Montreal Teacher Caught Selling Students’ Art Projects Online: Report

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Administrators at a suburban Montreal public school have launched an investigation into an art teacher accused of selling his students’ work online for more than $100 each.

Mario Perron’s dubious extracurricular hustle was discovered on Wednesday by a pupil who found a web store with listings for drawings they and others had made in class at Westwood Junior High School in Saint-Lazare, according to CTV News. The student told a teacher, and from there, word spread throughout the school, the outlet reported.

One parent, whose 12-year-old daughter drew a “creepy portrait” allegedly offered by Perron for prices up to $151 Canadian—about $110 USD—on four different sites, told CTV that he had serious ethical concerns about the situation and was “extremely disgusted” by Perron. His child’s drawing can be purchased as a $118 print, on a $55 T-shirt, or as an iPhone case for $35, all of which he described to CTV as “unbelievable.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

3 students won $700,000 for using AI to translate 2 tweets worth of text from previously unreadable ancient scrolls

The Herculaneum papyri were buried during the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, which also buried the ancient city of Pompeii.

Gregorio Borgia/AP Images

Three students won the Vesuvius Challenge for uncovering text in the Herculaneum papyri.The students were awarded a $700,000 prize after using AI to uncover the passages.The uncovered text talks about “how to enjoy life’s pleasures,” organizers said.

It pays to be an AI nerd.

Earlier this week, three students took home a $700,000 prize for winning the Vesuvius Challenge, a competition that aims to decode the Herculaneum papyri, a collection of papyrus scrolls that have been unreadable for centuries. 

The students, Youssef Nader, Luke Farritor, and Julian Schilliger, had never met in person but were the first team to uncover at least four legible passages in the scrolls of 140 characters each (the length of just two tweets).

“I think this promises a very exciting future where seemingly impossible ideas will become possible,” Nader, a 27-year-old machine-learning Ph.D. student at Freie University in Berlin, told The Wall Street Journal. Farritor, 22, is a student at the University of Nebraska, and Schilliger, 28, is a robotics graduate student at ETH Zurich in Switzerland, the Journal reported.

The scrolls were buried in the first century during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in the Villa of the Papyri — an Italian countryside estate that historians have linked to Julius Caesar’s father-in-law. About 800 scrolls have been excavated from the site to date. 

“Some of these texts could completely rewrite the history of key periods of the ancient world,” Robert Fowler, chair of the Herculaneum Society, which raises awareness of the scrolls, told Bloomberg. “This is the society from which the modern Western world is descended.”

The Herculaneum papyri were buried thousands of years ago during the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius.

Salvatore Laporta/AP

And if uncovering them could mark a pivotal point in human history then their burial was a blessing in disguise. Unlike “virtually every ancient text” that decays once exposed to air, the Herculaneum papyri have been “carbonized by the heat of the volcanic debris” and therefore preserved, according to the Vesuvius Challenge’s website

Three tech industry veterans — former Github CEO Nat Friedman, founder of the search engine Cue, Daniel Gross, and computer science professor Brent Seales — launched the competition in March 2023. It is backed by a bevy of entrepreneurs, investors, and key figures in the tech industry. 

This year’s winners built upon work already underway by Seales, who used X-ray tomography and computer vision to “virtually unwrap” the scrolls. From there, machine learning models can be used to identify ink and, ultimately, decipher words.

The passages the winning team uncracked were likely written by the Epicurean philosopher Philodemus and touch on “music, food, and how to enjoy life’s pleasures,” according to a post by Friedman on X. “In the closing section, he throws shade at unnamed ideological adversaries — perhaps the stoics? — who “have nothing to say about pleasure, either in general or in particular,” Friedman explained.

Ten months ago, we launched the Vesuvius Challenge to solve the ancient problem of the Herculaneum Papyri, a library of scrolls that were flash-fried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.

Today we are overjoyed to announce that our crazy project has succeeded. After 2000… pic.twitter.com/fihs9ADb48

— Nat Friedman (@natfriedman) February 5, 2024

The competition’s big winners helped uncover about 5% of one scroll, but the competition doled out more than 50 prizes last year, totaling more than $1 million to teams who helped find the first letters in the scrolls, assisted with ink detection, and developed open source tools.

This year, the bar is even higher, though the payout is lower. The Vesuvius Challenge hopes entrants will help uncover about 90% of the first four scrolls. The winning team will receive about $100,000. 

The founders of the Vesuvius Challenge hope they’ll be able to crack open and read the entirety of all 800 scrolls in the next few years.

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Sen. Chris Murphy, who helped broker the failed border security package, says it’s ‘worrying’ that Mitch McConnell couldn’t deliver more votes: ‘No one is in charge over there’

Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut.

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Sen. Chris Murphy said in an interview that “no one” is leading Senate Republicans.”You can’t make policy if no one is in charge,” Murphy told Politico Magazine.The Democratic negotiator’s remarks came after GOP lawmakers blocked the border security package.

Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, the chief Democratic negotiator of the scuttled bipartisan border security package, recently said that “no one is in charge” of the Republican conference after the bill only received four GOP votes in the upper chamber.

Murphy, who spent months working with GOP Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma and Independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona to design immigration legislation that could pass in the narrowly-divided Senate, told Politico Magazine in a recent interview that he collaborated well with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s staffers.

But Murphy questioned the Kentuckian’s leadership.

“I think they were good-faith actors. They helped get this bill to the point where we could release it on Sunday night,” Murphy said of McConnell’s staffers. “I just think it’s really worrying that the leader of the Republican Party can’t deliver more than four votes.”

“I mean, no one is in charge over there right now,” he continued. “That is not good for the country. That’s not good for the Senate. That’s not good for Democrats. You can’t make policy if no one is in charge.”

The Senate vote on Wednesday failed 49-50. The tally was far short of the 60 votes needed to advance the measure, which also faced a murky future in the GOP-controlled House. While six Democrats opposed the bill, four Republicans — Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, and Lankford — backed the legislation.

McConnell voted against the bill, which would have overhauled the US asylum system, among other measures.

Murphy, who also noted former President Donald Trump’s opposition to the bill, said the GOP had to “figure out” who was leading their party in the Senate.

“It’s not up to me who leads them,” the second-term lawmaker told the magazine. “They just need someone to lead them. We can’t make policy if the Republicans don’t have a leader.”

But despite the setback, Murphy told the magazine he remained a “hopeless optimist” regarding the upper chamber.

“We unveiled a massive comprehensive border reform package,” he said. “We didn’t get it passed, but we got further than anyone in 10 years has gotten. … I still believe in the Senate.”

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GOP Rep. Mike Gallagher Says He Won’t Seek Office in 2024

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Representative Mike Gallagher (R-WI) announced Saturday that he will not run for reelection in 2024.

Gallagher gained attention earlier this week when he voted to oppose the removal of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Gallagher had warned his colleagues during a closed door meeting that voting to oust Mayorkas would allow Republican secretaries to be more easily removed in the future.

On Wednesday, GOP political operative Alex Bruesewitz, an ally of former President Donald Trump, told The Daily Beast that he planned to open an exploratory committee to primary Gallagher. After the vote Bruesewitz said Gallagher “can’t be trusted.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Hungarian President Resigns Over Pardon in Child Sex Abuse Case

LEONHARD FOEGER

The hard-right president of Hungary stepped down on Saturday in the face of widespread protests and intense criticism surrounding a pardon she granted to a man convicted of helping to conceal pervasive sexual abuse carried out by the director of a state-run children’s home.

Katalin Novák, who at 46 is the youngest-ever person and first woman to hold the Hungarian presidency, said in a nationally televised address that news of the pardon had “caused bewilderment and unrest for many people.”

The pardon was one of about two dozen that Novák issued in April 2023, just before Pope Francis was set to visit the country.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Missing 6-Year-Old Who Pleaded for Help in Gaza Is Found Dead With Rescue Teams

PALESTINE RED CRESCENT SOCIETY/FAMILY

The 6-year-old Palestinian girl who pleaded for help with emergency dispatchers while trapped in a car with dead relatives was found dead in the Tal Al-Hawa area of Gaza City, more than a week after she made her distressing final call.

Hind Rajab, who was missing for days after the Palestine Red Crescent (PCRS) sent a rescue team to try and find her, was discovered on Saturday along with the two rescue crew members near the charred shell of their ambulance, which was nearly beyond recognition.

The aid group posted photos and video of the destroyed ambulance at the scene, alleging that Israel “deliberately targeted” the rescue crew “despite prior coordination to allow the ambulance to reach the location to rescue the child.” The PCRS said that the rescuers, Yusuf Al-Zeino and Ahmed Al-Madhoun, were “just meters away from the child Hind” when they were struck down by Israeli fire.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

An ex-Hillary Clinton advisor says Biden should ‘flood the zone’ with appearances to counter focus on public gaffes

President Joe Biden speaks at the White House.

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Democrats want to see Biden boost his visibility following a week where the focus turned to his age.Biden won’t be charged over his handling of classified documents, per Special Counsel Robert Hur.But Hur’s report raised questions about Biden’s memory, which infuriated many in the party.

After the fallout from the special counsel report on President Joe Biden’s handling of classified documents, which questioned his mental acuity, Biden held a press conference to defend himself.

But it only put Biden in a tougher position.

The president confused the presidents of Mexico and Egypt, which was the sort of mistake that Biden’s staffers were hoping he’d steer clear of during his national address.

Despite the gaffe, however, many Democrats across the country believe the president should counter with even more public appearances.

Special Counsel Robert Hur declined to file charges against Biden for retaining classified documents after the former vice president left office. But Hur painted a damning portrait of Biden as a “well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.” The report ignited renewed debate over the 81-year-old president’s readiness for a second term.

Philippe Reines, a onetime advisor to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, told Politico that the media amplified Biden’s gaffe in part because he’s held so few press conferences during his first term.

“I would flood the zone, and I felt the same with Hillary,” Reines told the publication. “Because if you don’t, then the smallest thing becomes too easy for people and the media to focus on.”

“The answer to the president is not to put him out there zero times to prevent zero things,” he continued. “It’s to go out there and have him say whatever it is.”

Politico noted that the Biden campaign wants the president out in front of voters as he heads toward a likely rematch with former President Donald Trump — who at 77 has also faced questions about his age — and believes the commander in chief can engage with voters in various formats.

“The way you’re going to be deploying a candidate in 2024 is not going to look the same as the way you’re deploying a candidate in 2000 or 2004,” American Bridge 21st Century president Pat Dennis told Politico.

While some panned Biden’s Thursday press conference as overly defensive, some Democrats welcomed Biden’s very visible pushback against concerns about his memory.

“He has the right to be angry, and I think it’s good that he showed his anger to the American people,” a Democratic strategist told Politico. “I hope that they do more of this, and my guess is, I think they will because he’s the president and when he feels like he’s got something to say to the American people, he’s going to go out there and do it.”

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Man dies mid-flight after breaking out in ‘cold sweats’ and losing ‘liters of blood,’ scaring his fellow passengers

A Lufthansa Airbus A340.

Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images

A 63-year-old man died on a Lufthansa flight on Thursday, according to Swiss-German outlet Blick. Witnesses told the outlet the man had blood gushing from his nose and mouth.The witnesses said passengers were screaming at the sight. 

A 63-year-old man died during a Lufthansa flight this week after losing “liters of blood’ in a scene that terrified passengers.

The unidentified man boarded a Lufthansa flight from Bangkok to Munich with his wife on Thursday, according to Swiss-German outlet Blick.

Witnesses Martin and Karin Missfelder told Blick that they sat in the row diagonally behind the male passenger and his wife. Karin Missfelder said the man looked unwell when he boarded the plane.

Airline cabin.

iStock/Getty Images

“He had cold sweats” and “was breathing much too quickly,” Karin Missfelder said in a translated quote. 

The man’s wife said his breathing and appearance looked off because they rushed to catch the flight, but the symptoms worried the crew. Despite their initial hesitations, the crew allowed the man to remain on the flight.

Karin Missfelder, a nursing specialist at the University Hospital in Switzerland, told Blick that her concerns for the man persisted, prompting her to tell a flight attendant that a doctor should examine the man. At this point, the plane’s captain arrived and briefly spoke to the man. 

“He then called for a doctor over the loudspeaker and a young, around 30-year-old man from Poland with poor English looked at the German,” Karin Missfelder said.

Martin Missfelder said the doctor however did little to treat the man beyond checking his pulse and asking how he felt. Soon, the man’s health drastically deteriorated.

“They then gave him a little chamomile tea, but he already spit blood into the bag that his wife held out to him,” Martin Missfelder said. 

At one point, Martin Missfelder said blood gushed out of the man’s nose and mouth. He said the man lost “liters of blood,” some of which splattered onto the aircraft’s walls.

“It was absolute horror. Everyone was screaming,” Martin Missfelder told Blick.

Flight attendants immediately jumped in and attempted to resuscitate the man, Blick reported.

“It was dead quiet on board,” Karin Missfelder said. 

Data from flightradar24, an online air traffic tracker, showed that the flight departed from the Bangkok International Airport at 12:07 a.m. before diverting back amid the chaos. Karin Missfelder told Blick the man, now dead, was carried into the galley as the plane returned to the airport. 

A Lufthansa representative confirmed the death to Blick. 

Lufthansa aircraft.

NurPhoto/Getty Images

Representatives for Lufthansa did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider. 

Last year, Lufthansa made headlines after a flight from Texas to Germany experienced severe turbulence that sent people and food flying into the air.

One passenger told Business Insider she hit her head on the plane’s ceiling. “It felt like it hit the eye of a tornado,” Rolanda Schmidt told BI. “It would not stop. I thought we were going down.” 

That flight made an emergency landing near Washington, DC.

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Poppy Seed Tea King to Forfeit Mansion After Overdose Death

Photo Illustration by Erin O’Flynn/The Daily Beast/Cape Ciradeau County Jail

When a Shorewood, Wisconsin resident was found dead from an overdose on May 18, 2021, the medical examiner found morphine, codeine, and thebaine in the person’s system and determined the cause of death was acute morphine intoxication.

The OD came about, according to the medical examiner, after the deceased had “consumed [a] very large amount of poppy seed tea,” according to previously unreported court filings.

Cops didn’t have to look far for a culprit. Five days earlier, the late tea drinker had received a package of unprocessed poppy seeds, delivered by UPS, from an Antony Graziano in Twin Falls, Idaho.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Taylor Swift Begins Mad Dash to Super Bowl LVIII

Patrick Smith/Getty Images

With Taylor Swift’s final show in Tokyo coming to an end on Saturday, all that’s left to do is run.

The superstar was rushed to Haneda Airport where her private jet waited for her, but it “wasn’t immediately clear” if her plane had taken off, the AP reported.

She will have to make her way approximately 5,530 miles across the globe to Las Vegas, Nevada—with almost everyone speculating whether she will make it to the Super Bowl on time to see her boyfriend, Travis Kelce play on Sunday. While the tight-end for the Kansas City Chiefs will certainly be there, Swift’s team has made no comment about her travel plans.

Read more at The Daily Beast.