Posts tagged with "The Washington Post"

Behind Barr: Trump announces choice for attorney general

December 10, 2018

During a week when former President George H.W. Bush’s legacy has been validated and his choices lauded, President Donald Trump confirmed that he will nominate former Attorney General William P. Barr—who served in same role in the Bush administration from 1991 to 1993— to lead the Justice Department again, telling reporters on December 7 that Barr was “my first choice since day one.”

Barr is, perhaps, best known for successfully urging the elder Bush in 2001 to pardon a number of key figures involved in the Iran-Contra scandal, including former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger. He also has been critical of the Mueller investigation—perhaps explaining why Trump is so enamored of this candidate.

According to a December 7 report by The Washington Post, “Barr is likely to face tough questions at his confirmation hearing about how he will handle the ongoing special counsel investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election.”

Assuming that the nomination is confirmed by the Senate, Barr would replace Acting AG Matthew Whittaker, whom Trump elevated to that role after requesting the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions early in November.

That move—which leapfrogged the DOJ professional who actually was next in line for the job, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein—has been widely criticized on the grounds that Whittaker is not qualified; is under investigation, himself; and has said that the president “made the right call” when he fired FBI Director James Comey.

In another round of musical chairs in the administration, Chief of Staff John Kelly was reportedly expected to resign on Friday night, December 7. Kelly had worn out his welcome with the POTUS, who stopped talking to him in recent days in hopes that we would take the hint and depart the White House.

Finally, Trump also has said, according to The Washington Post, that he will nominate Heather Nauert to replace Nikki Haley as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, describing the State Department spokesperson, a relative novice on foreign policy, as “very talented, very smart, very quick.” Haley announced her pending resignation in October.

Research contact: matt.zapotosky@washpost.com

Scoot over, Bird and Lyme: Superpedestrian to offer ‘self-repairing’ electric scooters

December 5, 2018

Emergency rooms are seeing even more cases involving broken noses, wrists, and shoulders; facial lacerations and fractures; and blunt head trauma than they have in the past—especially on the West Coast, where electric-scooter use is trending.

Although no data on scooter injuries has been compiled to date, The Washington Post reports that the handy, scaled-down urban vehicles—which really are a juiced-up version of what used to be a child’s toy—seem to be exposing users to danger.

Indeed, the news outlet says that, as use of the scooters continues surge—and to spread nationwide—manufacturers and marketers of the vehicles have been criticized for deploying models that break apart in use, catch fire, and lull vulnerable riders into a false sense of safety. Many riders do not even use helmets while they are negotiating bumper-to-bumper city traffic.

But now, the Post reported on December 3, a transportation robotics company claims it may have the solution.

Superpedestrian—a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based micro-mobility company that began producing electric bicycles in 2013—told the D.C.-based news outlet this week that it plans to begin producing an “industrial grade e-scooter” capable of operating on a single charge for several days, self-diagnosing mechanical problems and removing itself from circulation using “vehicle intelligence” in 2019.

The average e-scooter life span is about three months, but Assaf Biderman, the company’s founder and CEO—as well as associate director of the MIT Senseable City Laboratory (where the concept for the company’s bike and its innovative Copenhagen Wheel was born)—says Superpedestrian’s e-scooters will be able to remain in circulation for as long as 18 months.

“Shared scooters must be super-robust, require minimal charging and be smart enough to sustain themselves on city streets for prolonged periods of time, all while costing a few hundreds of dollars to produce,” Biderman told the newspaper.

The company’s scooter tops out at around 17 mph but is slightly larger than models available through major companies such as Bird, Lime, Skip, and Lyft. The scooter can travel up to 60 miles on a single charge, the company informed the Post.

Biderman said the larger wheel size and rider base improves safety and sets the model apart from most e-scooters on the market.

What’s more, Superpedestrian’s scooter is capable of self-diagnosing mechanical problems using “vehicle intelligence”—a tool designed to monitor battery voltage and temperature, as well as the device’s motor.

When the scooter encounters a mechanical problem, Biderman said, its scooter performs automated maintenance. If that fails, he added, the scooter opens a support ticket and takes itself offline, making it impossible for customers to ride. Once that occurs, he said, a human mechanic would be alerted to fix the scooter on the ground.

“Compare this to how things currently work, where you rely on users to report that a vehicle has an issue, but if they fail to do so, people can keep riding and be at risk.”

Research contact: peter.holley@washpost.com

Airbnb’s Samara group to design and construct homes for communal living

December 3, 2018

Airbnb has already changed the way people travel. Now, the eight-year-old company is aiming to bring the peer-to-peer economy to housing, with the introduction of Backyard—described on a new website as “an initiative to protype new ways homes can be built and shared, guided by an ambition to realize more humanistic, future-oriented, and waste-conscious design.”

Airbnb’s design studio, Samara, announced the project on November 28, CNBC reports. The Backyard initiative will “investigate how building could utilize sophisticated manufacturing techniques, smart-home technologies, and vast insight from the Airbnb community to thoughtfully respond to changing owner or occupant needs over time.”

The goal: To test prototypes Backyard units as soon as the fall of 2019.

“We began with a simple question: What does a home that is designed and built for sharing actually look and feel like?” Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia—who alo serves as the leader of the design and innovation studio Samara—said in a statement about Backyard. “The answer is not simple at all.

“Other questions quickly emerged,” said Gebbia. “Can a home respond to the needs of many inhabitants over a long period of time? Can it support and reflect the tremendous diversity of human experience? Can it keep up with the rate at which the world changes? Can we accomplish this without filling landfills with needless waste?

“It’s a tall order.”

While there are no details about what the homes might look like or how much they will cost, Gebbia told Fast Company that Backyard isn’t just about a house, it’s an “initiative to rethink the home.”

“We helped people activate underutilized space—from a spare bedroom or treehouse to your apartment while you’re away—and built a community that connected people around the world,” Gebbia said. “With Backyard, we’re using the same lens through which Airbnb was envisioned—the potential of space—and applying it more broadly to architecture and construction.”

As The Washington Post points out, the project “could augment Airbnb’s home-rental marketplace, adding real estate development to its portfolio, as cities continue to limit the company’s short-term rentals.” Cities from New York to Washington, D.C., and Boston are passing regulations that have the effect of restricting Airbnb offerings.

Airbnb management started the initiative by surveying the construction industry for practical solutions—but quickly found that it would be “necessary to start from a blank slate.”

“If we’re truly going to reimagine the design of homes,” Gebbia remarked, “ we have to be holistic. We can’t approach Backyard solely from the point of view of design, architecture, urbanism, civic ordinance, sustainable materiality, or manufacturing. We have to grapple with the whole of it.”

He said, “For us, this goes beyond a business opportunity. It’s a social responsibility. The way buildings are made is outdated and generates a tremendous amount of waste. In order to meet the demands of the future, whether it be climate displacement or rural-urban migration, the home needs to evolve, to think forward.”

It’s a tall order—and, says CNBC, Airbnb is not the only company expanding into residential real estate and shared living space: In 2016, collaborative workspace startup WeWork launched WeLive— which currently has two apartment locations (one in New York City and the other in D.C.). Both have dorm-like living spaces and communal social spaces.

Research contact: @sarahelizberger

Employers are helping to drive Election Day turnout

October 24, 2018

While there are no federal laws requiring companies to give employees time off from work to vote, a majority of states do have rules on the books designed to ensure that workers can make it to the polls on Election Day. Most require that companies provide staff members with a minimum of one or two hours to cast their ballots.

However, this year, many employers are not just complying with local laws; they are stepping up and taking an active role in helping their workers to register and vote in the midterm elections, The Washington Post reported on October 22.

According to the Post, Cava—a Washington, D.C.-based chain of Mediterranean fast-casual restaurants— has promised its 1,600 workers nationwide two hours of paid time off to vote on Election Day, if they request the time in advance.

Co-founder Ted Xenohristos said Cava believes it is one of the first national restaurant groups to have such a policy, and what it costs will depend on how many of his employees choose to vote. For him, what matters is that they do.

“As first-generation Americans, we’re proud to participate in the system,” he said. “We wanted to share that with our team members and make it a little easier for them to vote.”

What’s more, a coalition of 140 U.S. companies–among them, Kaiser Permanente, Farmers Insurance, Gap, Levi Strauss., Patagonia, PayPal, Tyson Foods, and Walmart— has pledged to increase voter turnout.

“The U.S. has one of the lowest voter participation rates in the developed world, recently as low as 36%, and one of the most common reasons that people give for not voting is that they are too busy, or have work and life demands that prevent them from voting,” the coalition said in a press release, adding, “The Time to Vote campaign also aims to increase awareness about the steps employers can take to allow time for their employees to vote.

“The companies joining this campaign are committed to increasing voter participation through programs such as paid time off, a day without meetings; and resources for mail-in ballots and early voting. And all of them care about their workforces and supporting democracy.”

The coalition was formed, the Post reports, following a call-in conversation last June led by Rose Marcario, the CEO of outdoor retailer Patagonia, which grabbed headlines for closing its stores and giving workers paid time off for Election Day in 2016— something the stores will do again this year.

Examples of other coalition members that are taking creative steps to bring out the vote include the following:

  • For the first time, Tyson Foods, the meat company, has launched a company-wide voter registration initiative; with many of its plants participating in an effort to register employees and offer details about early voting, absentee ballots and voting locations.
  • Levi Strauss has named volunteer “voting captains” in each of its offices and distribution centers; who will hold registration drives and educate workers. The company also is also giving employees, including retail workers, paid time off to vote.

Meanwhile, a Vote.org project launched in March—dubbed ElectionDay.org—has convinced more than 250 employers, including Pinterest and Diageo, to offer some kind of paid time off or flexible leave on Election Day

“In the past, companies have assumed this was something that was taken care of from a legal standpoint,” Colette Kessler, director of partnerships for Vote.org, told the Post.

More recently, she said in an interview, companies have been taking an inventory of their policies and looking for creative ways to prevent work excuses from keeping people from the polls. “The shift I’m seeing is an interest in really understanding what do they provide, what are the holes in their states’ laws they can … [close] up.”

Research contact: jena.mcgregor@washpost.com

About ‘Time’: Billionaire Marc Benioff buys weekly news magazine

September 18, 2018

Time magazine is about to change hands for the second time since November 2017, when it was acquired from Time Warner by Des Moines, Iowa-based Meredith—up until then, best-known for its flagship publication Better Homes & Gardens.

On September 16, Meredith announced that it had agreed to sell the Time media brand to Marc and Lynne Benioff for $190 million in cash. The Benioffs, who are the billionaire co-founders of Salesforce—a leading global customer relationship management platform—have said that they “will not be involved in the day-to-day operations or journalistic decisions, which will continue to be led by Time’s current executive leadership team.”,

The husband-and-wife team now have become the latest tech titans to take the reins of an iconic media brand. Jeff Bezos, the founder and chief executive of Amazon, bought The Washington Post in 2013. Last year, Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of the Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, agreed to acquire a majority stake in The Atlantic magazine through her organization, Emerson Collective,  from David G. Bradley, who retained a minority stake.

“We’re pleased to have found such passionate buyers in Marc and Lynne Benioff for the Time brand,” said Meredith CEO Tom Harty, in the company’s formal release. “For over 90 years, Time has been at the forefront of the most significant events and impactful stories that shape our global conversation. We know Time will continue to succeed and is in good hands with the Benioffs. We thank the Time team for its ongoing hard work and passionate commitment.”

Meredith acquired TIME as part of its purchase of Time Inc., which closed

“We are honored to be the caretakers of one of the world’s most important media companies and iconic brands,” said the Benioffs. “Time has always been a trusted reflection of the state of the world, and reminds us that business is one of the greatest platforms for change.”

“On behalf of the entire Time team, we are very excited to begin this next chapter in our history,” said Time Editor-in-Chief Edward Felsenthal. “We can’t imagine better stewards for Time than Marc and Lynne Benioff. The team is inspired by their commitment to high-quality journalism and by their confidence in the work we have done to transform and expand the brand in new directions.”

As part of the transaction, Meredith will provide short-term business continuity services and has entered into a multi-year agreement with the Benioffs to provide services such as consumer marketing, subscription fulfillment, paper purchasing, and printing. Meredith will also be able to include the Time brand in large corporate advertising buys.

Research contact: Art.Slusark@meredith.com

Trump postpones military parade until 2019, citing ‘inflated’ costs

August 20, 2018

Everyone loves a parade—or do they? Last February, President Donald Trump asked the Pentagon to plan a parade showcasing U.S. military might—similar to the one that he and the FLOTUS attended in Paris on July 14 in celebration of Bastille Day.

He was in love with the idea of seeing tanks and tactical vehicles rolling down Pennsylvania Avenue—but the American people? Not so much. In fact, based on findings of an informal poll conducted by the Army Times, most people don’t support it. Nearly 9 out of 10, (89%) of that publication’s readers who responded said the parade would be “a waste of money and troops are too busy.” Another 11% supported the idea, describing it as a “great opportunity to show off [the] U.S. military.”

On August 17, The New York Times reported, Trump was forced to postpone plans for a military parade this fall in Washington, D.C.—blaming local officials for inflating the costs and saying they “know a windfall when they see it.”

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser  pushed back on Twitter, saying that she had “finally got thru” to the president to convey the “realities” of what it costs to stage events like military parades in the city. She put the number at $21.6 million, although, she stipulated, the city’s costs are just a fraction of the total, with federal agencies also kicking in millions of dollars.

A day earlier, the Pentagon said Mr. Trump’s parade to celebrate the military could be postponed to 2019, as officials acknowledged that the event could cost more than $90 million.

The parade was initially scheduled for November 10— Veterans Day weekend—of this year. In a pair of tweets, the POTUS allowed for the possibility of a parade in 2019, the Times said. He speculated that this year he would, instead, attend another parade planned at Joint Base Andrews and a military parade in Paris.

The president also took a jab at the local government in Washington, saying the city is poorly” run. Mayor Bowser, a Democrat, slapped back—mocking the president by ending her tweet with a parenthetical “sad” — a word Trump often uses in his own tweets.

Estimates for such events often are based on past costs for similar parades. For the 2017 inauguration, which included a parade, officials estimated that it would cost the city $20 million, according to The Washington Post. Federal agencies put up millions of dollars, as well. Most of the costs are security-related expenses.

On August 16, Secretary of Denfense James Mattis,  supported his boss by dismissing reports of a cost estimate of more than $90 million, saying, “I guarantee you there’s been no cost estimate.”

Large military parades are atypical in America, although President George H.W. Bush staged one in the nation’s capital in 1991 after the conclusion of the Persian Gulf War.

Research contact: tcopp@militarytimes.com

More than just a pretty face: ‘Snapchat dysmorphia’

August 9, 2018

Selfies are the “feature films” we take of ourselves. If we are happy with the original shot, that’s fine. But many of us have taken to “erasing” any imperfections—by using apps and filters such as Facetune to smooth out skin; and to give our eyes, nose, and lips a little tweak. We might even use Snapchat to produce an idealized version of our visage (as well as to add rainbows or puppy ears).

It’s all in good fun, right? Not so much. In fact, according to a study published on August 2 by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Network, the demand for a certain type of plastic surgery has increased, due to a new disorder dubbed “Snapchat dysmorphia.”

The study—conducted by researchers at Boston University School of Medicine’s Department of Dermatology—notes a growing trend: People are bringing in their own selfies to plastic surgeons, usually edited with a smartphone application, and asking to look more like these glorified photos.

The phenomenon is causing widespread concern among experts, who are worried about its negative effect on people’s self-esteem and its potential to trigger body dysmorphic disorder, a mental illness classified on the obsessive-compulsive spectrum, The Washington Post reported on August 8.

“This is an alarming trend because those filtered selfies often present an unattainable look and are blurring the line of reality and fantasy for these patients,” the research has found.

The condition is a mental disorder that causes people to be “extremely preoccupied with a perceived flaw in appearance that to others can’t be seen or appears minor,” according to the Mayo Clinic. People who have body dysmorphic disorder tend to obsess over their appearance and body image—often checking the mirror, grooming or seeking reassurance for many hours a day, the clinic said. Treatments include cognitive behavioral therapy and medication

Neelam Vashi, M.D. ,an assistant professor of Dermatology at the school and one of the article’s authors, told the Post in an interview that Snapchat dysmorphia is a result of people now being able to edit away any imperfections with ease.

“It’s remarkable,” said Vashi, who is also a board-certified dermatologist. “What used to lie in the hands of … celebrities … people who were innately beautiful made to look more beautiful … now it’s in the hands of anyone.”

On Snapchat, for example, the picture messaging application features upward of 20 filters that users can toggle through by simply swiping across their phone screens. Aside from adding flower crowns or puppy ears, filters can give a person freckles, longer eyelashes, wider eyes and flawless skin, among other augmentations. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter also allow people to edit their photos in the application before uploading.

Other applications such as Facetune take things a step further. For $3.99, users have access to a host of editing tools such as teeth whitening and making a person’s forehead, nose or waist smaller. While people most often use filters or editing software for minor fixes such as clearing blemishes or plumping lips, Vashi said traditional cosmetic procedures largely can’t reproduce the “instant fix” people see in their edited photos.

Based on findings of an annual survey conducted by the  American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, selfies continue to be a driving force behind why people wish to get plastic surgery done. In 2017, the survey found that 55% of surgeons reported seeing patients who requested surgery to look better in selfies—a 13% increase from the previous year’s results.

Vashi told the Post that it is unlikely that people will change their behavior in the near future. “It sounds like people are still going to do it because they like it. They like the way they look,” she said. “I’m just one small person in a big world, I can’t change everything, but I can make people aware and recognize and know that it’s not the real world. It’s like living in a fantasy.”

Research contact: @NeelamVashi

Trump to Sessions: ‘Stop the rigged witch hunt right now’

August 2, 2018

President Donald Trump is feeling the heat—and it is not environmental. On August 1, he implored Attorney General Jeff Sessions to end the federal investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections that is being helmed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

As usual, the president took to Twitter to make his intentions known. At 9:24 a.m., he tweeted, “This is a terrible situation and Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further. Bob Mueller is totally conflicted, and his 17 Angry Democrats that are doing his dirty work are a disgrace to USA!”

The angry “ask” came after a week in which the POTUS’s probable involvement in a Trump Tower meeting with the Russians in June 2016 grabbed headlines, thanks to a revelation by former Trump lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen.

In addition, Trump’s instructions to Sessions were issued on the second day of the Alexandria, Virginia-based federal trial of Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager. Manafort is accused of bank and tax crimes.

The media quickly characterized his tweet as a form of obstruction of justice. The Washington Post’s Carol Leonnig was prompt to report (also on Twitter) : “NEW: Trump lawyers tell me his tweets this morning are simply “his opinions” and not evidence of an ongoing effort to obstruct the Russia probe. @RudyGiuliani and @JaySekulow call in to explain @realDonaldTrump well-established practice.”

What’s more,  Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell ( 15th District, California) rapidly tweeted, “Just as a reminder, @realDonaldTrumps tweets are official statements. [Press Secretary] Sarah Sanders might try to spin it now into “opinion,” but Trump is telling his subordinate Jeff Sessions what he wants him to do: stop Mueller’s investigation.”

And progressive organization, MoveOn, commented, “If @real DonaldTrump sabotages #Mueller‘s #TrumpRussia investigation we will need to take swift action. Text ALERT to 668366 & head here: …http://www.trumpisnotabovethelaw.org” 

Presidents typically do not weigh in on ongoing Justice Department investigations, The New York Times said, “but … Trump has been outspoken about his anger and frustration with the Russia investigation, which predates his presidency and was later taken over by …. Mueller.…. Trump has also said that he never would have made … Sessions his attorney general if he knew … Sessions would recuse himself from the Russia inquiry.”

The special counsel is also looking into some of Trump’s tweets about. Sessions and the former FBI Director James Comey —and whether the messages were intended to obstruct justice, the Time said.

A CNN poll conducted by SSRS posted on June 22 found that most Americans continue to believe that the Russian effort to influence the 2016 presidential election is a serious matter that should be investigated, but the constant criticism by President Donald Trump of special counsel Robert Mueller is taking its toll. The number of Americans who approve of how Mueller is handling the investigation has dropped from 48% in March to 44% in May to just 41% [in June], the lowest it has been in CNN’s polling.

Mueller has a lot of company; no one connected with this matter is coming out of it in a positive light. According to CNN, his favorable rating is just 32%; former FBI Director James Comey’s favorability is just 28%; Rudy Giuliani, one of Trump’s lawyers in the Russia investigation, is viewed favorably by only 31% of Americans.

Research contact: @CNNPolitics

Shoplifting: The five-finger discount

August 2, 2018

There are about 27 million shoplifters in the United States today. That equates to one out of every 11 people, according to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention (NASP). And many are caught in the act: In fact, 10 million people have been “caught red-handed” during the past five years.

Interestingly enough, shoplifters don’t necessary take what they need. They take what they want. The National Retail Federation reports that the most frequently stolen items include chewing gum, the painkiller Advil, the weight-loss drug Alli, cell phones, the allergy drug Claritin, the hair growth product Rogaine, Red Bull energy drinks, Dyson vacuums, Bumble and Bumble hair-care products, Cover Girl cosmetics, Crest Whitestrips, and deodorant.

Whom are the shoplifters among us? In 2004, the University of Florida found that  middle-aged adults between the ages of 35 and 54 shoplift more than children and teens—and that, contrary to most of our assumptions, it is men (not women) who are the most light-fingered. However, many shoplifters steal their first item—usually for a thrill—in their teens.

What’s more, a 2008 Columbia University study of more than 40,000 Americans covered by New York Magazine found that it’s not the indigent who are doing the most thieving. “Shoplifting . . . was more common among those with higher education and income, suggesting that financial considerations are unlikely to be the main motivator,” the researchers concluded.

But, motivated they are. The NASP says that shoplifters bring home about $13 billion worth of goods nationwide on an annual basis. And yet they cannot be stopped. A National Retail Security survey  conducted in 2017 found that retail inventory continues to shrink—and that 36.5% of that lost merchandise is due to shoplifting, while 30% is attributed to internal theft.

Indeed, since the 1970s, retailers have used cameras, security guards, sensor tags, shopping carts with wheels that lock when pushed out of parking lots and chips that track products from the factory into your home. But shoplifters—whether working in teams to bolt out the door with luxury items, searching for discarded receipts to steal matching merchandise, sneaking wares into aluminum-lined “booster bags” that deactivate sensors, or smuggling high-ticket items into packaging for lower-priced items —keep stealing.

For a July 7 story, The Washington Post interviewed about 100 shoplifters. Many talked about the crime as though it were an illness. “I have been good but am struggling with it every day,” one said. “It is an addiction like everything else.”

However, according to the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic manual, fewer than 5% of self-identified shoplifters have kleptomania. Meanwhile, the Columbia researchers concluded that “a lifetime history of shoplifting was common.”

If shoplifting, like alcoholism or ADHD, is a disease, the cure has yet to be found. Talk therapy, according to a 2004 study of patients with kleptomania, does not help people stop stealing. Pharmaceuticals such as Lexapro, which reduces depression and anxiety, have not been shown to affect shoplifters. Naltrexone, a drug used to treat alcoholism, seems to suppress the urge to steal in some people, but a study completed in 2009 by researchers at the University of Minnesota included only 25 patients.

Finally, while the vast majority of shoplifters are non-professionals, about 3% steal solely for resale or profit as a business, NASP says. .These include drug addicts who steal to feed their habit, hardened professionals who steal as a lifestyle; and international shoplifting gangs who steal for profit as a business.

Research contact: NASP@shopliftingprevention.org

1,000+ Americans already have downloaded Defense Distributed’s 3-D printing plans for assault rifles

August 1, 2018

For several years, students and enthusiasts have been using three-dimensional (3-D) printing to create prosthetics for people and animals in need, to build houses, and to produce other types of useful equipment (from bottle openers to coin sorters). Now, 3-D printing suddenly has become more immeasurably more dangerous: In fact, more than 1,000 people nationwide already have downloaded plans to print an AR-15-style semiautomatic assault rifle in three dimensions ahead of a change in the federal law on August 1.

In a court settlement on June 29, the Daily Beast reported, the U.S. government agreed that Americans will be able to legally download plans for 3-D printed guns—nicknamed “Ghost Guns” because they don’t have serial numbers and are untraceable by authorities.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who has been fighting to keep 3-D printed guns out of his state, revealed that plans already are gaining popularity online ahead of the law change. The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office asked a judge for a restraining order that would block a website run by gun-rights group Defense Distributed, which holds downloadable plans for the guns, from being accessible in his state.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson also announced on July 30 that he is leading a lawsuit brought by eight states and the District of Columbia to block the legalization of downloadable 3-D gun plans.

In addition, according to a report by The Washington Post, 21 state attorneys general have sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressing their concern: “As the Chief Law Enforcement Officers of our states, we believe the settlement terms and proposed rules are deeply dangerous and could have an unprecedented impact on public safety. In addition to helping arm terrorists and transnational criminals, the settlement and proposed rules would provide another path to gun ownership for people who are prohibited by federal and state law from possessing firearms. Federal courts have recognized the danger of allowing these guns to be publicly available on the Internet, and this Administration has abruptly disregarded those rulings. We urge you to withdraw from the settlement and withdraw the proposed rules immediately, and allow full and fair consideration of any future proposed rules on these issues.”

They further noted: “As a result of the Department of State’s settlement with Defense Distributed, terrorists, criminals, and individuals seeking to do harm would have unfettered access to print and manufacture dangerous firearms. Some of these weapons may even be undetectable by magnetometers in places like airports and government buildings and untraceable by law enforcement. Illegal trafficking of these guns across state and national borders could also increase, and self-made, unregistered, and untraceable firearms could easily wind up in the hands of (or simply be produced directly by) dangerous individuals.”

President Donald Trump expressed his concern about 3-D guns Tuesday morning, tweeting: “I am looking into 3-D Plastic Guns being sold to the public. Already spoke to NRA, doesn’t seem to make much sense!”

Finally, in a March poll, nearly two-thirds of American adults under 30 who plan to vote in the midterm elections said that they believe gun-control laws should be stricter—a reflection of growing support for such actions among younger Americans. The poll by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics, conducted following the school shooting in Parkland, Florida., established that 64% of 18- to 29-year-olds favor stricter gun-control laws, regardless of whether they plan to vote in November.

For several years, the opinions of young Democrats, Republicans and independents have been steadily shifting toward greater support for gun-control measures,” said John Della Volpe, the institute’s polling director. “The difference today is that the Parkland students have created an environment where the lack of progress on reducing gun violence is now symbolic of all the ills plaguing Washington, D.C.”

Research contact: harvardiop@gmail.com