• Does the government really need this much power to deal with an attack of the drones?

    Last week, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee held a hearing on the Preventing Emerging Threats Act of 2018 (S. 2836), which would give DOJ and DHS sweeping new authority to counter malicious drones. Among other things, the bill would authorize DOJ and DHS to “track,” “disrupt,” “control,” “seize or otherwise confiscate,” or even “destroy” unmanned aircraft that pose a “threat” to certain facilities or areas in the U.S. Given the breadth of these proposed new powers, you would expect officials to have a strong case for passing the bill. But even after the hearing, it’s not clear why DHS and DOJ need any expanded authority to go after “malicious” drones.

  • Lawmakers introduce amendment on Huawei and ZTE

    A bipartisan group of senators on Thursday introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to respond to the national-security threat posed by Chinese telecom companies like Huawei and ZTE. “Huawei and ZTE have extensive ties with the Chinese Communist Party, as well as a track record of doing business with rogue regimes like North Korea and Iran. So it’s only prudent that no one in the federal government use their equipment or services and that they receive no taxpayer dollars. Given their repeated violations of U.S. law, we cannot trust them to respect U.S. national security, and so it’s vital we hold them accountable and pass this amendment,” said Cotton.

  • Warner questions Google, Twitter about Chinese partnerships

    U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Virginia), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, on Thursday sent letters to Twitter and Google parent company Alphabet, requesting information about any data sharing agreements between the companies and Chinese vendors. “Since at least October 2012, when the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence released its widely-publicized report, the relationship between the Chinese Communist Party and equipment makers like Huawei and ZTE has been an area of national security concern,” Warner wrote the two companies.

  • Internet search data shows link between anti-Muslim and pro-ISIS searches in U.S.

    In ethnically alike communities where poverty levels run high, anti-Muslim internet searches are strongly associated with pro-ISIS searches, according to a new analysis. This pattern, say the authors of a new study, suggests that counterterrorism policies targeting Muslims may do the opposite of what they intend, making these communities even more vulnerable to radicalization.

  • HART: Homeland Security’s massive new database will include face recognition, DNA, and peoples’ “non-obvious relationships”

    The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is quietly building what will likely become the largest database of biometric and biographic data on citizens and foreigners in the United States. The agency’s new Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology (HART) database will include multiple forms of biometrics—from face recognition to DNA, data from questionable sources, and highly personal data on innocent people. It will be shared with federal agencies outside of DHS as well as state and local law enforcement and foreign governments. And yet, we still know very little about it.

  • Terrorism cost EU countries $212 billion between 2004 and 2016

    The European Union (EU) countries lost around €180 billion ($212 billion) in GDP terms due to terrorism between 2004 and 2016, according to a new study. According to the study, changes in economic behavior could be the reason behind the observed negative effects on economic growth, as people and companies change their purchasing, saving and investing behaviors following terror attacks. The UK (€43.7 billion) and France (€43 billion) suffered the highest economic losses in GDP terms due to terrorism.

  • Atlantic Council launches a website to track Russian disinformation

    The Atlantic Council yesterday launched a new webpage – DisinfoPortal.org – an interactive online guide to track the Kremlin’s disinformation campaigns abroad. The portal brings together 23 top organizations and more than 80 experts fighting Russian disinformation in the United States and Europe. “It’s time to stop ‘admiring the problem’ of Russian disinformation and start fighting back, using the tools of democratic societies to counter the autocrat’s playbook,” said Ambassador Daniel Fried of the Atlantic Council.

  • Who is likely to believe in conspiracy theories?

    Conspiracy theories about government officials and the institutions they represent are widespread and rooted in U.S. history, but they are particularly prevalent in times of rapid social and cultural change, increased cultural and ethnic diversity, and widespread collective action among members of previously marginalized groups. “For many members of the public, particularly individuals who have benefited from existing social and political arrangements, these developments and changes are quite threatening and can motivate compensatory endorsement of conspiracy beliefs or theories.”

  • Here’s why Trump’s new strategy to keep ailing coal and nuclear plants open makes no sense

    President Donald Trump recently ordered Energy Secretary Rick Perry to take “immediate steps” to stop the closure of coal and nuclear power plants. The proposal is premised on these power plants being essential to national security. To be sure, the coal and nuclear industries are in trouble. Thirty-six coal plants have retired since Trump was elected, and another 30 will close in the coming months. More than 1 in 10 of the nation’s nuclear reactors are likely to be decommissioned by 2025. But experts are not worried about any electricity shortages or outages between now and 2025. The Energy Department’s own assessment of whether the ongoing wave of coal and nuclear plant retirements are threatening grid reliability, found no cause for alarm. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission unanimously rejected an earlier proposal for the tax-payers to subsidize these declining industries. In short, there is no emergency that justifies this unprecedented intrusion into the electricity markets that would warrant forcing taxpayers and utilities to pay a premium to keep coal and nuclear plants online. The only “emergencies” are the financial woes of the plant owners caused by the rapid decline coal consumption and the nuclear industry’s weak outlook.

  • 2018 Global Peace Index finds a less peaceful world

    The 2018 Global Peace Index (GPI) finds that the global level of peace has deteriorated by 0.27 percent in the last year, marking the fourth successive year of deteriorations. Ninety-two countries deteriorated, while 71 countries improved. The 2018 GPI reveals a world in which the tensions, conflicts, and crises that emerged in the past decade remain unresolved, especially in the Middle East, resulting in a gradual, sustained fall in peacefulness. The Top 5 most peaceful countries are Iceland, New Zealand, Austria, Portugal, and Denmark. The least peaceful countries: Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Iraq, and Somalia.

  • Cold War-era KGB “active measures” and the Kremlin’s contemporary way of war

    Bob Seely, a Conservative MP for the Isle of Wight and a Russia researcher, has just published the first comprehensive definition of the nature of modern Russian warfare. The paper draws a direct comparison between Cold War-era KGB “Active Measures” and the aggression of Putin’s Russia. “From fake news aimed at Europe to the propaganda of RT, and from the occupation of Crimea to the streets of Salisbury, Russia is waging a very modern kind of conflict on the West – as well as on the Russian people themselves,” Seely said.

  • Argentine appeals court: Nisman killed as “direct consequence” of investigation of Kirchner

    An Argentine federal appeals court ruled that Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman was murdered as a “direct consequence” of his accusations of former president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of covering up Iran’s role in the July 1994 attack on the AIMA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires. Nisman was investigating the ties between Tehran and the Jewish community center bombing in Buenos Aires, as well as a cover up by the previous Argentine government of Iran’s role in the attack.  

  • States’ work laws affect U.S.-Mexico migration

    The current political environment has led to an increased focus on the issue of unauthorized migration from Mexico and Central America, with proposals ranging from reforming the U.S. immigration system to building a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border. A new study used data from a Mexican identification-card program to find that a relatively low-cost employment-focused system can reduce unauthorized migration.

  • Risk-management roadmap to denuclearization in North Korea

    Immediate denuclearization of North Korea is unrealistic, scholars say. They recommend a phased denuclearization to take place over ten years or more, allowing the United States to reduce the greatest risks first and address the manageable risks over time.

  • Ukraine claims it found list of 47 Russian assassination targets

    Ukrainian authorities claim they have uncovered a hit-list of forty-seven people — mostly journalists — who are potential Russian assassination targets as a result of their sting operation staging the faked murder of exiled Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko. Ukraine said all forty-seven have been informed they are on the alleged hit-list, and arrangements are being made for their safety. Prosecutor-General Yuriy Lutsenko met with top EU diplomats to explain the staged murder, and Reuters quoted a senior EU country diplomat as saying that the Ukrainian minister had given a convincing explanation to justify the sting operation.