• PandemicL.A. Imposes Sweeping COVID Restrictions

    Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles has issued an order for residents to stay at home and minimize other contacts. The order, which supersedes one from June, prohibits public and private gatherings of people from more than one household and states that all businesses in the city which require people to work on location must stop operations. Walking, driving, travel on public transport, bikes, motorcycles and scooters are prohibited, other than for those undertaking essential activities.

  • The Russia connectionA New White House Spokeswoman, An Old Photo, And A Message About Russian Propaganda

    By Mike Eckel

    Six years ago, Jen Psaki, who was the face of the U.S. State Department, was subjected to constant trolling on the Russian-language Internet, not to mention derision from the state-controlled satellite channel that used to be known as Russia Today. Psaki is to become the White House spokeswoman when Joe Biden is formally inaugurated as president on January 20, 2021. “For anyone who hasn’t been the target of Russian propaganda,” Psaki wrote in a tweet, “the purpose is to discredit powerful messengers and to spread misinformation to confuse the public. Anyone who repeats it is (unwitting or not) simply a puppet of the propaganda machine.”

  • TerrorismTeaching Anti-Terrorism: How France and England Use Schools to Counter Radicalization

    By Jonathan James

    The murder of the schoolteacher Samuel Paty, beheaded by 18-year-old Abdoullakh Abouyedovich Anzorov in October 2020 after Paty had shown caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad during a civic education lesson, has understandably caused shock and fear among teachers in France. Many teachers were already struggling to manage classroom discussions on sensitive topics such as the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo’s publication of the controversial caricatures. Some now fear for their personal safety.

  • SurveillanceEFF Urges Federal Appeals Court to Rehear Case Involving Unconstitutional Baltimore Aerial Surveillance Program

    By Nathaniel Sobel

    In May, the Baltimore Police Department launched its Aerial Investigation Research (AIR) Pilot Program. For six months, three surveillance aircrafts operated by a private company called Persistent Surveillance Systems flew over Baltimore—covering about 90 percent of the city—for 12 hours every day. The planes produced images that even at a resolution of “one pixel per person” allowed the police to track individual’s movements over multi-day periods, especially when combined with the police’s networks of more than 800 ground-based surveillance cameras and automated license plate readers.

  • Election securityBarr: DOJ Has Found Nothing that Could Impact Election Result

    Attorney General Bill Barr has thrown cold water on the president’s false claims of massive voter fraud and a “stolen election.” Despite Department of Justice investigations turning up no evidence, and despite the fact that the president and his legal team have lost practically every legal challenge they filed — Trump and his allies are 1-39 in post-election litigation — Trump continues to spread falsehoods about the election, and continues to raise money — $170 million so far — based on these untrue claims.

  • TerrorismNew Book Examines Threat of ISIS in the United States

    Despite the large amount of media reporting, there had yet to be a definitive accounting of what ISIS supporters in the U.S. looked like. Researchers have collected mountains of data to try to paint at least a partially representative picture for the public, explaining why some Americans are attracted to jihadist ideology—and what we can do about it.

  • Terrorism2020 Global Terrorism Index: Deaths from Terrorism Reach 5-Year Low

    Globally, deaths from terrorism fell for the fifth consecutive year in 2019, to 13,826 — a 15 percent decrease from the prior year. In North America, Western Europe and Oceania, far-right attacks have increased by 250 percent since 2014 - they are higher now than at any time in the last fifty years. Sixty-three countries recorded at least one death from terrorism, the lowest number since 2013. The global economic impact of terrorism was $16.4 billion in 2019, a decrease of 25 percent from the previous year. IS’s center of gravity moves to sub-Saharan Africa with total deaths by IS in the region increasing by 67 percent. IS and their affiliates were also responsible for attacks in 27 countries in 2019.

  • The Russia connectionRussian Influence Peddlers Carving Out New Audiences on Fringes

    By Jeff Seldin

    After four years of warnings and preparations, the 2020 presidential election did not see a repeat of 2016, when intelligence officials concluded Russia meddled using a combination of cyberattacks and influence operations. But according to current and former U.S. intelligence officials, as well as analysts, the good news ends there.

  • Extremism & social mediaAfter 8Chan

    By Florence Keen

    The notorious imageboard 8chan was taken offline in August 2019 after several far-right attacks revealed a connection to the site – most notably, the terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand in March 2019, which left 51 people dead. A few months later in November 2019, a site known as 8kun was launched as a replacement, boasting similar freedoms and owned by the same person, Jim Watkins. What is evident is that almost a year into 8kun’s creation, the general attitude towards the site is wholly different to that of 8chan – in that the primary audience it was created for has largely rejected it as a less important and relevant site within chan culture.

  • Extremism & social mediaParler Is Bringing Together Mainstream Conservatives, Anti-Semites and White Supremacists as the Social Media Platform Attracts Millions of Trump Supporters

    By Alex Newhouse

    Since the 2020 U.S. presidential election, Parler has caught on among right-wing politicians and “influencers” – people with large online followings – as a social media platform where they can share and promote ideas without worrying about the company blocking or flagging their posts for being dangerous or misleading. However, the website has become a haven for far-right extremists and conspiracy theorists who are now interacting with the mainstream conservatives flocking to the platform.

  • PolarizationLike Fire and Ice: Why Societies Are Increasingly Fragmenting

    Scientists at the Complexity Science Hub Vienna (CSH) show that the accelerating fragmentation of society - often referred to as filter bubbles - is a direct consequence of the growing number of social contacts. According to their model, societies can only be either cohesive or fragmented. And just as water becomes ice or gas at a certain temperature, a society abruptly changes from one state to the other at certain tipping points. If the basic sociological assumptions are correct, researchers see a huge problem that could endanger our democracies as well as the management of massive challenges such as the climate crisis or future pandemics.

  • Critical infrastructureGuidance Will Improve Critical Infrastructure Resilience

    It is easy to understand the importance of our “critical infrastructure,” such as telecommunications, energy, transportation, and emergency services, but what’s often overlooked are the underlying technologies that enable them. DHS S&T is doing something about it.

  • China syndromeChina-Sensitive Topics at US Universities Draw More Online Harassment

    By Lin Yang

    Last week, students at Brandeis University hosted an online discussion about China’s controversial Xinjiang policies, hearing experts discuss the detention, abuse and political indoctrination of more than 1 million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities. But as Uighur attorney and advocate Rayhan Asat appeared before the student group last Friday, her screen was taken over as hackers wrote “fake news” and “liar” on it. Experts said it fits with an increase in more organized harassment against topics on American campuses seen as objectionable by the Chinese government.

  • Post-election tensionsFive Reasons Trump’s Challenge of the 2020 Election Will Not Lead to Civil War

    By Alexander Cohen

    Some Americans fear that the deep political divisions in the country and President Donald Trump’s determination to challenge the results of the election will cause civil war. Those who object to Trump’s tactics argue that he behaves like an autocrat by delegitimizing sources of information that resist his narrative, demonizing political opponents, supporting political violence, and using courts as political tools Without a doubt, the president’s attempts to undermine faith in the integrity of the election are dangerous to democracy. Yet, for the moment, the system appears poised to hold together. The months ahead will be turbulent, but civil war is unlikely.

  • TerrorismMore than 100 “High-Risk” Islamists at Large in Germany: Security Service

    More than 120 Islamists in Germany pose a “high risk,” according to Germany’s federal police, with 115 more posing a potentially high risk. There is a growing debate in Germany about monitoring extremists, and about streamlining deportation policies for extremists about to be released from jail.