From: Homeland Security News Wire
To: Scott Jenkins,
Subject: Week in Review
Date: Sat May 17 14:05:40 MDT 2014
Body:
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WEEK IN REVIEW
Friday 16 May 2014 vol. 8 no. 114

Week in Review

Killer robots
UN mulling rules to govern autonomous killer robots

On Tuesday, delegates from several international organizations and governments around the world began the first of many round of talks dealing with   some call “lethal autonomous weapons systems” (LAWS), and others call “killer robots.” Supporters of LAWS say the technology offers life-saving potential in warfare, as these robots y are able to get closer than troops to assess threats without letting emotions interfere in their decisions. This is precisely what concerns critics of the technology. "If we don't inject a moral and ethical discussion into this, we won't control warfare," said one of them.

Rail security
U.S. to require railroads to notify states when oil is shipped

With the increase in available oil from fracking and larger pipeline capacity, railways are moving more and more oil. Rail companies moved 400,000 oil carloads in 2013, dwarfing 2005’s 6,000 oil carloads. The increase in oil shipments of oil has led to an increase in the number of accidents involving oil tankers. In the wake of recent accidents, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has released an emergency order to railroad companies which is designed to reduce the risk when shipping crude oil across the nation.

Radiation leaks
Absorbent used in kitty litter may be cause of radiation leaks in U.S. nuke dump

A wheat-based absorbent often used in kitty litter may be the likely cause of the radiation leak that led to the closure of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant(WIPP), the U.S. only underground nuclear waste repository, according to Jim Conca, a former geochemist at Los Alamos National Laboratory(LANL). Conca noted that EnergySolutions, a Salt Lake City-based company hired to  package radioactive waste at LANL into containers for shipment to the WIPP, switched from using a clay-based absorbent in the storage drums to a wheat-based mixture.

Nuclear safety
Lawmakers want safer waste storage at nuclear plants

Lawmakers on Tuesday introduced a set of bills aimed at improving the safety and security of nuclear power plants' waste in the event of a natural disaster or terrorism. One of the bills would require nuclear power plant operators to accelerate the transfer of nuclear waste stored in spent fuel pools into dry cask storage units. Current Nuclear Regulatory Commission(NRC) regulations allow spent fuel to remain in spent fuel pools until the reactor completes decommissioning, which can take as long as sixty years. Another bill would stop the NRC from issuing exemptions to its emergency response and security requirements for reactors that have been permanently decommissioned.

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Nuke safety
24 U.S. nuclear plants vulnerable to earthquakes

The U.S Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has concluded that the designs of twenty-four U.S. nuclear plants do not meet contemporary standards to withstand an earthquake in the vicinity of the facility. This analysis has revealed that these facilities could face significant, even disastrous, damage from earthquakes which are larger than what they were designed to encounter.

Immigration
DHS wants changes in Calif.’s ID for undocumented immigrants

California is preparing to issue drivers' licenses to undocumented immigrants who have been permitted to stay in the United States, but DHS has rejected the state's design for the license card. DHS wants the cards to be unique enough to distinguish them from regular drivers' licenses, but immigrant rights activists do not want the design to be so different that license holders would suffer from discrimination.

Homeland Security, Criminal Justice, Law & Public Policy - Master of Science Legal Studies 100% online - CALU Global Online
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Nebraska city free to enforce ordinance banning renting to undocumented immigrants

In response to the increasing numbers of Latino immigrants in the town of Fremont, Nebraska, city leaders proposed in 2010 an ordinance which would ban renting to undocumented immigrants. The public outrage that followed led immigrant rights groups to request the U.S. Supreme Court to review and strike down the ordinance because it may interfere with federal immigration laws.

Surveillance
Wisconsin silent about cell phone tracking by state police

The Wisconsin Department of Justice(DOJ) is refusing to acknowledge that it has deployed Stingray technology to track Wisconsin residents’ cellphones, despite reports claiming the state has used the technology during previous investigations. The state also denied a public records request made in April seeking details on how often Stingray technology is used, how data is stored and shared, and how often warrants are obtained.

Bioterrorism
Validating air sampling techniques to fight bioterrorism

Air and surface sampling techniques currently used by the U.S. government are effective in fighting bioterrorism and potentially saving lives, a new study says. Air sampling has been readily accepted for similar uses such as measuring for particulate matter, but using it to detect bacteria in biological terrorism was a new concept instituted after the 9/11 attacks. This type of sampling is now part of a sophisticated system used by the DHS and the Department of Defense. In order for the system to work more efficiently, however, experts say that the detection cycle, which currently takes between 12-36 hours, would need to produce results in a shorter time frame.

Pandemics
Pandemics: who should be given life-saving treatment first? Who should make the decision?

In the event of a flu pandemic, who should have priority access to life-saving ventilators, and who should make that determination? Few disaster preparedness plans have taken community values regarding allocation into account, but a new study is aiming to change that through public engagement with Maryland residents. “In the event of a healthcare crisis, understanding the community perspective and having citizen buy-in will be critical to avoid compounding the initial disaster with further social upheaval,” says the principal investigator.

Epidemics
Better understanding of the 1918 Flu Pandemic aids in better infectious disease response today

The 1918 Flu Pandemic infected over 500 million people, killing at least fifty million. Now, researchers have analyzed the pandemic in two remote regions of North America, finding that despite their geographical divide, both regions had environmental, nutritional, and economic factors that influenced morbidity during the pandemic. Findings from the research could help improve current health policies.

STEM education
Active learning of STEM subjects improves grades, reduces failure

A significantly greater number of students fail science, engineering, and math (STEM) courses which are taught lecture-style than fail in classes incorporating so-called active learning that expects them to participate in discussions and problem-solving beyond what they have memorized. Active learning also improves exam performance -- in some cases enough to change grades by half a letter or more so a B-plus, for example, becomes an A-minus. The researchers found that, on average, in a STEM course with 100 students signed up, about 34 fail if they get lectured to but only 22 fail if they do active learning. If the failure rates of 34 percent for lecturing and 22 percent in classes with some active learning were applied to the seven million U.S. undergraduates who say they want to pursue STEM majors, some 2.38 million students would fail lecture-style courses vs. 1.54 million with active learning. This 840,000 additional students failing under lecturing, a difference of 55 percent compared to the failure rate of active learning.

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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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