Non-Lethal Weapons News ArticlesExcerpts of key news articles on non-lethal weapons
A Pentagon project to perfect a projectile capable of delivering an electric shock to incapacitate a person tens of metres away [is now in its final stages]. It will be fired from a standard 40-millimetre grenade launcher. The projectile, being developed by Taser International under a $2.5 million contract, is known as a Human Electro-Muscular Incapacitation or HEMI device. Taser will deliver the first prototypes for testing and evaluation early next year. The ... cartridges should be able to hit targets 60 metres [200 feet] away. However, the impact force of the projectile remains a worry. "There is a known risk of severe injury from impact projectiles, either from blunt force at short ranges or from hitting a sensitive part of the body," says security researcher Neil Davison, who has recently written a book on non-lethal weapons. The duration of the shock which the HEMI will deliver to its target has also raised concerns. Marksmen will need time to reach the incapacitated target, and because the weapon is designed for long-range use this could be considerable. "We should be worried about undesirable effects if people are going to be subjected to bouts of prolonged incapacitation," says Steve Wright, a specialist in non-lethal weapons at Leeds Metropolitan University in the UK.
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Within the next few weeks, President Bush is expected to release his administration's new national space policy. There have been a series of reports since 2001 that essentially advocate deploying space weapons. The Commission to Assess United States National Security Space Management and Organization, initially chaired by Donald Rumsfeld, argued that the United States must take steps to avoid a "space Pearl Harbor." The Rumsfeld report said there is no current bar to "placing or using weapons in space, applying force from space to Earth, or conducting military operations in and through space." Not so coincidentally, seven of the 13 members of the Rumsfeld space commission had ties to aerospace companies that could stand to gain from the launching of a major space weapons program. There are also plans afoot to develop Hypervelocity Rod Bundles, frequently called "Rods from God," designed to drop from space and hit targets on Earth.
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