• The tragedy of Mosul: battle against Islamic State is leading to all-too-familiar consequences

    A tragedy is unfolding in Mosul, the northern Iraqi city that Islamic State (IS) has brutally occupied since June 2014. The spike in civilian deaths – the result of an intensification of bombing by the international coalition during February and March — has been so dramatic, it has prompted speculation that the U.S. military has changed its rules of engagement. It has also sparked debate about whether deaths caused by the West are held to a different standard than those caused by countries like Russia. The impacts of Mosul’s brutal occupation and painful liberation are compounding Iraq’s seemingly endless list of social and economic problems. The tragedy of Mosul is that while IS’s territorial project in Iraq is coming to an end, it is creating new problems – destruction, displacement, trauma – that exacerbate the country’s existing challenges. The West must acknowledge its role in stoking this crisis, just as Russia and Iran have been responsible for suffering in Syria. Mosul, it seems, is the West’s Aleppo.

  • Israeli, U.S. officials unveil David’s Sling air defense system

    Senior officials from Israel’s political and military establishments attended Sunday’s ceremony to mark the operational integration of Israel’s newest air defense system. David’s Sling is part of Israel’s multi-tiered missile defense system. The lowest layer is Iron Dome, capable of intercepting short-range rockets and mortar shells like those fired by Hamas from Gaza. The highest layer is the Arrow 2 and Arrow 3 systems, which are intended to engage long-range ballistic missiles. The Arrow was first put in use on 17 March 2017, when it downed an incoming Syrian anti-aircraft missile.

  • Visitors contribute to rise in the crime rates of cities

    When a city district is said to have a “high crime rate,” it’s often assumed the criminals are “insiders,” people who live in the area. But what if the criminals are actually outsiders, people who live somewhere else? Researchers looked at Montreal police crime data on people charged with or awaiting charge for property or violent crimes in the federal census year 2011. Their conclusion: An increase in visitors not only increases the number of crimes, it also results in more residents in these high-traffic areas getting involved in crimes. In other words, a city’s “crime rate” reflects the criminality both of the people who live there and of those who don’t.

  • Israelis, Palestinians, Jordanians jointly train to provide emergency aid during earthquakes

    Working together is the name of the game in a project now underway in Israeli, Palestinian Authority and Jordanian communities. The joint project, Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT), aims to train local residents as first responders in case of an earthquake.

  • China completes military construction on three disputed islands

    China has completed major construction of military and dual-use infrastructure on three of the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. The “Big 3” — Subi, Mischief, and Fiery Cross Reefs – now have naval, air, radar, and defensive facilities, allowing Beijing to deploy military assets, including combat aircraft and mobile missile launchers, to the Spratly Islands at any time.

  • Hamas develops powerful new rockets, threatening Israeli towns near Gaza

    The Palestinian terrorist group Hamas has acquired new, more powerful rockets that could severely threaten Israeli towns near the Gaza Strip. The rockets carry hundreds of kilograms of explosive material and have a short range of a few kilometers, similar to the range of mortar shells, according to an assessment by the Israeli military. While the Iron Dome anti-missile system can shoot down short-range projectiles, it is not as effective against mortar shells and rockets with more limited ranges.

  • How WhatsApp encryption works – and why there shouldn’t be a backdoor

    A battle between national security and privacy is brewing. Governments and secret services are asking encrypted messaging services such as WhatsApp to allow them access to users’ data, arguing that access to messages will allow authorities to thwart future terror attacks. Ultimately, though, if someone thinks that removing WhatsApp encryption would be the solution to the problem of terrorism or crime, then they don’t understand the actual problem. Even if you were to remove the end-to-end encryption from WhatsApp, criminals could create their own, similar, software that would allow them to communicate securely, while ordinary users would lose the ability to send genuinely private messages.

  • Second judge approves settlement on NYPD Muslim surveillance

    The second of two federal judges has approved a settlement with the New York City Police Department that protects New York Muslims and others from discriminatory and unjustified surveillance. The new rules govern when and how investigations are conducted, and provide for an independent civilian representative inside the NYPD who will act as a check against surveillance abuses.

  • NSF-funded research continues to support national security

    The National Science Foundation (NSF) is usually associated with supporting scientists who go on to win Nobel Prizes, leading exploration of the planet’s polar regions, and enabling discoveries about the universe, from the subatomic world to distant galaxies. But the foundation also has ties to national defense that go back to its beginnings, as a product of the U.S. government working to enhance security during and after the Second World War. The National Science Foundation Act of 1950 called for the creation of an agency to “promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; and to secure the national defense.” NSF’s founder, Vannevar Bush, said: “It has become clear beyond all doubt that scientific research is absolutely essential to national security.”

  • Israeli police arrest teen over wave of bomb threats against Jewish targets in U.S.

    The Israeli police, acting on a request by the FBI, has arrested a 19-year-old Israeli Jewish man on suspicion of making dozens of threats against Jewish organizations in the United States, and against airlines in the United States and other countries. The unnamed teen, who has a dual Israeli and U.S. citizenship, lives in the southern sea-side city of Ashkelon. The arrest was made after several waves of threats in the past two months against Jewish community centers (JCCs) and other Jewish organizations. The teen used advanced technology in an effort to mask the source of his calls and communications to synagogues, community centers, and public venues.

  • Israel plans mass evacuations in case of war With Hamas, Hezbollah

    In case of a future war with the Islamist terrorist groups Hamas or Hezbollah, Israel would completely evacuate its border communities — up to 250,000 people in either case — to lower the threat level, news reports say. These evacuations, coordinated with local municipalities to keep civilians safe, would be the biggest in Israeli history.

  • Most home-grown terrorists in U.K. come from London, Birmingham

    A new study takes a detailed, in-depth look at Islamism-inspired terrorism convictions and suicide attacks in the United Kingdom between 1998 and 2015, focusing on the offenders’ backgrounds and their activities as well as offense-specified data. The study finds that the threat to the United Kingdom remains from “home-grown” terrorism, and is heavily youth- and male-oriented, with British nationals prevalent among offenders. Although small, women’s involvement nearly trebled in recent years and is typically supportive of men involved in terrorist activity with whom they have a family or personal relationship. Analysis of offenders’ residence shows the primacy of London- and Birmingham-based individuals as well as higher than average relative deprivation and Muslim population at neighborhood level.

  • Problems associated with enlisting local police for immigration enforcement

    As a candidate and now as president, Donald Trump has described undocumented immigrants as a threat to public safety and has promised to create a “deportation force” to remove millions of immigrants from the country. Through his words and actions, President Trump has indicated that he aims to enlist state and local law enforcement in this deportation force through both inducement and coercion, by aggressively promoting the 287(g) program and threatening to cut federal funding of so-called sanctuary jurisdictions. Law enforcement personnel already face enormous challenges with limited resources. In the coming months, many state and local officials and local law enforcement agencies will face a choice: whether and how to assume a greater role in enforcing federal immigration laws.

  • New technique reveals a suspect's age by analyzing blood splatters

    Researchers have discovered a new method of forensic analysis which could more accurately predict the age of criminal suspects based on samples of blood and saliva found at crime scenes. The study tested a technique which uses a form of artificial intelligence or “machine learning” to analyze a specific set of biomarkers in blood samples. The researchers were able to accurately predict the age of sample donors to within four years on average.

  • Crime scene fingerprints can move away from the original mark

    New research has discovered that crime scene fingerprints can move after they have been deposited. The project, found a thin layer of material from a print can migrate across surfaces away from the original mark. Over a period of up to two months that material, around four millionths of a millimeter thick, will spread away from deposited fingerprint ridges, depending on the host surface.