• Truth decayEmerging Risk: Virtual Societal Warfare

    The evolution of advanced information environments is rapidly creating a new category of possible cyberaggression which involves efforts to manipulate or disrupt the information foundations of the effective functioning of economic and social systems. Researchers are calling this growing threat “virtual societal warfare.”

  • Patriot movementThey’re Not All Racist Nut Jobs – and 4 Other Observations about the Patriot Militia Movement

    By Hollee S. Temple and John Temple

    The so-called patriot movement is grabbing headlines once again, as its members pledge to protect Trump supporters at the president’s campaign rallies across the country. The patriot movement is a fragmented and fractious coalition of groups that distrust the federal government. Members believe the government is impeding their rights and liberties – but the movement is not monolithic, and it less black and white. Despite public perceptions, few members of the various appeared to be mentally ill or outwardly racist. Instead, their grievances and principles stem from a range of motivations, personal circumstances and political philosophies.

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  • Extremism on-lineTrolls Exploit Weaknesses of Social Media Platforms to Spread Online Hate, Report Finds

    Social media platform design enables online harassment, as trolls often carry out coordinated attacks on a target by leveraging key platform features, according to a new report. Such features include the ability to be anonymous online, to create multiple accounts by one person, the fact that there is no limit to the number of messages one user can send to another, and the use of personal networks as weaponized audiences.

  • ArgumentsBlair’s Reckless Population Explosion Sowed the Seeds of Brexit, Though Few Will Now Admit It

    The greatest failure of modern British governance was to encourage mass immigration to the U.K. and fail to prepare for the impact it would have, Philip Johnston writes in The Telegraph. “It is at the root of much that afflicts the nation today, from the agony of Brexit to the near-terminal pressure on the NHS and the housing crisis with all its attendant consequences.” “Bizarrely, political discourse has raged around the creaking NHS, the crowded trains, the snarled up roads, the lack of homes, the crammed prisons, the cost of pensions and the woeful state of social care, all without ever focusing on the cause for fear of being denounced as racist,” he writes, adding: “There were two ways to address this matter. Either stop adding to the population with a policy of net zero immigration. Or accept that the increase was unstoppable, even welcome in view of the fact that we had so many more older, economically inactive people, and ensure the infrastructure was in place to cope.”

  • ArgumentsHow a Weaponized Dollar Could Backfire

    United States foreign policy under President Donald Trump continues to run counter to America’s traditional post-war objectives. Should the U.S. carelessly relinquish leadership of the global multilateral order, the dollar might eventually lose its own long-standing primacy.

  • PerspectiveA Brief History of Russian Hackers' Evolving False Flags

    Deception has always been part of the hacker playbook, Andy Greenberg writes in Wired. “But it’s one thing for intruders to hide their tracks, and another to adopt an invented identity, or even frame another country for a cyberattack. Russia’s hackers have done all of the above, and now have gone one step further. In a series of espionage cases, they hijacked another country’s hacking infrastructure and used it to spy on victims and deliver malware.”

  • PerspectiveGerman Domestic Intelligence Chief on the New Wave of Hate

    In an interview with Der Spiegel, Thomas Haldenwang, the director of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, discusses the new threat of extremism in the wake of the Halle attack and his agency’s need for greater authority in the monitoring of such threats. “What’s new is the international dimension,” Haldenwang said. “Right-wing extremism as we know it was long a particularly German phenomenon. But now, we see Anders Breivik in Oslo, Brenton Tarrant in Christchurch, Patrick Crusius in El Paso, the perpetrator in Halle. It’s like links in a chain, almost an international competition. Another insight is that it appears that no deep ideology is needed to radicalize and develop plans for attacks. All that’s needed is this emotion, hate, incitement, the web-based instigation and this convergence of people who, on the basis of simplistic messages often rooted in fake news, arrive at this world view and think they have to strike immediately.”

  • ISISSyrian Chaos Breathing Life into Islamic State

    Turkey’s incursion into northeastern Syria appears to be giving Islamic State new life, but U.S. counterterrorism officials caution the terror group’s next moves are far from certain. The officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, warn Islamic State is well-versed in using regional conflicts to its advantage, having done so in Iraq in 2005-2006, and again in the aftermath of the Arab Spring.

  • The Russia connectionThe Russian “Dark State” and the Russian Interference in the 2016 U.S. Election

    How do we understand Russia’s multi-layered interference in the 2016 elections? Elizabeth Wood, an MIT Russia expert and professor of history, analyzes Russia’s motives, noting that in his televised speech on May 29, Robert Mueller left no room for doubt about Russian interference in the 2016 election, when he said: “I will close by reiterating the central allegation of our indictments, that there were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election. And that allegation deserves the attention of every American.” Wood says: “These tactics have been researched by excellent scholars, and they are worth considering in the larger context of Russian statecraft. After all, what I would call the Russian ‘dark state’ — i.e., that part of the state that operates abroad for nefarious purposes, including most recently interference in Ukraine, in Western European elections, and in the poisonings and beatings of both Russians and foreign nationals around the world — has been around for a long time; it is not an invention of Russian President Vladimir Putin, though he has certainly expanded its reach.”

  • Mass shootingsHave We Become Too Paranoid about Mass Shootings?

    By Jaclyn Schildkraut

    Many Americans worry about when – not if – another mass shooting will occur, and a Gallup poll from September found that nearly half of Americans fear being a victim of one of these attacks. Should we be? My research has shown a big discrepancy between the actual threat of mass shootings and the way the public perceives that threat. In other words, people think mass shootings are far more common than they are. Why does this discrepancy exist? And what sort of ramifications does it have?

  • CybersecurityThwarting Cybersecurity Attacks Depends on Strategic, Third-Party Investments

    Companies interested in protecting themselves and their customers from cyber-attacks need to invest in themselves and the vendors that handle their data, according to new research. To mitigate risks, the researchers recommend companies that are typically competitors become allies in strengthening cyber security supply chains.

  • BioterrorismWhat Can We Glean from a Bean: Ricin’s Appeal to Domestic Terrorists

    By Stevie Kiesel

    Just as policymakers have been slow to acknowledge and act upon the threat of domestic CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear) terrorism, timely research on the issue is scarce as well. Ricin is one of the more dangerous agents of domestic terror. As government agencies acknowledge the threat domestic terrorism poses, policymakers and law enforcement should take ricin seriously as a potential weapon.

  • Climate threatsClimate change: Steep Warming Curve for Europe

    Climate is changing: Droughts, floods, and extreme weather events influence agriculture, economy, and society. Improved adaptability of industry and society to the future climate, however, requires reliable statements on medium-term climate development, in particular for certain regions. Researchers develop a new system for a more precise prognosis of the climate in the next ten years.

  • PerspectiveHow to Protect America after the Syria Withdrawal

    President Trump’s impulsive, rash decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria has created a situation in which the United States is a far weaker position to fight ISIS. “The No. 1 U.S. priority in Syria is to maintain the detention facilities and encampments and keep pressure on ISIS. This will be difficult, given the Turkish assault as well as the deal the SDF has struck with the Syrian regime since the U.S. withdrawal announcement,” Joseph Votel and Elizabeth Dent write. “There is only so much America can do with no troop presence as other powers rush in to fill the void.”

  • PerspectiveGermany Chooses China Over the West

    Over U.S. and European Union objections, the German government is poised to put in place newly drafted security requirements that do not set clear limits on the Chinese telecommunications firms Huawei and ZTE supplying technology for German fifth-generation cellular networks. Berlin’s refusal to shut Huawei out of its 5G networks weakens Europe’s prospects of standing up to Beijing.

  • PerspectiveClinton’s Email Practices Were Risky but Not Malicious, State Department Finds

    A multi-year State Department investigation into the private email server that haunted Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign is complete. During the 2016 election, Donald Trump called Clinton’s use of the server “one of the great crimes” of our time, repeating this wild accusation as late as last month, during a press conference at the UN. But after reviewing 33,000 emails sent to or from Clinton, investigators found that the former secretary of state’s practice of using a private email server for official work presented a security risk, but said there was no “systemic, deliberate mishandling of classified information” by Clinton or her associates, according to a State Department report presented to Congress last week. This is the second time a federal agency has come to this conclusion: The FBI began an investigation into Clinton’s email use in 2015. It found Clinton and her staff didn’t intend to mishandle classified information and declined to bring charges.

  • PerspectiveRethinking Encryption

    In the face of congressional inaction, and in light of the magnitude of the threat, it is time for governmental authorities—including law enforcement—to embrace encryption because it is one of the few mechanisms that the United States and its allies can use to more effectively protect themselves from existential cybersecurity threats, particularly from China. This is true even though encryption will impose costs on society, especially victims of other types of crime.

  • Our picksCybersecurity and Democracy Collide | $4B DHS Financial Management Buy | Thorium Reactor by 2027. And more

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    ·  New Rules of the Road for $4B DHS Financial Management Buy

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    ·  Iranian Hacking Group Targeted Satellite Industry Nerds

  • Perspective: California powerPG&E Warns of Ten Years of Power Shut-Offs. California Officials Don’t Like It

    California residents face up to 10 years of widespread, precautionary forced power shut-offs until Pacific Gas & Electric Corp., the bankrupt utility giant, will be able to prevent its power transmission lines from sparking fires, the company’s top official said. Howard Blume writes for the Los Angeles Times that the sobering projection came from company Chief Executive William D. Johnson at an emergency meeting Friday of the California Public Utilities Commission in San Francisco.

  • Perspective: Post-disaster reconstructionBans on Rebuilding in Disaster-Prone Areas Ignore Homeowners Preferences – Raising Costs Works Better

    As California’s wildfire season intensifies, a growing number of residents in the state want to ban people from building in areas at greatest risk. That’s because taxpayers bear the burden of protecting homes in dangerous areas when fire breaks out – and they often help foot the bill when it’s time to rebuild. A recent assessment showed that 1 in 4 Californians live in an area at “high risk” of wildfire. And people tend to want to rebuild in the same spot that was hit by a disaster. Alexander Smith writes that as a behavioral economist who studies the psychology of decision-making, he tries to understand people’s motivations before taking a position in a policy debate. He believes there’s a better way for policymakers to achieve the same goal of getting people to avoid building in disaster-prone areas without forcing people from their homes.

  • Perspective: Syria withdrawalIndecision in Washington Compounded the Kurds' Dilemma

    The American military presence in northeast Syria was always an anomaly, unlikely to be sustained indefinitely. The manner of its termination has nevertheless proven inept and unnecessarily costly. If the military advantages of partnering with the YPG were clear, it was equally clear that none of their neighbors would indefinitely tolerate an independent Kurdish state. Turkey was most agitated by this scenario given the Syrian Kurds’ links to the Turkish Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, a designated terrorist group that has waged a low-grade insurgency against the state for decades. In the end it appears the Tump administration proved unable to choose among its competing interests in Syria, James Dobbins and Jeffrey Martini write. “Statesmanship requires the ability to choose between sometimes unpalatable alternatives. Statecraft requires a rigorous process of refining and a timely means of deliberating on those alternatives. These qualities have been notably lacking in charting the administration’s Syria end game thereby compounding the unavoidable costs of withdrawal with charges of betrayal and a retreat under fire.”

  • Perspective: NukesGetting the Nukes Out of Turkey: A How-To Guide

    Almost as soon as Turkish troops began their invasion of Syria, old debates resurfaced about whether or not the United States should withdraw the roughly 50 B61 nuclear gravity bombs at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey also began resurfacing. Unlike in years prior, however, this time such a move may actually be in the offing. Pulling the nuclear weapons out of Turkey may seem like a bold step, but the United States has been reducing the number of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe and consolidating the remaining ones at ever fewer bases since the end of the Cold War.