The FBI conducted more gun-related background checks this January than in any other January since the system was created.
With 2,545,802 checks processed through the National Instant Background Check System, January 2016 beat the previous record, set in January 2013, by 50,326 checks. Though January’s number represents a drop from the all-time single month record set in December 2015, it is also marks the ninth month in a row that has set a record. It is also the third month in a row with more than two million background checks.
The number of background checks conducted by the FBI is widely considered the most reliable estimate for gun sales in the country since all sales conducted through federally licensed gun dealers and some sales conducted by private parties are required by law to obtain a check.
However, the number is not a one-to-one representation of gun sales. Many private sales are not included in the system. Also, in some cases a single background check can apply to the sale of multiple guns. Some states use background checks for their gun carry permitting process, which does not involve the sale of a gun.
The new record comes in the wake of President Obama’s executive action targeting gun sales. The White House had signaled that those selling even one firearm in their lifetime could be subject to federal licensing requirements, though it was later revealed that the written guidance issued by the ATF was at odds with the administration’s public comments.
A steady stream of comments supportive of gun control by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton may also have contributed to record sales.
A move by Virginia Democrats to unilaterally eliminate gun carry reciprocity agreements with 25 states also received national attention in January. The policy was instituted by the state’s attorney general after the party failed to recapture the state Senate despite millions from gun control advocates. The backlash to the plan was strong enough that the state’s Democratic governor reversed it in a deal with Republicans.
The Second Amendment Foundation said the continued spike in gun sales was in line with other indicators from around the country.
“The Boston Globe reported last week that tens of thousands of new gun licenses were issued in Massachusetts last year,” Alan Gottlieb, the group’s founder, said in a statement. “In New Jersey, with tough gun laws, applications for gun purchases last year nearly tripled over what they were in 2005. One Missouri county reported a three-month back-up in processing permit applications. A county sheriff in North Carolina is so overwhelmed, he’s asking that citizens make appointments.”
“Add to this the fact that scores of sheriffs and police chiefs have encouraged citizens to arm themselves. Suddenly, gun ownership sounds like a very good idea to people concerned about personal safety,” Gottlieb said.
We wrote here about the refugee crisis in Europe, including the fact that hundreds of Moroccan “youths” have taken over Stockholm’s central train station, stealing, assaulting women and attacking security guards. Last night, fifty or more Swedish men, described in some accounts as suspected soccer fans, decided they had had enough and swept through the train station, attacking and driving out the Moroccans who were living there.
The Daily Mail reports:
Before the attack, the group of 200 people handed out xenophobic leaflets with the message “Enough now”.
Swedish media reported that the thugs, allegedly linked to Sweden’s football hooligan scene, were targeting unaccompanied minors with a “foreign” background…
The mob, wearing all-black balaclavas and armbands, “gathered with the purpose of attacking refugee children” Stockholm police spokesman Towe Hagg said. “Police are now looking into the leaflets that were handed out by masked people before the attack”.
Authorities confirmed that at least 40-50 people went on a rampage at 9pm on Friday night attacking migrants.
This video shows the scene, which doesn’t appear to have been very violent:
“All over the country, reports are pouring in that the police can no longer cope with preventing and investigating the crimes which strike the Swedish people,” reads the leaflet.
“In some cases, for example, in the latest murder of a woman employed at a home for so called ‘unaccompanied minor refugees’ in Molndal, it goes as far as the National Police Commissioner choosing to show more sympathy for the perpetrator than the victim,” it continues.
We wrote about that incident, and the perverse reaction of Swedish authorities, here.
“But we refuse to accept the repeated assaults and harrassment against Swedish women. We refuse to accept the destruction of our once safe society. When our political leadership and police show more sympathy for murderers than for their victims, there are no longer any excuses to let it happen without protest.
“When Swedish streets are no longer safe to walk on for normal Swedes, it is our DUTY to fix the problem,” the leaflet reads.
“This is why, today, 200 Swedish men gathered to take a stand against the north African ‘street children’ who are running rampage in and around the capital’s central station.
“Police have clearly showed that they lack the means to stop their progress and we see no other way than to hand down the punishment they deserve ourselves.
“The justice system has walked out and the contract of society is therefore broken – it is now every Swedish man’s duty to defend our public spaces against the imported criminality.”
Is such vigilante action a good thing? Of course not. But it is inevitable when a nation’s authorities put ideology above their most basic duty to protect the citizenry. Across much of Western Europe, the authorities would rather cling to their discredited illusions than do their jobs.
Thus we have the absurd spectacle of the leaders of the European Union denying any connection between the sexual assaults perpetrated against hundreds of women in Cologne on New Year’s Eve and the million migrants who have recently entered Europe:
The sex attacks that took place in Cologne on New Year’s Eve were simply a “matter of public order” and had nothing to do with the refugee crisis, Jean-Claude Juncker’s inner circle believe.
The European Commission will be the “voice of reason” and tell the public that there is no link between the migration crisis affecting the continent and attacks on women in Germany, internal minutes disclose, amid growing concerns at a “xenophobic” backlash.
The minutes of the European Commission’s weekly cabinet meeting from January 13 hint at officials’ fears that the events in Cologne could turn public opinion sharply against the million migrants who have entered Europe.
That and many other events, yes.
“As far as the crimes in Cologne were concerned, he said that these were a matter of public order and were not related to the refugee crisis,” the minutes say.
European democracy is broken, to an even greater extent than our own.
A cure for Type 1 diabetes is a step closer after scientists managed to halt the condition for at least six months thanks to insulin-producing cells.
Experts from U.S. hospitals and institutions including Harvard University managed to transplant cells into mice, which immediately began producing insulin.
The team was also able to show they could prevent the cells being rendered useless by the body’s own immune system, which was effectively ‘switched off’ thanks to scientific work.
It means a cure for Type 1 diabetes – which affects 400,000 people in the UK – could be much closer.
Scientists are now working to replicate the results in people with the condition.
The findings build on the news at the end of 2014 that experts had discovered how to make huge quantities of insulin-producing cells.
The man who led that breakthrough – Harvard professor Doug Melton who has been trying to find a cure for the disease since his son Sam was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes as a baby – also worked on the new studies.
The human islet cells used for the new research were generated from human stem cells developed by Professor Melton.
Following implantation in mice, the cells immediately began producing insulin in response to blood glucose levels and were able to maintain blood glucose within a healthy range for 174 days – the length of the study.
The findings are published in the journals Nature Medicine and Nature Biotechnology and were made possible with funding from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).
In one study, experts were able to create a newly-modified alginate material to encapsulate human pancreatic islet cells – a way of making the body adopt them.
The modified alginate, a material originally derived from brown algae, was used to prevent the body triggering an immune response which can lead to the build-up of scar tissue and the cells ultimately being rendered useless.
Scientists created a library of almost 800 alginate derivatives and evaluated the immune response to each of them.
This led them to focus on one called triazole-thiomorpholine dioxide (TMTD), which had a minimal immune response in mice and large animals.
The researchers then implanted human islet cells encapsulated in TMTD in mice, which provided the success for the study.
JDRF’s vice president of discovery research, Julia Greenstein, said: ‘Encapsulation therapies have the potential to be groundbreaking for people with Type 1 diabetes.
‘These treatments aim to effectively establish long-term insulin independence and eliminate the daily burden of managing the disease for months, possibly years, at a time without the need for immune suppression.
‘JDRF is excited by these findings and we hope to see this research progress into human clinical trials and ultimately a potential new Type 1 diabetes therapy.’
Senior author of the research, Daniel Anderson, who is associate professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s department of chemical engineering, said: ‘We are excited by these results, and are working hard to advance this technology to the clinic.’
Commercial spaceflight company SpaceX sure knows how to give its equipment cool names. It has a Falcon 9 reusable rocket. It also has the Dragon 2 crew capsule, designed to ferry people into space and return them gently to Earth. The Dragon 2 sports eight SuperDraco engines (most likely a reference to the Latin for “dragon,” and not Draco Malfoy from “Harry Potter”).
All eight of those engines are on display in footage showing what SpaceX calls a “picture-perfect propulsive hover test” for the Dragon 2. The video was taken on November 24, but released Thursday on YouTube.
The SuperDraco thrusters are paired up around the edges of the capsule. You can see them firing distinctly in the video. SpaceX refers to these pairs as “jet packs,” in keeping with the company’s geeky-cool nomenclature.
The engines produce 33,000 pounds of thrust that allow the capsule to hover like a graceful insect in the air for a few brief moments. The experiment was aimed at “demonstrating vehicle control while hovering.” The project is part of SpaceX’s work with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, a public-private partnership focused on developing equipment for human space flight.
SpaceX has lived through both triumph and heartbreak recently. It successfully returned its reusable Falcon 9 rocket to a landing pad after it launched and delivered 11 satellites into low-Earth orbit on December 21. Last week, the company took a third try at landing the Falcon 9 on a floating barge. For the third time, it failed to stick the landing and exploded.
The successful Dragon 2 hover test is another check mark in the triumph column for SpaceX. Getting humans and gear back and forth to space has always been challenging, but the video is a fascinating glimpse at a future spacecraft that should one day carry people far above our planet.
A Michigan couple is expecting their 101st grandchild the same month of their 68th wedding anniversary.
“I brag about it a lot,” Shirley Keena of Grand Rapids, Michigan, told ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “My new friends tell me they’ve got five or six grandkids, and I say ‘Well, I’ve got a 100.’ They look at me like I’m lying or something. We can’t have everyone over for Christmas anymore, the walls will cave in.”
Having a big family has been a joy, Shirley Keena, 85, said. She and her husband, Don, 88, didn’t really “plan” to have certain number of children, as many families today do.
“We just loved it,” Shirley, 85, told MLive. “We always made room.”
“[My husband] is happy about them too,” she told ABC. “He loves babies.”
The Keenas have a total of 11 children, 32 grandchildren, 57 great-grandchildren and 11 great-great-grandchildren.
Shirley’s daughter, Sally Keena, 64, told ABC that the age range of the Keena children is 53 to 67.
“There’s Donna, Daniel, Sally, Deborah, Don, Sherry, Lynn, Rick, David, Mark and Tammy,” she said of the kids, listing everyone in order from oldest to youngest. “People are saying ‘Holy cow, I cant even imagine,’ but for us it’s normal. We’ve always had a big family.”
And now, at 100 grandchildren total, the Keenas are expecting another.
“My family keeps getting bigger, and we’re expecting another one the same month of our wedding anniversary,” she told ABC. “We never believed we’d have this many.”
Shirley shared that her grandchildren live in Michigan, California, Colorado and Texas, and nine of them are even grandparents themselves.
Shirley and Don met when Shirley was working at a soda fountain in Grand Rapids at the age of 16 – 69 years ago.
The two married May 15, 1948. Sally told ABC that her parents had all 11 children in 13 years, without having any twins.
“Their whole life is their kids and their grandkids,” she said. “We are a very close family. Anybody you talk to says, ‘Your parents are the nicest people we’ve ever met.’ They’re just very loving people. [My mom], she’s very proud.”
Sally said her family plans to hold a reunion this year to try and get as many of the 101 grandkids together as possible.