• U.S. Facing Growing Terrorism Problem, with White Supremacists the “Most Significant Threat”: Report

    A new report by terrorism experts at the conservative-leaning CSIS thinktank says that the United States faces a growing terrorism problem which will likely worsen over the next year. The most significant threat likely comes from white supremacists, though anarchists and religious extremists inspired by the Islamic State and al-Qaeda could present a potential threat as well. Right-wing attacks and plots account for the majority of all terrorist incidents in the United States since 1994, and the total number of right-wing attacks and plots has grown significantly during the past six years. Right-wing extremists perpetrated two thirds of the attacks and plots in the United States in 2019 and over 90 percent between 1 January and 8 May 2020. Over the rest of 2020, the terrorist threat in the United States will likely rise based on several factors, including the November 2020 presidential election.

  • Bring Back the Seaplane

    On 8 December 1941, Japan attacked the Philippines and destroyed nearly half of the U.S. Army Air Corps’ bombers along with a third of its fighters on the ground. Yet, 43 of 45 Navy patrol aircraft survived the day. David Alman writes that the reason for such a stark difference in survival is simple: In accordance with pre-war plans, the 45 aircraft of Patrol Wing 10 had dispersed to various lakes, beaches, rivers, and bays throughout the Philippines. Japan was left hunting for small groups of seaplanes over thousands of square miles of water and coastline, and eventually gave up. Alman argues that seaplanes should be seriously considered – or rather, reconsidered – as one measure to mitigate China’s growing capabilities in east Asia and the Pacific: Seaplanes do not rely on runways or fixed bases. They do not rely on basing rights. They can operate over long distances at relatively high speeds and, contrary to popular opinion, can do so in bad weather.

  • In France, Drones, Apps and Racial Profiling

    In the wake of the January 2015 terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo, and the November 2015 terrorist attacks on several targets in Paris, France saw more and more troops patrolling the streets of major cities alongside the police, and the declaration of a state of emergency, which gave the state vast new powers to monitor citizens. Many in France fear this is happening again, under the umbrella of measures to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. Critics point to a raft of areas where they believe personal freedoms have been compromised under the health emergency, which saw France imposing one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns. Lisa Bryant writes for VOA that, to be sure, similar concerns are being echoed elsewhere around the globe as governments fight the pandemic. But in France – where authorities still promote the country’s revolution-era moniker as the “land of human rights” – activists say the new measures fit a years’-long pattern. 

  • Nuclear Alarmism: Proliferation and Terrorism

    Alarmism about nuclear weapons is common coin in the foreign policy establishment, John Mueller writes. He notes that during the course of the Cold War, for example, the chief concern was that the weapons would somehow go off, by accident or by intention, devastating the planet in the process. More recently, the worry has been that terrorists would get their hands on nuclear weapons. Concerns about the dangers inherent in nuclear proliferation and in nuclear terrorism certainly seem overwrought, Mueller writes, concluding: “There may be reason for concern, or at least for interest and watchfulness. But alarm and hysteria (not to mention sleeplessness) are hardly called for.”

  • Gear Treated with “Forever Chemicals” Poses Risk to Firefighters

    Firefighters face occupational hazards on a daily basis. Now, new research shows they face additional risk just by gearing up. Fabric used for firefighter turnout gear tested positive for the presence of per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS), according to a new study.

  • Northern Ireland’s Lessons for American Policing

    Not that long ago, Americans would regularly go to Northern Ireland to offer advice on reforming the region’s notoriously repressive policing. Martin S. Flaherty writes that happily for Northern Ireland, and tragically for the United States, the lessons now run in the other direction. The 1998 Good Friday Agreement changed Northern Ireland, and one of the major changes was a profound reform of policing methods – and of the police itself: The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), Northern Ireland’s police force, which reflected the Protestant majority almost exclusively, was replaced with the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), which was much more reflective of Northern Ireland’s society and sensibilities. ““None of this is to say that policing in Northern Ireland today lacks problems or critics. But the PSNI is nonetheless widely regarded as a substantial step in the right direction,” Flaherty writes. “Those seeking a hopeful model for change would do well to look to a land where change once seemed hopeless.”

  • U.S. Army Soldier Charged with Plotting “Mass Casualty” Attack on His Own Unit

    A U.S. Army soldier, 22, has been charged with plotting a mass attack on his unit by sending sensitive military information to the Order of Nine Angles (O9A), a U.K.-based occult-obsessed, neo-Nazi, white supremacist group, the Justice Department announced Monday. O9Ahas affiliates around the world, including the United States, where they are associated with the neo-Nazi Atomwaffen Division.

  • DHS Warns Boogaloo Bois May Be Targeting Washington, D.C.

    On Monday, DHS has circulated intelligence memos to law enforcement agencies around the country, warning public safety officials that Boogaloo Bois, an extremist anti-government movement, may be targeting Washington, D.C. for violent attacks. The intelligence assessment stated that “the District is likely an attractive target for violent adherents of the boogaloo ideology due to the significant presence of U.S. law enforcement entities, and the wide range of First Amendment-Protected events hosted here.”

  • MI5, Prevent Deemed Reading Attack Suspect Not Worth Investigation

    Saturday knife attack in Reading, U.K., in which three people were killed, is being investigated as an act of terrorism, but investigators say that the 25-year old suspect’s long history of serious mental health issues, exacerbated by heavy drug use, is also being considered. In the last two years, the Libyan national, who was granted asylum in Britain in 2018, was investigated twice for possible ties to Jihadi extremists, but counterterrorism specialists at Prevent and MI5 determined that he had no clear ideology, posed no threat to the public, and required additional mental health care.

  • Russian Info Ops Putting U.S. Police in Their Crosshairs

    Russia appears to be intensifying its focus on police enforcement issues in the United States, using popular reactions to protests that have gripped the nation as part of a larger propaganda campaign to divide Americans ahead of the U.S. presidential election in November. For weeks Russia has used state-controlled RT and Sputnik, and social media posts, to spread disinformation about the protests. Only now, it seems that Russia, through the English-language RT in particular, is reaching out to U.S. police officers and union officials, in what some U.S. officials and lawmakers say is an effort to further inflame tensions.

  • How Much Control Would People Be Willing to Grant to a Personal Privacy Assistant?

    CyLab’s Jessica Colnago believes that in the future, the simple act of walking down the street is going to be a little weird. “You know how every time you enter a website, and it says: ‘We use cookies. Do you consent?’ Imagine that same thing walking down the street, but for a light pole, or a surveillance camera, or an energy sensor on a house,” Colnago says.

  • Sound Beacons Support Safer Tunnel Evacuation

    Research conducted as part of the project EvacSound demonstrates that auditory guidance using sound beacons is an effective aid during the evacuation of smoke-filled road tunnels. This is good news. It is a fact that vehicle drivers and passengers cannot normally expect to be rescued by the emergency services during such accidents.

  • The Appeal of Far-Right Politics

    Why do “ordinary” citizens join far-right organizations? Agnieszka Pasieka explores how far-right groups offer social services, organize festivals, and shape their own narrative to attract new members. In her Austrian Science Fund (FWF)-project, she accompanies activists to investigate their practices and philosophies. Pasieka says that difficult as it might be to empathize with someone who shares fundamentally different values, taking all parties seriously and understanding their motivation is key in a time in which a refusal to engage with other people’s views has become a feature of political as well as academic debates.

  • Bans on Facial Recognition Are Naïve — Hold Law Enforcement Accountable for Its Abuse

    The use of facial recognition technology has become a new target in the fight against racism and brutality in law enforcement. The current controversy over facial recognition purports to be about bias — inaccurate results related to race or gender. Osonde A. Osoba and Douglas Yeung write that “That could be fixed in the near future, but it wouldn’t repair the underlying dilemma: The imbalance of power between citizens and law enforcement. On this, facial recognition ups the ante. These tools can strip individuals of their privacy and enable mass surveillance.

  • COVID-19 Reveals Need for More Research about Guns

    Shortages of toilet paper at neighborhood grocery stores have become a symbol of the nation’s response to the COVID-19 virus, but recent reports suggest that people also reacted to the pandemic by purchasing firearms and ammunition in massive numbers. Andrew R. Morral and Jeremy Travis write in USA Today (republished by RAND) that eventually, the pandemic will recede, scientific rigor will lead to treatments or a vaccine, and life will start to return to a new normal—but those new firearms aren’t going anywhere. They ask: “What does this mean for public safety? And what can policymakers do to ensure that a spike in sales doesn’t result in more injuries or deaths?”