• Iran’s Nuclear Weapons “Breakout” Time Getting Shorter: Experts

    The Trump administration’s withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, and the administration’s “maximum pressure” policy, are failing to yield the desired results, as Iran, pursuing a methodical “creep-out” strategy, is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. In 2015, Iran’s “breakout” time, that is, the amount of time Iran would need to produce enough weapon-grade uranium for a nuclear weapon, was three months. The 2015 agreement, by imposing serve technical restrictions and intrusive monitoring, increased Iran’s breakout time to about twelve months. Experts now say that since the U.S. withdrawal from the treaty, Iran’s breakout time has been reduced to 6-10 months. “The breakout time will decrease further as Iran increases its stock of enriched uranium and installs more centrifuges,” the experts say.

  • Promoting Cooperation Between Humans, Autonomous Machines

    The trust between humans and autonomous machines is a top priority for U.S. Army researchers — as machines become integral to society, it is critical to understand the impact on human decision-making.

  • Data Science Could Help Californians Battle Future Wildfires

    A major wildfire spread through Colorado, and I spent long hours locating shelters, identifying evacuation routes and piecing together satellite imagery. As the Fourmile Canyon Fire devastated areas to the west of Boulder, ultimately destroying 169 homes and causing $217 million in damage, my biggest concerns were ensuring that people could safely evacuate and first responders had the best chance of keeping the fire at bay. The oddest thing about that 7 September 2010? I spent it sitting comfortably in my home in Bloomington, Indiana, a thousand miles away from the action.

  • Nevada Leaders Trying to Stay Ahead of Wildfire Destruction

    In 2016, a little over 265,000 acres in Nevada burned from wildfires. In 2017, around 1.3 million acres burned, and in 2018 a little over a million acres burned, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. Nevada’s political leadership is continuing to develop measures to combat the increasing threats posed by wildfires across American West and in the Silver State.

  • A Year after Paradise Fire, California Lawmakers Hope to Keep History from Repeating

    Last year’s Camp Fire in California offered a scenario officials hadn’t planned for: thousands of residents fleeing at the same time from a town overcome by wildfire — and with few ways to get out. Many others perished in their cars, killed in the blaze that ultimately took 85 lives. Taryn Luna writes that a dire need for better evacuation routes was just one hard lesson of the Camp fire, a tragedy that prompted California’s elected officials to try to prevent history from repeating itself.

  • Why a 1972 Northern Ireland Murder Matters So Much to Historians

    In a recent decision, a court in Northern Ireland ruled that evidence from an oral history project could not be considered in a 1972 murder case, clearing 82-year-old Ivor Bell of soliciting the killing of Jean McConville. Evidence from the Belfast Project, an oral history of Northern Ireland’s Troubles, indicated Bell and other members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) kidnapped and murdered McConville because they incorrectly believed she had provided information to the British Army about IRA activity in Belfast. This evidence played an important role in Bell’s indictment and trial in the McConville case. This ordeal strained the relationship between legal justice and historical truth, Donald M. Beaudette and Laura Weinstein write. “Though in court, lawyers, judges and juries assess the guilt of alleged offenders according to well-honed rules of evidence and interpretations of the law, assessing historical truth is more complex,” they write. They argue that scholars “can and must write and speak more broadly about how historical interpretation works, so citizens are better equipped to understand that the dominant interpretation of history is not the only one, nor is it necessarily the correct one.”

  • Most School Shootings May Be Predicted, Prevented: Secret Service

    Sandy Hook, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Columbine—these are but a few of the school shootings in which many lives were lost. Could these shootings have been predicted – and prevented? Most students who carried out deadly school shootings first displayed threatening or suspicious behavior that went unreported, according to an analysis released Thursday by the U.S. Secret Service.

  • West Has No Response to Iran’s Increasing Dominance of the Middle East

    A new, detailed study says that over the past forty years Iran has built a network of nonstate alliances which has allowed it to turn the balance of “effective” power in the region “in its favor.” In a report released today (7 November), the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) says the United States and its regional allies retain superiority in conventional forces over Iran, but that Iran has been able to counter both the U.S. military superiority and the ever-more-severe economic sanctions imposed on Iran by building “networks of influence” with proxies which allow Tehran to have a major influence over the affairs of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen.

  • Iran Begins Uranium Enrichment at Fordow, Says U.S. to Blame

    Iran says it has begun enriching uranium at its Fordow underground nuclear facility, further defying terms of a landmark 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. Tehran has gradually reduced some of its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal since President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the accord in May 2018. Meanwhile, Washington has reimposed and expanded punishing sanctions as part of a stated campaign of “maximum pressure” against Iran.

  • The Coming Middle East Conflagration

    Israel is girding for the worst and acting on the assumption that fighting between Israel and Iran, or between Israel and Iran’s regional proxies, could break out at any time. Michael Oren writes that it’s not hard to imagine how it might arrive. “The conflagration, like so many in the Middle East, could be ignited by a single spark. Israeli fighter jets have already conducted hundreds of bombing raids against Iranian targets in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq. Preferring to deter rather than embarrass Tehran, Israel never comments on such actions. But perhaps Israel miscalculates, hitting a particularly sensitive target; or perhaps politicians cannot resist taking credit. The result could be a counterstrike by Iran, using cruise missiles that penetrate Israel’s air defenses and smash into targets like the Kiryah, Tel Aviv’s equivalent of the Pentagon. Israel would retaliate massively against Hezbollah’s headquarters in Beirut as well as dozens of its emplacements along the Lebanese border. And then, after a day of large-scale exchanges, the real war would begin.”

  • Why Adding Client-Side Scanning Breaks End-To-End Encryption

    Recent attacks on encryption have diverged. On the one hand, we’ve seen Attorney General William Barr call for “lawful access” to encrypted communications, using arguments that have barely changed since the 1990’s. Erica Portnoy writes that we’ve also seen suggestions from a different set of actors for more purportedly “reasonable” interventions, particularly the use of client-side scanning to stop the transmission of contraband files, most often child exploitation imagery (CEI).

  • Homicide Is Declining Around the World – but Why?

    Americans are currently living in one of the lowest crime periods ever – and so are many people in the rest of the world. Following decades of increasing crime during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, U.S. homicide rates declined by almost 40 percent throughout the 1990s, and have remained low since. Mateus Renno Santos and Alexander Testa write that in their new study, they make the case for a possible explanation: The population of countries around the world is getting older.

  • FBI Investigating More than 2,000 Cases Tied to Foreign Terrorist Organizations

    The FBI says it is investigating more than 2,000 cases tied to groups designated by the United States as foreign terrorist organizations, a figure that reflects the persistent threat posed by outfits such as al-Qaida and Hezbollah. There are currently 68 individual groups on the U.S. State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations.

  • Bio-Inspired Theoretical Research May Improve Robots’ Effectiveness on Battlefield

    In an effort to make robots more effective and versatile teammates for soldiers in combat, Army researchers are on a mission to understand the value of the molecular living functionality of muscle, and the fundamental mechanics that would need to be replicated in order to artificially achieve the capabilities arising from the proteins responsible for muscle contraction.

  • First Statewide Testing of ShakeAlert in the United States

    Earlier this month, the U.S. Geological Survey and the State of California pressed the “go” button to allow the first-ever statewide public testing of the California Early Earthquake Warning System, which is powered by USGS’s earthquake early warning alerts, called ShakeAlerts. Alerts will be delivered by two independent methods, first over the federal Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system and second through the University of California Berkeley’s MyShake smartphone app.