Strange but true: The biggest medical shockers of 2018

There were plenty of moments in 2018 that made us scratch our heads, but these headlines, in particular, had us doing a double-take. Here's at look at some of Fox News Health's strange — but very true — medical moments in 2018: 1. Rugby player who swallowed slug as dare dies 8 years after health nightmare  … Continue reading “Strange but true: The biggest medical shockers of 2018”

There were plenty of moments in 2018 that made us scratch our heads, but these headlines, in particular, had us doing a double-take. Here's at look at some of Fox News Health's strange — but very true — medical moments in 2018:

1. Rugby player who swallowed slug as dare dies 8 years after health nightmare 

In 2010, Sam Ballard swallowed a garden slug on a dare from a friend. He didn’t become sick immediately, but complained of serious pain in his legs in the days after. A trip to the doctor confirmed rat lungworm disease which led to eosinophilic meningo-encephalitis, and he never recovered. He fell into a coma for 420 and suffered a severe brain injury. He died in early November, eight years after taking the challenge.

2. Dad claims food poisoning led to rare paralyzing disorder

Braham, pictured with his two children while recovering. (SWNS)

David Braham, 40, is blaming a chicken curry dish for triggering a rare autoimmune disorder that's left him paralyzed for weeks. Braham said he felt sick while watching his son play rugby, and was soon fighting for his life in the hospital, where doctors diagnosed him with Gillian-Barre syndrome. He is hopes to be well enough to join his family at home for Christmas.

 3. Man’s runny nose was actually leaking brain fluid 

Rattan tissue box and crumpled tissues on table – cold and flu season concept, grief concept (selective focus)

Greg Phillpotts said he ruined Thanksgiving for everyone last year when his runny nose leaked into the meal he was preparing. He believed symptoms, which had been bothering him on-and-off for five years, were just allergies. But a trip to the doctor in February actually revealed a cerebral fluid leak. He's since had corrective surgery.

4. Midnight sun lime juice left man with purple zombie skin

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"Zombie skin" seems like a line out of a sci-fi thriller, but for this 29-year-old Australian man it proved to be a terrifying reality. The hiker was visiting Greenland during its summer months, meaning the sun was out for 24 hours per day. He had been using lime to flavor his water, not realizing the juice on his hands and the prolonged exposure to the sun was creating a perfect storm. He was given antibiotics and told to wear gloves, and said two months later his hands had recovered.

5. Mom temporarily blinded by parasite after swimming with contacts in

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Stacey Peoples, 49, was left without vision in her left eye after contracting acanthamoeba keratitis, a rare infection in which an amoeba attacks the outer layer of the eye. Peoples, of Denver, believes she contracted the infection at her local pool when she wore her contact lenses while swimming with her 8-year-old son Charlie. Peoples was forced to apply painful eye drops every two hours for five months to kill the infection and was in so much pain she could not stray far from her bed. She underwent a cornea transplant and has since had her vision restored.

6. Florida newlywed discovers fly living in skin after Belize honeymoon

A Florida woman will probably never forget her honeymoon in Belize, but not for the usual reasons.  (Mina Shenouda, MD, et al/Journal Investig Med High Case Rep./American Federation for Medical Research)

The 36-year-old woman had been back home for two months when she noticed something was amiss. A small itchy lesion that looked like a small bite, with a hole in the center and pus coming out of it, was giving her trouble and wasn't responding to antibiotics. When a surgeon opened the lesion up, he found an insect with a tapered shape and rows of spines and hooks. Pathologists identified the insect as a human botfly larva, and determined it had been living in the woman's skin.

7. Man dies from extremely rare disease after eating squirrel brains

The 61-year-old man was brought to a hospital in Rochester, New York, after experiencing a decline in his thinking abilities and losing touch with reality (iStock)

A 61-year-old man experienced a decline in his thinking abilities, was losing touch with reality and had lost the ability to walk. His family said he liked to hunt, and it was reported that he had eaten squirrel brains, which raised his risk for Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a fatal brain condition caused by infectious proteins called prions. His MRI scan looked similar to those seen in people with variant CJD, and he later died after his diagnosis.

8. Wisconsin man determined to walk again after losing limbs to dog lick infection

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It was a case that scared dog lovers everywhere when Greg Manteufel landed in the hospital with a dangerous blood infection that was traced back to his dog's saliva. The 48-year-old endured at least 10 surgeries during which doctors amputated parts of each of his limbs because circulation to his extremities shut down due to the infection. His symptoms started with a fever and pain in his legs, with doctors later finding capnocytophaga bacteria in his system. Capnocytophaga is commonly found in the saliva of cats and dogs and that almost never lead to people getting sick. Despite it all, Manteufel said he still loves dogs, and would not be getting rid of his pets.

9. Man loses left arm after contracting flesh-eating bacteria infection from sushi

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Sushi lovers, look away. This man's love of raw seafood cost him his left hand and forearm after he developed a fever and excruciating pain in his hand hours after eating the fish. The unidentified patient, who had a history of Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and was facing end-stage renal disease, developed large blisters on his hand which quickly spread to the rest of his hand. Despite quick treatment the infection spread up his arm and he was forced to have the limb amputated 25 days after seeking help.

10. Man’s beer belly was actually 77-pound tumor 

For years, Hector Hernandez heard taunts about his growing "beer belly" despite the fact that he didn't drink. He finally sought help when he realized his legs and arms were growing thinner, but his stomach continued to expand. Doctors discovered his extra weight was actually a 77-pound tumor and removed it, resulting in a 100-pound weight loss just a week later.

Vaping boom: Twice the amount of teens vaping than last year, survey finds

Twice as many high school students used nicotine-based electronic cigarettes in 2018 compared with last year, according to a new survey exploring teen smoking, drinking and drug use.

In the survey’s 44-year history, this was the largest single-year increase, surpassing even the surge in marijuana smoking during the mid-1970s, according to the Associated Press.

The federally funded survey, conducted earlier this year by researchers at the University of Michigan, has prompted regulators to press for measures making it harder for kids to purchase the vaping devices.

STRANGE BUT TRUE: SHOCKING MEDICAL ODDITIES OF 2018

Experts credit the increase to modern versions of the e-cigarettes, like the Juul, which looks like a USB thumb drive and can be easily disguised.

"They can put it in their sleeve or their pocket. They can do it wherever, whenever. They can do it in class if they're sneaky about it," Trina Hale, a junior at South Charleston High School in West Virginia said of the increased popularity of vaping.

Of the 45,000 students in grades 8, 10 and 12 who were surveyed across the country, one in five reported having vaped in the previous month.

Behind vaping and alcohol, teens also use marijuana, with one in 17 high schoolers smoking it every day. While marijuana smoking, in general, is about the same level as previous years, vaping marijuana did increase.

‘MIRACLE BABY’ SURVIVES AFTER BEING GIVEN LESS THAN 1 PERCENT CHANCE OF SURVIVAL

Use of other drugs, like cigarettes, cocaine, LSD, ecstasy, heroin and opioid pills, all declined.

The nicotine present in e-cigarettes is harmful to developing brains and can make kids more likely to take up cigarette smoking later in life or even try other drugs, researchers believe.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

US unable to defend against Russian and Chinese hypersonic weapons, report warns

The U.S. lacks the defenses needed to protect against a new breed of highly sophisticated hypersonic weapons from China and Russia, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report.

“China and Russia are pursuing hypersonic weapons because their speed, altitude and maneuverability may defeat most missile defense systems, and they may be used to improve long-range conventional and nuclear strike capabilities,” the report said. “There are no existing countermeasures.”

Earlier this year, the Russian military said it ran a successful test of a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile capable of sneaking through enemy defenses.

US AIR FORCE: WE'RE IN ‘DANGER’ OF FALLING BEHIND CHINA AND RUSSIA BY 2025

A video posted by the Defense Ministry Sunday showed a MiG-31 fighter jet launching a Kinzhal (Dagger) missile during a training flight. The ministry said the missile, which carried a conventional warhead, hit a practice target at a firing range in southern Russia.

The video screen shows the Kinzhal missile system as Russia’s President Vladimir Putin delivers an annual address to the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, at Moscow’s Manezh Central Exhibition Hall. (Mikhail MetzelTASS via Getty Images)

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Kinzhal flies 10 times faster than the speed of sound, has a range of more than 1,250 miles and can carry a nuclear or a conventional warhead. The military said it's capable of hitting both land targets and navy ships.

The U.S. military has been busily ramping up its hypersonic weapons capabilities.

AIR FORCE SETS SIGHTS ON HIGH-TECH LASER WEAPONS

In April, the Pentagon announced a deal with Lockheed Martin to develop a “hypersonic conventional strike weapon” for the U.S. Air Force. The deal for the air-launched Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon (HCSW) is worth up to $928 million.

Russia’s MiG-31 supersonic interceptor jets carrying hypersonic Kinzhal (Dagger) missiles fly over Red Square during the Victory Day military parade in Moscow on May 9, 2018. (YURI KADOBNOV/AFP/Getty Images)

Four months later, the Air Force awarded Lockheed Martin a contract of up to $480 million to design a second hypersonic prototype, the Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW).

“The ARRW and HCSW efforts are developing unique capabilities for the warfighter and each has different technical approaches,” explained the Air Force, in a statement. “The ARRW effort is ‘pushing the art-of-the-possible’ by leveraging the technical base established by the Air Force/DARPA partnership. The HCSW effort is using mature technologies that have not been integrated for an air-launched delivery system.”

In its response to the GAO, the Department of Defense described the report as "an accurate although sobering macro picture of how the US stands in the world against emerging threats."

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

Man ordered to build replica of San Francisco home after illegally demolishing building

A man who illegally demolished a San Francisco house designed by modernist architect Richard Neutra was ordered this week to rebuild it exactly as it was.

The city Planning Commission also ordered Ross Johnston to add a sidewalk plaque telling the entire saga of the house's origins in the 1930s, its demolition and replication.

REAL-ESTATE LISTING FEATURES GRINCH-COSTUMED AGENT POSING ON BED, RAIDING FRIDGE

Johnston purchased the 1936 residence, known as the Largent House, in 2017 for $1.7 million.

Johnston had planned to remodel the 1,300-square-foot home in the Twin Peaks neighborhood and submitted his plans for the two-story house to the city, which mostly kept the first floor intact. His permit was approved.

However, as neighbor Cheryl Traverce discovered, Johnston had a much more elaborate modification in mind.

This Friday, Dec. 14, 2018, photo shows a demolished house, right, on a property in San Francisco. (Associated Press)

“I went to New York for about a week-and-a-half and [when I] came back the house was gone, totally gone,” Traverce told KPIX 5. “I was shocked.”

NEARLY ALL HOMES IN SAN FRANCISCO COST OVER $1M

Johnston later applied for a retroactive demolition permit and asked to build a new three-story house that would expand the size from 1,300 to nearly 4,000 square feet.

Johnston said he wanted to move his family of six into the larger home.

Traverce filed a complaint to the city over the demolition out of concern for what a larger remodel would do to the neighborhood.

“Demolishing a $1.2 million house and replacing it with a $5 million house only makes the affordability that much worse in the city,” Commissioner Dennis Richards said to KPIX said. “We’re finding there’s an epidemic of these kinds of things happening.”

A man who illegally demolished the San Francisco house designed by the modernist architect Richard Neutra was ordered this week to rebuild it exactly as it was. (Associated Press)

The city believed Johnston wanted to build a 4,000-square-foot mansion and flip it for a profit in the red hot San Francisco real estate market.

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His attorney Justin Zucker argued against the rebuild, citing that the house's historic value had been erased over time because of a 1968 fire and a series of remodels in the 1980s and 1990s.

It's not known whether Johnston will follow through with the planning commission’s ruling.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Google’s China search engine project ‘effectively ended’: report

Google has been forced to shut down and "effectively end" its controversial China search engine project, code-named Project Dragonfly, after members of the company's privacy team raised complaints, according to a new report.

The tech giant led by CEO Sundar Pichai was forced to close a data analysis system it was using for the controversial project, according to The Intercept, citing two sources familiar with the matter. The news outlet originally broke the news that Google had been considering launching the app-based search engine.

GOOGLE HAS NO PLANS TO LAUNCH SEARCH IN CHINA, PICHAI SAYS

When asked for comment, a Google spokesman pointed Fox News to Pichai's comments to Rep. Tom Marino from last week, where Pichai said:

“Right now there are no plans for us to launch a search product in China. We are, in general, always looking to see how best it's part of our core mission and our principles to try hard to provide users with information. We have evidence, based on every country we've operated in, us reaching out and giving users more information has a very positive impact and we feel that calling. But right now there are no plans to launch in China. To the extent we approach a position like that, I will be fully transparent, including with policy makers here, and engage and consult widely.”

Employees of the Mountain View, Calif.-based Google were using Beijing-based website 265.com, which the company bought in 2008 from Chinese billionaire Cai Wensheng, as a sort of market research to see what search queries were being entered. Eventually, the search queries were transferred to Baidu, the leading search engine in China. Google famously pulled out of China in 2010 after it said it would not provide censored search services in the country.

According to the report, engineers who worked on Project Dragonfly were using the data to review a list of websites that Chinese people would see if they entered the same word or phrase into Google. Following that, they checked to see if websites in the search results were blocked due to China's Great Firewall and put together a list of sites that are banned, including Wikipedia, British broadcaster BBC and others. After getting word of this, the company's privacy staff became "really p-ssed" according to one source in The Intercept's story and the engineers working on Project Dragonfly were told they could no longer use the data.

“The 265 data was integral to Dragonfly,” said one source. “Access to the data has been suspended now, which has stopped progress.”

REPORT REVEALS GOOGLE IS TRACKING YOU IF YOU LIKE IT OR NOT

Google CEO Sundar Pichai appears before the House Judiciary Committee to be questioned about the internet giant’s privacy security and data collection, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018.  (AP)

Following the decree from the privacy team, Google employees working on the app-based search engine have used different datasets, including ones from "global Chinese" queries entered into Google that live outside the world's most populous country, including those inside the U.S. and Malaysia. That has made it significantly harder to gather the accuracy of the results, and some team members have left the project, the report added.

A source familiar with the matter told Fox News that has the company has worked on the project and privacy engineers have been brought in, any final launch would be "contingent on a full, final privacy review but," but the company has not yet gotten to that point. The source added that Google's goak to serve its Chinese users has not "dminished" and the company's mission is to "create access for all the world’s information to as many users as possible."

The Dragonfly efforts led to the resignation of several Google employees and prompted more than 700 to sign a letter to Pichai calling for it to be halted last month.

Speaking in front of the House Judiciary Committee amid allegations of anti-conservative bias and privacy violations last week, Pichai said the company's efforts were only an exploration of what a search engine could look like in a country like China.

"Right now, we have no plans to launch [a search product] in China," Pichai said in response to a question from a lawmaker, adding that "getting access to information is an important human right."

Follow Chris Ciaccia on Twitter @Chris_Ciaccia

This story has been updated with a response from a Google spokesperson.

Community lights the night for hospitalized children in Michigan

A Michigan community is helping spread the light to children whose hospital treatments are keeping them from being home for the holidays.

Each night in December, people gather outside Beaumont Children’s Hospital right before the kids go to bed. Starting at 8 p.m., each juvenile patient shines a flashlight from their hospital room window, and the community – up to 1,000 people some nights – respond with flashlights, glow-sticks and police lights. One night Santa climbed the ladder of a firetruck to wave to the kids peering out the windows.

"We work in the hospital every day and so we know first-hand kind of how it can feel being stuck in there. It can be lonely, you can feel secluded, you can feel forgotten," Amanda Lefkof, a child life specialist, told FOX 2 Detroit about the event designed to help the kids through a difficult time.

“Moonbeams for Sweet Dreams” only lasts for a few minutes, but the joy it brings the children is the extra boost they need, knowing they’ve got a whole community supporting them as they spend time recuperating in their hospital rooms.

Moonbeams on the Pediatric Unit at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, on December 2, 2018. Shylla Bowdich, 10, and her mom, Susan Bowdich, both of Shelby Township. (Beaumont Children’s Hospital)

“Many children are unable to leave their rooms and can feel isolated in the hospital as the rest of the world continues without them,” Beaumont Children’s Child Life Supervisor Kathleen Grobbel said. “With the help of the community, we can make sure they go to bed with smiles on their faces.”

One of the little girls who benefited last year from "Moonbeams" plans to attend one of the events and shine her flashlight from the outside this time – something many who work at the hospital have seen firsthand.

"I've been in both places,” Lefkof added. “I've been outside shining the lights up and I've been up in the rooms with those kids shining back down and they get so excited and they think it's the coolest thing ever to see how many people are down here showing up for them."

The initiative was started last year by the Beaumont Children’s Pediatric Family Advisory Council at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak.

Caleb Parke is an associate editor for FoxNews.com. You can follow him on Twitter @calebparke

Shocking scale of Russia’s sinister social media campaign against US revealed

Russia's influence campaign during the 2016 presidential election was a sophisticated and multifaceted effort to target the African-American community and sow political division among the public across social media platforms, according to new reports produced for the Senate Intelligence Committee.

One report, which is 100-pages long, provides new context and details regarding the large scope of the multi-year Russian operation and the nefarious tactics it employed to exploit divisions along race and political ideology in the U.S. on a range of social media platforms, including Google-owned YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and on Facebook-owned Instagram. The shadowy effort aimed to support the Trump campaign, denigrate Hillary Clinton, suppress the vote, sow discord and attack various public figures.

According to the report released on Monday, the massive operation reached 126 million people on Facebook, posted 10.4 million tweets on Twitter, uploaded over 1,000 videos to YouTube, and reached over 20 million users on Instagram. The report states that roughly 6 percent of tweets, 18 percent of Instagram posts and 7 percent of Facebook posts mentioned Trump or Clinton by name. However, Trump was mentioned roughly twice as often as Clinton on most platforms. The report, titled "The Tactics and Tropes of the Internet Research Agency," warns that the manipulation of U.S. political discourse continues in 2018.

The report, which was commissioned by cybersecurity firm New Knowledge, Canfield Research and Columbia University's Tow Center for Digital Journalism, reveals that the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a Russian company owned by a businessman who is reportedly a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, hit on a range of themes and social issues over and over again across multiple online platforms, including Muslim culture, black culture, gun rights, LGBT issues, patriotism, Tea Party issues, veterans' rights, pro-Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein content, Christian culture and Southern culture and American separatist movements.

GOOGLE CEO ON CAPITOL HILL: SOME OF THE WEIRDEST EXCHANGES

However, the report says the most prolific, intense efforts centered on targeting black Americans and appear to have focused on developing audiences in that community and recruiting black Americans as "assets".

"The IRA created an expansive cross-platform media mirage targeting the Black community, which shared and cross-promoted authentic Black media to create an immersive influence ecosystem," the report states. "The IRA exploited the trust of their Page audiences to develop human assets, at least some of whom were not aware of the role they played. This tactic was substantially more pronounced on Black-targeted accounts."

The report also reveals the shocking scale of the disinformation campaign on Instagram, which is owned by Facebook. “Instagram was a significant front in the IRA’s influence operation, something that Facebook executives appear to have avoided mentioning in Congressional testimony,” it says. “There were 187 million engagements on Instagram. Facebook estimated that this was across 20 million affected users. There were 76.5 million engagements on Facebook; Facebook estimated that the Facebook operation reached 126 million people.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives to chair a meeting to discuss preparation to mark the anniversary of the allied victory in the World War II in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018.  (AP)

FACEBOOK'S FALL: FROM THE FRIENDLIEST FACE OF TECH TO PERCEIVED ENEMY OF DEMOCRACY

Researchers also note that in 2017, as the media covered their Facebook and Twitter operations, IRA shifted much of its activity to Instagram. “Instagram engagement outperformed Facebook, which may indicate its strength as a tool in image-centric memetic (meme) warfare. Alternately, it is possible that the IRA’s Instagram engagement was the result of click farms; a few of the provided accounts reference what appears to be a live engagement farm.”

Set against this backdrop, the study warns that Instagram is likely to be a key battleground in the future.

The themes selected by the IRA were "deployed to create and reinforce tribalism within each targeted community," according to the report, which notes that a majority of posts created by a given Facebook page reinforced in-group camaraderie. Partisan content was also presented to targeted groups in on-brand ways: for example, one meme featured Jesus in a Trump campaign hat on an account targeting Christians.

Additionally, the report notes that the IRA co-opted the names of real groups with existing reputations among the targeted communities, including "United Muslims of America," "Cop Block, Black Guns Matter," and "L for Life." Researchers said this was possibly an attempt to loosely backstop an identity if a curious individual did a Google Search, or to piggyback on an established brand.

TWITTER'S RELEASE OF RUSSIAN, IRANIAN INFLUENCE CAMPAIGN TWEETS SHOWS US VULNERABILITY 

The influence campaign began on certain platforms several years ago. The IRA was active on Twitter as early as 2014, prior to their efforts on Facebook and Instagram. However, since the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence only requested data from January 1, 2015, it's possible that some IRA content that appeared on Facebook or Instagram was simply not included in the data provided. The IRA also produced videos across 17 channels on YouTube beginning in September 2015, with most content related to police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Meanwhile, a second report produced for the Senate Committee also paints a worrying picture of Russia’s influence campaign.

The study by Oxford University’s Computational Propaganda Project and social media analysis specialist Graphika notes the scale of the social media onslaught. “Between 2013 and 2018, the IRA’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter campaigns reached tens of millions of users in the United States,” it says. “IRA activities focused on the U.S. began on Twitter in 2013 but quickly evolved into a multi-platform strategy involving Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube amongst other platforms.”

Russia’s attempts to sow discord in society have continued long after the 2016 U.S. presidential election, according to the researchers. “IRA posts on Instagram and Facebook increased substantially after the election, with Instagram seeing the greatest increase in IRA activity.”

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FACEBOOK'S TIPPING POINT: TECH GIANT GRAPPLES WITH SLOWING GROWTH, CALLS FOR LEADERSHIP SHAKEUP

A Facebook spokesperson provided Fox News with the following statement:

“Congress and the intelligence community are best placed to use the information we and others provide to determine the political motivations of actors like the Internet Research Agency. We continue to fully cooperate with officials investigating the IRA's activity on Facebook and Instagram around the 2016 election. We've provided thousands of ads and pieces of content to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence for review and shared information with the public about what we found. Since then, we've made progress in helping prevent interference on our platforms during elections, strengthened our policies against voter suppression ahead of the 2018 midterms, and funded independent research on the impact of social media on democracy.”

A spokesperson from Twitter released the following statement to Fox News:

"Our singular focus is to improve the health of the public conversation on our platform, and protecting the integrity of elections is an important aspect of that mission. We’ve made significant strides since 2016 to counter manipulation of our service, including our release of additional data in October related to previously disclosed activities to enable further independent academic research and investigation.”

A Google spokesperson declined to comment on the reports, although the company has previously described preventing misuse of its platform as a major focus.

"This newly released data demonstrates how aggressively Russia sought to divide Americans by race, religion and ideology, and how the IRA actively worked to erode trust in our democratic institutions," Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr, R-NC, said in a statement. "Most troublingly, it shows that these activities have not stopped."

The committee's vice chairman, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., released a statement that read in part:

"These attacks against our country were much more comprehensive, calculating and widespread than previously revealed. That is going to require some much-needed and long-overdue guardrails when it comes to social media.  I hope these reports will spur legislative action in the Congress and provide additional clarity to the American public about Russia’s assault on our democracy.”

The report by New Knowledge, Canfield Research and Columbia University's Tow Center for Digital Journalism, also notes that the efforts by social media platforms to crack down on bots may not be enough.

"Now that automation techniques (e.g. bots) are better policed, the near future will be a return to the past: we’ll see increased human-exploitation tradecraft and narrative laundering," the report states in its conclusion. "We should certainly expect to see recruitment, manipulation, and influence attempts targeting the 2020 election, including the inauthentic amplification of otherwise legitimate American narratives, as well as a focus on smaller/secondary platforms and peer-to-peer messaging services."

Russia has repeatedly denied meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Christopher Carbone covers technology and science for Fox News Digital. Tips or story leads: christopher.carbone@foxnews.com. Follow @christocarbone.

Disneyland float collapse launches Santa off sled during parade

Here comes Santa Claus, right off Santa Claus’ sleigh.

COUPLE VISITS DISNEY WORLD, DISNEYLAND ON SAME DAY: 'IT WAS INCREDIBLE'

Kris Kringle found himself in a precarious position during the Christmas Fantasy Parade down Disneyland’s Main Street U.S.A. on Saturday.

According to WDWNT, the sleigh broke during the parade and launched Mr. Claus right out of his seat. He was left dangling by his safety harness while he waited for crew members to help him down.

DISNEY WORLD, DISNEYLAND CUSTODIANS CLAIM PARKS ARE POPULAR SPOTS TO SCATTER ASHES

Some visitors at the California theme park posted recordings of the incident, showing Santa remaining calm while he was left dangling a handful of feet off the ground.

Once he was removed, he continued to walk the rest of the parade route, smiling at guests and spreading holiday cheer with his sleigh trailing behind.

The mishap delayed the parade, but no one was reportedly injured by the float collapse.

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No word on when Santa’s sleigh will be up and running again, but hopefully sometime before December 25.

Alexandra Deabler is a Lifestyle writer and editor for Fox News.

Southwest passenger claims airline forced her to leave pet fish at airport

A California woman is claiming a Southwest Airlines agent forced her to leave her pet fish at the airport last Wednesday.

Lanice Powless, a University of Colorado student, was flying to California from Denver International Airport when she said a Southwest Airlines employee informed her that she would not be allowed to bring her pink beta fish, Cassie, onboard with her.

EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMALS FACE RESTRICTIONS IN SOUTHWEST AIRLINES, ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISES, REPORTS SAY

"I've taken him everywhere with me," Powless said to 10News.

Powless had gotten the fish her freshman year of college to combat loneliness she was feeling being away at school. The two formed a fast friendship, Powless said to 10News.

"I put my finger in there, he come up and nibble my finger. He was a cool fish," she said. "I even got him a heater, because it gets so cold in Colorado."

Powless said she had brought Cassie onto flights before and was not hassled about it.

"I have traveled with it. I had it in my container too.”

According to the TSA website, live fish are allowed on board as carry on bags.

“Live fish in water and a clear transparent container are allowed after inspection by the TSA officer,” the website reads.

DELTA AIR LINES BANS EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMALS ON FLIGHTS LONGER THAN 8 HOURS

However, Southwest Airlines’ policy allows only small cats and dogs that fit under the seat to fly.

Desperate, Powless said she asked a gate agent if she could leave her fish at the counter so a friend could come pick him up in a half an hour. However, the agent allegedly denied her, leaving Powless to start asking random passengers on other airlines if they wanted to care for the beta.

Luckily, Powless claims she managed to find someone traveling on an airline that allowed fish who was willing to take Cassie, but airport staff were dubious.

"They were not allowing us to converse at all because they were thinking we were going to do some secret exchange throughout the airport," Powless said. "Even after I was no longer in possession of the fish, they still continued to have security around us, and follow us through the airport and escorted onto our plane, as if we brought something bad onto the airport," she added.

Powless noted that she is getting made fun of for her fishy friend, but sees it as no different than being attached to a cat or dog.

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"Everyone's laughing at me. Yes, it's a fish. I know. But dang, it was my pet. And just because it wasn't a cat or dog, it wasn't as important?" Powless said.

Southwest Airlines confirmed the incident to Fox News, and claimed they offered to alter Powless' trip so she could make accomodations for her fish, which she allegedly denied.

"Our Team offered to re-book the Customer for a later flight to allow them to make arrangements for their pet but the Customer refused that option. The Customer eventually traveled on their originally scheduled flight," the airline spokesperson said.

Alexandra Deabler is a Lifestyle writer and editor for Fox News.

Tennessee fire department has ‘baby boom,’ welcomes six new ‘members’ in nine months

A fire department in Tennessee is making headlines for their newest members.

The Oak Ridge Fire Department shared a photo of the six newest additions to their squad on Facebook and the cuteness can’t be contained.

The department experienced what they’re calling a “Baby Boom,” with six firefighters welcoming new babies within a nine-month period.

There are two girls and four boys, named Maisyn, Emmalyn, Ezekiel, Waylon, Henry and Blane. (Oak Ridge Fire Department)

COMMUNITY LIGHTS THE NIGHT FOR HOSPITALIZED CHILDREN IN MICHIGAN

“From the month of March until the month of November, the Oak Ridge Fire Department has welcomed *SIX* new members to our family. We are beyond excited! Congratulations to these firefighters and their loved ones on the newest additions,” the fire department wrote.

“It’s really cool. We had our Fire Department Christmas party the other day, and there were little babies everywhere, and new parents,” one of the new dads, Andrew Murray, told WBIR. “A lot of us are first-time parents, and so it’s been really exciting.”

There are two girls and four boys, named Maisyn, Emmalyn, Ezekiel, Waylon, Henry and Blane.

The photos from the adorable shoot had been shared hundreds of times and received over 1,000 comments. (Oak Ridge Fire Department)

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Murray said it’s exciting knowing the kids will all have an automatic group of friends growing up.

The photos from the adorable shoot have been shared hundreds of times and received over 1,000 comments full of well-wishes and congratulations as of Monday afternoon.

Michelle Gant is a writer and editor for Fox News Lifestyle.