• HHS sponsors inhaled chlorine antidote for chemical terrorism preparedness

    Chlorine gas is a widely available industrial chemical with catastrophic consequences in industrial accidents. chlorine gas has been used as a weapon, for the first time in the First World War  and repeatedly in the recent Syrian civil war. Currently, there is no specific antidote for lung injuries caused by chlorine exposure, and treatment has been limited supportive care. The first potential antidote to treat the life-threatening effects of chlorine inhalation, a potential terrorism threat, will advance in development under a contract between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) and Radikal Therapeutics, Inc. of Beverly, Massachusetts.

  • Countering enemy IEDs in culverts

    Culverts are creeks or streams that run under roads to prevent flooding, and that terrorists often use these areas to kill soldiers. The Joint Improvised-threat Defeat Agency (JIDA) challenge, held 13-21 September at Fort Benning, tested industry vendor equipment from around the United States in order to counter enemy improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in culverts.

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  • Congress overrides Obama's veto of law allowing 9/11 families to sue Saudi Arabia

    The Congress on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly to override President Barack Obama’s veto of a bill which would allow families of 9/11 to sue Saudi Arabia, seeking damages for the 9/11 attacks. The Senate voted 97 to 1 to override the president’s veto, and the House voted 348 to 77 to do so. This is the first time Congress has successfully overruled a veto during Obama’s tenure.

  • JASTA exposes British soldiers, intelligence operatives to prosecution: U.K.

    Britain has expressed concerns to the United States that the Justice against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) legislation which President Barack Obama had vetoed but which has become law after Congress on Wednesday overrode his veto, could lead to the prosecution of British military and intelligence personnel in American courts – and by hostile regimes around the world. U.K. intelligence and security agencies, MI6 and MI5, have warned about the ramifications of JASTA, as it exposes British personnel to lawsuits by American lawyers attempting to prove that U.K.-based jihadists have been involved in terror plots against U.S. targets. Even more worrisome is the fact that the weakening of sovereign immunity could result in U.K. military and intelligence personnel facing legal action from hostile states.

  • ISIS's imminent defeat will create “terrorist diaspora sometime in the next two to five years”: Comey

    FBI director James Comey on Tuesday warned that the increasing success of the military campaign against ISIS in Syria and Iraq carries an ominous downside: a wave of terrorist fighters who will spread across the globe as the group loses control of its territory on the ground. “They will not all die on the battlefield in Syria and Iraq. There will be a terrorist diaspora sometime in the next two to five years like we’ve never seen before.”

  • Shimon Peres and the legacy of the Oslo Accords

    Shimon Peres, the former prime minister of Israel, has died at the age of 93. A titan of Israeli political life, Peres remained an active player in his country and the region until his death, working hard to promote closer ties between Israelis and Palestinians. He will be remembered above all else for his role in negotiating the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords and for winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 along with then-Israeli Prime Minster Yitzak Rabin and Yasser Arafat. The Oslo Accord delayed dealing with the core issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — the status of Jerusalem, right of return for the 1948 Palestinian refugees, the status of the Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, the borders of the Palestinian territory – for a later date, but that date has yet to arrive. Although the two sides are far apart, Peres died an optimist, still hopeful that the day would come when the Israeli Defense Forces’ soldiers would serve purely for peace. As he famously put it: “Impossibility is only a product of our prejudice.”

  • Sudan used chemical weapons against civilians in Darfur

    An Amnesty International investigation has gathered evidence of the repeated use of what are believed to be chemical weapons against civilians, including very young children, by Sudanese government forces in one of the most remote regions of Darfur over the past eight months. The investigators, using satellite imagery, more than 200 in-depth interviews with survivors, and expert analysis of dozens of images showing babies and young children with chemical weapons-related injuries, the investigation indicates that at least thirty likely chemical attacks have taken place in the Jebel Marra area of Darfur since January 2016. The most recent was on 9 September 2016.

  • California's almond boom ramped up water use, consumed wetlands

    Converting land in California to grow water-hungry almonds between 2007 and 2014 has led to a 27 percent annual increase in irrigation demands — despite the state’s historic drought. The expansion of almonds has also consumed 16,000 acres of wetlands and will likely put additional pressure on already stressed honeybee populations.

  • A first: ICC sentences Islamist to nine years for cultural destruction in Timbuktu

    The International Criminal Court sentenced an Islamist militant to nine years in jail for ordering members of the Islamist Ansar Dine group in northern Mali to destroy historic shrines and mausoleums in Timbuktu, and burn hundreds of ancient books. The destruction took place in between April and December 2012, when the Islamists controlled the break-away northern Mali – which they called the Republic of Azawad – after chasing the Mali army away. A three-judge panel in The Hague sentenced Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdiin the first-ever case of an individual being charged with war crimes solely for cultural destruction.

  • Judge questions whether Facebook is doing enough to deter terrorists from using its platform

    A federal judge harshly criticized Facebook, admonishing the social media giant for not be doing enough to deter terrorists from using its platform. U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis in Brooklyn, New York, also accused Kirkland & Ellis LLP, Facebook’s lawyers — who had sent a first-year associate to a hearing — of not taking seriously lawsuits which touch on important issues such as international terrorism and the murder of innocents. “I think it is outrageous, irresponsible, and insulting,” Garaufis told the attorney. The judge ordered the law firm to send a more senior lawyer to the next hearing on 28 September because he wanted to “talk to someone who talks to senior management at Facebook.”

  • European security services worry about a wave of female terrorists

    The security services in France have grown increasingly worried about a new wave of female terrorist recruits. The concern has grown over the last few weeks, as arrests were made of French women, some of them teen-agers, who had pledged  allegiance to ISIS. Earlier this month French police arrested two young women, 17 and 19, who were being groomed to carry out an attack on “specific targets” in France in retaliation for the recent death of the ISIS leader Abu Muhammad al-Adnani. Since the beginning of September, the French security services have arrested six women for plotting terrorists attacks.

  • Which best protects your privacy: Apps or Web sites? It depends

    To protect your privacy, should you use the app — or a Web browser? This is the question researchers ask in new research that explores how free app — and Web-based services on Android and iOS mobile devices — compare with respect to protecting users’ privacy. In particular, the researchers investigated the degree to which each platform leaks personally identifiable information. The answer? “It depends,” they say.

  • Feds: We can read all your e-mail, and you’ll never know

    Fear of hackers reading private e-mails in cloud-based systems like Microsoft Outlook, Gmail, or Yahoo has recently sent regular people and public officials scrambling to delete entire accounts full of messages dating back years. What we don’t expect is our own government to hack our e-mail — but it’s happening. Federal court cases going on right now are revealing that federal officials can read all your e-mail without your knowledge. For example, in the case of U.S. v. Ravelo, pending in Newark, New Jersey, the government used a search warrant to download the entire contents of a lawyer’s personal cellphone – more than 90,000 items including text messages, e-mails, contact lists, and photos. When the phone’s owner complained to a judge, the government argued it could look at everything (except for privileged lawyer-client communications) before the court even issued a ruling. The judge in Ravelo is expected to issue a preliminary ruling on the feds’ arguments sometime in October. All Americans should be watching carefully to what happens next in these cases – the government may be already watching you without your knowledge.

  • Swiss approve broader surveillance powers for the government

    A majority of 65.5 percent of Swiss voters have on Sunday approved a new surveillance law, agreeing with the government’s argument that that the country’s security services needed more powers in an increasingly dangerous world. Relative to other European countries, the Swiss police and intelligence agencies have had limited investigative powers. For example, the law which was updated on Sunday had banned phone tapping and e-mail surveillance under any circumstances.

  • Number of terrorists in U.K. jails peaks

    The number of terrorist held prisoner in British jails 152 — fifty higher than five years ago, according to the latest set of quarterly reports from the Home Office. The reported record number of terrorist prisoners come one month after the Acheson review, which said that past complacency had allowed Islamic extremism to flourish in British jails, and two weeks after the government has launched a new initiative to build specialized high-security units in jails to separate the most subversive inmates from the general jail population.