Somali refugees

    The Garden City, Kansas police on Friday arrested three members of a far-right militia group for plotting to bomb an apartment complex in Garden City, in which about 120 Somali refugees live. The complex also houses a mosque. Supporters of far-right nationalist ideology – sometime referred to as “alt-right” – have been using an apocalyptic language, which has been adopted by Donald Trump, describing the refugee program as an “invasion” of the country which amounts to “national suicide” for the United States.

  • Defining – and monitoring -- domestic terrorism in the U.S.

    Domestic terrorism in the United States “is not just a function of a couple of militia related guys taking over something out West. It’s not just a bunch of white supremacist in white hoods,” says Thomas Brzozowski was appointed to lead the Justice Department’s new domestic terrorism office a year ago. In the past, a host of groups such as anarchists and the Ku Klux Klan have been under surveillance by the federal government. When the FBI was formed in the early twentieth century, communists and later anti-war activists, women’s rights organizations, and civil rights groups came to be viewed as domestic threats. Brzozowski says that today’s Justice Department is more sensitive to the free exercise of civil liberties.

  • U.S. could safely reduce the U.S. nuclear arsenal: Critics

    Over the last twenty-five years, Russian and U.S. nuclear weapons stockpiles have decreased dramatically. Today the U.S. arsenal stands at around 4,500 warheads, including both deployed and stored weapons. Critics of the U.S. current posture say that the United States could safely reduce its arsenal of deployed strategic nuclear weapons by an additional third from New START levels. They also say that the U.S. strategic and tactical “hedge” — weapons kept in reserve as technical and strategic backups – could be reduced as well.

  • Report finds strong link between strength of states’ gun laws and rates of gun violence

    A new report has found a strong correlation between the strength of state gun laws and levels of gun violence. The report, which analyzes ten specific indicators of gun violence in all fifty states, found that the ten states with the weakest gun laws collectively have levels of gun violence that are more than three times higher than the ten states with the strongest gun laws. The ten states with the weakest gun laws collectively have three times more gun violence than the ten states with the strongest gun laws.

  • Climate change has doubled Western U.S. forest fire area

    Human-induced climate change has doubled the area affected by forest fires in the U.S. West over the last thirty years. Scientists say that since 1984, heightened temperatures and resulting aridity have caused fires to spread across an additional 16,000 square miles than they otherwise would have — an area larger than the states of Massachusetts and Connecticut combined. The scientists warn that further warming will increase fire exponentially in coming decades.

  • Sled track simulates high-speed accident in B61-12 nuclear weapon test

    Sandia National Laboratories has sent a mock B61-12 nuclear weapon speeding down the labs’ 10,000-foot rocket sled track to slam nose-first into a steel and concrete wall in a spectacular test that mimicked a high-speed accident. It allowed engineers to examine safety features inside the weapon that prevent inadvertent nuclear detonation. Data analysis from the test continues, and the information will help engineers better understand how systems respond in abnormal environments — accidents or other unexpected events.

  • Sled track simulates high-speed accident in B61-12 nuclear weapon test

    Sandia National Laboratories has sent a mock B61-12 nuclear weapon speeding down the labs’ 10,000-foot rocket sled track to slam nose-first into a steel and concrete wall in a spectacular test that mimicked a high-speed accident. It allowed engineers to examine safety features inside the weapon that prevent inadvertent nuclear detonation. Data analysis from the test continues, and the information will help engineers better understand how systems respond in abnormal environments — accidents or other unexpected events.

  • U.S.: UN should investigate war crimes committed by Russia, Syria in Aleppo

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that the military campaign by Russia and Syria against civilians in Aleppo amounts to a war crime, and that the UN must launch a war crime investigation into the two countries’ actions. Military analysts noted that the Russian and Syrian campaign aims not only to kill civilians directly by dropping barrel bombs on Sunni neighborhood. Assad and his Russian allies deliberately increase the death toll by using bunker-busting munitions systematically to destroy the city’s civilian infrastructure — hospitals, clinics, water treatment facilities, and power stations. The analysts say that Assad’s ultimate goal is to make life in the city impossible, thus forcing hundreds of thousands of Sunnis to flee, making it easier for his Alawite and Shi’a forces to control the city once they recapture it from the rebels.

  • Clown threats may be unnerving, but they are not terrorism

    The fear of clowns has been around for decades, perpetuated by Stephen King’s 1986 novel “It” as well as dozens of TV shows and movies. But what previously was an underlying nervousness recently has mushroomed into a more immediate threat as a result of media reports of clowns approaching or appearing to threaten children. Some have called the incidents “clown terrorism,” but a terrorism expert says that despite the growing sense of fear, it is important to avoid calling the threats and attacks acts of terrorism.

  • A military view on climate change: It’s eroding our national security and we should prepare for it

    U.S. military leaders and defense planners have been studying climate change for years from a perspective that rarely is mentioned in the news: as a national security threat. And they agree that it poses serious risks. Here is how military planners see this issue: We know that the climate is changing, we know why it’s changing, and we understand that change will have large impacts on our national security. Yet as a nation we still only begrudgingly take precautions. The next president will have a choice to make. One option is to continue down the path that the Obama administration has defined and develop policies, budgets, plans, and programs that flesh out the institutional framework now in place. Alternatively, he or she can call climate change a hoax manufactured by foreign governments and ignore the flashing red lights of increasing risk. The world’s ice caps will not care who is elected or what is said. They will simply continue to melt, as dictated by laws of physics. But Americans will care deeply about our policy response. Our nation’s security is at stake.

  • DHS S&T announces 10 start-ups for first responder technology innovation

    DHS S&T has announced the selection of ten startup companies to be part of EMERGE 2016: Wearable Technology, a program designed to bring startups, accelerators, and other strategic partners together in a common research and development effort. The program is focused on wearable technology that can be modified specifically for first responders.

  • Terrorism fallout shelters: Is it time to resurrect nuclear civil defense?

    Fifty-five years ago, on 6 October 1961, President John F. Kennedy advised Americans to build an underground protective room, commonly known as a “fallout shelter,” in their homes. The American people heeded his advice and began an enormous grassroots effort to construct fallout shelters in every private residence and public building. Today, smaller nations and terrorist groups, such as al-Qaeda, are seeking nuclear weapons. Some nations, like North Korea, already have them. Others may be a decade away. It is not unreasonable to believe that the use of a single nuclear weapon by a rogue nation or a terrorist group now poses a more likely scenario for a nuclear confrontation than a nuclear war between Russia and the United States. We need a strategy to protect ourselves against these adversaries, and right now we don’t have one, except screening cargo. If we don’t find a more effective strategy to thwart nuclear terrorism soon, we may be forced to go back to fallout shelters as our only protective option, whether we like it or not.

  • A nerve agent antidote taken before a chemical weapons attack

    Nerve agents are molecular weapons that invade the body and sabotage part of the nervous system, causing horrific symptoms and sometimes death within minutes. Few antidotes exist, and those that do must be administered soon after an attack. Now, scientists an early-stage development of a potential treatment that soldiers or others could take before such agents are unleashed.