• Can taking down websites really stop terrorists and hate groups?

    Racists and terrorists, and many other extremists, have used the internet for decades and adapted as technology evolved, shifting from text-only discussion forums to elaborate and interactive websites, custom-built secure messaging systems and even entire social media platforms. Recent efforts to deny these groups online platforms will not kick hate groups, nor hate speech, off the web. In fact, some scholars theorize that attempts to shut down hate speech online may cause a backlash, worsening the problem and making hate groups more attractive to marginalized and stigmatized people, groups, and movements. The tech industry, law enforcement, and policymakers must develop a more measured and coordinated approach to the removal of extremist and terrorist content online. The only way to really eliminate this kind of online content is to decrease the number of people who support it.

  • RT, Sputnik and Russia’s new theory of war

    The 2016 Russian government’s disinformation campaign helped Donald Trump win the November election, and key to that effective campaign were lies expertly manufactured by Russian disinformation specialists and spread through two Russian government propaganda outlets, RT and Sputnik, and on social media. The U.S. intelligence community says that RT and the rest of the Russian information machine were working with “covert intelligence operations” to do no less than “undermine the U.S.-led liberal democratic order.” The U.S. intelligence assessment warned ominously, “Moscow will apply lessons learned from its Putin-ordered campaign aimed at the U.S. presidential election to future influence efforts worldwide, including against U.S. allies and their election processes.”

  • U.K. raises terror threat level after London terrorist attack

    British police is searching for those responsible for an IED explosion on a London subway train. Twenty-nine people were injured in the attack. Counterterrorism experts said the IED may have malfunctioned, thus averting a larger catastrophe. British prime minister Theresa May raised the country’s terror threat level to critical, meaning an attack is expected soon.

  • Big data amplify existing police surveillance practices: Study

    The big data landscape is changing quickly, and researchers wonder whether our political and social systems and regulations can keep up. With access to more personal data than ever before, police have the power to solve crimes more quickly, but in practice, the influx of information tends to amplify existing practices.

  • Lax policies governing dual-use research, scientists unaware of research’s biosecurity implications

    The National Academies of Sciences has examined policies and practices governing dual-use research in the life sciences – research that could potentially be misused to cause harm – and its findings identify multiple shortcomings. While the United States has a solid record in conducting biological research safely, the policies and regulations governing the dissemination of life sciences information that may pose biosecurity concerns are fragmented. Evidence also suggests that most life scientists have little awareness of biosecurity issues, the report says, stressing the importance of ongoing training for scientists.

  • Map shows how to disable dangerous bioweapon

    The Centers of Disease Control (CDC) ranks tularemia as one of the six most concerning bioterrorism agents, alongside anthrax, botulism, plague, smallpox and viral hemorrhagic fever. And Russian stockpiles of it likely remain. American scientists studying F. tularensis recently mapped out the complex molecular circuitry that enables the bacterium to become virulent. The map reveals a unique characteristic of the bacteria that could become the target of future drug development.

  • Hezbollah leader declares victory for Syrian regime

    Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said that the Syrian government has won the war in Syria. Speaking at a religious event, Nasrallah said that opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had failed and that now “the path of the other project has failed and wants to negotiate for some minor gains. We have won in the war [in Syria]”. He went on to say that “what remains are pockets of resistance.”

  • Houston's “flood czar” says Harvey has brought the city to a decision point on flood control

    In the wake of Hurricane Harvey’s record floods, the city of Houston is poised to receive billions — maybe even tens of billions — of recovery dollars in the coming years that may cover significant improvements to the city’s woefully inadequate drainage system as well as other projects to reduce flooding. Stephen Costello, Houston’s chief resilience officer, expects to play a big role in how Houston spends it Hurricane Harvey recovery dollars.

  • Shin Bet says 200 terrorist attacks prevented in 2017

    Nadav Argaman, head of the Shin Bet, Israel’s General Security Service, told government ministers that Israel has prevented 200 terrorist attacks from more than 70 local terrorist cells since the beginning of 2017. Argaman said the security reality in the West Bank was “fragile” and “characterized by heightened sensitivity to incidents of a religious hue … with emphasis on the methods of stabbing, ramming and shooting.”

  • Why al-Qaida is still strong sixteen years after 9/11

    Sixteen years ago, on September 11, 2001, al-Qaida conducted the most destructive terrorist attack in history. An unprecedented onslaught from the United States followed. One-third of al-Qaida’s leadership was killed or captured in the following year. The group lost its safe haven in Afghanistan, including its extensive training infrastructure there. Its surviving members were on the run or in hiding. Though it took nearly ten years, the United States succeeded in killing al-Qaida’s founding leader, Osama bin Laden. Since 2014, al-Qaida has been overshadowed by its former ally al-Qaida in Iraq, now calling itself the Islamic State. In other words, al-Qaida should not have survived the sixteen years since 9/11. So why has it?

  • World unprepared to deal with the effects of a thermonuclear attack

    The world is not prepared to deal with the devastating effects of a thermonuclear attack, says an University of Georgia’s Cham Dallas. He said that the development of a hydrogen bomb by North Korea is a transformative event, especially from the point of view of the medical and public health response to a thermonuclear detonation.

  • Antifa says it’s fighting Fascists. It just might be helping to re-elect Donald Trump.

    There’s no consensus of what Antifa, a contraction of “anti-fascist,” stands for, or whether their tactics will achieve their stated goals. The historian Ronald Radosh writes that the German communists used the slogan “After Hitler, Us,” and directed their energy and propaganda not against the Nazis, but against the mainstream socialists. “It didn’t end well,” says Radosh. Antifa emulates many of the actions of the German communists in the 1930s, villifying centrists and liberals who reject antifa’s commitment to violence.

  • Saudi government funded a “dry run” for 9/11: Court documents

    The Saudi embassy in Washington, D.C. paid two Saudis to conduct a “dry run” of the 9/11 attacks, documents submitted by lawyers for plaintiffs in a terrorism case against the Saudi government show. The complaint stated that the Saudi government paid two nationals, posing as students in the United States, to take a flight from Phoenix to Washington in November 1999 in order to test out flight deck security. The two Saudi nationals, whose tickets were paid for by the Saudi embassy, took a flight from Phoenix to Washington, but their persistent questions of the crew about cockpit security, and their several attempts to enter the cockpit, led the pilots to make an emergency landing in Ohio, and the two Saudis were escorted off the plane by FBI agents. The two men were released after an initial interrogation by the FBI.

  • Russia’s broad cyber campaign to undermine Western democracies

    Russia was successful in its disinformation and hacking campaign to help Donald Trump win the November 2016 U.S. presidential election, but the Alliance for Securing Democracy notes that the Russian subversion of the U.S. electoral process was only one of many such attempts, and that it offers an example for the challenges global democracy faces. Russia has interfered in the affairs of at least twenty-seven European and North American countries since 2004, using cyberattacks and disinformation campaigns to subvert and undermine the political systems of these countries.

  • A year before Harvey, Houston-area flood control chief saw no "looming issues"

    Experts say the flooding in the Houston region could have wreaked far less havoc if local officials had made different decisions over the last several decades. But the former head of a key flood control agency strongly disagreed with that take in an interview last year.