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Young men who leave their home countries to fight in the ranks of ISIS and other terrorist groups in Syria mainly come from disadvantaged backgrounds, have low levels of education and vocational skills, and “lack any basic understanding of the true meaning of jihad or even the Islamic faith,” according to a new report by the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism. The study found that most of these fighters were “novices” in their religion and some did not know how to pray properly. “Religious belief seems to have played a minimal role in the motivation of this FTF sample,” the report concludes. Rather than being motivated by religion, many of the those who left for Syria were motivated by a sense of identity with and a desire to help co-religionists who were perceived as victimized. Specifically, those who left Europe for Syria felt empathy with the Sunni communities in Syria which are seen as being under attack.

Radicalization Marginalization, discrimination contribute to feelings of radicalization

Muslim immigrants who feel marginalized and discriminated against in countries that expect them to integrate into their culture and society are more likely to experience psychological threats to their own significance that could be related to increased support of radicalism, according to new research. Marginalization and discrimination were found to predict feelings of insignificance, which became stronger with the experience of more discrimination and, in turn, predicted an attraction to fundamentalist groups and its extreme behavior, the research found.

Bioresearch security DNA sequencing tools vulnerable to cybersecurity risks

Rapid improvement in DNA sequencing has sparked a proliferation of medical and genetic tests that promise to reveal everything from one’s ancestry to fitness levels to microorganisms that live in your gut. A new study finds evidence of poor computer security practices used throughout the field. Researchers have also demonstrated for the first time that it is possible — though still challenging — to compromise a computer system with a malicious computer code stored in synthetic DNA . When that DNA is analyzed, the code can become executable malware that attacks the computer system running the software.

The Russian connection Refusal to accept reality of Russian hacking hobbles U.S. cyber defense efforts: Experts

The evidence of a broad, systemic effort by Russian government hackers and disinformation specialists – on instructions from President Vladimir Putin to undermine the U.S. electoral process and ensure a Trump victory in November 2016 is incontrovertible, and it is mounting. The evidence has not persuaded President Donald Trump, however. He cites Putin’s denial of the Russian cyber effort as a reason why he – Trump does not trust the unanimous conclusions of the U.S. intelligence community. Cyber experts say that Trump’s refusal to accept the reality of the 2016 Russian government hacking and disinformation campaign is creating a dangerous policy vacuum. This vacuum, the security experts fear, is only encouraging more cyber warfare.

Cybersecurity Protecting the power grid from low-budget attacks

Cyberattacks against power grids and other critical infrastructure systems have long been considered a threat limited to nation-states due to the sophistication and resources necessary to mount them. Last week, at the Black Hat USA 2017 conference in Las Vegas, a team of researchers challenged that notion by disclosing vulnerabilities in a component that combined with publicly available information provide sufficient information to model an advanced, persistent threat to the electrical grid.

Ebola Ebola no longer a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern”: WHO

On Tuesday the WHO officials met to consider the Ebola virus disease ( EVD ) outbreak in West Africa, and to decide whether the event continues to constitute a Public Health Emergency of International Concern ( PHEIC ) and whether the current Temporary Recommendations should be extended, rescinded, or revised. WHOconcluded that Ebola transmission in West Africa no longer constitutes an extraordinary event, that the risk of international spread is now low, and that countries currently have the capacity to respond rapidly to new virus emergences. Accordingly, the Ebola situation in West Africa no longer constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, and the temporary recommendations adopted in response should now be terminated.

Cybersecurity Applied cybersecurity research for better protection of critical national infrastructure sectors

DHS S T awarded a five-year Other Transaction Agreement ( OTA ), with a maximum value of $70 million, to Arlington, Virginia-based Cyber Apex Solutions, LLC , to facilitate applied research of prototype cyberdefenses for critical national infrastructure sectors.

North Korea North Korean missiles can reach major U.S. cities beyond West Coast

Based on current information, the recent missile test by North Korea could easily reach the U.S. West Coast and a number of major U.S. cities beyond the West Coast. News reports say that North Korea again launched its missile on a very highly lofted trajectory, which allowed the missile to fall in the Sea of Japan rather than overflying Japan. The reports also say the maximum altitude of the launch was 3,700 km (2,300 miles) with a flight time of about 47 minutes. If those numbers are correct, the missile flown on a standard trajectory would have a range 10,400 km (6,500 miles), not taking into account the Earth’s rotation.

Immigration Undocumented immigration does not worsen drug, alcohol problems in U.S.: Study

Despite being saddled with many factors associated with drug and alcohol problems, undocumented immigrants are not increasing the prevalence of drug and alcohol crimes and deaths in the United States, according to a new study. According to the study, rather than increasing substance abuse problems, a 1 percent increase in the proportion of the population that is undocumented is associated with 22 fewer drug arrests, 42 fewer drunken driving arrests and 0.64 fewer drug overdoses — all per 100,000 people. The frequency of drunken driving fatalities was unaffected by unauthorized immigration rates.

Guns Treating gun-shot victims: Initial hospital costs just “tip of the iceberg”

Gun violence resulted in initial hospitalization costs of more than $6.6 billion nationwide from 2006 through 2014 — an average of $734.6 million per year, according to a new study.The $6.6 billion figure is just the tip of the iceberg: It does not include costs of emergency room visits or hospital readmissions.American tax payers bear about 40 percent of the total costs of treating victims of gun violence.

First responders Better technologies help first responders respond more quickly, safely, and effectively

When disaster strikes, first responders rush in to provide assistance. In addition to their courage and training, they depend on a panoply of technologies to do their jobs. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has partnered with emergency management and public safety professionals to define, develop, test and deploy these technologies to improve response and recovery. The Lab also applies its scientific capabilities to assess emergencies as they unfold.

Rare earth materials Magnets manufactured entirely from U.S.-sourced rare earths

Rare-earth magnets are used in a wide and ever-increasing number of modern technologies, and the ability to produce them domestically could have broad positive impact on national economy and security. The Critical Materials Institute, a U.S. Department of Energy Innovation Hub, has fabricated magnets made entirely of domestically sourced and refined rare-earth metals.

Grid New tool could ease burden on U.S. overworked energy grid

Home may be where we can make the most difference when it comes to American energy usage — households account for nearly one-third of the country’s overall power consumption according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. A new model may be just the answer to help government and industry leaders alleviate our overworked energy infrastructure.

Food security Farming practices require dramatic changes to keep pace with climate change

Major changes in agricultural practices will be required to offset increases in nutrient losses due to climate change. To combat repeated, damaging storm events, which strip agricultural land of soil and nutrients, farmers are already adopting measures to conserve these assets where they are needed. Researchers investigating nutrients in runoff from agricultural land warn that phosphorus losses will increase, due to climate change, unless this is mitigated by making major changes to agricultural practices.

Livestock disease Helping prepare for livestock disease outbreaks

The United States is the world’s largest producer of beef. In 2015, the latest year data is available, the beef industry was valued at $105 billion Protecting millions of cattle from potential disease outbreaks is thus a crucial part of our nation’s economic security, as well as a public health priority. Two new web-based tools funded by the DHS S T are making it easier for public officials and livestock farmers to predict cattle shipments and prepare for potential disease outbreaks.


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