• Wi-Fi devices goldmine for investigators

    Timely access to Wi-Fi devices at crime scenes could provide police with vital evidence, including placing suspects at the location. This is due to their ability to record information from mobile devices, including successful or failed attempts to log into a network, de-authentication times and MAC addresses.

  • North Korea claims to have tested miniaturized hydrogen bomb

    North Korea has conducted its fourth nuclear test in ten years – the previous tests took place in 2006, 2009 and 2013 – indicating that the country is further along in developing nuclear warheads which could be miniaturized and placed on a missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland.

  • view counter
  • Oregon siege: the U.S. militia movement is resurgent – and evolving

    For several days now, a small group of armed men have occupied an office of the National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Oregon, 300 miles from Portland. There is of course a long history of distrust towards the federal government in America, one of which the militias of recent decades are acutely aware. Drawing on anti-Communist organizations of the 1950s and the paranoia of the Cold War, militia culture grew towards a fever pitch in the 1980s and 1990s. The popularity of this newly radicalized “paranoid style,” however, came to a sudden halt on the second anniversary of the burning of the Waco compound (April 1993), when Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols bombed a federal building in Oklahoma City in what was then the most significant terrorist incident in American history, killing 168 people. The new coalition of anti-government activists, as represented by the people who seized the buildings in Oregon, is broad and ideologically diverse, and its principal spokesmen explicitly repudiate racism. Some of its leaders promote the goal of a theocratic society: The invasion of the wildlife sanctuary may also demonstrate the power of social media to do for American militia culture what Facebook and Twitter contributed to the Arab Spring.

  • Precisely pinpointing first responder locations

    When firefighters rush into a burning building, it is essential that they and their operations team know their precise locations at all times. Even with global positioning systems (GPS) and other tracking technologies, environmental conditions, obstructions and interference from the building materials can severely limit pinpointing them. In the event of an injury, search teams rely on communications systems to rescue these first responders. DHS S&T is developing a new system to help tackle this challenge.

  • Obama to end background-checks exemptions of gun shows, online gun sales

    President Barack Obama will today announce a series of executive actions aiming to close loopholes in the current system of background checks of gun buyers. The executive actions say it will focus on tightening the definition of those “engaged in the business” of selling weapons. Such tightening would deny online vendors and gun shows – where about 40 percent of all gun are purchased — exemptions from conducting background checks for gun buyers. Criminals and mentally ill people can now purchase guns through gun sellers who exploit the “engaged in business” loophole which was originally designed for hobbyists and personal sales.

  • Remote-controlled robot inspects suitcase bombs

    Abandoned items of luggage are frequently found at airports and train stations. This is a case for the emergency services, which have to assume that these items might contain bombs. They must assess the potential threat quickly, avert any possible danger, and preserve evidence for criminal proceedings. In the future, police will have the support of a remote-controlled sensor system as they go about their duties. Researchers are developing this sensor suite in cooperation with industry partners and criminal investigation authorities.

  • view counter
  • U.S. to impose new sanctions on Iran over ballistic missile program

    The United States is preparing a new round of economic sanctions against Iran after Iran had violated agreements related to its ballistic missile program by testing, on 10 October, an advanced version of one of its missiles. The ballistic missile agreement is unrelated to the nuclear agreement the P5+1 powers signed with Iran last summer. The nuclear program-related sanctions would begin to be lifted in 2016 if Iran fully complies with the requirements of the nuclear deal.

  • Rail safety delays; Chicago’s trigger-happy police; killing Bangladeshi bloggers

    In October the Congress agreed to extend the deadline for installing the systems to 2018, but earlier this month Congress extended the deadline for deploying speed-control systems yet again, this time until the end of 2020; By June 2016, all Chicago police officers will be equipped with non-lethal Tasers. The move is part of a plan by city authorities to curb the sharp rise in the number of people – all of them African Americans — killed by police shooting; in 2015 alone, at least four pro-democracy bloggers and a publisher were murdered while others went into hiding, or fled abroad, prompting widespread calls for protection of free speech in Bangladesh from the threat of radical Islamists.

  • NSA kept Benjamin Netanyahu under surveillance during Iran negotiations

    As part of the effort by the Obama administration earlier this year to make sure that the negotiations between the P5+1 powers and Iran over the latter’s nuclear program would not be derailed or obstructed, the National Security Agency (NSA) kept a close watch on Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The agency collected intelligence on Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders in an attempt to learn what moves the Israeli leader was planning as part of his campaign to have Congress reject the agreement the United States was negotiating.

  • Calls for tighter regulations of the design of toy guns

    The death of people – often children – who carry BB or pellet guns resembling real weapons has prompted lawmakers and activists to call for tighter regulations on the design of non-lethal guns. California has already passed such a law, and it would go into effect on Friday.

  • Snake robot range-sensing control system improves search-and-rescue performance

    Rescue operations at disaster scenes often use robots to avoid further human danger. Modelling robots on snakes can provide better access through narrow paths in rubble, but previous models which control snake robots by the head do not adequately avoid collisions between the body of the robot and surrounding obstacles. Researchers say that to be more effective in search and rescue missions, robotic snakes should comprise a series of sections joined by links which either pitch up and down or yaw through sideways turning angles.

  • Iran ships enriched uranium to Russia as part of nuclear deal

    On Monday Iran took the most important step so far toward complying with the nuclear agreement it had signed with the P5+1 power by shipping 25,000lb of low-enriched uranium to Russia. Iran had until the end of 2015 to ship out all of its low-enriched uranium it has stockpiled – except 660lb which the agreements allows it to keep.

  • Transforming deadly chemicals into harmless dirt

    Destroying bulk stores of chemical warfare agents is a challenge for the U.S. and international community. Current methods of eradication, such as incineration or hydrolysis, are not fully agnostic, require significant amounts of water and create hazardous waste that requires further processing. DARPA’s Agnostic Compact Demilitarization of Chemical Agents (ACDC) program recently awarded two contracts to develop prototypes of a transportable disposal system able to convert dangerous chemicals into safe output, such as harmless soil, using minimal consumables and creating no hazardous waste.

  • Forensic seismology tested on 2006 munitions depot explosion in Baghdad

    Seismometers were developed to record earthquakes, but then they turned out to be useful for monitoring nuclear tests, and now people are using them in all kinds of creative ways. Seismologists could distinguish, mortars, rockets, improvised explosive devices, helicopters, and drones from four miles away. In 2005 and 2006 ten seismometers were installed in northern and northeastern Iraq to study the seismic properties of the Earth’s crust in that area so that it would be possible to quantify the yield of nearby earthquakes or nuclear tests. They proved useful in identifying conventional explosions as well.

  • Pairing seismic data, radionuclide fluid-flow models to detect underground nuclear tests

    Underground nuclear weapon testing produces radionuclide gases that may seep to the surface, which is affected by many factors. These include fractures in the rock caused by the explosion’s shock waves that create pathways for the gas to escape plus the effect of changes in atmospheric pressure that affect the gases’ movement. Scientists have developed a new, more thorough method for detecting underground nuclear explosions (UNEs) by coupling two fundamental elements — seismic models with gas-flow models — to create a more complete picture of how an explosion’s evidence (radionuclide gases) seep to the surface.