A suspect was apprehended after killing three people and injuring one other Tuesday in downtown Fresno, California, in what authorities are calling “a random act of violence.” Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said at a news conference the suspect, who was identified as 39-year-old Kori Ali Muhammad, allegedly shot and killed three people in the city’s downtown area, including a Pacific Gas & Electric employee and two others outside a Catholic Charities facility. Muhammad, who police say yelled “God is great” in Arabic before he was apprehended, was wanted by police on suspicion of fatally shooting a security guard outside a Fresno hotel last week. Dyer added the suspect’s Facebook page indicated “he does not like white people,” and also included “anti-government sentiments.” Authorities did not label the incident a hate crime, and said it is too soon to determine if it was an act of terrorism. Muhammad is believed to have acted alone and faces four counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder.
This story is developing and we will update it as we learn more.
Pedro Hernandez Sentenced to 25 Years to Life in Etan Patz Murder Case
Pedro Hernandez was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison Tuesday for the kidnapping and murder of 6-year-old Etan Patz, marking an end to the infamous case that began nearly four decades ago. Hernandez was convicted by a New York jury in February at the end of the case’s second trial. The first, which took place in 2015, ended in a mistrial after the jury deadlocked. Hernandez confessed in 2012 that he lured Patz into the basement of the grocery store where he worked in 1979 and strangled him; Hernadez’s lawyers argued the confession was a product of police manipulation and that Hernandez is mentally ill. Patz, whose body was never found, was one of the first missing children to ever be pictured on a milk carton. The anniversary of his disappearance has since been commemorated as National Missing Children’s Day.
United Airlines CEO: No One Will Be Fired Over Dragging Incident
United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz said Tuesday no one would be fired from the airline over last week’s incident in which a passenger was dragged off what was thought to be an overbooked flight. The airlines’s executives added it was too soon to tell how the incident has affected ticket sales. Video of the incident, which showed police forcibly drag the 69-year-old passenger, Dr. David Dao, off his seat and down the plane’s aisle, generated global backlash against the airline and wiped nearly $1 billion off United Continental Holdings Inc’s value. Munoz condemned the event as a “system failure” and vowed the airline would no longer use law enforcement to remove passengers who are “booked, paid, seated.” The controversy prompted other airlines to revisit their policies, as well. Delta Airlines announced Friday it would increase its compensation to passengers removed from overbooked flights from $1,350 to $9,950, and American Airlines said it would no longer permit the removal of passengers who have already boarded the plane.
Police Say Facebook-Murder Suspect Steve Stephens Found Dead
Updated at 1:23 p.m.
Pennsylvania State Police announced Tuesday that Steve Stephens, the man authorities in Cleveland say shot and killed a 74-year-old man and uploaded video of the slaying to Facebook, killed himself in Erie County.
Steve Stephens was spotted this morning by PSP members in Erie County. After a brief pursuit, Stephens shot and killed himself.
Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams thanked the public for their help in finding Stephens, noting authorities had 400 tips on his whereabouts. He also warned of using social media to post videos of violence. “We can’t do this in this country,” Williams said in a news conference. “I think the people on social media kind of know the power and the harm it can do.” The video remained on Facebook for more than two hours before it was removed by the social-networking site. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said: “We will keep doing all we can to prevent tragedies like this from happening.”
Stephens made several Facebook posts before the shooting, saying he’d lost all his money gambling and that he was upset with his girlfriend. He also claimed to have committed a dozen other murders, though police have not verified if that is true. The killing happened Sunday afternoon, and the video, as described byThe Washington Post, shows Stephens approach a man, then ask him to repeat the name of his girlfriend. The man does so, then Stephens says, “She’s the reason why this is about to happen to you.” Stephens then raises the gun and fires, according to the Post. The victim was identified as Robert Godwin Sr., and police said there was no indication the men knew each other. Authorities say they believe Stephens left the state, and they cautioned residents in Pennsylvania and New York that he is armed and dangerous. Stephens was last seen in a white Ford Fusion.
Following the killing, Facebook said it needed to respond to such videos more quickly. “We know we need to do better,” Justin Osofsky, Facebook’s vice president of global operations, said Monday in a blog post. As early as this morning, Stephens’s whereabouts were unknown. Rumors that Stephens had been spotted in other cities and as far afield as Texas were dismissed by authorities in those places. This is not the first time a crime has been committed and video of it found on Facebook.
The U.S. Supreme Court declined early Tuesday to vacate the Arkansas Supreme Court ruling halting a scheduled execution from taking place. The high court’s ruling, which came just minutes before the death warrant of 54-year-old inmate Don Davis expired, prevented the state of Arkansas from conducting the first of eight lethal injections scheduled to take place this month, as well as the first execution to take place in the state since 2005. The court provided no explanation for the denial, and no dissents were recorded. Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said he was “disappointed” by the decision, but added the state “will continue to fight back on last minute appeals and efforts to block justice for the victims’ families.” As Garrett Epps noted, the state’s decision to schedule eight executions over the span of just 11 days—a rate the Death Penalty Information Center, which monitors executions in the U.S., called “unprecedented”—correlates with the state’s supply of execution-drug midazolam that is set to expire at the end of the month.
U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May Calls for New Elections on June 8
U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May has called for early general election on June 8, a date that marks almost one year since the country voted to leave the European Union. “The country is coming together but Westminster is not,” May said, referring to the U.K.’s Parliament. Lawmakers will vote tomorrow on May’s call, and they are expected to approve early elections; elections were previously scheduled for 2020. While political opposition to Brexit remains high, polls still narrowly support the vote; more good news for May is that her Conservative party is comfortably ahead of most of its rivals.
From trade deals to gun control and immigration to military deployments, the president has a consistent pattern: Talk a big game, then back down.
President Trump’s May 8 announcement that he was withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal should not have come as a surprise. He’d spent years railing against the plan—“the worst deal ever,” he dubbed it—and had promised to rip it up. And yet up to the moment when the president made the final call, there was still some suspense about what he would say.
This was not merely wishful thinking by the deal’s backers, though it was partly that. It was not only that members of Trump’s team, most notably Defense Secretary James Mattis, had voiced support for the deal. It wasn’t even just that Trump relishes taking the press (and even his own advisers) by surprise.
No, the other big reason that no one could be sure was that Trump almost always folds. Faced with a tough decision, the president has consistently blinked, giving in to his opponents. Trump has mocked former Secretary of State John Kerry for his supposedly poor negotiation powers, argued that multiple past international agreements suffered from weak-kneed diplomacy, and criticized British Prime Minister Theresa May, a close U.S. ally, for her conduct of the discussion on the U.K.’s departure from the European Union.
The class divide is already toxic, and is fast becoming unbridgeable. You’re probably part of the problem.
1. The Aristocracy Is Dead …
For about a week every year in my childhood, I was a member of one of America’s fading aristocracies. Sometimes around Christmas, more often on the Fourth of July, my family would take up residence at one of my grandparents’ country clubs in Chicago, Palm Beach, or Asheville, North Carolina. The breakfast buffets were magnificent, and Grandfather was a jovial host, always ready with a familiar story, rarely missing an opportunity for gentle instruction on proper club etiquette. At the age of 11 or 12, I gathered from him, between his puffs of cigar smoke, that we owed our weeks of plenty to Great-Grandfather, Colonel Robert W. Stewart, a Rough Rider with Teddy Roosevelt who made his fortune as the chairman of Standard Oil of Indiana in the 1920s. I was also given to understand that, for reasons traceable to some ancient and incomprehensible dispute, the Rockefellers were the mortal enemies of our clan.
Sites like Wish.com are taking out the middleman in retail. Will customers like this new dynamic?
The package came in a small black box, covered in tape. It had no return address. Under layers of packaging, there was a box labeled Smart Watch, with no brand name. Inside the box was the watch itself, which looked nothing like the inexpensive Apple Watch I’d hoped it would be. Instead, the large digital face featured icons for Twitter, Facebook, a pedometer, and a photo-taking app called “Camina” rather than “camera.” It was about what you’d expect for a smart watch that cost less than $20.
I ordered the watch from Wish.com, one of a growing number of sites that allows consumers from around the world to buy deeply discounted goods from China, directly from sellers or manufacturers there. After receiving promotional emails from Wish offering bikinis for $4 (marked down from $75!), camera drones for $29 (down from $1,399!), and, for some reason, a spoon that says “My Peanut-Butter Spoon” for $1 (down from $12), I could no longer resist. I ordered the smart watch, advertised as “Hot Sell New product Q18S Smart Wrist Watch” for $18, marked down, supposedly, from $896. The product had more than 8,000 reviews in dozens of languages, averaging four stars. “Its cool I like it for the price,” read one.
In a hearing today, European parliamentarian Guy Verhofstadt said many of the things that Facebook haters have been thinking.
On Tuesday, as the deadline to implement the sweeping European internet rule known as the General Data Protection Regulation approached, Mark Zuckerberg appeared before the European Parliament in Brussels to answer a few questions.
The representatives of the many different parties present in the European legislative body asked some tough questions, but the format did not allow them to pin Zuckerberg down on specific issues. First, the legislators asked all their questions in a row. Rather than answering them one at a time, Zuckerberg answered to the “themes” of the questions after they had all been asked.
The most caustic line of questions came from a centrist, Guy Maurice Marie Louise Verhofstadt, the former prime minister of Belgium and now the leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe. He begins roughly 30 minutes into the video below.
Sometimes the real promise of the system is simply the power to remove leaders.
What is democracy for? This might seem like an obvious question. Yet disagreements over democracy’s ends are multiplying in the West, including in the oldest, most advanced democracies. Those disagreements include the question of whether democracy is an end unto itself or a means to something greater.
Is it possible that the United States and Europe might learn something from Malaysia, a country long seen as a flawed semi-democracy?
In this month’s elections, the ruling United Malays National Organization, as part of the National Front coalition, lost its hold on power for the first time since Malaysia won independence from the British in 1957—Mahatir Mohammed has replaced the long-serving Najib Razak as prime minister. In an unusual twist, though, the de facto leader of the opposition Alliance of Hope, Anwar Ibrahim, had been serving a five-year prison sentence on politically motivated sodomy charges. This week, he walked out a free man after receiving a full pardon. He may eventually become the country’s prime minister.These events were a reminder of a different kind of democratic euphoria, offering a stark contrast to the pessimism that citizens of Western countries have by now grown accustomed to. Elections do, in fact, have consequences.
Emoji hearts are hard to read but there’s one that beats them all.
There’s no more universal sign of love than a heart. The traditional red heart has become the default signal of approval on Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, and countless other apps. According to Apple, the red heart emoji was the second-most popular emoji in 2017, bested only by the crying-laugh face. When Facebook released its emoji data last year, hearts were included in three of the top six emojis used (the classic red heart, along with the heart-eyes emoji and the kissing face with a heart).
“The top emojis used on most platforms tend to be positive,” says Jeremy Burge, an emoji historian and the founder of Emojipedia. “Things like hearts are always popular, which makes sense given that we hopefully spend more time chatting to people we like than people we don’t.”
The 5-4 ruling in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis could weaken workplace protections—and the justices on both sides knew it.
False dichotomy, meretricious piety, and pay-no-attention-to-that-man-behind-the-curtain misdirection are vital arrows in the quiver of any lawyer or judge, no matter of what persuasion. These tricks were on particularly egregious display in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, a 5-4 decision announced Monday in which the Supreme Court’s conservative majority continued its drive to narrow protection for employee rights. (The opinion, written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito; the dissent, by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, was joined by Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan.)
The issue in Epic Systems was this: Can an employer require its employees, as a condition of keeping their jobs, to submit to individual arbitration of wage-and-hour and other workplace-condition claims—not only without an option to go to court, but without an option to pursue even private arbitration in common with other employees making the same claim? Employees’ objection to a “no group arbitration” clause is that individual arbitration may concern amounts too small to make pursuing them worthwhile. Thus, these clauses make it easier for employers to maintain unfair or even unlawful employment structures and salary systems.
Judea Pearl helped artificial intelligence gain a strong grasp on probability, but laments that it still can't compute cause and effect.
Artificial intelligence owes a lot of its smarts to Judea Pearl. In the 1980s he led efforts that allowed machines to reason probabilistically. Now he’s one of the field’s sharpest critics. In his latest book, The Book of Why: The New Science of Cause and Effect, he argues that artificial intelligence has been handicapped by an incomplete understanding of what intelligence really is.
Three decades ago, a prime challenge in artificial-intelligence research was to program machines to associate a potential cause to a set of observable conditions. Pearl figured out how to do that using a scheme called Bayesian networks. Bayesian networks made it practical for machines to say that, given a patient who returned from Africa with a fever and body aches, the most likely explanation was malaria. In 2011 Pearl won the Turing Award, computer science’s highest honor, in large part for this work.
Electronic mail as we know it is drowning in spam, forged phishing mails, and other scams and hacks. It’s going to get worse before it gets better.
One week ago, a group of European security researchers warned that two obscure encryption schemes for email were deeply broken. Those schemes, called OpenPGP and S/MIME, are not the kinds of technologies you’re using but don’t know it. They are not part of the invisible and vital internet infrastructure we all rely on.
This isn’t that kind of story.
The exploit, called Efail by the researchers who released it, showed that encrypted (and therefore private and secure) email is not only hard to do, but might be impossible in any practical way, because of what email is at its core. But contained in the story of why these standards failed is the story of why email itself is the main way we get hacked, robbed, and violated online. The story of email is also the story of how we lost so much of our privacy, and how we might regain it.