In a chilling New York Times article, James B. Comey, director of the FBI, is quoted saying the threat of terrorism is worse than he imagined before assuming his current position:
By Mr. Comey's own account, he also brought to the job a belief, based on news media reports, that the threat from Al Qaeda was diminished. But nine months into his tenure as director, Mr. Comey acknowledges that he underestimated the threat the United States still faces from terrorism.
"I didn't have anywhere near the appreciation I got after I came into this job just how virulent those affiliates had become," Mr. Comey said, referring to offshoots of Al Qaeda in Africa and in the Middle East during an interview in his sprawling office on the seventh floor of the J. Edgar Hoover Building. "There are both many more than I appreciated, and they are stronger than I appreciated." [The New York Times]
One might interpret this information differently, based on preconceived notions.
Neocons, for example, might see this as further evidence that skepticism of the surveillance state is rooted in nothing but ignorance and naiveté. Meanwhile, folks on the other side of the debate might view this as yet another example of someone being co-opted once they gain a position of authority.
But Comey's credibility on this issue is hard to impugn. As the No. 2 in the Bush Justice Department, he famously refused to approve reauthorization of the N.S.A.'s domestic eavesdropping program.
I don't know about you, but I'd be more comfortable if his credibility on this issue weren't quite so solid. Matt K. Lewis
In less than a week, four people were attacked by bears in Alaska, with two dying from their injuries.
Brown bears are more likely to attack, and even that's rare, which is why these recent black bear attacks are worrying officials. "All of a sudden you have two in the course of two days, it's a lightning strike," wildlife biologist Rick Sinnott told CBS. Alaskan officials are telling residents to carry bear spray or a gun while hiking, running, or biking through bear habitat, and if attacked, to throw rocks at the bear or hit it in the face, rather than run away or play dead.
On June 18, Jack Cooper, 16, was running a race near Anchorage when a black bear chased him and ultimately killed him. The bear was shot in the face by a park ranger, but it escaped, and later, state biologists killed four black bears in the area, including the one they believe attacked Cooper. The next day, Erin Johnson was near a mine southeast of Fairbanks, collecting geological samples, when she encountered a "hyper-aggressive" bear. She died and a colleague was injured, and the next day, the bear was killed by officials. Authorities say on Saturday, two men were bicycling in the woods near Anchorage when a bear attacked one of them; the other man used bear spray to repel the animal, which was likely guarding a cub nearby. Catherine Garcia
The End of Life Option Act went into effect in California in June 2016, and by December, 111 terminally ill people requested, and took, life-ending drugs from their doctors.
The state became the fifth in the country to let those with less than six months to live choose to die with drug assistance. Data released Tuesday states that 191 people received prescriptions, but not all of the patients ended up using the drugs. Of those who did end their lives, 59 percent had cancer, 54 percent were women, and 90 percent were white. Doctors do not have to write the prescriptions if they are not comfortable, and do not have to refer their patients to doctors who will. In order to get a prescription, two doctors must confirm that the patient has no more than six months left to live and they are of sound mental capacity.
Last September, John Minor, 80, was tired of living with extremely painful terminal lung disease. The retired psychologist had lost 80 pounds and could barely eat or talk, and after switching health care providers, found a doctor willing to write him a prescription for the life-ending drugs. He took them, surrounded by family. "John did what was right for him," his widow, Sherry Minor, told the Los Angeles Times. "He died peacefully, rather than in agony, and he was in control. He didn't feel afraid or helpless." Catherine Garcia
Trump tells GOP senators that passing health care would be 'great,' but he'd 'understand' if they didn't
President Trump on Tuesday called a last-minute meeting of Republican senators at the White House, during which he declared that he'd really like for them to pass the GOP-backed health-care bill. "[W]e have a chance to do something very, very important for the public — very, very important for the people of our country that we love," Trump said in the meeting, which took place hours after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced that he was delaying a vote on the health-care bill due to a lack of support.
But ever the careful negotiator, Trump avoided being too pushy about insisting Republicans get the bill through the Senate. "This will be great if we get it done," Trump said. "And if we don't get it done, it's just going to be something that we're not going to like. And that's okay, and I understand that very well."
When asked for his opinion on the Senate bill — under which the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates 22 million more people would be uninsured by 2026 than under current law — Trump insisted it was "going to be great." Becca Stanek
Time to give your thumbs a break. Well, one thumb, at least: Apple's latest software update, iOS 11, will include a one-handed keyboard mode. Scheduled to launch in full this fall, iOS 11 made its public debut in beta Monday.
This one-handed typing feature will allow users to nudge the keyboard to either side of the iPhone screen, making it easier for a single thumb to access all of the keys. Users will be able to access the one-handed keyboard by simply holding down the globe icon in the bottom left corner of the keyboard and selecting which side they'd like their keyboard to be shifted to. The keyboard will then stay on that side of the screen until the user moves it back.
Apple is a little behind the times, however: Third-party keyboards have had one-handed modes for years now. Moreover, the one-sided keyboard only works when the iPhone is held vertically, and the function has not yet been developed for the iPad. Lucy Friedmann
Scientists may have uncovered a way to track the ever-evolving flu virus buried in 10-year-old snot. In an effort to understand how the flu virus rapidly mutates — which leaves scientists constantly scrambling to come up with a new flu vaccine — researchers decided to study four cancer patients' snot, which had been collected a decade ago and frozen.
Because cancer patients tend to come down with the flu for a longer period of time than healthy individuals, the scientists had a longer window of time to observe the mutating virus. In healthy humans, the immune system typically eradicates the flu virus before it undergoes too much mutation, making it harder to track what is coming next in the flu's evolution.
The team "deep sequenced for all the different mutants of one strain of flu called H3N2," Wired reports. Initially, biochemist Jesse Bloom said the research team expected "the type of evolution that flu undergoes in any individuals ... might end up being very idiosyncratic."
Instead, they saw similar mutations occurring in the viruses within each of the patients' snot — even though the patients weren't all sick at the same time. Moreover, some of those mutations ended up being the same mutations that occurred worldwide in flu outbreaks just years later. Those four patients "were microcosms for the great world when it came to flu evolution," The Atlantic explained.
The continued deep sequencing of mutations in patients with drawn-out flu infections — a group that also includes pregnant women, children, and obese people — could help scientists get a step ahead of next year's flu. Becca Stanek
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced Tuesday afternoon that he would delay a vote on the GOP health-care bill that has been presented in the upper chamber, known as the Better Care Reconciliation Act. McConnell had held steady to the idea of holding a vote before the July 4th recess, but after at least 10 senators voiced opposition to the bill, McConnell was forced to hold off on a vote until after the holiday break.
And just like that, with the coast cleared and the vote off the table, three more Republican senators decided to announce their opposition to the bill. Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.) and Rob Portman (Ohio), two more moderate conservatives, issued a joint statement on the bill, saying they could not support its cuts to Medicaid and its lack of funding to combat the opioid epidemic:
Full Portman and Capito statements pic.twitter.com/y54UEZCWDH
— Liz Goodwin (@lizcgoodwin) June 27, 2017
Sen. Jerry Moran (Kan.), meanwhile, issued a short statement saying the Senate bill "missed the mark":
The Senate healthcare bill missed the mark for Kansans and therefore did not have my support.
— Jerry Moran (@JerryMoran) June 27, 2017
BuzzFeed News' Paul McLeod predicted that the bill will either pass the upper chamber "by one vote, or fail by a lot. I think a bunch of [senators] would like it to fail, but don't want to be the deciding vote." Kimberly Alters
At least four of President Trump's golf clubs display a fake, framed Time magazine with Trump on the cover, The Washington Post reports. The issue purports to be from "March 1, 2009," even though there is no March 1, 2009 issue of Time.
"I can confirm that this is not a real Time cover," the magazine's spokeswoman, Kerri Chyka, told The Washington Post.
— Washington Post (@washingtonpost) June 27, 2017
There are a number of giveaways that the cover is a fake, including its skinny border and exclamation points ("Time headlines don't yell"). "So how did Trump — who spent an entire campaign and much of his presidency accusing the mainstream media of producing 'fake news' — wind up decorating his properties with a literal piece of phony journalism?" The Washington Post asks.
It isn't clear — neither the White House nor the Trump Organization offered an answer. But Trump takes unabashed pride in his Time covers, both real and fake, boasting incorrectly on the campaign trail that "I think we have the all-time record [of cover photos] in the history of Time magazine."