• Atomwaffen, extremist group whose members have been charged in five murders, loses some of its platforms

    At least four technology companies have taken steps to bar Atomwaffen Division, a violent neo-Nazi organization, from using their online services and platforms to spread its message or fund its operations. The action comes after ProPublica reports detailing the organization’s terrorist ambitions and revealing that the California man charged with murdering Blaze Bernstein, a 19-year-old college student found buried in an Orange County park earlier this year, was an Atomwaffen member.

  • Using artificial intelligence to predict criminal aircraft

    The ability to forecast criminal activity has been explored to various lengths in science fiction, but does it hold true in reality? It could for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). ) DHS S&T is developing a Predictive Threat Model (PTM) to help CBP’s Air and Marine Operations Center (AMOC) more quickly and efficiently identify and stop nefarious aircraft.

  • New framework for guiding controversial research still has worrisome gaps

    In December the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) release lifted the funding moratorium on Gain of Function (GoF) research, following the controversial projects involving H5N1 in 2011. The “Framework for guiding funding decisions about proposed research involving enhanced potential pandemic pathogens” is similar to the January 2017 “P3C0 Framework,” and it came with the bonus of restoring funding for such research – but there are still considerable concerns with how GoF research is evaluated and if these frameworks have really addressed the gaps.

  • Large-scale study on gun-policy effects finds gaps in existing research, with a few exceptions

    The United States has the highest gun ownership rate in the world, with estimates suggesting that Americans own as many as 300 million guns. More than 36,000 people died of gunshot wounds in the U.S. in 2015, and Americans are 25 times more likely to die by gun homicide than residents of other wealthy countries. One of the largest-ever studies of U.S. gun policy finds there is a shortage of evidence about the effects of most gun laws, although researchers from the RAND Corporation found there is some persuasive evidence about the effects of several common gun policies.

  • Making U.S. health sector more resilient to major disasters

    The health sector in the United States would be far better positioned to manage medical care needs during emergencies of any scale by empowering existing healthcare coalitions to connect community resilience efforts with a network of hospitals equipped to handle disasters, according to a new report. The report’s authors found that while the U.S. health sector is reasonably well prepared for relatively small mass injury/illness events that happen frequently (for example, tornadoes, local disease outbreaks), it is less prepared for large-scale disasters (e.g., hurricanes) and complex mass casualty events (for example, bombings) and poorly prepared for catastrophic health events (for example, severe pandemics, large-scale bioterrorism).

  • Putin: Russia has missiles that can evade antimissile defenses

    Russian President Vladimir Putin says his country has developed and successfully tested new nuclear weapons, including a nuclear-powered cruise missile and a nuclear-powered underwater drone, that would be immune, the Russian leader claimed, to enemy intercept. In his annual address in Moscow on 1 March, Putin said that the newly developed intercontinental ballistic missile Sarmat had an unlimited range and was capable of penetrating any antimissile system. Using graphics and video, Putin said a new deep-water missile could be launched from submarines and target both aircraft carriers and coastal facilities and, he claimed, be impossible to track.

  • If you want to know how to stop school shootings, ask the Secret Service

    While President Donald Trump has not shied away from offering suggestions on how to prevent school shootings – including one controversial idea to arm teachers – what often gets overlooked in the conversation is research on the subject that has already been done. This research includes one major study of school shootings conducted in part by the very agency charged with protecting the president of the United States himself - the U.S. Secret Service. Has this research been ignored or just forgotten?

  • Another mass shooting: An update on U.S. gun laws

    “The problem of mass shootings has been effectively addressed in other countries, with Australia being the most notable success story,” says Stanford Law Professor John Donohue III. “After a devastating mass shooting in 1996, Australia banned all semi-automatic rifles (a move far more stringent than the U.S. federal assault weapons ban), with no grandfathering of existing weapons––it was a real ban. The result is that Australia, which had been averaging close to one mass shooting a year over the prior fifteen years (a rate that was higher than the U.S. rate of mass murder at the time when adjusted for population), has now gone almost twenty-two years without a mass shooting––an astonishing achievement of public policy.” Donohue adds that Australia took many additional gun control steps, such as banning “personal protection” as a reason for obtaining a gun permit. “Importantly, their rates of homicide, suicide, and robbery have all trended down contrary to the assertions and predictions of the NRA,” Donohue says.

  • Growing severity of U.S. firearm injuries requiring hospitalization since early 1990s

    From 1993 to 2014, 648,662 people were admitted to U.S. hospitals for non-fatal firearm injuries. An analysis of these cases show an annual increase in severity of non-fatal firearm injuries needing hospital admission across the United States since the early 1990s. This increase “reflects a move towards hospitalization of more serious injuries, and outpatient management of less serious injuries across the board, suggesting a mounting burden on the U.S. healthcare system,” say the researchers.

  • Iran building new military base near Damascus

    Iran is building a new military base eight miles northwest of Damascus. Satellite images show what is believed to be a new base with warehouses – each roughly 18m x 27m – which could store short and medium-range missiles. Western intelligence officials say that the base contains hangars used to stockpile missiles “capable of hitting all of Israel”. According to a Fox News report, members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard’s special operations Quds Force are operating the base. The new base is similar to one established by the Iranians near the town of al-Kiswah, 15 km southwest Damascus, which was hit by Israeli airstrikes last December.

  • Protecting soldiers from blast-induced brain injury

    Researchers have developed a new military vehicle shock absorbing device that may protect warfighters against traumatic brain injury (TBI) due to exposure to blasts caused by land mines. During Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, more than 250,000 warfighters were victims of such injuries. Prior to this study, most research on blast-induced TBI has focused on the effects of rapid changes in barometric pressure, also known as overpressure, on unmounted warfighters.

  • U.S. firefighters and police turn to an Israeli app to save lives

    When Hurricane Irma hit the Florida Keys in September 2017, the new First Response app from Israeli-American company Edgybees helped first-responders identify distress calls in flooded areas. When wildfires hit Northern California a month later, the app steered firefighters away from danger. This lifesaving augmented-reality app — designed only months before as an AR racing game for drone enthusiasts — is now used by more than a dozen fire and police departments in the United States, as well as the United Hatzalah emergency response network in Israel.

  • New challenge for first responders: Fake News

    First responders must find ways to address a new challenge: Not only do they have to deal with floods, storms, fires, earthquakes, active shooter events, and other natural and manmade crises – now they also have to find ways to deal with fake news. Social media may disseminate valuable and helpful information during disasters and extreme events – but it may also be used to spread fake news: disinformation and misinformation about the scope, nature, and sources, and location of a disaster or extreme incident. Such misinformation may not only confuse victims and potential victims, but also confuse and mislead first responders who rush to their rescue.

  • The “right-wing terrorist threat” in U.K. more significant, challenging than the public realizes: U.K.'s counterterrorism chief

    The right-wing terrorist threat is more significant and more challenging than perhaps the public debate gives it credit for,” the U.K.’s counterterrorism chief has said. “There are many Western countries that have extreme right-wing challenges and in quite a number of those the groups we are worried about here are making connections with them and networking,” he said, declining to give further details. Last year the British authorities foiled ten Islamist and four far-right terrorist plots.

  • Why Trump’s idea to arm teachers may miss the mark

    President Donald Trump’s proposal to arm teachers has sparked substantial public debate. As researchers of consumer culture and lead authors of a recent study of how Americans use and view firearms for self-defense, we argue that while carrying a gun may reduce the risk of being powerless during an attack, it also introduces substantial and overlooked risks to the carrier and others. Despite the widespread news coverage of mass shootings at schools, the reality is that school shootings are still a rare occurrence. In an FBI study of 160 active shooter incidents that FBI identified between 2000 and 2013, 27 – or about 17 percent – occurred at elementary, middle, and high schools. Given that rarity, the challenges of effectively using a gun to neutralize a shooter without taking additional lives, and added day-to-day risks, we argue that Trump’s proposal would not be effective in making schools safer overall for teachers or students.