• U.S. shouldn’t give up benefits of ‘green card lottery’ over low risk of terrorism

    After a man barreled down a New York City bike path on Oct. 31, killing eight, President Donald Trump reacted by calling for an end to the “green card lottery” program that allowed the attacker to enter the country. As someone who researches the impact of immigration on workers, I believe their plans to change who can enter the country legally is a big mistake. We would be giving up a program that benefits American workers with very little chance of a gain in safety. Immigration that emphasizes diversity, rather than merely merit, tends to attract more people who specialize in occupations uncommon among U.S.-born workers. And, in fact, this is the key source of the well-known economic benefits of immigration. Studies show this tendency toward job specialization is a key reason the large volume of low-skill immigration does not drive down incomes of Americans. Other research shows that simply encouraging immigration from diverse origins lifts wages. Put differently, there is direct evidence that the sort of diversity that the green card lottery encourages makes all Americans better off. It would be a shame to give all of that up because of a tiny risk of terrorism.

  • Most Central Asia terrorists radicalized while living as migrants abroad: Expert

    Sayfullo Saipov, the 29-year old terrorist who killed eight and injured twelve by driving a rented van down a bike lane in New York City, came to the United States from Uzbekistan. The attack by an Uzbek man may indicate a growing terrorist threat from Central Asia. A Central Asia security expert says that there have been several men from Central Asia who committed acts of terrorism abroad – most recently in Stockholm, St. Petersburg, and New York – but that when we examine these cases, we find that “The common thread here seems to be that they their radicalization did not take place in Central Asia. They were radicalized while living the lives of migrants elsewhere. This poses as many questions for the United States as for Central Asian countries. In fact, more.”

  • MSU urged to pull the plug on an “eco-terrorism” video game

    Michigan State University’s award-winning computer game development lab has developed a new computer game called “Thunderbird Strike.” Dr. Elizabeth LaPensee, the game’s designer, says that, among other things, the game is designed to “bring awareness to pipeline issues and contribute to the discontinuation of [Enbridge’s] Line 5.” Enbridge’s Line 5 is a 645-mile, 30-inch-diameter pipeline that travels through Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas. In the game, players get to blow up pipelines. Oil industry officials argue that the game, in effect, encourages players to engage in acts of domestic terrorism.

  • Challenges to U.S. election integrity

    Various concerns about the security of U.S. elections have arisen over the past two decades, some more significant than others. While many studies have shown that voter fraud, for instance, is vanishingly rare in the U.S., what about the state of electoral administration, lost votes, and cyberattacks? MIT experts offer insights on data, technology, and election security in an era of rising concern.

  • Sandia’s international peer mentorship program improves management of biorisks

    The world is becoming increasingly interconnected. While this has definite advantages, it also makes it easier to spread disease. Many diseases don’t produce symptoms for days or weeks, far longer than international flight times. For example, Ebola has an incubation period of two to twenty-one days. Improving biosafety practices around the world to prevent the spread of diseases to health care workers and biomedical researchers is an important part of halting or minimizing the next pandemic, said Eric Cook, a Sandia National Laboratories biorisk management expert.

  • The Devil’s puzzle: Defining international and domestic terrorism

    It’s becoming a familiar scene. A vehicle becomes a weapon of terror. This time in New York City, where a driver in a rental truck suddenly careened down a bike and pedestrian path on the west side of the city on Tuesday, killing at least eight and injuring more than ten people. New York officials say it was an act of terror, and the incident is likely to reignite the debate on what constitutes domestic and international terrorism and whether it matters. An argument can be made that distinguishing between what constitutes an act of terrorism and what doesn’t still provide significant value.

  • Russia’s disinformation posts reached 126 million Americans: Facebook

    Disinformation specialists at the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a Kremlin-affiliated Russian group, created 80,000 Facebook posts which were directly served to 29 million Americans. After the posts were liked, shared, and commented on, they traveled to the news feeds of approximately 126 million Americans at some point between January 2015 and August 2017. These numbers mean that Russian-produced disinformation and propaganda reached about 40 percent of the U.S. population. Facebook says that IRA’s 80,000 posts come on top the 3,000 political ads created by the IRA – and that these ads were seen by 11.4 million Americans. “Many of the ads and posts we’ve seen so far are deeply disturbing — seemingly intended to amplify societal divisions and pit groups of people against each other,” said Facebook’s General Counsel Colin Stretch. “They would be controversial even if they came from authentic accounts in the United States. But coming from foreign actors using fake accounts, they are simply unacceptable.”

  • Insinuation and influence: How the Kremlin targets Americans online

    The objective of Kremlin influence operations, part of a larger set of tactics and strategies known as active measures, is to make the target population more amenable to Kremlin wants and desires. They achieve this either by gaining a sympathetic hearing of their views, or failing that, by keeping us busy fighting among ourselves. The Kremlin seeks both to sow discord and create chaos in Western societies and rally support for, or limit opposition to, its geopolitical agenda.

  • 200 killed in tunnel collapse at North Korea nuclear test site

    About 200 North Korean laborers and engineers have been killed after a mine shaft being dug at the country’s nuclear test site collapsed in early September. On 3 September, North Korea conducted a nuclear test of a bomb with a yield of about 280 kilotons (the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs were in the 12-15 kiloton range). Experts say that the powerful test, conducted in a neighboring tunnel, may have weakened the wall- and ceiling-support scaffolding of the tunnel which collapsed. North Korea has conducted all its nuclear tests in a tunnel network under Mount Mantap. South Korean and Chinese scientists have warned that the mountain may be suffering from “Tired mountain syndrome,” and that more tests may cause the mountain to collapse, releasing large amounts of radioactive fallout.

  • Israel demolishes Gaza tunnel, killing 9 Palestinian militants

    The Israel military (IDF) on Monday morning destroyed a tunnel Hamas fighters were building under the Israel-Gaza Strip. The Hamas Health Ministry in Gaza said that nine Palestinians were killed and eight others were wounded when the IDF blew up the tunnel. Israel this summer began work on an underground barrier meant to counter attack tunnels.

  • The active measures orchestra: An examination of Russian influence operations abroad

    Russia has embraced new technologies and forms of communication that have allowed it to take advantage of years of Western inattention to a growing problem. However, the tools Russia uses in its current influence operations are nothing new. Neither are its strategic objectives of subverting NATO and the EU and undermining Western governments and democratic institutions. While for many Americans Russia’s actions seem to have come out of nowhere, it is essential that we understand these actions occurred in the context of a wide and ongoing effort by the Kremlin.

  • Former Argentinian president defends secret agreement with Iran in terror probe

    On Thursday, former Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner appeared in federal court and denied that the purpose of the secret pact with Iran, signed by her government, was to cover-up Tehran’s involvement in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center that killed eighty-five people.

  • Modern civilization does not diminish violence

    Modern civilization may not have dulled mankind’s bloodlust, but living in a large, organized society may increase the likelihood of surviving a war, researchers say. They argue that while larger, modern-day societies may have a larger number of soldiers or combatants who die, they represent a smaller percent of the total population. In addition, people who live in modern-day nations are not less violent than their ancestors or people who currently live in small-scale hunting, gathering and horticultural societies.

  • European Muslims perceive the EU more positively than non-Muslim Europeans

    A new study found that Muslims in Europe have a more positive view of the European Union (EU) compared to all other groups of the European population. “On average, Muslims have a higher level of trust in EU institutions than members of other religious or non-religious groups such as Christians and those unaffiliated with any religion,” says a researcher.

  • With more superstorms predicted, there’s a dream project to keep New York above water

    Five years ago, on 29 October 2012, the coasts of New York and New Jersey were devastated by a rare late-October superstorm. Superstorm Sandy killed seventy-two people in the United States and caused more than $70 billion in damage. Over the next thirty years, floods of 7.4 feet or more, which used to occur in the New York area once every 500 years and are now happening every 25, could strike as frequently as every five years. Scientists say that sea-level rise caused by climate change is the biggest factor. One big idea to prevent massive destruction from the next, inevitable superstorm: A constellation of giant underwater gates which would rise in New York Harbor and beyond when disaster looms.