The Lookout

  • Firefighter’s widow describes text messages before husband died

    Mike Krumboltz at The Lookout 3 yrs ago

    Juliann Ashcraft, widow of Andrew Ashcraft, who was one of the 19 firefighters who died while battling the Arizona wildfire on Sunday, spoke to "Today" about the final text messages she exchanged with her husband.

    Juliann said she sent her husband a photo of their four children, all under 6, swimming. Juliann told "Today" that Andrew replied that he missed and loved them. He also asked his wife to tell their oldest son that he was proud of him for speaking at their church and that he was sorry he had missed it.

    "He sent a photo of where he was sitting and what the fire looked like for them, at their lunch spot," Juliann told "Today." "It still did not look as catastrophic as it turned out to be, but it was interesting to have that perspective, to know what life was like for him on the fire lines and know what he risked day in and day out."

    Juliann said her husband was "the most amazing man, the best person I know." She said Andrew had a "contagious smile and a heart of gold."

  • Afghan bomb disposal expert defuses suicide bomber’s vest

    Mike Krumboltz at The Lookout 3 yrs ago

    An Afghan bomb disposal expert defused a would-be suicide bomber's explosives-laden vest in Jalalabad on Sunday.

    Afghan security forces captured the bomber before he was able to blow himself up. They then tied him up to prevent him from detonating the bomb attached to his chest.

    Before the suicide bomber could be interrogated, a bomb disposal expert had to approach him and defuse the vest in a scene eerily reminiscent of Academy Award-winning film "The Hurt Locker."

    After the bomb was defused, the alleged suicide bomber was loaded into the back of a pickup truck and taken in to custody for questioning.

    Last month, nine children and two soldiers with NATO's International Security Assistance Force were killed in a suicide bombing near Kabul, Afghanistan.

  • Lives with GEDs buck stereotypes

    Tim Skillern at The Lookout 3 yrs ago

    Among the quirkier, but probably meaningless, details in the story of Edward Snowden—the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked U.S. government spy secrets, abandoned his girlfriend in Hawaii, bolted for Hong Kong and has since holed up in Moscow—is this figure: $120,000.

    One-hundred-and-twenty grand is what the 29-year-old high school dropout earned while working for Booz Allen Hamilton, an NSA contractor. Before a brief stint in the U.S. Army and several government jobs, Snowden earned his GED, which raises this question: How far can one go in life with a GED? Yahoo News asked readers for their stories of earning a General Educational Development diploma, and while none boasted as sexy an existence as a fugitive with a pole-dancing girlfriend and a six-figure salary, their insights and stories say much about how GEDs can alter a life.

    A lesson learned late: School first, fun later

    Todd Jacondino dropped out of Thomas Edison High School in Jamaica, Queens, when he was 16.

    “Was it a mistake?” he asks. “Absolutely.”

    In Jacondino’s words:

    In Seelke’s words:

  • New Yorker’s ‘Sesame Street’ cover draws mixed reactions

    Mike Krumboltz at The Lookout 3 yrs ago

    The Supreme Court's decision to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act has resulted in one of the New Yorker's more memorable covers.

    On it, Sesame Street residents Bert and Ernie cuddle on the couch while watching the announcement on television.

    Of course, the rumors of Bert and Ernie being more than roommates is nothing new (more on that later). But neither, it seems, is the artwork on the New Yorker's cover.

    The magazine acknowledged that the drawing was first uploaded to the Web over a year ago by artist Jack Hunter. Hunter posted the artwork on a Tumblr blog in May 2012. Gawker has the two pieces of art, side by side.

    But why are Bert and Ernie still being used as symbols of the gay rights movement?

    Here is part of Thomas' reaction to the New Yorker cover:

    Here is Flavorwire writer Tyler Coates' reaction:

    Reactions to the New Yorker cover on Twitter were mixed. Some of the negative:

    And the positive:

  • Chat with the crew of the solar plane as it completes its journey across America

    Max Zimbert at The Lookout 3 yrs ago

    The solar plane is scheduled to land early Sunday morning in New York City and complete a historic first as the only solar plane to fly across America day and night--and without fuel.

    Join the Swiss-based staff of the Solar Impulse as they take your questions and explain the flight instruments, tactics and technology.

    The Solar Impulse weighs as much as a sedan and flies at 40 mph on average. The plane's journey began in San Jose in March with stops in Arizona, Texas, Missouri, Ohio and Washington D.C. In each city, it has been open to public viewing, with more than 75,000 visitors viewing the plane's roughly 70-yard wingspan.

    <a href="" mce_href="">Chat with the Swiss-based staff of Solar Impulse as the solar plane flies toward NYC!</a>

  • Edith Windsor, the woman who took on DOMA

    Mike Krumboltz at The Lookout 3 yrs ago

    The Supreme Court's landmark decision to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is much more than a symbolic victory for 84-year-old Edith Windsor, the plaintiff in the suit.

    In 2009, Windsor's partner of 40 years, Thea Spyer, died after a battle with multiple sclerosis. Spyer left her estate to Windsor, but because their marriage was not legally recognized, Windsor was charged $363,053 in estate taxes.

    With the Supreme Court's decision to strike down DOMA with a 5-4 ruling, Windsor will finally be eligible for a tax refund, plus interest.

    President Obama called Windsor to congratulate her on the victory.

    "Hello, who am I talking to?" Windsor said, according to the New Yorker. "Oh, Barack Obama? I wanted to thank you. I think your coming out for us made such a difference throughout the country."

  • National Institutes of Health plans to reduce use of chimps in research

    Mike Krumboltz at The Lookout 3 yrs ago

    The National Institutes of Health announced that the agency plans to "substantially reduce the use of chimpanzees in NIH-funded biomedical research." The agency also plans to designate for retirement most of the chimps currently on its roster.

    All told, about 310 chimps will be retired to the Federal Sanctuary System in the next few years. The NIH will keep 50 chimps available for further research, if it proves necessary. Animal rights organizations have long been pressuring the NIH to end studies on chimpanzees.

    In a press release, NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., said the use of chimps in biomedical research has been valuable in the past, but that new technologies "have rendered their use in research largely unnecessary." Collins wrote that the agency received guidance from many groups and that he is confident the decision to reduce the use of chimps in research is both "scientifically sound and the right thing to do."

    Should that reclassification occur, it would translate into even stricter regulations around the use of chimps in research.

  • Haunting photos and unexpected support for defense on Day 2 of Zimmerman trial

    Eric Adelson at The Lookout 3 yrs ago

    SANFORD, Fla.—The photos were as unforgettable as they were haunting: Trayvon Martin’s dead body, sprawled out in wet grass; the 17-year-old’s Nike shirt, pierced with a bullet hole; his limp wrist; his chest; and his face, slack.

    The second day of the murder trial of George Zimmerman brought forth those photos and other powerful pieces of evidence, including the clothes Zimmerman was wearing and the gun he carried on the night he fatally shot Martin in February 2012. There was also a display of the now-iconic hoodie Martin wore on the night he died.

    Zimmerman looked at the images without a strong reaction, though with more focus than he showed during opening arguments. Martin’s parents turned away, looked down and eventually left the courtroom as the photos of their son were shown to the jury.

    Wendy Dorival, who trained Zimmerman in his duties as the watch representative for his gated community, described him as “a little meek” and someone who wanted to “make changes in his community to make it better.”

    Dorival testified that residents who had an issue “were directed to call Mr. Zimmerman.”

    “Let law enforcement take the risk of approaching the suspect,” Dorival said.