• Balloon-borne infrasound sensor array detects explosions

    Infrasound is sound of very low frequencies, below 20 hertz, which is lower than humans can hear. African elephants produce infrasound for long-distance communication at around 15 hertz. For comparison, a bumblebee’s buzz is typically 150 hertz and humans hear in the range of 20 to 20,000 hertz. Infrasound is important because it’s one of the verification technologies the U.S. and the international community use to monitor explosions, including those caused by nuclear tests. Traditionally, infrasound is detected by ground-based sensor arrays, which don’t cover the open ocean and can be muddled by other noises, such as the wind. Sandia Lab scientists is using sheets of plastic, packing tape, some string, a little charcoal dust, and a white shoebox-size box to build a solar-powered hot air balloon for detecting infrasound.

  • Detect illicit drone video filming

    Researchers have demonstrated the first technique to detect a drone camera illicitly capturing video. Their study addresses increasing concerns about the proliferation of drone use for personal and business applications and how it is impinging on privacy and safety.

  • Tracing how disaster impacts escalate to help improve emergency responses

    Naturally occurring extreme space weather events or man-made cyber security attacks affect critical infrastructure through shared points of vulnerability, causing disasters to cascade into scenarios that threaten life and the global economy. Mapping common pathways along which the effects of natural and man-made disasters travel allows more flexible and resilient responses in the future, according to UCL researchers.

  • Smart sensor could revolutionize crime, terrorism prevention

    Crime, terrorism prevention, environmental monitoring, reusable electronics, medical diagnostics and food safety, are just a few of the far-reaching areas where a new chemical sensor could revolutionize progress. Engineers at the University of Oxford have used material compounds, known as Metal Organic Frameworks (MOFs), to develop technology that senses and responds to light and chemicals. The material visibly changes color depending on the substance detected.

  • Enlisting drones to detect unexploded landmines through changes in plant health

    From U.S. Navy laboratories to battlefields in Afghanistan, researchers are lining up to explore the use of unmanned aerial vehicles to detect unexploded landmines. Researchers are enlisting a third variable —plant health — to see whether drones can be used to more safely locate such weapons of destruction. Plant responses to explosives have only been tested – but at the leaf level and in the lab. Now, research can be applied at the field level with the use of UAVs.

  • Netanyahu hints Israel has thwarted plots to crash hijacked planes into European cities

    Israel’s prime minister tells NATO ambassadors that Israeli intelligence has thwarted “several dozen major terrorist attacks” against countries in Europe — some involving crashing highjacked planes into urban centers. Netanyahu expressed Israel’s growing concern with the de facto control Iran and Hezbollah are gaining over Syria. Last week, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot said the most serious immediate threat to Israel was posed by Hezbollah, followed by other Iran-supported jihadist groups positioned on the Syrian border.

  • 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.