The results of a new study show that US minors can easily purchase e-cigarettes online. The study was funded by the National Cancer Institute in North Carolina and published in the Journal of American Medical Association.

The study found that US minors, teens in particular, have a 93% success rate when trying to buy e-cigarettes from online sellers.

For the study, a group of 11 North Carolina teenagers was recruited. They were aged 14 to 17 and had no previous smoking history. The teens were asked to try to buy e-cigarettes from 98 internet-based vendors. In North Carolina, buying e-cigarettes as a minor is illegal, but out of the 98 websites, only five rejected the teens for buying underage. 18 of the 98 orders were rejected due to logistics issues, such as the products being out of stock.

For this study, the researchers also wanted to check if there would be an age verification procedure when the products arrived at the house of the buyer. But, almost 95% of the time, the deliveries were simply left outside the door and in the other cases, the minors answered the door and were handed the products without any additional questions and age verification.

At the present, 41 states are about to prohibit or have already prohibited the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors. But, according to the results of this new study, minors can avoid the legislation quite easily and buy the merchandise online.

Researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and co-author of the study, Rebecca S. Williams, insisted that state lawmakers tighten the legislation since online vendors have no motivation to respect the law.

The Food and Drug Administration proposed in 2014 that e-cigarettes should fall under the same category in federal law as tobacco, which means that selling electronic cigarettes to minors would be forbidden. It would take a couple of years, at least, before the proposal gets adopted.

Electronic cigarettes usage is on the rise in US teens, as a national survey performed last year by the University of Michigan revealed that 17.1% of teenagers in the 12th grade had used an e-cigarette in the month prior to the study.

Image Source: Tech PP

An exploding iPhone 5C sent a Long Island man to hospital with severe burns on his left leg.

Erik Johnson is a Long Island man whose iPhone 5C exploded in his jeans’ pocket and sent him to the burn unit.

Johnson needed to be hospitalized for over the week following the explosion of his iPhone 5C smartphone. His inner thigh suffered second and third degree burns.

Johnson was as at a cousin’s wake in Lindenhurst, NY on Valentine’s Day and had his iPhone 5C in his pocket the whole time. When the man bend over to get his keys, he said he heard a popping sound and immediately after that he felt a burn.

His leg caught on fire and as soon as he realized what was happening he tried his best to get the phone out of his pocket, but he couldn’t do it. He believes that it was probably because his phone had melted his pockets shut and he made the decision to rip off his pants so that he could distance himself from the burning phone. Witnesses claim that they could even smell flesh burning.

Johnson declared:

I just want my leg back to what it was, you know. […] You don’t expect something like this to happen, never. It’s still hard to grasp the concept of this happening.

Johnson’s iPhone is in very bad shape and after careful inspection, it was revealed that the left side of the phone simply blew open as a result of the explosion that still needs to be confirmed. The back of the smartphone is also fused with its metal case.

Mike Della is a personal injury lawyer who is planning to sue Apple on behalf of Johnson. Della gave a statement in which he highlighted the distress the explosion caused his client:

What makes it even worse is that he had to miss his cousin’s wake, his funeral. He couldn’t be there with his family. […] Even if this only happened this one time, that’s one time too many. What if this happened to a child?

This isn’t the first time a smartphone has exploded or caught fire. Another recent case was the one of a girl whose Samsung smartphone caught fire while she was sleeping with it under her pillow. Samsung investigation the incident and concluded that the phone’s battery had been replaced with a non-Samsung one by a third party and that had caused the fire.

Apple is said to be looking into the incident before releasing any statements.

Image Source: KTLA

The Los Angeles police shot and killed a homeless man during a confrontation and a video of the killing has surfaced online. The news was first reported by the Los Angeles Time on their website.

The video was posted on Facebook by an eye witness and it shows several officers from the Los Angeles Police Department fighting with a man in a downtown area known as skid row where homeless people pitch tents at night. When the homeless man falls down on the ground he continues to struggle with the police officers. Then, several shots are fired by the police.

Civilian death at the hands of police have been getting more and more numerous in the past year. The most notable of the shootings happened in Ferguson, Missouri, when a police officer shot an unarmed teen, Michael Brown. The young boy died, which caused weeks of protests and rioting. The police officer who shot the young man was cleared of any wrongdoing by a grand jury.

It was announced by Sgt. Barry Montgomery, police spokesperson, that the homeless man who was shot by the Los Angeles Police officers was declared dead at the hospital, shorty after being shot. The Los Angeles Police Department have not yet given any statements and the homeless man hasn’t been identified yet.

There are two versions of this story, given by eye witnesses. Some are saying that the man had grabbed one of the officer’s gun and one eye witness even heard an officer saying that the homeless man has his gun. Others are saying the police officer used a taser gun on the man before shooting him dead.

Steve Soboroff, Police commission President, watched the video and declared that the critical matter in this particular shooting was whether or not the homeless man tried to take the officer’s gun. He stated:

My heart just started pounding just watching. These situations are just so horrific. To me, that would be the only explanation that something would happen that quickly.

Soboroff said that the District Attorney’s office, the Los Angeles Police Department and its independent inspector general would investigate the shooting very carefully. It was revealed that the LAPD officers were called in the area to investigate a robbery.

Image Source: NY Daily News

According to an analysis by Kaspersky Labs, US National Security Agency (NSA) infected hard disk firmware with spyware in a campaign that dates back at least 14 years ago, possibly up to 20 years ago. The Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab explained in a recent report that it discovered a new family of malicious programs, also referred to as worms, which infected computers in several countries, especially overseas.

They also said that targets seem to have been specifically selected, as they included military, energy companies and other businesses, government personnel or Islamic activists. The Kaspersky report identified these cyber-spies as the Equation Group, and implied that the group is affiliated with the NSA.

Kaspersky Lab experts claim that one of the infectious programs has some resembling elements with the so-called Stuxnet worm. Regarding this worm, the New York Times and Washington Post have both claimed it had been developed by the U.S. and Israeli governments in order to disrupt Iranian nuclear facilities. Kaspersky’s researchers also said that some of the spyware discovered was meant to burrow into the essential software that comes pre-installed on a computer’s drive, also known as firmware. Once being there from the beginning, it becomes difficult to detect, not to mention how difficult it can be to remove it. But while being there it might as well gain access to vital codes, like the keys to deciphering encrypted files. Kaspersky added that several notorious hard drive brands’ products, like those from Seagate, Toshiba, Western Digital or Samsung are likely to be affected by Equation Group’s malware tools.

“Theoretically, we were aware of this possibility, but as far as I know this is the only case ever that we have seen of an attacker having such an incredibly advanced capability. To be honest, I don’t think there’s any other group in this world that has this capability,”

said Kaspersky Lab global research and analysis director, Costin Raiu, during an interview with Computerworld. Concerns regarding the access to source code occurred after a series of high-profile cyberattacks on Google  and other U.S. companies took place in 2009, but had been blamed on China. In the meantime investigators claimed they found evidence according to which the hackers were actually gaining access to source code from several big U.S. tech and defense companies.

Scientists are out of this world. Or at least this is how they are regarded by regular people. Or the other way around might as well apply. The general public and scientists seem to think differently when it comes to common sense issues, such as what is good, what is bad, what should our fears be or whether we should agree with the animal testing.

The Pew Research Centre published the results of a new poll in which they examined the mindsets of about 3,700 scientists from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and comparing them to answers, opinions and attitudes regarding various issues, belonging to over 2,000 normal people.

Before enumerating the subjects regular people and scientists don’t agree on, let’s talk about what they agree on. First of all it’s the International Space Station that everybody believes to be a great investment. Secondly, everybody agrees on the need to use more bioengineered fuel  and on the fact that the K-12 level isn’t what it should be.

The issues regular people and scientists don’t agree on involve matters like climate change, world population, vaccination, evolution, animal testing and genetically modified food.

87% of scientists believe human activity is to blame for global warming, only 50% of regular people agree. 89% of scientists feel that the the increasing number of the world population is a menace, while only 59% of regular people share this opinion.

Moreover scientists believe more in vaccinating our children, on the theory according to which we evolved rather than being created, and animal testing, which 89% of scientists approve of. The biggest mentality gap involved genetically modified foods, with which 37% of the general public approves, compared to 88% of scientists, who think this type of food is absolutely safe to consume.

But nevertheless the biggest gap between the two responding groups regards education and race. All the AAAS scientists involved in the poll are well-educated, with 72% holding one Ph.D. In contrast, only around 40% of the regular folks had even completed a bachelor’s degree, while almost 35 % of  them had no college education whatsoever.

But nevertheless scientists are of the opinion that unless they don’t start really winning over the general public, serious problems are likely to occur in the future.

Thousands of residents from this quiet town stood in a candlelight vigil at Chapel Hill, NC where three Muslim students will be buried. Authorities are still trying to figure out if the killing was for a parking space dispute or religious hatred played a role.

Deah Shaddy Barakat, a 23-year-old dental student, his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21; and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, of Raleigh were killed allegedly by their neighbor Craig Stephen Hicks. The Funeral will take place at Raleigh at 1.30 PM.

Police had ruled out .the possibility of religious hatred initially and investigation has revealed that the killing was a culmination of a long-simmering dispute.

All the victims were of Syrian origin and were born in the US and grew up in North Carolina region.

Deah Shaddy and Yusor Mohammad were recently married and were socially very active. They had volunteered to help the homeless and also helped to raise money for Syrian minorities in Turkey who had fled persecution in ISIS controlled Syria and Iraq.

The couple had met while helping to run the Muslim Student Association at N.C. State before Shaddy decided to pursue higher studies degree in dentistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Yusor Mohammad also planned to join her husband in dentistry school in the fall.

Ali Sajjad, 21, the president of the Muslim Student Association at N.C. State said,” This was like the power couple of our community.”

The killing sent shock waves across the seemingly quiet town and as many as 2000 persons stood for a candlelight vigil in the heart of University of North Carolina campus Wednesday evening.

Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, faces charges of three counts of first-degree murder and is being held without bond.

Local authorities were at pains to explain that every aspect of this senseless and brutal act is being investigated.

Chris Blue of the Chapel Hill Police Department said, “We understand the concerns about the possibility that this was hate-motivated and we will exhaust every lead to determine if that is the case. Our thoughts are with the families and friends of these young people who lost their lives so needlessly.”

Vladimir Dinets from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has a recently published study in the magazine Animal Behavior and Cognition, in which he proves that crocodiles are lovable and sociable creatures, despite their fearful appearance. Crocodiles love to play in manners that can be closely be associated with the human ludic spirit, enjoying activities such as piggyback rides, playing the ball or sifting waves.

After investigating them closely, Dinets has found that crocodiles actually  play with streams of water, love noisy ceramic artefacts, wooden balls, and enjoy “hunting” different objects that might be floating in the water.

“I present the first overview of play behavior of three types (locomotor play, object play and social play) in crocodilians based on original observations, published reports and anecdotal evidence,”

Dinets explained.

This is reportedly the first scientific study that investigated the ludic side of the crocodiles, thus shedding some light regarding the evolution of intelligence among animals. It clearly proves that play is a universal feature that is not only seen in humans.

Vladimir Dinets had been studying crocodiles for over 10 years.Dinets’ earlier researches proved that crocodiles can also climb trees, can work well with other crocodiles and even use lures in order to hunt their prey.

The study has also pointed out that crocodiles can get attached to human beings, who they consider reliable playmates.  For instance the scientist evoked a story according to which a crocodile that had been shot in the head and rescued by a man afterwards, developed true feelings for his saviour. It appears that  the two became close friends and would play together without restrictions. The only thing that separated them was the death of the crocodile, 20 years later.

He added that their playing routine often implied the crocodile swimming with the human,or trying to startle him by suddenly pretending to attack him or by sneaking up on him. But he equally accepted being caressed and kissed on the snout.

What Dinets is trying to encourage though these findings is the development of friendlier and more relaxed habitats for crocodiles living in captivity. Their having some toys and enough room to play would make them healthier, more content and with a longer life span than usual.

60 minutes correspondent Bob Simon dies in a car accident today. Simon had joined CBS in 1967 as a reporter and editor based in New York. Mr.Simmon is survived by his wife, Françoise, have one daughter, who is a producer for “60 Minutes”

In his momentous career, Simon had covered the Vietnam and the Gulf wars. Mr Simon aged 73 was killed in a freak car accident in New York.

Jeff Fager, the executive producer of 60 Minutes said, “It’s a terrible loss for all of us at CBS News. It’s such a tragedy, made worse because we lost him in a car accident — a man who’s escaped more difficult situations than almost any one journalist in modern times … we will miss him very much.”

In a career which spanned 50 years, saw him earning many accolades and countless awards.

CNN’s Anderson Cooper, who worked with Simon at “60 Minutes said, “Bob was, and I’ll tell you it’s very hard to talk about him in the past tense, but Bob was for the last five decades, simply one of the best, in my opinion … at getting a story, telling a story, writing a story and making it simply unforgettable.”

Simon was seated in the rear of the Lincoln Town car when it collided with another vehicle at a red light junction and then a stanchion dividing traffic. By the time Police officers arrived at the scene Simon who was seated in the rear of the vehicle was unconscious with serious injuries to his head and torso. He was transported to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. The vehicle’s driver is said to be in stable condition.

Simon was captured by the Iraqi forces at the beginning of Gulf War. He and three colleagues endured 40 days in prison and it also became the inspiration for a book he authored named ‘Forty Days’

A new ceasefire and a road map to end the war in Eastern Ukraine  was agreed upon by leaders of the major nations namely France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine after an exhaustive and long drawn talks. The talks were almost stalled before it was salvaged by last minute measures taken by the participating players.

Though the agreement has been finalized, things appeared far from being rosy with the major players agreeing that there was more work to be done.

The cease fire will come into effect from Saturday mid night. Though the agreement was made unanimously, the fact that the three leaders used three separate conferences to announce the cease fire showed a lack of unity between the players. Still the fact that the major aggrieved parties are talking after bitter fighting which has lasted for almost a year is heartening.

 The negotiations which was described in the words of President François Hollande of France as, “consisted of a long night and a long morning, but we have arrived at an accord on a cease-fire and a global end to the conflict. It is a relief for Europe.”

Mr Hollande further added that the ultimate success of the ceasefire will depend upon the implementation of the terms of the agreement like withdrawal of heavy weapons and border control.

The cease fire talks alternated between surging hopes and despair as the major powers cancelled a meeting to announce the cease fire and extended their talks. After marathon talks which lasted for more than 15 hours between President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, President Petro O. Poroshenko of Ukraine and Mr. Hollande, along with the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, the ceasefire agreement was finally agreed upon.

The urgency was further emphasized by the fact that Ms. Merkel and Mr. Hollande were scheduled to address the summit meeting of the European Union in Brussels, which Mr. Poroshenko was also scheduled to address. Both the leaders were keen to have a ceasefire agreement in place since they had committed themselves to make one last ditch effort to secure peace.

The 21st century did not start on a promising note .The previous century was also no better and today we see a glut of violent crisis stretching from Syria to Ukraine. The world also saw the momentous worldwide observation of the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. In the same month the head of the United Nations refugee agency stated that the agency “has never had to address so much human misery in its 64-year history”

Just because the past is commemorated does not mean that all the parties agree on a point. The Auschwitz anniversary was the occasion for an inept tussle between Poland, Ukraine and Russia over who exactly liberated it the most.

Behind the squabble over the largest Nazi Death Camp, a grim war is raging in Ukraine and Eastern Ukraine has become one of the most dangerous hotspots since the end of the cold war. The stakes are phenomenally high with no side budging from its much publicized positions.  Putin declares the actions by the West as imperialistic and the West continues to pour scorn on Putin’s aggression.

Officially the war has claimed 5350 lives but this is just the tip of the ice berg. Unofficial sources put the death toll to 50000. Only the dead saw the end of the war, for the hundreds of crippled and displaced, it is a never ending misery.

Mikhail Gorbachev, crucial in ending the Cold War, is now warning of a hot war between the West and Russia. The war in Ukraine is fast turning into a catalyst for a major shift. Crude propaganda seeks to impose a view that World War II was a valiant fight between Nazism and the Soviet Union. It seeks to reduce the other players into unimportant roles. Putin is following the same strategy in Ukraine.