• The Russian connectionRussia “weaponized information” to sow discord in West, destroy post-WWII international order: Theresa May

    U.K. prime minister Theresa May, in an extraordinary attack on Russia’s broad cyber-campaign against Western countries, has accused Russia of meddling in the elections of Western democracies and planting fake stories in other countries’ media in a sustained effort to “weaponize information” in order to sow discord and deepen internal conflicts Western democracies. May, speaking at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet on 13 November 2017, said that Russia’s goal was to destabilize, if not destroy, the post-Second World Order rules-based international order.

  • Mass killersMost mass killers are men who have also attacked family

    By Lisa Aronson Fontes

    What do most mass killers have in common? As a researcher who studies coercive control in intimate relationships, I can point out a few key characteristics. First, they are men. Additionally, they have a history of controlling and abusing their wives and girlfriends – and sometimes other family members – before “graduating” to mass killings. The laws in the U.S. that are currently used to address domestic violence were developed for attacks by unrelated people. They don’t work so well for what happens in families. If police wait for broken bones, they miss more than 95 percent of domestic violence incidents. The seriousness of partner violence derives from the cumulative weight of all previous abuse, rather than the severity of a particular assault – and to capture that cumulative weight of partner abuse we need to define coercive control as a crime. An average of 50 women in the U.S. are shot to death each month by a current or former intimate partner. While most domestic abusers will not become mass murderers, early, consistent and effective domestic violence intervention might keep us all safer.

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  • DronesDeveloping autonomous drone swarms for urban warfare

    DoD has awarded a team of researchers $7.1 million to develop a drone swarm infrastructure to help the U.S. military in urban combat. The goal is to develop a technology which would allow troops to control scores of unmanned air and ground vehicles at a time.

  • Coastal resilienceIdentifying sources of coastal resiliency

    As extreme weather events become more commonplace, regions of the world that get hit the hardest are often left scrambling to put the pieces of their homeland back together. ASU’s Sian Mooney, an economist, recently returned from a trip to Cuba, where the economist attended a tri-national workshop on the theme: “Enhancing Resilience of Coastal Caribbean Communities.” The workshop’s participants have been charged with defining and identifying sources of coastal resiliency and then working to implement them in the region over the next few years. 

  • Climate threatsRecord high CO2 emissions – after 3-year hiatus

    Global emissions of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels have risen again after a three-year hiatus, according to new figures from the Global Carbon Project (GCP). The GCP report reveals that global emissions from all human activities will reach 41 billion tons in 2017, following a projected 2 percent rise in burning fossil fuels.

  • GeoengineeringArtificially cooling the planet could have devastating effects

    Geoengineering — the intentional manipulation of the climate to counter the effect of global warming by injecting aerosols artificially into the atmosphere — has been mooted as a potential way to deal with climate change. Proposals to reduce the effects of global warming by imitating volcanic eruptions could have a devastating effect on global regions prone to either tumultuous storms or prolonged drought, new research has shown.

  • Considered opinionAnatomy of a fake news scandal

    By Amanda Robb

    On 1 December 2016, Alex Jones, the Info-Wars host, a conspiracy-theories peddler, and a fervent Trump booster, was reporting that Hillary Clinton was sexually abusing children in satanic rituals in the basement of a Washington, D.C., pizza restaurant. How was this fake story fabricated and disseminated? “We found ordinary people, online activists, bots, foreign agents and domestic political operatives,” Reveal’s researchers say. “Many of them were associates of the Trump campaign. Others had ties with Russia. Working together – though often unwittingly – they flourished in a new ‘post-truth’ information ecosystem, a space where false claims are defended as absolute facts. What’s different about Pizzagate, says Samuel Woolley, a leading expert in computational propaganda, is it was ‘retweeted and picked up by some of the most powerful faces of American politics’.”

  • CyberthreatsNATO launches Cyber Operations Center

    Russia’s successful cyber-interference on behalf of its favored candidates, partiers, and causes in the United States, France, the Netherland, Germany, and the United Kingdom; its effective cyberattacks on infrastructure facilities in Ukraine and the Baltic states; and the growing cyberthreats from China, North Korea, and Iran, have convinced the member states of NATO that these threats must be met in a more systematic and comprehensive fashion.

  • The Russian connection"Kompromat": Russian agents offered to send women to Trump's hotel room in 2013

    Keith Schiller, who had served for many years as Donald Trump’s personal body guard and who later became director of Oval Office relations – a post he left last month – told a congressional panel that when Trump was in Moscow to attend the Miss Universe Pageant, Russian operatives offered to send five attractive women to his hotel room to spend the night. Christopher Steele, a respected former MI6 agent in Russia who put together the memos which came to be known as the Steele Dossier, quoted Russian sources referring to secretly recorded tapes which captured Trump and some of the women engaged in unorthodox sexual activities. The U.S. intelligence community has confirmed most of the contents in the dossier, but the existence of the tapes is one of the few topics in the dossier which remains shrouded in mystery.

  • The Russian connectionExtremist content and Russian disinformation online: Working with tech to find solutions

    By Clint Watts

    “It’s been more than a year since my colleagues and I described in writing how the Russian disinformation system attacked our American democracy. We’ve all learned considerably more since then about the Kremlin’s campaigns, witnessed their move to France and Germany and now watch as the world worst regimes duplicate their methods. Yet our country remains stalled in observation, halted by deliberation and with each day more divided by manipulative forces coming from afar. The U.S. government, social media companies, and democracies around the world don’t have any more time to wait. In conclusion, civil wars don’t start with gunshots, they start with words. America’s war with itself has already begun. We all must act now on the social media battlefield to quell information rebellions that can quickly lead to violent confrontations and easily transform us into the Divided States of America.”

  • JihadistsWhy some Muslim clerics become jihadists

    By Peter Dizikes

    What turns people into radical jihadist clerics? A new book offers a new answer: thwarted career ambitions. More specifically, the book — Deadly Clerics: Blocked Ambition and the Paths to Jihad by MIT political scientist Richard Nielsen —finds that a certain portion of Muslim clerics who end up advocating for jihad, that is, war against Islam’s foes, started out as mainstream clerics looking for state-sponsored jobs where they could use their intellectual training, only to become unemployed, disenchanted, and radicalized.

  • CybersecurityBiology can show us how to stop hackers

    “Biology is the true science of security. And by that I mean that organisms have had to contend with adversaries and competitors from the very beginning of their evolutionary history. As a result, they’ve evolved an incredible repertoire of defense systems to protect themselves,” says an expert on biology and computation. “Looking at how biological systems have learned to protect themselves can suggest novel approaches to security problems,” ASU’s Professor Stephanie Forrest says. “What I try to do is look at biological mechanisms and principles and translate those mechanisms and architectures into computational algorithms that protect computers.”

  • BiometricsA better way to identify gait differences

    Biometric-based person recognition methods have been extensively explored for various applications, such as access control, surveillance, and forensics. Gait is a practical trait for video-based surveillance and forensics because it can be captured at a distance on video. In fact, gait recognition has been already used in practical cases in criminal investigations. However, gait recognition is susceptible to intra-subject variations, such as view angle, clothing, walking speed, shoes, and carrying status. Such hindering factors have prompted many researchers to explore new approaches with regard to these variations.

  • GridImproving sensor accuracy to prevent overload of the electrical grid

    Electrical physicists from Czech Technical University have provided additional evidence that new current sensors introduce errors when assessing current through iron conductors. It’s crucial to correct this flaw in the new sensors so that operators of the electrical grid can correctly respond to threats to the system. The researchers show how a difference in a conductor’s magnetic permeability, the degree of material’s magnetization response in a magnetic field, affects the precision of new sensors.

  • GridNew Zealand energy firm invests $10 million in Iron Dome maker

    By Brian Blum

    New Zealand-based energy and communications infrastructure provider Vector invested $10 million in the Israeli company that developed the Iron Dome. Some of the technologies that power Israel’s remarkable protection against projectiles will be used by Vector as part of its IoT (Internet of Things) approach to optimizing management and control services.

  • Climate-change threatsU.S. had 3rd warmest and 2nd wettest year to date

    October typically ushers in those crisp, sunny days of fall. But last month was no ordinary October, as warm and wet conditions dampened peak leaf viewing across many parts of the Midwest and New England and fires devastated parts of Northern California and the West.

  • Climate-change threatsHuman-caused warming increasing rate of heat record-breaking around world

    A new study finds human-caused global warming is significantly increasing the rate at which hot temperature records are being broken around the world. Global annual temperature records show there were 17 record hot years from 1861 to 2005. The new study examines whether these temperature records are being broken more often and if so, whether human-caused global warming is to blame.

  • Our picksIKEA fallout shelter; terrorism arms-race with tech; the nature of the AR-15, and more

    · Putin’s pro-trump trolls just targeted Hillary Clinton and Robert Mueller

    · “Climate change” and “global warming” are disappearing from government websites

    · How to build a fallout shelter using nothing but IKEA furniture

    · UK Home Secretary: Terrorism and tech now in “an online arms race”

    · The nature of the AR-15

    · How Putin’s using Hungary to destroy Europe

    · A Trump official behind the end of DACA explains himself

  • The Russian connectionRussia’s pro-Trump campaign began early, aiming to help him win GOP primaries: WSJ

    The U.S. intelligence community cited December 2015 as the earliest suspected time that Russian government social media account began their broad campaign in support of Donald Trump. A Wall Street Journal investigation reveals that the Kremlin’s campaign of support for Trump began six months earlier, in June 2015, days after he announced his candidacy. This earlier Russian disinformation campaign was aimed to help Trump defeat his Republican primary rivals. This early campaign, however, already engaged in dissemination of fake stories aiming to tarnish Hillary Clinton and undermine her campaign.

  • WoT: CostCost of War on Terror since 9/11: $5.6 trillion

    As of late September 2017, the United States wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Syria and the additional spending on Homeland Security, and the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs since the 9/11 attacks totaled more than $4.3 trillion in current dollars. Adding likely costs for FY2018 and estimated future spending on veterans, the costs of war total more than $5.6 trillion. Over 6,800 U.S. soldiers have died in the wars.

  • GunsPermissive concealed-carry laws tied to higher homicide rates

    Easier access to concealed firearms is associated with significantly higher rates of handgun-related homicide, according to a new study. The study suggests that current trends towards more permissive concealed-carry laws are inconsistent with the promotion of public safety. “Some have argued that the more armed citizens there are, the lower the firearm homicide rate will be, because the feared or actual presence of armed citizens may deter violent crime,” said one of the authors. “Our study findings suggest that this is not the case.”

  • CybersecurityThe challenge of authenticating real humans in a digital world

    By Jungwoo Ryoo

    There are three main ways of proving an identity. One involves something you know – like a password or your mother’s maiden name. A second method of authentication is with something you have – such as a key to your home’s front door or a smart card to swipe at work. A third way is by digitally authenticating the individual human being – who you are – with some aspect of your biology. This increasing dependence on digital authentication may actually result in less security. While cameras, sensors and other devices can make authentication easier for people to accomplish, they carry their own weaknesses. It may be more convenient, and even more secure, than a magnetic strip on a plastic card in your wallet. But the potential dangers will require much higher security for private information, particularly biometric data. A real identity still comes down to flesh and blood.