US once investigated Orlando shooter over ties to bombing in Syria, but did not arrest him

Police forensic investigators work at the crime scene of a mass shooting at the Pulse gay night club in Orlando, FL. June 12, 2016. REUTERS

The shooter who killed 49 people at a gay-friendly bar in Orlando, Florida had been on the FBI’s radar for three years.

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Police forensic investigators work at the crime scene of a mass shooting at the Pulse gay night club in Orlando, FL. June 12, 2016. REUTERS

The shooter who killed 49 people at a gay-friendly bar in Orlando, Florida had been on the FBI’s radar for three years.

(more…)

Courts and Academics Agree: The U.S. Needs Bans on Assault Weapons

New research and recent court decisions point to the undeniable conclusion that more robust gun bans would reduce mass shootings.

In light of the tragic mass shooting at an Orlando gay club, the political debate is back on over whether U.S. gun laws are too lenient. Addressing the situation June 12, President Obama said that “we need to keep guns like the ones used last night out of the hands of terrorists or other violent criminals.”

It’s fair to say that guns like the AR-15-style rifle that helped kill 49 people and injure at least 53 more in Orlando should be kept out of the hands of anyone—not just those who commit crimes and acts of terror. People who make this argument are often accused of hoplophobia by NRA denizens. However, the research around gun restrictions, such as bans on assault weapons, is becoming clearer in its conclusions: Such laws do tend to reduce gun-related homicides. 

This conclusion has been refuted in many studies, particularly those commissioned by people who oppose gun-control laws. However, as Ezra Klein explained on Vox, a group of Columbia University researchers are aiming to settle the matter for good: They recently published the findings of a meta-review of roughly 130 studies conducted across the world on the impact of gun-control laws and gun-related injuries and deaths. The studies examined were performed by scientists across 10 countries in both developing and developed nations, including the U.S. Their chief finding, as Klein writes:

First, and most importantly, that gun violence declined after countries pass a raft of gun laws at the same time: “The simultaneous implementation of laws targeting multiple firearms restrictions is associated with reductions in firearm deaths,” the study finds.  

Meaning that for the most optimal impact, it takes a village of gun laws—assault-weapon bans, more stringent background checks and permit requirements—passed in one omnibus bill to see a reduction in gun violence. This is what South Africa did in 2000, and the result was a 13.6 percent drop in gun-related homicides in each of the five following years across five cities. Other studies have also concluded that law packages like this also have reduced gun violence in U.S. states and cities. 

Of course, in the U.S. it’s often tough enough for just one state to pass just one gun restriction. In Virginia last year, the attorney general ceased the state’s policy of honoring concealed-carry gun permits issued by other states if those states’ laws did not match Virginia’s permitting standards. That policy barely lasted a month before it was rescinded. Washington, D.C., passed a law banning handgun possession in 1976, but the U.S. Supreme Court determined in 2008 that it was a violation of the Second Amendment. This handed a major victory to opponents of gun control laws.  

However, other states and cities, have made progress on implementing gun-control policies, often with the support of the courts. Highland Park, a small city just outside of Chicago, passed an assault-weapon ban in 2015, which a federal court upheld. Similar bans on assault weapons are currently in place in a handful of other states, including Connecticut and California—both of which have suffered mass shootings in recent years. 

Connecticut toughened its assault-weapon ban in 2013 after a man walked into a school in Newtown and killed 20 children and six adults with a gun similar to the one used in the Orlando massacre. A Connecticut group opposing the ban has challenged the law, but courts haven’t ruled in their favor. On June 16, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether to hear the case, but the National Law Journal reports that it’s doubtful the justices will accept the case. 

“Since its landmark 2008 ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller, the high court has declined numerous requests by gun-rights advocates to examine the scope of protection for firearms—from concealed-carry bans to open-carry and guns on campus,” writes Marcia Coyle for the National Law Journal. “One possible reason? Lower courts have largely been uniform in upholding firearm restrictions.”

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in May from a Maryland group opposing a semiautomatic-weapon ban law passed by their state in response to the Newtown shooting. Prior to that, a three-judge panel struck that law down in a 2-1 decision. The majority ruled that such bans burden Second Amendment rights by preventing the ownership of guns that could be used for lawful purposes. The one dissenting judge, Robert King, called this dishonest. As Coyle excerpted from King’s dissent: 

Let’s be real: The assault weapons banned by Maryland’s [Firearm Safety Act] are exceptionally lethal weapons of war. In fact, the most popular of the prohibited semiautomatic rifles, the AR-15, functions almost identically to the military’s fully automatic M16.

This is the same kind of gun that was used in Orlando. And it’s no longer in question what kind of damage those weapons can do, whether on a field of war or in a school or a nightclub.

Fiat to provide self-driving cars to Amazon and Uber?

fiat-uber-amazon

Fiat Chrysler is making some more moves in the tech world, meeting with Amazon and Uber earlier this week to talk self-driving. The automaker wants to provide the two companies with test cars, in the hope that it leads to further partnerships down the road. It comes a month after Fiat partnered with Google’s self-driving… Read more »

The post Fiat to provide self-driving cars to Amazon and Uber? appeared first on ReadWrite.

fiat-uber-amazon

Fiat Chrysler is making some more moves in the tech world, meeting with Amazon and Uber earlier this week to talk self-driving. The automaker wants to provide the two companies with test cars, in the hope that it leads to further partnerships down the road.

It comes a month after Fiat partnered with Google’s self-driving efforts, sending 100 Chrysler Pacifica hybrids to Silicon Valley for testing.

See Also: BMW to launch iNext autonomous car in 2021

Fiat would like to be the main supplier of Uber’s self-driving taxi fleet, which CEO Travis Kalanick is interested in establishing. The ridesharing app started testing customized Ford Fusion self-driving cars in Pittsburgh last month, and Fiat may supply Uber with additional cars.

According to Steve Jurvetson, a Tesla board member, Kalanick said that he is willing to purchase every single Tesla car once it has full automation capabilities. That’s a big deal, especially for automotive manufacturers that are struggling, like Fiat.

The Amazon talks are a bit different, Fiat is reportedly focused on deliveries. It wants to provide self-driving cars as a way for Amazon to complete the “last mile” of a delivery even quicker, and perhaps lower the cost of the delivery by removing the driver.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos recently spoke at the Code Conference about the lack of delivery options at peak times, stating that during holiday seasons Amazon needs much more than what’s currently available to manage all of the orders. Having a driverless fleet for purchase or rent could be a good way to get around the lack of availability.

From what we’ve seen, Amazon appears to be more interested in drones than self-driving cars as a means for last mile delivery. We may see multiple delivery services however, with drones used for small packages and self-driving cars for larger and more fragile items.

The Bloomberg report does say that the talks are preliminary, so we shouldn’t expect any announcements in the next few months.

Fiat will be into “hardware?”

Fiat is taking a different position to many automakers, which have started to test self-driving systems internally or purchase startups, in the case of General Motors, to build their portfolio.

While this may result in Fiat becoming nothing more than a hardware manufacturer, it may also stop the company from wasting billions trialling the technology and bringing it to market, instead becoming a supplier for future services that want autonomous vehicles.

That does bring up the question of what an automaker’s purpose is in the future. Will you purchase a car, lease it, or order it from apps like Uber and Lyft? All three are potential options and the lease and order option change the market dynamic for automakers tremendously.

The post Fiat to provide self-driving cars to Amazon and Uber? appeared first on ReadWrite.

Ubisoft is bringing Star Trek to VR this Fall

Star Trek VR Well, this just rocketed to the top our list of most eagerly anticipated VR games in warp speed. At its big pre-E3 press conference, Ubisoft unveiled Star Trek: Bridge Crew, a new title set to arrive on the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR this fall. The title was unveiled courtesy of a trailer featuring Trek vets Levar Burton, Jeri Ryan, and Karl Urban playing the game together as… Read More

Star Trek VR Well, this just rocketed to the top our list of most eagerly anticipated VR games in warp speed. At its big pre-E3 press conference, Ubisoft unveiled Star Trek: Bridge Crew, a new title set to arrive on the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR this fall. The title was unveiled courtesy of a trailer featuring Trek vets Levar Burton, Jeri Ryan, and Karl Urban playing the game together as… Read More

Why Apple wants to be the smart home’s nerve center

wwdc On Monday, Apple announced that it would make an app called Home available to users soon, allowing them to connect and control all of their HomeKit-enabled smart home devices from their iPads, iPhones or even watches. Per an earlier TechCrunch report live from the event, the Home app will let users control a Fantasia-like orchestra of smart gadgets from one place, including… Read More

wwdc On Monday, Apple announced that it would make an app called Home available to users soon, allowing them to connect and control all of their HomeKit-enabled smart home devices from their iPads, iPhones or even watches. Per an earlier TechCrunch report live from the event, the Home app will let users control a Fantasia-like orchestra of smart gadgets from one place, including… Read More

How Cyclists Are Making the Most of D.C. Metro’s Service Cuts

Record-breaking bike ridership is cause for optimism among D.C.’s cycling supporters. 

For all the talk of Metro-pocalypse, last week’s first surge of service cuts for a year-long Metrorail maintenance plan in Washington, D.C., did not result in transportation catastrophe. 

WMATA reported a 25 percent drop in boardings along many reduced-service sections of the Orange and Silver Lines in Fairfax and Arlington counties in Virginia. Car counts showed fewer automobiles than average on many corridors and highways. Perhaps most promising, the number of bike commuters went way up throughout the metro area. 

Make that way, way up: Monday through Wednesday, automated counters stationed throughout Arlington County showed increases of two-wheeled traffic upwards of 70 percent compared to June 2015 (see the chart below, provided by Bike Arlington, a county-supported cycling support initiative).

And though the first surge of service cuts (which will last through June 16) only directly affects service in the Virginia suburbs, bike commuters within D.C. city limits also turned out in higher numbers. According to Kim Lucas, a bicycle and pedestrian program specialist for the D.C. Department of Transportation, the 15th Street cycle track saw its highest-ever recorded ridership last Thursday, with a 29 percent increase in cyclists compared to June 2015. The Metropolitan Branch Trail in Northeast D.C. also saw a significant uptick. Lucas, who helps manage Capital Bikeshare, says that program also saw a spike in rentals, helped by a special $2 single-trip fare announced just before SafeTrack began.


Bike counter numbers in Arlington County, Virginia. (Provided by Bike Arlington)

It’s still too early to tell if Metro’s service cuts are the sole driver of these leaps in bike ridership. This is only a week’s worth of data, and a week that happened to have gorgeous weather. 

Still, these numbers suggest that there’s region-wide interest in cycling in the face of major changes to rail service. And that’s cause for optimism among local cycling officials and advocates, who have been furiously building support for commuters as Metro’s services decline. Alongside enhanced purchase offerings, Capital Bikeshare is increasing the number of bikes and corrals available. Bike Arlington and the Washington Area Bicycling Association are offering rush-hour group rides, “bike buddy” pairing programs, and educational seminars as an effort to push fed-up Metro commuters toward bikes instead of cars.

“We’re not interested in making Metro riders into diehard cyclists,” says Daniel Hoagland, the programs director at WABA. “We just want them to see biking as a tool in their toolkit that they can use without being afraid.”

In that sense, SafeTrack is a golden opportunity for D.C.’s bike community. Research shows that major shifts in context, such as moving homes, can drive people to make lasting changes to their transportation patterns. SafeTracks could have the potential to do the same over the next year, and hopefully beyond, says Lucas.

“This is going to shake people out of their habits,” she says. “For people who are interested in biking, but didn’t have that last push to try it as their everyday commute, I think this will encourage that change.”

Of course, switching from train to bike is easier for some commuters than others. Riding from northern Virginia into Northwest D.C. isn’t too hard, with plenty of separated lanes on surface streets and bridges crossing over the Potomac. By contrast, for large swaths of further-out Northeast D.C. and much of Prince George’s County—which will both be affected by the next “surge” of service cuts beginning, June 18—bike infrastructure is scant and disconnected. When trains stop running for 16 days along eastern portions of the Orange, Blue, and Silver Lines, “there probably aren’t going to be many folks taking on cycling in New Carrolton and Largo,” Hoagland says.

But plenty of folks will have their commutes disrupted by that surge—some of the most economically vulnerable residents in the D.C. metro area, in fact. If ever there’s been a time to push for more bike facilities east of the Anacostia River, it’s now. According to Hoagland, WABA has been working with DDOT to install some temporary bike facilities in those neighborhoods. Longer-term, he hopes SafeTrack’s inconveniences will force jurisdictions that haven’t seriously invested in bike infrastructure—namely, Prince George’s County—to start moving faster. 

Until then, bike advocates are crossing their fingers that turnout among cyclists remains high as SafeTrack stretches on and the summer turns muggy. “If we have a lot more people out there riding and seeing the need for more and better-planned infrastructure, people can start contacting their representatives to say that this is a benefit,” says Henry Dunbar, the program director of Bike Arlington. For all the inconveniences, “there are many silver linings about this period.” 

Music Video: ‘Strict Machine,’ Goldfrapp (2003)

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Music video: Goldfrapp performing ‘Strict Machine.’

Trips me out to realize this song is 13 years old. It never aged, for me, and I’m enjoying it again today. Here’s a Vimeo link if you prefer.

I’m dressed in white noise
U know just what I want so please
Wonderful electric, wonderful electric
Wonderful electric, cover me in u

200992481_1280x720
goldfrapp-strict-machine-paris-loaded-mute-cs goldfrapp-strict-machine-paris-loaded-2004-cs

433155538_1280x720

Music video: Goldfrapp performing ‘Strict Machine.’

Trips me out to realize this song is 13 years old. It never aged, for me, and I’m enjoying it again today. Here’s a Vimeo link if you prefer.

I’m dressed in white noise
U know just what I want so please
Wonderful electric, wonderful electric
Wonderful electric, cover me in u

200992481_1280x720
goldfrapp-strict-machine-paris-loaded-mute-cs goldfrapp-strict-machine-paris-loaded-2004-cs

Geraldo scolds Orlando victims: “For God’s sakes, fight back!”

Geraldo

Geraldo Rivera thinks the victims of the Orlando massacre made the wrong choice yesterday morning when they were attacked with an AR-15 assault rifle: “When you’re in that situation and you have no weapons, you have two choices. If you can’t hide and you can’t run, there are two choices. You stay and die, or you fight. For God’s sakes, fight back. Fight back.”

“There’s a hundred people that he murdered with one weapon that he reloaded,” Rivera continued, inflating the death toll from a reported 49. “When he reloaded, they must—people must—America must understand, we are at war with Islamic terror, with these terrorists. We’ve got to stop them in Raqqa, we’ve got to stop them in Mosul, and we’ve got to stop them in the Pulse in Orlando.”

Read more from The Daily Beast.

Geraldo

Geraldo Rivera thinks the victims of the Orlando massacre made the wrong choice yesterday morning when they were attacked with an AR-15 assault rifle: “When you’re in that situation and you have no weapons, you have two choices. If you can’t hide and you can’t run, there are two choices. You stay and die, or you fight. For God’s sakes, fight back. Fight back.”

“There’s a hundred people that he murdered with one weapon that he reloaded,” Rivera continued, inflating the death toll from a reported 49. “When he reloaded, they must—people must—America must understand, we are at war with Islamic terror, with these terrorists. We’ve got to stop them in Raqqa, we’ve got to stop them in Mosul, and we’ve got to stop them in the Pulse in Orlando.”

Read more from The Daily Beast.

JFE Steel rolls out industrial IoT to harmonize plants

hot steel on conveyor Close shot in steel mill

JFE Steel, the fifth largest steel maker in the world, will standardize its core platform across all factories, using the Internet of Things (IoT) to connect factories together for better management. JFE Holdings, the parent company of JFE Steel, plans to spend $652 million to bring IoT to its factories by 2022. It says that… Read more »

The post JFE Steel rolls out industrial IoT to harmonize plants appeared first on ReadWrite.

hot steel on conveyor Close shot in steel mill

JFE Steel, the fifth largest steel maker in the world, will standardize its core platform across all factories, using the Internet of Things (IoT) to connect factories together for better management.

JFE Holdings, the parent company of JFE Steel, plans to spend $652 million to bring IoT to its factories by 2022. It says that the single database will shorten production times, reduce order delivery times, and detect signs of equipment failure earlier.

It is going to be tough for JFE Steel to create this single database, since its steel mills in Chiba, Kanagawa, Okayama, and Hiroshima all use differing systems.

On top of the benefits already mentioned, JFE Steel will also be able to send improvements from one factory to the rest. If one steel mill shows a higher production rate or better steel quality, JFE can instantaneously implement the advantages at other mills.

Bringing the factories online could also bring benefits that are unforeseen, like enhancing regional production if the local economy is doing better than other cities.

JFE Steel to start with Japan

JFE has not said if it will bring the same operating system to its other steel ventures, like California Steel, Fujian Sino-Japan in China, or Minas de Serra Geral in Brazil. If it does standardize systems worldwide, the effects of local economy may have an even greater impact on the production of steel.

Smart factories are starting to look like the next major step in the Internet of Things (IoT) revolution. Germany has already named it ‘Industry 4.0’, claiming the advances IoT will bring are equal to the implementation of steam power or computers in the industry.

While others countries are not as excited about the possibilities of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), we are starting to see more manufacturing companies like Foxconn and Toyota invest into connected platforms.

The post JFE Steel rolls out industrial IoT to harmonize plants appeared first on ReadWrite.

Wattpad partners with Turner, M. Night Shyamalan for ‘Tales from the Crypt’

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LOS ANGELES — Wattpad, an online community of readers and writers, announced Monday that it is kicking off a development partnership with broadcast giant Turner.

The first project, scheduled to debut next year, will be TNT’s Tales from the Crypt horror blockThe 1950s comic will be adapted into a “weekly dose of terror and suspense curated by M. Night Shyamalan,” Wattpad and Turner said.

As part of this collaboration, Wattpad community members can submit stories to Turner, and selected writers may have their stories adapted.

More about Tv, Wattpad, M. Night Shyamalan, Entertainment, and Media

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LOS ANGELES — Wattpad, an online community of readers and writers, announced Monday that it is kicking off a development partnership with broadcast giant Turner.

The first project, scheduled to debut next year, will be TNT’s Tales from the Crypt horror blockThe 1950s comic will be adapted into a “weekly dose of terror and suspense curated by M. Night Shyamalan,” Wattpad and Turner said.

As part of this collaboration, Wattpad community members can submit stories to Turner, and selected writers may have their stories adapted.

More about Tv, Wattpad, M. Night Shyamalan, Entertainment, and Media