US gun violence, mass shootings, ATF, killings, numbness, apathy
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Chief Enforcer of US Gun Laws Fears Americans Will Become Numb to Mass Shootings (Maria)

The author writes, “The head of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives says he fears that a drumbeat of mass shootings and other gun violence across the US could make Americans numb to the bloodshed, fostering apathy to finding solutions rather than galvanizing communities to act. Director Steve Dettelbach’s comments to The Associated Press came after he met  [recently] with family members of some of the 18 people killed in October at a bowling alley and a bar in Lewiston, Maine by a U.S. Army reservist who later took his own life. He said people must not accept that gun violence is a prevalent part of American life. ‘If we come to sort of accept that, that’s a huge hurdle in addressing the problem.’ he said.”

Health Care Hack Spreads Pain Across Hospitals and Doctors Nationwide (Russ)

The authors write, “The fallout from the hack of a little-known but pivotal health-care company is inflicting pain on hospitals, doctor offices, pharmacies, and millions of patients across the nation, with government and industry officials calling it one of the most serious attacks on the health-care system in U.S. history. The Feb. 21 cyberattack on Change Healthcare, owned by UnitedHealth Group, has cut off many health-care organizations from the systems they rely on to transmit patients’ health-care claims and get paid. The ensuing outage doesn’t appear to affect any of the systems that provide direct, critical care to patients. But it has laid bare a vulnerability that cuts across the U.S. health-care system.”

Ukraine’s Troops Are Rationing Ammunition. Yet House Republicans Plan To Take Weeks To Mull More Aid (Dana)

The authors write, “Ukrainian drones fly without ammunition. Russian artillery unleash deadly volleys from safe positions beyond the range of Kyiv’s troops. Shortages of ammo and supplies are resulting in lost ground to Moscow, U.S. congressional leaders warn, yet the Republican-controlled House has shown little hurry to resupply Ukraine with military aid. Across Washington, officials are viewing the drop-off in ammunition shipments with increasing alarm. It’s now been over two months since the U.S. — which since World War II has fashioned itself as the ‘Arsenal of Democracy’ — last sent military supplies to Ukraine.”

Death of Mitch McConnell’s Sister-In-Law Now Being Investigated as a ‘Criminal Matter’ (DonkeyHotey)

From The Independent Journal Review: “The death of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s sister-in-law several weeks ago remains a ‘criminal investigation,’ according to the Texas sheriff’s office looking into it. ‘This incident was not a typical accident,’ the Blanco County Sheriff’s Office stated Thursday in a letter to the state’s attorney general, Ken Paxton, about the death of 50-year-old Angela Chao. … Chao was pulled out of a vehicle that had apparently driven into a pond. She was found in the early morning hours of Feb. 11, and first responders tried to no avail to resuscitate the CEO of Foremost Group.”

From Homer to Gaza, the History of Books in Wartime (Laura)

From The New Yorker: “To study books is to take on a limitless task, since there is no end to the subjects that books contain. The academic field of book history strives to keep the material facts of the book as an object — paper (or parchment, or papyrus), typography, printing history — in steady focus. Inevitably, though, such sturdy facts prove inseparable from the immaterial life that these strange objects preserve, and from the larger histories into which books are inescapably bound.”

Toward Truly Compostable Plastic (Gerry)

From Knowable Magazine: “Materials scientists are cooking up environmentally friendly polymers from natural sources like silk, plant fibers, and whole algae. Economics and acceptance remain hurdles.”

AI Outperforms Humans in Standardized Tests of Creative Potential (Mili)

The author writes, “Score another one for artificial intelligence. In a recent study, 151 human participants were pitted against ChatGPT-4 in three tests designed to measure divergent thinking, which is considered to be an indicator of creative thought. Divergent thinking is characterized by the ability to generate a unique solution to a question that does not have one expected solution, such as ‘What is the best way to avoid talking about politics with my parents?’ In the study, GPT-4 provided more original and elaborate answers than the human participants.”

From Our Archives

Car Hacking Report Refuels Concerns About Michael Hastings Crash

February 20, 2015: “After [gonzo journalist Michael] Hastings died in a bizarre one-car crash along a straight Los Angeles street, former counterterrorism adviser Richard Clarke noted the accident was ‘consistent with a car cyber attack’ and that it was easy to hack cars. It seems he was right, as 60 Minutes demonstrated in a chilling fashion. In the segment, a nervous Lesley Stahl smashed into safety cones on a driving course after two men using a laptop computer remotely commandeered her brakes. … In trying to figure out what kinds of attacks enemies might be plotting on American soil, government agencies are learning the same techniques.”

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