• The Iranian connection Israel shot down Iranian-supplied Hezbollah drone in border area

    Israel has shot down what an Iranian-supplied Hezbollah drone as it was about to cross the Syrian border into Israel. Analysts note that Hezbollah launched the drone only hours before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is to address the UN General Assembly. In his speech he is expected to highlight the destabilizing consequences of Iran’s growing influence in the Middle East. “We have seen a significant recent rise in [Hezbollah’s] drone capability,” an Israeli military source said.

  • The Iranian connection Argentinian prosecutor to review mounting forensic evidence that proves Nisman was murdered

    An Argentinian prosecutor will assess the findings of a group of forensic analysts who discovered more evidence indicating that Argentinian prosecutor Alberto Nisman was murdered. Nisman, who investigated the ties between Iran and the July 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, as well as a cover up by the previous Argentine government of Iran’s role in the attack, was found dead with a bullet wound to the head in January 2015. His death came hours before he was scheduled to appear before a closed session of the Argentinian Congress.

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  • CybersecurityThe security of fitness trackers could – and should – be improved

    The security of wearable fitness trackers could be improved to better protect users’ personal data, a new study suggests. Vulnerabilities in the devices – which track heart rate, steps taken and calories burned – could threaten the privacy and security of the data they record, scientists say.

  • Crime fightingDHS funds national consortium to develop better methods for fighting criminal activity

    The University of Arkansas at Little Rock has been named a priority partner in a new DHS-funded national consortium. SHS S&T S&T) will award the consortium a $3.85 million grant for its first operating year in a 10-year grant period to create the Center of Excellence for Criminal Investigations and Network Analysis (CINA). The center’s research will focus on criminal network analysis, dynamic patterns of criminal activity, forensics, and criminal investigative processes.

  • AnthraxCleaning up subways after release of biological warfare agent such as anthrax

    If you’re like most people, you don’t spend much time thinking about what would happen if anthrax was released into your local subway system. But Sandia Lab engineer Mark Tucker has spent much of the past twenty years thinking about incidents involving chemical or biological warfare agents, and the best ways to clean them up. Tucker’s current project focuses on cleaning up a subway system after the release of a biological warfare agent such as anthrax.

  • Emergency communicationNo internet? No problem: Improving communications during natural disasters

    Storms like Hurricane Irma and other natural disasters bring with them lots of uncertainty: where will they go, how much damage will they cause. What is certain is that no matter where they strike, natural disasters knock out power. And no power means no internet for thousands of people in affected areas. Researchers are proposing a new way of gathering and sharing information during natural disasters that does not rely on the internet.

  • Climate threatsLimiting warming to 1.5°C still possible

    Significant emission reductions are required if we are to achieve one of the key goals of the Paris Agreement, and limit the increase in global average temperatures to 1.5°C; scientists say. A new study, investigating the geophysical likelihood of limiting global warming to “well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C,” concluded L limiting the increase in global average temperatures above pre-industrial levels to 1.5°C, the goal of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, is not yet geophysically impossible, but likely requires more ambitious emission reductions than those pledged so far.

  • Considered opinionNo, we cannot shoot down North Korea’s missiles

    By Joe Cirincione

    The number one reason we don’t shoot down North Korea’s missiles is that we cannot. The latest North Korean missile to fly over Japan did so at 475 miles over Japan at the apogee of its flight path. Neither Japan nor the United States could have intercepted the missile. None of the U.S. theater ballistic missile defense weapons in existence can reach that high. It is hundreds of kilometers too high for the Aegis interceptors deployed on Navy ships off Japan. Even higher for the THAAD systems in South Korea and Guam. Way too high for the Patriot systems in Japan, which engage largely within the atmosphere.

  • Our picksISIS killer drones; economics of migration; Cuba’s sonic weapons, and more

    • Moscow takes U.S. meddling tactics to German vote
    • The U.S. may close its embassy in Cuba after possible sonic weapon attacks
    • 100 years after the lethal 1918 flu pandemic, we are still vulnerable
    • Time has come: ISIS improvising own killer drones
    • The economics of immigration
    • This Department is the last hideout of climate change believers in Donald Trump’s government
    • Is Russia practicing a dry run for an invasion of Belarus?
    • No nuclear weapon is safe from cyberattacks

  • Disaster costEconomic costs of Harvey, Irma $200-$300 billion; insured cost to reach $70 billion

    The insured cost of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma is likely to reach $70 billion, while the economic cost — which includes uninsured losses – is in the range of $200 billion to $300 billion, leading insurers say. Lloyd’s of London said the claims would make 2017 one of the worst years for natural disasters with the hurricane season not yet over.

  • ISISEconomic decay within Islamic State

    A new report paints a bleak picture of economic life under the Islamic State. The report’s authors estimate that the Islamic State contributed to a 23 percent reduction in the GDP of cities under its control, based on novel applications of satellite-derived data.

  • IslamophobiaIslamophobia: racism mixed with cultural intolerance, not merely religious bias

    Islamophobia represents a form of racism mixed with cultural intolerance as a whole, rather than simply intolerance of Muslims and Islam, according to a new study. The author refutes the argument that Islamophobia is a form of religious bias that oppresses U.S. Muslims on the grounds that Islam is nefarious and antithetical to American values. “We often hear that because Muslims are not a race, people cannot be racist for attacking Muslims,” Rice University’s Craig Considine says. “This argument does not stack up. It is a simplistic way of thinking that overlooks the role that race plays in Islamophobic hate crimes.”

  • Extremists & social mediaCan taking down websites really stop terrorists and hate groups?

    By Thomas Holt, Joshua D. Freilich, and Steven Chermak

    Racists and terrorists, and many other extremists, have used the internet for decades and adapted as technology evolved, shifting from text-only discussion forums to elaborate and interactive websites, custom-built secure messaging systems and even entire social media platforms. Recent efforts to deny these groups online platforms will not kick hate groups, nor hate speech, off the web. In fact, some scholars theorize that attempts to shut down hate speech online may cause a backlash, worsening the problem and making hate groups more attractive to marginalized and stigmatized people, groups, and movements. The tech industry, law enforcement, and policymakers must develop a more measured and coordinated approach to the removal of extremist and terrorist content online. The only way to really eliminate this kind of online content is to decrease the number of people who support it.

  • GridCircuit simulation methods protect the power grid

    In December 2015, Russian hackers pummeled Ukraine’s power grid, disrupting the flow of electricity for nearly a quarter-million Ukrainians. Then, in December 2016, roughly a year after the first attack, the hackers struck again. But this time, they targeted an electric transmission station in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. Each cyberattack lasted no more than six hours, but security experts were still alarmed: hackers had just demonstrated their ability to infiltrate the grid and drastically alter the flow of society. Americans began to worry. If hackers could target Ukraine, then what would stop them from targeting other countries in western Europe or even the United States?

  • GridUsing AI to prevent, minimize electric grid failures

    A project led by the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory will combine artificial intelligence with massive amounts of data and industry experience from a dozen U.S. partners to identify places where the electric grid is vulnerable to disruption, reinforce those spots in advance, and recover faster when failures do occur. It is the first project to employ AI to help the grid manage power fluctuations, resist damage and bounce back faster from storms, solar eclipses, cyberattacks, and other disruptions.

  • PreparednessConsiderable progress since 9/11 in U.S. public health emergency preparedness

    Sixteen years after terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center in New York City, the American Journal of Public Health is releasing a special supplement focused on public health emergency preparedness. A new study in this special supplement, completed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response, found that in the sixteen years since 9/11, the United States has made considerable progress in its public health preparedness capability.

  • Storm surgesStorm surge prediction tool helps emergency managers

    When severe, life threatening weather systems bear down on residents and communities, emergency managers needed every tool available to make informed decisions regarding evacuations, emergency services, and resource staging. Back in June, as Tropical Storm Cindy was nearing the Texas and Louisiana coastlines, Texas state agencies – including the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT), which operates the ferries along the Texas Gulf Coast — were using a combination of online tools and observations to closely monitor water heights since ferries, a key aspect of the state evacuation plan, can’t operate if the water rises more than four and a half feet. Unfortunately, based on their observations, it looked like they were going to have to close the ferry down.

  • Considered opinionRT, Sputnik and Russia’s new theory of war

    By Jim Rutenberg

    The 2016 Russian government’s disinformation campaign helped Donald Trump win the November election, and key to that effective campaign were lies expertly manufactured by Russian disinformation specialists and spread through two Russian government propaganda outlets, RT and Sputnik, and on social media. The U.S. intelligence community says that RT and the rest of the Russian information machine were working with “covert intelligence operations” to do no less than “undermine the U.S.-led liberal democratic order.” The U.S. intelligence assessment warned ominously, “Moscow will apply lessons learned from its Putin-ordered campaign aimed at the U.S. presidential election to future influence efforts worldwide, including against U.S. allies and their election processes.”

  • Our picksFlorida’s poop nightmare; unraveling Trump-Russia tangle; WoT civilian casualties, and more

    • Florida’s poop nightmare has come true
    • Reports of civilian casualties in the war against ISIS are vastly inflated
    • Trump has 3 options for dealing with North Korea. They’re all bad.
    • Getting real with North Korea
    • Can Congress unravel the Trump-Russia tangle?
    • Independent monitors found benzene levels after Harvey six times higher than guidelines
    • Trump and the nuclear football: What could possibly go wrong?
    • Mike Flynn’s nuclear side-hustle gets even shadier

  • TerrorismU.K. raises terror threat level after London terrorist attack

    British police is searching for those responsible for an IED explosion on a London subway train. Twenty-nine people were injured in the attack. Counterterrorism experts said the IED may have malfunctioned, thus averting a larger catastrophe. British prime minister Theresa May raised the country’s terror threat level to critical, meaning an attack is expected soon.

  • ImmigrationHow “dreamers” and green card lottery winners strengthen the U.S. economy

    By Ethan Lewis

    Those who wish to restrict immigration often cite what they naïvely call “supply-and-demand economics” to essentially argue that the economy is a fixed pie that gets divided among a country’s residents. Fewer immigrants means “more pie” for the U.S.-born, as the story goes. I am an economist, and this is not what my colleagues and I say. The commonplace argument that increases in the volume of immigration, by themselves, lower wages and take jobs from Americans – an argument which Attorney General Jeff Sessions used to defend ending DACA – has neither empirical nor theoretical support in economics. It is just a myth. Instead, both theory and empirical research show that immigration, including low-skill and low-English immigration, grows the pie and strengthens the American workforce.

  • Explosives detectionS&T, the Pentagon changing K-9 bomb detection

    DHS S&T Detection Canine Program partnered with the Pentagon Force Protection Agency (PFPA) to assist in developing a training initiative to add person-borne improvised explosive device (PBIED) detection capabilities to their canine teams. Traditionally, dogs sniff out “left-behind” bombs, but Sunny and the other members of his K-9 unit are also trained to pick up explosive scents on a person or any moving target.