Insects in rapid decline: Nearly half of all insect species worldwide are in rapid decline and a third could disappear altogether, according to a study warning of dire consequences for crop pollination and natural food chains. The recent decline in bugs that fly, crawl, burrow, and skitter across still water is part of a looming “mass extinction,” only the sixth in the last half-billion years. READ MORE
As ISIS fighters disperse: The military defeat of ISIS in the Levant is ongoing, but so is the dispersion of hardened ISIS combatants who are moving out of the Middle East to seek refuge in other parts of the world. One emerging hotbed is the southern Philippines. This situation needs to be watched carefully by companies wishing to do business in the region. READ MORE
Is the future of ISIS female? Simple answer? Yes! And yes, security forces are not prepared. As it has lost power and land over the past year and a half or so, the Islamic State has quietly shifted from insistence on a strict gender hierarchy to allowing, even celebrating, female participation in military roles. READ MORE
The Hoda Muthana story: For the time being, Hoda Muthana remains in limbo. For now, she is a stateless enemy combatant. No nation wants her. There will be a legal challenge, but defending her will not be easy as there is a heavily documented record of her advocating atrocities. At the least, if she is allowed to return she will spend many years in prison. It is highly questionable whether her family will accept her back. The legal question will be whether she was born while her family was under diplomatic status, or was she born an American citizen? Several nations have discussed abrogating citizen status, which was done in the days of the buccaneers. Once declared a pirate, a person lost all legal rights, enabling ship captains to conduct shipboard trials and hang those found guilty. Nations are not suggesting going back in time, but loss of citizenship would be equivalent to banishment, giving the accused no legal right to appeal. This will be an interesting case to watch. READ MORE
A suspect, or just suspicious? The Rapid DNA Act, which was signed into law in 2017, authorizes police to connect their Rapid DNA machines to the DNA records in the CODIS national database. This new approach is raising concerns, however, because the technology isn’t foolproof. In addition, critics say, someone could end up with his DNA in a database simply because he was in the proximity of a crime or looked “suspicious.” Read more HERE and HERE.
About that microphone: Google said Wednesday it forgot to mention that it included a microphone in its Nest Secure home alarm system, the latest privacy flub by one of the tech industry’s leading collectors of personal information. READ MORE
Oklahoma approves new chicken farm rules: The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture has approved new rules covering the locations of chicken farms relative to schools, homes and water sources, although the provisions will not affect farms operating before October 2018. READ MORE
GMO mosquito experiment kicks off: Scientists have launched a major new phase in the testing of a controversial genetically modified organism: a mosquito designed to quickly spread a genetic mutation lethal to its own species, NPR has learned. READ MORE
Unintended consequences: A recent ban by China on the import of items intended for reuse means the U.S. has lost an overseas dumping ground. And that means that plastics, paper and glass set aside for recycling by conscientious Americans is being stuffed into domestic landfills or simply burned in vast volumes. READ MORE
EU might not buy more soybeans: The European Union is warning the U.S. that it will pull back on its commitment to buy more American soybeans if European cars continue to be hit with punitive tariffs. READ MOREB
Tariffs in event of no-deal BREXIT: The government will apply tariffs to food imports to protect British farmers in a no-deal scenario, the environment secretary, Michael Gove, has confirmed. READ MORE
Fake red wine: At least 11,000 bottles of red wine have been seized in Italy for containing a lower quality wine. Europol officials said criminal groups will counterfeit any beverage with no thought of the harmful consequences to human health as long as they continue to profit. READ MORE
Manufacturers more vulnerable to cyberattacks: Manufacturing equipment connected to the network can provide process feedback, predict failure rates, and communicate in real time with a larger manufacturing system. Unfortunately, this digital transformation is causing manufacturers to increasingly become more vulnerable to cyberattacks. READ MORE
Restaurant serves poison mushrooms: A Michelin-starred restaurant in Spain has closed while authorities investigate the death of a woman who ate a dish of mushrooms that can be poisonous if not carefully cooked. READ MORE
What comes next for Venezuela? The fall of this once prosperous nation continues. The Maduro government will not survive. What comes after the Maduro fall (read chaos!) is anyone’s guess. Support for the embattled government is rapidly eroding, now even in surprising places. Russia has started to make moves to protect Russian economic assets from American sanctions, indicating that leadership there may see the inevitable happening sooner than later. Read more HERE, HERE and HERE.