EDM Thursday Briefing: FBI & Apple Battle Continues, Heat Wave Brings Wildfire Concerns, Aid Enters Syria
Emergency and disaster management briefing for February 18, 2016: The FBI and Apple continue to clash about collaborating on unlocking the cell phone that belonged to one of the San Bernardino shooters, an impending heat wave brings concerns about wildfires to Colorado and neighboring states, and the UN says that humanitarian aid reached besieged areas of Syria.
- The battle between Apple and the FBI over unlocking cell phones continued yesterday, with no clear resolution in sight. The FBI wants Apple to help it access encrypted data on a cell phone that belonged to one of the San Bernardino shooters but Apple is resisting. Security experts say that creating the software needed to unlock the iPhone would be easy for Apple engineers to do, but the tech giant is arguing that the existence such software presents dangers that far outweigh any public benefits.
- With record-breaking heat and high winds possibly hitting regions of the U.S. this week, the National Weather Service (NWS) issued a red flag warning to guard against the increased potential for wildfires. Impacted states include Colorado, Texas, Kansas, New Mexico and Oklahoma.
- The United Nations said that aid entered five besieged areas of Syria, as trucks brought supplies to help to thousands of trapped residents. Starvation and severe malnutrition are both concerns in the war-torn country. The U.N. reported that about one hundred truckloads of aid reached an estimated 100,000 people.
- President Barack Obama will reportedly sign the new North Korea sanctions bill that will impose more stringent sanctions on the country in the aftermath of the its recent missile test / satellite launch. The Senate approved the sanctions last week. While the White House did announce President Obama's intention to sign the bill, no clear timetable was given.
- Reports of stolen radioactive material in Iraq are raising global security concerns. Radioactive material stored in a container roughly "the size of a laptop computer" went missing in November from a storage facility near the city of Basra. Officials fear that, in the wrong hands, this material could be used to create a "dirty bomb" to contaminate an area with radiation.
- Health experts say that results of a recent study strengthen the theory that Zika is linked to microcephaly, as the research found further evidence that the virus can infect the fetus of a pregnant woman. With so much uncertainty surrounding the virus -- so much is still unknown about it -- other theories have surfaced in recent weeks, including one that linked microcephaly with a certain pesticide instead of the predicted link between microcephaly and Zika.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) announced that it is seeking $56 million from donors in nations around the world to combat the growing threat of Zika virus. The WHO plans to use its $2.3 million emergency fund to finance the initial action plan, which includes surveillance, response and research.
- Reports surfaced this week that the U.S. planned to carry out a cyber attack against Iran in the event that nuclear talks between the two countries failed. The plan, code-named Nitro Zeus, would have reportedly would have targeted the Iran's air defenses and power grid, was halted after the talks ended successfully in in July 2015.
- The French government this week approved a three-month extension of the state of emergency that has been in place since terrorist attacks hit Paris and surrounding areas in November 2015. The state of emergency will now remain in effect until May 26, as the threat of new terrorist violence remains very high, according to Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve.