• Water securityDiscrepancies between satellite and global model estimates of land water storage

    Researchers have found that calculations of water storage in many river basins from commonly used global computer models differ markedly from independent storage estimates from GRACE satellites. The findings raise questions about global models that have been used in recent years to help assess water resources and potentially influence management decisions.

  • GeoengineeringClimate engineering, if started, would have severe consequences if stopped abruptly

    Facing a climate crisis, we may someday spray sulfur dioxide into the upper atmosphere to form a cloud that cools the Earth, but suddenly stopping the spraying would have a severe global impact on animals and plants, according to the first study on the potential biological impacts of geoengineering, or climate intervention. “Rapid warming after stopping geoengineering would be a huge threat to the natural environment and biodiversity,” says one expert. “If geoengineering ever stopped abruptly, it would be devastating, so you would have to be sure that it could be stopped gradually, and it is easy to think of scenarios that would prevent that. Imagine large droughts or floods around the world that could be blamed on geoengineering, and demands that it stop. Can we ever risk that?”

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  • Our picksRiddles of Armageddon; smart guns; nuclear evacuation plans, and more

    · Inside Facebook’s year of reckoning

    · Riddles of Armageddon: Legal enigmas of a nuke launch order

    · Cyber takes on new prominence in shutdown government

    · It’s time for the Justice Department to hold Hezbollah accountable

    · New smart-gun company says it’s making a pistol gun owners might actually want

    · CIA boss gives latest indication Trump may consider preemptive strike on North Korea

    · Washington State legislators revive debate over nuclear evacuation plans

  • The Russia watchSteele Dossier-related murder?; Russia’s full spectrum propaganda; voting machines in hackers’ hands, and more

    · Was this Russian general murdered over the Steele Dossier?

    · Russia’s full spectrum propaganda

    · Trump and Russia both seek to exacerbate the same political divisions

    · Hacking threats are serious for 2018 elections and U.S. is “dramatically unprepared,” says top House · Democrat

    · Facebook, admitting it can be bad for democracy, tries to end voter meddling before midterms

    · Spain warns Russia’s Catalonia hacking efforts could intensify

    · Electronic voting box makers try to get gear stripped from eBay and out of hackers’ hands

    · Transparency is the best way to combat Russian propaganda

    · DOJ Foreign Agent order on RT already hurting Kremlin-funded TV channel

  • DronesDrones learn to navigate autonomously by imitating cars, bicycles

    Researchers have developed an algorithm called DroNet which allows drones to fly completely by themselves through the streets of a city and in indoor environments. The algorithm had to learn traffic rules and adapt training examples from cyclists and car drivers.

  • Border wallAdministration waives more than 30 environmental laws for New Mexico section of border wall

    The Trump administration on Monday waived more than thirty environmental laws to speed construction of twenty miles of border wall in eastern New Mexico, the third time the waiver has been used by the Trump administration. The waiver is meant to allow construction of the New Mexico border wall section without having to comply with laws that protect clean air, clean water, public lands, or endangered wildlife.

  • TsunamiAlaska lifts tsunami warning

    A magnitude 7.9 earthquake, which struck 170 miles off the Alaska coast early Tuesday, led the Alaska government to issue a tsunami advisory — but the warning was lifted four hours later. The USGS reported the magnitude 7.9 quake at 12:31 a.m. Alaska time. Officials had feared that tsunami waves could reach far inland, and issued tsunami guidance for the entire coastal area stretching from Alaska to the U.S. border with Mexico.

  • The Russia connectionThe man who knew too much

    In November 2006, on orders of Vladimir Putin, Russian operatives used radioactive material to poison and kill Alexandr Litvinenko, a former KGB colleague who had turned a fierce critic of the Russian leader, and who was living with his family in London. Yesterday, the British government froze the assets of the two Russian agents – one of them has been awarded a medal by Putin, and is now a leading member of United Russia, Putin’s political party, in the Russian parliament. Ten years later, in November 2016, a leading British nuclear forensic scientist – who was part of the 2006 investigation and who was instrumental in tying the nuclear material used in the killing to the two Russian agents — was found dead in his home, after returning from an academic research trip to Russia. It was the 14th Russia-related killing on British soil since 2006. The number of individuals with inside knowledge of the Putin regime and its practices — and who have met an untimely end in mysterious circumstances — is growing, and British lawmakers urge the government to show more resolve in investigating this string of killings.

  • The Russia connectionSo what did we learn? Looking back on four years of Russia’s cyber-enabled “Active Measures”

    By Clint Watts

    Americans continue to investigate, deliberate, and wallow in the aftermath of Russia’s rebirth of “Active Measures” designed to defeat their adversaries through the “force of politics rather than the politics of force.” Kremlin interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election represents not only the greatest Active Measures success in Russian history, but the swiftest and most pervasive influence effort in world history. Never has a country, in such a short period of time, disrupted the international order through the use of information as quickly and with such sustained effect as Russia has in the last four years. Russia achieved this victory by investing in capabilities where its adversaries have vulnerabilities — cyberspace and social media. Putin’s greatest success through the employment of cyber-enabled Active Measures comes not from winning any single election, but through the winning of sympathetic audiences around the world he can now push, pull, and cajole from within the borders of his adversaries. Much has been learned about Russia’s hackers and troll farms in the year since the 2016 presidential election, but there remain greater insights worth exploring from a strategic perspective when looking at the Kremlin’s pursuit of information warfare holistically.

  • Aviation safetyNew aviation safety management system requires integration of safety systems, practices

    A comprehensive aviation safety system as envisioned by NASA would require integration of a wide range of systems and practices, including building an in-time aviation safety management system (IASMS) that could detect and mitigate high-priority safety issues as they emerge and before they become hazards, says a new report by the National Academies of Sciences. An IASMS could continuously monitor the national airspace system, assess the data that it has collected, and then either recommend or initiate safety assurance actions as necessary.

  • Climate migrantsClimate change will displace millions in coming decades. Nations should prepare now to help them

    By Gulrez Shah Azhar

    By the middle of this century, experts estimate that climate change is likely to displace between 150 and 300 million people. If this group formed a country, it would be the fourth-largest in the world, with a population nearly as large as that of the United States. Yet neither individual countries nor the global community are completely prepared to support a whole new class of “climate migrants.” The scale of this challenge is unlike anything humanity has ever faced. By midcentury, climate change is likely to uproot far more people than the Second World War, which displaced some 60 million across Europe, or the Partition of India, which affected approximately 15 million. The migration crisis that has gripped Europe since 2015 has involved something over one million refugees and migrants. It is daunting to envision much larger flows of people, but that is why the global community should start doing so now.

  • Climate migrantsClimate change will displace millions of people. Where will they go?

    By Tiffany Challe

    The 1951 Refugee Convention defines a protected refugee as someone who leaves his or her home country due to racial, religious, or social persecution, or reasonable fear of such persecution. These refugees have the right to seek asylum and protection from participating members of the United Nations (though these countries are not obligated to take them in). However, people displaced by climate change do not fit this definition. At the international level, there is no legal mechanism in place to protect climate migrants’ rights and to ensure assistance from other countries. For climate relocation to work, governments need to care and commit to international responsibility and burden-sharing. However, in the current global political context of fear of terrorism, an increased refugee influx into Europe, and an overall rise of xenophobia, countries are more likely to opt for stricter policies on cross-border migration.

  • InfrastructureUsing fungi for self-healing concrete to fix bridges

    America’s crumbling infrastructure has been a topic of ongoing discussion in political debates and campaign rallies. The problem of aging bridges and increasingly dangerous roads is one that has been well documented and there seems to be a consensus from both democrats and republicans that something must be done. Researchers propose using fungi for self-healing concrete — a low-cost, pollution-free, and sustainable approach to shoring up U.S. infrastructure.

  • Water securityRadioactivity from oil, gas wastewater persists in Pennsylvania stream sediments

    More than seven years after Pennsylvania officials requested that the disposal of radium-laden fracking wastewater into surface waters be restricted, a new study finds. The contamination is coming from the disposal of conventional, or non-fracked, oil and gas wastewater, which, under current state regulations, can still be treated and discharged to local streams.

  • Our picksBogus terror report; global Boko Haram; new cyber threats, and more

    · Team Trump bypassed DHS analysts to produce bogus terror report

    · The new way your computer can be attacked

    · Limited strikes on North Korea would be an unlimited disaster

    · If we start deliberately cooling the Earth, we may not be able to stop

    · Diminished at home, durable Boko Haram may go global

    · Facebook’s fake war on fake news

    · What (if anything) do Facebook’s News Feed changes mean for fake news?

    · This hacking gang just updated the malware it uses against U.K. targets

    · Facebook admits what we all know: that social media can be bad for democracy

    · Cellular agriculture: The coming revolution in food production

  • The Russia watchHoodwinked Twitter users; Facebook & Brexit; Russia’s Colombia meddling, and more

    · Twitter to tell 677,000 users they were had by the Russians. Some signs show the problem continues

    · Facebook agrees to take a deeper look into Russian Brexit meddling

    · “Our New President” brings huge dose of fake news to Sundance

    · FBI flagged Moscow-connected Russians attending Trump inauguration: report

    · Russia finds young men who love guns — and grooms them

    · Lithuania probing bogus story after TV station is hacked

    · Twitter admits there were many more Russian trolls on its site during the 2016 U.S. presidential election

    · Netanyahu turns down meeting with Russian cybersecurity head linked to U.S. hack

    · Facebook will elevate ‘trusted’ news outlets after surveying U.S. users

    · Russia using disinformation tactics to disrupt Colombia elections: Former U.S. official

    · Russian networks pushing conservative meme, researchers say

  • Doomsday machineDraft U.S. document confirms Russian plans for “Doomsday” weapon

    Some two years ago, Western intelligence and military experts scrambled to make sense of a strange new Russian weapon whose designs were glimpsed briefly in a mysterious report on Russian state TV. The weapon was a nuclear-capable underwater drone that would be launched from a submarine. The description accompanying a picture of the drone said such vehicles or weapons would be pilotless and capable of attacking enemies and creating “zones of extensive radioactive contamination unfit for military, economic or other activity for a long period of time.” Now, for the first time there are public indications that U.S. intelligence have not only confirmed Russian intentions for the weapon, but are also trying to figure out how to respond to it.

  • FluFlu hospitalizations climb as U.S. season hits new heights

    Flu hospitalizations across the United States are still increasing, and at least by one metric the season has reached a height not seen since the 2009-10 pandemic, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s). In addition, despite elderly adults being the most hospitalized group, they often do not receive influenza tests, new research shows.

  • FluFlu spreads by aerosols, not just coughs, sneezes

    It is easier to spread the influenza virus (flu) than previously thought, according to a new study. People commonly believe that they can catch the flu by exposure to droplets from an infected person’s coughs or sneezes or by touching contaminated surfaces. But, new information about flu transmission reveals that we may pass the flu to others just by breathing.

  • CrimePredicting criminal risk: Court software may be no more accurate than web survey takers

    A widely-used computer software tool may be no more accurate or fair at predicting repeat criminal behavior than people with no criminal justice experience, according to a new study. The analysis showed that non-experts who responded to an online survey performed equally as well as the Correctional Offender Management Profiling for Alternative Sanctions (COMPAS) software system used by courts to help determine the risk of recidivism.

  • GunsU.S. gun deaths in 2017: 15,549 (excluding suicides) – 3 percent increase over 2016

    At least 15,549 people were killed by guns in the United States in 2017, excluding most suicides, according to data collected by Gun Violence Archive (GVA), a nonprofit organization that tracks media and law enforcement reports of shootings. The number, which marks a 3 percent increase over the previous year. There were 31,157 firearm injuries in 2017, a rise of nearly 2 percent over the previous year. The number of people killed in mass shootings declined from 456 in 2016 to 433 in 2017.

  • Immigration & politicsEarly Trump support increased in areas with recent Latino population growth: Study

    Donald Trump announced his presidential candidacy in June 2015 with a bold, double-edged promise: that he would build a “great wall” on the border separating the United States and Mexico, and that he would make Mexico pay for it. That polarizing statement, since repeated ad nauseam by commentators on both sides of the political spectrum, quickly went on to become one of the defining hallmarks of Trump’s presidential campaign. According to three political scientists from the University of California, Riverside, Trump’s remarks also galvanized his voter base in the initial stages of his campaign, particularly in areas that had experienced considerable Latino population growth in recent years.