• PolarizationLike Fire and Ice: Why Societies Are Increasingly Fragmenting

    Scientists at the Complexity Science Hub Vienna (CSH) show that the accelerating fragmentation of society - often referred to as filter bubbles - is a direct consequence of the growing number of social contacts. According to their model, societies can only be either cohesive or fragmented. And just as water becomes ice or gas at a certain temperature, a society abruptly changes from one state to the other at certain tipping points. If the basic sociological assumptions are correct, researchers see a huge problem that could endanger our democracies as well as the management of massive challenges such as the climate crisis or future pandemics.

  • Post-election tensionsFive Reasons Trump’s Challenge of the 2020 Election Will Not Lead to Civil War

    By Alexander Cohen

    Some Americans fear that the deep political divisions in the country and President Donald Trump’s determination to challenge the results of the election will cause civil war. Those who object to Trump’s tactics argue that he behaves like an autocrat by delegitimizing sources of information that resist his narrative, demonizing political opponents, supporting political violence, and using courts as political tools Without a doubt, the president’s attempts to undermine faith in the integrity of the election are dangerous to democracy. Yet, for the moment, the system appears poised to hold together. The months ahead will be turbulent, but civil war is unlikely.

  • Election securityTrump Fires Security Chief Who Said 2020 Vote Was “Most Secure” in U.S. History

    By Jeff Seldin

    Barely two weeks after the polls closed in an election he is now projected to lose, President Donald Trump took to Twitter to fire CISA’s director Christopher Krebs, the official responsible for spearheading efforts to secure the vote. Since the 3 November election, Trump, his campaign, and some of his supporters have issued a continuous stream of allegations about the integrity of the election, but evidence of massive voter fraud or other irregularities on a scale necessary to swing the election in Trump’s favor has not materialized. Late last Thursday, a coalition of federal and state officials, including CISA, further rejected the allegations as baseless. Krebs himself had also taken an active role in debunking rumors and unfounded allegations in the days and weeks following the election, taking to Twitter to dismiss some conspiracy theories as “nonsense.”

  • Argument: Legal aspects of cyberwarfareCyberattacks and the Constitution

    The United States has one of the world’s strongest and most sophisticated capabilities to launch cyberattacks against adversaries. How does the U.S. Constitution allocate power to use that capability? And, Matthew Waxman asks, what does that allocation tell us about appropriate executive-legislative branch arrangements for setting and implementing cyber strategy?

  • Contested electionThe Leader Editorial: Let the Election Recount Process Play Out

    In 2000, Vice President Al Gore was losing the State of Florida - and thus the election. But rather than concede, Gore filed lawsuits and demanded selected recounts of counties more favorable to him. The Florida recounts took five weeks, and George Bush ultimately won. But no one begrudged Gore his right to review and contest the results. Donald Trump - and his volunteers and supporters - should be able to review the ballot count without being called sore losers or disrupters.

  • Contested electionHistory Tells Us that a Contested Election Won’t Destroy American Democracy

    By Alexander Cohen

    The United States has a long history of such contested elections. With one exception—the 1860 election, which happened in a unique context and which sparked the Civil War – theses challenges have not badly damaged the American political system. As a political scientist who studies elections, I believe that the fact that President Trump is contesting the results of the November election – and the same could have been said had Joe Biden been the one contesting the election results — American democracy will survive.

  • PERSPECTIVE: Risks of election violenceAn Analytic Framework for Assessing Risks of U.S. Post-Election Violence

    Today and the days ahead are the most consequential period for the United States in at least a generation. Kyle Murphy writes that when he served as a senior analyst for the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, heI developed frameworks to evaluate the risk of election-related instability overseas. “As a National Security Council staff member at the White House, I relied on similar tools to help prepare for and organize U.S. government support for nine elections in West Africa.” He applied these tools to this year’s U.S. presidential election.

  • ARGUMENT: Election tensionsEasing Election-Related Tensions: Lessons for the U.S. from Elections Abroad

    Public officials and the news media have broken through the public consciousness with the message that the results of the election may not be known on the night of 3 November, potentially helping to ease tensions in the immediate aftermath. Rose Jackson writes that there has not, however, been sufficient messaging about what the voting and counting period will look like specifically in each state. “This lack of groundwork creates a dangerous potential for misunderstanding and malfeasance — and by extension, for dangerous disinformation.”

  • PERSPECTIVE: Election Night Reporting (ENR)Preparing for Election Night: Counting and Reporting the Vote in Battleground States

    Disinformation surrounding election night reporting of vote counts poses a unique threat to public confidence in U.S. election results. Jack Caleb and colleagues note that election night reporting (ENR) refers to the real-time report of unofficial results that election officials share with the public after polls close. “This year, ENR may continue several days past Election Day due to the increased use of vote-by-mail and differing timelines among states for when mail-in ballots can be counted,” they write.

  • AsylumU.S. to Consider Overhauling Asylum System

    In an interview with the Associated Press last week, Stephen Miller, the architect of the Trump administration’s immigration policy, said that if Donald Trump wins a second term, the administration  would use agreements with Central American governments — the “Asylum Cooperative Agreements” — as models to get countries around the world, possibly in Africa and Asia, to field asylum claims from people seeking refuge in the United States. The two principles undergirding the projected asylum policy — the First Country of Asylum principle the Safe Third Country principle – form the basis for the Dublin Regulation which governs EU asylum policy.

  • Energy securityReforming Fossil Fuel Subsidies

    Fossil fuels still receive most of the international government support provided to the energy sector despite their “well-known environmental and public health damage,” according to new research. “There is evidence that fossil fuel subsidies are socially inequitable, that they encourage smuggling and waste, and distort economies in ways that undermine economic efficiency while harming the environment and the climate,” says the report’s author.

  • CompetitivenessProposed Student Visa Policy Could Hinder U.S. Competitiveness

    By David L. Di Maria

    In an effort to crack down on international students and scholars who overstay their visas, the administration is seeking to implement a new set of rules that would make it more difficult for them to remain in the U.S. One of the rules requires foreign students to leave the United States after two or four years, regardless of whether they have completed they degree or research work. The rule comes with a steep price tag. It would also undermine America’s interest in attracting talent from abroad and, ironically, it would do little to actually curtail the problem of visa overstays that it purports to solve.

  • GunsThe Case That Could Topple the Gun Industry’s Special Legal Protections

    By Champe Barton

    An opinion handed down in a Pennsylvania appeals court threatens a law that gunmakers have long used as a shield against wrongful-death suits. The court’s opinion quashes an attempt by the Illinois-based gun manufacturer Springfield Armory to dismiss a suit brought by the family of a Pennsylvania teenager killed with one of its guns.

  • ARGUMENT: Cyber insuranceWar, Terrorism, and Catastrophe in Cyber Insurance: Understanding and Reforming Exclusions

    Insurance is one of the most promising tools for addressing pervasive cyber insecurity. A robust market for insuring cyber incidents could, among other things, financially incentivize organizations to adopt better cyber hygiene—thereby reducing cyber risk for society as a whole. But cyber insurance, however, is not yet mature enough to fulfill its potential, Jon Bateman writes, and endless lawsuits hamper its effectiveness. Reforms and new solutions are sorely needed.

  • PandemicIn Europe, Local Leaders Increasingly Frustrated with Pandemic Restrictions

    By Jamie Dettmer

    Across Europe, mayors are also questioning the orthodoxy of lockdowns, arguing that infection rates are trending up even in locked-down towns. They are not going as far as to ignore government instructions, but they are becoming increasingly frustrated with the pandemic restrictions central governments are imposing from on high. Local leaders say they are better placed to know when and how to tighten restrictions, or whether they are needed at all. They fear central governments are not getting the balance right between protecting lives and saving livelihoods and businesses.