• ImmigrationPeople want to donate diapers and toys to children at Border Patrol facilities in Texas. They’re being turned away.

    By Alex Samuels

    The substandard living conditions in Border Patrol facilities holding migrant children have been described in great detail over the past few weeks. Last week, an attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice argued in court that the government shouldn’t be required to give migrant children inside Border Patrol detention facilities toothbrushes, soap, towels, wipes, diapers, blankets, or showers. A Border Patrol official told a Texas state lawmaker that the agency doesn’t accept donations for facilities where children are reportedly being held in substandard conditions.


  • DeepfakesDeepfakes: Forensic techniques to identify tampered videos

    Computer scientists have developed a method that performs with 96 percent accuracy in identifying deepfakes when evaluated on large scale deepfake dataset.

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  • PrisonsPrivate prisons have a political role in corrections issues in the U.S.

    Private prisons hold more than 120,000 inmates, about 8 percent of all prisoners, for 29 states and the federal government. The two largest private prison companies also operate more than 13,000 beds for immigrant detention. Private prisons play a political role in immigration and incarceration issues in the United States and the industry may face obstacles as well as opportunities in the current political landscape, new research finds.

  • Preventable diseasesShould measles vaccination be made compulsory?

    As measles cases in Europe hit their highest levels this decade, should the U.K. adopt compulsory vaccination? Ethicists have argued that compulsory vaccination is acceptable because people who don’t vaccinate their children are potentially putting other people’s health at risk, particularly those who can’t be vaccinated and are therefore more vulnerable.

  • First respondersAI helps protect emergency personnel in hazardous environments

    Whether it’s at rescue and firefighting operations or deep-sea inspections, mobile robots finding their way around unknown situations with the help of artificial intelligence (AI) can effectively support people in carrying out activities in hazardous environments.

  • PerspectiveRussian trolls are coming for 2020, smarter than ever, Clemson researchers warn

    Many Americans think they know what a Russian troll looks like. After the 2016 election, voters are more aware of bad actors on social media who might be trying to influence their opinion and their vote on behalf of a foreign government. Bristow Marchant writes in The State that Clemson University professors Darren Linvill and Patrick Warren warn, however, that picture may not be accurate. “People I know — smart, educated people — send me something all the time and say ‘Is this a Russian? Is this foreign disinformation?’” said Linvill, a communications professor at the Upstate university. “And it’s just someone saying something they disagree with. It’s just someone being racist. That’s not what disinformation looks like.”

  • PerspectiveGeoengineer the planet? More scientists now say it must be an option

    Once seen as spooky sci-fi, geoengineering to halt runaway climate change is now being looked at with growing urgency. A spate of dire scientific warnings that the world community can no longer delay major cuts in carbon emissions, coupled with a recent surge in atmospheric concentrations of CO2, has left a growing number of scientists saying that it’s time to give the controversial technologies a serious look. Fred Pearce writes in Yale Environment 360 that among the technologies being considered are a range of efforts to restrict solar radiation from reaching the lower atmosphere, including spraying aerosols of sulphate particles into the stratosphere, and refreezing rapidly warming parts of the polar regions by deploying tall ships to pump salt particles from the ocean into polar clouds to make them brighter.

  • Our picksAI & surveillance | Preventing school shootings | Guarding against wildfires, and more

    ·  Defending America from foreign election interference

    ·  Russia suspected of Northern Ireland disinformation campaign

    ·  Boris Johnson Brexit murder plot fake news traced to Russian disinfo campaign

    ·  Humans can’t watch all the surveillance cameras out there, so computers are

    ·  USDA under Trump hides studies proving effects of climate change: Report

    ·  Senate investigation finds multiple federal agencies left sensitive data vulnerable to cyberattacks for past decade

    ·  Secret Service: Education and counseling help prevent school shootings

    ·  California hopes emergency projects guard against wildfires

    ·  Did Trump and his team successfully obstruct Mueller’s investigation?

  • TerrorismTehran has set up network of terror cells in Africa to attack U.S., Western targets

    As part of its broad response to the increasing severity of the Western economic sanctions, Iran has been setting up a sprawling network of terror cells throughout Africa. The cells, operated by the Quds Force, the branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps which is responsible for overseas operations, aim to attack U.S. and other Western targets, at the time and place of Tehran’s choosing, in retaliation for the sanctions – let alone a military strike by the United States or Israel.

  • TerrorismHezbollah operative collected sensitive information about Toronto Airport for potential future attack

    An operative for the Iranian-backed terrorist organization Hezbollah collected “detailed information” about Toronto’s Pearson airport, according to a report released by Canada’s air safety agency on Tuesday. The Hezbollah operative also scouted New York’s JFK airport and U.S government facilities, as well as identifying Israelis in the United States who could be targeted by the Iranian-sponsored terrorist group.

  • The Russia connectionTop takes: Suspected Russian intelligence operation

    A Russian-based information operation used fake accounts, forged documents, and dozens of online platforms to spread stories that attacked Western interests and unity. Its size and complexity indicated that it was conducted by a persistent, sophisticated, and well-resourced actor, possibly an intelligence operation. Operators worked across platforms to spread lies and impersonate political figures, and the operation shows online platforms’ ongoing vulnerability to disinformation campaigns.

  • Conspiracy theoriesTruth prevails: Sandy Hook father’s victory over conspiracy theory crackpots

    Noah Pozner, then 6-year old, was the youngest of twenty children and staff killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Last week, his father, Lenny Pozner, won an important court victory against conspiracy theorists who claimed the massacre had been staged by the Obama administration to promote gun control measures. The crackpots who wrote a book advancing this preposterous theory also claimed that Pozner had faked his son’s death certificate as part of this plot.

  • DeepfakesIdentifying a fake picture online is harder than you might think

    By Mona Kasra

    Research has shown that manipulated images can distort viewers’ memory and even influence their decision-making. So the harm that can be done by fake images is real and significant. Our findings suggest that to reduce the potential harm of fake images, the most effective strategy is to offer more people experiences with online media and digital image editing – including by investing in education. Then they’ll know more about how to evaluate online images and be less likely to fall for a fake.

  • Biological catastrophe International community unprepared to deal with catastrophic biological event

    The risks of a global catastrophic biological event are growing, intensified by an increasingly interconnected world, terrorist and state interest in weapons of mass destruction, global political instability, and rapid advances in biotechnology. International leaders and organizations today are unprepared to react with the kind of effective, coordinated response needed to investigate and identify the pathogen, prevent the spread of disease, and, most importantly, save lives.

  • National emergency alertsNational emergency alerts potentially vulnerable to spoofing

    On 3 October 2018, cell phones across the United States received a text message labeled “Presidential Alert.” It was the first trial run for a new national alert system, developed by several U.S. government agencies as a way to warn as many people across the United States as possible if a disaster was imminent. Now, a new study raises a red flag around these alerts—namely, that such emergency alerts authorized by the President of the United States can, theoretically, be spoofed.

  • Climate threatsHow climate change impacts the economy

    By Renee Cho

    Warmer temperatures, sea level rise and extreme weather will be deleterious to the U.S. economy: Rising temperatures damage property and critical infrastructure, impact human health and productivity, and negatively affect sectors such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and tourism. The demand for energy will increase as power generation becomes less reliable, and water supplies will be stressed. Damage to other countries around the globe will also affect U.S. business through disruption in trade and supply chains.

  • PerspectiveThe Budapest Convention offers an opportunity for modernizing crimes in cyberspace

    Governments worldwide are in the process of updating the Budapest Convention, also known as the Convention on Cybercrime, which serves as the only major international treaty focused on cybercrime. This negotiation of an additional protocol to the convention provides lawmakers an opportunity the information security community has long been waiting for: modernizing how crimes are defined in cyberspace. Specifically, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), codified at 18 U.S.C.§ 1030, dictates what constitutes illegal acts in cyberspace in the United States. Andrew Burt and Dan Geer write in Lawfare that without changing the CFAA—and other cybercrime laws like it—we’re collectively headed for trouble.

  • PerspectiveWhat a U.S. operation in Russia shows about the limits of coercion in cyber space

    The New York Times recently reported that the United States planted computer code in the Russian energy grid last year. The operation was part of a broader campaign to signal to Moscow the risks of interfering in the 2018 midterm elections as it did in 2016.  According to unnamed officials, the effort to hold Russian power plants at risk accompanied disruption operations targeting the Internet Research Agency, the “troll farm” behind some of the 2016 election disinformation efforts. The operations made use of new authorities U.S. Cyber Command received to support its persistent engagement strategy, a concept for using preemptive actions to compel adversaries and, over time, establish new norms in cyberspace. Benjamin Jensen writes in War on the Rocks that the character of cyber competition appears to be shifting from political warfare waged in the shadows to active military disruption campaigns. Yet, the recently disclosed Russia case raises question about the logic of cyber strategy. Will escalatory actions such as targeting adversaries’ critical infrastructure actually achieve the desired strategic effect?

  • PerspectiveHow the "White Replacement" conspiracy theory spread around the globe

    From pockets in small town Minnesota to Christchurch, New Zealand, a racist conspiracy theory has taken hold—sometimes to deadly consequences. The “great replacement,” also known as “white genocide,” is summed up by its name: a secretive cabal of elites, often Jewish, is trying to deliberately destroy the white race through demographic change in importing immigrants and refugees. Luke Darby writes in GQ that obsession with racial purity obviously goes far back, but the modern iteration of “white genocide” comes almost directly from The Turner Diaries, a racist novel self-published in 1978 by neo-Nazi William Luther Pierce, writing under the pen name Andrew Macdonald. The book is set in a dystopian America where white people have been disarmed and oppressed by non-whites. The book culminates in a white nationalist revolution led by a group called The Order, who go on to plan a global genocide against non-white people. There’s another layer to the panic over demographics: the fear that birth rates for white people are falling all across western nations. The idea was partially popularized in a 2012 book by French philosopher Renaud Camus, and it’s articulated in another white nationalist trope, the “14 Words”: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”

  • Our picksDangerous wackos | Underground border robots | NSA & machine learning, and more

    ·  In praise of the president’s Iran tweets

    ·  Marianne Williamson, longtime wacko, is now a dangerous wacko

    ·  Looking for anti-vaccine conspiracy theories? You can find them on HuffPost.

    ·  What happens when one APT hijacks another’s infrastructure

    ·  U.S. hits Iran with cyberattack: reports

    ·  DHS CISA warns of Iranian hackers’ habit of deploying data-wiping malware

    ·  Border Patrol wants robots that can go underground and report back

    ·  The NSA is experimenting with machine learning concepts its workforce will trust

    ·  A huge new Russian propaganda effort is attacking much more than Facebook

    ·  Cyberbiosecurity: A call for cooperation in a new threat landscape

  • China syndromeGermany warns Huawei to meet Germany’s security requirements

    Germany warned Huawei that the company must meet Germany’s security requirements before the company will be allowed to bid on building the 5G infrastructure in Germany. Germany has so far resisted U.S. pressure to exclude Huawei from the project. The United States has long suspected Huawei of serving the interests of Chinese intelligence, and Washington has argued that Huawei technology could be used for spying purposes by China.

  • ISISThe complex issue of returning Islamic State fighters

    Australian researchers say the government needs to look beyond stripping citizenship from Islamic State fighters seeking to return to Australia as an approach to dealing with terrorism. The researchers argue the federal government must do more to build the Australian public’s understanding of the issue or risk providing a narrative that further feeds IS’s rhetoric.