• GPS allows for better, faster tsunami warnings

    Existing GPS instruments at monitoring stations worldwide could be used to increase the speed and accuracy of tsunami warnings, according to a new study. Real-time Global Positioning System (GPS) measurements can be used to show how major earthquakes displace the ocean floor, cutting tsunami warning times by nearly twenty minutes and potentially reducing harm to coastal communities, according to researchers.

  • ISIS used mustard gas in Iraq: UN watchdog

    A source at the UN chemical weapons watchdog, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), said that in 2015 ISIS attacked Kurdish forces in Iraq with mustard gas. It was the first documented use of chemical weapons in the country since Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons against Kurdish civilians in 1998.

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  • Smartphones app creates worldwide seismic network

    UC Berkeley scientists last week released a free Android app that taps a smartphone’s ability to record ground shaking from an earthquake, with the goal of creating a worldwide seismic detection network that could eventually warn users of impending jolts from nearby quakes. The app, called MyShake, is available from the Google Play Store and runs in the background with little power, so that a phone’s onboard accelerometers can record local shaking any time of the day or night.

  • NYPD has used Stingrays since 2008 -- with lower-level court orders rather than warrants

    The NYPD has confirmed that it owns and operates Stingrays— surveillance devices that spy on cell phones nearby and which can be used to track location. In response to an NYCLU FOIL request, the NYPD disclosed it used Stingrays nearly 1,016 times between 2008 and May of 2015 without a written policy and following a practice of obtaining only lower-level court orders rather than warrants. This is the first time the extent of the use of Stingrays by the NYPD has been made public.

  • Helping local law enforcement to share data

    DHS Science and Technology Directorate’s (S&T) First Responders Group’s (FRG) Video Datacasting Project transmits encrypted live video and data over existing broadcast television signals to a targeted audience within public safety. Users can download data in the field, improving interoperability at minimal cost and effort in the furtherance of public safety.

  • Encryption prevents FBI from cracking San Bernardino attackers’ phone

    U.S. law enforcement agencies have been unable to access a telephone used by the two Islamist attackers in the San Bernardino shooting, FBI director James Comey said Tuesday. Comey stressed that the post-Snowden end-to-end encryption some technology companies are now offering their customers make it impossible for law enforcement to learn more about terrorists and criminal networks, even after terrorist or criminal acts have been committed and even if a court has approved access to the information.

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  • Intelligence agencies could use Internet-of-things to spy on people

    James Clapper, the director of U.S. national intelligence, told lawmakers the other day that the Internet of things — baby monitors, TV set, home security devices, voice recognition dolls – may be used by intelligence services to spy on people. Clapper, testifying yesterday before a Senate panel, said that intelligence agencies might be able to use this new generation of household devices to increase their surveillance capabilities.

  • Doubts cast on Continuity IRA's claims of responsibility for Friday’s gang member shooting

    Irish security sources have expressed their doubts over a claim by the Continuity IRA that it had carried out the attack on a boxing weigh-in at a Dublin hotel on Friday. Gang member David Byrne was shot dead and two others were injured in the carefully planned attack at the Regency hotel. The attack was carried out by six gunmen, one dressed as a woman.

  • Gun deaths in U.S. highest among high-income nations

    New study finds that the United States, despite having only half the population of the other twenty-two high-income nations combined, accounted for 82 percent of all firearm deaths. In addition, the United State accounted for 90 percent of all women, 91 percent of children aged 0 to 14 years, and 92 percent of youth aged 15 to 24 years who are killed by firearms.

  • Iran nuclear deal: how to ensure compliance?

    The U.S. and European countries lifted nuclear-related sanctions against Iran on 16 January as part of a deal in which the country agreed to limit its nuclear activities and accept a new system of international inspections. The issue now is how the international community can be confident that Iran is not violating the deal. Iran agreed never to develop nuclear weapons when it signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1968. There’s no ironclad method to prevent Iran from breaking its promise and developing nuclear weapons, but this new agreement builds in a number of strong protections. In conjunction with U.S. and allied intelligence capabilities, these rules mean even a sophisticated and carefully executed secret plan would carry a high risk of detection.Looking at the deal as a whole, Iran’s best strategy for acquiring nuclear weapons would simply be to wait for restrictions on its declared enrichment program to be lifted. Assuming that the deal does not fall apart sooner, most of those provisions are scheduled to expire in 2030. In the meantime, the deal helps make a nuclear-armed Iran a less immediate prospect.

  • U.S. must address the “wicked problem” of wildfire

    U.S. wildfires burned more than 10.1 million acres in 2015 — a new record. Wildfire suppression costs the United States, on average, $2.9 billion a year. Researchers say that the United States must make preparing for and adapting to wildfire a top national priority, recognizing that widfire is a “wicked problem” — one so complex that a one-size-fits-all solution does not exist.

  • Brennan Center sues DHS, DOJ to make “Countering Violent Extremism” records public

    The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law last week sued DHS and the Department of Justice under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for records pertaining to an inter-agency initiative known as “Countering Violent Extremism” (CVE). The CVE initiative is designed to identify and preempt Americans from becoming involved in “violent extremism” and is being implemented in Muslim communities in several parts of the country, including the three formally designated pilot cities of Los Angeles, Boston, and Minneapolis-St. Paul.

  • IT system allows police to predict crimes, better organize police shifts

    Scientists have developed an IT system based in mathematical algorithms which allows to predict how many and what type of crimes are going to be committed in the next police shift. The developer say that it is about using scientific methods for police patrolling, and that it is the first case of predictive police methods are combined with a mathematical patrolling model.

  • Software helps detect nuclear tests

    When North Korea conducted its recent nuclear weapon test, it was not terribly difficult to detect. It was a fairly large blast, it occurred in a place where a test was not surprising, and the North Korean government made no effort to hide it. But clandestine tests of smaller devices, perhaps by terrorist organizations or other nonstate actors, are a different story. It is those difficult-to-detect events that the Vertically Integrated Seismic Analysis (VISA) — a machine learning system — aims to find.

  • Anaheim police employed Stingray surveillance devices

    Police in Anaheim, California have been using Stingray surveillance devices, as well as employing the more intrusive cousin, “dirtboxes,” during active investigations, without the knowledge of residents. More than 400 new documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union show that the department has requested funds for the technology, and that it has been using the devices since at least 2009.