• Dealing with the Soviet Nuclear Legacy

    On 29 August 1949, the Soviet Union conducted their first nuclear test. Over a 40-year period, they conducted 456 nuclear explosions at Semipalatinsk, in eastern Kazakhstan — 116 aboveground and 340 underground. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, many of the scientists and military personnel abandoned the site and fled the country, leaving behind large quantities of nuclear materials, completely unsecured. The Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) has been quietly helping Kazakhstan deal with the Soviet nuclear legacy.

  • Would Terrorists Set Off a Nuclear Weapon If They Had One? We Shouldn’t Assume So

    For decades, the nightmare of nuclear terrorism has haunted the corridors of power in Washington and the imagination of Western popular culture. While this was true even before September 11, 2001, in the days since, a consensus has formed from which few dare deviate: Terrorist organizations are trying to acquire nuclear weapons, and if they are successful, they will use them in an attack as soon as possible. But how valid is this “acquisition-use assumption,” Christopher McIntosh and Ian Store ask.

  • With Gang Violence Rising, Sweden Searches for Answers

    Crime in general in on the decline in Sweden, but violent crime – shooting, explosions, and killing – has been on a stead rise since 2014. Experts note that the violence is not perpetrated by organized gangs. Rather, it is carried out by “loose groups” without a real hierarchical structure or recruitment process: According to the researchers, a majority of the young people involved in the violence are of foreign origin, but most have been born in Sweden.

  • Beijing Will Give You Cold War Nostalgia

    America’s twenty-first-century competition with China is likely to be more dangerous and more complex than the U.S. Cold War with the Soviet Union. Walter Russell Mean writes that this is the result of two factors: First, China’s economic power makes it a much more formidable and resourceful opponent than the Soviet Union was., and, second, the technological environment has changed dramatically in the past generation.

  • FBI Releases Lone Offender Terrorism Report

    The FBI’s Behavioral Threat Assessment Center (BTAC) on Wednesday released its Lone Offender Terrorism Report. The study, reflecting BTAC’s focus on past terrorism and targeted violence events, reviewed 52 lone offender terrorist attacks within the United States between 1972 and 2015. The BTAC study compared numerous offender motivational factors encompassing their backgrounds, family and social networks, behavioral characteristics, radicalization, attack planning, and bystander observations.

  • Why Flooding Is Still So Difficult to Predict and Prepare for

    Given the huge costs to people and property when it floods, it’s a reasonable question to ask why, in one of the richest countries in the world, more cannot be done to prevent flooding. And if not prevent it, to know more precisely when and where it will hit.

  • Iran’s Nuclear Weapons “Breakout” Time Getting Shorter: Experts

    The Trump administration’s withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, and the administration’s “maximum pressure” policy, are failing to yield the desired results, as Iran, pursuing a methodical “creep-out” strategy, is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. In 2015, Iran’s “breakout” time, that is, the amount of time Iran would need to produce enough weapon-grade uranium for a nuclear weapon, was three months. The 2015 agreement, by imposing serve technical restrictions and intrusive monitoring, increased Iran’s breakout time to about twelve months. Experts now say that since the U.S. withdrawal from the treaty, Iran’s breakout time has been reduced to 6-10 months. “The breakout time will decrease further as Iran increases its stock of enriched uranium and installs more centrifuges,” the experts say.

  • Promoting Cooperation Between Humans, Autonomous Machines

    The trust between humans and autonomous machines is a top priority for U.S. Army researchers — as machines become integral to society, it is critical to understand the impact on human decision-making.

  • Data Science Could Help Californians Battle Future Wildfires

    A major wildfire spread through Colorado, and I spent long hours locating shelters, identifying evacuation routes and piecing together satellite imagery. As the Fourmile Canyon Fire devastated areas to the west of Boulder, ultimately destroying 169 homes and causing $217 million in damage, my biggest concerns were ensuring that people could safely evacuate and first responders had the best chance of keeping the fire at bay. The oddest thing about that 7 September 2010? I spent it sitting comfortably in my home in Bloomington, Indiana, a thousand miles away from the action.

  • Nevada Leaders Trying to Stay Ahead of Wildfire Destruction

    In 2016, a little over 265,000 acres in Nevada burned from wildfires. In 2017, around 1.3 million acres burned, and in 2018 a little over a million acres burned, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. Nevada’s political leadership is continuing to develop measures to combat the increasing threats posed by wildfires across American West and in the Silver State.

  • A Year after Paradise Fire, California Lawmakers Hope to Keep History from Repeating

    Last year’s Camp Fire in California offered a scenario officials hadn’t planned for: thousands of residents fleeing at the same time from a town overcome by wildfire — and with few ways to get out. Many others perished in their cars, killed in the blaze that ultimately took 85 lives. Taryn Luna writes that a dire need for better evacuation routes was just one hard lesson of the Camp fire, a tragedy that prompted California’s elected officials to try to prevent history from repeating itself.

  • Why a 1972 Northern Ireland Murder Matters So Much to Historians

    In a recent decision, a court in Northern Ireland ruled that evidence from an oral history project could not be considered in a 1972 murder case, clearing 82-year-old Ivor Bell of soliciting the killing of Jean McConville. Evidence from the Belfast Project, an oral history of Northern Ireland’s Troubles, indicated Bell and other members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) kidnapped and murdered McConville because they incorrectly believed she had provided information to the British Army about IRA activity in Belfast. This evidence played an important role in Bell’s indictment and trial in the McConville case. This ordeal strained the relationship between legal justice and historical truth, Donald M. Beaudette and Laura Weinstein write. “Though in court, lawyers, judges and juries assess the guilt of alleged offenders according to well-honed rules of evidence and interpretations of the law, assessing historical truth is more complex,” they write. They argue that scholars “can and must write and speak more broadly about how historical interpretation works, so citizens are better equipped to understand that the dominant interpretation of history is not the only one, nor is it necessarily the correct one.”

  • Most School Shootings May Be Predicted, Prevented: Secret Service

    Sandy Hook, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Columbine—these are but a few of the school shootings in which many lives were lost. Could these shootings have been predicted – and prevented? Most students who carried out deadly school shootings first displayed threatening or suspicious behavior that went unreported, according to an analysis released Thursday by the U.S. Secret Service.

  • West Has No Response to Iran’s Increasing Dominance of the Middle East

    A new, detailed study says that over the past forty years Iran has built a network of nonstate alliances which has allowed it to turn the balance of “effective” power in the region “in its favor.” In a report released today (7 November), the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) says the United States and its regional allies retain superiority in conventional forces over Iran, but that Iran has been able to counter both the U.S. military superiority and the ever-more-severe economic sanctions imposed on Iran by building “networks of influence” with proxies which allow Tehran to have a major influence over the affairs of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen.

  • Iran Begins Uranium Enrichment at Fordow, Says U.S. to Blame

    Iran says it has begun enriching uranium at its Fordow underground nuclear facility, further defying terms of a landmark 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. Tehran has gradually reduced some of its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal since President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the accord in May 2018. Meanwhile, Washington has reimposed and expanded punishing sanctions as part of a stated campaign of “maximum pressure” against Iran.