Texas church gunman had history of mental disorders

The man who gunned down 26 people at a Texas church in Sutherland Springs on Sunday had a history of mental instability, according to newly revealed police records.

Gunman Devin Kelley escaped a mental health facility in 2012 and threatened to kill his superiors in the U.S. Air Force, according to El Paso, Texas, police records, as reported by the Los Angeles Times. He also was accused of sexual assault in 2013, revealed the Comal County, Texas, Sheriff’s Office, though that case was dropped for unknown reasons.

It previously was reported that Kelley served a year in military prison for assaulting his wife and stepson. He was dishonorably discharged from the Air Force in 2014.

The new disclosures show that despite Kelley’s well-documented history of mental instability, he was permitted to buy four guns between 2014 and 2017.

The Air Force has admitted failing to report his history of domestic violence to the databases used to perform background checks on gun purchasers. Military officials have ordered an internal review of the case.

One incident report said Kelley “had already been caught sneaking firearms onto Holloman Air Force Base” in New Mexico and described his as “a danger to himself and others,” according to the Times report.

Investigators believe Kelley’s attack may have been motivated by a domestic disagreement with his mother-in-law, who is a member of the church’s congregation but was not present during the attack.

Kelley also sometimes attended the First Baptist Church, but the pastor “did not think he was a good person and did not want him around his church,” according to Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt, in a CNN report on Tuesday. “But he said, ‘How do I run him away from my church?’”


New technique could help people control their dreams

An alarm clock, a routine, and a special chant could help people have lucid dreams, according to a new study published in the journal Dreaming.

Lucid dreams are dreams where, despite being asleep, you are in complete control. If you want to fly, you can fly. If you want to eat a piece of cake, you can have a piece of cake.

“These dreams feel just as real as waking life,”said lead author Denholm Aspy, a researcher from the University of Adelaide, according to The Sydney Morning Herald. “All the senses are represented. Objects feel solid and real. You can taste, touch and smell.”

While such dreams are pleasant experiences, they are very hard to trigger. People can have them from time to time, but for the most part they cannot choose when they occur.

However, in the new study Aspy came up with a method that helped a small group of subjects regularly take control of their dreams. He did this by putting the subjects through three distinct steps.

First, he had the participants practice reality testing by regularly paying attention to signs they might be in a dream. Then, he had them wake themselves up after five hours of sleep and repeat the phrase, “next time I’m dreaming, I will remember that I’m dreaming.” 

At the same time, they also visualized becoming lucid with a dream, which helped the mind develop an intention to lucid dream.  Finally, the participants went back to sleep.

After going through the above steps for a week, 17 percent of the 47 subjects in the study reported lucid dreaming, and nearly half that returned to sleep within five minutes of chanting managed to experience a lucid dream. That shows the new technique is much more effective than past methods, which only work between 3 and 13 percent of the time. 

While this new method could be used to simply have a good time while asleep, there are practical applications to the research as well. For example, athletes could use it to psychologically practice skills they need on the field, or some people could use the time to solve difficult problems they are dealing with in real life.

“These results take us one step closer to developing highly effective lucid dream induction techniques that will allow us to study the many potential benefits of lucid dreaming, such as treatment for nightmares and improvement of physical skills and abilities through rehearsal in the lucid dream environment,” Aspy added, according to Cambridge News.


Ancient primate likely spread genital herpes to humans

An ancient bipedal hominin known as Paranthropus boisei could be responsible for passing the first case of genital herpes to early human ancestors, a new study published in Virus Evolution reports.

Genital herpes is currently considered a global issue. Over 400 million people across the world have the disease, and that number gets higher each year. The reason it spreads so easily is because it rarely comes with symptoms, and when it does have symptoms — which typically manifest as genital blisters, body aches, or fever — they are mild or hard to detect.

Previous research shows the disease first came about between 3 and 4.1 million years ago when African apes infected human ancestors. Though researchers are not sure, they believe the spread came from an intermediate hominin species completely unrelated to humans.

In the new study, a team of international researchers found evidence that suggests Homo habilis — one of our earliest ancestors — first contracted genital herpes from ancient chimpanzees by butchering and consuming meat. Habilis then passed the virus to Paranthropus boisei, who then gave it to Homo erectus.

“Our model identifies Paranthropus boisei as the most likely intermediate host of HSV2, while Homo habilis may also have played a role in the initial transmission of HSV2 from the ancestors of chimpanzees to P.boisei,” the researchers wrote in the study, Tech Times reports.

The new model shows how the virus jumped across various species that once roamed Africa. The team uncovered that information by looking at changes in topography, climate data, fossil locations, and geography over time.

That, combined with an analysis of both climate data layering and fossil locations, enabled researchers to look at the species that most likely came into contact with both chimpanzees and ancient hominins at different water sources. The research then led them to P. boisei, which would have likely allowed genital herpes virus to jump into our species.

“For these viruses to jump species barriers they need a lucky genetic mutation combined with significant fluid exchange,” explained study co-author Charlotte Houldcroft, a virologist from Cambridge’s Department of Archaeology, in a statement. “In the case of early hominins, this means through consumption or intercourse – or possibly both. By modelling the available data, from fossil records to viral genetics, we believe that Paranthropus boisei was the species in the right place at the right time to both contract HSV2 from ancestral chimpanzees, and transmit it to our earliest ancestors, probably Homo erectus.”


Federal workforce growing older, not adding enough young workers, survey finds

Federal employees are on average growing steadily older, according to a Politico analysis, which finds that only 17% of the federal workforce is less than 35 years old and that more than a quarter are over 55. Researchers inside and outside government expressed concern that many agencies will not be able to replace highly skilled older employees when they retire and that the agencies will become less and less effective.

The researchers also warned that offices staffed mostly with older workers may have more overhead costs and lower productivity due to senior workers’ more-expensive health-care needs. Federal agencies need to update their hiring and job-training policies to encourage more young people to take up federal jobs and move up in them, the researchers said.

“It’s not so much a matter that old people are stupid and young people are smart,” said Don Kettl, a professor at the University of Maryland who has written extensively on government management. “It’s that smart agencies develop a plan for a pipeline. The federal government’s biggest problem is it’s not very good at pipeline planning.”

The age shift is more pronounced at some agencies than others, the survey also found. Workers over 45 are 69% of NASA’s workforce, for example, and 70% of that of Housing and Urban Development.

Surveys of private-sector employees find that they are aging, also, but the trend is not as stark. Around 40% of private-sector employees are under 35, versus the 35% of federal workers cited above. And workers under 24 years of age constitute 13% of the private sector but only 1.2% of the federal sector.


Nonprofit looks after Chernobyl’s lost dogs

All the humans left Chernobyl following its infamous 1986 nuclear-reactor meltdown, but their dogs stayed behind. Large numbers of those lost pets’ descendants still roam the abandoned city and its environs. And the nonprofit Clean Futures Fund has set up shop in Chernobyl to give them as much care as the circumstances will allow.

The zone’s dogs often suffer from scarce food or water. They also become prey for wolves and other predators.
Clean Futures Fund is working to address these and other hazards. It is leading a five-year plan to spay and neuter the free-roaming dogs and is also operating food and water stations and a veterinary clinic for the resident dogs.
“I think there will always be a population of dogs in the area,” said Lucas Hixson, a radiation specialist and Clean Futures Fund co-founder. “But hopefully, we can get down to a manageable population where they can have a good quality of life.”

The nonprofit began its Chernobyl work earlier this summer. Ukrainian veterinarians and nonprofits are assisting it, along with volunteers from Ukraine, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Volunteers are prohibited from petting the dogs or taking them out of the zone, however, due to latent radiation in the dogs’ bodies and fur. The nonprofit’s teams are also testing the dogs to determine exactly how much radiation is in their systems. Ukrainian officials may allow for some dogs to be adopted outside the zone in the future if tests show that they are not too radioactive and will not pose a contamination risk to people.

Business NONE TECH TECH_Technology

Amazon buys Whole Foods for $13.7 billion

Online retailer Amazon is making a foray into the brick-and-mortar grocery market with a newly announced deal to buy Whole Foods for $13.7 billion. Amazon announced the deal Thursday, causing tumult in the share values of other grocery chains.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s stocks fell 7.1% following the news, while Krueger Co. plummeted 17%. Investors worried that the buyout would negatively shake up the entire grocery sector.

“This deal should leave no doubt that Amazon is deadly serious about dominating all aspects of retail, ” Paul Cuatrecasas, chief executive of London-based investment firm Aquaa Partners, told the Washington Post. “This deal has dramatically flipped the table on traditional companies.”

The deal makes Whole Foods one of a growing retinue of businesses that Amazon now owns. In recent years, the e-commerce giant has also acquired the Washington Post newspaper, the data-analytics provider Alexa, audiobooks merchant Audible, and numerous websites and Web-based apps and services, including, Box Office Mojo,, and Goodreads.

It gave Whole Foods favorable terms to close the deal, as well. John Mackey, the grocery chain’s cofounder, will continue to run it. And Amazon agreed to pay $42 a share for the business, amounting to a 27% premium on Whole Foods’ stock price at close of business Thursday.

Mackey’s future had been in doubt while the negotiations were under way. Jana Partners, a prominent investor in Whole Foods that had pushed for the deal, had also pressed to have Mackey replaced, partly due to Whole Foods’ sales, which have been declining as Walmart and other grocery chains enter its market niche of organic and natural products.


F-35 jets grounded over oxygen-deprivation issues

The U.S. Air Force’s $1.5 trillion F-35 fighter-jet program continues to suffer new technical problems—and this time, the problems potentially affect pilots’ physical safety. Five pilots at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona came down with symptoms of oxygen deprivation, which led to the Air Force grounding the whole squadron while it investigates, according to a statement the Air Force released on Friday.

“The Air Force takes these physiological incidents seriously, and our focus is on the safety and well-being of our pilots. We are taking the necessary steps to find the root cause of these incidents,” said Brig. Gen. Brook Leonard, commander of the 56th, said in the Air Force statement.

The incidents have all taken place since May 2. In each case, the aircraft’s primary oxygen-supply systems malfunctioned, but the back-up system kicked in and the pilot was able to safely land the aircraft.

This marks just the latest in a wide range of technical mishaps that have bedeviled the F-35’s developers. Past issues have included trouble with the ejection-seat mechanism and the on-board navigation, among other systems and features.

The Air Force has taken criticism for all of these issues, in part because the F-35 program is the most expensive weapons program in military history. The Air Force has been pursuing the F-35 concept for nearly a decade, in part because it would be a uniquely all-purpose aircraft that could, with adjustments, take off and land on an aircraft carrier or a ground-based landing strip. No current fighter jet has these capabilities.

In the meantime, however, Israel has bought several F-35s from the United States, and French intelligence sources reported recently that Israel flew them in successful air strikes in Syria. The U.S. Air Force is expected to take some of its own F-35s to Paris later this month and fly them in the Paris Air Show.


Bernice Burgos addresses TI rumors on Instagram

Bernice Burgos posted on Instagram about her relationship with rapper, Clifford “T.I.” Harris.

Tameka “Tiny” Harris and T.I. are going through a very public divorce. During their separation, T.I. was photographed on multiple occasions with the Puerto Rican Instagram model and it was rumored that the two were dating. As a result of the rumors, Tiny took to social media to defame the model for breaking up her marriage and called Burgos a “pass around bitch” on Instagram. Burgos responded by saying that she was not a home wrecker.

“That home had BEEN broken,” wrote Burgos in the comments of an instagram post. “And I’ve NEVER dealt with a married man in my life… Technically when a person files for divorce it’s saying they’re moving on with their lives & their marriage has failed… NEVER have I ever been passed around.”

Burgos continued, saying that she would never be a side chick for any man. It is unclear when her relationship with T.I. began and Burgos claimed that she and the rapper were only friends. Many, however, took some of her claims in Instagram videos to be proof that she and T.I. had indeed been intimate with one another.

“This is 2017,” said Burgos. “Ain’t nobody gonna be waiting for pussy and waiting to fuck just because I’m getting separated. That’s not true. Ain’t nobody breaking no happy home. Ain’t no none of that. That’s none of my business. I’m there for him. He’s a boss, and I’m a boss.”



FBI bosses grilled over secretive face-recognition database

FBI bosses have been questioned over a secret facial recognition program that enables agents to access photos of tens of millions of Americans.

The agency came under tremendous criticism for its unrestricted access to ID photos in 18 states, to identify potential suspects. The photos include innocent people who have never been charged with a crime.

Privacy advocates claimed that the technology catalyzes racial bias. They compared the system to ‘Nazi Germany’ during a congressional hearing on Tuesday.

The system makes it possible for agents to access and algorithmically match the photos of millions of Americans.

Last year, the Government Accountability Office reported that more than400 million pictures of Americans’ faces are stored in local, state and federal law enforcement facial recognition systems.

According to experts, approximately half of all Americans’ faces are stored in the system.

“I have zero confidence in the FBI and the Justice Department, frankly, to keep this in check,” said Democratic Congressman Stephen Lynch.

Lynch, of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Regulation, said that he does not see a difference between the FBI system and Nazi Germany.

“… I see little difference in the way people are being tracked under this, Just getting one wide net and getting information on all American citizens,” Lynch added.

Committee members also touched on research which suggested that face recognition systems have a higher rate of false positives for the African-American community.

They took the FBI to task for ‘choosing to ignore’ the evidence over how accurate face-recognition systems are.

Committee chairman Jason Chaffetz enquired whether the FBI was storing photos of innocent people from other sources such as social media.

FBI spokesperson Kimberly Del Greco replied that the agency does not have any other photos in their database.


NONE TECH_Social TSC_Global Politics

Pope Francis says the world must persevere

Pope Francis advised world citizens to practice perseverance.

Pope Francis held his general audience this week on Wednesday. He called for the Catholic Church, as well as all global citizens to imitate the perseverance of God. According to Pope Francis, that strength will help the world through its tough times but also engender empathy for those who are weaker or also going through hardships.

“Perseverance we can also define as patience; it’s the ability to support, to remain faithful, even when the weight seems to become too big, unsustainable, and we are tempted to negatively judge and abandon everything and everyone,” said Pope Francis in a speech that alluded to the epistles of St. Paul in which he says God is one “of perseverance and consolation.” “[Consolation, on the other hand] is the grace of knowing how to welcome and show in every situation, even those largely marked by delusion and suffering, the presence and compassionate action of God.”

Delivering his weekly catechesis on the virtue of hope, the Pope said that perseverance and consolation shed light on the true definition of the virtue, which is illuminated by the Word of God.

“We never thank God enough for the gift of his Word,” said Pope Francis. “It’s there that we become aware of how our hope is not based on our own abilities and our own strength, but on the support of God and on his fidelity and love.”