13 dead including gunman in shooting at California bar
By KRYSTA FAURIA
Thursday, November 8
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — Using a smoke bomb and a handgun, a hooded gunman dressed all in black opened fire during “college night” at a country music bar in Southern California, killing 12 people and sending hundreds fleeing in terror, authorities said Thursday. The gunman was later found dead.
Authorities said the motive for the attack Wednesday night was under investigation.
Patrons screamed in fear, shouted “Get down!” and used barstools to smash second-floor windows and jump to safety as gunfire erupted at the Borderline Bar & Grill, a popular hangout for college students. The dead included 11 people inside the bar and a sheriff’s sergeant who was the first officer inside the door, Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said.
“It’s a horrific scene in there,” Dean said in the parking lot. “There’s blood everywhere.”
A law enforcement official told The Associated Press that authorities had identified the gunman. The official said the 29-year-old man deployed a smoke device and used a .45-caliber handgun. The official was not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The massacre was the deadliest mass shooting in the U.S. since 17 students and teachers were slain at a Parkland, Florida, high school nine months ago. It also came less than two weeks after a gunman killed 11 people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh. That, it turn, closely followed the series of pipe bombs mailed to critics of President Donald Trump.
Trump praised police for their “great bravery” in the California attack and said, “God bless all of the victims and families of the victims.”
The gunman was tall and wearing all black with a hood and his face partly covered, witnesses told TV stations. He first fired on a person working the door, then appeared to shoot at random at people inside, they said.
Sheriff’s Sgt. Ron Helus and a passing highway patrolman were responding to several 911 calls when they arrived at the Borderline at about 11:20 p.m., the sheriff said. They heard gunfire and went inside.
Helus was immediately hit with multiple gunshots, Dean said. The highway patrolman pulled Helus out, then waited as a SWAT team and scores more officers arrived. Helus died early Thursday at a hospital.
By the time they entered the bar again, the gunfire had stopped, according to the sheriff. They found 12 people dead inside, including the gunman. It was not immediately clear how the gunman died, Dean said.
The shooting happened on college night. Two-step lessons in country dancing were being offered Wednesday at the Borderline, according to its website.
The bar, which includes a large dance hall with a stage and a pool room along with several smaller areas for eating and drinking, is popular with students from nearby California Lutheran University who enjoy country music. It is also close to several other universities, including California State University Channel Islands in Camarillo, Pepperdine University in Malibu and Moorpark College in Moorpark.
Nick Steinwender, a Cal Lutheran student body president, told KTLA-TV he immediately started receiving messages about the shooting, and he and his roommate went to the scene to offer rides back to campus or moral support.
“It’s going to be a very somber day,” Steinwender said. “I know we don’t have all the details in yet, but you know, it just feels like it’s an attack on our community. You know, I think it’s going to be something that we’re going to have to come together and move past.”
When the gunman entered, people screamed and fled to all corners of the bar, and a few threw barstools through the windows and helped dozens to escape, witnesses said.
Video accessed by the AP showed law enforcement officers and vehicles speeding to the scene and people running from bar. Rapid-fire gunshots could be heard as officers crouched down behind a police vehicle, weapons drawn. Three people were seen carrying someone, and later paramedics applied bandages to the man, who has blood on his back.
Cole Knapp, a freshman at Moorpark College, said he was inside the bar when the shooting began, but he thought at first that it was “just someone with an M-80, just kind of playing a prank.” Then he said he saw the gunman, wearing a black beanie and black hoodie and holding a handgun.
“I tried to get as many people to cover as I could,” Knapp said. “There was an exit right next to me, so I went through that. That exit leads to a patio where people smoke. People out there didn’t really know what was going on. There’s a fence right there so I said, ‘Everyone get over the fence as quickly as you can,’ and I followed them over.”
He said a highway patrol officer was nearby who just happened to be pulling someone over.
“I screamed to him, ‘There’s a shooter in there!’ He was kind of in disbelief, then saw that I was serious,” Knapp said. He said he had friends who hadn’t been accounted for.
Tayler Whitler, 19, said she was on the dance floor with her friends nearby when she saw the gunman shooting and heard screams to “Get down!”
“It was really, really, really shocking,” Whitler told KABC-TV as she stood with her father in the parking lot. “It looked like he knew what he was doing.”
Sarah Rose DeSon told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that she saw the shooter draw his gun. “I dropped to the floor,” she said. “A friend yelled ‘Everybody down!’ We were hiding behind tables trying to keep ourselves covered.”
Shootings of any kind are very rare in Thousand Oaks, a city of about 130,000 people about 40 miles (64 kilometers) west of Los Angeles, just across the county line.
Helus was a 29-year veteran of the force with a wife and son and planned to retire in the coming year, said the sheriff, who choked back tears as he talked about the sergeant who was also his longtime friend.
“Ron was a hardworking, dedicated sheriff’s sergeant who was totally committed,” Dean said, “and tonight, as I told his wife, he died a hero because he went in to save lives.”
AP journalists Andrew Dalton in Los Angeles, Michelle A. Monroe in Phoenix and Michael Balsamo in Washington contributed to this report.
Opinion: Canada Has Gone to Pot; Demand Is High, Supply Is Low
By Donald Kirk
TORONTO — The doorway behind the front counter of Cafe 66 conjured images from black-and-white movies of a speakeasy during Prohibition in the United States when alcohol was banned by constitutional amendment. Before another amendment had to be adopted overturning the ban, gangsters hefting submachine guns shot it out with J. Edgar Hoover’s G-men — FBI agents — trying to stop truckloads of booze coming in from Canada.
“Please knock before entering,” said the sign scrawled above the door. Rapping gently, tentatively pushing the panels open, I was greeted by displays bearing images of sticks of marijuana with exotic names like “Mango Pie,” “Thin Mint GSC,” “Duke Nukem,” “Yukon Gold” and “Green Lantern,” to name a few. Notes helpfully suggested differences in flavor and strength — “mellow” was a recurrent theme.
In fact, I might have copied down more names but for a wary young man behind the counter. “What are you writing,” he asked. Not impressed when I told him I didn’t want to forget those colorful names, he asked me to please stop. When I identified myself as a journalist, he said he had nothing to say.
Right, it’s now legal for those 19 and above to smoke, whiff, chew or grow cannabis anywhere in Canada. The catch is, here in Toronto and the rest of Ontario Province, home to one-third of Canada’s 37 million people, you have to order it online through the official Ontario Cannabis Store. While the rules vary from province to province, it’s technically illegal to buy it over the counter in all Ontario.
How then could this tiny shop, known for selling marijuana long before it was formally legalized last month, sell it so openly? “By the grace of God,” the young man responded as customers were lining up. “Don’t worry.” When I paused at the display of cannabis-laced cakes and cookies, he begged, “Please hurry.”
Reluctantly, I took the hint.
So enthusiastic are Canadians about their newly won freedom to smoke pot that the online service for Ontario has just about run out. Orders go unfilled for weeks, packets arrive way late, and dealers, legal and illegal, thrive regardless of whether they are within the letter of the varying laws of Canada’s 10 provinces and three territories.
So erratic and inconsistent are the policies from province to province that it’s likely to take years for the folks who govern the country from the capital of Ottawa to synchronize all the rules and regs. At Cafe 66, I purchased one joint for $12 — total $14 after the guy tacked on $2 for the plastic envelope in which it was wrapped. Taking no chances, a note in small letters on the front stated it was for “medicinal purposes only.” Right.
Not everyone is so willing to wink at the law. Another place that came recommended had the appropriate name, Best Buds. I was sure they too would be stocked with cannabis, but the place was tight shut. Through wide plate glass windows, I saw only empty shelves.
While I was knocking to be sure no one was lurking inside, willing to sell buds surreptitiously, three or four people joined me, all prospective customers. “Aren’t they open,” one asked plaintively, hurrying up with high expectations. “What’s going on?”
A day or two earlier, I had gotten a whiff of the sensitivities as I waited at the Niagara Falls entry while a Canadian immigration official asked a lot of questions about why I was visiting his country. He wanted to know about my relationship with my host — old friend from Vietnam War days — how long I would stay, how often I’d been in the country.
When I told him I was a journalist, he asked what I’d be writing about. I’m not sure I had to answer all those questions, but I’d read in the paper in Buffalo, the nearest big U.S. city to this particular crossing, about people arrested with a stash in their car — the first I’d known about the legalization of marijuana in Canada.
For sure, when my friend invited me to his great place for an exchange of old war stories, I hadn’t been thinking of reporting on marijuana. Just to keep the immigration guy happy, I said I might write about the trade dispute between Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, and President Donald Trump — surely a safe topic.
Holding on to my passport, the guy shut down his window before checking on a computer for a long minute. After he returned my passport and told me I was free to enter, I asked what he’d been looking up. “You can go,” he said. When I repeated the question, he ordered, “Go.”
So I guess relations between the United States and Canada are not the greatest these days while Trump complains about trade issues that have nothing to do with the illicit import of Canadian cannabis. No, I wouldn’t consider returning to the United States with joints in my car. The news on Canadian TV quoted U.S. immigration officials and New York state troopers saying anyone caught with the stuff at the border would lose their entire stash and face prosecution.
But wait. Will the Canadian experience set a precedent for the United States — and other countries where pot remains illegal? U.S. attitudes toward marijuana vary widely even if it’s OK in some places for medicinal purposes. Canadians seem to have rather mixed feelings. Yes, any adult can get it, online or over-the-counter. No, don’t get high while driving — the penalties there are if anything more stringent than for drinking while drunk on alcohol.
As for the joint that I had purchased at Cafe 66, I didn’t light up. Having heard — and written — a lot about drugs among U.S. troops in Vietnam all those years ago, I don’t touch the stuff. Before bidding a fond farewell, I gave the joint to my friend, who let me know I’d been overcharged. Seems the going price on the open black market, pre-legalization, was $6.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Donald Kirk has been a columnist for Korea Times, South China Morning Post many other newspaper and magazines. He wrote this for InsideSources.com.
What is public service loan forgiveness? And how do I qualify to get it?
November 8, 2018
Assistant Professor of Higher Education, Seton Hall University
Robert Kelchen does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
The first group of borrowers who tried to get Public Service Loan Forgiveness – a George W. Bush-era program meant to provide relief to those who went into socially valuable but poorly paid public service jobs, such as teachers and social workers – mostly ran into a brick wall.
Of the 28,000 public servants who applied for Public Service Loan Forgiveness earlier this year, only 96 were approved. Many were denied in large part due to government contractors being less than helpful when it came to telling borrowers about Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Some of these borrowers will end up getting part of their loans forgiven, but will have to make more payments than they expected.
With Democrats having regained control of the U.S. House of Representatives in the November 2018 midterm elections, the Department of Education will likely face greater pressure for providing better information to borrowers, as it was told to do recently by the Government Accountability Office.
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program forgives loans for students who made 10 years of loan payments while they worked in public service jobs. Without this loan forgiveness plan, many of these borrowers would have been paying off their student loans for 20 to 25 years.
Borrowers must follow a complex set of rules in order to be eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. As a professor who studies federal financial aid policies, I explain these rules below so that up to 1 million borrowers who have expressed interest in the program can have a better shot at receiving forgiveness.
What counts as public service?
In general, working for a government agency – such as teaching in a public school or a nonprofit organization that is not partisan in nature – counts as public service for the purposes of the program. For some types of jobs, this means that borrowers need to choose their employers carefully. Teaching at a for-profit school, even if the job is similar to teaching at a public school, would not qualify someone for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Borrowers must also work at least 30 hours per week in order to qualify.
What types of loans and payment plans qualify?
Only Federal Direct Loans automatically qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Borrowers with other types of federal loans must consolidate their loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan before any payments count toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness. The failure to consolidate is perhaps the most common reason why borrowers who applied for forgiveness have been rejected, although Congress did provide US$350 million to help some borrowers who were in an ineligible loan program qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
In order to receive Public Service Loan Forgiveness, borrowers must also be enrolled in an income-driven repayment plan, which ties payments to a percentage of a borrower’s income. The default repayment option is not income-driven and consists of 10 years of fixed monthly payments, but these fixed payments are much higher than income-driven payments. The bottom line is it’s not enough to just make 10 years of payments. You have to make those payments through an income-driven repayment plan to get Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
Parent PLUS Loans and Direct Consolidation Loans have fewer repayment plan options than Direct Loans made to students, so borrowers must enroll in an approved income-driven repayment plan for that type of loan. Borrowers must make 120 months of payments, which do not need to be consecutive, while enrolled in the correct payment plan to receive forgiveness.
How can borrowers track their progress?
First of all, keep every piece of information possible regarding your student loan. Pay stubs, correspondence with student loan servicers and contact information for prior employers can all help support a borrower’s case for qualifying for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Unfortunately, borrowers have had a hard time getting accurate information from loan servicers and the Department of Education about how to qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office told the Department of Education earlier this year to improve its communication with servicers and borrowers, so this process should – at least in theory – get better going forward.
Borrowers should also fill out the Department of Education’s Employment Certification Form each year, as the Department of Education will respond with information on the number of payments made that will qualify toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness. This form should also be filed with the Department of Education each time a borrower starts a new job to make sure that position also qualifies for loan forgiveness.
Can new borrowers still access Public Service Loan Forgiveness?
Yes. Although congressional Republicans proposed eliminating Public Service Loan Forgiveness for new borrowers, the changes have not been approved by Congress. Current borrowers would not be affected under any of the current policy proposals. However, it would be a good idea for borrowers to fill out an Employment Certification Form as soon as possible just in case Congress changes its mind.
Are there other affordable payment options available?
Yes. The federal government offers a number of income-driven repayment options that limit monthly payments to between 10 and 20 percent of “discretionary income.” The federal government determines “discretionary income” as anything you earn that is above 150 percent of the poverty line, which would translate to an annual salary of about $18,000 for a single adult. So if you earn $25,000 a year, your monthly payments would be limited to somewhere between $700 and $1400 per year, or about $58 and $116 per month.
These plans are not as generous as Public Service Loan Forgiveness because payments must be made for between 20 and 25 years – instead of 10 years under Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Also, any forgiven balance under income-driven repayment options is subject to income taxes, whereas balances forgiven through Public Service Loan Forgiveness are not taxed.
Could consciousness all come down to the way things vibrate?
November 9, 2018
Affiliate Guest in Psychology, University of California, Santa Barbara
Tam Hunt is an affiliate in Jonathan Schooler’s META Lab in UC Santa Barbara’s Psychological and Brain Sciences Department. He has no financial conflicts with respect to the work discussed in this article.
University of California provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US.
Why is my awareness here, while yours is over there? Why is the universe split in two for each of us, into a subject and an infinity of objects? How is each of us our own center of experience, receiving information about the rest of the world out there? Why are some things conscious and others apparently not? Is a rat conscious? A gnat? A bacterium?
These questions are all aspects of the ancient “mind-body problem,” which asks, essentially: What is the relationship between mind and matter? It’s resisted a generally satisfying conclusion for thousands of years.
The mind-body problem enjoyed a major rebranding over the last two decades. Now it’s generally known as the “hard problem” of consciousness, after philosopher David Chalmers coined this term in a now classic paper and further explored it in his 1996 book, “The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory.”
Chalmers thought the mind-body problem should be called “hard” in comparison to what, with tongue in cheek, he called the “easy” problems of neuroscience: How do neurons and the brain work at the physical level? Of course they’re not actually easy at all. But his point was that they’re relatively easy compared to the truly difficult problem of explaining how consciousness relates to matter.
Over the last decade, my colleague, University of California, Santa Barbara psychology professor Jonathan Schooler and I have developed what we call a “resonance theory of consciousness.” We suggest that resonance – another word for synchronized vibrations – is at the heart of not only human consciousness but also animal consciousness and of physical reality more generally. It sounds like something the hippies might have dreamed up – it’s all vibrations, man! – but stick with me.
All about the vibrations
All things in our universe are constantly in motion, vibrating. Even objects that appear to be stationary are in fact vibrating, oscillating, resonating, at various frequencies. Resonance is a type of motion, characterized by oscillation between two states. And ultimately all matter is just vibrations of various underlying fields. As such, at every scale, all of nature vibrates.
Something interesting happens when different vibrating things come together: They will often start, after a little while, to vibrate together at the same frequency. They “sync up,” sometimes in ways that can seem mysterious. This is described as the phenomenon of spontaneous self-organization.
Mathematician Steven Strogatz provides various examples from physics, biology, chemistry and neuroscience to illustrate “sync” – his term for resonance – in his 2003 book “Sync: How Order Emerges from Chaos in the Universe, Nature, and Daily Life,” including:
- When fireflies of certain species come together in large gatherings, they start flashing in sync, in ways that can still seem a little mystifying.
- Lasers are produced when photons of the same power and frequency sync up.
- The moon’s rotation is exactly synced with its orbit around the Earth such that we always see the same face.
- Examining resonance leads to potentially deep insights about the nature of consciousness and about the universe more generally.
Sync inside your skull
Neuroscientists have identified sync in their research, too. Large-scale neuron firing occurs in human brains at measurable frequencies, with mammalian consciousness thought to be commonly associated with various kinds of neuronal sync.
For example, German neurophysiologist Pascal Fries has explored the ways in which various electrical patterns sync in the brain to produce different types of human consciousness.
Fries focuses on gamma, beta and theta waves. These labels refer to the speed of electrical oscillations in the brain, measured by electrodes placed on the outside of the skull. Groups of neurons produce these oscillations as they use electrochemical impulses to communicate with each other. It’s the speed and voltage of these signals that, when averaged, produce EEG waves that can be measured at signature cycles per second.
Gamma waves are associated with large-scale coordinated activities like perception, meditation or focused consciousness; beta with maximum brain activity or arousal; and theta with relaxation or daydreaming. These three wave types work together to produce, or at least facilitate, various types of human consciousness, according to Fries. But the exact relationship between electrical brain waves and consciousness is still very much up for debate.
Fries calls his concept “communication through coherence.” For him, it’s all about neuronal synchronization. Synchronization, in terms of shared electrical oscillation rates, allows for smooth communication between neurons and groups of neurons. Without this kind of synchronized coherence, inputs arrive at random phases of the neuron excitability cycle and are ineffective, or at least much less effective, in communication.
A resonance theory of consciousness
Our resonance theory builds upon the work of Fries and many others, with a broader approach that can help to explain not only human and mammalian consciousness, but also consciousness more broadly.
Based on the observed behavior of the entities that surround us, from electrons to atoms to molecules, to bacteria to mice, bats, rats, and on, we suggest that all things may be viewed as at least a little conscious. This sounds strange at first blush, but “panpsychism” – the view that all matter has some associated consciousness – is an increasingly accepted position with respect to the nature of consciousness.
The panpsychist argues that consciousness did not emerge at some point during evolution. Rather, it’s always associated with matter and vice versa – they’re two sides of the same coin. But the large majority of the mind associated with the various types of matter in our universe is extremely rudimentary. An electron or an atom, for example, enjoys just a tiny amount of consciousness. But as matter becomes more interconnected and rich, so does the mind, and vice versa, according to this way of thinking.
Biological organisms can quickly exchange information through various biophysical pathways, both electrical and electrochemical. Non-biological structures can only exchange information internally using heat/thermal pathways – much slower and far less rich in information in comparison. Living things leverage their speedier information flows into larger-scale consciousness than what would occur in similar-size things like boulders or piles of sand, for example. There’s much greater internal connection and thus far more “going on” in biological structures than in a boulder or a pile of sand.
Under our approach, boulders and piles of sand are “mere aggregates,” just collections of highly rudimentary conscious entities at the atomic or molecular level only. That’s in contrast to what happens in biological life forms where the combinations of these micro-conscious entities together create a higher level macro-conscious entity. For us, this combination process is the hallmark of biological life.
The central thesis of our approach is this: the particular linkages that allow for large-scale consciousness – like those humans and other mammals enjoy – result from a shared resonance among many smaller constituents. The speed of the resonant waves that are present is the limiting factor that determines the size of each conscious entity in each moment.
As a particular shared resonance expands to more and more constituents, the new conscious entity that results from this resonance and combination grows larger and more complex. So the shared resonance in a human brain that achieves gamma synchrony, for example, includes a far larger number of neurons and neuronal connections than is the case for beta or theta rhythms alone.
What about larger inter-organism resonance like the cloud of fireflies with their little lights flashing in sync? Researchers think their bioluminescent resonance arises due to internal biological oscillators that automatically result in each firefly syncing up with its neighbors.
Is this group of fireflies enjoying a higher level of group consciousness? Probably not, since we can explain the phenomenon without recourse to any intelligence or consciousness. But in biological structures with the right kind of information pathways and processing power, these tendencies toward self-organization can and often do produce larger-scale conscious entities.
Our resonance theory of consciousness attempts to provide a unified framework that includes neuroscience, as well as more fundamental questions of neurobiology and biophysics, and also the philosophy of mind. It gets to the heart of the differences that matter when it comes to consciousness and the evolution of physical systems.
It is all about vibrations, but it’s also about the type of vibrations and, most importantly, about shared vibrations.