• Drones vs. balloonsIsrael deploys tracking system to fight incendiary balloons and kites

    Israel’s famed military prowess has come up against a decidedly low-tech adversary, the humble party balloon, and found itself thwarted. Over the past few weeks, the residents of the Gaza Strip have let loose a barrage of colorful kites with burning tails as well as festive balloons, sometimes condoms, with fuel-soaked strips of cloth. They land inside Israeli territory, often starting serious fires. Israel has now deployed a system to track balloons and kites carrying burning material across the border.

  • Border securityTrump wants to prosecute all illegal border crossings without splitting up families. That will be a challenge.

    By Jolie McCullough and Emma Platoff

    When President Donald Trump on Wednesday backed down from an immigration policy that separated migrant families, he pledged to continue his “zero tolerance” approach: Parents would still be prosecuted for illegally crossing the border, but their families wouldn’t be split up. But legal and logistical challenges will make it exceedingly difficult for his administration to accomplish both goals. To do so, federal agencies need to find space for thousands of children and adults as they await criminal and civil immigration proceedings. And another federal agency must find a way to do so without running afoul of the law.

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  • ImmigrationAsylum seekers are not a “burden” for European economies: Study

    Does the arrival of asylum seekers lead to a deterioration in the economic performance and public finances of the European countries that host them? The answer is no, according to economists who have estimated a dynamic statistical model based on thirty years of data from fifteen countries in Western Europe. On the contrary, the economic impact tends to be positive as a proportion of the asylum seekers become permanent residents.

  • The Russia connectionTwitter release reveals the Kremlin’s news impersonation game

    By Bradley Hanlon and Grant Bennett

    On 18 June, Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee released around 1,100 names of Twitter accounts linked to the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency (IRA), the Kremlin’s disinformation and propaganda outfit. The new release brings the total number of known IRA-linked Twitter accounts to around 3,800. Analysis of the pages reveals that a major pillar of the Kremlin’s social media influence campaigns revolves around the impersonation of local news sources in order to gain trust among audiences and insert narratives into mainstream public discourse. This strategy of camouflaging disinformation channels as seemingly credible sources is even more prevalent in the IRA’s domestic efforts.

  • GunsJust how many guns do Americans own? (And why do estimates vary so widely?)

    By Alex Yablon

    There is no official count of how many guns Americans own. But the best available calculations make it clear that the number has grown by tens of millions in recent decades, leaving the United States ever more densely armed than other countries. A June 2018 report from the Small Arms Survey estimates that American civilians own 393 million guns, both legally and otherwise, out of a worldwide total of 857 million firearms. That’s up from 270 million civilian-owned guns domestically, and 650 million globally, in 2007.

  • Nuclear detectionEnhanced detection of nuclear events thanks to deep learning

    A deep neural network running on an ordinary desktop computer is interpreting highly technical data related to national security as well as — and sometimes better than — today’s best automated methods or even human experts.

  • Natural disastersThe lessons of natural disasters for the world

    Historians are part of a global study that will shed light on how to better deal with the prediction and aftermath of environmental disasters in the Indian Ocean region, including tsunamis, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.

  • Planetary securityNew national near-Earth object preparedness plan released

    A new multiagency report outlines how the U.S. could become better prepared for near-Earth objects—asteroids and comets whose orbits come within thirty million miles of Earth—otherwise known as NEOs. While no known NEOs currently pose significant risks of impact, the report is a key step to addressing a nationwide response to any future risks.

  • Our picksChild separation & int. law; surprise nuke attack; What Plum Island is really like, and more

      The short-sightedness of Obama-era cyber operations policy

      So what’s Plum Island really like? One reporter’s inside tour

      Plum Island group tours halted by Homeland Security

      “Zero tolerance” and the detention of children: Torture under international law

      Trump’s zero tolerance immigration policy leaves no room for discretion

      Email hacking: A constant threat to political aspirations

      Prove it: Nuclear posture and the fear of surprise attack

      More deceit uncovered in Iran deal

      Southern Poverty Law Center has been labeling Christian groups “extremist” — now they’re fighting back

  • The Russia watchRussia scanned 50 states’ election systems; NRA & Russia; did Putin buy the World Cup?, and more

      “Coincidence Number 395”: The N.R.A. spent $30 million to elect Trump. Was it Russian money?

      What does the British government know about Trump and Russia?

      Julian Assange met repeatedly with lobbyist for Russian oligarch linked to Donald Trump’s campaign manager

      Obama cybersecurity czar: Russian hackers likely scanned election systems in all 50 states

      Did Putin buy the World Cup? The FBI’s not saying—yet

      Litvinenko widow threatens to sue RT over ‘libelous’ claims

      The Olympic destroyer hackers may be targeting biochem threat prevention now

      Senate defense bill pushes Trump to get tougher on Russian hacking

  • The Russia connectionWeak response to Russian meddling emboldened Moscow, official says

    Russia was emboldened by the lack of a decisive response by President Barack Obama’s administration during the 2016 presidential election and will seek to interfere in future elections, a former top U.S. official said. Victoria Nuland, whose portfolio at the State Department made her a leading Russia official under Obama, made the comments 20 June during a hearing at the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is conducting a sweeping investigation of Russian actions in the United States.

  • BioterrorismGerman police find large quantities of castor seeds in bioweapon suspect’s apartment

    German police investigators have found more than 3,000 castor bean seeds in the Cologne apartment of a 29-year old Tunisian, who was arrested last week for making a biological weapon. The quantity of castor seeds was much larger than initially thought. Castor beans are used in making the toxin ricin. The suspect, who is married to a German woman, had been under police surveillance for contacts with Islamist extremists.

  • Cybersecurity24-hour view of cyberattacks in Florida

    The Internet of things (IoT) – smartphones, vehicles, smart buildings, home appliances and other devices that use electronics, software and sensors – have transformed the way people around the world live and work. But not without risks. Data breaches and cyberattacks affect millions of businesses and households each year, hindering the integrity of critical systems, leaking private information and paralyzing Internet infrastructures.

  • EncryptionQuantum encryption to protect communications from hackers

    Securing highly sensitive information, such as hospital records and bank details, is a major challenge faced by companies and organization throughout the world. Researchers have shown that a new quantum-based procedure for distributing secure information along communication lines could be successful in preventing serious security breaches.

  • DronesFAA should integrate drones into U.S. airspace for better security

    Introducing drone operations into the nation’s airspace can provide substantial benefits to society, such as preventing derailments, inspecting cell phone towers, delivering medical devices to patients in cardiac distress, and assisting firefighters, says a new congressionally mandated report by the National Academies of Sciences. However, an overly conservative approach to safety risk assessments at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which the report says tends to overestimate the severity and likelihood of risks from many types of drone operations, can be a significant barrier to introduction and development of this emerging and rapidly changing technology.

  • DronesDrones could be used to detect dangerous “butterfly” landmines

    It is estimated that there are at least 100 million military munitions and explosives of concern devices in the world, of various size, shape and composition. Millions of these are surface plastic landmines with low-pressure triggers, such as the mass-produced Soviet PFM-1 “butterfly” landmine. Drones could be used to detect dangerous “butterfly” landmines in remote regions of post-conflict countries.

  • Climate threats: MitigationClimate change will soon hit billions of people, and many cities are taking action

    By mid-century, billions of people in thousands of cities around the world will be at risk from climate-related heat waves, droughts, flooding, food shortages and energy blackouts, but many cities are already taking action to blunt such effects, says a new report from a consortium of international organizations.

  • Our picksRural veterinarian shortage; better disaster preparedness; cyberweapons, and more

      Shortage of rural veterinarians puts farmers, food supply at risk

      Congress needs to back legislation supporting disaster preparedness

      Here’s what Trump actually achieved with North Korea

      On the theft and reuse of advanced offensive cyber weapons

      Santa Rosa approves $447 million budget to spur fire recovery

      For National Guard, lava disaster presents real-world mission

      On the theft and reuse of advanced offensive cyber weapons

      Lawmakers urge Google to end partnership with China’s Huawei

  • The Russia watchRussia & social media; Russian Brexit influence; Obama weak Russia response, and more

    •  Timeline: Trump’s acts of accommodation/engagement with Russia, Nov. 2016-June 2018

      A conversation with Clint Watts on influence and information in the social media era

      Russian influence in the Brexit vote? We don’t really know how to deal with that

      How to tackle “weapons of mass disinformation – WMD for the modern age”

      Others emulate Russia’s influence campaigns

      Obama criticized in Senate for not doing more on Russia meddling

      West vs Russia: winning hearts and minds in the Western Balkans and EAP Countries

      Russian-linked group tied to Winter Olympics attack is now targeting biochemical researchers

      Hackers who sabotaged the Olympic games return for more mischief

  • SyriaA first: Israeli air strike kills dozens of pro-Assad Iraqi fighters in Syria

    Israel has not commented on background-only briefing by a senior U.S. official, who said that Israeli air-strike early Monday morning killed 52 Assad regime-allied troops eastern Syria. What is notable about the attack is its location — the town of al Hari in Deir Ezzor, near the border with Iraq, hundreds of miles from Israel – and the fact that among those killed were 22 members of Kata’ib Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed Iraqi Shia militia.

  • Family separationWhat's happening at the border? Here's what we know about immigrant children being separated from their families

    By Marilyn Haigh

    The attention of the nation has turned to Texas and its border with Mexico after the Trump administration enacted the “zero tolerance” policy, resulting, so far, in about 2,000 children being separated from their parents at the border. Here’s what we know.

  • Family separationTrump and Sessions can end immigrant family separations without Congress’ help

    By Kevin Johnson

    Only Congress can provide the comprehensive immigration reform that would address the fundamental problems plaguing the American immigration system, including the statuses of undocumented immigrants already living in the U.S. However, current immigration laws give the executive branch considerable discretion in deciding which immigrants to detain and release from custody. President Donald Trump has at his disposal a variety of alternatives – other than separating families – that would promote his stated goal of deterring migration from Central America. Those alternatives could avoid violating international human rights norms.