• No More Survivors Expected after New Zealand Volcano Erupts

    Five people were confirmed dead and eighteen others injured, with many more missing, after a volcano erupted on Monday afternoon while dozens of cruise ship passengers were exploring White Island, a small, picturesque, uninhabited island of the coast of New Zealand.

  • Why White Island Erupted and Why There Was No Warning

    White Island is one of several volcanoes in New Zealand that can produce sudden explosive eruptions at any time. In this case, magma is shallow, and the heat and gases affect surface and ground water to form vigorous hydrothermal systems. In these, water is trapped in pores of rocks in a super-heated state. Any external process, such as an earthquake, gas input from below, or even a change in the lake water level can tip this delicate balance and release the pressure on the hot and trapped water. The resulting steam-driven eruption, also called a hydrothermal or phreatic eruption, can happen suddenly and with little to no warning.

  • Global Arms Sales Up 4.6 Percent Worldwide; U.S. Companies Dominate

    Sales of arms and military services by the sector’s largest 100 companies (excluding those in China) totalled $420 billion in 2018, marking an increase of 4.6 percent compared with the previous year. The new data from SIPRI’s Arms Industry Database shows that sales of arms and military services by companies listed in the Top 100 arms-manufacturing companies have increased by 47 percent since 2002. The database excludes Chinese companies due to the lack of data to make a reliable estimate.

  • Paper-Based Sensor Detects Potent Nerve Toxins

    Chemist developed a new, paper-based sensor that can detect two potent nerve toxins that have reportedly been used in chemical warfare. The toxin, paraoxon, is thought to have been used in chemical warfare during the 1970s in what is now Zimbabwe, and later by the apartheid regime in South Africa as part of its chemical weapons program.

  • The New Kind of Warfare Reshaping Global Politics

    The list is long: Russian internet trolls interfering in the 2016 U.S. election; Russian operatives murdering Putin’s opponents abroad; Chinese spies manipulating Australian politics while the country’s coast guard ships harass Japanese fishing fleets, and much more. Simon Clark writes that these are not random acts of autocratic aggression. Rather, they are examples of a new form of warfare which is becoming a bigger challenge for the United States and its western allies: gray-zone conflict.

  • Advocates Push California City to Adopt Program That Pays People Who Don’t Shoot

    Fresno, California, has a homicide rate roughly twice the state average. In an effort to stem the violence, many advocates and Fresno residents have pushed city leaders to adopt an innovative violence interruption model called Advance Peace. J. Brian Charles writes that in addition in addition to provides resources like education and job training to those most at risk of being a perpetrator or victim of gun violence, the program has a unique and controversial feature: Participants receive a monthly stipend for staying out of trouble.

  • London Bridge Attack Follows “Dumbing Down” of Freed Terrorist Scheme – Expert

    The architect of the U.K. government program for moving convicted terrorists from prison into the community says the current system lacks the “legitimacy and credibility” required to rehabilitate extremists safely. His assessment follows the attack at London Bridge by convicted terrorist Usman Khan, who was out on license from prison when he killed Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, and injured three others during a meeting of the Cambridge University rehabilitation initiative Learning Together on 29 November.

  • Going After the Good Guys: The Government’s Ransomware Identity Crisis

    Government agencies find it difficult to keep pace with the rapidly evolving cybercrime – especially when it comes to ransomware and malware. Ryan Blanch, a criminal defense attorney who has been involved in myriad cybercrime cases, writes that “sometimes, the government seems to be going after the good guys instead of the bad guys.”

  • ‘Stop-and-Frisk’ Can Work, under Careful Supervision

    In mid-November, speaking in a black church in Brooklyn, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is now running for the Democratic nomination for president, apologized publicly for supporting stop-and-frisk, a police practice intended to reduce violent crime, which had been criticized as racially biased (the NYPD called the policy “Stop, Question, and Frisk”). Henry Fradella and Michael White write His apology was confusing because that phrase “stop and frisk” is used to describe two different things.

  • Today, Everyone’s a Nuclear Spy

    There was a time when tracking nuclear threats was the domain of secret agents, specialists at high-powered government intelligence agencies, and think-tank experts. Not anymore. Amy Zegart writes that today, the world of new nuclear sleuths looks like the Star Wars bar scene. What has empowered these nuclear detectives and made their work possible is the fact that in the last 15-20 years, commercial satellites have become common – and their capabilities, although not at the level of spy satellites, are not too far behind. Open-source amateur nuclear sleuthing comes with risks, but Zegart says that despite these risks, the democratization of nuclear-threat intelligence is likely to be a boon to the cause of nonproliferation.

  • Worry: Iran Said It Will Continue to Enrich Uranium Beyond Radioactive Isotopes Level

    Tehran sent a letter to the UN Thursday saying that it was “determined to resolutely continue” enriching uranium. This came following an EU letter criticizing the Iranian government’s decision, and a Russian firm suspending cooperation in Iran’s uranium enrichment program at the underground Fordo facility.

  • Robotics Researchers Have a Duty to Prevent Autonomous Weapons

    Robotics is rapidly being transformed by advances in artificial intelligence, and the benefits are widespread. But our ever-growing appetite for intelligent, autonomous machines poses a host of ethical challenges.

  • Liberal Professors’ Deadly Delusions about Curing Terrorists

    Last Friday, Usman Khan, a 28-year-old British national who was released from prison on parole in December 2018 after serving eight years for terrorism offenses, killed two people a machete near London Bridge. Earlier in the day, at the same site, he had attended an alumni celebration event hosted by the organizers of Cambridge University’s Learning Together program, having been invited to share his experiences as a former prisoner.Simon Cottee writes that the question raised by Khan, who was killed by police as he fled the scene of his attack, is about redemption and whether it’s either right or prudent to give convicted terrorists a second chance. “I have some degree of sympathy for this view [that everyone should be given second chance], but it needs to be massively tempered with a keen sense of not just what is right but also what is prudent” he writes.

  • How the Nation’s Hydrogen Bomb Secrets Disappeared

    Given a choice of items to lose on a train, a top-secret document detailing the newly developed hydrogen bomb should be on the bottom of the list. In January 1953, amid the Red Scare and the Korean War, that’s exactly what physicist John Archibald Wheeler lost.

  • Crack Down on Genomic Surveillance

    Across the world, DNA databases that could be used for state-level surveillance are steadily growing. Yves Moreau writes that “Now the stakes are higher for two reasons. First, as technology gets cheaper, many countries might want to build massive DNA databases. Second, DNA-profiling technology can be used in conjunction with other tools for biometric identification — and alongside the analysis of many other types of personal data, including an individual’s posting behavior on social networks.”