• China syndromeChina completes military construction on three disputed islands

    China has completed major construction of military and dual-use infrastructure on three of the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. The “Big 3” — Subi, Mischief, and Fiery Cross Reefs – now have naval, air, radar, and defensive facilities, allowing Beijing to deploy military assets, including combat aircraft and mobile missile launchers, to the Spratly Islands at any time.

  • TerrorismCarlos the Jackal sentenced to third life term for 1974 Paris attack

    A French court found Carlos the Jackal – the Venezuelan-born Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, a leftist urban terrorist who carried out terrorist attacks in France in the 1970s and 1980s – guilty of killing two and injuring thirty-four in a 1974 grenade attack on a Paris drugstore. Sánchez, who is already serving two life sentences for a 1975 terrorist attack, was at one time one of the world’s most wanted criminals. Sometime in the mid-1980s he escaped to Khartoum, Sudan, and led a quiet life until 1994, when French special forces, in a daring commando raid, captured him and brought him back to France.

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  • TerrorismHamas develops powerful new rockets, threatening Israeli towns near Gaza

    The Palestinian terrorist group Hamas has acquired new, more powerful rockets that could severely threaten Israeli towns near the Gaza Strip. The rockets carry hundreds of kilograms of explosive material and have a short range of a few kilometers, similar to the range of mortar shells, according to an assessment by the Israeli military. While the Iron Dome anti-missile system can shoot down short-range projectiles, it is not as effective against mortar shells and rockets with more limited ranges.

  • EncryptionEncryption requirements to change P25 CAP approved equipment list

    On Monday announced a change in the Project 25 Compliance Assessment Program (P25 CAP) listing of grant-eligible radio equipment for first responders. In order to be fully compliant with all P25 CAP requirements, radio equipment that requires encryption must use Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) 256. Equipment that uses proprietary or other non-standard encryption capabilities without also providing the standard encryption (AES 256) capability does not meet the requirement specified in the Project 25 Compliance Assessment Program Encryption Requirements Compliance Assessment Bulletin (CAB).

  • EncryptionHow WhatsApp encryption works – and why there shouldn’t be a backdoor

    By Antonis Michalas

    A battle between national security and privacy is brewing. Governments and secret services are asking encrypted messaging services such as WhatsApp to allow them access to users’ data, arguing that access to messages will allow authorities to thwart future terror attacks. Ultimately, though, if someone thinks that removing WhatsApp encryption would be the solution to the problem of terrorism or crime, then they don’t understand the actual problem. Even if you were to remove the end-to-end encryption from WhatsApp, criminals could create their own, similar, software that would allow them to communicate securely, while ordinary users would lose the ability to send genuinely private messages.

  • Zika virusAddressing the threat of Zika virus to the U.S. blood supply

    Investigators have shown that certain screening methods that detect the genetic material of Zika virus can be used to ensure that donated blood supplies remain free of the virus. The methods, called Zika virus nucleic acid amplification technology assays, demonstrated similar excellent sensitivities to assays currently used for screening for transfusion-transmitted viruses. The methods were substantially more sensitive than most other laboratory-developed and diagnostic Zika virus assays.

  • Zika virusPredicting Zika hot spots in the U.S.

    Where in the continental United States is Zika most likely to occur? Researchers puts the bulls-eye of Zika transmission on the Mississippi delta. They also predicted the virus, which is spread sexually and by bites from the Aedes aegypti mosquito, is likely to be transmitted in southern states extending northward along the Atlantic coast and in southern California.

  • Food securityFamine: Nearly 1.4 million children at risk of death in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen

    Famine is looming in north-east Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Yemen, and beyond, as nearly 1.4 million children are at imminent risk of death from severe acute malnutrition this year. Some 22 million children are hungry, sick, displaced, and out of school due to war, conflict and drought. They now face the risk of death from starvation, but also from preventable diseases like cholera and measles, which cause severe diarrhea and dehydration. This crisis is largely human-made. Scorched earth tactics by conflicting parties are destroying crops and critical infrastructure like health facilities. Heavy fighting is forcing farmers to abandon their fields, while blocking humanitarian access to people in desperate need of food aid and clean water.

  • Food securityUnder climate change, farming is becoming riskier

    Climate change will have an impact on agriculture, but a new study puts these changes in terms which are directly applicable to farmers. For Illinois, for example, the corn planting window will be split in two to avoid wet conditions in April and May. Each planting window carries increased risk – the early planting window could be thwarted by frost or heavy precipitation, and the late window cut short by intense late-summer drought. Farmers and crop insurers must evaluate risk to avoid losing profits.

  • VisasState Department tightens visa screening

    Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has instructed U.S. diplomatic missions to identify “populations warranting increased scrutiny” and tighten screening for visa applicants in those groups, diplomatic cables obtained by Reuters show. Tillerson has also ordered a “mandatory social media check” for all applicants who have ever been present in territory controlled by Islamic State, in what two former U.S. officials said would be a broad, labor-intensive expansion of such screening.

  • 9/11 & Saudi ArabiaJudge puts 9/11 victims’ suit against Saudi Arabia on a faster track

    Last year Congress passed the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), opening the door for families of the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and insurance companies to take Saudi Arabia to court for the role Saudi government officials may have played in the attack. The Manhattan federal courts will next year issue rulings which will indicate whether JASTA was a symbolic gesture – or a move which has reshaped the legal landscape.

  • London attackLondon attack: Terrorism expert explains three threats of jihadism in the West

    By Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens

    In the wake of the 22 March terrorist attack in London, the only certainty, unfortunately, is that this attack will not be the last such attack in the West. As IS loses ground in Iraq and Syria, it will do all it can to retain an ability to strike in the West. While their key aim is to inspire attacks like those in Paris and Brussels, they will be increasingly difficult to conduct. This is due both to its dwindling resources and the increasing readiness of European security agencies who will be learning from recent attacks. Lone actors, while rare, will continue offer IS a cost-free method of attack. Meanwhile, virtual entrepreneurs will be doing all they can to help their Western contacts plot and execute mass killings from afar.

  • Muslim surveillanceSecond judge approves settlement on NYPD Muslim surveillance

    The second of two federal judges has approved a settlement with the New York City Police Department that protects New York Muslims and others from discriminatory and unjustified surveillance. The new rules govern when and how investigations are conducted, and provide for an independent civilian representative inside the NYPD who will act as a check against surveillance abuses.

  • PrivacyProtecting web users’ privacy

    By Larry Hardesty

    Most website visits these days entail a database query — to look up airline flights, for example, or to find the fastest driving route between two addresses. But online database queries can reveal a surprising amount of information about the people making them. And some travel sites have been known to jack up the prices on flights whose routes are drawing an unusually high volume of queries. MIT researchers next week will present a new encryption system that disguises users’ database queries so that they reveal no private information.

  • Science & securityMIT president calls for investing in basic science to maintain U.S. edge

    President Trump’s proposed budget slashes at least $7 billion in funding for science programs. That course of action would put the United States at a competitive disadvantage, argues L. Rafael Reif, president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). “Since World War II, the U.S. government has been the world’s biggest supporter of potentially transformative science — which is a key reason why the country continues to have the highest share of knowledge- and technology-intensive industries in the world, amounting to nearly 40 percent of the economy,” Reif writes in the May/June issue of Foreign Affairs.

  • Science & securityNSF-funded research continues to support national security

    The National Science Foundation (NSF) is usually associated with supporting scientists who go on to win Nobel Prizes, leading exploration of the planet’s polar regions, and enabling discoveries about the universe, from the subatomic world to distant galaxies. But the foundation also has ties to national defense that go back to its beginnings, as a product of the U.S. government working to enhance security during and after the Second World War. The National Science Foundation Act of 1950 called for the creation of an agency to “promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; and to secure the national defense.” NSF’s founder, Vannevar Bush, said: “It has become clear beyond all doubt that scientific research is absolutely essential to national security.”

  • Carbon emissionsCarbon Law, modeled after Moore’s Law, a pathway to halve emissions every decade

    Moore’s Law states that computer processors double in power about every two years. While it is neither a natural nor legal law, this simple rule of thumb or heuristic has been described as a golden rule which has held for fifty years and still drives disruptive innovation. Research say that a carbon roadmap, driven by a simple rule of thumb, or Carbon Law, of halving emissions every decade, could catalyze disruptive innovation. Following a Carbon Law, which is based on published energy scenarios, would give the world a 75 percent chance of keeping Earth below 2°C above pre-industrial temperatures, the target agreed by nations in Paris in 2015.

  • Emerging threatsHave humans transformed geological processes to create a new epoch -- the Anthropocene?

    The Anthropocene — the concept that humans have so transformed geological processes at the Earth’s surface that we are living in a new epoch — was formulated by Nobel Laureate Paul Crutzen in 2000. It has since spread around not just the world of science, but also across the humanities and through the media into public consciousness. An international group of scientists – the Anthropocene Working Group – is now analyzing the Anthropocene as a potential new addition to the Geological Time Scale, which would be a major step in its global scientific recognition. These scientists argue that “irreversible” changes to the Earth provide striking evidence of new epoch.

  • Westminster terrorist attackLondon terrorist British-born, known to security services

    The Westminster attacker was identified as Khalid Masood, a Britain-born Muslim with a history of petty crimes who had previously been investigated by MI5 for ties to extremist organizations, Prime Minister Theresa May told the House of Commons. May said the probe took place several years ago, and that the suspect was not “part of the current intelligence picture.” “The police have no reason to believe there are imminent further attacks on the public,” she told MPs.

  • Terrorist threatsIsraeli police arrest teen over wave of bomb threats against Jewish targets in U.S.

    The Israeli police, acting on a request by the FBI, has arrested a 19-year-old Israeli Jewish man on suspicion of making dozens of threats against Jewish organizations in the United States, and against airlines in the United States and other countries. The unnamed teen, who has a dual Israeli and U.S. citizenship, lives in the southern sea-side city of Ashkelon. The arrest was made after several waves of threats in the past two months against Jewish community centers (JCCs) and other Jewish organizations. The teen used advanced technology in an effort to mask the source of his calls and communications to synagogues, community centers, and public venues.

  • Middle EastIsrael plans mass evacuations in case of war With Hamas, Hezbollah

    In case of a future war with the Islamist terrorist groups Hamas or Hezbollah, Israel would completely evacuate its border communities — up to 250,000 people in either case — to lower the threat level, news reports say. These evacuations, coordinated with local municipalities to keep civilians safe, would be the biggest in Israeli history.

  • The Troubles & the transformationMartin McGuinness: the IRA commander who walked down a political path

    By Peter John McLoughlin

    Martin McGuinness, 66, died on 21 March 2017. He suffered from amyloidosis, a rare disease which attacks the body’s vital organs. In 1998, Martin McGuinness, a former commander in the Irish Republican Army (IRA), joined Reverend Ian Paisley, the firebrand Protestant leader, to support and implement the Good Friday Agreement, which brought power sharing to the governing of Northern Ireland. Many nationalists accused Paisley of instigating the Troubles by orchestrating opposition to the civil rights movement. Many unionists refused to forgive McGuinness’s role in IRA violence. For victims of violence on either side of the conflict, the focus on the past is understandable, and it is also true that there were voices on both sides of the divide who, from the outset, consistently argued for a more peaceful way toward change in Northern Ireland. Ultimately, however, figures such as McGuinness and Paisley both helped lead more intransigent minds down that political path. As long as future generations are prepared to continue with the same endeavor, the most enduring legacy of the former firebrand preacher and the former IRA commander will be a peaceful, just, and democratic settlement in Ireland.