• Russia’s hostile measures threaten Europe: Report

    A new RAND report examines current Russian hostile measures in Europe and forecasts how Russia might threaten Europe using these measures over the next few years. “Whatever the U.S. response, preparation for involvement in a wide range of conflicts can help reduce the risk of mismanagement, miscalculation, and escalation,” the report’s authos say.

  • Trump-Putin G20 chat had no U.S. oversight

    The White House acknowledged last month that President Trump did have an informal conversation with Vladimir Putin at the G20 in Buenos Aires in late November, but now the Financial Times reports the two men met without a U.S. translator, note-taker, or even administration aide present. Former US national security officials have said that while it would be unusual for U.S. presidents to be accompanied by a translator or aide while meeting allies, standard practice while meeting US adversaries would be to engage in discussions with staff on hand.

  • Modeling terrorist behavior with Sandia social-cultural assessments

    Part of what makes terrorists so frightening is their penchant for unpredictable, indiscriminate violence. One day they could attack a global financial center. And the next they could hit a neighborhood bike path. A team of social-behavioral scientists and computational modelers at Sandia National Lab recently completed a two-year effort, dubbed “Mustang,” to assess interactions and behaviors of two extremist groups. The purpose was to inform U.S. and U.K. decision-makers about the groups’ possible reactions to specific communications. The model suggested several communication options that are most likely to reduce the recruitment and violence of the extremist groups over time.

  • New computing architectures to deliver verifiable data assurances

    Whether a piece of information is private, proprietary, or sensitive to national security, systems owners and users have little guarantees about where their information resides or of its movements between systems. As is the case with consumers, the national defense and security communities similarly have only few options when it comes to ensuring that sensitive information is appropriately isolated, particularly when it’s loaded to an internet-connected system. A new program seeks to create new software and hardware architectures that provide physically provable assurances around data security and privacy.

  • Kansas anti-Muslim bomb plotters sentenced to long prison terms

    Three members of a far-right militia, who were convicted of plotting to massacre Muslims in southwest Kansas immediately after the November 2016 election, were sentenced Friday to decades in prison. The terrorist plot was foiled after another militia member informed the police. Defense attorneys, in their sentencing memo, vigorously presented what came to be known as The Trump Defense: They argued that Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric during the 2016 election made attacks against Muslims appear legitimate. The defense attorneys also argued that the plot architect had been “immersed” in Russian disinformation and far-right propaganda, leading him to believe that if Donald Trump won the election, then-President Barack Obama would declare martial law and not recognize the validity of the election — forcing armed militias to step in to ensure that Trump became president.

  • Understudied terrorists put under a microscope

    Bombs exploding, hostages taken and masked gunmen firing machine guns are all types of terrorist attacks we’ve seen. According to a new study, it’s the attacks we don’t see – cyberattacks – that happen more often and can cause greater destruction. “Little work has been done around the use of the internet as an attack space,” said Thomas Holt, Michigan State University professor of criminal justice and lead author. “The bottom line is that these attacks are happening and they’re overlooked. If we don’t get a handle understanding them now, we won’t fully understand the scope of the threats today and how to prevent larger mobilization efforts in the future.”

  • NRC weakens a critical safety regulation, ignoring Fukushima disaster lessons

    The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC), in a 3-2 vote, approved a stripped-down version of a rule originally intended to protect U.S. nuclear plants against extreme natural events, such as the massive earthquake and tsunami that triggered meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan in March 2011. The decision will leave U.S. nuclear plants dangerously vulnerable to major floods and earthquakes.

  • Kremlin dispatches Russian security personnel to protect Venezuela’s Maduro

    Private Russian military contractors have been dispatched by the Kremlin to Venezuela in the past few days to shore up security for President Nicolas Maduro. The Russian move appears to be in response to the recognition by the United States and most of Latin America’s countries of Juan Guaido, who declares himself as Venezuela’s interm president earlier this week. Russian sources told Reuters that the Russian contingent sent to protect Maduro is about 400 strong.

  • Russia's ties to Venezuela give it “nuisance power” over the U.S.

    As the political standoff in Venezuela escalates, Moscow has become increasingly ardent in its support for embattled socialist President Nicolas Maduro since Washington and other capitals recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido’s claim to being Venezuela’s interim leader. “Establishing close relations with Venezuela gives Moscow a certain nuisance power in relation to the United States, and that can be used as a bargaining chip in future dealings with the United States. It also can be kind of a showcase for Russia’s aspirations to be considered a global power,” says a Latin America expert.

  • Helms-Burton’s Title III: Impact of inching towards implementation

    The Trump administration’s recent suspension of the Title III right-of-action provision of the Cuban Liberty & Democratic Solidarity (LIBERTAD) Act of 1996 (more commonly referred to as the Helms-Burton law) has put traficekrs dealing in stolen U.S. properties on notice. The move foreshadows a fundamental shift in U.S. policy toward Havana. If this historic opportunity to right past wrongs is squandered, however, then the same muddled, “business as usual” approach toward Cuba will prevail, permitting an open season for trafficking in the stolen properties of American citizens in Cuba.

  • Right-wing extremism linked to every 2018 extremist murder in the U.S.

    Right-wing extremists were linked to at least 50 extremist-related murders in the United States in 2018, making them responsible for more deaths than in any year since 1995, according to new data. The tally represents a 35 percent increase from the 37 extremist-related murders in 2017, making 2018 the fourth-deadliest year on record for domestic extremist-related killings since 1970.

  • U.S. Holocaust scholar: “No respectable politician” in U.K. should associate with Corbyn

    Acclaimed American academic Professor Deborah Lipstadt has slammed British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for presenting himself as a life-long anti-racist campaigner, despite his extensive associations with Holocaust deniers and other extremists. “No respectable politician would associate with anyone who used the ‘n’ word. The same should apply to Corbyn over antisemitism,” she said.

  • Death in the air: Revisiting the 2001 anthrax mailings and the Amerithrax investigation

    Time may have dimmed the memory of the 2001 anthrax attacks and the sense of urgency surrounding the efforts to identify the attacker. The attacks, which involved mailings of five anthrax-laced letters to prominent senators and media outlets, killed five individuals and made seventeen others ill. The anthrax mailings played a crucial role in raising concerns over possible terrorist use of biological agents in attacks against the homeland. As a result of the anthrax scare, Americans’ perceptions of terrorism came to include an existential fear of biological terrorism.

  • 2016 Twitter fake news engagement: Highly concentrated and conservative-leaning

    By studying how more than 16,000 American registered voters interacted with fake news sources on Twitter during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, researchers report that engagement with fake news was extremely concentrated. Only a small fraction of Twitter users accounted for the vast majority of fake news exposures and shares, they say, many among them older, conservative and politically engaged.

  • Germany to use ultrasound age tests for unaccompanied minor refugees

    Age considerations play an important role in considering an asylum-seeker’s application in Germany. German law, with few exeptions, prohibits the deportation of unaccompanied minors — under the age of 18 and without family. Calls for mandatory X-ray age tests on unaccompanied minor refugees were rejected last year by German doctors. As an alternative, the Health Ministry is now launching a €1-million study into using ultrasound age testing.