January 5, 2016

On Tuesday, President Obama is going to issue some modest executive orders aimed at curbing gun violence, mainly by broadening the pool of U.S. gun dealers that need to perform federal background checks. "In America, where the right to bear arms is engrained in the Constitution, any moves by the president to tighten the rules will be fiercely resisted," says BBC News correspondent Jon Sopel, reporting from a big gun show in Maryland. Sopel talks with a Burberry scarf–wearing mother buying a laser sight for her gun, a member of the "Virginia Citizens Defense League," and an unlicensed gun seller who actually agrees with Obama that the "gun hole loophole" is ludicrous.

"In America, guns are seen as a symbol of freedom and liberty, an intrinsic component to national identity," Sopel says with dramatic flair, "and it's part of the national psyche from an early age." You can watch this British perspective on American gun culture below. Peter Weber

11:27 a.m. ET
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) reminded California delegates at a Tuesday morning breakfast in Philadelphia that there might be a steep price to pay if they keep up their booing at the Democratic National Convention. "It is easy to boo, but it's harder to look your kids in the face who would be living under Donald Trump. Trump is the worst candidate for president in the modern history of this country," Sanders told the delegation, which includes the biggest group of "Bernie-or-bust" delegates, after a day of his supporters heckling speakers and booing even Sanders' calls for party unity.

Sanders said that while "elections come and go," the regret that would come with failing to elect Hillary Clinton would be "forever." "This is dangerous stuff," Sanders said. "So our job is to do two things. It is to defeat Trump, it is to elect Clinton. But it is not to end on Election Day." Becca Stanek

10:55 a.m. ET
Brendon Thorne/Getty Images for Walt Disney Studios

Actor Harrison Ford had a brush with death in an accident on the set of Star Wars: The Force Awakens during filming in 2014, although he luckily managed to escape with just a broken leg, The Independent reports. Ford was walking through the door of the Millennium Falcon spaceship when he allegedly was knocked to the ground and crushed by a hydraulic door, said Andrew Marshall, the prosecutor arguing the case against the production company.

"It could have killed somebody," Marshall said. "The fact that it didn't was because the emergency stop was activated." The door still reportedly crushed Ford's pelvic area with power comparable to the weight of a small car, breaking his leg, and he had to be airlifted to a hospital in Oxford.

Ford, then 71, who plays the character Han Solo, said in the original films the door would have been closed simply using a pulley or a stage hand. "But now we had lots of money and technology and so they built a f---ing great hydraulic door which closed at light speed," he said.

The Disney-owned production company, Foodles Production (UK) Ltd, admitted to health and safety breaches surrounding the incident. Jeva Lange

10:03 a.m. ET

Well, it was a good run. Self-described democratic socialist Bernie Sanders tossed his hat into the ring for the presidency as a Democrat, but he now says he will resume being an Independent when he heads back to the Senate:

"He was never really a party guy," Greg Guma, the author of The People's Republic: Vermont and the Sanders Revolution, told The Daily Beast earlier this year. "His career was to be a voice and a candidate." Jeva Lange

9:47 a.m. ET

For Utah state Sen. Mark Madsen (R), last week's Republican National Convention was the last straw. The Republican state senator announced Monday that, after witnessing firsthand the state of the party as a Utah delegate, he will no longer be a member of the Republican Party. Instead, he will become a Libertarian.

"Every decision and inclination I had before was reinforced," Madsen said of the convention's role in shaping his exit decision. As a support of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Madsen said he was particularly disappointed in the way the crowd reacted when Cruz refused to endorse Donald Trump and instead urged the party to vote its "conscience." "No party is entitled to my membership or my support," Madsen said, adding that the way things are headed for the GOP "makes me want to cry."

Madsen noted his change in alliance is "largely symbolic," however, as he is retiring at the end of the year. Becca Stanek

9:15 a.m. ET
Reg Burkett/Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

When it came to height, Americans used to stand tall above the rest. Now, a new global study from London's Imperial College has found Americans are looking pretty short in comparison to the world's other nationalities. While in 1914 American men ranked as the third-tallest men in the world, they're now the 37th tallest. American women similarly dropped from being the fourth-tallest women to the 42nd.

Americans' drastically diminished standing doesn't necessarily mean we're shrinking, though; it more likely means other nationalities are just growing much, much faster. While Americans' upward growth began leveling off in the 1960s and '70s, other nationalities kept growing. Iranian men, who experienced the biggest growth spurt among men worldwide since 1914, grew by an average of more than 16 centimeters over the last century, while American men's average growth was a mere 6 centimeters. The study's authors contend poor nutrition, as well as "immigration from countries with shorter citizens," played a role in Americans' stunted growth, Time reported.

Nowadays, the world's leaders in height are Dutch men and Latvian women. Becca Stanek

9:09 a.m. ET

Some critics have slammed the Republican National Convention for promoting an apocalyptic message of doom-and-gloom, but the RNC might have just gotten the last laugh. Following the close of the first day of the Democratic National Convention on Monday, the GOP blasted the Democrats for failing to mention the "global terrorist threat posed by ISIS" even once.

The Pulitzer-winning fact-check organization Politifact confirmed the truth of the statement; of the 61 speeches at the DNC on Monday, not a single one mentioned the Islamic State:

Was the Democratic discussion of ISIS and Islamic terrorism that thin? Basically, yes.

It's worth noting that the first night was not intended to have a specific focus on foreign policy, leaving the Democrats with three days left to discuss the issue. And Hillary Clinton — away from the podium in Philadelphia — issued a fairly muscular call for action against ISIS at the annual Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. [Politifact]

Still, with another ISIS-inspired terrorist attack in France on Tuesday, Republicans might have reason to feel a little smug about the glaring omission. Jeva Lange

8:49 a.m. ET
AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

Jeff Kepner, 64, lost both of his hands in 1999 due to sepsis evolving from a strep throat infection. Ten years later, he became the first person in the United States to have a double hand transplant — what was supposed to be an inspiring, life-changing operation. Now, though, he says he wants those hands removed.

"From day one, I have never been able to use my hands," Kepner told Time after living with the non-functioning hands for seven years. "I can do absolutely nothing. I sit in my chair all day and wear my TV out." Kepner said before the transplant, he was 75 percent functional using his prosthetics; since the experimental surgery to attach new hands, though, he says he's 0 percent functional.

"Complex surgery such as hand transplant do not produce uniform results in everyone, but we have been encouraged by the functional return in the great majority of our recipients whose lives have been transformed by the procedure," Kepner's lead surgeon, Dr. W.P. Andrew Lee, told Time.

Kepner might be stuck with his nonfunctioning hands, too — removing them doesn't guarantee he could easily go back to using prosthetics, and comes with many medical complications. Besides, Kepner has had enough time under the knife. "I am not going through all those operations again," he said. Read more about the high hopes for Kepner, and the reality of his life now, at Time. Jeva Lange

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