Sunday Reading – 07/18/2021

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.

With virus cases rising, mask mandate back on in Los Angeles – Los Angeles County will again require masks be worn indoors in the nation’s largest county, even by those vaccinated against the coronavirus, while the University of California system also said Thursday that students, faculty and staff must be inoculated against the disease to return to campuses.

The announcements come amid a sharp increase in virus cases, many of them the highly transmissible delta variant that has proliferated since California fully reopened its economy on June 15 and did away with capacity limits and social distancing. The vast majority of new cases are among unvaccinated people.

The rapid and sustained increase in cases in Los Angeles County requires restoring an indoor mask mandate, said Dr. Muntu Davis, public health officer for the county’s 10 million people. The public health order will go into effect just before midnight Saturday. Read More > at ABC

In abrupt turnaround, California to let school districts decide how to enforce mask rules – The complications of managing COVID-era education took a dramatic turn Monday, when state officials issued a rule barring unmasked students from campuses, and then, hours later, rescinded that rule — while keeping in place a mask mandate for all at K-12 schools.

Instead, the latest revision allows local school officials to decide how to deal with students who refuse to wear masks, a spokesman for Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday night.

The statewide policy that prohibited unmasked students from campus had been intended to provide helpful clarity for local educators as they work to provide a safe environment for staff and students.

…Instead, local officials would have discretion about how to enforce the mask mandate, just as they had during the school year just concluded, said Alex Stack.

Even with mask enforcement left to schools, the state’s COVID-19 safeguards rank among the most stringent in the nation. California health and education officials are acutely concerned with cases of the Delta variant on the rise as the new academic year approaches. Read More . in The San Diego Union-Tribune

Jerry Brown bursts Newsom’s budget bubble – In front of a mostly masked crowd of children and families waving “California Roars Back” and “California for All” signs, the governor on Tuesday signed into law a budget bill containing his oft-touted $100 billion stimulus plan. The package, made possible by federal relief funds and a state surplus that Newsom said had swelled from $76 billion to more than $80 billion, served as a launchpad for the governor to campaign against the quickly approaching recall election without ever mentioning it. He ran through the budget’s highlights: stimulus checks for two-thirds of Californians, rent relief, small-business aid, a historic investment in public education.

  • Newsom: “People that have been directly impacted by this pandemic … we will pay 100% of your rent going back to April of last year … and going forward to Sept. 30 of this year. 100% of your rent. … And you say, ‘That’s great, but I’ve got this water bill, I’ve got this electric bill.’ We will pay 100% of those bills as well.”

Although the governor’s speech projected confidence and control, other developments appear to be more frenetic — potentially complicating Newsom’s attempts to prove his competency to voters.

For example: The new fiscal year began two weeks ago, but Newsom still hasn’t signed the full budget into law, leaving key details up in the air. On Monday, the state Department of Public Health issued a rule ordering schools to ban unmasked students from campus — only to reverse itself hours later, giving districts discretion in handling students who refuse to wear face coverings. Also Monday, a judge ruled that Newsom will not be able to list himself as a Democrat on the recall ballot due to a filing error his lawyers made last year.

Meanwhile, his predecessor and fellow Democrat Jerry Brown poked a hole in Newsom’s budget bubble by calling the state’s spending “not sustainable” in an interview with NBC News Los Angeles. He also said California would soon see “fiscal stress” — a prediction potentially reinforced by figures released Tuesday by the U.S. Labor Department. The Consumer Price Index, a key measure of inflation, jumped 5.4% in the year through June — marking the biggest rise since 2008.

In the Bay Area, for example, that translated to unleaded gas prices rising nearly 42% and used car and truck prices skyrocketing 44%. Read More > at CalMatters

Whatever Happened To Acid Rain? – Those of us who are non-millennials may remember back to the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s when the hottest environmental issue was acid rain. In fact, acid rain generated as much controversy and international conflicts as the big environmental issue of today, climate change, with scientists, policymakers, and politicians engaging in heated battles over this issue.  

But the issue seems to have disappeared since that time. Is the reason for this that we actually solved a pressing environmental problem, or did acid rain simply get pushed down the priority list as new, more urgent environmental issues came to the forefront?

Acid rain is rain or any other type of precipitation, including snow or fog, that is unusually acidic. Acid rain is caused by sulfur dioxide, or nitrogen dioxide emissions released into the air and react with water molecules before falling to the ground as rain or snow. Most sulfur or nitrogen dioxide comes from electrical power plants, with a smaller amount coming from cars and other vehicles and natural sources such as volcanoes and wildfires. Both emissions, move by circulating air and wind, can travel long distances so that acid rain may be found in areas far from its source.     

Acid rain can create highly acidic soils, adversely affecting the growth of forests and crops. Acidic waters can result in the death of fish and other aquatic species. Acid rain also enhances the deposition of mercury, which has adverse effects on human health. Direct impacts on human health have also been documented. A severe episode of acid fog, the Great London Smog of 1952, resulted in an increase in the daily average death rate from 252 to approximately 1,000, and acid fog was responsible for several severe air pollution episodes in southern California in the 1980s. 

What Happened?

A 93% reduction in annual sulfur dioxide emissions between 1990 and 2019! Read More > at ACSH

Inflation climbs higher than expected in June as price index rises 5.4% – Inflation surged in June at its fastest pace in nearly 13 years amid a burst in used vehicle costs and price increases in food and energy, the Labor Department reported Tuesday.

The consumer price index increased 5.4% from a year earlier, the largest jump since August 2008, just before the worst of the financial crisis. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been expecting a 5% gain.

Stripping out volatile food and energy prices, the core CPI rose 4.5%, the sharpest move for that measure since September 1991 and well above the estimate of 3.8%.

On a monthly basis, headline and core prices rose 0.9% against 0.5% estimates. Read More > at CNBC

Former Contra Costa Elections Chief Joe Canciamilla Pleads Guilty To Perjury, Personal Use of Campaign Funds – Former Contra Costa County Clerk-Recorder Joe Canciamilla has pleaded guilty to nine counts of grand theft and perjury for using election campaign accounts for personal reasons like paying off a loan and going on an overseas trip, county prosecutors announced Tuesday.

Canciamilla entered the plea Monday and will serve 365 days in county jail as well as two years’ probation, according to the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office.

A longtime politician in the county with history as a Pittsburg City Council member, a county supervisor and state Assemblymember before being appointed as county clerk/recorder in 2013 and subsequently winning election, Canciamilla resigned from that post in 2019.

Shortly afterward, he agreed to pay $150,000 to the California Fair Political Practices Commission, admitting to spending campaign funds on personal expenses like travel to Asia, restaurant meals, airfare, repayment of a personal loan and transfers to his personal bank accounts.

The District Attorney’s Office in June 2020 charged Canciamilla with 30 counts of perjury for making misstatements on campaign disclosure forms as well as four counts of grand theft for using the campaign funds for personal expenses from 2010 to 2016. Read More > at KPIX 5

Why Cops Are Quitting – In the past year, city police departments across the country have reported a dramatic drop in manpower, as cops retire, resign, or leave for the suburbs. The NYPD’s headcount fell to its lowest level in ten years. In Chicago, police retirements rose 15 percent. The San Francisco Police Department is short 400 officers; over 115 officers, including an entire unit dedicated to crowd control, have left the Portland PD; and nearly 200 have left the Minneapolis PD or are on leave, rendering the department unable to engage in proactive policing. A recent survey of police departments found that hiring fell an average of 5 percent in 2020, while resignations rose 18 percent and retirements a whopping 45 percent.

What’s behind this wave? Officers I spoke with who had left their old departments all offered the same explanation: since last year’s explosive protests, they no longer feel that they have the support of the public or of civilian officials. As one now-retired NYPD officer put it: “One day, the good guys became the bad guys and the bad guys became the good guys.”

That moment, the officers to whom I spoke agreed, came last June, when tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of major cities, calling for the “defunding” of police departments in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis. Analysis of an unnamed midsize, midwestern city estimated that resignations nearly quintupled specifically in the months following the Floyd protests, supporting the claims of officers on the ground.

The officers grew worried by the ferocity of some protesters, particularly those who came to perpetrate violence after the peaceful majority had gone home for the night. Seattle has a proud history of protest—and riot, one former officer who left the SPD for a suburb told me. But this time was different: “It was people blowing up police cars. It was people throwing gasoline on to police headquarters and seeing if they could light the headquarters. It was people cementing my coworkers into a precinct and seeing if they could light the precinct on fire.” Read More > at City Journal

Poll: Almost two-thirds of Americans believe China should pay pandemic reparations – Nearly two-thirds of Americans believe that the Chinese regime should pay reparations for the destruction caused by the human coronavirus pandemic, according to a TIPP Poll conducted for the Center for Security Policy.

That number rises from 63 percent to 78 percent if investigations reveal that the Chinese government released the SARS-CoV-19 human coronavirus on purpose.

About half of those surveyed believe that the virus “was developed in a lab,” with a quarter of the public convinced that the Chinese government created it “intentionally” in a lab and released it “intentionally.”

While southerners and Midwesterners are most likely to think that the Chinese government created the virus and is responsible for unleashing the pandemic, people in the more liberal Northeast are the toughest when it comes to making China pay reparations if an investigation reveals an accidental release from a government lab.

These are astonishing numbers. They reveal a powerful narrowing of the gap since the pandemic began a year and a half ago. The American people are taking an increasingly hard line toward the Chinese regime. Read More > at Center for Security Policy

Welcome to the new Cold War – “A nuclear war cannot be won and must not be fought.” That and a promise to “ensure predictability” by “a Strategic Stability Dialogue in the near future” were the only things that Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin agreed on strongly enough to put in writing—in a 140-word joint statement, which was the sole tangible yield of the duo’s June 16 summit in Geneva, Switzerland.

Nuclear missiles and bombs are again the sum total of the relations between Russia and the United States. We are back to the pre-Gorbachev era. The “this is not the Cold-War” mantra is wearing thin. It is time to admit: It is a Cold War.

True, the enemy of the democratic West is not communist totalitarianism fueled by Marxist millennialism. Yet the ideology of the Putin regime is hardly less toxic and perhaps more incendiary. The normative gap between the liberal democracies and the system that Putin assiduously forged is already almost as deep as during the Cold War. 

Contrary to the prevailing view, Putin’s domestic regime is not merely a corrupt autocracy founded on propaganda, political manipulation, and repression. These descriptions amount to dangerous oversimplification because they vastly underestimate Putin’s ability to bend to his will millions of his compatriots.

Over the past two decades he has ceaselessly and systematically reshaped Russia’s national identity: the ways in which Russians see themselves, their country, and their history. He has rewritten, updated, or reawakened the elements of his country’s legitimizing myths—what he calls “spiritual bonds” (dukhovnye skrepy)—and deployed them in ways that proved deeply satisfying to tens of millions of followers. Read More > at AEI

Will Movie Theaters Become The Next Blockbuster Video Stores? – Walking into the last Blockbuster in Bend, Oregon is stepping into an aura of cinematic nostalgia.

Lining the walls are the vibrant blue and sunny yellow color schemes complete with candy and DVD rentals to refresh the memory of what it was like to scan the sea of titles before one finally came home with a movie and Milk Duds in hand.

What used to be a $5 billion company with more than 9,000 stores worldwide at its peak 17 years ago has been reduced to a single shop in central Oregon saved by a loyal clientele and the lure of tourism. Its grave may also be a preview of the movie industry’s reach outside streaming.

While grazing through the final Blockbuster, however, it became more clear why it went under. Nearly every movie I recognized on its shelves produced after 2010 was watched not by DVD or VHS, but through online streaming, where Blockbuster as the middle-man was eliminated. I couldn’t help but to wonder if the same process might play out with theaters due to streamed new releases, which accelerated during the coronavirus pandemic.

Recent blockbusters at the box office have shown a bright spot for a hard-hit industry on the rebound as the nation re-opens. Disney/Marvel’s “Black Widow” hauled in more than $80 million, a new high for an opening weekend since the start of the pandemic. The movie also brought in $7.16 million Monday. Others are also posting big-box office returns, including “F9,” which pulled $70 million on its opening weekend, and “A Quiet Place Part II,” which hit $48 million over Memorial Day weekend.

While these numbers are hitting post-pandemic records, the boost in box office revenues may have been a product of pent-up demand, and the same movies are quickly ending up available online. Each title is now offered on streaming services for an extra cost, and WarnerMedia plans to release its 2021 movies in theaters and on HBO Max simultaneously. Read More > in The Federalist

What really happened in Iceland’s four-day week trial – The success of the trial made global headlines. But the actual results tell a more complex story.

Working fewer hours for the same pay? It’s no surprise that proved popular among employees in an Iceland-wide study, but the research also revealed there’s no tradeoff for companies, either: shorter working weeks are just as productive as long days.

A pair of trials covering 1.3 per cent of the Icelandic workforce revealed that slashing weekly hours led to better employee wellbeing, with less stress and burnout, while productivity stayed the same or improved. The positive results sparked union pressure in Iceland, and now 86% of Icelandic workers either work shorter weeks or have the right to ask to do so.

Naturally, this sparked headlines declaring the trial an “overwhelming success”. But as much as a four-day work week appeals – and it does have merit, reducing stress, sick days, and carbon emissions while saving jobs – there are a few caveats to note about this research before everyone stops coming into work on Fridays.

First, despite the headlines – including the one on this newsletter – Iceland didn’t trial a four-day work week. Instead, the two trials reduced hours from 40 each week to 35 or 36. Some could choose to manage their remaining hours over four days, but this project was about understanding the impact of fewer hours, not specifically the idea of a four-day week. After the trial, unions did successfully reduce working hours, but for some public sector staff by just 13 minutes a day and for shop workers only 35 minutes per week.

A second caveat: while productivity gains made up for fewer working hours, not all jobs can be done in shorter shifts, and the Icelandic government had to hire more healthcare workers at a cost of £24.2 million annually, though that’s not a significant increase on the government’s £5.1 billion annual budget.

One last caveat about this study: the headlines are based on a report by Icelandic research organisation the Association for Sustainability and Democracy (Alda) and UK thinktank Autonomy, but neither were directly involved with the trials. Instead, those two thinktanks – both of which actively lobby the government about shorter working weeks – summarised in English the results of a pair of Icelandic trials, both run by the local government working with unions… Read More > at Wired 

California moves to end unfair $230/year rooftop solar subsidy for rich – The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) voted to end an unfair rooftop solar subsidy that generally favors the rich.   The CPUC action highlights that after 25 years, the rooftop solar industry is mature and no longer needs to be subsidized on the backs of the poor and middle-class Californians.  

Whether it’s compensating rooftop solar owners at avoided (wholesale) cost or instituting a grid or standby charge to pay for the benefits of the electric distribution system, the position of Energy Fairness has been clear and consistent: both at the regulatory and legislative levels, policymakers should develop net metering policies that accomplish three simple goals:

  • Treat all customers fairly by avoiding cost-shifting
  • Accurately reflect the benefits and costs to the grid of rooftop or distributed solar
  • Don’t distort the marketplace by paying inequitable rates for excess rooftop generation.

Last week’s action by the CPUC comes on the heels of an effort by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) to ween the rooftop solar industry off of its 25-year-old subsidies because, as she aptly noted, “…a non-rooftop solar customer pays $230 a year to subsidize those of us who have rooftop solar…We want people to have rooftop solar, but it can’t be on the backs of people who can’t have solar.” Read More > at Energy Fairness

A Massive Water Recycling Proposal Could Help Ease Drought – As the West withers under extreme drought, legislators in the US House of Representatives have introduced HR 4099, a bill that would direct the Secretary of the Interior to create a program to fund $750 million worth of water recycling projects in the 17 western states through the year 2027. (The bill, which was introduced at the end of June, is currently before the House Committee on Natural Resources.)

Part of the solution, the legislators say, is to fund the construction of more facilities that can recycle the wastewater that flows out of our sinks, toilets, and showers. You may think that’s gross and preposterous, but the technology already exists—in fact, it’s been around for half a century. The process is actually rather simple. A treatment facility takes in wastewater and adds microbes that consume the organic matter. The water is then pumped through special membranes that filter out nasties like bacteria and viruses. To be extra sure, the water is then blasted with UV light to kill off microbes. The resulting water may actually be too pure for human consumption: If you drank it, the stuff might leach minerals out of your body, so the facility has to add minerals back. (I once drank the final product. It tastes like … water.)

The recycled H2O can be pumped underground into aquifers, then pumped out again when needed, purified once more, and sent to customers. Or it may instead be used for non-potable purposes, like for agriculture or industrial processes. Read More > at Wired

Why Do Electric Cars Look The Way They Do? Because They Can – Free from traditional gas engines, EV designers are rethinking the shape of cars. We take a detailed look at the shape of things to come.

What should the cars of the future look like? How smooth, how tall, how spacious should they be? For more than a century, most automotive designers have had to work around an internal-combustion engine and transmission. Gas, diesel, and hybrid powertrains need room to spin and breathe—sometimes to the detriment of passengers. We’re so used to stumbling over the hump of a driveshaft tunnel and giving up kneeroom for the sake of a set-back engine that it never occurred to most of us that anything could be different. But in the future, especially the near future, with a focus on electric cars built on new, dedicated platforms, designers have a rare opportunity to reimagine what a car can offer.

“We have the opportunity to give the car a totally new kind of proportion,” says Steffen Köhl, Mercedes-Benz director of advanced exterior design. Köhl worked on the EQS, the first car on Mercedes’s new Electric Vehicle Architecture (EVA). The EQS is a luxury sedan with a long wheelbase, a sweeping bridge of a roofline, and a large, screen-filled cabin. Think of it as the S-class of EVs. The underpinnings of an EV allow for bigger interiors in smaller vehicles, he says. It can be “cabin-forward, with short overhangs in front and rear. Since the battery is flat ground, we can try a new kind of interior—smooth panels, the center console floating. There are no more ups and downs between the seats.”

Escaping the tyranny of the center tunnel is exciting to many designers. Imagine trying to decorate a room with an undulating hardwood floor. Furniture would be pushed to the side, with the center of the space unusable. In cars, designers regularly hide the hump with a shallow console in the front; in the back, they simply cover it with carpet and ignore it. But now that they can smooth out that hump, there’s a lot more room to play with. Köhl’s team on the EQS used this newly available real estate for an elegant multilevel console with room for a large bag in a pass-through by the driver’s knee. In Hyundai’s new Ioniq 5, which rides on the Electric Global Modular Platform (E-GMP), the space is left open, giving driver and passenger the opportunity to bump knees romantically at stoplights, although that’s not in the press literature. The flat floor also allowed Hyundai designers to put in a deep console that slides rearward so front-seat occupants can enter or exit from either side of the car. Read More > at Car and Driver

Go Figure, China Isn’t Keeping Its Promises on Climate Change – China’s ruler, Xi Jinping, now promises that his country’s carbon emissions will begin to decline by 2030, while they’re growing at the fastest pace in more than a decade. Meanwhile, U.S. carbon emissions have slightly declined most years since 2007 — although last year’s significant drop is partially attributed to the drastic change in Americans’ behavior because of the coronavirus pandemic. Year by year, the United States is using less and less coal for energy production. In 2007, the U.S. generated 6 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide; last year, it generated 4.5 billion metric tons. China, by contrast, generated an estimated 14.4 billion metric tons in 2020.

Earlier this year, Jordan McGillis, deputy director of policy at the Institute for Energy Research,  pointed out “with its March release of a new five-year plan (FYP), the 14th in its history, China has embarrassed its climate cheerleaders in the West. Beijing’s plan institutes no carbon cap, no coal phase-out, and no roadmap by which it will execute upon Xi’s words. Despite the carbon-neutral-by-2060 pledge, the FYP emphasizes the importance of coal to China’s continued development, not the emissions that come with its use.”

And now we learn from Reuters a new measurement of how much Chinese cities contribute to the generation of climate-warming gases: “Just 25 big cities — almost all of them in China — accounted for more than half of the climate-warming gases pumped out by a sample of 167 urban hubs around the world.”

It turns out that China is not, in fact, “waging an aggressive, multi-front campaign to clean up coal before eventually phasing it out,” nor is the regime in Beijing “tackling climate change with all guns blazing.” (The only things that Chinese rulers tackle “with all guns blazing” are Tiananmen Square protesters, Hong Kong dissidents, Tibet, and someday possibly Taiwan.) Lo and behold, it turns out that China, not the U.S., is the laggard in this relationship. Read More > at National Review

Wikipedia co-founder: I no longer trust the website I created – Chances are, if you’ve ever been on the internet, you’ve visited Wikipedia. It is the world’s fifth largest website, pulling in an estimated 6.1 billion followers per month and serves as a cheat sheet for almost any topic in the world. So great is the online encyclopaedia’s influence is so great that it is the biggest and “most read reference work in history”, with as many as 56 million editions. 

But the truth about this supposedly neutral purveyor of information is a little more complex. Historically, Wikipedia has been written and monitored by a community of volunteers who collaborated and contested competing claims with one another. In the words of Wikipedia’s co-founder, Larry Sanger who spoke to Freddie Sayers on LockdownTV, these volunteers would “battle it out”. 

This battle of ideas on Wikipedia’s platform formed a crucial part of the encyclopaedia’s commitment to neutrality, which according to Sanger, was abandoned after 2009. In the years since, on issues ranging from Covid to Joe Biden, it has become increasingly partisan, primarily espousing an establishment viewpoint that increasingly represents “propaganda”. This, says Sanger, is why he left the site in 2007, describing it as “broken beyond repair”. Read More > at UnHerd

Severely paralyzed man communicates using brain signals sent to his vocal tract – A severely paralyzed man has been able to communicate using a new type of technology that translates signals from his brain to his vocal tract directly into words that appear on a screen. Developed by researchers at UC San Francisco, the technique is a more natural way for people with speech loss to communicate than other methods we’ve seen to date. 

So far, neuroprosthetic technology has only allowed paralyzed users to type out just one letter at a time, a process that can be slow and laborious. It also tapped parts of the brain that control the arm or hand, a system that’s not necessarily intuitive for the subject. 

The USCF system, however, uses an implant that’s placed directly on the part of the brain dedicated to speech. That way, the subject can mentally activate the brain patterns they would normally use to say a word, and the system can translate the entire word, rather than single letters, to the screen. Read More > at Engadget

The lurking threat to solar power’s growth – A few lonely academics have been warning for years that solar power faces a fundamental challenge that could halt the industry’s breakneck growth. Simply put: the more solar you add to the grid, the less valuable it becomes.

The problem is that solar panels generate lots of electricity in the middle of sunny days, frequently more than what’s required, driving down prices—sometimes even into negative territory.

Unlike a natural gas plant, solar plant operators can’t easily throttle electricity up and down as needed, or space generation out through the day, night and dark winter. It’s available when it’s available, which is when the sun is shining. And that’s when all the other solar plants are cranking out electricity at maximum levels as well.

new report finds that California, which produces one of the largest shares of solar power in the world, is already acutely experiencing this phenomenon, known as solar value deflation.

The state’s average solar wholesale prices have fallen 37% relative to the average electricity prices for other sources since 2014, according to the Breakthrough Institute analysis, which will be published on July 14. In other words, utilities are increasingly paying solar plants less than other sources overall, due to their fluctuating generation patterns.

Wholesale prices are basically the amount that utilities pay power plants for the electricity they deliver to households and businesses. They shift throughout the day and year, edging back up for solar operators during the mornings, afternoons and other times when there isn’t excess supply. But as more solar plants come online, the periods of excess supply that drive down those costs will become more frequent and more pronounced.

Lower prices may sound great for consumers. But it presents troubling implications for the world’s hopes of rapidly expanding solar capacity and meeting climate goals.

It could become difficult to convince developers and investors to continue building ever more solar plants if they stand to make less money or even lose it. In fact, California construction has already been flat since 2018, the study notes. But the state will need the industry to significantly ramp up development if it hopes to pull off its ambitious clean energy targets. Read More > at MIT Technology Review

For the First Time, Tree DNA Was Used to Convict Lumber Thieves in Federal Investigation – In 2018, the Maple Fire ripped through Washington state’s Olympic National Forest, burning 3,300 acres and taking down dozens of bigleaf maple trees, a species prized for its wood, which is used to make high-end acoustic guitars. Local officials became suspicious that the conflagration might have been a tree theft gone wrong when they noticed large stumps surrounded by sawed off limbs amid the destruction.

Now, in a first for federal criminal proceedings, tree DNA has been used to convict two men of stealing the valuable trees from public lands and selling them to local mills, the Associated Press reports.

Richard Cronn, a research geneticist for the Agriculture Department’s Forest Service, showed via DNA analysis that the lumber Wilke sold to local mills matched the remains of three bigleaf maples in the charred national forest and had not been lawfully harvested from private lands with a valid permit as the defendant claimed.

“The DNA analysis was so precise that it found the probability of the match being coincidental was approximately one in one undecillion (one followed by 36 zeros),” according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Western Washington. Read More > in the Smithsonian Magazine

About Kevin

Manager of Mainframe Operations and Optimization – USS-UPI, Co-Founder and Board Member - Friends of Oakley A Community Foundation, Trustee RD 2137, Advisory Board – Opportunity Junction
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