NPR
4 min read

Debate Over Silencers: Hearing Protection Or Public Safety Threat?

There's a wall-long mural in the manufacturing area of SilencerCo, in West Valley City, Utah, that shows a crowd of people with muzzled mouths. One's holding a sign that says, "Fight the Noise." Another says: "Guns don't have to be loud." As a leading manufacturer and seller of gun silencers — or suppressors, as they're more accurately called — SilencerCo wants to quiet guns. Congress may soon help in the effort. Silencers are one of the most heavily regulated products in the gun industry. Lawmakers are pushing legislation that would loosen those long-standing federal regulations, making silen
The Atlantic
2 min read

Why Westminster?

If, as police suspect, the deadly attack near the British Parliament on Wednesday proves to be an act of terrorism, it will depart from the recent pattern of terrorist attacks in the West. In the post-9/11 world of the counterterrorism surveillance state and the internet-radicalized lone-wolf attacker, terrorists typically don’t use sophisticated weapons that might tip off authorities, and it’s easiest not to strike at heavily fortified targets. Instead, they often use easily accessible, relatively crude weapons (knives, guns, vehicles) against “soft” targets (nightclubs, Christmas markets, cr
The Atlantic
5 min read
Politics

Giving the Military More Money Won't Make It Win More

Donald Trump’s military policy is a win-win proposition: The United States will win, and then it will win some more. Last week, the White House released its proposed budget, which calls for $639 billion in defense spending—a $54 billion increase from 2017 levels—along with massive cuts for diplomacy and foreign aid. Congress is likely to amend these plans, but they nevertheless signal how the administration views defense policy. A core tenet of the emerging Trump doctrine is that more military spending will translate into victory on the battlefield. According to the president, “We have to star
NPR
4 min read
Politics

Along Syria-Jordan Border, Refugees Struggle At A Camp Aid Workers Can't Visit

In the middle of the desert, hundreds of miles from the nearest city, 60,000 Syrians are camped out along the Syrian and Jordanian border in what has become one of the biggest and most desperate refugee settlements in the region. Few outsiders have ever seen it. NPR visited an area near the camp last week in a trip organized by the Jordanian military. Aid groups, who have no direct access to the three-year-old camp, track its growth by analyzing satellite images showing thousands of makeshift tents clustered between two berms — earthen embankments in a no-man's land along Jordan's far northeas
Mic
2 min read
Politics

North Korean Missile Tests Continue as U.S. Strikes Hardline Stance

The government of North Korea is touting a "great leap forward" after it successfully tested a new high-thrust rocket engine which could potentially aid the country in its efforts to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of striking the U.S., CNN reported. North Korea formally insists the rockets are for its space program. In a statement, leader Kim Jong-un called the test "historic" and added the whole world would "soon witness what eventful significance the great victory won today carries." North Korea tested several rockets this month, including four on March 6, and other co
The Atlantic
21 min read
Politics

The Denationalization of American Muslims

On March 6, the zoning board in Bayonne, New Jersey, turned down a request to convert an old warehouse into a mosque. Such denials are happening with increasing frequency in the United States. In the 10 years between 2000 and 2010, the Justice Department intervened seven times against local communities that prevented Muslims from building mosques or other religious institutions. In the six years between 2010 and 2016, that number jumped to 17. At the zoning board meeting, one woman called Islam a “so-called religion.” Residents claimed the Muslim Brotherhood would control the mosque. The Faceb
The Atlantic
11 min read
Politics

North Korean Nukes and the Grand International-Relations Experiment in Asia

“We are about to run an experiment,” the international-relations scholar Robert Jervis recently observed of the Trump presidency. Scholars of international politics, he wrote, “bemoan the fact that our sub-field cannot draw on the experimental method.” But with an American president whose stated views on international relations differ so dramatically from those of his recent predecessors, even while many features of the international environment Jervis has studied for decades remain constant, “now we can.” An important piece of the experiment has been ongoing for weeks as the Trump administrat
The Atlantic
9 min read
Politics

Do Liberals Have an Answer to Trump on Foreign Policy?

Chris Murphy sensed well before most people that the 2016 election would largely revolve around U.S. foreign policy. Not foreign policy in the narrow, traditional sense—as in, which candidate had the better plan to deal with Russia or defeat ISIS. Rather, foreign policy in its most primal sense—as in, how America should interact with the world beyond its borders and how Americans should conceive of nationhood in an age of globalization. On issues ranging from trade to terrorism to immigration, Donald Trump reopened a debate on these broad questions, which candidates from both parties had previ
NPR
4 min read

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte Has A New Adversary — The Church

It's 5 a.m. on a Sunday morning. The sun's not yet up, but the early mass at Santo Nino de Tondo Church is bursting with people, every pew packed, with hundreds more standing in the aisles as Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo delivers his sermon. The church is in Tondo, one of Manila's most densely populated and poorest neighborhoods — one that has figured prominently in President Duterte's bloody war on drugs. That war has claimed more than 7,500 lives in the past eight months. And in February, it prompted the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines to issue a rare pastoral letter —
NPR
2 min read

Suicide Bomber Strikes Damascus' Main Judicial Building, Killing Dozens

Editor's Note: The following images contain graphic content. Suicide bombers attacked a judicial building and a restaurant in Damascus on Wednesday, killing more than two dozen people as the country marked the sixth anniversary of its civil war. In one attack, a suicide bomber detonated explosives inside the main judicial building in the capital city. The Associated Press reports that a man arrived at the gates of the Palace of Justice with grenades and a shotgun. Guards stopped him and seized those weapons, but when they attempted to search him, the man threw himself inside the building and
Nautilus
5 min read
Science

Civilization Is Built on Code

How did we humans manage to build a global civilization on the cusp of colonizing other planets? It seems like such an unlikely outcome. After all, we were prone to cycles of war and famine for millennia, and have a meager capacity for society-wide planning and coordination—among other problems. Maybe it’s our unique capacity for complex language and story-telling, which allow us to learn in groups; or our ability to extend our capabilities through technology; or political and religious institutions we have created. However, perhaps the most significant answer is something else entirely: code
Popular Science
4 min read

How to Build a Steam-Powered Cannon Invented by Da Vinci

MIT Da Vinci’s Architronito A selection from Paris Manuscript B, in which Da Vinci sketched his plans for the Architronito Leonardo da Vinci, best known to modern audiences as an artist and Renaissance man, actually made his living as a military engineer. Da Vinci designed a number of highly original weapons, filling his notebooks with drawings and sketches for devices such as the first flintlock rifle, a 135-foot-wide rock-throwing catapult, and a rapid-firing repeater crossbow. One of his most interesting concepts was a steam-powered cannon. Da Vinci called this invention the Architronito (w
NPR
3 min read

Why The Famine In South Sudan Keeps Getting Worse

Things are spiraling downward in South Sudan, one of four nations where, according to the U.N., the greatest humanitarian crisis since 1945 is unfolding. And in the case of South Sudan, it's not drought or climate change that's causing the catastrophe. It's civil war. Last month the U.N. declared a famine in two parts of the country and warned that nearly half the population is in urgent need of food assistance. Soon after this declaration, the American relief agency Samaritan's Purse was forced to pull most of its staff out of one of the famine-stricken zones because of fighting in the area.
Newsweek
11 min read
Politics

The Race to Save Jewish Heritage in the Middle East

On a sunny morning in February 2016, Sami Solmaz, a Kurdish filmmaker from Turkey, took a ride with Kurdish forces from the Iraqi town of Sinjar to the front lines. He spent the day filming gun battles between Kurdish fighters and the Islamic State militant group for a documentary he was making on ISIS attacks against religious minorities. That afternoon, as he was heading back to town, he heard a soldier’s voice crackle over his driver’s radio: “Be careful! ISIS is firing chlorine bombs into Sinjar.” The militant group had been launching homemade rockets filled with chemicals toward Sinjar s
Popular Science
3 min read

Drones, Lasers, and Tanks: China Shows off Its Latest Weapons

Hongjian via China Defense Forum VT-4 MBT The VT-4 tank is the most high-tech tank offered by China. It boasts increased balancing armor, firepower, protection, and sensors. At the International Defense Exhibition and Conference, one of the world's largest arms fairs, weapons-makers from around the world show off their latest. At this year's show in Dubai, China flaunted a range of high-tech weaponry spread across over 16,000 square feet of floor space. Included: S-20 attack submarines, FC-31 stealth fighter jets, and updates to laser and drone weaponry. Huanqiu Silent Hunter The Silent Hunter
Newsweek
4 min read
Politics

Yemen: Why Women Fought Against the Navy SEALs

Updated | The first counterterrorism operation authorized by President Donald Trump quickly went awry. In late January, Navy SEAL Team 6 and United Arab Emirates special forces attacked Al-Qaeda insurgents in Yemen, but the militants spotted the approaching Americans and an hourlong firefight ensued. One SEAL died and three others were injured, and Yemeni officials claim that between 13 and 16 civilians were killed—including at least eight women and children. Those numbers are still being verified, but the dead reportedly included the 8-year-old daughter of Anwar al-Awlaki, the U.S.-born forme
TIME
3 min read
Politics

Dealing With North Korea Is a Team Sport, and the U.S. Needs China on Its Side

LET’S START WITH THE NUMBERS: FIVE. TEN. SIX HUNDRED. That’s five nuclear tests in the past decade; enough plutonium to make 10 nuclear warheads; and the ability to launch ballistic missiles at least 600 miles, and perhaps far longer. That’s the arsenal at the disposal of North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. Emphasis on un—untested, unlearned and unpredictable. He is also, at 32, relatively young, morbidly obese, possibly addicted to opioids and possessed of a really bad haircut. But he is not irrational, a mistake some observers make. He follows priorities learned from his father and grandfather—ruthle
TIME
1 min read
Politics

Al-Qaeda Is Gathering Strength as Yemen Burns

JARED MALSIN/ISTANBUL THE LEADER OF AL-QAEDA’S BRANCH in Yemen called for attacks on the U.S. after a Jan. 29 Special Forces raid in which several civilians were killed, as well as a U.S. Navy SEAL. In an audio message, Qassim al-Rimi, leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), scorned Donald Trump as the “new fool of the White House.” Here, how a powerful enemy has regrouped: THRIVING IN CHAOS AQAP has benefited from the security vacuum created by Yemen’s ongoing civil war. As military forces backed by a Saudi Arabia–led coalition battle the Houthi rebels who seized much of the cou
Nautilus
10 min read
Religion & Spirituality

Atheism, the Computer Model: Big data meets history to forecast the rise and fall of religion.

In the United States, the nones have it. The nones being people with no organized religion and increasingly no belief in God or a universal spiritual power. They have the momentum, attention, and an expectation that in the future they will become a majority of the population, just as they currently are in western Europe, Japan, and China. Or so says the Pew Research Religious Landscape Study, which in 2015 found that almost a quarter of Americans profess no religious affiliation. Within that group, a third do not believe in God or a higher power of any sort (“nothing in particular,” as the stu
Popular Science
4 min read

What's Next for the Drone War?

Christian Clausen, United States Air Force MQ-9 Reaper A Reaper at Creech Air Force Base, in Nevada. On Jan. 20, the drone war entered its third Administration. Over the inaugural weekend, American drones fired missiles at suspected Al Qaeda fighters in Yemen, killing five people. The drone war, that is, the popular, unmanned-vehicle term for America’s strategy of targeted killing, is an outgrowth of President George W. Bush’s war on terror, a vestigial organ that became the centerpiece for the Obama administration’s eight years of low-intensity warfare. With much of American national security
TIME
3 min read
Politics

‘It All Looks as if the World Is Preparing for War’

THE WORLD TODAY IS OVERWHELMED WITH PROBLEMS. Policymakers seem to be confused and at a loss. But no problem is more urgent than the militarization of politics and the new arms race. Stopping and reversing this ruinous race must be our top priority. The current situation is too dangerous. More troops, tanks and armored personnel carriers are being brought to Europe. NATO and Russian forces and weapons that used to be deployed at a distance are now placed closer to each other, as if to shoot point-blank. While state budgets are struggling to fund people’s essential social needs, military sp
TIME
2 min read
Politics

Ticker

Transgender Boy Scouts allowed The Boy Scouts of America changed its policy to allow transgender children who identify as boys to enroll in its boys-only programs. The move comes after a recent case in Secaucus, N.J., where an 8-year-old transgender child was asked to leave his Scout troop. U.S. soldier dies in Yemen attack One U.S. soldier died and three were injured after a raid on an al-Qaeda stronghold in central Yemen that killed 14 militants. White House press secretary Sean Spicer said “a tremendous amount” of intelligence was obtained. Myanmar leader’s adviser killed Prominent law
Popular Science
6 min read

No One Knows the Best Way to Stop a Drone

Elize McKelve, U.S. Marine Corps Marine prepares to launch an RQ-11 drone in Kuwait The RQ-11 is a hand-tossed drone, designed as a secure and nimble scout. It is far more expensive than the commercial, off-the-shelf drones used by insurgent groups like ISIS. This year, the world saw a long-theorized weapon in action: a commercial drone, like a person might find at Best Buy, dropping a bomb on a target in Iraq. These drone bombers, used by the ultra-violent quasi-state ISIS in Iraq and Syria, are the flashiest combination of modern technologies with the modern battlefield. Cheap, camera-carryi
Bloomberg Businessweek
2 min read
Politics

Donald Trump Heads For The War In Syria

For almost half a decade, the world’s only superpower has mostly abdicated its role in helping to resolve the world’s most consequential conflict. Now Barack Obama’s excessive caution about Syria has given way to Donald Trump’s unstrategic uncertainty. Does this qualify as an improvement? It’s certainly good news that Russia has invited the U.S. to participate in Syrian peace talks, along with representatives from Turkey and Iran. But Trump—who claimed during the campaign to have a “foolproof” plan to defeat Islamic State quickly—will soon face some tough choices. He’s apparently open to cre
Newsweek
17 min read
Politics

The Truth Behind the Last Battle of Vietnam

Tap, tap tap. Scott Standfast knocked on the door again. He’d been at it for several minutes, standing in front of a one-story brick house in Niceville, Florida, on a warm, dry day in November 2015. The then-59-year-old former Marine and his wife had driven more than 11 hours to get here, hoping to answer a question that’s haunted him for 40 years. He knocked again. This time, harder. Boom, boom, boom! Still no answer. About four decades ago, Standfast fought in the last battle of the Vietnam War, and his memory of it is sharp—from the location of enemy positions to the smothering jungle foli
Bloomberg Businessweek
4 min read
Politics

The War In Yemen Tests Saudi Arabia’s Clout

Glen Carey, with Nafeesa Syeed That Saudi Arabia has better weapons than its enemies in Yemen is no surprise. That one of the richest Arab countries is nonetheless struggling to get its way in one of the poorest is. “From the start of the war, the threat changed and increased,” said Saudi Colonel Massoud Ali al-Shwaf on Dec. 8, adding that his border guards come under regular attack while patrolling the frontier along Saudi Arabia’s Najran province, where mountain ravines and desert expanses make it challenging at the best of times to stop infiltration and smuggling. “We have the casualties
Newsweek
7 min read

Hezbollah Is the Real Winner of the Battle of Aleppo

In a sparse, one-room hideout in Dahiyeh, a Shiite suburb of Beirut, Ali, a stout, friendly-looking man in his early 50s, sits on an iron-framed bed. A pistol is holstered on his hip, and an M-16 rests on a nearby table. His friend, a grizzled man of about the same age, stands watch at the door. Ali, who asked to be known by a pseudonym because he is not authorized to speak with the press, pulls out his smartphone and plays a video he recorded in Aleppo, Syria. In it, he’s dressed in camouflage, carrying a large machine gun and crouching behind a thicket with three other fighters. The sound of
TIME
3 min read
Politics

The U.S. Should Form a Closer Military Alliance With Israel

THE U.S. SPENDS A GREAT DEAL OF TIME FOCUSING ON THE military capabilities represented by the Middle Eastern nations it rightly considers threats: Iran and Syria. And we correctly spend much political and military capital working with our Arab allies and partners, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain. But our best military partner in the region, by far, is Israel—a point that has been lost amid the fury and posturing over President Obama’s condemnation of settlements and Donald Trump’s announcement of both an ambassador and the decision to move our e
People
2 min read

Mom On A Mission

Like millions of other moms who sent their kids off to school on Dec. 14, 2012, stay-at-home Indiana mom Shannon Watts watched in horror as news alerts about an elementary school shooting began to flash across her TV screen. “I thought, ‘God, please don’t let this be as bad as it looks,’ ” says Watts, 46. When she learned that 20 first graders and six adults had been fatally shot at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., “I was in tears.” While she feared for the safety of her own five children, she says, “I couldn’t believe this was happening in America. I thought, ‘Our nation is bet
People
1 min read

Crisis In Aleppo

NICOLE WEISENSEE EGAN The images are heartbreaking. Adults and children alike huddled together against the bitter cold, covered in dust, amid the rubble of what used to be the Syrian city of Aleppo—once a booming economic center that has fallen to ruin under relentless bombings in a four-year-old civil war between rebels and progovernment forces. Now, following a Dec. 13 cease-fire, thousands of people (as of press time)—many of them wounded, sick and starving—are still desperately awaiting evacuation from a ravaged city that, just last week, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calle