Vladimir Putin has long understood that Russia can easily exploit the cynicism that permeates political perceptions across the West. The use of the Soviet chemical weapon, Novichok, in close proximity to the UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down, hardly seems coincidental. It accomplished two things: 1. By deploying this agent so close to the lab, operatives could be fairly confident that British authorities with the required expertise
After firing Rex Tillerson and choosing Mike Pompeo, the current CIA director, as his next Secretary of State, Trump named Gina Haspel as his choice to become the CIA’s next director. In February 2017, the New York Times reported: As a clandestine officer at the Central Intelligence Agency in 2002, Gina Haspel oversaw the torture of two terrorism suspects and later took part in an order to destroy videotapes documenting
rawpixel.com / shutterstock By Michael Grubb, UCL Science is slow. It rests on painstaking research with accumulating evidence. This makes for an inherently uneasy relationship with the modern media age, especially once issues are politicised. The interaction between politics and media can be toxic for science, and climate change is a prominent example. Take the recent “deep freeze” along the US east coast. To scientists, it was one more piece
Shannon Hall writes: The Toba supereruption [about 74,000 years ago] expelled roughly 10,000 times more rock and ash than the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption. So much ejecta would have darkened skies worldwide, causing scientists to speculate that it might have plunged the Earth into a volcanic winter whose chill could be felt far from Indonesia. Climate models suggest that temperatures may have plummeted by as much as 30 degrees
Michael Gerson writes: One of the most extraordinary things about our current politics—really, one of the most extraordinary developments of recent political history—is the loyal adherence of religious conservatives to Donald Trump. The president won four-fifths of the votes of white evangelical Christians. This was a higher level of support than either Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush, an outspoken evangelical himself, ever received. Trump’s background and beliefs could hardly
‘Being a traitor is one of the most dangerous professions in the world,’ Russian state TV host warns after Skripal poisoning
This is what Russian president Putin said just two days after Skripal was poisoned with a nerve agent: "Those who serve us with poison will eventually swallow it and poison themselves" pic.twitter.com/Qqdz83ElEU — Kremlin Trolls CI (@KremlinTrolls) March 8, 2018 RFERL reports: News of the poisoning of a former Russian military intelligence officer in Britain came slowly to state-run television in Russia. For almost two days after the sudden hospitalization
Zheping Huang reports: Chinese president Xi Jinping has repeatedly told the world that China is ready to lead on issues like free trade and climate change. Now, he’s ready to extend his leadership to political parties everywhere. At the big annual gathering of Chinese lawmakers and political advisors that kicked off March 3, Xi said that China is offering a “new type of political party system”—a Chinese solution that contributes
Ankit Panda writes: North Korea has long sought to be treated as an equal by Washington; nuclear weapons, in addition to the pragmatic survival and deterrence benefits they confer, undoubtedly also bring Pyongyang status. Kim hopes to convert that status into diplomatic capital, sitting down with Trump for a comprehensive discussion about the future of the Korean Peninsula, nuclear weapon state to nuclear weapon state. It’s not clear that the
The Washington Post reports: A U.S. Geological Survey study documenting how climate change has “dramatically reduced” glaciers in Montana came under fire from high-level Interior Department officials last May, according to a batch of newly released records under the Freedom of Information Act, as they questioned federal scientists’ description of the decline. Doug Domenech, assistant secretary for insular areas at Interior, alerted colleagues in a May 10 email to the
The Guardian reports: The dream of nuclear fusion is on the brink of being realised, according to a major new US initiative that says it will put fusion power on the grid within 15 years. The project, a collaboration between scientists at MIT and a private company, will take a radically different approach to other efforts to transform fusion from an expensive science experiment into a viable commercial energy source.
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Tobias Rees and Nils Gilman write: It is a crisis some scientists believe has similar proportions to climate change, but it gets much less coverage: Microbes are disappearing from our bodies. You may have heard that trillions of microbes — bacteria, fungi, viruses, protists — live on every surface of your body as well as inside your mouth, other orifices and your gut. You may have also heard that these
The Washington Post reports: Iranian women have been raising a new challenge to their Islamic government, breaking one of its most fundamental rules by pulling off their headscarves in some of the busiest public squares and brandishing them in protest. While these guerrilla protesters number only in the dozens, Iran’s government has taken notice of their audacity. On Thursday, planned demonstrations to coincide with International Women’s Day were preempted by
BBC News reports: When Sergei Skripal, a former Russian double agent, collapsed suddenly on Sunday in the sleepy cathedral city of Salisbury, there were unavoidable echoes of a messy, high-profile death in London a little over a decade before. In 2006, Alexander Litvinenko, another former Russian agent, was rushed to hospital after collapsing in London. As the world watched, a rare and highly radioactive isotope destroyed Litvinenko’s organs one by