• Perspective: China syndromeFearing “Spy Trains,” Congress May Ban a Chinese Maker of Subway Cars

    A Chinese state-owned company called CRRC Corporation, the world’s largest train maker, completed the $100 million facility this year in the hopes of winning contracts to build subway cars and other passenger trains for American cities like Chicago and Washington. But growing fears about China’s economic ambitions and its potential to track and spy on Americans are about to quash those plans. Lawmakers — along with CRRC’s competitors — say they are concerned that subway cars made by a Chinese company might make it easier for Beijing to spy on Americans and could pose a sabotage threat to American infrastructure. Critics of the deal speculate that the Chinese firm could incorporate technology into the cars that would allow CRRC — and the Chinese government — to track the faces, movement, conversations or phone calls of passengers through the train’s cameras or Wi-Fi.

  • Perspective: Cyber bombWest Needs to Be Ready for Terrorist “Dirty” Cyber Bomb

    The West must take necessary precautions to prevent terrorists from launching a “dirty” cyber bomb, Lt.-Gen. (ret.) Vincent Stewart, who stepped down a few months ago from his post as deputy head of the US Cyber Command. Stewart that while the West took cyberattacks from nation-states seriously, it is vastly underestimating the danger of a massive ISIS or al-Qaeda cyberattack which could cripple a country’s entire infrastructure. While drawing attention to cyber terrorism, Stewart acknowledged that a nation state like Russia was still the most dangerous cyber adversary with “Russia viewing itself as a global power” and Russian President Vladimir “Putin believing he is almost the czar.”

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  • Perspective: Nuclear apocalypseA Terrifying New Animation Shows How 1 “Tactical” Nuclear Weapon Could Trigger a U.S.-Russia War that Kills 34 Million People in 5 Hours

    More than 91 million people in Russia, the U.S., and NATO-allied countries might be killed or injured within three hours following a single “nuclear warning shot,” according to a terrifying new simulation developed by Princeton University researchers. The initial tactical phase of the simulation shows about 2.6 million casualties over three hours. The simulation shows that the exchanges in the tactical phase would soon escalate to the strategic level, in which both Russia and NATO would launch warheads toward each other’s 30 most populous cities in the final stage of the scenario, using five to 10 warheads for each city depending on its size. This phase would cause 85.3 million casualties — both deaths and injuries. But the total casualty count from the entire battle (of less than 5 hours) would be 34.1 million deaths and 57.4 million injuries, or a combined 91.3 million casualties overall.

  • Perspective: Border Patrol“People Actively Hate Us”: Inside the Border Patrol’s Morale Crisis

    For decades, the Border Patrol was a largely invisible security force. Agents called their slow-motion specialty “laying in” — hiding in the desert and brush for hours, to wait and watch, and watch and wait. Two years ago, when President Trump entered the White House with a pledge to close the door on illegal immigration, all that changed. “No longer were they a quasi-military organization tasked primarily with intercepting drug runners and chasing smugglers,” four New York Times journalists write. “Their new focus was to block and detain hundreds of thousands of migrant families fleeing violence and extreme poverty — herding people into tents and cages, seizing children and sending their parents to jail, trying to spot those too sick to survive in the densely packed processing facilities along the border.”

  • Perspective: AI & cybersecurityHow Artificial Intelligence Is Changing Cyber Security Landscape and Preventing Cyber Attacks

    With the genuinely significant potentials of Artificial Intelligence, the probability of attackers weaponizing it and using it to boost and expand their attacks is a huge threat. One of the biggest concerns is that hackers can use AI to automate cyberattacks on a massive scale. Now, our adversaries are relying on human resources to craft and coordinate their attacks. Cybercrime and cybersecurity landscape are going to change –not for the better – if and when they learn to use AI and machine learning to do the dirty work. So, the three main implications of Artificial Intelligence to the threat landscape are the augmentation of today’s threats and attacks, the development of new threats, and the variation of the nature of existing threats.

  • Perspective: Homegrown terrorismHow to Act against Domestic Terrorists — and Their Foreign Supporters

    The United States faces a surging domestic terrorism threat in the homeland. In the aftermath of the El Paso and Dayton shootings in the first weekend of August, more than 40 people were   arrested for threats to commit mass attacks by the end of that month. GW Program on Extremism suggests two ways to achieve a more effective and coordinated multisector response to the domestic terrorism threat. First, specific criminal statutes for domestic terrorism offenses need to be enacted that penalize the commission of specific violent crimes. Acknowledging concerns that new criminal statutes related to property damage may stifle legitimate protest, new criminal statutes could be limited to violence against persons and providing material support to terrorists. Second, the list of proscribed foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs) should include far-right actors outside of the United States.

  • Perspective: Mind gamesThe Secret History of Fort Detrick, the CIA’s Base for Mind Control Experiments

    Suburban sprawl has engulfed Fort Detrick, an Army base 50 miles from Washington in the Maryland town of Frederick. seventy-six years ago, however, when the Army selected Detrick as the place to develop its super-secret plans to wage germ warfare, the area around the base looked much different. In fact, it was chosen for its isolation. For decades, much of what went on at the base was a closely held secret. Directors of the CIA mind control program MK-ULTRA, which used Detrick as a key base, destroyed most of their records in 1973. Some of its secrets have been revealed in declassified documents, through interviews and as a result of congressional investigations. Together, those sources reveal Detrick’s central role in MK-ULTRA and in the manufacture of poisons intended to kill foreign leaders.

  • Perspective: MushroomsIn the Event of a Killer Asteroid, Volcanic Apocalypse, or Nuclear Holocaust, Mushrooms Could Save Humanity from Extinction

    About 66 million years ago, an asteroid plummeted through Earth’s atmosphere and crashed into the sea floor, creating an explosion over 6,500 times more powerful than the nuclear bomb the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima. The impact sent clouds of debris and sulfur into Earth’s atmosphere, blocking the sun’s light and warmth for about two years. Photosynthesis ground to a halt, which meant no more plant growth. The surviving dinosaurs starved to extinction. But fossil records show that fungi thrived in the aftermath. “Blot out the sun, and even the best-prepared survivalist, a master of the wilderness, will starve to death along with everyone else,” Bryan Walsh writes in his new book, End Times. In order to survive, he says, people would need to adopt sunlight-free agriculture — cultivating mushrooms, rats, and insects.

  • Perspective: RansomwareNorth Korean Hacking Groups Hit with Treasury Sanctions

    The Department of the Treasury hit three North Korean groups with new sanctions Sept. 13 for conducting cyberattacks against critical infrastructure, including the infamous WannaCry ransomware attacks. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control announced that Lazarus Group, an advanced persistent threat believed to be working at the behest of the North Korean government and two of its subgroups, dubbed Bluenoroff and Andariel, was responsible for unleashing WannaCry, which wrought havoc across hospital and health care organizations in as well as other sectors in the United Kingdom and other industrial sectors in 2017, as well as the 2014 Sony hack.

  • Perspective: Business & paramilitariesWPB Judge Tosses Suits Accusing Chiquita of Helping Terrorists Kill Colombians

    About 220,000 Colombians were killed in the civil war which raged in Colombia between 1964 and 2016. Most of the victims were killed by two Marxist insurgency groups, the FARC and the ELN. Many, however, were killed by various right-wing paramilitary groups which often coordinated their activities with government forces. A number of Colombians whose relatives were killed by paramilitary violence sued Chiquita Brands International in a Florida court for providing financial assistance to the paramilitary groups. Their hopes for success faded this month when U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra threw out their claims.

  • Perspective: China syndromeHuawei's Dominance of Africa's Mobile Networks Mean More Spying on African Citizens

    Chinese tech firm Huawei has been increasing its footprint across Africa, providing countries with new technology and telecommunications equipment, including most notably 4G and 5G mobile networks. Some of this expansion has involved Huawei technicians helping governments in Africa to spy on their political opponents.

  • Perspective: Mitigating climate crisisCan We Engineer Our Way Out of the Climate Crisis?

    The Climate Apocalypse is upon us. More carbon monoxide has been discharged into the atmosphere in the last 50 years than in the whole of human history that went before. Carbon traps heat and the world is getting hotter. Heat holds water vapor and so rainfall is getting more frequent while heat waves last longer. Ice at the poles melts and coastal cities face inundation as sea levels rise. The doom confidently predicted by many climate scientists around the world is being met by optimism among other scientists who are employing innovative technologies that may transform the debate and offer hope for us all. These technological breakthroughs will impact all aspects of climate change from carbon emissions to food production and all forms of energy.

  • Perspective: Water woesThe Water Wars Are Here

    Everyone remembers the scene in Chinatown when Jack Nicholson almost gets his nose sliced off, but many do not recall what the dispute was about. It wasn’t drug smuggling or gun running that got Nicholson’s character slashed. It was water rights. Since the film was released in 1974, the question of who will get the limited water in the American West, particularly the all-important flow of the Colorado River, has grown even more contentious. Dystopian novels and movies predict a future in which people fight it out for every last drop of water to quench the thirst of expanding cities, parched agriculture, and wasteful suburban grass lawns. But the future is already here.

  • Perspective: Water woesBottled Water Is Sucking Florida Dry

    Florida has the largest concentration of freshwater springs in the world, but they are being devastated by increasing pollution and drastic declines in water flow. Some springs have dried up from overextraction; others have shown signs of saltwater intrusion and harmful algae blooms. The answer to this problem is simple: No more extraction permits should be granted, and existing permits should be reduced with the goal of eliminating bottled water production entirely in Florida. But that simple solution is not being implemented. In the next few months, Nestlé, the largest bottled-water company in the world, is set to renew its permit at Ginnie Springs, one of the most popular recreational attractions along the Santa Fe River,” Sainato and Skojec write. “The permit allows Nestlé to take one million gallons per day at no cost, with just a one-time $115 application fee.”

  • AsylumMajor Impact Expected from Supreme Court Asylum Decision

    While legal challenges continue to make their way through the nation’s 9th Circuit Court of Appeals — which includes the southern border states of California and Arizona —  the Supreme Court ruled that, in the interim, the Trump administration could begin denying asylum claims to migrants at the country’s southern border who did not first seek protection in another country along their route. The policy would affect asylum-seekers at the border, who are largely from Central America, as well as an increasing number of migrants from outside the Western Hemisphere.

  • AsylumU.S. Supreme Court Ruling Erodes Protections for Asylum Seekers, UN Says

    The U.N. refugee agency is expressing concern about the negative impact of Wednesday’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court on people seeking asylum in the United States. The ruling affirms the Trump Administration’s policy that denies asylum to anyone who does not seek protection in countries through which they pass before reaching the U.S. border.

  • Internal displacementJan-June 2019: More Than 10M Internally Displaced by Violence, Extreme Weather Events

    More than 10 million new internal displacements were recorded between January and June 2019, according to a new report. Of the total, 3.8 million were triggered by conflict and violence, while disasters triggered a record seven million new displacements. The fact that the vast majority were associated with storms and floods suggests that mass displacement by extreme weather events is becoming the norm. 

  • Public healthU.K. Launches New Infectious Disease Strategy

    In response to rising antibiotic resistance, the re-emergence of vaccine-preventable diseases, and the spread of novel pathogens around the globe, Public Health England (PHE) the other day announced a new 5-year strategy aimed at strengthening the agency’s ability to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious diseases.

  • VolcanoesVolcanoes Kill More People Long after They First Erupt – Those Deaths Are Avoidable

    By Jenni Barclay and Roger Few

    You may think of volcanic eruptions as spectacular but brief explosions. But in reality, these destructive forces wreak havoc before headlines are made and continue long after they fade. As our new research shows, it is the drawn-out nature of volcanic eruptions that can be most fatal – and understanding why is the key to saving lives.

  • GeoengineeringGeoengineering versus a Volcano

    Major volcanic eruptions spew ash particles into the atmosphere, which reflect some of the Sun’s radiation back into space and cool the planet. But could this effect be intentionally recreated to fight climate change? Solar geoengineering is a theoretical approach to curbing the effects of climate change by seeding the atmosphere with a regularly replenished layer of intentionally released aerosol particles. Proponents sometimes describe it as being like a “human-made” volcano.

  • Water securitySmart Faucets Could Aid in Water Conservation

    An experiment with a water-saving “smart” faucet shows potential for reducing water use. The catch? Unbeknownst to study participants, the faucet’s smarts came from its human controller. “We looked at the faucet because that’s where a lot of water usage in the home occurs, but when you compare your sink to other products in the house – a thermostat or refrigerator – you see that there haven’t been updates to how the sink works in a very long time,” says one researcher.

  • PerspectiveAnti-Semitism: The Fight That Never Flags

    In her new book, How to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bari Weiss writes that Jews in the West, especially in Europe, are confronted by a “three-headed dragon.” First, there is an antagonistic environment for Jews, thanks in large measure to the rapid growth of Islamism on the Old Continent. Second, there is ideological vilification by the political Left, which increasingly regards Israel as an illegitimate state serving no other purpose than as a bastion of Western (read: white) colonialism. Third, there is a recrudescence of reactionary populism on the political right that, while often professing sympathy for Israel, evinces a fervent commitment to blood-and-soil politics that seldom ends well for Jews.