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February 9, 2018
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Russian scientists working at a top-secret nuclear warhead facility have been arrested for trying to use one of the supercomputers to mine bitcoins, BBC reports.

To obtain bitcoin, so-called miners "use special software to solve math problems and are issued a certain number of bitcoins in exchange," Bitcoinmining.com explains. But "not just any old PC will do," Chris Gayomali explained at The Week. "Dedicated bitcoin mining rigs with the sole purpose of crunching through algorithms can cost you up to $6,000 on eBay."

That might explain why the crafty scientists decided to use one of Russia's most powerful supercomputers, located at the highly-restricted Federal Nuclear Centre in western Russia. The computer has a capacity of one petaflop, which means it can do 1,000 trillion calculations in the span of a second.

There was only one problem in this grand plan: For security reasons, the supercomputer is never supposed to be connected to the internet — and when the scientists tried to do so, the security department was alerted. "As far as we are aware, a criminal case has been launched against them," reports Russian news service Mash. Jeva Lange

5:24 p.m. ET
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Florida lawmakers denied a motion to bring an assault weapons ban to a vote Tuesday, less than a week after 17 people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, by a teenager armed with a semiautomatic rifle. The effort failed to pass Florida's House by a 71-36 margin, The Associated Press reports.

The proposed assault weapons ban had previously been stalled in committee, but Democratic state Rep. Kionne McGhee pushed the state legislature to consider allowing the bill to be considered anyway. Florida's Spectrum News 13 said McGhee's motion was thwarted by "almost every Republican voting no."

Florida's state Senate, however, was able to make progress Tuesday on some legislation to address the safety of students. The Associated Press reported that the state's Senate Education Committee was able to attach an amendment "to put law enforcement officers in every school in the state" to an education reform bill that is now in consideration. Kelly O'Meara Morales

5:04 p.m. ET

On Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders held her first press briefing in over a week. There was a lot to address: In the last week, 17 people were killed at a high school in Parkland, Florida, by a teenager armed with a semiautomatic rifle; Special Counsel Robert Mueller announced the indictment of 13 Russians for meddling in the 2016 election; and President Trump tweeted nearly 50 times.

In one notable tweet, the president claimed the FBI missed a tip about the Parkland shooter because the bureau was too focused on investigating Russian interference. The FBI admitted Friday that information about the confessed shooter it received in January failed to reach its Miami field office.

"The president doesn't really think that the FBI failed to stop the Parkland shooter because it was too involved with the Russia investigation, does he?" ABC News' Jonathan Karl asked Sanders. "I think he was speaking, not necessarily that [the Russia investigation] is the cause," Sanders said. "I think we all have to be aware that the cause of this is that of a deranged individual." She added: "That is the responsibility of the shooter, certainly not the responsibility of anybody else."

Karl immediately countered, "Did [the president] mistweet when he said that? Because he's pretty direct, he says, 'This is not acceptable, they're spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion.'" Sanders said Trump was simply "making the point that we would like our FBI agencies to not be focused on something that is clearly a hoax." Watch the exchange below. Kelly O'Meara Morales

4:58 p.m. ET
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What's the best way to lose weight? Scientists still don't have an answer, but they have managed to rule out one trendy option.

A recent popular theory among dieters is that certain types of diets may be more effective than others, based on individual dieters' genes. But a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on Tuesday says this is, essentially, bunk.

Researchers at Stanford University conducted a study on overweight adults to find out whether certain weight loss methods would be more successful with certain genetic makeups. In total, 600 participants were randomly assigned to either a low-fat or a low-carbohydrate diet. Additionally, all participants had their DNA analyzed to determine whether they had a gene that could predict better weight loss under one of the diets.

The participants then followed their randomly assigned diets for a year. But after comparing the diet regimens to the DNA analysis, the researchers found no evidence that the predicted gene markers made any difference in what form of dieting works best for different people, Live Science reported. While there was overall success in losing weight — an average of 11.5 pounds for participants on the low-fat diet, and 13 pounds for those on the low-carb one — there were no significant differences between those who had the expected "right genes" for each diet and those who didn't.

The researchers plan to continue to analyze their data in order to try to determine other possible indicators for what types of diets might work best for different people. Read more about the study's findings at Live Science. Shivani Ishwar

4:25 p.m. ET
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President Trump announced Tuesday that he is directing the Justice Department to propose a ban for bump stock firearm modifications, which he said "turn legal weapons into machine guns." Bump stocks were a hot topic of debate after the Las Vegas shooting on Oct. 1, 2017, in which the modification — which essentially makes semiautomatic firearms operate as though they were fully automatic — was used to kill 58 people and injure hundreds of others.

Trump's order comes the week after the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people were killed by a teenager with an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle. The shooter, Nikolas Cruz, did not appear to use a bump stock during his rampage, the Miami Herald reports:

Sound recordings from inside the school Wednesday indicated that the weapon in question was on a semiautomatic setting, according to [weapons expert Frank] Smyth, who heard about 12 shots in a video posted to Twitter. "He was not using a bump stock," said Smyth. "With a semiautomatic you squeeze the trigger and it automatically reloads." [Miami Herald]

Additionally, the Justice Department determined in December that it likely does not have the ability to regulate bump stocks "without congressional action," The New York Times reports. Jeva Lange

3:58 p.m. ET
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A new poll by Quinnipiac University published Tuesday found that a stunning majority of Americans are in favor of more stringent gun laws. A whopping 97 percent of all respondents said they were in favor of universal background checks on all gun purchases, while 67 percent of all respondents said they were in favor of banning sales of assault weapons.

Support for universal background checks was practically uniform across all categories, including race, gender, age group, or partisan affiliation. Among Democrats, 99 percent of respondents favored universal background checks, as did 97 percent of Republicans and 98 percent of independents. Whites with college degrees and men scored the lowest rate of support — at 96 percent.

Support for an assault weapons ban was not nearly as uniform across groups, as 91 percent of Democratic voters were in favor compared to just 63 percent of independent voters. Forty-three percent of Republicans supported the proposal, while 49 percent opposed it. Still, in every demographic category besides Republicans, a majority of voters were in favor of the hypothetical ban.

Overall, 66 percent of all respondents said they were in favor of "stricter gun laws" in the U.S. Tim Malloy, the assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, said that the findings represented something of an ideological sea change on gun control. "If you think Americans are largely unmoved by the mass shootings, you should think again," Malloy said. "Support for stricter gun laws is up 19 points in little more than 2 years."

The Quinnipiac poll was conducted between Feb. 16-19, just days after the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people were killed by a teenager armed with a semiautomatic rifle. It surveyed 1,249 voters across the country over the phone and has a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points. Read the full results here. Kelly O'Meara Morales

3:31 p.m. ET
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Parkland school shooting survivor David Hogg, 18, blasted Donald Trump Jr. as "immature, rude, and inhumane" after the president's eldest son "liked" conspiracy theories on Twitter that allege Hogg had been fed talking points by his father, who is a former FBI agent. Hogg movingly called for Congress to act to stop gun violence last week, looking into CNN's cameras directly and insisting: "Without action, ideas stay ideas and children die."

A number of pro-Trump websites, including One America News and Gateway Pundit, pushed the theory that Hogg "is running cover for his dad." Speaking to BuzzFeed News, Hogg said it was "immature, rude, and inhumane for these people to destroy the people trying to prevent the death of the future of America because they won't."

"I just think it's a testament to the sick immaturity and broken state of our government when these people feel the need to peddle conspiracy theories about people that were in a school shooting where 17 people died," Hogg said. "It just makes me sick." Jeva Lange

3:24 p.m. ET
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A report published Tuesday by UNICEF found that every year, 1 million newborn babies do not live past their first day. The report also found that 2.6 million babies die before they have lived even a month.

More often than not, newborn mortality is greatly determined by where the baby was born. Henrietta H. Fore, UNICEF's executive director, said Tuesday that "babies born to the poorest families are more than 40 percent more likely to die in the newborn period than babies in the richest families."

The shame is that most of these deaths are preventable, UNICEF explains. More than 80 percent of the deaths are tied to premature births, "complications during labor and delivery," and inadequate health care to treat said complications. In other words, they are circumstantial deaths, rather than medical issues that doctors could not address.

High-income countries average just three deaths for every 1,000 births, whereas low-income countries report 27 fatalities for every 1,000 births. But economic prosperity is not the only determinant of newborn mortality: UNICEF points out that the U.S. and Kuwait, two wealthy countries, each report four newborn deaths for every 1,000 births, a rate that is comparatively outperformed by "lower-middle income" countries like Sri Lanka and Rwanda, which report five deaths per 1,000 births.

The lesson, UNICEF contends, is that "[investing] in strong health-care systems that prioritize newborns … can make a major difference, even where resources are constrained." Rwanda in particular — a poor country that has recently halved its newborn mortality rate — should "offer hope and lessons for other countries committed to keeping every child alive," the report says.

Read the full report here. Kelly O'Meara Morales

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