North Korea with embedded national flag as if seen from Earth's orbit in space. 3D illustration with highly detailed realistic planet surface.

Technical hurdles seem to be falling away: Five months before North Korea’s first nuclear test in 2006, U.S. intelligence officials sent a report to Congress warning that secret work also was underway on a biological weapon. The communist regime, which had long ago acquired the pathogens that cause smallpox and anthrax, had assembled teams of scientists but seemed to be lacking in certain technical skills, the report said. A decade later, the technical hurdles appear to be falling away. READ MORE

FOOD SECURITY

Silicon Valley paradox: Karla Peralta is surrounded by food. As a line cook in Facebook’s cafeteria, she spends her days preparing free meals for the tech firm’s staff. She’s worked in kitchens for most of her 30 years in the U.S., building a life in Silicon Valley as a single mother raising two daughters. But at home, food is a different story. The region’s soaring rents and high cost-of-living means that even with a full-time job, putting food on the table hasn’t been simple. In a region famed for its foodie culture, where the well-heeled can dine on gold-flecked steaks, $500 tasting menus and $29 loaves of bread, hunger is alarmingly widespread, according to a new study shared exclusively reported in the UK’s Guardian newspaper. READ MORE

CYBER SECURITY

How to shut down the internet: Hundreds of thousands of miles of fiber-optic cable lay on the ocean floors, a crucial part of the global internet’s backbone, and only rarely do ship anchors, undersea landslides or saboteurs disrupt them. Still, a few voices now call for stronger global mechanisms and even military action to protect the cables against future malicious activity by states, saboteurs or extremists. READ MORE

EMERGENCY RESPONSE

Cost of fighting California fires is astronomical: Six major wildfires continue to destroy thousands of acres across Southern California — and the cost of fighting them is running into the tens of millions. The largest, the Thomas Fire, is at nearly 232,000 acres, officials said late Monday — and it now ranks as the fifth largest in California history. The blaze started in Ventura County a week ago and has burned its way to Santa Barbara County. Officials said containment was at about 20 percent Monday night. READ MORE

What caused the fires? On Friday, an army of firefighters in Ventura County hoped it was finally beginning to turn the tide on the Thomas fire. After burning hundreds of homes, the fire was slowing as Santa Ana winds calmed down. But over the weekend, the fire that refuses to die re-emerged with a vengeance, pushing into Santa Barbara County and destroying more homes. Heavy winds are one factor. But another is the thick brush that has not burned in decades, providing fuel. READ MORE

No one spared: Ash fell like snow and heavy smoke had residents gasping for air Monday as a huge Southern California wildfire exploded in size again, becoming the fifth largest in state history and driving celebrities from a wealthy hillside enclave. Tens of thousands have fled their homes as flames churn through foothill towns near Santa Barbara, the latest flare-up after a week of wind-fanned wildfires throughout the region. READ MORE