• A Guide to Understanding Mass Shootings in America

    Saturday’s mass shooting in Texas came hours after nine teenagers were wounded by gunfire at a high school football game in Alabama, and just weeks after the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio. Fifty-one people died in mass shootings in August alone, according to a New York Times analysis using one definition of mass murder by homicide. The Gun Violence Archive lists nearly 10,000 victims of fatal gun violence for 2019 so far, excluding most suicides. The editorial team of The Trace offers the big picture on mass shootings in America, and how they fit into our country’s epidemic of gun violence.

  • Device Vanishes on Command after Military Missions

    A polymer that self-destructs? While once a fictional idea, new polymers now exist that are rugged enough to ferry packages or sensors into hostile territory and vaporize immediately upon a military mission’s completion. This “James Bond”-like material is already being incorporated in military devices, but there is a potential for the materials in non-military applications.

  • Examining Whether the Terrorism Label Applies to Antifa

    Antifa is an umbrella movement comprising people of various ideologies who are united in their opposition to white supremacism, neo-Nazism and fascism. Some elements of antifa — especially anarchists, along with Marxists, Maoists, and anarcho-syndicalists, who are usually among the most visible, vocal and violent elements which take part in antifa protests – endorse, and participate in, political violence Does all of that make antifa a terrorist organization? Scott Stewart writes for Stratfor that the short answer is no — if for no other reason that antifa isn’t really a group or organization to begin with. “But even if elements that participate in the antifa movement espouse political violence to oppose white supremacists, that doesn’t make it a terrorist group — presidential threats to declare it one notwithstanding. Nevertheless, the more forceful aspects of the ideology’s direct action are likely to result in disorder on the streets and damage to property, presenting a problem for any person or business that happens to find itself in the way,” Stewart writes.

  • We Need to Ban More Emerging Technologies

    With more and more innovation, there is less and less time to reflect on the consequences. To tame this onrushing tide, society needs dams and dikes. Just as has begun to happen with facial recognition, it’s time to consider legal bans and moratoriums on other emerging technologies. These need not be permanent or absolute, but innovation is not an unmitigated good. The more powerful a technology is, the more care it requires to safely operate.

  • Data May Point to Second Blast at Russian Test Site

    Researchers at a Norwegian institute believe that there may have been two explosions, not one, at the Russian naval test site on the White Sea earlier this month, an incident that killed at least five people and raised new questions about Russia’s weapons research.

  • Facial Recognition: Ten Reasons You Should Be Worried About the Technology

    Facial recognition technology is spreading fast. Already widespread in China, software that identifies people by comparing images of their faces against a database of records is now being adopted across much of the rest of the world. It’s common among police forces but has also been used at airports, railway stations and shopping centers. The rapid growth of this technology has triggered a much-needed debate. Activists, politicians, academics and even police forces are expressing serious concerns over the impact facial recognition could have on a political culture based on rights and democracy.

  • Facial Recognition “Epidemic” in the U.K.

    An investigation by the London-based Big Brother Watch has uncovered what the organization describes as a facial recognition “epidemic” across privately owned sites in the United Kingdom. The civil liberties campaign group has found major property developers, shopping centers, museums, conference centers and casinos using the technology in the United Kingdom.

  • Hazmat Challenge Tests Responders’ Skills in Simulated Emergencies

    Ten hazardous materials response teams are testing their skills in a series of graded exercises Aug. 19-23 at Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Hazmat Challenge. “Toughest scenarios yet” plus an obstacle course help hazmat teams hone their abilities.

  • Improving ShakeAlert Earthquake Early Warning System for the West Coast

    The U.S. Geological Survey has awarded more than $12.5 million to seven universities and a university-governed non-profit to support operation, improvement and expansion of the ShakeAlert earthquake early warning system for the West Coast of the United States.

  • The Big One: Back to the Future on the San Andreas Fault

    Maybe you’ve heard that the “Big One is overdue” on the San Andreas Fault. No one can predict earthquakes, so what does the science really say? Where does the information come from? And what does it mean? Earth scientists have been gathering data at key paleoseismic sites along sections of the San Andreas Fault to figure out the past timeline of earthquakes at each spot.

  • Proposed Bills Would Help Combat Domestic Terrorism

    “Left of boom” is a phrase frequently used by FBI agents to describe the FBI’s post-9/11 strategy to detect, disrupt and dismantle terrorist threats before acts of violence occur. Imagine a timeline where “boom” represents the moment the bomb goes off or an attack occurs: “Left of boom” means sometime before that moment. In the international terrorism arena, the U.S. has federal statutes that permit intervention left of boom, such as terrorism transcending national boundaries, providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization and attempt and conspiracy provisions for each. These statutes permit investigators to identify criminal behavior earlier in the timeline, and intercept subjects before their plans reach completion. No such laws exist for domestic terrorism.

  • Russian Nuclear-Monitoring Stations’ Silence Fuel Fears over Extent of Deadly Blast

    Officials at the Vienna-based Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) say that two nuclear monitoring stations in Russia have resumed operations after mysteriously halting the transmission of data. The CTBTO did not comment on August 20 on the other two stations which it previously said had gone silent in the aftermath of an explosion at a Russian naval test site that killed at least five people and caused a temporary spike in radiation levels.

  • Peer Influence, Social Networks May Aid in Gun Violence Reduction Efforts

    A new study found that a program aimed at reducing gun violence in Chicago, the Violence Reduction Strategy (VRS), deterred about 100 victimizations over a two-year period. VRS is a program that seeks to lower rates of gun violence in typically high-crime areas. The program seeks to do so by inviting participants with heightened risk of victimization to participate in a meeting known as a “call-in.”

  • New Model Agrees with Old: Nuclear War Between U.S. and Russia Would Result in Nuclear Winter

    Most people who lived through the nuclear age have heard of nuclear winter, in which global cooling would result from a major nuclear war. Early fears of such an outcome have been bolstered by sophisticated computer models that showed what would happen if a large number of nuclear bombs were detonated in large urban areas. The planet would grow colder due to the huge amount of smoke generated by fires ignited by the atomic blasts—the smoke would cover the entire planet for years, blocking the sun.

  • Data Leviathan: China’s Burgeoning Surveillance State

    Classical totalitarianism, in which the state controls all institutions and most aspects of public life, largely died with the Soviet Union, apart from a few holdouts such as North Korea. The Chinese Communist Party retained a state monopoly in the political realm but allowed a significant private economy to flourish. Yet today, in Xinjiang, a region in China’s northwest, a new totalitarianism is emerging—one built not on state ownership of enterprises or property but on the state’s intrusive collection and analysis of information about the people there. Xinjiang shows us what a surveillance state looks like under a government that brooks no dissent and seeks to preclude the ability to fight back. And it demonstrates the power of personal information as a tool of social control.