The following links are just news items and opinions that pass my desk throughout the week. I don’t necessarily support or advocate any of the items, they are just interesting reads.
In Contra Costa, debate erupts over whether to close juvenile hall or boys ranch – At the Orin Allen Youth Rehabilitation Facility in Byron — commonly called “the boys ranch” — the basketball court is an open setting just like any found in a typical neighborhood park court, except for the perimeter fence around the facility.
The basketball court at the more traditional juvenile detention facility near the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office in Martinez, on the other hand, is enclosed in a cage, even above.
…The county’s district attorney wants the main juvenile detention facility shut down and the county’s probation chief is pushing for the closure of the boys ranch instead.
…By the end of the hearing, no resolution had been reached, ensuring that the debate will be resumed in the future.
Before the hearing, District Attorney Diana Becton announced in a statement that she is encouraging the county to keep Orin Allen open while she convenes a Reimagine Youth Justice Task Force to study a process for closing juvenile hall.
Although Becton had signaled her intent to help kids avoid getting locked up by launching a restorative justice pilot program last year for young people, some supervisors were surprised and angry that she sprung the announcement of a task force without their knowledge or any discussion. Read More > in The Mercury News
‘There’s no stopping it’: Bay Area cities reluctantly approve housing in face of state laws – …A few years ago, this type of development might have been shot down. But despite the opposition, the commission unanimously approved the project. The reason? Under a slew of state laws passed in recent years, cities and counties no longer have the power to reject housing that meets local rules and includes affordable homes.
From San Bruno to Castro Valley to Lafayette, a slew of major Bay Area housing approvals are the result of changing politics and new state legislation that forces cities to accept development despite residents’ protests. This includes SB35, which streamlined housing construction in counties and cities that fail to build enough housing to meet state housing goals. Also, SB330 cuts the time it takes to obtain building permits, limits fees and prevents local governments from shrinking projects that abide by all city codes.
Land use attorney Jennifer Hernandez said new state law “has very much narrowed the lawful reasons cities and counties can deny projects that comply with zoning and the general plan.”
Some of the pressure to force cities to comply with the new legislation comes from the California Renters Legal Advocacy and Education Fund, known as CaRLA, which has filed dozens of lawsuits against cities that have illegally rejected or sought to downsize projects. Read More > in the San Francisco Chronicle
California loses thousands of jobs and crucial fuel as Marathon Martinez refinery goes idle – California just experienced a catastrophic loss from the COIVD-19 impact on the economy, as one of its major refineries, Marathon Martinez has just announced it will be idled indefinitely.
With airlines and cruise ships virtually shut down, and vehicle transportation at an all-time low, the demand for fuels and petroleum derivative products manufactured from petroleum, are at an all-time low, the Northern California refinery, one of the largest in the state has just become a COVID victim.
The immediate impact on the California economy will ONLY be 1,000’s of jobs, most of Marathons’ 700 employees and those of the companies that have been providing products and services to support the refinery. Most of the 40 million residents of the state will not be impacted immediately, but later. As we recover from the pandemic, the economy demands for fuels will not be readily available and all will experience more expensive energy in perpetuity.
With the state being an energy island and an energy hog, California is heavily dependent on in-state manufacturing for its fuel demands. California is an “energy island” situated between the Pacific Ocean and the Arizona/Nevada Stateline, with no existing pipelines over the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The state is inhabited by roughly 40 million citizens and is an energy hog demanding more than 65 million gallons of various transportation fuels daily from suppliers to drive (no pun intended) the 5th largest economy in the world. Read More > at Fox and Hounds
California sets in-person voting rules amid coronavirus – Worried about the unpredictable coronavirus wreaking havoc on the November election, California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday signed a law to let counties offer fewer in-person polling places in exchange for opening the sites earlier.
The change follows another law Newsom signed in June requiring counties to mail ballots to every active registered voter ahead of the Nov. 3 election…
While every active registered voter in California will get a ballot in the mail, some people must vote in person for various reasons, including lost or damaged mailed ballots, the need for language assistance or help due to a disability, or because they want to register to vote on Election Day, which California law allows at polling places.
Traditional polling places — community centers, retirement homes and in some cases people’s garages — have been hard to come by because of the pandemic. Sacramento County had 84 vote centers for the March 3 primary election. But it has only been able to secure locations for 39 vote centers for November, according to county spokeswoman Janna Haynes.
Senate Bill 423, approved Thursday by the state Senate, gives counties a workaround. It lets them merge precincts, as long as they keep the ratio of one precinct per 10,000 registered voters instead of the typical 1,000 voters. These consolidated polling places must be open from Saturday, Oct. 31, through Monday, Nov. 2, for at least eight hours each day and from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day. Read More > from AP
Critics demand fairer prop ballot labels and summaries, but lawsuits tend to flame out – In California elections, it’s practically tradition.
About 100 days before the election, the state attorney general writes up a label and succinct summary of each ballot proposition. And then, like clockwork, pro- and anti-camps spend the next 20 days feverishly filing lawsuits. Their goal: convince judges, before the ballot goes to print, that the attorney general has linguistically tilted the playing field against them.
This year has been more of the same — only more so.
Over the last two weeks, Attorney General Xavier Becerra has been sued six times for the way he has labeled and summarized some of this year’s most contentious ballot measures. That’s a modern record. No election cycle has seen more proposition summary battles since at least 2008, according to a CalMatters review of court filings.
But despite the surge, state courts seem generally inclined to defer to the attorney general’s choice of verbiage. And that’s sharpening critics’ demands that California transfer at least some of the task of describing ballot measures to more objective, nonpartisan hands — as Utah, Michigan and the city of San Francisco do.
What’s printed on the ballot provides the last and, for some voters, the only impression of what a “yes” or a “no” vote on a proposition actually means. That makes the 75-word prop label on the ballot, along with the title and summary in the state election guide, some of the most fiercely litigated text in California’s political universe. Read More > at CalMatters
U.S. economy added 1.8M jobs in July; unemployment at 10.2% – The U.S. economy added nearly 2 million jobs during July, the Labor Department said in its monthly report Friday.
The widely-anticipated assessment said 1.8 million payrolls were added for the month. The unemployment rate declined to 10.2%, it added.
The assessment showed that the number of unemployed persons in the United States fell by 1.4 million last month.
Most economists expected an addition of about 1.5 million. The range varied, but most analysts agreed in their projections that the pace of hiring would slow in July.
July’s figure is well below the 7.5 million positions added in June and May, when the economy was showing signs of a solid rebound from the initial stages of the pandemic. The May report was a surprise, announcing 2.5 million jobs when analysts were expecting a loss of about 2.5 million.
A resurgence of cases in the United States has stifled the recovery in recent weeks, however, and some states and cities have answered by scaling back plans to reopen their economies. Read More > from UPI
Over 80,000 mail-in ballots disqualified in NYC primary mess – The mail-in ballots of more than 84,000 New York City Democrats who sought to vote in the presidential primary were disqualified, according to new figures released by the Board of Elections.
The city BOE received 403,103 mail-in ballots for the June 23 Democratic presidential primary.
But the certified results released Wednesday revealed that only 318,995 mail-in ballots were counted.
That means 84,108 ballots were not counted or invalidated — 21 percent of the total.
One out of four mail-in ballots were disqualified for arriving late, lacking a postmark or failing to include a voter’s signature, or other defects. The Post reported Tuesday that roughly 30,000 mail-in ballots were invalidated in Brooklyn alone. Read More > in the New York Post
Why do humans prefer to mate in private? – Yitzchak Ben Mocha, an anthropologist with Zürich University, has conducted a study of human procreation habits as part of an effort to understand why humans prefer to mate in private. In his paper published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, he describes his analysis of other studies that involved human sexual practices, among other things.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that human beings generally prefer to mate in private—but why? And why is it so rare? Other than humans, only one other species has demonstrated a preference for privacy during mating: Arabian babblers. To learn more, Ben Mocha retrieved data from 4,572 accounts of cultural studies—ethnographies—and studied them looking for what he describes as normal sexual practices. Those involved were not trying to shock or avoid punishment for engaging in taboo practices such as incest—and were also not in the pornography business. He found that virtually every known culture practices private mating—even in places where privacy is difficult to find. He also looked for examples of other animals mating in private, and found none, except for the babblers. He also found that there were no explanations for it, and in fact, there were very few other people wondering why humans have such a proclivity. And, not surprisingly, he was unable to find any evolutionary theories on the topic. Read More > at Phys.org
Black Americans Want Police to Retain Local Presence – When asked whether they want the police to spend more time, the same amount of time or less time than they currently do in their area, most Black Americans — 61% — want the police presence to remain the same. This is similar to the 67% of all U.S. adults preferring the status quo, including 71% of White Americans.
Meanwhile, nearly equal proportions of Black Americans say they would like the police to spend more time in their area (20%) as say they’d like them to spend less time there (19%).
These findings are from a June 23-July 6 Gallup Panel survey, administered by web in English and conducted as part of the newly launched Gallup Center on Black Voices. The study includes large samples of Black, Hispanic and Asian Americans, weighted to their correct proportions of the population.
Of these four racial/ethnic groups, Asian Americans are the most likely to want less police presence where they live, with 28% saying this. That contrasts with 12% of White Americans, 17% of Hispanic Americans and 19% of Black Americans. Read More > from Gallup
Should California borrow more or tax more? – The state budget that Gov. Gavin Newsom signed earlier this summer had been hastily adjusted to cope with projections that state revenues would plummet by tens of billions of dollars due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the sudden recession it sparked.
Nevertheless, it was a budget based on hope — that the federal government would provide as much as $14 billion in emergency aid so some spending could be restored, and that the recession would be relatively brief.
In the final month of the 2020 legislative session, however, neither of those hopeful scenarios appears likely to occur and state finances could be submerged in red ink for years.
Democratic politicians, therefore, have been busily drafting elaborate schemes to generate more money, generally falling into two categories — borrow more or tax more.
The borrow-more faction, which includes the legislative leadership, has floated a $100 billion plan to “securitize” various revenue streams — using them as collateral for loans. It also would borrow money from personal and corporate income taxpayers by inducing them to pre-pay future taxes with discounts.
The tax-more faction is a coalition of left-of-center organizations, particularly public employee unions, and their legislative allies. Their plan, contained in Assembly Bill 1253, would impose surtaxes of 1% to 3.5% on taxpayers with taxable incomes over $1 million a year and raise perhaps $6 billion a year.
California already has, by far, the nation’s highest personal income tax rates and the approximately 80,000 individual or joint taxpayers who would be hit by the proposed surtaxes already pay about 40% of income tax revenues. Read More > at CalMatters
Does the Common Cold Protect You from COVID-19? – There are emerging signs that some people might have heightened protection against SARS-CoV-2, perhaps thanks to recent infection by other coronaviruses.
In labs all over the world lately, scientists working on COVID-19 have stumbled on an intriguing sort of finding again and again. They’ve found that blood samples from healthy people who were never exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus contain reactive immune cells and targeted antibodies that could, perhaps, help stave off COVID-19.
These people may—it is still just a hypothesis—possess some degree of pre-existing immunity. If correct, it’s even possible that this immunity has saved thousands from the worst manifestations of this terrible disease.
Some of the first hints of pre-existing immunity came via T cells, the white blood cells that destroy infected cells in the body or help other parts of the immune system target an invading pathogen. In one study originally published as a preprint on medRxiv April 22, a group of scientists in Germany reported an intriguing result.
Out of 68 healthy donors who had been tested for prior exposure to SARS-CoV-2 and who were found to be negative, 24 of them had a small number of T cells in their blood that reacted when exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) protein—a complex structure protruding from the virus’s exterior surface. The study, which was later published in Nature July 29, explains that the cells in question produced proteins on their surfaces, an indication of an immune response.
If that is indeed what’s going on here, one possible explanation would be that the healthy donors had been infected by another coronavirus relatively recently, perhaps one that causes a common cold, says coauthor Andreas Thiel, an immunologist at the Charité hospital, part of Universitätsmedizin Berlin. Besides more serious diseases such as COVID-19 and SARS, human coronaviruses have been known for decades to cause what are usually much milder infections. The specific viruses that cause these illnesses are found all around the world. Read More > at The Scientist
The Great American Housing Boom Has Begun – What if I told you that US housing is one of the best money-making opportunities today? You’d probably think I’m crazy. After all, how can anyone think housing is a good bet right now… especially in the middle of a global pandemic?
Well, today I’m going to show you the facts. You’ll see exactly why I’ve never been more excited about US housing. You’ll see why the coronavirus hasn’t even dented this market. And you’ll find out the best way to play this boom for maximum profits.
The Residential Housing Market Is Worth $35 Trillion.
And it’s absolutely BOOMING. This past month, new home sales surged 55%—their biggest gain since 2005. The number of Americans looking to refinance their mortgages jumped 111%. And Quicken Loans—the US’s largest mortgage broker—just had its best quarter in its 35-year history.
In the first six months of 2020, Quicken funded a record $120 billion in home loans. It broke the record for its best lending year ever with six months to go.
And get this: last month, the average home sale price spiked 6%. This marks 100 straight months of gains, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
…But bidding wars are fast becoming the rule, not the exception in US housing. Data from internet realtor Redfin (RDFN) shows more than half of buyers who purchased a home in the past three months were forced into a bidding war. Read More > at RiskHedge
California prosecutors ask NFL to take down PSA on Stephon Clark – California prosecutors on Tuesday asked the NFL to remove a video produced as part of the league’s Inspire Change campaign, saying it misrepresents the circumstances leading to the Sacramento police shooting death of Stephon Clark in 2018.
The video shows Sequette Clark speaking about the death of her son, Stephon Clark, who was killed in the backyard of his grandparents’ home. The shooting led to weeks of protests in Sacramento and across the nation, sometimes disrupting games by the NBA’s Sacramento Kings.
“Though well-intentioned, the video performs a disservice instead of a public service by omitting the crucial facts which preceded Mr. Clark’s tragic death,” California District Attorneys Association president Vern Pierson said in a statement.
Pierson said the video doesn’t mention that Clark was suspected of vandalism and was running from police. Clark turned toward officers holding what the two officers said they thought was a gun, but it was a cellphone.
NFL officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Read More > at KCRA
Too many bills, too little time: Why COVID-19 has California Democrats feuding – A common maxim in the California Legislature holds that lawmakers shouldn’t fall in love with their bills.
This year, there are a lot of broken hearts in the Capitol.
Hundreds of bills meant to alleviate the homeless crisis, decrease medical bills and bolster labor laws ran into the buzz saw of a legislative year twice abbreviated by the coronavirus outbreak.
Now, with just three weeks to go on the legislative calendar, Democrats in each house are showing hard feelings over which remaining proposals deserve a vote and which will have to wait until next year.
A bill has to clear both houses before it can go to Gov. Gavin Newsom and become law.
Lawmakers had little time to get their bills to the finish line after recessing because of the coronavirus outbreak for much of the spring and again in July when two Assembly members tested positive for COVID-19.
The Senate, with its 40 members, sent around 160 total bills to the Assembly since the start of the two-year session in 2019.
The 80 Assembly members passed on 540 total measures to the Senate. Read More > in The Sacramento Bee
Your school wants a waiver to open in person? In the Bay Area, sit tight and wait – School starts as early as next week in many Bay Area districts, so the window to apply for a waiver to open the school year in person is closing fast. But the confusing process to get permission through county public health departments is just beginning.
That combination was leading to more questions than answers on Tuesday, as Bay Area health departments scrambled to assess the new guidelines that Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office issued late Monday for “in-person instruction.”
“We’ve never done anything like this before,” Alameda County Office of Education spokesperson Michelle Smith McDonald said. “We won’t find the gaps until we’re in them.”
With pressure building from teachers’ unions and health officials, the governor last month mandated that K12 schools in counties on the state’s coronavirus watchlist — including all of the Bay Area — start the school year online. But he cleared the way for county health departments to grant waivers to elementary schools that follow a rigorous set of guidelines — including reduced class sizes, mask mandates and routine schoolwide testing — to open their classrooms for instruction. Read More > in The Mercury News
What the videos of the Beirut blast tell us about the explosion – The massive explosions in a Beirut port on Tuesday provoked fear, then speculation after an eerie, white cloud enveloped the lenses of bystander videos, with many suggesting online that it looked something like a nuclear blast.
Many not accustomed to seeing large explosions may conflate mushroom clouds and spherical blast waves as nuclear, said Jeffrey Lewis, an arms-control expert and professor at Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. “But some of the things we associate with nuclear explosions are just associated with explosions.” Read More > in The Washington Post
July Breaks Gun Sales Record – One of the country’s leading gun makers saw earnings triple as gun sales once again shattered previous records for the month of July.
July 2020 saw an estimated 1,795,602 gun sales—a new record and an increase of 133 percent over July 2019, according to a Washington Free Beacon analysis of FBI data. July is the fifth consecutive month to set a gun-sales record. Chris Killoy, chief executive officer of Sturm, Ruger & Company, said the current spike in sales is unlike anything he has ever seen. The buying spree shows no signs of slowing down and heavy demand will “sustain itself” into the fall, Killoy predicted.
“Having been in this industry for 30 years, I saw the surge in 1994 before the assault weapons ban took place,” Killoy told investors on Thursday. “This is probably the strongest level of demand that I’ve seen. One of the most significant differences is how it has impacted all levels of the channel and the impact on inventory at all levels.”
The spike in FBI background checks and coinciding earnings at the gun-industry giant indicate an explosion of new gun ownership as Americans deal with the coronavirus outbreak and national unrest. FBI background checks indicate 2020 has now seen at least 10 million guns sold—many to first-time buyers and minorities. Read More > in The Washington Free Beacon
Popular queer Native American Twitter account turns out to be unpopular straight white woman – @sciencing_bi was a well-read Science Twitter account, a queer Native American professor with a unique perspective on science and university life. They reportedly caught coronavirus and and died of Covid, drawing tributes from online admirers, some of them prominent academics. But it was only the final straw in a haybale of suspicion for people who knew BethAnn McLaughlin, a white woman that @sciencing_bi often spoke of. It turns out, with grim predictability, that it was her all along, catfishing the academic pond.
The anonymous account, @Sciencing_Bi, was an active participant in the corner of Science Twitter that frequently discusses issues of sexual misconduct in the sciences. It claimed on at least one occasion to have grown up in Alabama, to have “fled the south because of their oppression of queer folk,” and to have attended Catholic school. The account began to pointedly make reference to being Native American and, earlier this year, began to identify as Hopi. … In April, @Sciencing_Bi began to undergo a drama that belonged solely to her, announcing the coronavirus diagnosis in a tweet. It was Ms. McLaughlin who announced that the anonymous professor had died.
Twitter banned both McLaughlin and her sockpuppet, but there’s a lot more to unravel.
An interesting element of the sockpuppet was posing @sciencing_bi at Arizona State University. One of the largest universities in the U.S., ASU has a six-figure roster of students, academics and staff, a daunting prospect to any researcher trying to track the account author down. It would be almost impossible. Sciencing_bi’s “death” was what pushed it past the threshold of being interesting enough to turn “almost impossible” into “done.” Read More > at Boing Boing
A Brutal Assessment of Cable News – July 24th was my last day at MSNBC. I don’t know what I’m going to do next exactly but I simply couldn’t stay there anymore. My colleagues are very smart people with good intentions. The problem is the job itself. It forces skilled journalists to make bad decisions on a daily basis.
You may not watch MSNBC but just know that this problem still affects you, too. All the commercial networks function the same – and no doubt that content seeps into your social media feed, one way or the other.
It’s possible that I’m more sensitive to the editorial process due to my background in public radio, where no decision I ever witnessed was predicated on how a topic or guest would “rate.” The longer I was at MSNBC, the more I saw such choices — it’s practically baked in to the editorial process – and those decisions affect news content every day. Likewise, it’s taboo to discuss how the ratings scheme distorts content, or it’s simply taken for granted, because everyone in the commercial broadcast news industry is doing the exact same thing.
But behind closed doors, industry leaders will admit the damage that’s being done.
“We are a cancer and there is no cure,” a successful and insightful TV veteran said to me. “But if you could find a cure, it would change the world.”
As it is, this cancer stokes national division, even in the middle of a civil rights crisis. The model blocks diversity of thought and content because the networks have incentive to amplify fringe voices and events, at the expense of others… all because it pumps up the ratings.
This cancer risks human lives, even in the middle of a pandemic. The primary focus quickly became what Donald Trump was doing (poorly) to address the crisis, rather than the science itself. As new details have become available about antibodies, a vaccine, or how COVID actually spreads, producers still want to focus on the politics. Important facts or studies get buried. Read More > at ARIANA N. PEKARY
The Housing Market Shows ‘Continued Strength and Resiliency.’ What That Means for Home Prices. – Home prices were expected to decrease by 0.1% from May to June, according to CoreLogic’s May forecast. Instead, they rose 1%, the company said in a Tuesday release.
Home prices “really rebounded much more strongly than I think any of us had thought they were going to,” CoreLogic Chief Economist Frank Nothaft told Barron’s, crediting millennial buyers taking advantage of historically low interest rates and a limited supply of homes for sale. Home prices grew 4.9% year over year in June, up from a revised 4.1% year over year in May, according to the company’s June Home Price Index and HPI Forecast, released Tuesday.
The 1% increase in June represents the fastest June gain since the same month in 2013, CoreLogic said. Prices are forecast to grow 0.1% on a month-over-month basis between June and July, according to the company’s report. Read More > from Barron’s
ESPN Settles on “Monday Night Football” Crew for 2020 – Though no official announcement has been made, ESPN has settled on a new crew for Monday Night Football for the 2020 NFL season.
After going with a two-man booth of Joe Tessitore and the Booger McFarland last season, ESPN is reverting to a three-man booth for its MNF broadcasts this fall featuring Steve Levy doing the play-by-play and former NFL players Louis Riddick and Brian Griese providing the color commentary, according to The New York Post.
ESPN’s top college announcing team, Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit, will call the late game of the season’s opening-week Monday Night Football doubleheader (Steelers versus Giants) and could still be in the mix for the main broadcast if the college football season is pushed back or canceled.
But, as of now, ESPN is planning to turn to Levy, Riddick and Griese to help revive a product that has decreased in popularity in recent years, at least partially because the pre-determined matchups on the field have proved to be short of marquee. Read More > at InsideHook
The Dirty Secrets Of ‘Clean’ Electric Vehicles – The widespread view that fossil fuels are “dirty” and renewables such as wind and solar energy and electric vehicles are “clean” has become a fixture of mainstream media and policy assumptions across the political spectrum in developed countries, perhaps with the exception of the Trump-led US administration. Indeed the ultimate question we are led to believe is how quickly can enlightened Western governments, led by an alleged scientific consensus, “decarbonize” with clean energy in a race to save the world from impending climate catastrophe. The ‘net zero by 2050’ mantra, calling for carbon emissions to be completely mitigated within three decades, is now the clarion call by governments and intergovernmental agencies around the developed world, ranging from several EU member states and the UK, to the International Energy Agency and the International Monetary Fund.
Yet, if one looks under the hood of “clean energy” battery-driven EVs, the dirt found would surprise most. The most important component in the EV is the lithium-ion rechargeable battery which relies on critical mineral commodities such as cobalt, graphite, lithium, and manganese. Tracing the source of these minerals, in what is called “full-cycle economics”, it becomes apparent that EVs create a trail of dirt from the mining and processing of minerals upstream.
A recent United Nations report warns that the raw materials used in electric car batteries are highly concentrated in a small number of countries where environmental and labour regulations are weak or non-existent. Thus, battery production for EVs is driving a boom in small-scale or “artisanal” cobalt production in the Democratic Republic of Congo which supplies two thirds of global output of the mineral. These artisanal mines, which account for up to a quarter of the country’s production, have been found to be dangerous and employ child labour.
…the supposed advantages of EVs in emitting lower carbon emissions are overstated according to a peer-reviewed life-cycle study comparing conventional and electric vehicles. To begin with, about half the lifetime carbon-dioxide emissions from an electric car come from the energy used to produce the car, especially in the mining and processing of raw materials needed for the battery. This compares unfavorably with the manufacture of a gasoline-powered car which accounts for 17% of the car’s lifetime carbon-dioxide emissions. When a new EV appears in the show-room, it has already caused 30,000 pounds of carbon-dioxide emission. The equivalent amount for manufacturing a conventional car is 14,000 pounds.
Once on the road, the carbon dioxide emissions of EVs depends on the power-generation fuel used to recharge its battery. If it comes mostly from coal-fired power plants, it will lead to about 15 ounces of carbon-dioxide for every mile it is driven—three ounces more than a similar gasoline-powered car. Even without reference to the source of electricity used for battery charging, if an EV is driven 50,000 miles over its lifetime, the huge initial emissions from its manufacture means the EV will actually have put more carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere than a similar-size gasoline-powered car driven the same number of miles. Even if the EV is driven for 90,000 miles and the battery is charged by cleaner natural-gas fueled power stations, it will cause just 24% less carbon-dioxide emission than a gasoline-powered car. As the skeptical environmentalist Bjorn Lomborg puts it, “This is a far cry from ‘zero emissions’”. Read More > at Forbes
Why a Data Breach at a Genealogy Site Has Privacy Experts Worried – The peculiar matches began early on a Sunday morning. Across the world, genealogists found that they had numerous new relatives on GEDmatch, a website known for its role in helping crack the Golden State Killer case.
New relatives are typically cause for celebration among genealogists. But upon close inspection, experienced users noticed that some of the new relatives seemed to be the DNA equivalent of a Twitter bot or a Match.com scammer; the DNA did things that actual people’s DNA should not be able to do.
Others seemed to be suspected murderers and rapists, uploaded by genealogists working with law enforcement. Users knew that the police sometimes used the site to try to identify DNA found at crime scenes. But users found the new profiles strange because they also knew that profiles made for law enforcement purposes were supposed to be hidden to prevent tipping off or upsetting a suspect’s relatives amid an investigation. What really drew attention, however, was the fact that all one million or so users who had opted not to help law enforcement had been forced to opt in.
GEDmatch, a longstanding family history site containing around 1.4 million people’s genetic information, had experienced a data breach. The peculiar matches were not new uploads but rather the result of two back-to-back hacks, which overrode existing user settings, according to Brett Williams, the chief executive of Verogen, a forensic company that has owned GEDmatch since December. Read More > in The New York Times
Mystery radio signal sent to Earth from ‘closest ever point’ within Milky Way – Scientists have traced mysterious radio signals detected on Earth to a dead star within our Milky Way galaxy.
The millisecond-long burst of radiation was emitted by a magnestar — a type of star with an extremely powerful magnetic field — roughly 14,000 light-years away, according to a study.
Known as fast radio bursts (FRBs), signals such as these have baffled scientists for years and typically originate from far beyond the Milky Way.
Their origins are unknown. Some think the energetic waves are the result of cosmic explosions, while others have controversially suggested they’re signals sent by aliens.
Picked up by radio telescopes worldwide in April, the FRB examined in the new study was the first to be detected from inside the Milky Way.
Astronomers traced it back to a magnetar called SGR 1935+2154, potentially settling the debate on where FRBs come from. Read More > in the New York Post
7-Eleven Parent To Acquire Speedway Stores For $21B – The Japanese owner of the 7-Eleven chain of convenience stores, Seven & i Holdings, has inked a deal to acquire the Speedway chain of gas stations/convenience stores for $21B. The buyer is paying the seller, Marathon Petroleum Corp., cash for the properties.
Currently Seven & i Holdings owns more than 9,800 7-Elevens in North America, its largest holding in the Western Hemisphere, and in fact the largest chain of convenience stores on the continent. The company will add about 3,900 Speedway locations to that total, though it plans to keep the brands distinct.
Speedway is currently the third-largest convenience store chain in terms of unit count. Alimentation Couche-Tard, which operates about 8,000 Circle K stores, has the second-largest convenience chain. Read More > at Bisnow
Answering Questions about California’s Dysfunctional Energy Policies – California, with less than 0.5% of the world’s population (40 million vs. 8 billion), remains the state with the highest cost of electricity and fuels in the country and its dysfunctional energy policies are doing everything possible to further increase those costs to the detriment of those that can least afford it.
The states’ pursuit of going green at any cost, appears to be oblivious to the fact that renewable energy is only renewable ELECTRICITY, and intermittent electricity at best.
Wind and solar are incapable of providing societies and economies with the thousands of products made from petroleum derivatives manufactured from petroleum, and the various fuels also manufactured from petroleum. Those products and fuels “make things and moves products,” required by every transportation infrastructure for prosperous societies and economies.
Energy literacy will enhance one’s comprehension that the cost of energy affects everything, from the food we eat, the clothes we wear, transportation, communications, housing, healthcare, and the leisurely living made possible by energy and its products. Raising the cost of energy is immoral and racial biased as it negatively affects those that can least afford increases in their cost of living. Read More > at Fox and Hounds