• New FDA initiative to reduce overuse of antibiotics in animals met with skepticism

    Each year more than 2 million Americans suffer infections from bacteria that cannot be treated by one or more antibiotics—and at least 23,000 die. Approximately 70 percent of all medically important antibiotics in the United States are sold for use in food-producing animals. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced last week that the agency will soon be implementing a 5-year blueprint to advance antimicrobial stewardship in veterinary settings. The FDA wants to further its efforts to reduce the overuse of antimicrobial drugs and combat the rising threat of antimicrobial resistance. Critics charge the new FDA’s initiative is too timid.

  • SAFETY Act at 15: 1,000 qualified antiterrorism technologies approved

    For fifteen years now, the S&T Office of SAFETY Act Implementation (OSAI,) under the Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies (SAFETY) Act, has been approving anti-terrorism technologies for liability protections. It has so far approved more than 1,000 Qualified Anti-Terrorism Technologies.

  • The West is ill-prepared for the wave of “deep fakes” that artificial intelligence could unleash

    Russian disinformation has become a growing problem for Western countries. European nations are finally taking action, which is an important first step, but Chris Meserole and Alina Polyakova write “to get ahead of the problem, policymakers in Europe and the United States should focus on the coming wave of disruptive technologies. Fueled by advances in artificial intelligence and decentralized computing, the next generation of disinformation promises to be even more sophisticated and difficult to detect.” Bigger data, better algorithms, and custom hardware promise to democratize the creation of fake print, audio, and video stories. “Deep fakes and the democratization of disinformation will prove challenging for governments and civil society to counter effectively,” Meserole and Alina Polyakova warn.

  • HART: Homeland Security’s massive new database will include face recognition, DNA, and peoples’ “non-obvious relationships”

    The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is quietly building what will likely become the largest database of biometric and biographic data on citizens and foreigners in the United States. The agency’s new Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology (HART) database will include multiple forms of biometrics—from face recognition to DNA, data from questionable sources, and highly personal data on innocent people. It will be shared with federal agencies outside of DHS as well as state and local law enforcement and foreign governments. And yet, we still know very little about it.

  • Here’s why Trump’s new strategy to keep ailing coal and nuclear plants open makes no sense

    President Donald Trump recently ordered Energy Secretary Rick Perry to take “immediate steps” to stop the closure of coal and nuclear power plants. The proposal is premised on these power plants being essential to national security. To be sure, the coal and nuclear industries are in trouble. Thirty-six coal plants have retired since Trump was elected, and another 30 will close in the coming months. More than 1 in 10 of the nation’s nuclear reactors are likely to be decommissioned by 2025. But experts are not worried about any electricity shortages or outages between now and 2025. The Energy Department’s own assessment of whether the ongoing wave of coal and nuclear plant retirements are threatening grid reliability, found no cause for alarm. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission unanimously rejected an earlier proposal for the tax-payers to subsidize these declining industries. In short, there is no emergency that justifies this unprecedented intrusion into the electricity markets that would warrant forcing taxpayers and utilities to pay a premium to keep coal and nuclear plants online. The only “emergencies” are the financial woes of the plant owners caused by the rapid decline coal consumption and the nuclear industry’s weak outlook.

  • Mapping DHS’s new cybersecurity strategy, highlighting S&T’s R&D support

    Last month at a cybersecurity conference, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen previewed the May unveiling of DHS’s new cybersecurity strategy and issued a stern warning to cybercriminals. The new DHS Cybersecurity Strategy was released 15 May. Nielsen said: “I have a news flash for America’s adversaries: Complacency is being replaced by consequences. We will not stand on the sidelines while our networks are compromised. We will not abide the theft of our data, our innovation and our resources. And we will not tolerate cyber meddling aimed at the heart of our democracy.”

  • Winners announced in $300K biothreat prize competition

    DHS S&T the other day announced the grand prize winner of its $300,000 Hidden Signals Challenge. The prize competition called for the design of an early warning system to keep communities safe by using existing data sources to uncover emerging biothreats.

  • White House eliminates Cyber Coordinator position

    Rob Joyce, the White House Cyber Coordinator, left his position Friday to return to the National Security Agency (NSA), and the White House, instead of replacing him, has decided to eliminate the position. Gary Kasparov, Russian chess champion and critic of President Vladimir Putin, said that doing away with that job as the United States is still trying to cope with the impact of Russia’s 2016 election interference, and as it faces ongoing and mounting cyberthreats and attacks, is “[l]ike eliminating the Navy after Pearl Harbor.”

  • DHS S&T awards first Phase 4 award for IOT security

    Atlanta-based Ionic Security is the first company to successfully complete prototype testing and move to the pilot deployment phase as part of DHS S&T’s Silicon Valley Innovation Program (SVIP). SVIP offers up to $800,000 in non-dilutive funding to eligible companies.

  • The curious case of the twice-fired FBI analyst

    Said Barodi, a Muslim American, had been deemed an “excellent” employee over a decade of work with the bureau before he was fired after a run-in at an airport. He won his appeal to get his job back, only to be fired again. He says his heritage made him a target. “I was the enemy within,” he says.

  • Lawmakers question Pruitt’s proposal to limit EPA’s use of science

    The EPA has announced new policy-making rules which, critics say, are aimed to reduce the role of science in the agency’s decisions. EPA’s proposal would limit the scientific information used in rulemaking, allow the agency to ignore scientific studies where the underlying data has not been made public, and force the agency to only use scientific data that can be reproduced. Lawmakers yesterday sent a detailed letter to EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, requesting more information on his proposal.

  • For border security, CBP agents are more suitable than National Guard soldiers

    Rather than send the National Guard to bolster security along the U.S.-Mexico border, it would have been better, and more cost-effective, to send more Customs and Border Patrol agents, whose training makes them more suitable for border security-related missions. But the problem is that the hiring process of CBP agents is broken and unnecessarily lengthy, requiring a thoroughgoing reform.

  • DHS S&T to demonstrate cyber technologies at RSA

    DHS S&T will exhibit and demonstrate thirteen mature cybersecurity technology solutions that are ready for pilot deployment and commercialization at the RSA 2018 cybersecurity conference, 16-19 April, in San Francisco.

  • The sound and the fury: Inside the mystery of the Havana embassy

    More than a year after American diplomats began to suffer strange, concussion-like symptoms in Cuba, a U.S. investigation is no closer to determining how they were hurt or by whom, and the FBI and CIA are at odds over the case. A ProPublica investigation reveals the many layers to the mystery — and the political maneuvering that is reshaping U.S.-Cuba relations.

  • Tillerson urges Latin America to beware of Russia, China

    U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned countries of the Western Hemisphere to beware of “alarming” actions by Russia and China in their region, urging them to work with the United States instead. “Latin America doesn’t need new imperial powers that seek only to benefit their own people,” Tillerson said in speech in Texas on 1 February before arriving in Mexico to begin a tour of regional countries. Tillerson said that “strong institutions and governments that are accountable to their people also secure their sovereignty against potential predatory actors that are now showing up in our hemisphere.”