• TerrorismU.S. counterterror official: Iran spends $1 billion annually supporting terrorism

    The United States Coordinator for Counterterrorism said that Iran spends nearly $1 billion annually supporting terrorist groups across the Middle East. Of the total, Ambassador Nathan Sales said that Iran gives $700 million to the Lebanon-based terror group Hezbollah; $100 million to Hamas and other “Palestinian terrorist groups;” and unspecified sums to other terrorist organizations.

  • The Russia connectionU.S. documents suggest charges filed against WikiLeaks founder Assange

    U.S. court documents suggest WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been criminally charged by prosecutors in a case that could be related to the investigation into Russia’s meddling in the U.S. elections. News outlets report that the disclosure was included as part of a court filing in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, in a case unrelated to Assange.

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  • California firesThe bitter lesson of the Californian fires

    By David Bowman

    California is burning, again. Dozens of peoples have been killed and thousands of buildings destroyed in several fires, the most destructive in the state’s history. The California fires are just the most recent in a series of major wildfires, including fires in Greece in July this year that killed 99 people, Portugal and Chile in 2017, and Australia. Why do wildfires seem to be escalating? Despite president Donald Trump’s tweet that the California fires were caused by “gross mismanagement” of forests, the answer is more complex, nuanced, and alarming.

  • Terrorism & social mediaUsing social media to weaken impact of terrorist attacks

    Governments and police forces around the world need to beware of the harm caused by mass and social media following terror events. In a new report, leading counter-terrorism experts from around the world offer guidance to authorities to better manage the impacts of terror attacks by harnessing media communication. “People only know what they see or read, so the immediate panic social media – and then on the news – perpetuates rumors and creates fear. This is exactly what terrorists want,” says one expert.

  • CybersecurityWorld’s biggest student-led cybersecurity games announce winners of CSAW 2018

    A team of four computer science students from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) once again took home top honors at the 15th anniversary edition of  Cyber Security Awareness Week (CSAW), the world’s largest student-run cyber security event.

  • Chemical weaponsPreventing chemical weapons as sciences advance and converge

    Revolutionary advances in science and technology are threatening the ability of the Chemical Weapons Convention to prevent the development, possession and potential use of chemical weapons. Scientists warn of this increased chemical weapons risk, which is the result of rapid scientific change. Alarming examples of the dangers from chemical weapons have been seen recently in the use of industrial chemicals and the nerve agent sarin against civilians in Syria, and in the targeted assassination operations using VX nerve agent in Malaysia and novichok nerve agent in the U.K.

  • FloodsHouston's urban sprawl dramatically increased rainfall, flooding damage during Hurricane Harvey

    Houston’s urban landscape directly contributed to the torrential rainfall and deadly flooding experienced during Hurricane Harvey in August 2017, according to Princeton and University of Iowa researchers. The researchers report that Houston’s risk for extreme flooding during the hurricane — a category 4 storm that caused an estimated $125 billion in damage and killed 68 people — was 21 times greater due to urbanization.

  • Infrastructure protectionTechnology assesses bridge safety after powerful storms

    Hurricanes and heavy rains often cause strong, overflowing river currents that can damage critical infrastructure, such as bridges. For example, after Hurricane Katrina, many National Guard convoys loaded with aid did not drive on bridges for fear the bridges could not support the heavy trucks. To safely transport, they had to use roundabout roads or boats to reach Katrina survivors. Loose or loosening soil is often the culprit in weakening bridge stability. Thus, an instrument that can quickly assess the soil conditions around bridge pillars is a top priority.

  • Climate risks mitigationNatural solutions can reduce global warming

    Restoring the United States’ lands and coastal wetlands could have a much bigger role in reducing global warming than previously thought, according to the most comprehensive national assessment to date of how greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced and stored in forests, farmland, grasslands and wetlands.

  • Our picksWas your voting machine hacked?; surveillance kills freedom; anatomy of a conspiracy theory, and more

    ·  China violated Obama-Xi cyber pact banning cyber-enabled economic espionage: NSA official

    ·  Was your voting machine hacked? Without more user-friendly devices, we may not know

    ·  The new politics of climate change

    ·  How the generals are routing the policy wonks at the Pentagon

    ·  Anatomy of a conspiracy theory

    ·  Inside the shady PR firm that attacked George Soros to help Facebook

    ·  Warren, 2020 Dems target private immigration detention center operators

    ·  Surveillance kills freedom by killing experimentation

  • The Russia watchInformation attacks on democracies; refunding the Alaska purchase?; Russian trolls & toxic politics, and more

    ·  Information attacks on democracies

    ·  Russian trolls prey on the toxic way we do our politics

    ·  Russia asserts immunity in the DNC case

    ·  Delay, deny, deflect: Facebook’s Russian propaganda crisis playbook

    ·  Facebook can’t explain the difference between its PR operation and Russian troll farms

    ·  Schumer told Warner to back off of Facebook: report

    ·  Alaska purchase: Kremlin’s trolls suggest a refund

    ·  Britain presses for sanctions against Russian spy chiefs

  • U.S. militaryWith military edge eroding, U.S. may lose military conflict with Russia or China

    A commission investigating Donald Trump’s defense strategy has said the United States could lose a military conflict with China or Russia. It argued that the U.S. ability to defend itself and its allies was in doubt. The report suggested that if the U.S. went to war with countries such as China and Russia, it may not win. “The U.S. military could suffer unacceptably high casualties and loss of major capital assets in its next conflict. It might struggle to win, or perhaps lose, a war against China or Russia,” the commission said. “The United States is particularly at risk of being overwhelmed should its military be forced to fight on two or more fronts simultaneously.”

  • Iran’s nukesNuclear experts: Archive shows that Iran had “advanced capabilities” to produce nukes

    The documents in an archive seized by Israel show that Iran had “more advanced capabilities to make nuclear weapons themselves,” according to a paper being prepared by an anti-proliferation think tank, experts say. Foreign Policy, which saw an early draft of the paper being produced by the Institute for Science and International Security, reported that the information contained in the archive “demonstrates that Washington and the IAEA were constantly underestimating how close Tehran was to a bomb.”

  • HateRussian Duma approves bill softening punishment for first-time hate-crime offenders

    Russia’s lower house of parliament has approved the first reading of a bill softening the punishment in some cases for inciting hatred, amid concerns over prison terms handed down to people for “liking” or reposting memes on the Internet. The draft bill discussed on 15 November would remove the possibility of a prison sentence for first-time offenders found to have incited ethnic, religious, and other forms of hatred and discord in public, including in the media or on the Internet.

  • HateScotland Yard investigating anti-Semitism in British Labour Party ranks

    The Scotland Yard is investigating many instances of anti-Semitism among the rank and file of the British Labour Party since Jeremy Corbyn took over the party’s leadership in 2015. The Scotland Yard’s dossier, which was leaked to the press, consists of 80 pages of allegations about the Labour Party’s anti-Semitism, including Holocaust denial. Statements attributed to party members include “We shall rid the Jews who are cancer on us all” and “Zionist extremist MP who hates civilized people about to get a good kicking.”

  • Truth decayThe counties where the anti-vaccine movement thrives in the U.S.

    By Peter J Hotez

    As a pediatrician-scientist who develops new vaccines for neglected diseases, I followed the emergence of doubt over vaccine safety in the general public. Ultimately, in scientific circles, any debate ended when an overwhelming body of scientific evidence demonstrated there was no association between vaccines and autism. In Texas, however, the anti-vaccine movement is aggressive, well-organized and politically engaged. There are now at least 57,000 Texas schoolchildren being exempted from their vaccines for nonmedical reasons, about a 20-fold rise since 2003. I say “at least” because there is no data on the more than 300,000 homeschooled kids.

  • Truth decayVaccination myths must be debunked: Experts

    An analysis of anti-vaccine witness statements presented during the Texas Legislature’s 2017 session revealed recurring misconceptions that need to be challenged, according to an experts. The experts say that there are five recurring misconceptions about vaccines: that they are ineffective; herd immunity is a myth; vaccines “shed” and cause the spread of disease; the impacts of vaccine-preventable diseases are minor; and vaccine-exempt children are not spreading disease. “Each of these myths is inaccurate and unscientific,” the experts say.

  • DronesBetter drone detection through machine learning, cameras

    Visual detection of drones has never been considered as effective as its thermal, radio or acoustic counterparts. The trouble is always discriminating between different moving objects in view. Typically, a bird or even a plastic bag caught in the wind might be mistaken for a drone, which is why most discrimination methods have primarily focused on heat and acoustic signatures in the past (though acoustic signatures also tend to become less useful in urban areas with higher levels of background noise). Combined with machine learning, however, a camera can tell a different story.

  • Tattoo recognitionFederal researchers complete second round of problematic tattoo recognition experiments

    By Dave Maass

    Despite igniting controversy over ethical lapses and the threat to civil liberties posed by its tattoo recognition experiments the first time around, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recently completed its second major project evaluating software designed to reveal who we are and potentially what we believe based on our body art.

  • Coastal perilMethods for protecting England’s coastal communities “not fit for purpose”

    In October 2018, a stark report suggested that current methods being used to protect England’s coastal communities are “not fit for purpose.” The Committee on Climate Change’s Managing the coast in a changing climate report showed that between 2005 and 2014, over 15,000 new buildings were built in coastal areas at significant risk of coastal flooding and/or erosion. Experts say that evidence suggests there should be far stricter controls on coastal developments.

  • Our picksRemembering terrorist attacks; severity of Calif.’s fires; are killer robots the future of war?, and more

    ·  Clark brothers accused of planning race war followed alt-right heroes

    ·  Why the Camp Fire in Northern California is so severe

    ·  Trump’s California rants belie feds’ quick disaster response

    ·  What the November 13 attacks taught Paris

    ·  The more things stay the same: Why the Trump administration’s counterterrorism strategy is surprisingly conventional

    ·  Social media have been captured by elitists, demagogues, and mobs

    ·  Iran was closer to a nuclear bomb than intelligence agencies thought

    ·  Are killer robots the future of war? Parsing the facts on autonomous weapons

  • The Russia watchBattling the bots; a Kremlin spy mystery in Vienna; start thinking about election security in 2020, and more

    ·  Thousands of Americans were following suspected Russian pages on eve of midterms

    ·  Battling the bots

    ·  Nigel Farage’s name keeps coming up in the Mueller probe

    ·  ‘Putin’s chef’ reports spark grisly death threats against Russian journalists

    ·  A bridge too far for Russia’s propagandists

    ·  Key EU lawmaker seeks to ratchet up battle against Russian propaganda

    ·  Russian hackers largely skipped the midterms, and no one really knows why

    ·  A Kremlin spy mystery in Vienna shakes the world capital of espionage

    ·  How Trump’s move to put a loyalist over Mueller is already backfiring

    ·  It’s time to start thinking about election security in 2020