Our picksU.S. national biodefense strategy; a gangster’s place in the sun; Rosenstein’s crusade on encryption, and more

Published 20 November 2017

· What should the U.S. national biodefense strategy look like?

· Cambridge Analytica denies working with Russia, unconvincingly

· Paul Dandan, Charlotte flight controller, arrested for possessing weapon of mass destruction

· Texas killings may aid Rosenstein’s crusade on encryption

· A gangster place in the sun: How Spain’s fight against the mob revealed Russian power networks

· Trump’s budget kills funds for clean tap water in struggling small towns

· Game of drones: Mexico’s cartels have a deadly new weapon

· Why cybersecurity workers are some of the hardest to retain

· The Pentagon opened up to hackers—and fixed thousands of bugs

What should the U.S. national biodefense strategy look like? (Laura H. Kahn, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists)
Like many other countries, the United States faces a wide range of growing biosecurity threats, from pandemics to laboratory accidents to deliberate attacks by governments, militant groups, and even rogue individuals. Currently, a hodgepodge of federal agencies deals with these dangers, with no one person or entity effectively in charge of biosecurity.

Cambridge Analytica denies working with Russia, unconvincingly(Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine)
There are several channels through which Donald Trump’s campaign apparently cooperated with Russian efforts to help him win the presidency. The first, and best known, is a Trump Tower meeting in June 2016 to pursue Russian promises of providing dirt on Hillary Clinton. A second is Roger Stone, a frequent Trump adviser who had clear advance notice of the publication of stolen emails. A third is Trump himself openly asking Russia to obtain Clinton’s State Department emails. The final channel is the efforts by Cambridge Analytica, the campaign’s data firm. This channel is less well known to the public, in part because reporting about it has been dominated by the Wall Street Journal, and its stories hidden behind a paywall. But Cambridge Analytica’s role has come into much clearer focus.

Paul Dandan, Charlotte flight controller, arrested for possessing weapon of mass destruction(Pritha Paul, IBTimes)
An air traffic controller at the Charlotte International Airport, North Carolina, was arrested for allegedly being in possession of a weapon of mass destruction.

Texas killings may aid Rosenstein’s crusade on encryption(Eric Geller, Politico)
The investigation into last weekend’s mass shooting in a Texas church may launch a new round in the decades-old fight between the FBI and Silicon Valley over law enforcement’s access to encrypted data.

A gangster place in the sun: How Spain’s fight against the mob revealed Russian power networks(Sebastian Rotella, ProPublica)
Among the wealthy sophisticates who came and went from their seaside villas on the Spanish island of Mallorca, there was something that didn’t quite fit about the Russian who lived in a neoclassical mansion on the Avenida Portals Vells. It wasn’t long before police began to wonder about Gennady Petrov.

Trump’s budget kills funds for clean tap water in struggling small towns(Randy Lee Loftis, Reveal)
Trump wants to eliminate the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service, which awards water and sewer loans and grants to towns with 10,000 or fewer people. It received $498 million in President Barack Obama’s fiscal year 2017 budget. The amount in Trump’s 2018 budget: zero.

Game of drones: Mexico’s cartels have a deadly new weapon(Jeremy Kryt, Daily Beast)
Weaponized drones – ISIS-style aerial IEDs – are just the latest paramilitary hardware the cartels are adding to the their arsenals.

Why cybersecurity workers are some of the hardest to retain(Andrea Little Limbago, Endgame)
Cybersecurity workers are in high demand, and the security industry may face a shortage of close to two million qualified personnel by 2022.

The Pentagon opened up to hackers—and fixed thousands of bugs(Lily Hay Newman, Wired)Former Defense Secretary Ash Carter saw a possible opportunity to spur change by introducing the DoD to bug bounties—programs that offer cash rewards to independent hackers who find and disclose software bugs.