Artur Fischer, a German inventor trained as a locksmith, held more patents than Thomas Edison, and among his more than 1,100 patents are the wall anchor you have probably used to hang pictures and mirrors and the first synchronized camera flash. Fischer died Jan. 27 at his home in Waldachtal, Germany, The New York Times reported Monday. He was 96.
"What Bill Gates was to the personal computer, Artur Fischer is to do-it-yourself home repair," German magazine Der Spiegel said a year after Fischer won the prestigious European Inventor Award, a lifetime achievement prize from the European Patent Office. His first big breakthrough was the flash, purchased by the camera company Agfa, inspired by his inability to photograph his young daughter indoors — his insight was to synchronize an electric flash with the camera shutter. In 1958, he patented the expanding wall anchor, allowing people to hang heavy objects on plaster and drywall. Today, his company, the Fischer Group, produces more than 14 million of those anchors every day at factories around the world.
Fischer's last big commercial hit was the Fischertechnik kit, an electrical model set used by German kids and hobbyists alike to create machines and robots — he started off giving the kits as Christmas gifts to clients in 1964, then brought them to market when they proved a hit. You can learn more about Fischer, who tinkered until the end, in this short film from the European Patent Office. Peter Weber
The 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics are fast approaching, but concerns about whether or not the city is prepared to host the Games are mounting in the face of a growing list of scandals. On Wednesday, mutilated body parts, including a severed foot, washed up on Copacabana Beach near the court where the Olympic beach volleyball competitions are set to take place. Police aren't sure where the body parts came from, but they may be connected to recent violent attempts to capture a Brazilian drug trafficker that resulted in gun battles throughout the city's slums, The Independent reports.
Killings in Rio have been on the rise in the first half of 2016, according to The Associated Press. Rio's acting governor has warned the Games could be a "big failure" due to a lack of funding and security shortages. Last week, an Australian Paralympian was robbed at gunpoint in Rio while riding her bike. Meanwhile, the lab in charge of drug testing for the Games has been suspended for not conforming to international standards, and several high-profile athletes have decided to skip the Games due to fears about Zika. Jessica Hullinger
Author Alvin Toffler, whose 1970 book Future Shock sold millions of copies and was translated into dozens of languages, died Monday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 87.
His Virginia-based consulting firm Toffler Associates confirmed his death. Toffler was born and raised in Brooklyn to immigrants from Poland, and started writing when he was a child. He gained international fame with Future Shock, and in the book, he "synthesized disparate facts from every corner of the globe" and "concluded that the convergence of science, capital, and communications was producing such swift change that it was creating an entirely new kind of society," The New York Times says.
Toffler popularized the phrase "information overload," and foresaw the development of cloning, the influence of computers on the world, and the invention of cable television and the internet. He followed Future Shock up with two more successful books: The Third Wave in 1980 and Powershift in 1990. He is survived by his wife, Heidi, and sister, Caroline Sitter. His daughter, Karen, died in 2000. Catherine Garcia
Authorities in Montana are searching for a grizzly bear they say attacked and killed a U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officer as he biked through the Flathead National Forest outside of Glacier National Park Wednesday afternoon.
In a statement, Flathead County Sheriff Chuck Curry said Brad Treat, 38, was fatally attacked at around 2 p.m. while riding on a trail with another person. "It appears they likely surprised the bear and Treat was taken off his bike by the bear," Curry said. The other rider was able to escape uninjured, ABC News reports. Treat was pronounced dead at the scene. It's rare for a bear to attack in the area, and since Glacier National Park was established in 1910, park officials say there have been 10 bear-related human deaths. Catherine Garcia
Even though he lost the 2012 presidential election, Mitt Romney says his family wants him to give the White House another shot this year.
"My wife and kids wanted me to run again this time," he told CBS News anchor John Dickerson Wednesday at the Aspen Ideas Festival. "I got an email from one of my sons yesterday, saying, 'You gotta get in, Dad. You gotta get in.'" He won't run, he said, as he doesn't think an independent candidate can win, and he wants to spare the feelings of his wife and children. "It's hard on family," Romney said. "It's hard on your spouse sitting there in debates agonizing over what you're going to say next or what your kids go through and your grandkids go through." Catherine Garcia
Department of Education forgiving $171 million in debt owed by students of a bankrupt for-profit college
The U.S. Department of Education will forgive $171 million of debt owed by more than 11,000 former students of the for-profit school Corinthian Colleges Inc., which declared bankruptcy in 2015.
The government is forgiving the loans under a federal law known as the "borrower defense," the Los Angeles Times reports, which relieves the debt of people able to prove they've been defrauded. The now-defunct Corinthian ran several colleges, including Heald, Everest, and WyoTech, which had high tuition rates and few admission requirements. In March, a judge in San Francisco County found that Corinthian made false or misleading statements about job placement rates for graduates, and the company was ordered to pay $820 million to students. When it claimed bankruptcy, Corinthian claimed to have $143 million in liabilities and only $19 million in assets.
The government is only looking at claims of students who took out loans in 2010 or later, and the average amount of debt relief per student is $15,280, the Times reports. Since 2010, nearly 350,000 Corinthian students have taken out about $3.5 billion in federal loans. Former student Tasha Rincon, 34, told the Times she owes more than $46,000 in loans for classes she took at an Everest campus in Ontario, California. She said she studied to become a probation officer, and was told by Corinthian that 93 percent of students in the program would get well-paying jobs. She could only find a minimum wage job as a security guard, and now works three hours a day serving lunch at a high school. Catherine Garcia
An estimated 250 Islamic State militants were killed Wednesday after a series of U.S.-led airstrikes hit a convoy south of Fallujah, Iraq, U.S. officials told Reuters.
The strikes also destroyed at least 40 vehicles, and if the figures are confirmed, this would be one of the deadliest operations against the group. The airstrikes came one day after suicide bombers attacked an airport in Istanbul, killing 42 people. No organization has claimed responsibility, but ISIS is the prime suspect. Catherine Garcia
On Wednesday, Michael Phelps became the first American male swimmer to qualify for five Olympic teams over the course of his career.
During the U.S. Olympic trials in Omaha, the 22-time Olympic medalist finished first in the men's 200-meter butterfly, at 1:54.84, automatically qualifying for the 2016 games in Rio. The 31-year-old will likely swim in multiple events. "Just being able to finish how I want to is so important to me," he said. "Getting on this team is what I wanted to do." Catherine Garcia