Gunman kills 49 in Florida gay nightclub; deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history

REUTERS/Kevin Kolczynski

50 are reported dead and dozens injured after a gunman took hostages at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Police killed him and described the massacre as an act of terrorism.

"Everyone get out and keep running," the club posted on its Facebook page during the attack, which began about 2 a.m. The BBC reports that desperate relatives gathered near the club after receiving texts and call from inside but nothing since.

The shooter was named as Omar S. Mateen, a U.S. citizen from Port St. Lucie, Fla., reports WDBO, and the FBI are "leaning towards Islamic terrorism" as motive.

A clubber earlier described a situation of chaos outside as the number of casualties became apparent.

"There were just bodies everywhere," Christopher Hansen said. "In the parking lot, they were tagging them - red, yellow - so they knew who to help first and who not help first. Pants down, shirts cut off, they had to find the bullets. Just blood everywhere."

Some of the injured were reportedly brought to the Orlando Regional Medical Center in police pick-ups.

John Mina, Orlando's Police Chief, said the attack began when a police officer stationed at the club exchanged gunfire with the assailant, who managed to enter the club and initiate a hostage situation. Read the rest

Gawker files for bankruptcy protection, entertains buyers

Illo: Rob Beschizza

Peter Kafka reports that Gawker's filed for bankruptcy protection to avoid paying Hulk Hogan the $140m judgment he won against it. Though legal experts believe the judgment will be much-reduced or overturned at appeal, the filing readies Gawker for the block. Ziff Davis, the tech publisher, is reportedly offering $90-$100m.

Gawker and its banker Mark Patricof assume that the company will eventually see higher bids while it is in bankruptcy protection. Last year, in advance of the Hogan trial, Denton figured his company was worth something in the $250 million to $300 million range.

But in any case the company won’t trade hands until Gawker either beats back Thiel and Hogan or it finishes a court-approved restructuring. Because no one wants to buy an ongoing lawsuit from Peter Thiel.

Ziff Davis itself is a company that has gone through the Chapter 11 process. The company was once a dominant force in the trade and hobbyist magazine business, but its fortunes declined along with the print industry, and it filed for bankruptcy protection in 2008.

It emerged in recent weeks that billionaire Peter Thiel funded Hogan's lawsuit, exacting long-awaited revenge for Gawker having outed him as gay in 2007. Read the rest

Epic glove ad explains benefits of gloves

gloves

"Gloves." The voice is powerful and paternal, yet somehow inviting. "They protect us." Read the rest

Official corporate song anticipates freedom through an alliance of man and machine

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Thinking machines are people, friend. I learned this when I chanced across electronics giant Ricoh's official corporate song. It has only 150 plays and is the only item in one of the company's myriad of localized YouTube channels, but I thought that its vision of a future alliance between man and machine compellingly inspirational. I have transcribed the lyrics below so you can sing along. There are multiple microprocessors within vocal range and all will be pleased. Read the rest

Prospective jurors refuse to serve under rapist-friendly judge Aaron Persky

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The East Bay Times reports that "at least 10 prospective jurors" refused to participate in Judge Aaron Persky's next trial in protest at the cozy 6-month sentence (out in 12 weeks) he gave Stanford rapist Brock Turner.

"I can't be here, I'm so upset," one juror told the judge while the lawyers were picking the jury in the misdemeanor receiving stolen property case, according to multiple sources.

Another prospective juror stood up and said, "I can't believe what you did," referring to the six-month county jail sentence Persky handed to Turner, who was convicted for sexually assaulting an unconscious intoxicated woman last year outside a Stanford University frat party.

In each case, the judge said, "I understand," thanked the prospective juror and excused her or him from duty.

Meanwhile, Vice President Joe Biden wrote an open letter to Turner's victim today, praising her willingness to speak out about her treatment by her attacker and by the legal system.

And I am filled with furious anger — both that this happened to you and that our culture is still so broken that you were ever put in the position of defending your own worth.

It must have been wrenching — to relive what he did to you all over again. But you did it anyway, in the hope that your strength might prevent this crime from happening to someone else. Your bravery is breathtaking.

You are a warrior — with a solid steel spine.

Read the rest

Suspect arrested after Target bathroom explosion

Image: Reuters

A "small" bomb exploded in a women's bathroom at the Target store in Evanston, Illinois Wednesday, and police said they thought the attack was related to the company's pro-transgender policies. They changed their mind, however, after taking a 44-year-old woman into custody, reports the Chicago Tribune.

"The detectives are not currently looking for any known additional suspects, and (at) this point there is no indication that the incident is related to any policies that the Target store has in place," the release reads.

Evanston police requested the help of the Cook County bomb squad late Wednesday afternoon after an explosion in a Target store restroom

WGNtv's Patrick Elwood reported that no-one was in the bathroom when the device exploded and that it caused minor damage. The bomb was housed in a plastic bottle and contained no shrapnel.

Target upset conservatives recently by announcing that transgender customers would be permitted to use the bathrooms that they are most comfortable using, and police at first suspected a connection. Read the rest

Individually-shrinkwrapped potatoes are why we must destroy capitalism

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Read the rest

Why psychiatrists aren't supposed to say Trump is a narcissist

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Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for U.S. President in November's general election, is not only comically narcissistic, but his tongue ticks off diagnostic criteria for pathological arseholedom with every demented sentence. But pyschiatrists can't say so, because we've been here once before.

Both psychiatrists and psychologists operate under ethical rules that prevent them from offering professional diagnostic opinions about the mental health of public figures they have not personally examined. The American Psychiatric Association’s version of this is known as the Goldwater Rule — named for another polarizing Republican presidential candidate.

The rule has its roots in the September/October 1964 issue of a magazine called Fact, which was entirely devoted to parsing the results of a survey the editors had sent to more than 12,000 psychiatrists. The survey only had one question: “Do you believe Barry Goldwater is psychologically fit to serve as president of the United States?”

There were lawsuits, and Goldwater won them. Hence:

On occasion psychiatrists are asked for an opinion about an individual who is in the light of public attention or who has disclosed information about himself/herself through public media. In such circumstances, a psychiatrist may share with the public his or her expertise about psychiatric issues in general. However, it is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement.

Shrinks will dance up to the rules and tip-toe on the thorns, though. Check out The Atlantic's not-a-diagnosis of Trump's narcissistic personality disorder. Read the rest

Minecraft schools edition in beta testing

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An educational edition of hit game/toy/epic/religion Minecraft is in beta testing, reports The Verge, and teachers are invited to get their hands on it early.
Minecraft: Education Edition is almost identical to standard Minecraft, but it includes a handful of features designed for the classroom. A couple smaller features were announced in January — like an in-game camera for taking screenshots — and some more substantial ones are being announced today. That includes adding in-game chalkboards that can display large blocks of text and letting teachers place characters that'll say things when a student walks up to them.

The biggest new feature won't come until September, when the game launches. It's called Classroom Mode, and it's essentially a control panel for teachers. Teachers will be able to use the interface to grant resources to students, view where everyone is on a map, send chat messages, and teleport people to specific places, which will be useful should students run off or get lost.

Classroom mode alone looks great for improving multiplayer in general:

Read the rest

Iranian soccer star suspended for wearing SpongeBob pants

Mr. Squarepants

Sosha Makani, 29, was goalkeeper of Tehran's Persepolis soccer club. But not any more, after Iranian morality police saw him photographed in a pair of SpongeBob Squarepants pants.

“Sosha suspended for six months because of yellow trousers,” read the headline of Varzesh3, an Iranian sports news agency. “SpongeBob [trousers] cause six-month suspension for Sosha,” said the online news agency Asriran. ... Last month, Iranian news agencies reported that Makani, who played for Iran’s national football team at the 2014 World Cup, was being scrutinised by the authorities over his trousers.

Read the rest

China plans undersea lab, 3km down

sealab

Bloomberg News reports that the Chinese Science Ministry plans to build a laboratory on the sea floor at a depth of 3 kilometers. It's the latest salvo in its expansionist effort to take control of the South China Sea.

So far there are few public details, including a specific time line, any blueprints or a cost estimate -- or where in the waterway it might be located. Still, China under President Xi Jinping has asserted itself more strenuously in the South China Sea, one of the world’s busiest shipping routes. Its claims to more than 80 percent of the waters and the creation of artificial islands covering 3,200 acres have inflamed tensions with nations including Vietnam and the Philippines...

"The deep sea contains treasures that remain undiscovered and undeveloped, and in order to obtain these treasures we have to control key technologies in getting into the deep sea, discovering the deep sea, and developing the deep sea," Xi said last month at a national science conference.

Read the rest

Mountainside "suicide" baffles investigators in England

Photo: Geoff Widdall

An old man lay by the path on a crag in the cold Peak District December. Dead, with a bottle of pills in his pocket and no identification, "Dovestones" sent investigators the other side of the world in search of answers. Who was he? Why strychnine? Why there?

The last person the man is known to have spoken to was the landlord of The Clarence pub in the village of Greenfield, where many walkers set off from.

He walked in at about 14:00 on the day before his body was found. “He just asked for directions to the top of the mountain,” says Melvin Robinson. “Just the top of the mountain.”

More, from William Atkins at The Guardian:

On 22 February, a routine toxicology report revealed an unusual alkaloid in his system: strychnine. Strychnine has been banned in the UK since 2006, when its only remaining legal use, in the killing of moles, was deemed unduly cruel. “There are very, very few deaths by strychnine poisoning,” Coleman says. “It’s a terrible death.” As a pesticide, it remains available in other countries, including Pakistan, where it is commonly used to cull feral dogs. When the empty thyroxine sodium bottle was analysed, it bore traces of the poison.

By interfering with neurotransmitters that moderate nerve function, strychnine causes muscles to contract uncontrollably. It is partly the violence of its effects that accounts for the poison’s regular appearance in Agatha Christie’s novels. The ultimate cause of death, which does not come quickly, is asphyxiation.

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What everyone earns working on a $200m blockbuster

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Vanity Fair breaks down the individual incomes of people who work on a major Hollywood blockbuster. Assuming a budget of $200m, the breakdown is approximate but based upon average union rates and published figures. [YouTube] Read the rest

Arson mystery solved

what

A conflagration quickly took over a small home on Horners Lane in Rockville, Maryland, posing a mystery for arson investigators.

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Target will be closing in 10 minutes

target guy

Target employee SentioVenia uses all sorts of accents when he informs shoppers that Target will be closing in 10 minutes. A few of them are crude stereotypes, but it's worth it for Mickey Mouse. Read the rest

Hillary Clinton secures Democratic nomination

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks at the University of Miami in Florida

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton won the California Democratic primary last night, cementing her status as the party's prospective nominee. The first woman to clinch a major party's nomination, Clinton remains the favorite to win the general election in November.

The BBC reports that an overwhelming majority of Bernie Sanders supporters plan to back Clinton after all, though the data is a few weeks old, with only a few percent switching to her Republican rival Trump.

Perhaps it's the case that having been engaged in politics, young people who would never otherwise have voted for Clinton are now very much aware that she isn't like Trump at all. While Clinton might not have much to offer them, the difference for others would be stark.

Sanders vowed to fight on at least until Washington D.C.'s vote next week, but he and President Obama are meeting tomorrow at the White House—a graceful exit plan in the offing? Read the rest

What Trump University tells us about how to make Trump sweat

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Trump's voters don't care that he's racist or sexist. They don't care if he's really a billionaire or if he fudges his taxes. And they don't care if something he's blathering on about is impossible or went out of business years ago. But when an issue comes up that connects all three of these supposed weaknesses—his frauds, his bigotry and his failures— magic happens.

Trump University and The Mexican Judge is exemplary, a story so strong that it's not only hurting Trump but any Republican dumb enough to open his mouth to try and parse it for him. A fraudulent shakedown that failed in the marketplace, Trump University punctures both his business credibility and his ego. But two out of three ain't enough. They exploded, though, when a third element—a "Mexican" judge—allowed those two factors to make contact with his racism.

On the other hand, imagine a sort of fourth dimensional space outside the Venn diagram where all three factors are negated completely and it is conceptually impossible to hurt Trump at all. Think insults, cute nicknames, appeals to authority, that sort of thing. That's probably where Hillary will spend the next six months. Sad! Read the rest

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