• SyriaCIA ends its program supporting anti-Assad Syrian rebels

    The Trump administration has pulled the plug on the largely ineffective CIA’s covert program to equip and train moderate Syrian rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad. The move will strengthen the regional position and influence of Iran, Russia, and Hezbollah – and would worry U.S. allies in the region such as Israel, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf States. Analysts say that the move was inevitable, and that the Obama administration was about to make the same decision.

  • SyriaFormer Israeli security chief: Iranian land corridor, bases in Syria biggest threats to Israel

    Iran’s efforts to build a “direct corridor” from Baghdad to the Mediterranean Sea and further entrench itself militarily in Syria are two of Israel’s most pressing concerns, Israel’s former national security adviser said. The corridor, referred to as a “Shiite crescent” by Jordan’s King Abdullah, would place Israel’s borders in “direct connection to Iran—a long line but still very easy to move forces, capabilities and everything that the Iranians will want to build around Israel,” Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror said.

  • CybersecurityWhy has healthcare become such a target for cyber-attackers?

    By Myrsini Athinaiou

    More than 16m patient records were stolen from healthcare organizations in the United States and related parties in 2016. That year, healthcare was the fifth most targeted industry when it came to cyber-attacks. And earlier this year, Britain’s National Health Service was crippled by a ransomware attack that locked up the computers holding many of its records and booking systems. As connected technology becomes even more embedded in healthcare, this cyber-threat is only likely to grow. But if we want to protect our health from cyber-attacks, we shouldn’t fear technology. Instead, we need to understand it better and realize that the threat becomes much worse when people make simple mistakes.

  • CybersecurityNSA funds cybersecurity project to bolster security of cloud-based computing

    A University of Arkansas at Little Rock researcher has received funding from the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) to improve cybersecurity skills for students and the general population. The cybersecurity lab project, “Networking and Network Security in the Cloud (NetSiC),” will address issues related to cloud-based computing environments and help students practice networking and cyber defense skills.

  • Safer buildings20-story earthquake-safe buildings made from wood

    Engineering researchers are putting a two-story wooden structure through a series of powerful earthquake simulations, using a lab shake table. The goal is to gather the data required to design wood buildings as tall as twenty stories that do not suffer significant damage during large earthquakes.

  • Safer buildingsBuilding to better weather the storm

    By Anne Wilson Yu

    The Atlantic hurricane season has officially begun and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting “above normal” storm activity this year. That could mean significant damage to coastal communities — some of which are still recovering from last year’s hurricane season. New dashboard developed by the MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub helps builders calculate the breakeven cost of hazard mitigation in hurricane-prone areas.

  • Water securityTreated fracking wastewater may pollute Pennsylvania water sources for years

    Given Pennsylvania’s abundant natural resources, it’s no surprise that the Commonwealth has become a mecca for hydraulic fracturing. Researchers, however, have recently discovered that releasing millions of gallons of treated hydraulic fracturing wastewater each year into area surface waters may have longer-lasting effects than originally thought.

  • The Russian connectionU.K. energy firms hacked by Russian government hackers: U.K. spy agency

    A leaked U.K. government memo says that in the wake of the 8 June general election, the U.K. energy industry is “likely to have been compromised” by Russian government hackers. The report, produced by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) – the British equivalent of the U.S. NSA — warns that the British intelligence service had spotted connections “from multiple U.K. IP addresses to infrastructure associated with advanced state-sponsored hostile threat actors.”

  • Border securityTrump administration awards $2.3 million to Texas for border security

    By Julián Aguilar

    The Texas Military Department has received a $2.3 million boost from the federal government to help with the state’s border-security efforts. The state’s military presence has been concentrated in the Rio Grande Valley since 2014 when a surge of undocumented migration from Central America created a crisis situation. Proponents of the move said it was needed to help an overwhelmed U.S. Border Patrol, whose agents were ill-prepared to handle the influx and concentrate on border security efforts.

  • Water warsIdentifying global hotspots for water conflict

    More than 1,400 new dams or water diversion projects are planned or already under construction and many of them are on rivers flowing through multiple nations, fueling the potential for increased water conflict between some countries. A new analysis uses a comprehensive combination of social, economic, political and environmental factors to identify areas around the world most at-risk for “hydro-political” strife.

  • GunsGun violence prevention groups adopt moderate, middle-ground positions to meet goals

    A new study found that American organizations identifying as gun violence prevention groups advocate for the right to bear arms and for some gun purchase and ownership conditions, which they argue will curb gun-related injuries and deaths. The finding contrasts with some depictions of gun violence prevention groups as “anti-gun.”

  • Crime & punishmentViolence in news toughens opinions on crime, punishment

    If it bleeds, it leads, as the saying goes: Violence is omnipresent in media, and when consumed through news on a regular basis, it drums up support for continuing the status quo in the criminal justice system. That’s one finding from new research which examined how media consumption and social networks influence anxiety about crime and opinions about the justice system.

  • Dust stormsDust Bowl redux: Increase in dust storms in the U.S.

    Could the storms that once engulfed the Great Plains in clouds of black dust in the 1930s once again wreak havoc in the United States? A new statistical model developed by researchers predicts that climate change will amplify dust activity in parts of the United States in the latter half of the 21st century, which may lead to the increased frequency of spectacular dust storms that have far-reaching impacts on public health and infrastructure.

  • Food securityNew Web-based tools help protect the food supply

    Our economy, livelihood and wellbeing depend on food and its supply chains. Supply chains may break if a natural disaster destroys a crop in its primary production region, or if someone tampers with food to cause harm or raise profits. In such cases we need to find out quickly about these incidents and find alternative sources of food ingredients and supplies.

  • STEM educationYoung engineers pedal their way to underwater dominance

    What do a shark, coffin and ice cream cone have in common? They’re all student-built, human-powered submarines—and they competed in the 14th biennial International Submarine Races (ISR), recently held at the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Carderock Division, in Bethesda, Maryland. ISR is a biennial event where participants design, build and race one- or two-person, human-powered submarines down a 328-feet underwater course in the David Taylor Model Basin.

  • CyberattacksCyberattack could cost $120 billion: Lloyd’s

    Insurance giant Lloyd’s of London has warned that the cost of a serious cyberattack to the global economy could reach $120 billion or more – which was the cost of damage inflicted by Hurricanes Katrina or Sandy. insurance firm says the threat posed by global cyberattacks has spiraled, and that it poses a huge risk over the next decade to business and governments everywhere. Trevor Maynard, Lloyd’s head of innovation and co-author of the report, said that where people are involved, risk changes quite rapidly — from cyberattacks to terrorism and political risk – but that from year to year, such risks vary relatively little. “But climate change in the end will be far larger as a risk,” he said, and it remains the biggest challenge in the long run.

  • Security kiosksAutomated security kiosk to shorten lines at airports, border crossings

    Researchers have developed a next-generation automated screening kiosk which uses an algorithm of “yes” or “no” questions delivered by a computer-generated avatar, quickly and efficiently to assess the potential threats passengers may pose to others. the screening can be completed in less than four minutes with a 90 percent success rate.

  • AI risksWhat an artificial intelligence researcher fears about AI

    By Arend Hintze

    As an artificial intelligence researcher, I often come across the idea that many people are afraid of what AI might bring. It’s perhaps unsurprising, given both history and the entertainment industry, that we might be afraid of a cybernetic takeover that forces us to live locked away, “Matrix”-like, as some sort of human battery. Might I become “the destroyer of worlds,” as Robert Oppenheimer lamented after spearheading the construction of the first nuclear bomb? Perhaps the critics are right. Maybe I shouldn’t avoid asking: As an AI expert, what do I fear about artificial intelligence?

  • AviationRising temperatures may limit aircraft takeoffs globally

    Global temperatures have gone up nearly 1 degree Centigrade (1.8 Fahrenheit) since about 1980, and this may already be having an effect. In late June, American Airlines canceled more than 40 flights out of Phoenix, Ariz., when daytime highs of nearly 120 degrees made it too hot for smaller regional jets to take off. Rising temperatures due to global warming will make it harder for many aircraft around the world to take off in coming decades, says a new study. During the hottest parts of the day, 10 to 30 percent of fully loaded planes may have to remove some fuel, cargo or passengers, or else wait for cooler hours to fly, a new study shows.

  • HazmatHazmat Challenge tests responders’ skills

    Ten hazardous materials response teams from New Mexico, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Missouri tested their skills in a series of graded, timed exercises at the 21st annual Hazmat Challenge 10-14 July at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Ten hazardous materials response teams tested their skills in a series of graded, timed exercises simulating hazardous materials emergencies involving aircraft, rail and highway transportation, industrial piping, a biological lab, and a confined space event.

  • Food securityClimate change to deplete some U.S. water basins, reduce irrigated crop yields

    By Jennifer Chu

    A new study by MIT climate scientists, economists, and agriculture experts finds that certain hotspots in the country will experience severe reductions in crop yields by 2050, due to climate change’s impact on irrigation. The most adversely affected region, according to the researchers, will be the Southwest. Already a water-stressed part of the country, this region is projected to experience reduced precipitation by midcentury. Less rainfall to the area will mean reduced runoff into water basins that feed irrigated fields.

  • Water securityRelease of treated wastewater from fracking contaminates lake

    In 2015, the unconventional oil and gas extraction method known as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” accounted for more than one-half of oil production and two-thirds of gas production in the United States. Fracking’s rapid growth has raised questions about what to do with the billions of gallons of wastewater that result. Researchers now report that treating the wastewater and releasing it into surface waters has led to the contamination of a Pennsylvania watershed with radioactive material and endocrine-disrupting chemicals.