Stephen Hawking, a Physicist Transcending Space and Time, Passes Away at 76

For arguably the most famous physicist on Earth, Stephen Hawking—who died Wednesday in Cambridge at 76 years old—was wrong a lot. He thought, for a while, that black holes destroyed information, which physics says is a no-no. He thought Cygnus X-1, an emitter of X-rays over 6,000 light years away, wouldn’t turn out to be a black hole. (It did.) He thought no one would ever find the Higgs boson, the particle indirectly responsible for the existence of mass in the universe. (Researchers at CERN found it in 2012.)

But Hawking was right a lot, too. He and the physicist Roger Penrose described singularities, mind-bending physical concepts where relativity and quantum mechanics collapse inward on each other—as at the heart of a black hole. It’s the sort of place that no human will ever see first-hand; the event horizon of a black hole smears matter across time and space like cosmic paste. But Hawking’s mind was singular enough to see it, or at least imagine it.

His calculations helped show that as the young universe expanded and grew through inflation, fluctuations at the quantum scale—the smallest possible gradation of matter—became the galaxies we see around us. No human will ever visit another galaxy, and the quantum realm barely waves at us in our technology, but Hawking envisioned them both. And he calculated that black holes could sometimes explode, an image that would vex even the best visual effects wizard.

More than that, he could explain it to the rest of us. Hawking was the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics at Cambridge until his retirement in 2009, the same position held by Isaac Newton, Charles Babbage, and Paul Dirac. But he was also a pre-eminent popularizer of some of the most brain-twisting concepts science has to offer. His 1988 book A Brief History of Time has sold more than 10 million copies. His image—in an electric wheelchair and speaking via a synthesizer because of complications of the degenerative disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, delivering nerdy zingers on TV shows like The Big Bang Theory and Star Trek: The Next Generation—defined “scientist” for the latter half of the 20th century perhaps as much as Albert Einstein’s mad hair and German accent did in the first half.

Possibly that’s because in addition to being brilliant, Hawking was funny. Or at least sly. He was a difficult student by his own account. Diagnosed with ALS in 1963 at the age of 21, he thought he’d have only two more years to live. When the disease didn’t progress that fast, Hawking is reported to have said, “I found, to my surprise, that I was enjoying life in the present more than before. I began to make progress with my research.” With his mobility limited by the use of a wheelchair, he sped in it, dangerously. He proved time travel didn't exist by throwing a party for time travelers, but not sending out invitations until the party was over. No one came. People learned about the things he got wrong because he’d bet other scientists—his skepticism that Cygnus X-1 was a black hole meant he owed Kip Thorne of Caltech a subscription to Penthouse. (In fact, as the terms of that bet hint, rumors of mistreatment of women dogged him.)

Hawking became as much a cultural icon as a scientific one. For a time police suspected his second wife and one-time nurse of abusing him; the events became the basis of an episode of Law and Order: Criminal Intent. He played himself on The Simpsons and was depicted on Family Guy and South Park. Eddie Redmayne played Hawking in a biopic.

In recent years he looked away from the depths of the universe and into humanity’s future, joining the technologist Elon Musk in warning against the dangers of intelligent computers. “Unless we learn how to prepare for, and avoid, the potential risks, AI could be the worst event in the history of our civilization,” Hawking reportedly said at a talk last year. “It brings dangers, like powerful autonomous weapons, or new ways for the few to oppress the many. It could bring great disruption to our economy.” In an interview with WIRED UK, he said: “Someone will design AI that replicates itself. This will be a new form of life that will outperform humans.”

In 2016 he said that he thought humanity only had about 1,000 years left, thanks to AI, climate change, and other (avoidable) disasters. Last year he reduced that horizon exponentially—100 years left, he warned, unless we changed our ways.

Hawking was taking an unusual step away from cosmology, and it was easy, perhaps, to dismiss that fear—why would someone who’d help define what a singularity actually was warn people against the pseudo-singularity of Silicon Valley? Maybe Hawking will be as wrong on this one as he was about conservation of information in black holes. But Hawking always did see into realms no one else could—until he described them to the rest of us.

Hawking's Influence

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Samsungs foldable smartphone is coming sooner than you think

The wait for smartphones that transform into tablets is nearing its end. Foldable OLED panels were mentioned three times in the fourth quarter earnings report Samsung released earlier today, as the company claims foldable phones will help drive its growth in 2018.

“The OLED panel business will strengthen its competitiveness in the premium segment with the release of foldable panels,” it said. “As for the Mobile business, Samsung will continue its efforts to differentiate its smartphones by adopting cutting-edge technologies, such as foldable OLED displays.”

Samsung has been hyping a phone that folds into a tablet for years. We first got a sneak peek at what a foldable Galaxy device might look like in a concept video at CES 2013. Five years later and the concept device is still all we have to go by.

As exciting as a phone/tablet hybrid may sound, there’s still plenty of reason to believe the radical concept will be pushed back further. In 2015, a Samsung official told Business Korea, “The industry believes that the commercialization of foldable smartphones will be possible in 2016.” Two years later, reports from the Korea Herald claimed it was “highly likely” that Samsung would release 100,000 units by Q3 of 2017. We’re now into 2018 and all rumors point to the forthcoming unveiling of an inflexible Galaxy S9.

If a foldable phone does arrive this year, it will likely be a version of the upcoming Galaxy Note 9. Last year, Samsung’s mobile lead Dongjin Koh said the company was scheduled to launch a foldable smartphone in 2018 as part of the Galaxy Note line. However, he warned that there are hurdles to overcome that could push the phone’s release back even further.

Despite the Note 7 fiasco and bribery scandal, Samsung has some financial leeway to experiment with after reporting an operating profit of KRW53.65 trillion ($14.24 billion) and KRW239.58 trillion for 2017, both of which are company records.

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The Right Can’t Fight the Future

It seems axiomatic that the past and the future cannot exist at the same time. Thanks to the space-time continuum, people from different centuries cannot live simultaneously. The same goes for a nation, which cannot survive pulling toward the future and toward the past at once.

The United States is at a fulcrum. We are two countriesone lurching for the future, one yearning for the pastthat cannot live together, because we cant be both things. Donald Trump may have brought on the breaking point, but he didnt create the schism. It was already there for him to exploit. It was there during enslavement, when President Lincoln declared that the country could not survive half slave, half free, and it took a civil war to force these two nations: one brutal but pastoral, the other urban and focused on finance and technological innovation, often with its own kind of cruelty, to remain under one roof.

Today, Trump is speeding us toward declinethe very decline his supporters so feared. His imperious leadership; his familys grubby pretense at royalty and the apparent mad dash among members of his cabinet and White House team to hawk their positions for cash and luxuries have the feel of a decrepit regime looting the palace in its final days; stuffing the silver in their coats as they flee into exile.

Trumps announcement of anachronistic trade tariffs this week was portrayed as out of the blue, but it was no such thing. Trump ran on ending multilateral trade agreements and recreating an America of the distant past that culls every human and material resource from within. Republicans who are now in full blown freakout over a potential trade war voted for exactly what theyre getting.

In every way, Donald Trump is a president built for the past; a benighted, late 19th Century figure who spun his supporters a tale that he could restore a bygone era when coal fires burned, factories hummed, steel mills belched out soot and opportunity and a (white) man with a sturdy back, a high school diploma and a song in his heart could buy a little house, marry a little wife and have 3 cherry-cheeked kids he didnt ever have to cook or clean for, plus if he can afford it, a hot mistress on the side. Trump is the slovenly but brash, gold-plated emblem of a time when in the imagination of his followers, black women hummed a tune while they cleaned your house or did the washing, black men tipped their hat on the street but didnt dare look you in the eye, and neither would dream of moving in next door. A time when women asked their husbands for an allowance, not their boss for a promotion, men were allowed to be men complete with ribald jokes and a slap on the fanny for the pretty secretary at work, and there were no gays, no trans people, no birth control they somehow just didnt exist! The rural folks were the salt of the earth and we only let in a certain kind of immigrant whose only goal was to shake off his ethnicity and assimilate. Everyone went to (separate) church on Sundays and everyone got along. Its a plasticine world that for many must feel like it truly existed, though of course it never did.

Going backward, to a world without ambiguity on race, gender and work is a powerfully attractive idea, particularly for those who fear losing their cultural and social hegemony as the nation browns, and their economic ascendancy as technology creates new industries they scarcely understand.

But heres the thing: the past really is past. Coal is still a dying industry and America will never again have an industrial revolution. Its other countries turn to do that now. Black and brown people arent giving up our dignity, including the right to protest and to survive mundane encounters with police. Immigrants arent going away (and in fact we need them to keep the economy and the safety net flush). LGBT people arent going back into the closet. And women are staying in the workforce, with many aiming to become the CEO, while insisting on hanging onto our reproductive liberty. There is indeed a sizable minority of Americans who want to go back to the old times. But we arent going back.

Neither is the world.

While we regress, the rest of the planet will go right on trading without us. Tariffs on other countries will invite tariffs on us (Europe is already considering levying them on everything from Levis to Kentucky bourbon to Harley Davidson motorcycles). And protectionism will protect zero American jobs, while hiking the prices of everything we buy thats made with aluminum and steel, from cars to washing machines to pots and pans. Donald Trump, who never built a building with American steelpreferring the Chinese variety insteaddoesnt care about any of that. He only cares about the show. And he always gives his people a good show. But the economy does care. And America will pay a price for their P.T. Barnum president and his temper tantrums.

Meanwhile, there is another America, which is busy concerning itself with the future. Its the America that produces two-thirds of this countrys economic output, though it represents just hundreds of counties versus Trumps thousands. Its the America that objects to Russian interference in our elections, that welcomes immigrants and their economic contributions, that recognizes that even ancient institutions like marriage can modernize, that views womens full equality as a boon not a threat to civilization, that doesnt want to be ruled from Biblical texts or by a savage gun lobby, and that wants America to be a part of the world, not its creaky, cranky, lonely adversary.

In particular, young AmericansMillennials and post-Millennials, have had enough of our tired wrangling. Theyre sick of the Baby Boomers social agonies and the clenched grip of the World War II generation on American social and political life. They want an end to throwback rigidity on guns, gays, and religion. And they neither respect nor revere the current president of the United States.

Far from becoming more conservative with time, young Americans are staying right where they were when Barack Obama was first electedon the left of centerif not growing more progressive. Its why Republicans are so keen to suppress their votes. Where my generation, Generation X, polls at 51-41 percent blue over red, for Millennials the Democratic-over-Republican preference is a daunting 62-29, while Boomers are 48-46 D versus R and their parents, in the Silent Generation, tilt Republican 51 to 45 percent. The main reason for the increasing liberalism of the younger cohorts? These generations (including the youngest group, Generation Z) are chock full of young people of color. They are the most racially diverse generation in modern American history. And by next year, Millennials will be the single largest generational group in America, with their ranks swelled by immigrants (which explains the urgent right wing push for mass deportation.)

Does anyone really believe they will somehow morph en-masse into NRA-obedient, Fox News-zombie, anti-gay, anti-woman, anti-immigrant, maniacal healthcare destroyers wholl vote for serial sexual predators? Sure, the so-called alt-right can nab some Millennials to conduct their meme wars and more extreme members for their torches and khakis brigades, but truth be told, the majority of their peers are abandoning them or even refusing to date them. Young Republicans are more likely than their older counterparts to have left the party after Trumps election, with nearly a quarter of those aged 18 to 29 doing so during Trumps first six months in office. They live within a popular culture that tilts overwhelmingly to the other side; one where NBA players are hanging out at the museum rather than going to the White House, and openly calling the Republican president a bum.

With its broad and seemingly absolute power over the country, the Republican Party may not feel like it is dying, but it is dying nonetheless, at the hands of youth and multiracial population growth. The GOP can rush to install voter suppression traps and other restraints on change to try and keep the tide from coming in. But it will come anyway.

For the Democrats, the challenge is that they havent exactly built themselves for the future either. They will benefit from the coming wave because they are the default vehicle for the futurists ambitions. But that doesnt mean they wont have to change as well, by delivering on the soon-to-be largest generations demands, so they truly believe that political participation is a meaningful path to progress.

Perhaps the biggest challenge future-facing America faces is that past-craving America has a dogmatic and consistent voting base and a determined and persistent ally: Russia, which alongside its embedded mercenaries from the so-called alt right are harnessing maturing modern tools like social media to keep the futurists at bay. But we wont have a president who cuddles up to Russia and neo-fascists forever. Eventually, the fight against them and their propaganda will be joined in earnest and won.

The future is coming. It cannot live alongside the past. And in the end, it cannot be stopped.

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Austin bomber recorded 25-minute ‘confession’ to his deadly crimes, police say

Mark Anthony Conditt, the man linked to the deadly bombings that rocked Austin, Texas, and surrounding areas over the past month, recorded a 25-minute-long “confession” to his crimes, police said late Wednesday.

Officers located the recording, in which Conditt, 23, described creating seven devices, including one he blew up to kill himself, Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said at a news conference. The recording was made on a phone, which was found in the suspect’s possession following the confrontation with police.

Conditt described the bombs “with a level of specificity,” including their differences, Manley said.

In the recording, the suspect did not mention “anything about terrorism, nor does he mention anything about hate,” the police chief said. The message is rather “the outcry of a very challenged young man talking about challenges in his personal life.”

Police said all seven devices have been found, suggesting there was no further threat from Conditt to people in the area.

The community should still “remain vigilant,” Manley said, despite the “described seven explosive devices” being “no longer in play.”

The string of bombs killed two people and injured four others in the Texas capital. Conditt blew himself up in a motel parking lot overnight as a SWAT team approached his SUV.

Conditt’s family said in a statement that they were “devastated and broken” at the news of his involvement. In the statement, the family expressed shock and grief, and offered “prayers for those families who have lost loved ones … and for the soul of our Mark.”

This is a developing story; check back for updates. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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23 Dark, Creepy Google Earth Images That’ll Keep You Up At Night

If you’re a travel junkie, then you have probably used Google Earth more than once.

After all, it’s pretty incredible that with a simple online service, you can see just about anywhere in the world whenever you want. You can wander along the shores of just about any country to take in gorgeous white-sand beaches or even try your luck at getting a glimpse of the Himalayas.

But sometimes, the technology can reveal some of Earth’s dark, creepy secrets. Here are 24 Google Earth images that will give you an idea of where exactly you DON’T want to travel.

1. This large pentagram was found on the southern shore of the Upper Tobol Reservoir in Kazakhstan. It may not actually be that scary though. AsEmma Usmanova explained to Live Science, “It is the outline of a park made in the form of a star.” Stars were known to be popular symbols during the Soviet era and the park’s roadways make the shape more visible.

2. Check out this crimson-colored body of water found in Iraq’s Sadr City. It was first brought to the Internet’s attention back in 2007, which prompted a lot of speculation. Theories abound, the most gruesome of which states that it’s because nearby slaughterhouses dump blood in there, but an official explanation hasn’t been given.

3. These symbols found near Mesa Huerfanita, New Mexico, look like the work of aliens. But actually, it’s the work of Scientologists. The Washington Post explained, “The symbol marks a ‘return point’ so loyal staff members know where they can find the founder’s works when they travel here in the future from other places in the universe.” Alrighty then.

4. This one’s no longer visible today, the S.S. Jassim was once the largest shipwreck visible on Google Earth. The Bolivian cargo ferry met its demise after it sunk off the coast of Sudan in December 2003.

5. These creepy lines found in China’s Gobi Desert have caused a lot of speculation. Some say that this is most likely a Yagi antenna array, which is used to track weather for atmospheric research.

6. This geographical marvel located near Medicine Hat in the south-east corner of Alberta, Canada, appears to resemble an ancient Egyptian face from an aerial view. It’s totally natural and has been dubbed the Badlands Guardian.

7. The satellite image of an airplane graveyard is certainly attention-grabbing. The Davis-Monthan Air Force Base is located just outside of Tucson, Arizona, and it’s where retired planes go to be either be kept for storage or have their parts removed for reuse or resale. It looks super creepy.

8. Curious scanners for Google Earth found that this formation resembled human lips. They are formed by two rocky ridges and stretch a half a mile long, located in Gharb, Darfur, in Sudan.

9. This spiral in the Egyptian desert evokes a feeling of extraterrestrial or ancient Egyptian handiwork, but the piece was actually created by three Greek female artists back in March 1997 and covers an area of about 25 acres.

10. This piece was created by Scottish gangster and convicted murderer, Jimmy Boyle, who designed the sculpture while he was still in prison. The 100f-foot-tall structure was created at Hunters Hall Park in Craigmillar, Scotland. Creepy.

11. This aerial shot of Okey Bay in the North-East of New Zealand sparked a conversation about sea monsters when that snakelike mark was revealed, but a boat is visible upon further zoom, which makes it much more likely that this strip is just the path the boat had taken.

12. This one looks super sinister but it’s actually just a bit of waterworks. The Beatrixpark Dock in the Netherlands was quick to go viral after people saw what looked like a trail of blood leading to a body. What’s actually happening, though, is that a wet dog who loves to swim had made his way up and down the dock, making a trail of water that created creepy-looking contrast against the dry wood.

13. Someone dig through Stephan Hawking’s work and figure out this black hole situation! Kangtega is a major mountain peak of the Himalayas in Nepal with a summit of 6,782 meters. What that black spot really is is the peak of the mountain. No one knows why the peak shows up like this on satellite images.

14. You can see several shipwrecks when viewing the waters off of Shatt al-Arab in Basrah, Iraq, from above. According to, the General Company of Ports of Iraq estimates that there are about 36 shipwrecks in the area.

15. This crater, which is located in the Arizona desert, is about 1,200 meters in diameter and 170 m deep. You can really appreciate the scope of how huge this thing is from the air.

16. This pretty image is actually just the largest hot spring in the United States. The Grand Prismatic Spring is located in the Midway Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park.

17. This odd sight is Fort Bourtange, which was built in 1593 in the village of Bourtange, Groningen, Netherlands. The fort is currently home to a museum, but it looks super amazing and a little unsettling from the air.

18. Ah, the Nazca Lines. Located in southern Peru, there are a series of ancient geoglyphs that can only be appreciated from the sky. The largest figures are up to 370 m long and are believed to have been created between 500 BC and 500 AD. Their purpose and how they were so masterfully created so long ago remain mysteries.

19. This one definitely wouldn’t look abnormal from the ground, but one Imgur user screenshotted this section of cliffs on Google Earth and pointed out how it looks like the ocean is about to pour onto the land.

20. You definitely don’t want to stand behind these fighter jets. Those marks behind them are eroded bits of land that have been worn away by their toxic and super-hot exhaust fumes.

21. The Google Earth came flew over Michigan just in time to capture the scene of a horrific car accident.

22. The Alma College, a girls’ private school in St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada, was built back in 1878 but was destroyed by a fire in 2008 and many people are suspicious about how it started. In fact, two teenage boys were arrested and charged with arson. The building’s demise was captured by Google’s satellite showing the extent of the damage.

23. This image is of a very famous shipwreck. The Costa Concordia was wrecked off the coast of Isola del Giglio in Italy back in January of 2002. The Concordia-class cruise ship met its demise after it collided with a submerged rock and capsized later.

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‘Remember to look up at the stars’: the best Stephen Hawking quotes

The British physicist and author had a way with words. Here are a collection of some of his greatest quotationsModern cosmologys brightest star dies aged 76

Stephen Hawking, who has died aged 76, combined a soaring intellect and a mischievous sense of humour that made him an icon of both academia and popular culture.

Here are a collection of some of his greatest quotes:

  • For millions of years, mankind lived just like the animals. Then something happened which unleashed the power of our imagination. We learned to talk and we learned to listen. Speech has allowed the communication of ideas, enabling human beings to work together to build the impossible. Mankinds greatest achievements have come about by talking, and its greatest failures by not talking. It doesnt have to be like this. Our greatest hopes could become reality in the future. With the technology at our disposal, the possibilities are unbounded. All we need to do is make sure we keep talking.
  • My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.
  • I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken-down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.
  • I believe the simplest explanation is, there is no God. No one created the universe and no one directs our fate. This leads me to a profound realisation that there probably is no heaven and no afterlife either. We have this one life to appreciate the grand design of the universe and for that, I am extremely grateful.
  • Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you dont just give up.
  • Life would be tragic if it werent funny.
  • My expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21. Everything since then has been a bonus.
  • People who boast about their IQ are losers.
  • I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. Im not afraid of death, but Im in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first.
  • We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special.

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Exclusive: Gun lobbyist helped write ATF official’s proposal to deregulate

New York (CNN)Behind the scenes, a gun industry lobbyist provided comments that were directly incorporated into an internal memo at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, according to newly disclosed documents –a white paper that suggested the agency peel back a number of gun regulations.

“If I am missing the mark on a major issue or disregarding a major discussion point any feedback you have would be appreciated,” Turk wrote to the lobbyist, Mark Barnes, on January 9, 2017. “My hope is that the agency can demonstrate flexibility where appropriate and identify areas for further discussion, recognizing that solving everyone’s concerns on each side would be difficult.” 
The documents on the drafting of the white paper, as provided by the ATF, do not reflect any input from gun-control groups.
    Although the finalized white paper was leaked last year to the Washington Post, it was not known that Barnes — a lawyer who has lobbied for the National Rifle Association, a gun show trade group, and gun manufacturers — had helped draft it in the first place.
    Documents revealing the white paper and its never-before-seen drafts were obtained in recent weeks by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a gun control group that sued ATF to release them under public records laws.
    “I was surprised to see that the draft document had been emailed out to a gun industry lawyer and the final product took his suggestions as edits — without any disclosure of that until we went to court to get these documents,” said Avery W. Gardiner, co-president of the Brady Center. 
    After the Washington Post’s story about the white paper last February, the Brady Center filed a Freedom of Information Act public records request to ATF. The agency acknowledged it received the request, but for months it refused to respond or provide the documents. The Brady Center sued in October. At the behest of a federal judge in December, ATF agreed to release documents in January.
    “There was a secret white paper that was partially written by the gun lobby. That’s exactly the kind of thing the Freedom of Information Act is supposed to address — transparency of government,” Gardiner said.
    CNN obtained exclusive access to the documents on Tuesday before their public release by the Brady Center.
    Turk was already serving as Acting Deputy Director at the ATF, second in command, at the time Trump was elected. His initial draft of the white paper was dated November 16, 2016, a week after Trump won. Its original title page described its goals: “Guns in America — Options for a New Administration: Secure 2nd Amendments (sic) Rights, support for the firearms industry and the Violent Gun Crime Fight.”
    Near the top, that initial version cited the White House as its audience: “This paper serves to provide the new President and his administration multiple options regarding the regulation of firearms.”
    The finalized memo, dated inauguration day 2017, stated its goals more diplomatically.
    “This white paper is intended to provide ideas and provoke conversation; it is not guidance or policy of any kind,” it said.
    Its revised title: “Federal Firearms Regulations: Options to Reduce or Modify Firearms Regulations.”
    As the Washington Post reported last year, the white paper suggested a number of ways to reduce the agency’s regulation of gun manufacturers, dealers, owners and international trade. All of these reflected priorities of the gun industry.
    For example, Turk suggested the agency limit its scrutiny of licensed gun dealers at the United States border with Mexico, a strategy meant to limit trafficking semiautomatic weapons to drug cartels in Mexico, where they are illegal. He also recommended that ATF reduce the reporting obligations placed on gun dealers that sell a high number of guns eventually used in crimes and traced by police, to pursue only shops that sold 25 such guns instead of 10. That change “would likely have a positive impact on the firearms industry,” he wrote.
    Turk’s memo also proposed that ATF consider allowing gun dealers to sell across state lines at gun shows, which critics have noted would make it more difficult for law enforcement to track guns used in crimes.  
    But other provisions in the memo were authored by Barnes, the gun industry lawyer. The documents obtained by the Brady Center reveal the additions and edits that came from him.
    In one case, Barnes proposed an entire new section of the memo calling for ATF to conduct “a new sporting purpose study,” which would review the usage of AR-15 and AK-47 style semiautomatic rifles by the general public.
    “These firearm types are now standard for such sporting activities as bore (sic), coyote, and prairie-dog hunting. ATF should re-examine it’s (sic) almost 20 year old study to bring it up to date with the sport shooting landscape of today, which is vastly different than what it was in 1989 and 1998,” Barnes added in. Almost identical language appears in the final document.
    Gardiner said this addition could reflect the gun industry’s anticipation of a court fight about the right to own semiautomatic, military-style long guns, sometimes referred to as “assault weapons.” The Supreme Court’s 2008 Heller opinion, a landmark case that protected a person’s right to own a gun, included a note from Justice Antonin Scalia that asserts a person’s right to own guns “in common use.” Gun rights advocates could benefit in court from an ATF study that shows these rifles are commonly used.
    Barnes also suggested that the ATF do away with the restrictions on imports of Russian weapons like the SKS rifle and Makarov pistol. That suggestion came at a time when the United States is taking the opposite approach, implementing economic sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine and other reasons. That language was not included in the final white paper.
    Reached for comment on Tuesday, Barnes told CNN that there was nothing inappropriate about his contributions.
    “We didn’t craft anything. We just gave the bureau comments, which is not unusual. The bureau asks the trade for comments all the time,” he said.
    “To be clear, some of the items that we commented on or suggested for consideration were items that had previously been shared with the gun safety community, and they had a favorable reaction to them,” he added.
    As an example, he cited another of his additions: that licensed gun dealers should be allowed to use the FBI background check system to properly vet their employees. Currently, the system can only be used to review the history of gun buyers.
    According to employee emails released by ATF, the memo was eventually sent to ATF leadership. But the finalized memo did not indicate that Barnes had any involvement in drafting the white paper.
    ATF declined to comment for this story, pointing to Turk’s own statements to Congress, as quoted in the documents: “As indicated in the paper,” Turk said, “the views expressed regarding some topics which were mine are not the official position of ATF.” Reached by CNN on Tuesday, Turk declined to comment.
    The white paper does indeed emphasize, in a note at the end, that the views are Turk’s: “The opinions expressed within this white paper are not those of the ATF; they are merely the ideas and opinions of this writer … this paper is offered to provide informal insight on potential productive ways to limit regulation and continue to protect our Second Amendment freedoms, while focusing on ATF’s mission to protect our nation.”
    In a note accompanying the memo, ATF’s assistant director of Enforcement Programs and Services, Marvin G. Richardson, tried to clarify to division chiefs that this memo was not official policy. 
    “It is not policy or guidance but rather it is intended to open up dialogue on the various issues. Please review it and formulate any thoughts or ideas that you may have. We will discuss these issues at a meeting in the near future. As a reminder, this document is not for public dissemination so please regard it as internal only,” he wrote in January 2017.
    But there’s some indication the memo still caused some confusion within the agency. In at least one instance, the head of ATF’s Firearms and Ammunition Technology Division asked if the white paper meant that the US could start allowing imports of Chinese-made paintball gun parts that can also fit real firearms.
    David Chipman, a retired ATF special agent who is now a senior policy advisor at the pro-gun control group Giffords, told CNN he was dismayed by the gun lobbyist’s involvement in the memo. 
    “An independent ATF is critical to this nation’s security. The white paper suggests that the gun industry’s quest for power and influence has trumped public safety,” Chipman said.
    Correction: A previous version of this story misidentified David Chipman’s employer.

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    He Made the Gun That Slaughtered Parklands Kids

    Its the gun companies, stupid.

    Yes, the FBI failed to act on a tip from somebody close to Nikolas Cruz that he had a firearm and was liable to explode and go into a school just shooting the place up.

    Yes, the Broward County Sheriffs Office received two tipsone from a neighbors son, another from an unnamed callerthat Cruz had firearms and talked of committing a school shooting.

    Yes, the Broward County Sheriffs Office also reports it received a request from Cruzs aunt to secure his firearms, but dropped the matter after a family friend offered to take possession of the weapons.

    Yes, the Broward County deputy assigned to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School failed to take appropriate action when the shooting erupted.

    Yes, other deputies may have similarly failed after they arrived.

    But none of that would have any immediate significance if Cruz had not obtained the assault rifle with which he murdered 17 students and staff with over 100 bullets in four minutes.

    And the National Rifle Associations efforts to thwart restrictions on the sale of assault weapons would not matter if there were no assault weapons in the first place.

    The NRA has not manufactured a single assault rifle, though one of the organizations primary functions is to take heat away from those who do, while simultaneously making it appear as if the issue is freedom, not just money.

    The Tobacco Institute was never able to make the public forget that the cigarette companies are the actual death merchants.

    The NRA does so continually. It manages to draw virtually all the heat in the aftermath of mass shootings, most particularly after the one this month at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High.

    The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High survivors can tell you right away that Wayne LaPierre is the NRAs vocal executive director and CEO.

    And the survivors got to do verbal battle with NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch at CNNs town hall meeting.

    All the scorn and invective prompted by LaPierre and Loesch only means that they are doing their job and that the NRA is earning the millions in contributions it receives from the gun companies.

    Proof that the NRA earns its big bucks from the gun industry comes if you ask survivors about James Debney.



    A quick Google search shows that P. James Debney is the CEO and president of American Outdoor Brands, which until last year was named Smith & Wesson.

    By whatever name, the company Debney heads manufactured the AR-15 assault rifle that Cruz used to kill 14 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students and three staff members.

    LaPierre and Loesch are just mouthpieces and the NRA is just an industry shill.

    Debney and American Outdoor Brands actually made and marketed the monstrously lethal murder weapon.

    And Debney continues to do so even though he has a daughter of an age where she could have been among the dead, were she attending Marjory Stoneman Douglas High.

    Back in 2000, Smith & Wesson briefly became a good name among gun control advocatesand therefore an anathema in the gun industrywhen it became the sole company to enter into an agreement proposed by the Clinton administration to reduce gun violence.


    The statement noted, Todays agreement represents the first time a major gun manufacturer has committed to fundamentally change the way guns are designed, distributed and marketed. Smith & Wesson figured on getting some good publicity along with immunity.

    In exchange, the company agreed to install safety locking devices in future handguns and devote two percent of its revenues to developing technology that would allow only an authorized person to fire the weapon. The company also agreed not to produce guns that could accept magazines holding more than 10 rounds.

    Additionally, Smith & Wesson pledged to cut off dealers who sold a disproportionate number of guns subsequently used in crimes. And to insist upon background checks even at gun shows. And to collect ballistic fingerprints from sample shell casings and bullets from each new firearm, the results to be fed into a national database.

    Smith & Wesson further agreed not to produce for the civilian market large capacity magazines or semiautomatic assault weapons.

    The last one was easy for Smith & Wesson, which at that point only manufactured handguns and produced no assault weapons in the first place.

    Besides, the assault weapon ban was still in effect.

    Of course, the many companies that had produced and marketed assault rifles for civilians and hoped to do so again were incensed. They denounced Smith & Wesson as a traitor to the industry.

    In keeping with its role as an industry shill, the NRA announced a boycott of Smith & Wesson. The NRA declared that Smith & Wesson had committed an act of craven self-interest and had become the first to run up the white flag of surrender leaving its competitors in the U.S. firearms industry to carry on the fight for the Second Amendment.

    In keeping with their longtime role as chumps of the shill, a significant number of NRA members declined to buy Smith & Wesson products. A good many sold the ones they had.

    Hey, its all about individual freedom, right?

    Sales of Smith & Wesson firearms dropped by some 40 percent. The company seemed to be headed for bankruptcy when a startup safety lock company bought it. The new owner voided the agreement with the Clinton administration.

    It was important that we be an active part of the industry again, a senior executive of the newly configured Smith & Wesson Holding Company was reported saying.

    In September of 2004, the assault ban expired and gun companies began cashing in big time with what were at first euphemistically termed "tactical rifles and then even more euphemistically called modern sporting rifles.

    Smith & Wesson was in the midst of getting new leadership, having been further shaken when its chairman, James Minder, proved to have served time in prison for a string of armed robberies while a journalism student at the University of Michigan. The young Minder had started with one of his future company's revolvers but had then opted for a sawed-off shotgun.

    In a general shakeup, Smith & Wesson recruited Michael Golden, who was then president of the cabinetry division of Kohler Company. Golden took over Smith & Wesson in December of 2004 having never fired a gun. He reportedly did not know the difference between a revolver and an automatic pistol.

    Youre going to be a bad-ass, his son reportedly told him upon learning he was going to helm the same gun company that made the revolver carried by Dirty Harry in the movies.

    One difference between the gun business and the cabinetry business became apparent when Golden was invited to witness President George Bush sign the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act of 2005. The new law made firearms manufacturers immune from being held liable when criminals used their products. That was the same protection Smith & Wesson had briefly received from Clinton in exchange for accepting a host of gun-control measures, these including a ban on assault rifles.

    The whole industry now got that benefit without agreeing to so much as a safety lock. And Smith & Wesson saw in assault rifles an opportunity to make up for lost profit and regain some of its former standing in the industry. The company set to designing and producing its first AR-15.

    In 2006, Smith & Wesson introduced the M&P15 rifle. The M stood for military and the P for police, but the primary customers were civilians.

    RELIABILITY FOR LIFE & LIBERTY, trumpeted an introductory advertisement, which showed the rifle with a 30-round magazine.

    The ad continued, MEET THE NEW M&P FROM SMITH & WESSON. This rifle offers the latest standard of reliability when your job is to serve and protect and your life is on the line.

    The magazine Shooting Industry named Smith & Wesson Manufacturer of the Year. Production increased from 4,650 rifles in 2006, to 24,676 in 2007 to 38,372 in 2008 to 110,057 in 2009.

    Tactical rifles were up almost 200 percent versus the same period the year before, Golden enthused in a 2009 conference call, adding that sales had been extremely hot.

    But, where the stock had jumped from $10 to over $20 in the first 10 months of 2007, it then declined to $5 despite the rise in profits. The stock hovered around there through September of 2011, when the board of directors decided to replace Golden with Debney, who had been vice president of the firearms division. Debney had previously run a company that produced trash bags and plastic wrap.

    Debney kept selling assault rifles as if he were just selling more plastic after a madman with a Smith & Wesson assault rifle murdered 12 people in an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater. Debney told investors at a gathering two months later, What we get excited about is that expanded user base and the level of social acceptance that we see now out there. It is socially acceptable to carry a firearm, more so than beforeto carry a firearm for protection, have one at home for protection, go to the range to shoot as a pastime, as a hobby.

    Three months after that, another monster, this one armed with a Bushmaster assault rifle, murdered 20 children and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. The possibility that the mass murder of little kids might result in meaningful gun control caused a spike in assault rifle purchases by people who feared the weapons might soon be banned again. Bushmaster and Smith & Wesson and the other companies raked in the profits and just kept on selling assault rifles after a ban failed to materialize.

    In 2013, Debney was inducted into the NRAs Golden Ring of Freedom. An NRA video announcing the honor explains, The Gold Ring of Freedom is reserved for individuals and corporations who have made gifts of $1 million cash or more. These selfless, passionate and devoted leaders are vital in the effort to protect our freedoms now and in the future.

    The video goes on, What James Debney has done for Smith & Wesson has been truly incredible James is changing the firearm market in a very tangible way.

    Debney appears in the video as a gold jacket recipient and says, It certainly has been a fantastic time at Smith & Wesson.

    He says nothing about the profits, but makes sure to mention the Second Amendment.

    We are true believers in that and defenders of that and we are very closely aligned with the NRA, he says. The time had come to step up and do the right thing.

    By that, he meant contributing the $1 million plus in cash. The companys profits came to include the sale of the M&P15 that was used in the 2015 terror attack in San Bernardino. Fifteen were murdered.

    In December of 2016, Debney proposed changing the company name to American Outdoor Brands in a move toward diversifying. The board of directors approved.The company had produced 1,851,642 assault rifles along with a considerable number of handguns. The worry was that there would eventually prove to be only so many weapons you can sell even in America.

    Meanwhile, the company enjoyed another bump in assault weapon sales when it appeared that Hillary Clinton might become president and seek to institute a new ban.

    But the whole industry suffered a Trump slump after the unexpected election outcome. Remington, the company that owned Bushmaster, sought bankruptcy protection.

    Smith & Wesson did experience a modest bump after a madman used one of its M&P15s to murder 14 students and three staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High on Valentines Day.

    In the aftermath, the survivors of the shooting have been so passionate and determined and precociously articulate that it seems that something might actually happen this time.

    Much of their fury is directed at the NRA, which views being the subject of outrage as just part of its job.

    In focusing their anger on the likes of Wayne LaPierre, the survivors are distracted from the likes of James Debney, whose company actually designed, produced and marketed the weapon that killed so many innocents at their school. Debney knew it was a weapon of war. He also knew, or at least should have known, that M&P15 fires bullets of such velocity that when it hits flesh the accompanying shock wave extends the damage considerably outside the path of the bullet, shredding tissue, destroying entire organs, disintegrating blood vessels. He also knew that the M&P15 is a virtual twin to the Bushmaster AR-15 used with horrific effect on little kids at Sandy Hook.

    And yet he had kept selling it.

    Debney earns more than $5 million a year in what the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High survivors would no doubt consider blood money. He owns a large tract of land in Massachusetts, not far from the company headquarters in Springfield.

    The property includes a riding facility, for Debneys daughter is said to be something of a prodigy equestrian. Debneys wife, Karen, is so dedicated that she reportedly drives their daughter seven hours each way on the weekends to work with a top trainer in Maryland.

    The daughterwho seems to be an altogether nice kidwon a big championship in October, when she was just 13. Had she been living in Florida rather than Massachusetts and were she a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, she could have been in the freshman building on Valentines Day when one of daddy Debneys modern sporting rifles proved so murderously reliable.

    But hey, business is business.

    And those were somebody elses kids.

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    What the hell did Han Solo do to the Millennium Falcon?

    Now that we’ve seen the trailer for Solo: A Star Wars Story, I have one burning question: What the hell did Han Solo do to the Millennium Falcon?

    Star Wars is known for its “used universe” aesthetic, combining futuristic technology with a messy, lived-in atmosphere. That obviously includes the Millennium Falcon, which Luke described as a piece of junk during A New Hope. The ship is covered in a layer of grime, and some parts are basically held together with space duct tape. But in the Han Solo movie, we meet the Falcon during her younger days, and it’s a pretty eye-opening experience.

    We only see a couple of shots of the Falcon’s interior, including Lando and his droid friend L3-37 in the cockpit (unprecedentedly clean!), and what appears to be one of the corridors. For comparison’s sake, here’s the corridor in Solo:

    Star Wars/YouTube

    And here’s a shot showing one of the corridors in A New Hope. You can match up the same white panels and rows of dials on the walls.

    Star Wars: A New Hope

    In A New Hope, Han Solo is 29 years old. Solo takes place when Han is between the ages of 18 and 24, so we can estimate that he wins the Falcon from Lando Calrissian sometime in his early 20s. Which means that in the span of a few years, Han and Chewie turned the Falcon from a pristine example of Corellian design into a trash bucket full of exposed wires and unexplained stains.

    In conclusion, Han Solo is even messier than we thought, and you should never, under any circumstances, let him borrow your ship.

    Read more:

    Mom dies from flu after hospital sends her home

    (CNN)On Saturday, January 13, Tandy Harmon was an energetic maid of honor, running around with her best friend and making last-minute wedding preparations.

    That Monday — just two days after feeling fine — she was so sick that she went to the emergency room. Doctors diagnosed her with the flu and sent her home.
    The next day, the Portland, Oregon, mother of two went back to the hospital and was put on a ventilator. Three days later, the healthy 36-year-old was dead. Friends set up a GoFundMe page for her children, Madison and Jimmy, ages 11 and 12.
      Amid their grief, her family and friends have many questions: Why didn’t the ER doctors recognize how sick she was the first time she went?
      “Who’s to blame? Do you blame God? Do you blame the world?” asked her boyfriend, Steven Lundin. “Do you blame the doctors?”
      Harmon isn’t the first person to die from the flu this year shortly after being told it was OK to stay home.

      Flu takes a deadly turn

      Six-year-old Emily Muth of Cary, North Carolina, died the same day as Harmon. Just hours before, paramedics had told her mother she could remain at home, according to CNN affiliate WTVD.
      Infectious disease experts didn’t want to comment on any particular case but said that in general, it’s possible for medical professionals to miss the signs that an ordinary flu case is about to take a deadly turn.
      “We’re all human beings, and we’re all subject to making decisions occasionally that we wish we had done in another way,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
      But he said flu is “sneaky” and “devilish,” making it difficult — sometimes impossible — to pick out the relative few who will die of the flu among the thousands who will recover easily.
      “We wish we could predict the people who are going to take a turn for the worse,” he said. “It’s a gap in our knowledge.”

      Immune system turns against itself

      Dr. Buddy Creech, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt, said he wished there could be a coordinated effort to obtain blood samples from healthy young people, like Harmon and Muth, who die of the flu.
      “We would use our absolute best technology to find biomarkers in their blood that would point to some genetic or immune characteristics that make them different,” he said.
      Scientists do know one thing: Something called a cytokine storm appears to play a role in the deaths of young healthy people from the flu. This overproduction of immune cells turns the body’s immune system against itself.
      The “storm” can cause a surge of activated immune cells in the lungs, resulting in lung inflammation and fluid buildup, which in turn can lead to respiratory distress and pneumonia, according to doctors at the Scripps Research Institute.
      When Harmon and Muth sought medical attention, both were having trouble breathing, their families say.
      The Scripps scientists found that they could quiet the cytokine storm in flu-infected mice and ferrets by giving them an experimental drug.

      ‘It was pretty hard to watch’

      Dr. Michael Oldstone, a professor of immunology and microbiology at Scripps who was involved in the research, says he doesn’t know of any plans to do such studies in humans, but he wishes there were. “In the animals, if we blocked the main component of cytokine storm, then they had a good outcome,” he said.
      Harmon’s family and friends hope science advances so others won’t suffer the way she did. “Everything just collapsed within days. It was pretty hard to watch,” her boyfriend said.

      See the latest news and share your comments with CNN Health on Facebook and Twitter.

      Now, it’s her family that’s suffering.
      Before she got sick, Harmon and her children had moved in with her grandparents to help her grandmother care for her grandfather, who has dementia. Now, her grandmother is caring for both her husband and Harmon’s children alone.
      “I figured they have an antidote for almost anything,” Lundin said. “But there’s not much they could do. She had the flu.”

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