• Quicker response to airborne radiological threats

    Researchers have developed a new technique that uses existing technologies to detect potential airborne radiological materials in hours instead of days. at present, emergency responders who are characterizing potential radiological risk need to take an air sample and ship it to a radiochemistry lab after preliminary screening analysis. The process means it can take days or weeks to get quality results that authorities can use to make informed decisions.

  • Budgeting for medical countermeasures is essential for preparedness

    Preparedness against a chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear (CBRN) threat requires a sustained and multi-pronged approach by both the public and private sectors. An essential component of this strategy is the development, procurement, and stockpiling of diagnostic tests, drugs, and vaccines in response to a potential event, as well as the ability to distribute these products where needed.


  • 21 U.S. diplomats in Cuba suffered “acquired brain injury from an exposure of unknown origin”: Experts

    In late 2016, U.S. government personnel in Havana, Cuba, visited the embassy medical unit after experiencing unusual sound and sensory phenomena and the onset of neurological symptoms. Researchers who examined the twenty-one diplomats say that concussion-like symptoms were observed in the 11 women and 10 men after they reported hearing intensely loud sounds in their homes and hotel rooms and feeling changes in air pressure caused by an unknown source. The symptoms were consistent with brain injury, although there was no history of head trauma. The experts who examined the American diplomats concluded: “The unique circumstances of these patients and the clinical manifestations detailed in this report raise concern about a new mechanism for possible acquired brain injury from an exposure of unknown origin.”

  • Fake news “vaccine”: online game may “inoculate” by simulating propaganda tactics

    A new experiment, just launched online, aims to help “inoculate” against disinformation by providing a small dose of perspective from a “fake news tycoon.” The game encourages players to stoke anger, mistrust and fear in the public by manipulating digital news and social media within the simulation. Players build audiences for their fake news sites by publishing polarizing falsehoods, deploying twitter bots, photo-shopping evidence, and inciting conspiracy theories in the wake of public tragedy – all while maintaining a “credibility score” to remain as persuasive as possible. The psychological theory behind the research is called “inoculation”: “A biological vaccine administers a small dose of the disease to build immunity. Similarly, inoculation theory suggests that exposure to a weak or demystified version of an argument makes it easier to refute when confronted with more persuasive claims,” says a researcher.

  • Bill to jump-start universal flu vaccine efforts

    As the nation grapples with a long and unrelenting flu season rivaling by some measures the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, a group of U.S. senators last week unveiled a proposal to invest $1 billion in research over the next 5 years to create a universal flu vaccine that would provide lifetime protection against a range of influenza strains. The announcement came just as U.S. researchers released an interim report card on the flu vaccine’s performance so far this season, which again showed disappointingly low effectiveness against H3N2, this season’s dominant strain.

  • Five finalists in $300K biothreat prize competition

    Five finalists were announced today for Stage 1 of the $300,000 Hidden Signals Challenge. Issued by the DHS S&T, in collaboration with the Office of Health Affairs National Biosurveillance Integration Center (NBIC), the challenge calls for the design of an early warning system that uses existing data to uncover emerging biothreats. The announcement was made at the American Society for Microbiology’s 2018 ASM Biothreats meeting.

  • Social media is helping Putin kill our democracy

    There are few more important issues confronting the West today than what to do about social media companies, which thanks to their ubiquity possess vast riches and daunting influence over our democracies. The Russians have been spreading lies for decades. Active Measures, including fake reports, forged documents, and dastardly conspiracies invented out of thin air, were created by the KGB to smear Western governments. Social media made Moscow’s clandestine work much easier and more profitable. Although the lies currently emanating from the Kremlin resemble Cold War Active Measures in overall form and content, they are now disseminated so quickly, and through so many fronts, trolls, and bots, that Western governments are severely challenged to even keep up with these weaponized lies, much less push back. For this, we have the Internet to thank. While none can deny the countless benefits of the online age, this is one of its most pernicious side effects. It’s time the West seriously addressed the problem, and quickly, since this Kremlin spy game isn’t going away.

  • A Russian-American fraud; Russia goal: Unraveling U.S. democracy; disinformation & military readiness, and more

    · Reading the Mueller indictment: A Russian-American fraud

    · Mueller’s indictment ends Trump’s myth of the Russia “hoax”

    · Russian influence campaign: What’s in the latest Mueller indictment

    · Did Russia affect the 2016 election? It’s now undeniable

    · “Something was weird”: Inside the Russian effort to bamboozle Florida

    · What Mueller’s new Russia indictments mean — and what they don’t

    · Mueller’s indictment of Russian hackers highlights the stakes of the Microsoft case

    · For Russia, unraveling U.S. democracy was just another day job

    · The campaign finance loophole that could make the next Russian attack perfectly legal

    · Lessons about Russian social media meddling from Mueller’s indictment

    · White House objects to Russian hacking that doesn’t benefit Trump

    · How Russia turned the internet against America

    · Mueller’s message to America

    · Foreign disinformation is a threat to military readiness, too

  • Thirteen Russians criminally charged for interfering in 2016 election

    The sheer audacity, scope, and sophistication of the Kremlin’s hacking and disinformation campaign to ensure the victory of Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election have been exposed a short time ago in a 37-page indictment handed down by the office or Special Counsel Robert Mueller against thirteen Russians and three Kremlin-related organization. The detailed 37-page indictment says that the Russians’ operations “included supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump” “and disparaging Hillary Clinton,” his Democratic opponent. The Russians posed as Americans to operate bogus social media accounts, buy advertisements, and stage political rallies. These Russian government operatives stole the identities of real people in the United States to post online and built computer systems in the United States to conceal the Russian origin of their activity, the indictment says. The indictment contradicts Trump’s false assertions that the idea that there was a Russian campaign to undermine the U.S. democratic process was nothing more than a “hoax,” “witch hunt,” and “fake news” concocted by the “dishonest media” and Democrats to explain Hillary Clinton’s loss.

  • Trump's travel ban “unconstitutionally tainted with animus toward Islam”: Court

    The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, on Thursday described the latest version of Donald Trump’s travel ban as “unconstitutionally tainted with animus toward Islam.” In a 9-4 vote, the federal appeals court said the ban on travelers from six predominantly Muslim countries is unconstitutional because it discriminates against people based on their religion. In its ruling, the 4th Circuit said the presidential proclamation imposing the ban has a “much broader deleterious effect” than banning certain foreign nationals. The ban, the court said, “denies the possibility of a complete, intact family to tens of thousands of Americans.” “On a fundamental level, the Proclamation second-guesses our nation’s dedication to religious freedom and tolerance,” Chief Justice Roger Gregory wrote for the court in the majority opinion.

  • Florida white supremacist group admits ties to Parkland School shooter

    A spokesperson for the white supremacist group Republic of Florida (ROF) claimed to the Anti-Defamation League on Thursday that Nikolas Cruz, the man charged with the previous day’s deadly shooting spree at a Parkland, Florida, high school, was associated with his group. If Cruz’s role is confirmed, the Parkland school shooting would be the second school shooting by a white supremacist in the past two months. In December 2017, another young white supremacist, William Atchison, engaged in a shooting spree at a high school in northwest New Mexico, killing two students before shooting himself.

  • Why American teenagers can buy AR-15s

    Nikolas Cruz was too young to buy a pistol at a gun shop. But no law prevented the teenager from purchasing the assault-style rifle he allegedly used to kill at least 17 people at a high school in Parkland, Florida. Florida is not unique. In most states, people can legally buy assault-style weapons before they can drink a beer. Federal law stipulates that gun stores and other licensed dealers may not sell a handgun to anyone under the age of 21, but they can sell long guns — that is, rifles and shotguns — to anyone who is at least 18. Twenty-three states have set minimum age requirements for the ownership of long guns, ranging from 14 in Minnesota to 21 in Illinois and Hawaii.

  • 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.

  • U.K.: Russia launched last June’s costly NotPetya cyberattacks

    Russian military hackers were behind the NoPetya cyberattack on Ukraine that spread globally last year, the British government said. The United States said June’s NotPetya ransomware attack caused billions of dollars in damage across Europe, Asia, and the Americas. U.K. Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson said Russia was “ripping up the rule book” and the U.K. would respond.

  • Why security measures won’t stop school shootings

    When deadly school shootings like the one that took place on Valentine’s Day in Broward County, Florida occur, often they are followed by calls for more stringent security measures. While some of these measures seem sensible, overall there is little empirical evidence that such security measures decrease the likelihood of school shootings. Surveillance cameras were powerless to stop the carnage in Columbine and school lock-down policies did not save the children at Sandy Hook. We believe what is missing from the discussion is the idea of an educational response. Current policy responses do not address the fundamental question of why so many mass shootings take place in schools. To answer this question, we need to get to the heart of how students experience school and the meaning that schools have in American life. It is time to think about school shootings not as a problem of security, but also as a problem of education.