Government | Homeland Security Newswire

  • Weak response to Russian meddling emboldened Moscow, official says

    Russia was emboldened by the lack of a decisive response by President Barack Obama’s administration during the 2016 presidential election and will seek to interfere in future elections, a former top U.S. official said. Victoria Nuland, whose portfolio at the State Department made her a leading Russia official under Obama, made the comments 20 June during a hearing at the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is conducting a sweeping investigation of Russian actions in the United States.

  • German police find large quantities of castor seeds in bioweapon suspect’s apartment

    German police investigators have found more than 3,000 castor bean seeds in the Cologne apartment of a 29-year old Tunisian, who was arrested last week for making a biological weapon. The quantity of castor seeds was much larger than initially thought. Castor beans are used in making the toxin ricin. The suspect, who is married to a German woman, had been under police surveillance for contacts with Islamist extremists.

  • A first: Israeli air strike kills dozens of pro-Assad Iraqi fighters in Syria

    Israel has not commented on background-only briefing by a senior U.S. official, who said that Israeli air-strike early Monday morning killed 52 Assad regime-allied troops eastern Syria. What is notable about the attack is its location — the town of al Hari in Deir Ezzor, near the border with Iraq, hundreds of miles from Israel – and the fact that among those killed were 22 members of Kata’ib Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed Iraqi Shia militia.

  • What's happening at the border? Here's what we know about immigrant children being separated from their families

    The attention of the nation has turned to Texas and its border with Mexico after the Trump administration enacted the “zero tolerance” policy, resulting, so far, in about 2,000 children being separated from their parents at the border. Here’s what we know.

  • Trump and Sessions can end immigrant family separations without Congress’ help

    Only Congress can provide the comprehensive immigration reform that would address the fundamental problems plaguing the American immigration system, including the statuses of undocumented immigrants already living in the U.S. However, current immigration laws give the executive branch considerable discretion in deciding which immigrants to detain and release from custody. President Donald Trump has at his disposal a variety of alternatives – other than separating families – that would promote his stated goal of deterring migration from Central America. Those alternatives could avoid violating international human rights norms.

  • Synthetic biology could be misused to create new weapons

    Synthetic biology expands the possibilities for creating new weapons — including making existing bacteria and viruses more harmful — while decreasing the time required to engineer such organisms, concludes a new report by the National Academies of Sciences. Although some malicious applications of synthetic biology may not seem plausible right now, they could become achievable with future advances.

  • Modernization of nuclear arsenals continues

    A new report finds that all the nuclear weapon-possessing states are developing new nuclear weapon systems and modernizing their existing systems. Nine states—the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea—possess approximately 14,465 nuclear weapons. This marked a decrease from the approximately 14,935 nuclear weapons these states were estimated to possess at the beginning of 2017.

  • Israel arrests former energy minister on charges of spying for Iran

    Israel’s former energy minister has been arrested and accused of spying for Iran. The former minister served three years in jail for trying to smuggle extasy pills into Israel, and then tried his hands in various business ventures in West Africa, where he was recruited by Iran’s intelligence.

  • Potential threat to speech privacy via smartphone motion sensors

    Could smartphone motion sensors be used by cybercriminals to record speech? It is a question that many academic and industry researchers are working to answer in order to ward off this kind of malicious use before it happens. Recent studies suggest security flaws and sensitivities to low-frequency audio signals, such as human speech, in accelerometers and gyroscopes could allow cybercriminals to collect confidential information such as credit card numbers and Social Security numbers as users speak into or near a mobile device.

  • Bank withheld $1.6 million from top bump stock maker after Las Vegas shooting

    In a lawsuit, Slide Fire Solutions, the inventor and manufacturer of the bump stock, accuses Merrick Bank of holding more than $1.6 million of the company’s money “hostage.” The financial institution says it had to hedge its risk in light of threats to Slide Fire’s business arising from the Las Vegas shooting.

  • How microgrids could boost resilience in New Orleans

    During Hurricane Katrina and other severe storms that have hit New Orleans, power outages, flooding and wind damage combined to cut off people from clean drinking water, food, medical care, shelter, prescriptions and other vital services. Researchers at Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories teamed up with the City of New Orleans to analyze ways to increase community resilience and improve the availability of critical lifeline services during and after severe weather.

  • Pakistan Taliban chief killed in U.S. air strike

    Mullah Fazullah, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, has been killed in a U.S. air strike in Afghanistan, an Afghanistan military official has said. Fazlullah was Pakistan’s most-wanted militant. He ordered the 2014 attack which killed 132 children, and the 2012 shooting of schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, who was later awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

  • Police carry out more raids in Cologne, Germany, after biological weapon arrest

    Police in the German city of Cologne on Friday searched several empty apartments in a high-rise, following the Tuesday discovery of the highly toxic substance ricin in one of the apartments. On Thursday, police charged a 29-year-old Tunisian man with producing a biological weapon and for “preparing a serious act of violence against the state.”

  • From Nord Stream to Novichok: Kremlin propaganda on Google’s front page

    On 24 May, an international team of investigators announced that a Russian anti-aircraft missile was directly responsible for the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 (MH17). Initial analysis of social media reactions to these announcements indicated that Kremlin outlets were struggling to effectively counter the new evidence implicating Moscow in the downing of MG17. However, over the next week, conspiracy theories and disinformation narratives from Russian propaganda outlets found a foothold on an impactful and unlikely medium: Google’s front page.

  • Was there a connection between Russian Facebook propaganda and a foiled terrorist attack in Kansas City?

    On 18 April, a jury convicted three Kansas men of conspiring to use “weapons of mass destruction” against an apartment complex where many of the residents were Somali refugees. They were arrested before they were able to carry out their bomb plot in 2016. All three were known to be very active on Facebook, where they called themselves “Crusaders.” Experts wonder whether the divisive and polarizing ads which Russian disinformation specialists ran on Facebook during 2016 motivated the three to plan the attack.