Life on Mars?: The ExoMars is about to begin searching for the surest sign of life — the gas it leaves behind

Published: Salon (October 17, 2016)

After successfully pulling off a crucial technical maneuver, the ExoMars spacecraft is now two days away from making history.

The primary objective of the European Space Agency’s ExoMars mission is to determine if enough methane and other gases exist on the Martian surface to prove that life exists — or used to exist — on the Red Planet. To complete the first phase of the process for doing this, ExoMars needs to release an orbiter known as the Trace Gas Orbiter into the Martian atmosphere and safely deposit a lander called Schiaparelli on the planet’s surface. On Sunday morning, Europe’s and Russia’s two probes successfully separated from each other, a move that was necessary to successfully send each one to their intended destination. If all goes according to plan, both probes will get where they need to be on Wednesday.

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Turning over a new Leaf: Is Big Marijuana becoming the new Big Tobacco?

Published: Salon (October 17, 2016)

As the movement to legalize marijuana continues to gather steam, will consumers have to deal with a cabal of corporate giants along the lines of Big Tobacco? Is this just another excuse to ban the drug, or is there a real threat that “Big Marijuana” may rear its ugly head the near future?

Fears of a corporate-driven Big Marijuana are being stoked many anti-marijuana groups, which have begun shifting their focus from scaring people away from the drug to claiming that large companies are going to try to sell it to children. “Joe Camel normalized cigarette smoking especially for young people. The Marlboro man normalized cigarettes for an entire generation. Marijuana wants to follow suit. Normalization is the cornerstone of that,” said Kevin Sabet, a former Obama administration drug policy adviser who now run Smart Approaches to Marijuana, in an interview with MSN.

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Families of Sandy Hook massacre victims can’t sue Bushmaster for making gun that killed 26 people at school

Published: Salon (October 17, 2016)

It shouldn’t have to be a longshot to prove in court that a company which makes semiautomatic rifles is recklessly endangering people’s lives, but it is.

On Friday, a judge in Connecticut dismissed a high-profile lawsuit against the manufacturer of the Bushmaster AR-15, which was used in the December 2012 shooting spree that took the lives of 26 children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Although most liability suits raised by gun-violence victims and their families have been thwarted by the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act of 2005 (PLCAA), which protects gun manufacturers from these types of suits, the plaintiffs cited the “negligent entrustment” clause, which extends to cases “when the seller knows, or reasonably should know, the person to whom the product is supplied is likely to, and does, use the product in a manner involving unreasonable risk of physical injury to the person or others.” Unfortunately for the Sandy Hook parents, Judge Barbara Bellis found that the “negligent entrustment” clause did not apply to their case.

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Hyperlate: Elon Musk and Tesla delay their next big product launch

Published: Salon (October 17, 2016)

It seems that followers of Elon Musk will have to wait another two days before his latest product unveiling.

In a tweet sent out on Sunday afternoon, Musk announced that Tesla needs until Wednesday to refine its upcoming launch. This was going to be part of a pair of product launches that Musk had promised last week, one for today and the other for Friday, October 28th. While the details of the latter launch are already public — Musk is going to unveil a residential solar roof with integrated batteries — the former has been kept secret.

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Sick Bern: Bernie Sanders’ tweet cost Ariad Pharmaceuticals $387 million

Published: Salon (October 17, 2016)

With a single tweet, Sen. Bernie Sanders has cost Ariad Pharmaceuticals $387 million.

The article retweeted by Sanders was from Stat, a publication that specializes in covering health and medical news. It reported that, since the beginning of the year, Ariad has raised the price of its Iclusig chronic myeloid leukemia treatment by 27 percent. The drug now has a pre-rebate list price of $16,560 a month, or almost $199,000 a year. Even worse for Ariad’s image (to say nothing of consumers), this isn’t the first time they raised the price on that drug, having done so twice last year.

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Donald Trump’s media empire may actually be happening

Published: Salon (October 17, 2016)

Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner reportedly approached a major media investor about setting up a Trump television network after the presidential election.

Over the past couple of months, Kushner, who is married to Ivanka Trump, has met with Aryeh Bourkoff, the CEO of a boutique investment bank known as LionTree, theFinancial Times reported Monday. Vanity Fair reported in June that Trump’s inner circle heard the Republican nominee mulling the idea of capitalizing on the “audience” that has grown around his campaign. Hiring former Breitbart News head as his campaign CEO Steve Bannon could, in the long run, be a first step in making a media company, especially if you consider that Trump’s other big-name advisor is former Fox CEO Roger Ailes.

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Donald Trump severs ties with Ohio GOP chair, then attacks him in letter to press

Published: Salon (October 17, 2016)

Donald Trump has severed ties with the chairman of the Ohio Republican Party, deepening his rift with the party organization in a state he desperately needs, at a time he can ill afford to lose it.

In a letter announcing the decision to disassociate with Ohio GOP chair Matt Borges, the Trump campaign said that Borges was conducting “a self-promotional” media tour. The press release described him as “disgraceful” and “bizarre,” and called Borges’ actions an act of “duplicity.”

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Colorado teen kills self as sign of Nazi allegiance: “I have crippling depression but I shall cure it by killing Jews”

Published: Salon (October 17, 2016)

The suicide of a Colorado teenager has been linked to a Nazi-themed Facebook group that the young man apparently led.

The teenager apparently believed that killing himself would “show his allegiance to the Nazi Party and the killing of Jewish people,” according to local law enforcement officials. The theory stems from a message he wrote shortly before his death, proclaiming, “I have crippling depression but I shall cure it by killing Jews.”f

The Facebook group itself was called “4th Reich’s Official Group Chat” and engaged indiscussions ranging from plans for “executing n***ers” to poems like “You can hang Jews on trees, shoot them right in the knees. Gas as many as you please.”

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