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.
“Somewhere at Google there is a database containing 25 million books and nobody is allowed to read them.”
You were going to get one-click access to the full text of nearly every book that’s ever been published. Books still in print you’d have to pay for, but everything else—a collection slated to grow larger than the holdings at the Library of Congress, Harvard, the University of Michigan, at any of the great national libraries of Europe—would have been available for free at terminals that were going to be placed in every local library that wanted one.
At the terminal you were going to be able to search tens of millions of books and read every page of any book you found. You’d be able to highlight passages and make annotations and share them; for the first time, you’d be able to pinpoint an idea somewhere inside the vastness of the printed record, and send somebody straight to it with a link. Books would become as instantly available, searchable, copy-pasteable—as alive in the digital world—as web pages.
The early results out of a Boston nonprofit are positive.
You saw the pictures in science class—a profile view of the human brain, sectioned by function. The piece at the very front, right behind where a forehead would be if the brain were actually in someone’s head, is the pre-frontal cortex. It handles problem-solving, goal-setting, and task execution. And it works with the limbic system, which is connected and sits closer to the center of the brain. The limbic system processes emotions and triggers emotional responses, in part because of its storage of long-term memory.
When a person lives in poverty, a growing body of research suggests the limbic system is constantly sending fear and stress messages to the prefrontal cortex, which overloads its ability to solve problems, set goals, and complete tasks in the most efficient ways.
In the age of the digital hermit, a psychologist explains what it means to avoid other people—and what to do about it.
People today might not actually be avoiding social interaction any more than they did in past decades, but they’re certainly more vocal about it. The rise of digital communication seems to be spawning a nation of indoor cats, all humble-bragging about how introverted they are and ordering their rides and groceries without ever talking to a human.
Sometimes reclusiveness can be a sign of something more serious, though. Social anxiety is one of the most common mental illnesses, but it’s still poorly understood outside of scientific circles. The good news is that it’s highly treatable, according to Stefan G. Hofmann, the director of the Social Anxiety Program at Boston University.
I recently talked with Hofmann about how social anxiety works and what people who feel socially anxious can do about it. An edited transcript of our conversation follows.
A professor of cognitive science argues that the world is nothing like the one we experience through our senses.
As we go about our daily lives, we tend to assume that our perceptions—sights, sounds, textures, tastes—are an accurate portrayal of the real world. Sure, when we stop and think about it—or when we find ourselves fooled by a perceptual illusion—we realize with a jolt that what we perceive is never the world directly, but rather our brain’s best guess at what that world is like, a kind of internal simulation of an external reality. Still, we bank on the fact that our simulation is a reasonably decent one. If it wasn’t, wouldn’t evolution have weeded us out by now? The true reality might be forever beyond our reach, but surely our senses give us at least an inkling of what it’s really like.
Will you pay more for those shoes before 7 p.m.? Would the price tag be different if you lived in the suburbs? Standard prices and simple discounts are giving way to far more exotic strategies, designed to extract every last dollar from the consumer.
As Christmas approached in 2015, the price of pumpkin-pie spice went wild. It didn’t soar, as an economics textbook might suggest. Nor did it crash. It just started vibrating between two quantum states. Amazon’s price for a one-ounce jar was either $4.49 or $8.99, depending on when you looked. Nearly a year later, as Thanksgiving 2016 approached, the price again began whipsawing between two different points, this time $3.36 and $4.69.
We live in the age of the variable airfare, the surge-priced ride, the pay-what-you-want Radiohead album, and other novel price developments. But what was this? Some weird computer glitch? More like a deliberate glitch, it seems. “It’s most likely a strategy to get more data and test the right price,” Guru Hariharan explained, after I had sketched the pattern on a whiteboard.
Inside Walmart’s curious, possibly ingenious effort to get customers to build up their savings accounts
Late last summer, Dawn Paquin started keeping her money on a prepaid debit card from Walmart instead of in a traditional checking account. The wages from her factory job—she works from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., inspecting blades on industrial bread-slicing machines—now go directly onto the Visa-branded card, which she can use like a regular debit card, though unlike most debit cards, it is not linked to a checking or savings account. She made the switch after a $4 check she wrote to buy coffee for herself and a friend tipped her checking account below the required minimum and triggered $100 in overdraft fees.
This was before she got the factory gig, and she wasn’t working full-time. Paquin lives in Salem, Illinois, where, she told me recently, if you don’t have a college degree, your job choices are “fast food or factory.” Money was extremely tight. “I kind of had a bit of resentment about banks after that,” she said dryly.
Online communities like those on Tumblr are perpetuating ideas of "beautiful suffering," confusing what it means to be clinically depressed.
A few months ago, Laura U., a typical 16-year-old at an international school in Paris, sat at her computer wishing she looked just like the emaciated women on her Tumblr dashboard. She pined to be mysterious, haunted, fascinating, like the other people her age that she saw in black and white photos with scars along their wrists, from taking razor blades to their skin. She convinced herself that the melancholic quotes she was reading—“Can I just disappear?” or “People who die by suicide don’t want to end their lives, they want to end their pain”—applied to her.
The economist John Maynard Keynes predicted a society so prosperous that people would hardly have to work. But that isn’t exactly how things have played out.
How will we all keep busy when we only have to work 15 hours a week? That was the question that worried the economist John Maynard Keynes when he wrote his short essay “Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren” in 1930. Over the next century, he predicted, the economy would become so productive that people would barely need to work at all.
For a while, it looked like Keynes was right: In 1930 the average workweek was 47 hours. By 1970 it had fallen to slightly less than 39.
But then something changed. Instead of continuing to decline, the duration of the workweek stayed put; it’s hovered just below 40 hours for nearly five decades.
So what happened? Why are people working just as much today as in 1970?
The Piano Man hasn’t released a new pop album since 1993. How does he continue to sell out stadiums?
For those of you who are sick of wondering, this is what happens at a Billy Joel concert: A mother tries to cajole her reluctant young son to twist with her to “Only the Good Die Young.” A 45-year-old man in a Billy Joel-themed softball jersey, sitting third row and visible to all, hoists aloft a New Jersey vanity license plate that reads “Joel FN” and uses it to air-drum to “Pressure.” Three 20-somethings on a ladies’ night out shoot a Boomerang of themselves swaying to “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant.” A sexagenarianin business attire uses a lull during Joel’s Perestroika-era ditty “Leningrad” to crush some work emails on his BlackBerry Priv. A 19,000-strong congregation—carpenter jeans and Cartier watches, Yankee caps and yarmulkes, generationally diffuse and racially homogenous—all dance, terribly and euphorically, to “Uptown Girl.”
The Supreme Court has ample reason to avoid deciding a case that could erode the Establishment Clause.
During argument in Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer last week before the Supreme Court, Justice Elena Kagan mused that the case poses “a hard issue. It's an issue in which states have their own very longstanding law. It's an issue on which I guess I'm going to say nobody is completely sure that they have it right.”
The court did not pay much attention to a question that logically flows from Kagan’s concern: Is this trip really necessary?
Does the court really need to jump into this dispute between a church and a state government—or is it a case where the two parties basically have already kissed and made up?
Missouri’s Constitution, as written in 1875 and readopted in 1945, contains a provision that “no money shall ever be taken from the public treasury, directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, sect or denomination of religion.” The Missouri courts over the years have interpreted this provision quite literally. As a result, a church named Trinity Lutheran in Columbia, Missouri, was denied a state grant to resurface their daycare playground with recycled rubber tires. (The daycare would have been eligible if it had been run by a separate church-affiliated non-profit; but because in this case the money would have gone directly to the church, the provision applied.) The church sued, and the case has wended its way to the Supreme Court.