• Coastal perilRising seas threaten 1.9 million U.S. homes with current value of $882 billion

    Typically when we talk about “underwater” homes, we are referring to negative equity. But there is a more literal way a home can be underwater: Rising sea levels, and the flooding likely to come with them, could inundate millions of U.S. homes worth hundreds of billions of dollars. If sea levels rise as much as climate scientists predict by the year 2100, almost 300 U.S. cities would lose at least half their homes, and 36 U.S. cities would be completely lost. The total combined current value of all homes at risk of being underwater with a 6-feet rise in sea levels is $882 billion.

  • Middle EastIran threatened to halt nuke talks if U.S. bombed Assad, WSJ reporter says

    President Barack Obama changed his mind about launching a retaliatory strike against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose forces carried out a sarin gas attack that killed more than 1,400 people in August 2013, after Iran threatened to pull out of then-secret nuclear talks, the chief foreign correspondent for the Wall Street Journal said on Monday.

  • ISISHow the Islamic State recruits and coerces children

    By Mia Bloom

    This week the world once again witnessed an Islamic State’s use of at least one child bomber, perhaps two – this time for blowing up the wedding in Gaziantep, Turkey, killing fifty-four people on 20 August. There are important differences in how groups engage children in militant activities. Differences between children in terrorist groups and child soldiers include how children are recruited and what role the parents and community play in recruitment. Understanding these differences helps us know how best to approach treating the children’s trauma, and figure out which children can be rehabilitated and which ones might be vulnerable for recidivism as adults. The number of children who have been exposed to violence in the so-called Islamic State requires efforts be taken to address the trauma, and determine whether these children are victims or perpetrators.

  • SyriaLarge Turkish forces enter Syria to drive ISIS out of border area

    Dozens of Turkish tanks have crossed into Syria earlier this morning as part of a massive operation – code named “Euphrates Shield” — to capture ISIS strongholds around the town of Jarablus and drive the militants out of the area. The land invasion, which also included hundreds of troops, follows hours of relentless airstrikes and artillery barrages against ISIS targets along the Syria-Turkey border. Among the targets hit in the bombardment were arms depots and oil tanks, and huge explosions lighted up the night sky.

  • ColombiaColombia, FARC to sign historic peace deal today, ending 52-year war

    Colombia’s government and the leftist FARC rebel organization have reached a final and comprehensive peace agreement which puts an end to Latin America’s longest war. The FARC campaign against successive Colombian governments began in 1964, leaving more than 220,000 people dead and more than six-and-a-half million displaced. After four years of negotiations, the pace deal will be signed Wednesday evening in Havana, Cuba.

  • Brain-eating amoebaFlorida teen only the 4th U.S. survivor of brain-eating amoeba claiming 97 percent mortality rate

    A 16-year-old South Florida boy has defied the odds by becoming only the fourth U.S. patient to survive an attack by brain-eating amoeba.Naegleria fowleri is a microscopic amoeba commonly found in warm freshwater lakes, rivers, and streams. If the amoeba enters the body through the nose, it typically makes it way to the brain, causing an extremely rare and destructive infection of the brain. In the past fifty years, only four people in the United States have been reported to have survived out of the 138 cases reported, giving it almost a 97 percent mortality rate.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.