• Israel transfers aid to thousands of Syrian refugees across the border

    Israel has transferred tons of aid to thousands of refugees escaping cities in southwestern Syria that have been bombed by the Assad regime and its Russian allies in recent weeks. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, some 120,000 people have fled the Deraa region with tens of thousands escaping to Syria’s border with Jordan and thousands of others heading to the border with Israel.

  • Immigrant toddlers ordered to appear in court alone

    As the White House faces court orders to reunite families separated at the border, immigrant children as young as 3 are being ordered into court for their own deportation proceedings, according to attorneys in Texas, California and Washington, D.C. Requiring unaccompanied minors to go through deportation alone is not a new practice. But in the wake of the Trump administration’s controversial family separation policy, more young children — including toddlers — are being affected than in the past.

  • Extreme stress in childhood is toxic to your DNA

    The real danger of separating children from parents is not the psychological stress – it’s the biological time bomb. The screaming and crying, the anguish and desolation is gut-wrenching. But the fallout pales in comparison to the less visible long-term effects that are more sinister and dangerous.

  • U.S. reportedly withholding funding for new UN counterterrorism office

    The United States is withholding $2 million in promised funding for the United Nations Counterterrorism Office in the latest move by the White House to push for reform of the world body, media reports say. The funding cut was made over a decision by the UN counterterrorism chief, a former Russian diplomat, to close part of a conference the office is holding this week to nongovernmental interest groups, media quoted U.S. officials and UN diplomats as saying.

  • Russia’s “destructive” bugs lurking in U.K. computers waiting to strike: U.K. chief cyber spook

    Russia already has “destructive” bugs hidden, lurking in British computers waiting to strike, the head of U.K. National Cyber Security Center told a parliamentary committee. Ciaran Martin said that the Kremlin’s list of targets to be disrupted has expanded beyond the U.K.’s “hard infrastructure” such as energy networks to include democratic institutions and the media. “In the last two years, we have seen a consistent rise in the appetite for attack from Russia on critical sectors, as well as diversification to other sectors they may attack. In addition to the more traditional targeting of hard infrastructure, like energy infrastructure, we have seen against the West as a whole the targeting of softer power - democratic institutions, media institutions and things relating to freedom of speech,” Martin said.

  • Senate Intel Committee moves to bolster election security

    The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence yesterday unanimously approved the Intelligence Authorization Act (IAA) for Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019. Among the main goals of the bill is strengthening the ability of the United States to detect, block, and limit the ability of the Russian government to compromise the integrity of U.S. elections. The bill also aims to shore up the security clearance process, which many experts regard as dysfunctional. “In the wake of foreign efforts to interfere with the 2016 U.S. elections, which this Committee continues to investigate, I am pleased to see this bill contains comprehensive measures to enhance our election security. It is vital that we ensure our voting process remains fair and free from undue influence,” said Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), the chairman of the committee.

  • New data shows U.S. hate crimes continued to rise in 2017

    We have collected new police data from 2017, ahead of the FBI totals, which cover crimes only up to 2016, and performed the first analysis of that year’s hate crimes, with a particular emphasis on the 10 largest U.S. cities. Our investigation found that hate crime totals for the 10 largest cities rose for four straight years to the highest level in a decade. Within these data are intriguing signs about the timing and direction of this bigotry. We may also be on the threshold of a new era in crime: Russia’s broad interference in the 2016 U.S. election is well documented – but what is also notable about Russian interference was their focus on sowing racial discord. There appears to be a correlation between the rise in targeted racially divisive social media ads and a near contemporaneous rise in hate crime.

  • Russian billionaire's firm moves to dismiss U.S. election meddling case

    The Kremlin’s 2016 broad disinformation campaign in the U.S. was carried out by Russian company Concord Management and its Internet Research Agency (IRA) “troll factory” in St. Petersburg. Concord was among the three Russian organizations, along with thirteen Russian individuals, indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office in February in an alleged criminal conspiracy to tamper with the U.S. election and boost Trump’s prospects. On 25 June, Concord — using arguments made recently by President Trump himself — has asked a U.S. judge to dismiss the case brought against it by Mueller.

  • “The Russians play hard”: Inside Russia’s attempt to hack 2018 -- and 2020

    So what exactly is Russia planning for the upcoming election? The correct question, a half dozen security experts and former and current government officials say, is what are they not planning? And there will be new tactics, too. Nick Bilton writes in Vanity Fair that more than one expert told him that Russia will try to go after actual voting booths in smaller, more contentious districts across the country. The world we live in so intertwined with technology that you could imagine Russian hackers disrupting how we even get to the polls on Election Day. Ride-sharing services could be hacked. We’ve already seen instances of hackers faking transit problems on mapping apps, like Waze, to send people in the wrong direction, or away from a certain street. Perhaps most terrifying of all, one former official told Bilton, are the possibilities arising from Russia’s alleged 2015 cyber-attack on Kiev’s power grid, which plunged the city into darkness.

  • How immigration court works

    Can the U.S. attorney general unilaterally overturn an immigration-court court case? Yes, because, as I teach my surprised law students, immigration judges are not part of the judicial branch. They are attorneys in the Department of Justice. That means normal assumptions about judicial independence and freedom from political influence do not apply in immigration proceedings.

  • Houston and Hurricane Harvey: The lessons

    Hurricane Harvey made landfall near Rockport, Texas on 25 August 2017 as a Category 4 storm. Over the next four days, Harvey dropped more than 40 inches of rain over eastern Texas, causing catastrophic flooding. The resulting floods inundated hundreds of thousands of homes, displaced more than 30,000 people and prompted more than 17,000 rescues. Total damage from the hurricane is estimated at $125 billion. Through extensive interviews, a new Post-Event Review Capability (PERC) study identifies lessons learned from the 2017 Houston floods and provides recommendations for enhancing flood resilience - before the next event occurs.

  • Israel deploys tracking system to fight incendiary balloons and kites

    Israel’s famed military prowess has come up against a decidedly low-tech adversary, the humble party balloon, and found itself thwarted. Over the past few weeks, the residents of the Gaza Strip have let loose a barrage of colorful kites with burning tails as well as festive balloons, sometimes condoms, with fuel-soaked strips of cloth. They land inside Israeli territory, often starting serious fires. Israel has now deployed a system to track balloons and kites carrying burning material across the border.

  • Twitter release reveals the Kremlin’s news impersonation game

    On 18 June, Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee released around 1,100 names of Twitter accounts linked to the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency (IRA), the Kremlin’s disinformation and propaganda outfit. The new release brings the total number of known IRA-linked Twitter accounts to around 3,800. Analysis of the pages reveals that a major pillar of the Kremlin’s social media influence campaigns revolves around the impersonation of local news sources in order to gain trust among audiences and insert narratives into mainstream public discourse. This strategy of camouflaging disinformation channels as seemingly credible sources is even more prevalent in the IRA’s domestic efforts.

  • Weak response to Russian meddling emboldened Moscow, official says

    Russia was emboldened by the lack of a decisive response by President Barack Obama’s administration during the 2016 presidential election and will seek to interfere in future elections, a former top U.S. official said. Victoria Nuland, whose portfolio at the State Department made her a leading Russia official under Obama, made the comments 20 June during a hearing at the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is conducting a sweeping investigation of Russian actions in the United States.

  • German police find large quantities of castor seeds in bioweapon suspect’s apartment

    German police investigators have found more than 3,000 castor bean seeds in the Cologne apartment of a 29-year old Tunisian, who was arrested last week for making a biological weapon. The quantity of castor seeds was much larger than initially thought. Castor beans are used in making the toxin ricin. The suspect, who is married to a German woman, had been under police surveillance for contacts with Islamist extremists.