From: Homeland Security News Wire
To: Scott Jenkins,
Subject: Regulating killer robots | N.M. radiation leak cause | Transporting crude oil
Date: Fri May 16 13:09:14 MDT 2014
Body:
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DAILY REPORT
Friday 16 May 2014 vol. 8 no. 113

In Today's Issue

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.

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.

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.

911 texting
Texas cities adopt 911 texting

Adding to the rising number of U.S. cities that accept 911 emergency texts, North Texas public safety agencies will now institute the procedure at their response centers. 911 emergency texting not only helps the deaf, but it better caters to younger generations that do not recognize as much the divide between text and voice communications. The texting of additional media such as photos before the responders reach the site could also have a profound impact on the development of an emergency situation.

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Forensics
DOJ, NIST team up to shore up forensic science, but skeptics question effort

Five years ago, a report on the state of forensic science by the National Academy of Sciences decried the lack of sound science in the analysis of evidence in criminal cases across the country. It spurred a flurry of outrage and promises, but no immediate action. Now, renewed efforts are underway, with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) teaming up to create a National Commission on Forensic Science.

Disaster losses
April storms lead to first billion-dollar losses of 2014

The outbreak of severe weather throughout the United States and other parts of the world in April will prove to have caused the largest economic losses since 2013, according to a report. During the month in the United States, at least 39 people were killed and 250 injured amid nearly 70 confirmed tornado touchdowns, which occurred across more than 20 states in the Plains, Mississippi Valley, Southeast, Midwest, and Mid-Atlantic.

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Earthquakes
Calif. Central Valley groundwater depletion may trigger small earthquakes

Water has been pumped from California’s Central Valley for more than 150 years, reducing what used to be a marsh and extensive lake, Tulare Lake, into fertile agricultural fields that feed the world. In that time, approximately 160 cubic kilometers (40 cubic miles) of water was removed -- the capacity of Lake Tahoe -- dropping the water table in some areas more than 120 meters (400 feet) and the ground surface 5 meters (16 feet) or more. This ground water pumping in California’s Central Valley, and winter rains, make the Sierra Nevada and Coast Ranges sink and rise by a few millimeters each year, creating stress on the state’s earthquake faults that could increase the risk of a quake.

Science investment
Research reconfirms that public investment in scientific research promotes growth

New and independent research has reconfirmed and quantified some of the economic and societal benefits of public investment in scientific research. The report says that for every £1 spent by the U.K. government on R&D, private sector R&D output rises by 20p per year in perpetuity, by raising the level of the U.K. knowledge base.

STEM education / R&D
New data tool shows how states are doing in science

A newly updated, online, interactive state data tool allows policymakers, educators and other users to discern trends in education, science and research in each of the fifty states. The tool features fifty-nine state indicators of state performance in education, the scientific workforce, research and development (R&D) investments and activities, and high-tech business. The three states with the lowest scores in the number of science and engineering bachelor's degrees awarded, share of a state's workforce employed in science and engineering occupations, and the amount of R&D performed, as a share of a state's gross domestic product (GDP), are Alaska, Mississippi, and Wyoming. The three states with the highest scores are Vermont, Virginia, and New Mexico.

Also noted

DHS searches for Russians' luxury stash: Report | US flying surveillance drones over Nigeria | Experts back House bill to develop new drugs to combat superbugs | MRSA death: How Carlisle man exposed to superbug uncertain | Defense personnel can now use Samsung Galaxy devices on Pentagon networks | Justice is fast-tracking cyber hires | New U.K. law targets illegal immigrants | Kerry says "raw data" points to new Syria chemical strikes

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Progress and Modernity in Arab Societies
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