• Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo partly caused by Indonesian volcanic eruption

    Electrically charged volcanic ash short-circuited Earth’s atmosphere in 1815, causing global poor weather and Napoleon’s defeat, says new research. Historians know that rainy and muddy conditions helped the Allied army defeat the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte at the Battle of Waterloo. The June 1815 event changed the course of European history. Two months prior, a volcano named Mount Tambora erupted on the Indonesian island of Sumbawa, killing 100,000 people and plunging the Earth into a ‘year without a summer’ in 1816.

  • Disproportionate killing of black men by police

    Bad policing, bad law, not “bad apples”: Killings of unarmed black men by white police officers across the nation have garnered massive media attention in recent years, raising the question: Do white law enforcement officers target minority suspects? An extensive, new national study reveals some surprising answers. Analysis of every use of deadly force by police officers across the United States indicates that the killing of black suspects is a police problem, not a white police problem, and the killing of unarmed suspects of any race is extremely rare.

  • Militarization of police fails to enhance safety, may damage police reputation

    This month marks the four-year anniversary of protests over the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, an incident met with a heavily armed police response that stoked widespread concern. While proponents say militarized police units enhance officer safety and prevent violence, critics argue these tactics are targeted at racial minorities, and diminish trust between citizens and law enforcement.

  • Three reasons the U.S. is not ready for the next pandemic

    In the midst of a pandemic, decisions must be made quickly. Quick decision-making can often be hindered by the absence of high-level leadership. The need for high-level leadership, coordination and a new strategy are essential to mitigate the threat of pandemics, but these fundamental pandemic preparedness gaps persist. The next great pandemic is coming. The true question is: Will we be ready when it does? Right now, that answer is no, because the country lacks the sufficient safeguards we have outlined. But if the United States chooses to elevate the issue of pandemic preparedness and biosecurity as a national security priority, we could be. Outbreaks are inevitable, but pandemics are not if we take action now.

  • Making electronic documents more trustworthy

    Today, the expeditious delivery of electronic documents, messages, and other data is relied on for everything from communications to navigation. As the near instantaneous exchange of information has increased in volume, so has the variety of electronic data formats–from images and videos to text and maps. Verifying the trustworthiness and provenance of this mountain of electronic information is an exceedingly difficult task – especially since the software used to process electronic data is error-prone and vulnerable to exploitation through maliciously crafted data inputs, opening the technology and its underlying systems to compromise.

  • Black Americans are still victims of hate crimes more than any other group

    James Byrd Jr., who was dragged to death in Texas 20 years ago, became one of the namesakes for a 2009 federal law expanding hate crime legislation. But just 100 hate crimes have been pursued by federal prosecutors between January 2010 and July 2018.

  • WiFi can detect weapons, bombs, chemicals in bags

    Ordinary WiFi can easily detect weapons, bombs and explosive chemicals in bags at museums, stadiums, theme parks, schools and other public venues, according to a new study. Researchers  demonstrated how this low-cost technology could help security screening at public venues like stadiums, theme parks and schools.

  • New first-responder safety, efficiency systems on the way

    Two homeland security technologies will be developed jointly by American and Israeli companies to increase the safety and efficiency of first-responders — law enforcement, firefighters and emergency medical services —  after getting funding from the Israel-U.S. Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation. The technologies will build advanced technologies for victim location and radio communication.

  • Violence in U.S. cities: Mixed, but optimistic, picture

    Violence has fallen in nearly all major U.S. cities since 1991, but recent fluctuations in violence in selected cities point to temporary disruptions in this 17-year decline. “American cities are much safer than they were in the early 1990s,” says one researcher. “While violence rose in many cities from 2014 to 2017, the most recent data indicate that, overall, cities have turned a corner and this recent rise in violence may have come to an end.”

  • Hacked satellite could launch microwave-like attacks

    The satellite communications which ships, planes, and the military use to connect to the internet are vulnerable to hackers which, in the worst-case scenario, could carry out “cyber-physical attacks,” turning satellite antennas into weapons which operate, in effect, like microwave ovens. An expert speaking at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas, said that a number of popular satellite communication systems are vulnerable to such attacks, which could also leak information and hack connected devices.

  • Holding law-enforcement accountable for electronic surveillance

    When the FBI filed a court order in 2016 commanding Apple to unlock the iPhone of one of the shooters in a terrorist attack in San Bernandino, California, the news made headlines across the globe. Yet every day there are tens of thousands of court orders asking tech companies to turn over Americans’ private data. Many of these orders never see the light of day, leaving a whole privacy-sensitive aspect of government power immune to judicial oversight and lacking in public accountability. MIT researchers have proposed a new cryptographic system, using cryptography on a public log of wiretap requests, which encourages government transparency.

  • U.S. imposing new sanctions on Russia for spy poisoning in U.K.

    The State Department says it will be implementing new sanctions on Russia as punishment for the March 2018 poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia on British soil. The new sanctions, which will go into effect on 22 August, target export licenses of sensitive U.S. technologies and industrial equipment, such as electronics, calibration equipment, and gas turbine engines. Russia will also be given 90 days to comply with other demands, including allowing international inspectors into the country to ensure that no chemical or biological weapons exist there. If Moscow does not comply with the demands, a second round of sanctions could further downgrade diplomatic relations with Russia, or even restrict flights by Russian air carrier Aeroflot.

  • Syria accuses Israel of killing chemical weapons and rocket scientist

    A senior Syrian weapons engineer killed over the weekend when a bomb in his car exploded was killed in a targeted assassination by Israel’s security agency Mossad, the New York Times reported Tuesday, reinforcing accusations from Syria.

  • High- and low-tech solutions for bomb disposal

    To ensure bomb techs are on the cutting edge of technology as they address evolving threats, DHS S&T created the Response and Defeat Operations Support (REDOPS) program. REDOPS connects the 466 bomb squads of varying sizes and budgets across the country with the tools and information they need to perform their duties better, faster and more safely. They look at a variety of sources—including the commercial marketplace, responder communities and international partners—for high- and low-tech solutions.

  • Murder rates highest in countries lacking due process

    Governments that do the best job protecting the rights of the accused have the lowest murder rates, while those that neglect due process have the highest, according to a new study. “This study suggests that how the government treats people in its effort to provide security matters,” says one researcher. “When there is a lack of trust in the state, people tend to take matters into their own hands and there are real-world consequences.”