Pentagon boosts 'nonlethal' arms
Long-range speakers that are so powerful they can shoot sound as far as 2 miles away to caution people to stay back, scare them with loud noise, or to send an alarm. A laser with an emerald beam so piercingly brilliant that it temporarily blinds and disorients a would-be assailant. Those are the new tools the military is deploying as its mission shifts from combat to nation-building and humanitarian aid in Iraq and Afghanistan. Marines are researching and testing similar devices for all services through a Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate that began in 1996. The military is buying spotlights, flash-bang grenades and electric shock weapons to stun instead of kill, and handheld translators and extra-loud speakers to warn away attackers. The Army spent $8.6 million on nonlethal weapons in 2010, the Navy, $994,343, and Air Force, $735,494, according to Bloomberg News.
World population nears 7 billion
The world's 7-billionth person will be born Oct. 31 in India, according to a projection by researchers working with data from the United Nations. Medical advances, more effective vaccines, antibiotics and improvements in public health conditions have boosted life expectancy in developing countries, where most of the population growth is taking place, according to the U.N. data being reported today in the journal Science. The number of people globally reached 1 billion in 1800, then 2 billion in 1925. Within the last half century, the population boomed to just under 7 billion from 3 billion. By 2050, the population will reach 9.3 billion, David Bloom, an economist at Harvard University who wrote the report, told Bloomberg News.