• Water securityThe lesson from the demise of the Maya civilization: Water shortage can destroy cultures

    Within a short period of time, the advanced Maya civilization in Central America went from flourishing to collapsing — the population dwindling rapidly and monumental stone structures, like the ones built at Yucatán, were no longer being constructed. Mathematical models analyzing the interplay between society and hydrological effects have found the explanation: the irrigation technology that served the Mayans well during periods of drought may have actually made their society more vulnerable to major catastrophes. These models provide insights into ancient cultures – as well as into our own future.

  • Psychopathology & leadershipPresidential candidates may be psychopaths – but this is not necessarily a bad thing

    Oxford University’s Dr. Kevin Dutton has spent much of his career looking at psychopaths and researching psychopathic traits, identifying those which can be of benefit and those which can lead to incarceration. He contends that being a psychopath is not an all-or-nothing affair. Instead, psychopathy is on a spectrum along which each of us has our place. In a new study, Dutton finds that Donald Trump ranks above Adolf Hitler and only just below Idi Amin, Saddam Hussein, and Henry VIII. Hillary Clinton ranks between Napoleon and Nero.

  • FloodsSuburban sprawl and poor preparation worsened flood damage in Louisiana

    By Craig E. Colten

    The proximate cause of this month’s extraordinary flooding in southeast Louisiana was a slow-moving storm system that dropped up to two feet of rain in the upper reaches of the Amite and Comite river basins, which drain southern Mississippi and flow into Lake Pontchartrain. There are parallels between the damage of current flooding and the damage caused by Katrina. In both cases, human decisions magnified the consequences of extreme natural events. Planning and permitting enabled development in areas that had experienced repeat floods, and agencies had failed to complete projects designed to mitigate flood damage before the storms hit. If there is one lesson we have learned about floods, it is that records are made to be broken. So in addition to planning for the last flood, we need to anticipate higher water than our current benchmarks.

  • DronesTechnical problems rather than operator errors cause most drone accidents

    Research has found that technical problems rather than operator errors are behind the majority of drone accidents, leading to a call for further safeguards for the industry. One of the researchers said the findings illustrated the need for further airworthiness requirements for Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS), as well as the mandatory reporting of all accidents or incidents. “Understanding what happens to drones, even those that don’t cause damage to people or property, is essential to improve safety,” he said.

  • African securityBoko Haram leader “fatally wounded in army air strike”: Nigeria

    Nigeria claims to have “fatally wounded” Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram, in an air strike targeting a meeting of the commanders of the Islamist group. The Nigerian military says that Shekau and other senior leaders of the group gathered for prayers on Friday, and that they were hit by an “air force raid.”

  • Civil defenseGermany to unveil a civil defense plan calling on citizens to stockpile food, water

    The German government will tell citizens to stockpile food and water in their homes in order to prepare for a terror attack or catastrophe. The German cabinet will on Wednesday debate an Interior Ministry report, called the “Concept for Civil Defense,” which, among other things will require the population to stockpile enough food ten days and water for five days.

  • Car-hackingResearchers look for ways to keep cars safe from hacking

    In 2015, two researchers remotely hacked a Jeep Cherokee being driven by a reporter who documented how the researchers controlled everything from the car’s radio and media console to its brakes and steering. For computer scientists at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, the exercise demonstrated how vulnerable smart cars with GPS, Bluetooth, and Internet connections are to cyberattacks – and they decided to do something about it.

  • Search & rescueLouisiana’s Cajun Navy shines light on growing value of boat rescuers

    By Tricia Wachtendorf and James Kendra

    As we look at the devastating losses suffered by Louisiana communities from the recent flooding, one of the inspiring aspects to emerge from the disaster are the reports of the “Cajun Navy” – everyday residents in their boats checking on and rescuing family, friends, neighbors and even strangers in need. The efforts of the Cajun Navy, however, are not unusual. Indeed, one consolation of the disaster is the extent to which the informal responses by survivors bolster stressed and overburdened formal response systems. We must continue to learn the right lessons from disaster: that there is value of both planning and improvisation in disaster. That although citizens might sometimes make mistakes, they also enable the greatest of responses. That successful disaster response, in part, depends on a willingness of formal responders to acknowledge the capacities of our citizenry, be they mariners or farmers, welders or educators, or something else entirely.

  • Nuclear powerPro-nuclear countries slowest to make progress on climate targets

    A strong national commitment to nuclear energy goes hand in hand with weak performance on climate change targets, researchers found. A new study of European countries shows that the most progress toward reducing carbon emissions and increasing renewable energy sources has been made by nations without nuclear energy or with plans to reduce it. Conversely, pro-nuclear countries have been slower to implement wind, solar, and hydropower technologies and to tackle emissions.

  • Food securityRobot, drones to help collect crop testing data to bolster agricultural production

    A rumbling robot and several high-flying drones recently made an on-site appearance at Clemson University to burrow through and buzz above fifteen acres of experimental sorghum plots containing more than 2,800 replicated entries. The space-age devices are part of a collaborative project with Clemson University and other partners designed to significantly enhance the ease and frequency of data collection for crop testing in ways that will eventually benefit all agricultural production in South Carolina and around the world.

  • Food-energy-water nexusNSF announces $55 million toward national research priorities

    The National Science Foundation (NSF) has made eleven awards totaling $55 million aimed at building research capacity to address fundamental questions about the brain and develop new innovations at the intersection of food, energy, and water systems. These four-year awards support twenty-seven institutions in eighteen eligible jurisdictions.

  • HamasIsrael retaliates against Hamas after Gaza rocket explodes near homes in Sderot

    A rocket fired by Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip landed between two houses in the southern Israeli city of Sderot on Sunday, prompting the IDF to carry out airstrikes against Hamas targets in Gaza. Israel responded to the attack by striking two sites in northern Gaza that it said were a part of Hamas’ “terror infrastructure.” Israel holds Hamas, which rules Gaza, responsible for any rocket fire against its citizens.

  • Cultural terrorismIslamist militant pleads guilty to war crimes involving destruction of cultural, historical monuments

    An Islamic extremist has pleaded guilty to destroying historic mausoleums in northern Mali city of Timbuktu. Ahmad Al Faqi al-Mahdi told the judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC), where his trial has began today (Monday), that he was entering the guilty plea “with deep regret and great pain.” Mahdi’s trial is the first ICC trial in which an individual was charged for war crimes for destroying historical and cultural monuments.

  • DronesPolice seized drones trying to smuggle contraband into London prison

    The police have seized two drones carrying drugs and mobile phones as they were making their way toward the all-male Pentonville jail in Islington, north London. Drones were increasingly being used to smuggle items into prisons in England and Wales. Figures showed there were thirty-three incidents involving devices in 2015, compared to two in 2014 and none in 2013.bDrugs, phones, mobile chargers, and USB cards were among the items discovered.

  • SyriaHarrowing accounts of torture, inhuman conditions, mass deaths in Syria's prisons

    The horrifying experiences of detainees subjected to rampant torture and other ill-treatment in Syrian prisons are laid bare in a damning new report just published by Amnesty International. The report estimates that 17,723 people have died in custody in Syria since the crisis began in March 2011 – an average rate of more than 300 deaths each month.

  • SyriaSyria faces food crisis as wheat shortage deepens

    Syria’s ongoing wheat harvest is not large enough to feed people living in areas controlled by the government, researchers have warned. Syrian farmers sold 450,000 tons of wheat last year — less than half the quantity needed to supply government-controlled areas of the country with enough bread. In total, the country will need around one millions tons of wheat to avoid a hunger crisis. Before the war, Syria used to produce five million tons of wheat pear year. Out of these, two million tons were consumed in the country while the rest was either sold as exports or stored in a stockpile. This stock was aimed at meeting Syria’s food needs for five years but is now nearly depleted.

  • Immigration & terrorism9/11 attacks merged U.S. immigration and terrorism efforts at Latinos' expense: Study

    After September 11, issues of immigration and terrorism merged, heightening surveillance and racializing Latino immigrants as a threat to national security, according to researchers. Latino immigration in the United States has long sparked passionate debates, with Latinos often racialized as “illegal aliens” posing an economic threat. But following the al-Qaeda-led terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the fear of another attack, coupled with Islamophobia, streamlined immigration agendas with anti-terrorism rhetoric, policies, and institutional efforts, racializing Latinos in a new way, the researchers said.

  • CybersecurityAfter the NSA hack: Cybersecurity in an even more vulnerable world

    By Nir Kshetri

    It is looking increasingly likely that computer hackers have in fact successfully attacked what had been the pinnacle of cybersecurity – the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). Cyberweapons and their capabilities are becoming an increasing part of international relations, forming part of foreign policy decisions and even sparking what has been called a “cyber arms race.” The cyberattack on the NSA’s – specifically, the attack on the Equation Group, the NSA’s spying element – may be part of this global interplay. The attack is also further proof of the cybersecurity industry’s axiom about the highly asymmetric probabilities of successful attack and successful defense: Attackers need to succeed only once; defenders have to be perfect every time. As sophisticated as NSA’s highly secure network is, the agency cannot ever fully protect itself from cyberattackers.

  • Public healthData sharing should become routine for best response to public health emergencies

    The recent outbreaks caused by Ebola and Zika viruses have highlighted the importance of medical and public health research in accelerating outbreak control and have prompted calls for researchers to share data rapidly and widely during public health emergencies. However, the routine practice of data sharing in scientific research, rather than reactive data sharing, will be needed to effectively prepare for future public health emergencies.

  • Emerging threatsGlobal warming would make most cities too hot, humid to host summer Olympics

    The future of the summer Olympics may be in jeopardy because of rising heat and humidity due to climate change. By 2085, only eight Northern Hemisphere cities outside of Western Europe are likely to be cool enough to host the summer games. The authors considered only cities with at least 600,000 residents, the size considered necessary for hosting the games. Cities with elevations over a mile above sea level were omitted as such an altitude (for example, Mexico City in 1968) faced challenges of their own.

  • Hate preachersU.K. to ban hate preachers from mosques, universities, public speaking to tackle radicalization

    U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May is developing plans to bar Islamist hate preachers from entering mosques and universities in order to prevent a repetition of the campaign conducted by Anjem Choudary to radicalize young Britons. Experts say that Choudary’s nearly 20-year campaign of hate, incitement, and radicalization had exposed the limits of current anti-terror laws. Choudary was found to be connected to fifteen terror plots since 2000 and to more than 500 British jihadists who traveled to Syria to fight in ISIS ranks. He had also been active spreading his extremist Islamist message on social media and on college campuses.

  • Zombie drug“Zombie drug” flakka causes “excited delirium,” but probably not cannibalism: Experts

    It was a gruesome sight: Florida police pulled a 19-year-old Florida State University student away from the bodies of his two victims, only to find that the one of them was severely bitten in the face. Police officers say the immediately knew who (or, rather, what) the culprit was: flakka, or bath salts, a powerful man-made drug. Experts say that “bath salts” drugs can cause “excited delirium,” but probably do not drive users to cannibalism.