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Five years after Parkland, school shootings haven’t stopped, and kill more people

Some Americans hoped the Parkland shooting in 2018 would herald a turning point for gun violence in schools. Shootings, and deaths, have continued –…



Two mourners embrace at a memorial for those killed in the Parkland, Florida, school shooting in 2018. AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

In the aftermath of the Parkland, Florida, high school shooting on Valentine’s Day 2018, many Americans hoped that, finally, something would be done to address the problem of gun violence in the nation’s schools.

Despite the outpouring of grief and calls for action that followed the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, school shootings continue to occur with alarming frequency. While progress has been made in some areas, such as increased funding for school security and mental health resources, there is still much work to be done to ensure the safety and well-being of students and educators in schools across the country.

On Jan. 6, 2023, in Newport News, Virginia, a 6-year-old student is alleged to have intentionally shot his teacher. He is among the youngest school shooting perpetrators dating back to 1970.

And as criminologists who track any time a gun is fired at a K-12 school, including deliberate attacks, suicides, accidental shootings, gang-related violence and shootings at after-hours school events, we know this case is only the tip of the iceberg.

School shootings got more common, not rarer, after Parkland

Since Parkland, there have been over 900 shootings in K-12 school settings according to our data. Thirty-two were indiscriminate attacks apparently driven by the intent to kill as many people as possible, including mass casualty events at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, in May 2022 and at Oxford High School, in Oxford, Michigan, in November 2021.

School gun violence takes many forms. In January 2023, five students were wounded during shootings at high school basketball games in five different states. These shootings at school games are a “quiet phenomenon” that gets little national attention. Based on our data on more than 260 shootings at sports events, most schools do not have a plan for them, such as what an announcer should say or how people can evacuate.

Another emerging challenge for school leaders is the 264 fights in five years that escalated into shootings. Unlike any planned attacks, these cases were simple disputes that turned deadly because students were armed at school.

There were a record 302 shootings on school property in 2022. In April, one month before Uvalde, a sniper fired hundreds of shots during dismissal at the Edmund Burke School in Washington, D.C. Then, in October, at Central Visual Performing Arts High School in south St. Louis, a 19-year-old armed with a semi-automatic rifle and hundreds of rounds of ammunition shot and killed a teacher and a 15-year-old student, and injured seven other people.

Among the 250 shootings at schools in 2021, a 12-year-old girl, who wrote plans to target scores of her Rigby, Idaho, middle school classmates, wounded three students before a heroic teacher disarmed her in the hallway.

Owing to the pandemic and widespread school closures, in 2020 there were no planned attacks at schools for the first time since 1981. But in 2019, a student shot five classmates, killing two, before dying by suicide during between classes at Saugus High in Santa Clarita, California. And two students committed a coordinated attack that killed one student and injured eight others at the STEM School in Highland Ranch, Colorado.

In total, since Parkland, 198 people have been killed, including 84 students, teachers and school staff, and another 637 people wounded in school shootings.

A man kneels in front of a brick wall saying 'Robb Elementary School,' with piles of flowers all around.
A man pays his respects to the victims of the June 2022 school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. AP Photo/Eric Gay

Equipment is not prevention

Since Parkland, school safety has been a priority for parents and policymakers, but efforts to physically fortify schools to keep intruders at bay often are detached from the reality that most school shooters are current or former students of the schools they target.

Having been trained in lockdown procedures since kindergarten, students know exactly how a school will respond to an active shooter and even plan for it; they navigate security daily. At Uvalde, the shooter was a former student who entered through a back door. The shooter in St. Louis was a former student who broke a side window to open a locked door.

New equipment designed to protect students from shooters can create a false sense of security and make classrooms feel more like prisons than places of learning. Following the attack in Uvalde, Texas legislators approved $110 million for school safety, but nearly half of the money went to new ballistic shields for school police officers. These shields do not prevent school shootings, or aid during one, because police are trained to immediately run to the shooter, not to their office to get a shield.

Some technologies could even inadvertently endanger students. Most classroom barricades violate the Americans with Disabilities Act and other federal codes designed to help people evacuate from fires and other dangerous situations. And much like body armor can make a mass shooter harder to stop, so too, potentially, could a school’s new bulletproof furniture.

Preventing the next Parkland

Just three weeks before Parkland, on Jan. 23, 2018, 20 students were shot, two fatally, in a planned attack at Marshall County High in Benton, Kentucky. Three months after Parkland, on May 18, 2018, 10 people were killed and 13 wounded at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas. Despite billions spent on security upgrades, schools are stuck in a perpetual cycle of gun violence. If current trends hold, there will be another 1,000 school shootings over the next five years.

But research shows that school shootings are not inevitable. They are preventable.

Nearly all school shooters exhibit warning signs before pulling the trigger, from changes in their behavior to verbal or written threats. From Parkland to Uvalde, these warnings were not recognized or reported until it was too late. Schools must think beyond metal detectors, security cameras and other high-tech gadgets and gizmos to invest in multidisciplinary behavioral intervention and threat assessment systems to respond to warning signs. There is federal money and resources available to do this thanks to the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, passed in the wake of Uvalde in the summer of 2022.

Almost all shootings by children and teens can be prevented by safe storage of firearms and accountability for adult gun owners. When a weapon is stored separately from its ammunition, locked and unloaded, it is much more difficult for someone to quickly use it in a violent attack. While the family claims the gun was locked, safe and separate storage could have prevented a 6-year-old from shooting his teacher. It also could have prevented thousands of guns from being stolen and diverted into illegal markets.

Five years after Parkland, school shootings have become more frequent and deadly. The status quo is not working. Instead of accepting that more young lives will be lost and that the best schools and police can do is lock down and rehearse emergency responses, we believe school safety must shift to focus on upstream prevention.

David Riedman receives funding from Everytown for Gun Safety.

James Densley has received funding from the National Institute of Justice and the Joyce Foundation.

Jillian Peterson receives funding from the National Institute of Justice and the Joyce Foundation.

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Argonne’s Jordi Roglans-Ribas claims second Secretary’s Honor Award

Jordi Roglans-Ribas, a former director of the Nuclear Science and Engineering division at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory,…



Jordi Roglans-Ribas, a former director of the Nuclear Science and Engineering division at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, received his second 2022 U.S. Secretary of Energy Achievement team award for participating in the team that completed the Versatile Test Reactor (VTR) Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

Credit: (Image by Argonne National Laboratory.)

Jordi Roglans-Ribas, a former director of the Nuclear Science and Engineering division at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, received his second 2022 U.S. Secretary of Energy Achievement team award for participating in the team that completed the Versatile Test Reactor (VTR) Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

Roglans-Ribas was also recognized with a 2022 team award for work with the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) Kazakhstan Reactor Conversion Team to make nuclear research reactors safer from proliferation risk. The Secretary’s Honor Awards are considered one of DOE’s highest honors.

“The award for the completion of the VTR EIS recognizes the successful effort of the entire team and the significance of DOE completing the first reactor EIS.” — Jordi Roglans-Ribas, Argonne

An EIS is a government document that outlines the impact of a proposed project on its surrounding environment. It helps policymakers and community leaders make key decisions.

“The award for the completion of the VTR EIS recognizes the successful effort of the entire team and the significance of DOE completing the first reactor EIS,” said Roglans-Ribas.

Roglans-Ribas worked closely on the VTR EIS with a multidisciplinary group from government departments, national laboratories and contractor offices beginning in August 2019 and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, DOE published its first EIS for design and construction of a nuclear reactor since establishment of the National Environmental Policy Act in 1970. Now in the Federal Register, the VTR EIS has helped accelerate release of the Department of Defense’s Strategic Capabilities Office’s EIS for building and demonstrating the Project Pele mobile microreactor. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission will reference both statements as it prepares its own versions for commercial advanced reactors currently under development.

“Jordi had an integral, long-term role on a professional team with immense collective expertise, keen attention to detail and enduring commitment,” said Temitope Taiwo, director of Argonne’s Nuclear Science and Engineering division. ​“As a result, the team completed a high-quality, complex and publicly visible analysis in a difficult pandemic environment.”

The VTR EIS team’s efforts were specifically praised for helping DOE advance its own efforts to provide a fast-reactor-based neutron source and testing capability. This capability has been missing from nuclear energy research and development infrastructure for nearly three decades. It is a critical capability needed to enhance and accelerate the innovative nuclear technologies that will advance U.S. objective to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.   

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit https://​ener​gy​.gov/​s​c​ience.

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Hyro secures $20M for its AI-powered, healthcare-focused conversational platform

Israel Krush and Rom Cohen first met in an AI course at Cornell Tech, where they bonded over a shared desire to apply AI voice technologies to the healthcare…



Israel Krush and Rom Cohen first met in an AI course at Cornell Tech, where they bonded over a shared desire to apply AI voice technologies to the healthcare sector. Specifically, they sought to automate the routine messages and calls that often lead to administrative burnout, like calls about scheduling, prescription refills and searching through physician directories.

Several years after graduating, Krush and Cohen productized their ideas with Hyro, which uses AI to facilitate text and voice conversations across the web, call centers and apps between healthcare organizations and their clients. Hyro today announced that it raised $20 million in a Series B round led by Liberty Mutual, Macquarie Capital and Black Opal, bringing the startup’s total raised to $35 million.

Krush says that the new cash will be put toward expanding Hyro’s go-to-market teams and R&D.

“When we searched for a domain that would benefit from transforming these technologies most, we discovered and validated that healthcare, with staffing shortages and antiquated processes, had the greatest need and pain points, and have continued to focus on this particular vertical,” Krush told TechCrunch in an email interview.

To Krush’s point, the healthcare industry faces a major staffing shortfall, exacerbated by the logistical complications that arose during the pandemic. In a recent interview with Keona Health, Halee Fischer-Wright, CEO of Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), said that MGMA’s heard that 88% of medical practices have had difficulties recruiting front-of-office staff over the last year. By another estimates, the healthcare field has lost 20% of its workforce.

Hyro doesn’t attempt to replace staffers. But it does inject automation into the equation. The platform is essentially a drop-in replacement for traditional IVR systems, handling calls and texts automatically using conversational AI.

Hyro can answer common questions and handle tasks like booking or rescheduling an appointment, providing engagement and conversion metrics on the backend as it does so.

Plenty of platforms do — or at least claim to. See RedRoute, a voice-based conversational AI startup that delivers an “Alexa-like” customer service experience over the phone. Elsewhere, there’s Omilia, which provides a conversational solution that works on all platforms (e.g. phone, web chat, social networks, SMS and more) and integrates with existing customer support systems.

But Krush claims that Hyro is differentiated. For one, he says, it offers an AI-powered search feature that scrapes up-to-date information from a customer’s website — ostensibly preventing wrong answers to questions (a notorious problem with text-generating AI). Hyro also boasts “smart routing,” which enables it to “intelligently” decide whether to complete a task automatically, send a link to self-serve via SMS or route a request to the right department.

A bot created using Hyro’s development tools. Image Credits: Hyro

“Our AI assistants have been used by tens of millions of patients, automating conversations on various channels,” Krush said. “Hyro creates a feedback loop by identifying missing knowledge gaps, basically mimicking the operations of a call center agent. It also shows within a conversation exactly how the AI assistant deduced the correct response to a patient or customer query, meaning that if incorrect answers were given, an enterprise can understand exactly which piece of content or dataset is labeled incorrectly and fix accordingly.”

Of course, no technology’s perfect, and Hyro’s likely isn’t an exception to the rule. But the startup’s sales pitch was enough to win over dozens of healthcare networks, providers and hospitals as clients, including Weill Cornell Medicine. Annual recurring revenue has doubled since Hyro went to market in 2019, Krush claims.

Hyro’s future plans entail expanding to industries adjacent to healthcare, including real estate and the public sector, as well as rounding out the platform with more customization options, business optimization recommendations and “variety” in the AI skills that Hyro supports.

“The pandemic expedited digital transformation for healthcare and made the problems we’re solving very clear and obvious (e.g. the spike in calls surrounding information, access to testing, etc.),” Krush said. “We were one of the first to offer a COVID-19 virtual assistant that deployed in under 48 hours based on trusted information from the health system and trusted resources such as the CDC and World Health Organization …. Hyro is well funded, with good growth and momentum, and we’ve always managed a responsible budget, so we’re actually looking to expand and gather more market share while competitors are slowing down.”

Hyro secures $20M for its AI-powered, healthcare-focused conversational platform by Kyle Wiggers originally published on TechCrunch

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Burger King Adds a Failed McDonald’s Comfort-Food Menu Item

Both companies have tried to make this beloved southern staple work, and Burger King is trying again with multiple new versions.



Fast-food burger chains deal in the familiar. 

They sell comfort food, meals that make their customers feel good (even if that feeling soon enough turns to regret).

When one of the big three chains -- McDonald's, Wendy's (WEN) - Get Free Report, and Burger King -- adds a new menu item, it's either something outrageous designed to get publicity or an item that builds on the comfort-food model.

DON'T MISS: Unique McDonald's Sandwich Makes Its Menu Return

That's why so many fast-food innovations arise from taking a core menu item and give it a small twist. Wendy's does this more than any other chain as it rotates in different takes on cheese fries and new burgers that add well-known flavors like pretzel buns or more bacon.

McDonald's (MCD) - Get Free Report has been experimenting with similar ideas -- specifically trying to make southern classics like sweet tea and chicken biscuits -- work. The chain has had more success with sweet tea, which has become a menu staple, than it has with making chicken biscuits a morning staple.

And while McDonald's has tried to add southern style chicken biscuits to its morning menu without sustained success, that has not stopped its rivals from taking their own shot at the regional favorite. 

Wendy's has offered its Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit since it brought back its breakfast menu in 2020. And now Restaurant Brands International's (QSR) - Get Free Report Burger King has decided to add multiple takes on a chicken biscuit to its morning menu.

Wendy's also sold a "hot" version of its Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit.

Image source: Wendy's.

Burger King Adds Multiple Chicken Biscuits  

Burger King has built its morning menu around meat. The chain sells versions of its famed Croissan'Wich with double sausage, one with bacon, ham, and sausage, and similar offerings on biscuits.

Now, Burger King has been testing adding chicken to its meaty morning lineup.

Some of the chain's locations already sell a regular Chicken Biscuit and a Smoky Maple Chicken Croissan’wich (although those items are not being sold nationwide) and now it's testing a new take on a chicken biscuit in select markets.

"The Smoky Maple Chicken Biscuit features breaded white meat chicken with a smoky maple glaze on a warm buttermilk biscuit. It will be available through Aug. 31 while supplies last," according to Restaurant Business Online.

Burger King is offering the Smoky Maple Chicken Biscuit only in the Kansas City and Orlando-Daytona Beach markets.

McDonald's Also Bets On Breakfast Comfort Food 

McDonald's first put bagels on its breakfast menu in 1999. They were removed in January 2022 when the chain eliminated all-day breakfast and slimmed down its morning menu due to the covid pandemic.

Losing the bagels wasn't just about customers getting one less bread choice for their breakfast sandwich. It also invvolved McDonald's removing steak -- a meat that was only sold on a bagel -- from its morning menu.

Now, after a slow rollout across the country, McDonald's has returned its popular breakfast bagels to menus nationwide (albeit without making an official announcement).

Fans clamored for the return on social media in April 2022, when McDonald's Tweeted "Bring back ____." Tens of thousands of fans answered the query and the Breakfast Bagels were a popular request.

The most-requested item, the Snack Wrap, has not been returned and might not despite customer interest because making them adds complexity to the chain's kitchen operations. 

That's something the company has been working against as it works to streamline delivery and digital sales.         

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