Our picksIranian cyber-threat; we’re all Russian bots now; Scalia on guns in schools, and more

Published 8 March 2018

· Uranium imports from foreign producers: A clear threat to national security

· Northeast Asia’s inflection point for plutonium stockpiling

· The Iranian cyber-threat

· The only Islamic State-funded plot in the U.S.: The curious case of Mohamed Elshinawy

· Banning guns in schools is fine—just ask Scalia

· Connecticut goes to war with NRA

· Baathism caused the chaos in Iraq and Syria

· We’re all Russian bots now

· 28 million Americans live in flood zones and don’t know it, study finds

· China spends more on domestic security as Xi’s powers grow

Uranium imports from foreign producers: A clear threat to national security (Mark Chalmers and Jeffrey Klenda, The Hill)
A too-often ignored threat to U.S. national security has been looming for decades. If ignored, that dangerous threat will become even more dire in 2018 and beyond. Increasingly, the 20 percent of America’s electricity supplied by carbon-free nuclear power is controlled by autocratic, unaccountable states – Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and soon, China.

Northeast Asia’s inflection point for plutonium stockpiling (Joseph Schofield, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists)
Northeast Asia experts have, for several years, been confronting an enormous amount of political turmoil in a region where the prospects for further nuclearization—and even large-scale war—appear to have increased dramatically. As North Korea continues to demonstrate its nuclear weapons capabilities through increasingly provocative actions, nongovernmental expert groups such as the Pugwash Conference series—which last convened in Astana, Kazakhstan, in August 2017—have understandably narrowed their focus to interpreting North Korea’s conduct and evaluating how regional state actors should respond. The growing danger posed by North Korea’s nuclear program, however, only further underscores the importance of strengthening regional relations more broadly as a counterforce against destabilizing events.

The Iranian cyber-threat (Bradley Barth, SCMagazine)
Amid reports of Russian hackers influencing elections, Chinese hackers pilfering state secrets, and North Korea launching ransomware attacks, it would be easy to underestimate Iran’s potential as a cyber-threat to the U.S.

The only Islamic State-funded plot in the U.S.: The curious case of Mohamed Elshinawy (Seamus Hughes, Lawfare)
There is nothing mundane about the case of Mohamed Elshinawy. The Maryland resident was part of a multi-country law enforcement takedown over the course of a few days that spanned three separate continents, included transfers of thousands of dollars, shipping of anti-aircraft parts, and resulted with the killing of a high-ranking Islamic State attack planner in Syria. Terrorism financing cases are standard—but Elshinawy’s is the only known case in which the Islamic State sent thousands of dollars to an individual in the United States to fund an attack.

Banning guns in schools is fine—just ask Scalia (Kevin Tripp, Weekly Standard)
The late justice made it clear in his Heller decision that banning guns in schools is a perfectly reasonable policy.

Connecticut goes to war with NRA (J. Brian Charles, Governing)
The NRA has “in essence become a terrorist organization,” said Gov. Dannel Malloy, who is considering cutting it out of the state’s gun permitting process. It’s not the only state, however, that directs funds toward the group.

Baathism caused the chaos in Iraq and Syria (Robert D. Kaplan, Foreign Policy)
The United States invaded the Levant 15 years ago – but the region’s scorched-earth ideology has kept the fire burning.

We’re all Russian bots now (Howard Axelrod, Politico)
Americans don’t need help from Moscow to tear each other apart on social media.

28 million Americans live in flood zones and don’t know it, study finds (Mark Collette, Houston Chronicle)
‘Producing maps the FEMA way essentially misses a lot of flood hazard.’

China spends more on domestic security as Xi’s powers grow (Josh Chin, Wall Street Journal)
Beijing invests in policing at home amid push by president to solidify authority