Nonlethal weapons

  • Radiation risksLos Alamos lab admits mishandling toxic waste, causing repository radiation leak

    In a letter addressed to the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED), lab officials at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) have admitted to mishandling toxic waste shipped to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in Carlsbad, New Mexico, the nation’s only permanent repository for plutonium-contaminated waste from government nuclear facilities.

  • Chemical weapons detectionMustard plants help detect use of chemical weapons

    Making nations comply with the Chemical Weapons Convention requires that scientists can accurately detect the use of chemical warfare agents. Currently they carry out tests on soil from areas where use is suspected. Many nerve agents composed of organo-phosophorous compounds, however, leach from soil over time, removing the evidence of use and making verifying the deployment of chemical weapons like sarin, soman, and VX difficult. Researchers report that white mustard plants can help by allowing detection for up to forty-five days after the chemical weapons were used.

  • Nuclear weaponsFirst full-system mechanical environment test of B61-12 nuke completed successfully

    The U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) announced the successful completion of the first full-system mechanical environment test of the B61‑12 as part of the NNSA’s effort to refurbish the B61 nuclear bomb. This first full-system mechanical environment test is one of several critical milestones for the B61-12 Life Extension Program (LEP). The B61-12 will replace the existing B61-3, -4, -7, and -10 bombs. Fielding the B61-12 will also enable the retirement of the B83, the last U.S. megaton class weapon, in the mid-to-late 2020s.

  • Nuclear weaponsB61-11 earth-penetrating weapon tested for first time in seven years

    One of the main purposes of the U.S. nuclear stockpile is deterrence, and one important way to assure deterrence is to have a successful surveillance test that shows that the systems in the stockpile work. Sandia’s annual surveillance program for each weapon type consists of flight tests, lab tests, and component and material tests. On 20 November 2013, researchers conducted a rocket-driven impact test of the nonnuclear components of the B61-11 earth-penetrating weapon, the first such test in seven years. Flight tests subject the weapon to shock, vibration, temperature, rotation, weather, and more. Sandia pulls random units from the stockpile for tests.

  • ConspiraciesDHS: conspiracy theories about DHS purchases unequivocally false

    Conspiracy theorists have pointed to several DHS solicitations for gear and ammunition as “proof” that the department is in the process of creating, training, and equipping a secret force, the purpose of which would be to suppress public dissent – or worse: one blogger wrote that “Another possible conclusion [regarding DHS’s ammo purchases] is that the bullets are intended to coerce and, if need be, kill us.” DHS flatly rejects these conspiratorial assertions as unequivocally false, saying that each and every purchase is in line with past purchases and in support of on-going, legitimate, and transparent departmental operations.

  • DronesNumber of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen significantly reduced

    In the past several months, the United States has reduced the number of drone strikes on terrorist targets in Pakistan and Yemen. The United States launched 117 drone strikes in Pakistan in 2010, compared to twenty-one so far this year. Representative Mike Rogers (R-Michigan), chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, is concerned. “[The threat of terrorism is] not diminishing,” he said. “There have been counterterrorism changes made by the administration that have concerned us all, things that we’ve been working on for a period of months that we’re trying to work through that are very, very concerning. This is no time to retreat.”

  • Stun gunsPowerful stun guns popular in U.K.

    Possessing a stun gun in the United Kingdom can carry a jail sentence of ten years, but the police keep seizing hundreds of stun guns every year; U.K. law enforcement agencies have investigated more than 200 crimes in the last three years involving stun guns, and that in those three years almost 500 stun guns have been seized by police

  • Non-lethal weaponsLess-lethal 12-gauge shotgun round for law enforcement unveiled

    Innovative new round flattens, or “pancakes,” across a subject’s body on impact rather than keeping its shape as other rounds do

  • The great outdoorsBetter to use spray rather than a gun in bear encounters

    Carrying a gun in bear country does not mean you are more protected in the event of a bear encounter; researchers say people should behave cautiously and carry bear spray instead

  • Non-lethal weaponsThe Bruzer – a less lethal, compact 12-gauge

    To augment local police officers’ growing array of non-lethal weapons, Tommy Teach, a military combat veteran, has designed a compact non-lethal 12-guage shotgun

  • Law-enforcement technologyTaser rolls out redesigned wearable cameras

    Last week Taser, the manufacturers of the electric stun guns, unveiled its newly remodeled wearable camera system which is sleeker and more advanced than its predecessor; the Axon Flex, introduced less than a year after the company rolled out its first wearable cameras, represents a significant upgrade

  • Non-lethal systemsProtests spur sonic blaster sales boom

    With the spate of protests from the Occupy Wall Street movement sweeping across the country, there has been a surge of interest in non-lethal crowd control systems; in particular U.S. police and first responders have taken a keen interest in Long-Range Acoustic Devices (LRAD)

  • Ray gunsNonlethal microwave weapon successfully tested

    Counter-electronics High-powered Microwave Advanced Missile Project (CHAMP) is a nonlethal alternative to kinetic weapons that neutralizes electronic targets; it would allow the military to focus on these targets while minimizing or eliminating collateral damage; Boeing and the U.S. Air Force have successfully completed the missile’s first flight test

  • Twin Towers attackWhy the Twin Towers collapsed: new theory

    Materials scientist says that a mixture of water from sprinkler systems and molten aluminum from melted aircraft hulls created explosions that led to the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11

  • TasersTaser-related fatalities raise safety concerns

    As police across the United States increasingly turn to Taser guns as a non-lethal weapon, the device’s safety has come under scrutiny following several recent deaths involving Tasers; last week the Fayetteville police department in North Carolina recalled all of its Taser M26 units following the death of a fifty-six year old political activist who died after being stunned by police