• Germany’s far-right AfD disbands youth groups over police surveillance

    Two regional youth wings of the far-right, populist party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) will be dissolved after being placed under police monitoring. All the mainstream parties in Germany have called on the BfV, Germany’s domestic intelligence service, to place the AfD under surveillance for extremist tendencies and the party’s ties to violent fringe groups. The AfD, with the active support of the Kremlin’s hacking and disinformation specialists, has won 94 seats in the Bundestag in the October 2017 election, and is now Germany’s third largest political party.

  • The far right and reciprocal radicalization

    Could fragmentation within the Far-Right contribute to increasingly extreme responses to Islamist terrorism? There is increasing evidence of instrumental responses from some of the most extreme groups, which seek to encourage the strategic use of violence.

  • The role of grievances as precursor to extremism, terrorism

    Researchers have failed to properly study the role of specific grievances as a precursor to extremism and acts of terrorism, often substituting large macro-level issues as a proxy for individual reasons behind attacks. Amilee Turner, doctoral candidate at KU, “In a nutshell, what scholars have appeared to not realize or have neglected to account for is the fact that individuals or groups that are deprived in an absolute sense, whether that is through unequal distributing of resources or materials within society, are not the same as individuals or groups expressing perceived, relative deprivation, like frustration or anger, entitlements and injustices toward another individual or group within a society that motivates their engagement in civil conflict or war.”

  • The FBI launches a Combating Foreign Influence webpage

    The FBI on Thursday has launched a webpage dedicated to combating foreign influence. The webpage aims to educate the public about the threats faced from disinformation campaigns, cyberattacks, and the overall impact of foreign influence on society. The FBI is the lead federal agency responsible for investigating foreign influence operations.

  • Russia is co-opting angry young men

    It seems almost too strange to be true: fight clubs, neo-Nazi soccer hooligans, motorcycle gangs, and other violent fringe elements are serving as conduits for the Kremlin’s influence operations in Western countries. “It sounds more like an episode of The Americans with a dash of Mad Max and Fight Club mixed in,” Michael Carpenter writes, “[y]et this is exactly what is happening across Europe and North America as Russia’s intelligence services co-opt fringe radicals and angry young men to try to undermine Western democracies from within. And not just in the virtual world, but in real life.”

  • Groundwater loss drives more California land sinking

    Despite higher-than-normal amounts of rain in early 2017, the large agricultural and metropolitan communities that rely on groundwater in central California experienced only a short respite from an ongoing drought. When the rain stopped, drought conditions returned and the ground has continued to sink, by up to a half-meter annually.

  • Islamic divorce in the English courts: human rights and sharia law

    As the majority of Muslim marriages in England are not legally recognized, women are in a particularly vulnerable position should those marriages break down. However, in one recent case a novel judgment has opened the door for the wife to seek some financial recourse. Analysts see this as a significant development, yet they also stresses that legal solutions have their limits and that theological reform is ultimately required if a lasting solution is to be found.

  • The first line of defense against acts of targeted violence

    Tragic events at the Boston Marathon, African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, and Pulse nightclub in Orlando remind us that ideologically motivated violent extremists pose a persistent threat to Americans of all backgrounds. Our first defense against attacks is grounded in our understanding and response to terrorism within our country. While the ideologies that support acts of targeted violence are diverse, so too are our responses and prevention activities.

  • Less information leaves U.S. vulnerable as midterms approach

    In May 2018, explaining why the intelligence community objected to revealing the name of an FBI informant who talked with several Trump campaign officials in order to explore the extent of their ties with Russian intelligence operatives, FBI director Christopher Wray said: “The day that we can’t protect human sources is the day the American people start becoming less safe.” High-level U.S. officials say that the United States knows less in 2018 than it did in 2016 about Russia’s planned and executed attacks on U.S. democracy and infrastructure – and one reason is that Russian informants have gone silent. Current and former officials said the expulsion of American intelligence officers from Moscow has hurt collection efforts — but they also raised the possibility that the outing of an FBI informant under scrutiny by the House intelligence committee — an examination encouraged by President Trump — has had a chilling effect on intelligence collection.

  • California: New planning tools to prepare state for devastating climate change impact

    Warning that two-thirds of Southern California’s beaches could completely disappear and the average area burned by wildfires could nearly double by 2100, the State of California the other day released California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment, which details new science on the devastating impacts of climate change and provides planning tools to support the state’s response.

  • Experts: Int’l community must target terrorists who use human shields

    Because terrorists use human shields to protect themselves or cause civilian casualties “without facing consequences,” it is imperative that “terrorists and their sponsoring regimes must be held accountable for their brutal practice of using civilians as human shields,” argued two experts.

  • Fund meant to protect elections may be too little, too late

    The Election Assistance Commission, the government agency charged with distributing federal funds to support elections, released a report Tuesday detailing how each state plans to spend a total of $380 million in grants allocated to improve and secure their election systems. But even as intelligence officials warn of foreign interference in the midterm election, much of the money is not expected to be spent before Election Day. The EAC expects states to spend their allotted money within two to three years and gives them until 2023 to finish spending it.

  • How the U.S. has failed to protect the 2018 election--and four ways to protect 2020

    If the weak response of the Obama White House indicated to America’s adversaries that the U.S. government would not respond forcefully, then the subsequent actions of House Republicans and President Trump have signaled that our adversaries can expect powerful elected officials to help a hostile foreign power cover up attacks against their domestic opposition. The bizarre behavior of the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Rep. Devin Nunes, has destroyed that body’s ability to come to any credible consensus, and the relative comity of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has not yet produced the detailed analysis and recommendations our country needs. Republican efforts to downplay Russia’s role constitute a dangerous gamble: It is highly unlikely that future election meddling will continue to have such an unbalanced and positive impact for the GOP.

  • Russian investments in the United States: Hardening the target

    The United States is the single largest recipient of foreign investment worldwide. This openness reflects the country’s innovative industries, deep capital markets, and ease of doing business – and it also contributes to making them possible. At the same time, a hands-off reporting regime makes it difficult for law enforcement and other government agencies to determine whose money is behind investment flows or where they should focus their investigative resources. While most foreign investment is benign, the current framework presents inviting loopholes through which adversaries can gain non-transparent access to U.S. businesses, technology, and data.

  • Microsoft reveals Russian hacking attempts ahead of U.S. elections

    Microsoft says it has uncovered new Russian hacking attempts to target U.S. political groups ahead of the U.S. midterm elections in November. The company said a hacking group linked to Russia’s government had created fake Internet domains in order to mimic the websites of two conservative Washington-based think tanks that have been critical of the Kremlin — the Hudson Institute and the International Republican Institute. It said the Russian hackers also created three fake domains designed to look as if they belonged to the U.S. Senate.