From: Homeland Security News Wire
To: Scott Jenkins,
Subject: Week in Review
Date: Sat Jun 07 14:02:36 MDT 2014
Body:
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WEEK IN REVIEW
Friday 6 June 2014 vol. 3 no. 131

Week in Review

Terrorism
Growing Jihadist threat demands new U.S. strategy to combat terrorism: RAND study

There is a growing terrorist threat to the United States from a rising number of Salafi-jihadist groups overseas, according to a new RAND study. Since 2010, there has been a 58 percent increase in the number of jihadist groups, a doubling of jihadist fighters, and a tripling of attacks by al Qaeda affiliates. The most significant threat to the United States, the report concludes, comes from terrorist groups operating in Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. There is a medium-level threat from terrorist groups operating in Somalia, Iraq, Libya, Lebanon, Nigeria, and Algeria. There is also a low-level threat from Salafi-jihadist groups operating in such countries as Tunisia, Mali, and Morocco.

Syria
Floridian is first known American suicide bomber in Syria

Floridian resident Moner Mohammad Abusalha is the first known American suicide bomber in Syria's civil war. His death last May came as a surprise to U.S. counterterrorism agencies, which had lost track of him once he entered Syria. Some 12,000 foreign fighters have so far taken part in the Syria civil war -- 3,000 of them from Western countries -- and the inability to track these foreign fighters reflects a troubling blind spot for Western intelligence agencies. U.S. intelligence services are further hampered by legal restrictions which limit the monitoring of U.S. citizens and their communications.

Ammonium nitrate
Federal oversight of ammonium nitrate exceedingly weak

A new Government Accountability Office(GAO) report found that the federal government has no way of fully knowing which chemical facilities stockammonium nitrate, a widely used fertilizer which was the cause of the explosion last year at a West, Texas fertilizer plan, which resulted in the death of fourteen people – and which was used by Timothy McVeigh in Oklahoma City twenty years ago. Poor data sharing with states, outdated federal policies, and numerous industry exemptions have contributed to a weak federal oversight. Without improved monitoring, regulators “will not know the extent to which dangerous conditions at some facilities may continue to exist,’’ the GAO report said.

Immigration
DHS relaxes employment rules for H-1B visa spouses

Last month DHS proposed two new rule changes which would allow H-4 dependent spouses of highly skilled immigrant workers who hold an H-1B, E, or L visas, to work legally in the United States. Current regulations prohibit work authorization for spouses of said visa holders. Some immigration advocates say the proposal is too narrow since getting employers to sponsor an H-1B visa applicant is already challenging.

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Surveillance
NSA, other agencies, collect millions of images for large facial recognition databases

The NSA, through its global surveillance operations, has been accumulating millions of images from communication interceptions for use in high-level facial recognition programs, according to classified 2011 documents leaked by Edward Snowden. The documents do not reveal how many people have been targeted with facial recognition programs, but given the NSA's foreign intelligence mission, a bulk of the imagery collected would involve foreign nationals.

Resilience
Winners selected in NYC, N.J. storm-proofing projects competition

After months of reviewing proposals as part of an effort to prevent and limit damages from future Hurricane Sandy-like disasters, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development(HUD) has awarded$920 million in federal aid to New York and New Jersey to support six Rebuild by Desig nprojects, aimed at building resilience in vulnerable regions.

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Infrastructure protection
Santa Monica to require retrofit of earthquake-vulnerable buildings

Last week, the Santa Monica City Councilauthorized city officials to hire engineering consultants to help identify buildings built before 1996 which could potentially be at risk in a major earthquake.. Owners of vulnerable buildings would be notified and provided recommendations on how to best retrofit their buildings to make them more resilient. Santa Monica will become the first city in California to require retrofitting for concrete, steel, and wood-frame. San Francisco last year required similar retrofitting, but only for wood apartment buildings.

Nuclear waste
NRC will not require nuclear plants to transfer waste to dry cask storage

Cooling pools on the grounds of U.S. nuclear plants, where toxic nuclear waste is stored, are near capacity, and in 2010 the plug was pulled on the Yucca Mountain centralized national nuclear waste repository, meaning that for the foreseeable future radioactive will continue to accumulate on site at the more than 100 nuclear power plants. Lawmakers called on the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to require nuclear plants to hurry the transfer of spent fuel from the cooling pools to dry cask storage, which scientists consider much safer. The NRC, however, has decided that, at least for now, there is now reason to require nuclear plants to do so.

Nuclear operations
NNSA adopts new strategy for modernizing, upgrading uranium operations at Y-12 complex

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)will adopt an alternative strategy for upgrading and modernizing uranium operations at the Y-12 National Security Complex at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). NNSA has adopted the recommendations of the Red Team, which proposed relocating some uranium operations to existing available facilities, a cost-saving plan which is different from the previous strategy of consolidating all of Y-12's uranium activities into a single big-box building. Some new buildings would still be constructed at Y-12 as part of the new plan, but costs will remain within the $6.5 billion budget, considerably less than the $10 million estimated cost of the previous plan.

Dirty bombs
Urgent need: Dirty bomb detection technology which does not rely on helium

It has taken 4.7 billion years for Earth to accumulate our helium reserves, but these reserves are dwindling at an alarming rate, and will be exhausted by around 2025. The supplies we have originated in the very slow radioactive alpha decay that occurs in rocks, and there is no chemical way to manufacture helium. The Department of Defense and other agencies use Helium-3 (He-3) to detect neutrons emanating from Special Nuclear Material (SNM) in order to counter the threat of nuclear-fueled explosives such as dirty bombs. Since the supply of He-3 is rapidly drying up, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) awarded a $2.8 million contract to Alion Science and Technology to develop a replacement technology which will detect neutrons without relying on He-3.

Smallpox
Scientists divided on whether to destroy last stocks of smallpox virus

While smallpox has been eradicated since 1980, the World Health Organization (WHO) still maintains a stockpile of the virus -- a measure which is becoming an increasingly contentious issue for members of the 194-nation organization. Some scientists argue that the stockpiles of the virus should be maintained until there is a completely confirmed response to any possible future smallpox outbreak, while other scientists argue that the danger of an accidental outbreak or terrorist bioattack using the virus far outweighed any advances to be made by additional live testing.

Rail security
China implements airport-like security checks at crowded train stations

China's terrorism problem is worsening as a growing Uighur-led Islamist militancy has emerged in response to the Chinese government's tough stance on ethnic problems in the Uighur homeland of Xinjiang in west China. In response to the growing security risks, Beijing passengers are now subject to security checks before their train commute.

Cybersecurity
DARPA’s Cyber Grand Challenge aims to see fully automated network security systems developed

There is an increasingly serious cybersecurity problem: the inadequacy of current network security systems, which require expert programmers to identify and repair system weaknesses -- typically after attackers have taken advantage of those weaknesses to steal data or disrupt processes. Such disruptions pose greater risks than ever as more and more devices, including vehicles and homes, get networked in what has become known as “the Internet of things.” DARPA is addressing this problem, with teams from around the world starting a two-year track toward the world’s first tournament of fully automated network security systems. Computer security experts from academia, industry, and the larger security community have organized themselves into more than thirty teams to compete in DARPA’s Cyber Grand Challenge -- first-of-its-kind tournament designed to speed the development of automated security systems able to defend against cyberattacks as fast as they are launched.

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Legion of the Rearguard - Dissident Irish Republicanism from ISBS
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Homeland Security, Criminal Justice, Law & Public Policy - Master of Science Legal Studies 100% online - CALU Global Online
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Progress and Modernity in Arab Societies
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State, Political Community and Foreign Relations in Modern and Contemporary Syria
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