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Investigators load bodies from the scene of a mass shooting at a music festival near the Mandalay Bay resort and casino on the Las Vegas Strip. Photo: Chris Carlson / AP

In a moment of such jarring tragedy, three sad but indisputable realities of America 2017 were exposed — and then amplified — within minutes of the shooting:

1. Our gun manufacturers are heavily incentivized by market demand and lax laws in most states, and by the federal government, to allow mad men to accumulate all the firepower they crave for mass killings. This didn't change after Columbine or Sandy Hook. And won't now.

2. President Trump and congressional Republican have every incentive to protect the status quo. Read and reflect on this chilling text from Steve Bannon to Axios last night. when asked if Trump will revert to his earlier support of gun control:

  • "Impossible: will be the end of everything," Bannon told Jonathan Swan.
  • When asked whether Trump's base would react worse to this than if he supported an immigration amnesty bill, Bannon replied: "as hard as it is to believe actually worse."
  • Go deeper: Why Trump is unlikely to do a Chuck-and-Nancy deal on gun control.

3. Yesterday, the same platforms the Russians used to manipulate voters were the middle men for B.S. conspiracy theories about Vegas.

  • Google results amplified an online claim that the shooter was "a Democrat who liked Rachel Maddow, MoveOn.org, and associated with the anti-Trump army," per CNN's Oliver Darcy.
  • "Facebook promoted several dubious websites on its Crisis Response page."

Be smart: Trump's election showed the capacity for an unconventional politician to beat the system. But the dynamics post-shooting are the same — and we would argue getting worse, because heartless people can use social media to spread lies and fear with such ease and precision.

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Go deeper

Taiwan leader confirms U.S. troops on island training forces

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen in Taipei earlier this month. Photo: I-Hwa Cheng/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen told CNN Thursday that a small number of American troops are on the island for training purposes and she has "faith" the U.S. would defend the democracy against a Chinese military attack.

Why it matters: This is the first time a Taiwanese leader has publicly acknowledged the presence of U.S. troops on the self-governing island since the last U.S. garrison left in 1979, when Washington switched formal diplomatic recognition to Beijing.

Updated 4 hours ago - Health

NYC firefighters union urges members to defy mayor's vaccine mandate

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

The president of New York City's firefighters union told reporters Wednesday that he's advised unvaccinated members to ignore Mayor Bill de Blasio's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city workers, per Reuters.

Why it matters: Under de Blasio's order that's due to take effect Friday, unvaccinated city employees would be placed on unpaid leave. But Uniformed Firefighters Association head Andrew Ansbro said he told members that "if they choose to remain unvaccinated, they must still report for duty," according to Reuters.

6 hours ago - Health

Study: Common antidepressant guards against COVID hospitalization

A COVID-19 intensive Care Unit in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil on May 27, 2021. Photo: Fabio Teixeira/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The readily available antidepressant fluvoxamine significantly reduced COVID-related hospitalizations, according to a large study published Wednesday.

Why it matters: The clinical trial suggests that a cheap, readily available drug could dramatically reduce serious illness and death when prescribed early.