• Destabilizing democracyComplex systems help explain how democracies are destabilized

    Complex systems theory is usually used to study things like the immune system, global climate, ecosystems, transportation or communications systems. But with global politics becoming more unpredictable – highlighted by the U.K.’s vote for Brexit and the presidential elections of Donald Trump in the United States and Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil – it is being used to examine the stability of democracies. “There is little work on the circumstances under which instability of democracy might happen. So, we lack the theory to show us how a democracy destabilizes to the point it is not describable as a democracy anymore,” says a researcher.

  • GunsVirginia bill would let cities ban guns from protests

    By Alex Yablon

    The city of Charlottesville, Virginia, was powerless to prevent attendees from carrying guns at last year’s Unite the Right rally. But one of the state’s top officials, Attorney General Mark Herring, thinks he can prevent a similar situation from unfolding in the future.

  • Birthright citizenshipCan birthright citizenship be taken away?

    University of Illinois labor and employment relations professor Michael LeRoy is an expert on immigration and employment law. In a recent interview, LeRoy discusses the implications of President Trump’s bid to potentially end birthright citizenship in the U.S.“After the Civil War, Northern lawmakers had a basic choice: Do we enact laws to end slavery, or do we go beyond and enact laws to achieve America’s ideal that “all men are created equal”? They said yes to both propositions, and part of this idea included birthright citizenship,” LeRoy says.

  • Immigration & social tensionsWhat history reveals about surges in anti-Semitism and anti-immigrant sentiments

    By Ingrid Anderson

    In its early years, the United States maintained an “open door policy” that drew millions of immigrants from all religions to enter the country, including Jews. Between 1820 and 1880, over 9 million immigrants entered America. By the early 1880s, American nativists – people who believed that the “genetic stock” of Northern Europe was superior to that of Southern and Eastern Europe – began pushing for the exclusion of “foreigners,” whom they “viewed with deep suspicion.” As scholar Barbara Bailin writes, most of the immigrants, who were from Southern, Central and Eastern Europe, “were considered so different in composition, religion, and culture from earlier immigrants as to trigger a xenophobic reaction that served to generate more restrictive immigration laws.” The political climate of the interwar period has many similarities with the anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic environment today.

  • Insect AlliesInsect Allies: Friend or foe?

    In 2016 DARPA launched the Insect Allies project, budgeting $45 million over four years to transform agricultural pests into vectors that can transfer protective genes into plants within one growing season. Scientists are concerned that such technology might be used for nefarious purposes. In a recent Science article, the scientists note the profound implications of releasing a horizontal environmental genetic alteration agent – implications that touch on regulatory, economic, biological, security, and societal issues.

  • HateThe Road to Power: Idaho outfit behind rash of racist, anti-Semitic robocalls

    The Road to Power, a white supremacist and anti-Semitic broadcasting outlet based in Sandpoint, Idaho, continues to ramp up its tactic of robocalling communities nationwide with racist, anti-Semitic and bigoted language. The calls, which have targeted communities in California, Idaho, Iowa, Florida and Pennsylvania, seek to exploit current events by disseminating vile, offensive commentary. 

  • HateJewish Labour MP given police escort at her own party’s conference after months of anti-Semitic abuse

    A Jewish Labour MP was forced to rely on police protection at the party’s annual conference that kicked off yesterday, as a colleague said anti-Semitic Labour members should be send to Auschwitz to learn the consequences of hatred towards Jews.

  • Mass shootingsAnxiety surrounding mass shootings closes ideological divides -- briefly

    People who feel anxious surrounding mass shootings tend to abandon their political ideology on typically divided issues, according to a study. Yet policymakers — especially those seeking gun law reforms trying to stem the number of mass shootings — in recent years have largely failed to capitalize on attitudes surrounding this type of anxiety.

  • TransportationRevisiting federal safety regulations for liquid petroleum gas distribution systems

    Current federal safety regulations for small distribution systems used for propane and other liquefied petroleum gases (LPGs) should be improved for clarity, efficiency, enforceability, and applicability to risk, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences.

  • ExtremismGermany’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.

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

    By Alistair Jones

    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.

  • Climate litigationStrategies in U.S. climate litigation

    The courts have played a central role in climate change policy, starting with a landmark Supreme Court case that led to the mandatory regulation of greenhouse gases in the United States. How do the courts address climate cases today? Who wins, who loses and what kinds of strategies make a difference in the courtroom? Pro-regulatory litigants more likely to win renewable energy and energy efficiency cases than those involving coal-fired power plants.

  • Considered opinion: Election questionsWhy political scientists aren’t writing about Russian hackers

    By Robert G. Boatright

    Political scientists who study election mechanics — — campaign finance, what polling data have to do with voting, how different population groups vote, how effective political advertisements are — are yet to come to grips with the role Russian government agents played in the 2016 election. Clark University political scientists Robert Boatright writes that “We don’t have the ability to track exactly what went on over Twitter or Facebook in the election, which accounts were real and which were fake. And … we may not regain the sort of transparency that enabled us to study elections with the precision we once did. We don’t really have any precedent for studying what a foreign government might do to influence an American campaign in this way because it hasn’t been done before in the United States. Maybe we’ll get there in a few years, but for now, all we know is that our research is more likely than usual to be incomplete.”

  • Printable gunsBlocked from distributing plans for 3D-printed guns, "crypto-anarchist" is still in the DIY gun business

    By Matthew Choi

    Cody Wilson’s group Defense Distributed is known for attempting to upload the digital blueprints for 3D-printed guns. But he also helps customers make unregistered, unserialized conventional firearms, from Glocks to AR-15s.

  • Printable gunsInternet publication of 3D printing files about guns: Facts and what’s at stake

    By Kit Walsh

    When it comes to guns, nearly everyone has strong views. When it comes to Internet publication of 3D printed guns, those strong views can push courts and regulators into making hasty, dangerous legal precedents that will hurt the public’s ability to discuss legal, important, and even urgent topics ranging from mass surveillance to treatment of tear gas attacks. Careless responses to 3D-printed guns, even those that will do little to limit their availability, will have long-lasting effects on a host of activities entirely unrelated to guns.