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News that the attacker who killed at least 84 people in France was a Tunisian citizen and a Muslim legally working in the country quickly became ammunition for American politicians suggesting that the United States also faces a serious threat from within.

Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, reiterated his call to ban Muslims from entering the country. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich recommended that Muslims be deported if they believe in Islamic law.

But France and the United States are markedly different in their relationships with their Muslim immigrant populations, with several factors making the threat of organized Islamist extremism — as opposed to attacks by individuals who were simply inspired by the ideology — more likely in France. They include the country’s colonial history in North Africa, its insistence on assimilation and the greater isolation of its Muslim communities.

In addition, France’s proximity to the Middle East increases the chances that young men may have traveled to Syria to join Islamic State militants and then returned to France with the intent to carry out attacks like the ones that took place in Paris last year. However, no evidence has emerged to suggest that was the case in the deadly assault Thursday in Nice, in which the assailant drove a truck through a crowd celebrating Bastille Day.

France does not collect census data on religious affiliation, but it estimates that Muslims make up 5% to 10% of its 65 million people, which would give it the largest Muslim population in Western Europe.

Many trace their roots to Algeria and Tunisia, both former French colonies. Their parents and grandparents arrived as immigrant laborers to help rebuild France after World War II — with more than 470,000 coming from Algeria alone by 1968. Over the next dozen years, that number reached 800,000.

Their arrival, however, had an ugly backdrop: For more than a century, the colonies were locked in a vicious fight with France for independence. Battling brutal repression by the French, the insurgents latched on to Islam as a organizing tool.

Algeria and Tunisia became the birthplace of some of the earliest militant Islamist groups. It is little surprise to experts that today Tunisia is the largest supplier per capita of Islamic State recruits to Syria.

By the time Algerian independence came in 1962 — six years after Tunisian independence — France’s relationship with its Muslim immigrants from North Africa was showing signs of trouble.

As their construction and manufacturing jobs began to dry up, many recommitted to their religion as a way of restoring their sense of dignity, said Gilles Kepel, a French political scientist and Islam specialist. Ever since, social mobility has been severely limited.

France struggles much more than the U.S. to absorb its immigrants.

Muslims in France today — even second and third generation — are concentrated in their own enclaves, suburbs known as banlieues that are usually little more than a cement jungle of decrepit high-rises where frustration is the dominant feeling.

Clichy-sous-Bois was the epicenter of race riots in 2005, when two teenagers, the children of African immigrants, were electrocuted while hiding from the police in a power station. Though the suburb is only 10 miles from central Paris, it takes more than an hour to reach due to the absence of a rail link. Its cafes are more likely to serve Moroccan mint tea and merguez sausages than French cafe and croissants.

Children of immigrants identify as French and bristle at questions about their origin. But they also complain of not enjoying the same opportunities as other French citizens.

“Muslims or people perceived as such do not have equal access to education, jobs, housing or even healthcare,” Yasser Louati, a spokesman for the Collective Against Islamophobia in France, said in an interview via social media on Friday.

“You can’t tell generations of kids ‘You don’t belong here’ and be surprised they grow up like they don’t belong here.”

The divisions appear to be worsening. In 2011, a government-sponsored study found that the children of immigrants were twice as likely as their parents to report a sense of discrimination linked to origin, even though they speak French fluently.

The ideal of diversity espoused in the United States has not been embraced in France, where being seen as French means giving up the culture where you came from.

Kepel, the political scientist, has written that the French government sees Islam as an impediment to Muslims becoming fully integrated citizens.

It has discouraged — and in some cases banned —  certain forms of religious expression in an attempt to promote assimilation and unity.

In 2004, the French Assembly passed a law prohibiting the wearing of conspicuous religious symbols in public schools. The controversy dates back to at least 1989, when a high school principal barred three girls from wearing the hijab on school grounds because it violated France’s tradition of secular education.

But critics say those policies have had the opposite effect, deepening a feeling among some Muslims that the government is anti-Islam and they will never be fully accepted.

The relationship between  French Muslims and their countrymen has only become more fraught amid terrorist attacks claimed by Islamic State.

Bulos is a special correspondent.

 

ALSO

Nice: far more than a playgroud for the Euro elite

Texas father and son among those killed in Nice. ‘It will never be the same’

Man who carried out attack in France was a petty criminal with no known links to terror groups

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A string of armed robberies that took place Saturday night in Missouri were perpetrated by suspects who targeted their victims using Pokémon Go, a popular augmented reality game, according to police.

“This morning at approximately 2 am we responded to the report of an Armed Robbery near the intersection of Highway K and Feise Road,” the O’Fallon Missouri Police Department said in a statement. “We were able to locate four suspects occupying a black BMW a short time later and recover a handgun. These suspects are suspected of multiple Armed Robberies both in St. Louis and St. Charles Counties. It is believed these suspects targeted their victims through the Pokemon Go smart phone application.”

O’Fallon Police Sgt. Robert Kendall told ABC News that his department did not have knowledge about all of the robberies committed by the suspects, but that a handgun was recovered, and that the department would be applying for warrants today of the four suspects in question.

“Nobody was hurt, and no shots were fired in ours,” he said, referring to the robbery that took place in his jurisdiction.

O’Fallon Police said the perpetrators of the robberies used the game by adding “a beacon to a PokeStop,” referring to an aspect of the game that enables users to lure additional players.

“Apparently they were using the app to locate [people] standing around in the middle of a parking lot or whatever other location they were in,” the statement said.

Pokemon Go has been a viral sensation since its release on July 6, and caused shares of Nintendo, the maker of the app, to leap 10 percent as its popularity spread, according to Yahoo Finance.

The title is now the No. 1 free app in Apple Inc‘s U.S. iTunes store, according to a chart maintained by the company.

The game uses “real locations to encourage players to search far and wide in the real world to discover Pokemon,” according to its website.

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There may be only a 1 in 258 million chance that someone will win tonight’s $454 million Mega Millions jackpot, but there is a 100% certainty that the winning $528.8 million Powerball ticket is still floating around in the world somewhere. 

The only question is: Who has the ticket?

State lottery officials say it’s not unheard of for ticket holders to intentionally wait months before claiming their prize, but some do it by accident.

The Jan. 12 Powerball jackpot was the biggest in U.S. lottery history at $1.6 billion. The prize was split among three ticket buyers, but only two have claimed their winnings.

Like all Powerball winners, the third ticket holder was given a year to claim the jackpot. With half of that grace period now gone, some lottery officials are wondering whether the winner even realizes he or she has — or had — the winning ticket.

“It’s really 50-50 in my mind now,” said California State Lottery spokesman Alex Traverso. “It’s slightly leaning toward the person may be unaware.”

Some lottery winners take their time to claim a payout so they can get their financial ducks in a row, Traverso said. Lottery winners in the past have spent months with financial planners and attorneys preparing for the onslaught of media, as well as relatives who come out of the woodwork looking for a handout.

Other times, a group of people share the ticket, such as a work pool, and everyone struggles to reach a unanimous decision on how to claim the prize, Traverso said.

“Who knows. Maybe they have their financial house in order, and maybe they decided they’re going to move and the last step is going to be coming in with the ticket. It’s all speculation,” Traverso said.

According to lottery rules, winners of the Mega Millions and Powerball jackpots have up to a year to claim the prize and under most circumstances, need to have the ticket to prove ownership.

Read the latest Essential California newsletter »

However there are exceptions, Traverso said. Some winners who have lost their ticket may be able to substantiate their right to a jackpot by answering questions that only a winner would know, such as when and where they purchased the ticket.

“There’s a laundry list of questions. It’s not easy. You’re going to feel like you’re getting the third degree,” he said. “It’s not a dimly lit room with a light bulb and steel table, but you’ll be subject to an investigation, need to answer questions. We have all the answers. So you have to be able to provide those answers.”

The winning ticket purchased in California on Jan. 12 was bought at a 7-Eleven in Chino Hills.

The state may have images of the possible winner based on the time the sale was recorded with the state and security camera footage, but the rush to buy tickets was so big that day, there’s no way to pinpoint the specific person who bought the ticket, Traverso said.

The state could release photos of potential winners or send out occasional media notices pleading with tips to find the winner, but neither is likely to happen for the record Powerball ticket, he said. That’s because earlier this year, about three dozen people all claimed to be the winners of a $63-million SuperLotto Plus ticket in Chatsworth in February.

So far, none of the claimants for the Chatsworth ticket have been found credible.

“Because that experience went down the way it did, we’ve had to reevaluate the way we did it,” Traverso said.

Discussing the Chino Hills Powerball ticket, Traverso concluded, “We don’t have any more details to share. It’s not like we have more information we can offer up.”

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna on Twitter.

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An organization that has consistently set records and pushed boundaries over the last two years just outdid itself again.

The Warriors have agreed to sign unrestricted free agent forward Kevin Durant to a two-year contract worth $54 million, with a player option on the second season. Durant, 27, averaged 28.2 PPG, 8.2 RPG and 5 APG while earning All-NBA Second Team honors in Oklahoma City last season. The 2014 MVP and seven-time All-Star departs the Thunder after nine seasons with the franchise with which he made four trips to the Western Conference finals and one Finals trip.

This isn’t just a signing, this is a league-shaking coup. Fresh off a 2015 title and a record-setting 73 wins in 2016, Golden State has set itself up for five or six solid years as title contenders by adding Durant to an in-their-prime core that already consisted of All-NBA selections Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.

In Curry and Durant, the Warriors can claim the NBA’s two most efficient volume scorers. In Curry, Thompson and Durant, the Warriors have the best shooting trio ever. And, with Curry, Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Durant and Green, the Warriors boast a five-man lineup that is lethal on offense, vicious on defense, and loaded with team-first pieces that are committed to the greater good. No one, not the champion Cavaliers or the Spurs or anyone else, can match that quintet’s talent, versatility and two-way balance on paper. Last year’s Warriors averaged 114.9 PPG, the most the NBA had seen since 1992. Throw in Durant, a four-time scoring champion with no holes in his offensive game, and 116 PPG, or 118 PPG, or 120 PPG feels possible.

• Durant’s decision shakes up NBA | Durant will join the Warriors 

The Warriors’ “Death Lineup” posted absurd efficiency differentials over the last two seasons, but it faltered late in the 2016 Finals for two major reasons: Curry and Thompson couldn’t generate consistent offense off the dribble, and Harrison Barnes couldn’t make the Cavaliers pay for leaving him open. Durant beautifully fixes both those problems, as he’s spent his entire career creating offense in tight spaces and he certainly isn’t going to shy from the moment like Barnes.

Defensively, Durant proved in the Western Conference finals that he can be a force on that end, too. He’s longer, more aggressive and better at rebounding than Barnes and, like Green, he’s capable of grabbing a defensive rebound and immediately initiating a transition opportunity. If you thought teams struggled to keep the Warriors’ fast break attack in check this season, imagine what will happen when Durant joins the push-the-pace party.

This is self-evident, but also true and worth repeating now that it’s actually a reality: Durant is significantly better than Barnes in every way that truly matters, and his addition should make the Warriors’ ultra-efficient five-man group climb to unprecedented heights.

How Draymond Green recruited Kevin Durant to Warriors

Adding Durant solidifies the Warriors’ status as 2017 title favorites, no question about it, in part because the Thunder went from being perhaps their biggest hypothetical challenger in the West to no longer in the picture. With the Spurs potentially losing Tim Duncan to retirement and the Cavaliers losing Timofey Mozgov and Matthew Dellavedova to free agency without making any major roster additions (yet), the Warriors stand as the free agency period’s biggest winners by far.

Creating the necessary cap room for Durant will require multiple moves: Barnes will reportedly sign with the Mavericks, starting center Andrew Bogut will reportedly be traded to the Mavericks in a salary dump, and back-up center Festus Ezeli will enter free agency. While those moves do create a hole in the middle, Bogut and Ezeli battled injuries during the season and both faltered during the Finals. The Warriors will want to add a cheap big body (or two) as injury insurance protection, but there’s little question that they will want to play smaller and with more versatility when push comes to shove in next year’s postseason. When you think about it, Golden State didn’t need to sacrifice all that much of its “strength in numbers” to add a player who will very likely retire as one the NBA’s top 10 all-time scorers.

The Warriors have done nothing short of constructing a superteam, and they deserve full credit for the execution of their successful recruiting pitch, which reportedly included owner Joe Lacob, the team’s star players, and even a phone call from Hall of Famer Jerry West. As a result of landing Durant, Golden State’s roster now represents 25% of USA Basketball’s Olympic team and it features two MVPs, two scoring champs, four All-Stars, and four All-NBA selections (all of whom are 28 or younger). The Warriors’ fourth-best player once scored 37 points in a single quarter and their fifth-best player was named Finals MVP. Give me a break.

With all of that in mind, the best-case scenario for this experiment is a word not often spoken in the modern NBA: Dynasty.

Grade: A+++

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Story highlights

  • Critics erupted with accusations that the imagery evoked anti-Semitic stereotypes
  • Trump has staked out a staunchly pro-Israel position in his campaign for president
Before deleting the original tweet, which also contained the words “most corrupt candidate ever,” the presumptive Republican nominee tweeted the same graphic with a tweak: a circle instead of a six-pointed star, which evokes the Jewish Star of David.
The Trump campaign did not respond to requests for comment about the decision to use a six-pointed star and whether they were concerned about the potential for the imagery to evoke anti-Semitic undertones.
But the backlash on Twitter was immediate.
“A Star of David, a pile of cash, and suggestions of corruption. Donald Trump again plays to the white supremacists,” said Erick Erickson, a leading anti-Trump conservative.
Erickson quickly added, “For all the people saying ‘It’s not a Star of David,’ why then did Trump tweet it again after replacing it with a circle?”
Katie Packer, another anti-Trump Republican, asked if Trump was “sending some kind of dog whistle.”
Liberal commentator Alan Colmes, who is Jewish, called it a “disgusting” tweet that “appeals to anti-Semites.”
Abe Foxman, the director emeritus of the Anti-Defamation League, called the tweet “insensitive” but said he was reassured by the campaign’s decision to delete the tweet within a few hours.
“They realized it was edgy and could be abused. I’m not sure the intentions were there but there was certainly a lack of sensitivity,” Foxman said.
He added that there is larger concern in the Jewish community about Trump’s reluctance to condemn anti-Semitism and bigotry by some of his supporters.
“I think it’s incumbent on someone who wants to run this country to take the time out and distance and condemn it,” Foxman said.
Trump has staked out a staunchly pro-Israel position in his campaign for president, vowing in March that “the days of treating Israel like a second-class citizen will end on day one” of his presidency. And just a day before his tweet about Clinton, Trump tweeted that he was “shocked by the heinous murder” of a 13-year-old Israeli-American Jew who was stabbed to death by a Palestinian terrorist Thursday in her home in a West Bank settlement.
trump star tweet clinton backlash _00001715

trump star tweet clinton backlash _00001715

His daughter Ivanka is also an observant Jew — having converted to Judaism before her marriage to businessman Jared Kushner — and Trump has three Jewish grandchildren as a result.
And on Thursday, he immediately rebuked man at a campaign rally who said criticized “Zionist Israel.”
Trump told the man: “Israel is a very, very important ally of the United States and we are going to protect them 100% — 100%. It’s our true friend over there.”
But Trump has also been slow to disavow the support of anti-Semitic white supremacists who have expressed staunch support for his candidacy.
Trump initially refused to disavow the support of David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard who continues to promulgate Jewish conspiracy theories, when pressed repeatedly about Duke’s support in an interview by CNN’s Jake Tapper. He would later tweet “I disavow” regarding Duke’s support and blamed his refusal to initially disavow Duke’s support in multiple questions on a faulty earpiece.
And when pressed on the anti-Semitic vitriol and death threats some of his supporters unleashed online against reporter Julia Ioffe over a profile she wrote about Trump’s wife in GQ magazine, Trump said he didn’t “know anything about that.”
“I don’t have a message to the fans,” Trump said when pressed on the anti-Semitic death threats in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer in May. “A woman wrote an article that’s inaccurate.”
Trump has also previously retweeted tweets from apparent neo-Nazi supporters, including one from the account “@WhiteGenocideTM,” which also tweeted numerous quotes from Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels.

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The first reported death involving Tesla’s Autopilot feature raises troubling questions about how much more progress proponents of self-driving cars must achieve before they can be operated without constant driver awareness.

Joshua Brown, 40, of Canton, Ohio, died May 7 in Williston, Fla., when the car’s semi-autonomous system, which Tesla markets under the name Autopilot, failed to detect a tractor-trailer turning in front of the luxury electric car.

“Neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied,” Tesla said in a statement on its corporate web site. “The high ride height of the trailer combined with its positioning across the road and the extremely rare circumstances of the impact caused the Model S to pass under the trailer, with the bottom of the trailer impacting the windshield of the Model S.”

Related:U-M professors know wonders, risks of self-driving cars

Later this month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which has launched an investigation into the Florida crash, will issue guidelines intended to set the near-term rules of the road in autonomous vehicle research.

Brown’s death is a sobering reminder that the excitement, enthusiasm and media coverage of autonomous vehicles may be running ahead of the engineering reality.

First, there’s a lot we don’t know.

For example, did the car alert Brown that he was in a situation where the sensors, micro-cameras and guidance technology could not safely respond?

Even if the system alerted him, was he able to retake control quickly enough to mitigate the crash impact?

Are we experimenting with this technology at the risk of people’s lives?

Related:Google to open self-driving development center in Novi

Related:Lyft and GM to test self-driving cars within a year

“The reality is that the public and regulators won’t tolerate that kind of risk-taking even if over 50 years it means more people are saved,” said Bryant Walker Smith, a professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law who has studied the legal and ethical ramifications of this technology for years.

Advocates of autonomous vehicles argue that over time they can make a quantum improvement in safety.

But regulators must operate in the present.

Last month at a conference in Novi, NHTSA chief Mark Rosekind argued that technology like Autopilot should be twice as safe as the manual systems they replace.

The other risk illustrated in the Florida crash is the tension between what automakers call automated driver assist features, such as emergency braking, line departure alert and adaptive cruise control, and an autonomy that is being touted as allowing all occupants to text, email, watch movies and otherwise disengage from driving.

In regulator speak, full autonomy is called Level 4. Tesla’s Autopilot is regarded as Level 2 technology, but many drivers are treating it as Level 3 and over-trusting the system.

“The expectation of Tesla is that the driver is alert and vigilant, ready to take over at a moment’s notice,” said Ryan Eustice, a professor of engineering at the University of Michigan who is part of the Toyota Research Institute focusing on autonomous transportation. “In practice, however, we see that humans quickly become bored and place too much trust in the system. People let down their guard and are not attentive and ready to take over.”

But USC’s Smith said the marketing pressure to present these vehicles as a magical mode of transportation that allows multitasking is pushing some companies to overpromise their benefits.

“Is an automated system actually safer? The automated system plus an alert human driver is the safest,” Smith said. “The problem is people might be less likely to buy those technologies if they are only marketed as safety. If you market them as relaxation or multitasking, you don’t get the same safety benefit but you get the vehicles used and deployed more rapidly.”

Contact Greg Gardner: 313-222-8762 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @GregGardner12

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A driver so enamored of his Tesla Model S sedan that he nicknamed the car “Tessy” and praised the safety benefits of its sophisticated “Autopilot” system has become the first U.S. fatality in a wreck involving a car in self-driving mode.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced the driver’s death Thursday, and said it is investigating the design and performance of the Autopilot system.

Joshua D. Brown of Canton, Ohio, the 40-year-old owner of a technology company, was killed May 7 in Williston, Florida, when his car’s cameras failed to distinguish the white side of a turning tractor-trailer from a brightly lit sky and didn’t automatically activate its brakes, according to statements by the government and the automaker. Just one month earlier, Brown had credited the Autopilot system for preventing a collision on an interstate.

Frank Baressi, 62, the driver of the truck and owner of Okemah Express LLC, said the Tesla driver was “playing Harry Potter on the TV screen” at the time of the crash and driving so quickly that “he went so fast through my trailer I didn’t see him.”

The movie “was still playing when he died and snapped a telephone pole a quarter mile down the road,” Baressi told The Associated Press in an interview from his home in Palm Harbor, Florida. He acknowledged he didn’t see the movie, only heard it.

Tesla Motors Inc. said it is not possible to watch videos on the Model S touch screen. There was no reference to the movie in initial police reports.

Brown’s published obituary described him as a member of the Navy SEALs for 11 years and founder of Nexu Innovations Inc., working on wireless internet networks and camera systems. In Washington, the Pentagon confirmed Brown’s work with the SEALs and said he left the service in 2008.

Brown was an enthusiastic booster of his 2015 Tesla Model S and in April praised its sophisticated Autopilot system for avoiding a crash when a commercial truck swerved into his lane on an interstate. He published a video of the incident online. “Hands down the best car I have ever owned and use it to its full extent,” Brown wrote.

Tesla didn’t identify Brown but described him in a statement as “a friend to Tesla and the broader EV (electric vehicle) community, a person who spent his life focused on innovation and the promise of technology and who believed strongly in Tesla’s mission.” It also stressed the uncertainty about its new system, noting that drivers must manually enable it: “Autopilot is getting better all the time, but it is not perfect and still requires the driver to remain alert.”

A man answering the door at Brown’s parents’ house who did not identify himself said he had no comment.

Tesla founder Elon Musk expressed “our condolences for the tragic loss” in a tweet late Thursday.

Preliminary reports indicate the crash occurred when Baressi’s rig turned left in front of Brown’s Tesla at an intersection of a divided highway southwest of Gainesville, Florida, where there was no traffic light, NHTSA said. Brown died at the scene.

By the time firefighters arrived, the wreckage of the Tesla — with its roof sheared off completely — had come to rest in a nearby yard hundreds of feet from the crash site, assistant chief Danny Wallace of the Williston Fire Department told the AP.

Tesla said in a statement that this was the first known death in over 130 million miles of Autopilot operation. Before Autopilot can be used, drivers have to acknowledge that the system is an “assist feature” that requires a driver to keep both hands on the wheel at all time. Drivers are told they need to “maintain control and responsibility for your vehicle” while using the system, and they have to be prepared to take over at any time, the statement said.

Autopilot makes frequent checks, making sure the driver’s hands are on the wheel, and it gives visual and audible alerts if hands aren’t detected, and it gradually slows the car until a driver responds, the statement said.

The Autopilot mode allows the Model S sedan and Model X SUV to steer itself within a lane, change lanes and speed up or slow down based on surrounding traffic or the driver’s set speed. It can automatically apply brakes and slow the vehicle. It can also scan for parking spaces and parallel park on command

NHTSA said the opening of the preliminary evaluation by its defects investigation office shouldn’t be construed as a finding that the government believes the Model S is defective.

Brown’s death comes as NHTSA is taking steps to ease the way onto the nation’s roads for self-driving cars, an anticipated sea-change in driving. Self-driving cars have been expected to be a boon to safety because they’ll eliminate human errors. Human error is responsible for about 94 percent of crashes.

One of Tesla’s advantages over competitors is that its thousands of cars feed real-world performance information back to the company, which can then fine-tune the software that runs Autopilot.

This is not the first time automatic braking systems have malfunctioned, and several have been recalled to fix problems. Last fall, Ford recalled 37,000 F-150 pickups because they braked with nothing in the way. The company said the radar could become confused when passing a large, reflective truck.

The technology relies on multiple cameras, radar, laser and computers to sense objects and determine if they are in the car’s way, said Mike Harley, an analyst at Kelley Blue Book. Systems like Tesla’s, which rely heavily on cameras, “aren’t sophisticated enough to overcome blindness from bright or low contrast light,” he said.

Harley called the death unfortunate, but said that more deaths can be expected as the autonomous technology is refined.

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A driver so enamored of his Tesla Model S sedan that he nicknamed the car “Tessy” and praised the safety benefits of its sophisticated “Autopilot” system has become the first U.S. fatality in a wreck involving a car in self-driving mode.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced the driver’s death Thursday, and said it is investigating the design and performance of the Autopilot system.

Joshua D. Brown of Canton, Ohio, the 40-year-old owner of a technology company, was killed May 7 in Williston, Florida, when his car’s cameras failed to distinguish the white side of a turning tractor-trailer from a brightly lit sky and didn’t automatically activate its brakes, according to statements by the government and the automaker. Just one month earlier, Brown had credited the Autopilot system for preventing a collision on an interstate.

Frank Baressi, 62, the driver of the truck and owner of Okemah Express LLC, said the Tesla driver was “playing Harry Potter on the TV screen” at the time of the crash and driving so quickly that “he went so fast through my trailer I didn’t see him.”

The movie “was still playing when he died and snapped a telephone pole a quarter mile down the road,” Baressi told The Associated Press in an interview from his home in Palm Harbor, Florida. He acknowledged he didn’t see the movie, only heard it.

Tesla Motors Inc. said it is not possible to watch videos on the Model S touch screen. There was no reference to the movie in initial police reports.

Brown’s published obituary described him as a member of the Navy SEALs for 11 years and founder of Nexu Innovations Inc., working on wireless internet networks and camera systems. In Washington, the Pentagon confirmed Brown’s work with the SEALs and said he left the service in 2008.

Brown was an enthusiastic booster of his 2015 Tesla Model S and in April praised its sophisticated Autopilot system for avoiding a crash when a commercial truck swerved into his lane on an interstate. He published a video of the incident online. “Hands down the best car I have ever owned and use it to its full extent,” Brown wrote.

Tesla didn’t identify Brown but described him in a statement as “a friend to Tesla and the broader EV (electric vehicle) community, a person who spent his life focused on innovation and the promise of technology and who believed strongly in Tesla’s mission.” It also stressed the uncertainty about its new system, noting that drivers must manually enable it: “Autopilot is getting better all the time, but it is not perfect and still requires the driver to remain alert.”

A man answering the door at Brown’s parents’ house who did not identify himself said he had no comment.

Tesla founder Elon Musk expressed “our condolences for the tragic loss” in a tweet late Thursday.

Preliminary reports indicate the crash occurred when Baressi’s rig turned left in front of Brown’s Tesla at an intersection of a divided highway southwest of Gainesville, Florida, where there was no traffic light, NHTSA said. Brown died at the scene.

By the time firefighters arrived, the wreckage of the Tesla — with its roof sheared off completely — had come to rest in a nearby yard hundreds of feet from the crash site, assistant chief Danny Wallace of the Williston Fire Department told the AP.

Tesla said in a statement that this was the first known death in over 130 million miles of Autopilot operation. Before Autopilot can be used, drivers have to acknowledge that the system is an “assist feature” that requires a driver to keep both hands on the wheel at all time. Drivers are told they need to “maintain control and responsibility for your vehicle” while using the system, and they have to be prepared to take over at any time, the statement said.

Autopilot makes frequent checks, making sure the driver’s hands are on the wheel, and it gives visual and audible alerts if hands aren’t detected, and it gradually slows the car until a driver responds, the statement said.

The Autopilot mode allows the Model S sedan and Model X SUV to steer itself within a lane, change lanes and speed up or slow down based on surrounding traffic or the driver’s set speed. It can automatically apply brakes and slow the vehicle. It can also scan for parking spaces and parallel park on command

NHTSA said the opening of the preliminary evaluation by its defects investigation office shouldn’t be construed as a finding that the government believes the Model S is defective.

Brown’s death comes as NHTSA is taking steps to ease the way onto the nation’s roads for self-driving cars, an anticipated sea-change in driving. Self-driving cars have been expected to be a boon to safety because they’ll eliminate human errors. Human error is responsible for about 94 percent of crashes.

One of Tesla’s advantages over competitors is that its thousands of cars feed real-world performance information back to the company, which can then fine-tune the software that runs Autopilot.

This is not the first time automatic braking systems have malfunctioned, and several have been recalled to fix problems. Last fall, Ford recalled 37,000 F-150 pickups because they braked with nothing in the way. The company said the radar could become confused when passing a large, reflective truck.

The technology relies on multiple cameras, radar, laser and computers to sense objects and determine if they are in the car’s way, said Mike Harley, an analyst at Kelley Blue Book. Systems like Tesla’s, which rely heavily on cameras, “aren’t sophisticated enough to overcome blindness from bright or low contrast light,” he said.

Harley called the death unfortunate, but said that more deaths can be expected as the autonomous technology is refined.

———

Krisher reported from Detroit. Associated Press writers Justin Pritchard in Los Angeles, Lolita Baldor and Ted Bridis in Washington, Dee-Ann Durbin in Detroit, Jason Dearen in Gainesville, Florida, and Tamara Lush in Palm Harbor, Florida, contributed to this report.

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A driver so enamored of his Tesla Model S sedan that he nicknamed the car “Tessy” and praised the safety benefits of its sophisticated “Autopilot” system has become the first U.S. fatality in a wreck involving a car in self-driving mode.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced the driver’s death Thursday, and said it is investigating the design and performance of the Autopilot system.

Joshua D. Brown of Canton, Ohio, the 40-year-old owner of a technology company, was killed May 7 in Williston, Florida, when his car’s cameras failed to distinguish the white side of a turning tractor-trailer from a brightly lit sky and didn’t automatically activate its brakes, according to statements by the government and the automaker. Just one month earlier, Brown had credited the Autopilot system for preventing a collision on an interstate.

Frank Baressi, 62, the driver of the truck and owner of Okemah Express LLC, said the Tesla driver was “playing Harry Potter on the TV screen” at the time of the crash and driving so quickly that “he went so fast through my trailer I didn’t see him.”

The movie “was still playing when he died and snapped a telephone pole a quarter mile down the road,” Baressi told The Associated Press in an interview from his home in Palm Harbor, Florida. He acknowledged he didn’t see the movie, only heard it.

Tesla Motors Inc. said it is not possible to watch videos on the Model S touch screen. There was no reference to the movie in initial police reports.

Brown’s published obituary described him as a member of the Navy SEALs for 11 years and founder of Nexu Innovations Inc., working on wireless internet networks and camera systems. In Washington, the Pentagon confirmed Brown’s work with the SEALs and said he left the service in 2008.

Brown was an enthusiastic booster of his 2015 Tesla Model S and in April praised its sophisticated Autopilot system for avoiding a crash when a commercial truck swerved into his lane on an interstate. He published a video of the incident online. “Hands down the best car I have ever owned and use it to its full extent,” Brown wrote.

Tesla didn’t identify Brown but described him in a statement as “a friend to Tesla and the broader EV (electric vehicle) community, a person who spent his life focused on innovation and the promise of technology and who believed strongly in Tesla’s mission.” It also stressed the uncertainty about its new system, noting that drivers must manually enable it: “Autopilot is getting better all the time, but it is not perfect and still requires the driver to remain alert.”

A man answering the door at Brown’s parents’ house who did not identify himself said he had no comment.

Tesla founder Elon Musk expressed “our condolences for the tragic loss” in a tweet late Thursday.

Preliminary reports indicate the crash occurred when Baressi’s rig turned left in front of Brown’s Tesla at an intersection of a divided highway southwest of Gainesville, Florida, where there was no traffic light, NHTSA said. Brown died at the scene.

By the time firefighters arrived, the wreckage of the Tesla — with its roof sheared off completely — had come to rest in a nearby yard hundreds of feet from the crash site, assistant chief Danny Wallace of the Williston Fire Department told the AP.

Tesla said in a statement that this was the first known death in over 130 million miles of Autopilot operation. Before Autopilot can be used, drivers have to acknowledge that the system is an “assist feature” that requires a driver to keep both hands on the wheel at all time. Drivers are told they need to “maintain control and responsibility for your vehicle” while using the system, and they have to be prepared to take over at any time, the statement said.

Autopilot makes frequent checks, making sure the driver’s hands are on the wheel, and it gives visual and audible alerts if hands aren’t detected, and it gradually slows the car until a driver responds, the statement said.

The Autopilot mode allows the Model S sedan and Model X SUV to steer itself within a lane, change lanes and speed up or slow down based on surrounding traffic or the driver’s set speed. It can automatically apply brakes and slow the vehicle. It can also scan for parking spaces and parallel park on command

NHTSA said the opening of the preliminary evaluation by its defects investigation office shouldn’t be construed as a finding that the government believes the Model S is defective.

Brown’s death comes as NHTSA is taking steps to ease the way onto the nation’s roads for self-driving cars, an anticipated sea-change in driving. Self-driving cars have been expected to be a boon to safety because they’ll eliminate human errors. Human error is responsible for about 94 percent of crashes.

One of Tesla’s advantages over competitors is that its thousands of cars feed real-world performance information back to the company, which can then fine-tune the software that runs Autopilot.

This is not the first time automatic braking systems have malfunctioned, and several have been recalled to fix problems. Last fall, Ford recalled 37,000 F-150 pickups because they braked with nothing in the way. The company said the radar could become confused when passing a large, reflective truck.

The technology relies on multiple cameras, radar, laser and computers to sense objects and determine if they are in the car’s way, said Mike Harley, an analyst at Kelley Blue Book. Systems like Tesla’s, which rely heavily on cameras, “aren’t sophisticated enough to overcome blindness from bright or low contrast light,” he said.

Harley called the death unfortunate, but said that more deaths can be expected as the autonomous technology is refined.

———

Krisher reported from Detroit. Associated Press writers Justin Pritchard in Los Angeles, Lolita Baldor and Ted Bridis in Washington, Dee-Ann Durbin in Detroit, Jason Dearen in Gainesville, Florida, and Tamara Lush in Palm Harbor, Florida, contributed to this report.

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Defense Sec. Ash Carter said June 30 that transgender service members are “talented and trained Americans who are serving their country with honor and distinction.” At a news conference, Carter explained why the Pentagon had chosen to do away with the ban on allowing openly transgender troops to serve. (Reuters)

Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter repealed the Pentagon’s long-held ban on transgender people serving in the military Thursday, ending a year-long process that was bogged down by internal conflict and concerns among senior service officials about how the change could be made.

Carter said at a news conference that the policy change will take place over the next 12 months, beginning with guidance issued to current transgender service members and their commanders, followed by training for the entire military. Beginning Thursday, however, service members can no longer be involuntarily separated from the services solely on the basis of being transgender, he said.

“Our mission is to defend this country, and we don’t want barriers unrelated to a person’s qualification to serve preventing us from recruiting or retaining the soldier, sailor, airman or Marine who can best accomplish the mission,” Carter said. “We have to have access to 100 percent of America’s population for our all-volunteer forces to be able to recruit from among them the most highly qualified — and to retain them.”

[Earlier coverage: Repeal of military’s transgender ban tripped up by internal conflict]

The decision marks the latest way in which the military has blazed new trails in the last few years on issues that have divided the country. In 2011, the Obama administration  repealed the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which prohibited gay service members from serving openly. Last year, Carter lifted a ban on women serving in units in ground combat assignments.

For decades, the Pentagon considered transgender people to be sexual deviants who had to be discharged from service. The military decided last year to move the authority to discharge to higher-ranking commanders, making it tougher to force out those came out as transgender. Still, many service members have been living in limbo.

The Pentagon chief said that a Rand Corp. study commissioned by the military found that there are about 2,500 transgender service members among the 1.3 million active-duty members of the military and an additional 1,500 among reserve units.

The “upper end of their range of estimates” found that there are about 7,000 transgender troops on active duty and 4,000 in the reserves, Carter said. Other organizations studying sexuality, such as the Palm Center, have found that there were about 15,500 transgender service members a few years ago and 12,800 now because of  reductions in the overall size of the force.

In a sign of how much the country has changed, there was a relatively muted reaction to the announcement on Capitol Hill, with critics of the change saying they were unlikely to mount an effort to stop the administration.

Rep. Duncan D. Hunter (R-Calif.), a Marine Corps veteran who played a key role in a failed effort five years ago to slow the demise of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” discussed what to do with his staff and decided it was better to focus on other issues, according to his chief of staff, Joe Kasper.

“He’s thought about it. We talked about it,” Kasper said. “But he’d likely be alone in the effort. On these issues — most members won’t touch them with a 10-foot pole. Hunter will, but he can’t get others on board.”

Rep. Mac Thornberry (R.-Tex.), the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, called Carter’s decision the latest example of the Pentagon and President Obama prioritizing politics over policy.

“Our military readiness — and hence, our national security — is dependent on our troops being medically ready and deployable,” he said in a statement. “The Administration seems unwilling or unable to assure Congress and the American people that transgender individuals will meet these individual readiness requirements at a time when our Armed Forces are deployed around the world.”

The details of the transgender policy change appeared to strike a compromise between some issues at play. Notably, transgender people who want to join the military will be required to wait 18 months after a doctor certifies that they are stable in their new gender before they can enlist. Defense officials familiar with the discussions have said that the Army and Marine Corps pressed to wait two years, while the Navy and Air Force thought 12 months were sufficient.

Carter, who appeared Thursday without military leaders in uniform alongside him, said the decision to make the change in policy was his. But he added that he tried to build consensus among military officials before forging ahead.


Senior Airman Kiana Brothers waves the pride flag and cheers on participants of the Pride Month 5K at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois on June 24, 2016. (Photo by Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Fowler/ Air Force)

“I have a general principle around here, which is that it’s important that people who have to implement decisions be part of the decision making, and the armed services are the one who are going to have to implement that,” he said. “They’ve been a part of this study, but now they are a critical part of implementation.”

Gen. Robert B. Neller, the Marine Corps commandant, said in a statement that integrating transgender service members will require understanding, coordination and discipline.

“As we develop our implementation plan, we will pay particular attention to maintaining our readiness and standards, while respecting those who share the esprit de corps to serve as Marines,” Neller said. “We fight and win as a team. In that, we will continue to treat all Marines with dignity and respect.”

Cynthia Smith, an Army spokeswoman, said the service will work diligently to develop an implementation plan.

The decision was greeted with jubilation from existing transgender service members, who have lived in an awkward world over the last year in which Carter noted their difficulties and established a working group to research the issue.

“We all knew the change was coming ever since he acknowledged our service,” said Staff Sgt. Patricia King, a transgender member of the Army infantry who recently was assigned to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. Her new unit was prepared for her when she arrived and has treated her warmly, she said.

“All they saw was a soldier and woman ready to do her job,” King said.

Many policy details still need to be decided, however. Over the next 90 days, the Pentagon will follow up by completing and issuing a commander’s guidebook for leading current transgender service members and medical guidance to military doctors for providing gender transition care if required for those already in uniform. The Defense Department also will immediately initiate changes so that transgender troops can alter their gender in personnel management systems.

Beginning in October, the services will begin training rank-and-file service members about the change. By no later than next July, the military services will begin allowing transgender service members who meet all standards to openly join the military, provided that they are considered stable in their identified gender for 18 months, as certified by their doctor and verified by a military doctor.

[Earlier coverage: Pentagon can easily drop its ban on transgender troops, study finds]

After Carter’s announcement, the Defense Department released a new 18-page document outlining one of the most complicated issues involved: Swapping genders while serving on active duty. It calls for the Pentagon and the military departments to institute policies by which service members can do so, and states that if a military medical provider determines it is necessary they will receive treatment.

“Commanders will assess expected impacts on mission and readiness after consideration of the advice of military medical providers and will address such impacts in accordance with this issuance,” the document states. It adds that commanders “will not accommodate biases against transgender individuals.”

Carter had progressively faced more pressure from advocates for the ban’s repeal over the last few months. He announced last July that he was forming a working group to study the issue over the following six months, but the deliberations extended for nearly a year as service officials raised a variety of concerns.

Defense officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss internal Pentagon discussions, said after Carter’s announcement that commanders will have significant discretion in making sense of how and when gender transition for a service member will occur, particularly if there is gender reassignment surgery involved.

“Each case is going to be unique, and each piece of treatment is going to be subject to decisions not only by doctors, but by commanders,” one official said.

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