• CybersecurityUber admitted to covering up massive data breach

    Uber chief executive posted a message on the company’s blog, admitting that an October 2016 cyberattack allowed the hackers to collect personal information like names, driver license numbers, email addresses, phone numbers and more on 57 million Uber users and drivers around the world, including 600,000 Uber drivers in the U.S. The company paid the ransom the hackers demanded; asked them to sign a nondisclosure agreement and keep quiet about the breach; and then dressed up the breach as a “bug bounty,” the practice of paying hackers to test the strength of software security.

  • The Russian connectionRussia sees U.S.-led international order as a threat to its security, interests: Report

    Russia seeks to undermine elements of the current international order because its leaders and analysts see the current international order as dominated by the United States and a threat to their country’s security and interests, according to a new RAND report. U.S. officials have repeatedly described the development of a U.S.-led “rules-based international order,” composed of international economic institutions, bilateral and regional security organizations and liberal political norms, as a core U.S. national interest.

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  • The Russian connectionRussian government’s fission know-how hard at work in Europe

    By David Salvo and Etienne Soula

    The objective of Russia’s broad, systematic disinformation and cyberattacks campaign against Western democracies is ambitious. Moscow has made fragmenting Europe into one of its primary strategic objectives. Dividing European populations from within and turning them against one another via targeted influence operations is a central component of this overarching strategic objective.

     

  • Nuclear disasters & evacuationsEvacuating a nuclear disaster area is often a waste of time and money, says study

    By Philip Thomas

    Over 110,000 people were moved from their homes following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan in March 2011. Another 50,000 left of their own will, and 85,000 had still not returned four-and-a-half years later. While this might seem like an obvious way of keeping people safe, my colleagues and I have just completed research that shows this kind of mass evacuation is unnecessary, and can even do more harm than good. We calculated that the Fukushima evacuation extended the population’s average life expectancy by less than three months. The reality is that, in most cases, the risk from radiation exposure if tpeople stay in their homes is minimal. It is important that the precedents of Chernobyl and Fukushima do not establish mass relocation as the prime policy choice in the future, because this will benefit nobody.

  • GunsStudy examines gun-related deaths and how to prevent them

    A new study suggests various tactics for dealing with each metric of gun-related deaths. The suicide rate can be directly affected by decreasing firearm availability through safe storage practices, and the homicide rate may be decreased by preventing violent crime and deaths following a gun-related injury. Solutions for unintentional firearm-related deaths are linked mainly to education and safety precautions.

  • Mass casualty eventMass casualty training to prepare students for the worst

    Screams were heard as a runaway car plowed through a crowd before the vehicle crashed and the wreckage was engulfed in flames. The chaos was heightened by the sirens from fire trucks and ambulances rushing to the scene. After firefighter cadets from the Houston Fire Department (HFD) subdued the flames, more than 300 students and volunteers from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) rushed onto the smoky field, ready to triage and respond to those injured in the accident. Fortunately, the casualties that played out were all part of a well-scripted scenario, staged at the Houston Fire Department’s Val Jahnke Training Facility, and orchestrated weeks in advance.

  • EpidemicsInfectious diseases: “Deleting” diseases from human bodies

    Gene editing is revolutionizing the bioscience research landscape and holds great promise for “deleting” diseases from human bodies. Sandia National Laboratories is working to make this technology safer and to ensure that one day it can be delivered into humans without triggering adverse immune system reactions or causing other undesirable side effects.

  • EpidemicsIdentifying biomarkers that indicate likelihood of survival in infected patients

    Scientists have identified a set of biomarkers that indicate which patients infected with the Ebola virus are most at risk of dying from the disease. The findings could allow clinicians to prioritize the scarce treatment resources available and provide them to the sickest patients.

  • Our picksGoogle unauthorized data collection; American Nazis; plague risks, and more

    · Leaked report: The Trump administration violated court orders in January’s travel ban

    · Google collects Android users’ locations even when location services are disabled

    · Army looks to replace $6 billion battlefield network after finding it vulnerable

    · The making of an American Nazi

    · Mere seconds saved lives during shooting at California school

    · Homeland Security has a plan to fight Zombie devices

    · The key to better cybersecurity: Keep employee rules simple

    · The plague today: Where the ancient disease is still spreading and how to protect yourself

  • Radioactive leaksRadioactive material, leaked from a Russian nuclear complex, detected over Europe

    The Russian state meteorological agency Roshydromet today released data which show exceedingly high atmospheric concentration of ruthenium-106 in the area where the Rosatom Mayak nuclear complex, located in the Southern Urals. The late-September leak, initially denied by Roasatom, the operator of the complex, caused the radioactive material to spread over northern Europe, where it was detected by IRSN and BfS, the French and German nuclear safety agencies, respectively.

  • GuantanamoGuantanamo was a huge mistake: Former DHS counsel

    The controversial Guantanamo Bay Detention Center has been largely out of the headlines during the last year — that is, until President Donald Trump recently threatened to send New York terror suspect Sayfullo Saipov to the shadowy prison in Cuba. Former President Barack Obama had promised to shut down Guantanamo Bay on various occasions dating back to his 2008 presidential campaign, but failed to do so during his eight years in office. Andy Gordon, who served as counsel to the general counsel at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security from April 2009 to October 2010 and who is now an adjunct professor at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law says: “Guantanamo was a huge mistake with no real forethought, and we will be paying for this for a very long time.”

  • North KoreaWhy nuclear deterrence could work on North Korea

    The same logic that kept a nuclear war from breaking out between the United States and former Soviet Union is the best strategy to now pursue with North Korea, several scholars said last week at Stanford. The discussion revolved around whether North Korea will have the ability to strike the U.S. with nuclear warheads, and can the U.S. depend on a deterrence strategy like it did during the Cold War? Deterrence theory holds that nuclear weapons are intended to deter other states from attacking with their nuclear weapons, through the promise of retaliation and possibly mutually assured destruction.

  • Explosives detectionHomemade Explosive Characterization Program helps keep Americans safe

    Each day almost two million Americans travel on commercial aviation domestically and internationally, and in addition tens of millions use America’s mass transit systems. In recent months, several significant plots to take down commercial aircraft and attack public spaces have been thwarted due to the mitigation efforts of law enforcement and government counter terrorism agencies across the globe. The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) says it is at the forefront of the response to, and mitigation against, such plots against the homeland.

  • Nuclear wasteInvestigating the effectiveness of nanoscale nuclear waste filter

    Nuclear power accounts for roughly 11 percent of the world’s electricity, and researchers are examining more efficient and less expensive methods of capturing radioactive iodine and other common byproducts from the reactors. Researchers are investigating the effectiveness of a nanoscale “sponge” that could help filter out dangerous radioactive particles from nuclear waste.

  • GridPower grid links vulnerable to cascading failures

    In North America, a small set of vulnerable patches within large power grid networks is disproportionately responsible for costly cascading power failures, according to a new study. These vulnerable components, the authors say, are typically geographically close and are often located near densely populated areas.

  • Our picksStopping president-ordered nuclear strike; soldiers as guinea pigs; bioterrorism tests, and more

    · Carter Page held high-level Hungarian meetings for Trump campaign

    · Don’t Count on the cabinet to stop a Trump-ordered nuclear strike

    · The Breakthrough: Used as ‘guinea pigs’ by the U.S. military, then discarded

    · Destroyer of worlds

    · Sonoma County did not consider using mass cellphone alerts to warn of fires, top emergency official says

    · All the times Jared Kushner has failed to tell Congress something important

    · Bioterrorism tests spark fears along the Kansas border

    · In the era of virtual terrorism, all cyber-enabled nations are equal

  • The Russian connectionRussian-operated bots posted millions of social media posts, fake stories during Brexit referendum

    More than 156,000 Twitter accounts, operated by Russian government disinformation specialists, posted nearly 45,000 messages in support of the “Leave” campaign, urging British voters to vote for Brexit – that is, for Britain to leave the European Union. Researchers compared 28.6 million Russian tweets in support of Brexit to ~181.6 million Russian tweets in support of the Trump campaign, and found close similarity in tone and tactics in the Russian government’s U.K. and U.S. efforts. In both cases, the Russian accounts posted divisive, polarizing messages and fake stories aiming to raise fears about Muslims and immigrants. The goal was to sow discord; intensify rancor and animosity along racial, ethnic, and religious lines; and deepen political polarization — not only to help create a public climate more receptive to the populist, protectionist, nationalist, and anti-Muslim thrust of both Brexit and the Trump campaigns, but also to deepen societal and cultural fault lines and fractures in the United Kingdom and the United States, thus contributing to the weakening of both societies from within.

  • The Russian connectionRussia has been cyber-attacking “U.K. media, telecommunications, and energy sectors”: U.K. cybersecurity chief

    Ciaran Martin, CEO of the U.K. National Cyber Security Center (NCSC): “I can confirm that Russian interference, seen by the National Cyber Security Center, has included attacks on the U.K. media, telecommunications and energy sectors. That is clearly a cause for concern — Russia is seeking to undermine the international system.”

  • SyriaRussia vetoes UN chemical weapons investigation in Syria

    In an effort to protect the Assad regime from more damaging revelations about the regime’s use of chemical weapons, Russia, on Thursday and Friday, vetoed two resolutions to extend the mandate of Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), set up by the UN to investigate the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian civil war. JIM’s mandate expired on Friday.

  • DronesCounter UAVs to drive enemy drones out of the sky

    Defense drones to seek out and bring down hostile military UAVs are being developed in Australia. Military drones have changed the landscape of the modern battlefield in recent years, but the technology to counter them has not kept pace. Reacting to this gap in the market the startup is developing two models in Adelaide, South Australia. The first is a compact counter UAV drone with metal rotors that can be stored in a soldier’s pack and launched when an enemy drone is believed to be in the area.

  • Chernobyl disasterNew theory of the opening moments of Chernobyl disaster

    Researchers, relying on new evidence and analysis, have come up with a new theory of the opening moments during the Chernobyl disaster, the most severe nuclear accident in history. The new theory suggests the first of the two explosions reported by eyewitnesses was a nuclear and not a steam explosion, as is currently widely thought.

  • PlaguePlague outbreak: where does it still exist, and could it spread?

    By Allen Cheng

    An outbreak of plague has been occurring in Madagascar, with more than 2,000 cases and 170 deaths reported since August 2017. This island nation is one of the few remaining hotspots for plague in the world, with cases usually reported between September and April each year. It’s not possible to eradicate plague, as it is widespread in wildlife rodents outside the sphere of human influence. Outbreaks generally are managed reactively by “firefighting teams” deployed to clear houses of fleas, identify and treat cases and give pre-emptive treatment to contacts at risk. A more preventative approach, such as the identification of areas at risk using climate models and animal surveys to focus flea and rat control efforts would be better. But this requires a better understanding of transmission pathways in each region where disease persists.