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.
May sees biggest jobs increase ever of 2.5 million as economy starts to recover from coronavirus – Employment stunningly rose by 2.5 million in May and the jobless rate declined to 13.3%, according to data Friday from the Labor Department that was far better than economists had been expecting and indicated that an economic turnaround could be close at hand.
Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been expecting payrolls to drop by 8.33 million and the unemployment rate to rise to 19.5% from April’s 14.7%. If Wall Street expectations had been accurate, it would have been the worst figure since the Great Depression.
As it turned out, May’s numbers showed the U.S. may well be on the road to recovery after its fastest plunge in history. Read More > at CNBC
This is the greatest 50-day rally in the history of the S&P 500 – The S&P 500 has returned 37.7% over the last 50 trading days, making it the benchmark index’s largest 50-day rally in history, according to LPL Financial.
And if history is any indication, there could be more gains ahead.
Looking at the other largest 50-day rallies, the firm found that stocks were higher 100% of the time six and 12 months later. The average 6-month return was 10.2%, while the average 1-year return was 17.3%. Read More > at CNBC
Covid vs. Climate Modeling: Cloudy With a Chance of Politics – COVID-19 has proved to be a crisis not only for public health but for public policy. As credentialed experts, media commentators, and elected officials have insisted that ordinary men and women heed “the science,” the statistical models cited by scientists to predict the spread of contagion and justify the lockdown of the national economy have proven to be far off-base.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York complained this week about the “guessing business” experts had presented to him dressed up as scientific fact: “All the early national experts [said]: Here’s my projection model. Here’s my projection model,” Cuomo said. “They were all wrong. They were all wrong.”
A computer model produced by statisticians at Imperial College London had an outsized effect on government policy, predicting up to 2.2 million American deaths from the new coronavirus and as many as 9.6 million people requiring hospitalization. Instead, emergency rooms and hospital beds in all but the few hardest hit cities remained empty; rather than being overwhelmed by cases, many doctors and nurses found themselves out of work.
As the staggering social and economic costs of shutdown have become painfully clear, the failure of the models to accurately anticipate what would happen is raising questions about their use to justify life-altering public policies.
If computer models projecting the near-term future of an epidemic were so wrong, what does that mean for the far more complicated computer models predicting the far-off future of the entire planet?
Building complex models is both a science and an art. It requires vast amounts of data representing a range of factors that might influence a particular question. To predict the spread of COVID-19, for example, researchers need reliable data on a wide range of factors including how infectious the virus is, how it is transmitted, how much of the population is susceptible to the worst outcomes. They have to assign a weight to each factor in the model, and then crunch the numbers with powerful computers to produce probabilities of possible outcomes.
Models may be helpful in thinking about the results of various policies. But they are easily oversold as providing answers with mathematical certainty. Writing in the BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal), Devi Sridhar, a professor of public health at Edinburgh University, and Maimuna Majumder, a computational epidemiologist affiliated with Harvard Medical School, chide the “modeling community” for failing to make the limitations of models clear. Sridhar and Majumder call for transparency about the assumptions modelers make and clarity about how much the predictions shift when even small changes are made to the assumptions. Most of all, they urge humility about just how uncertain such models are. Read More > at Real Clear Investigations
Advanced Opportunities: How Idaho is Reshaping High Schools by Empowering Students – More than half of Idaho’s high school seniors are already enrolled in college. Dual enrollment programs, in which high school students enroll in college courses, have gained traction nationally in the past two decades, but Idaho’s “Advanced Opportunities” initiative has been particularly successful. When students reach seventh grade, Idaho provides them with $4,125 that can be used to pay for dual enrollment courses, Advanced Placement exams, professional certification examinations, “overload” high school courses (above a full schedule), and, as of this school year, workforce development and apprenticeship courses. This student-centered investment has encouraged high school teachers to partner with community colleges and four-year universities to provide college-level instruction—an arrangement that also provides teachers with a financial stipend and postsecondary institutions with an enrollment boost. State policymakers seeking ways to improve the quality of high school instruction and expand postsecondary access and attainment can benefit from Idaho’s example. Read More > from the Manhattan Institute
The Lancet’s Hydroxychloroquine Study Is Retracted by Its Authors – The Lancet published a high profile study on May 22 purporting to show that treating hospitalized COVID-19 patients actually increased their risk of death. Three authors of the study are now retracting it.
The study was based an observational database assembled by medical data aggregation firm Surgisphere which claimed to have access to the medical records of nearly 100,000 COVID-19 patients treated in hundreds of hospitals across the globe. Outside researchers almost immediately began questioning the accuracy and plausibility of the Surgisphere data.
In response Surgisphere promised to pursue an immediate independent audit of its dataset. Yesterday, the editors of The Lancet issued an Expression of Concern about the article and noted that they were awaiting the results of the promised audit.
…The Lancet noted that the article will be updated shortly to reflect the retraction. Read More > at Reason
How The ‘Lost Art’ Of Breathing Can Impact Sleep And Resilience – Humans typically take about 25,000 breaths per day — often without a second thought.
The nose filters, heats and treats raw air. Most of us know that. But so many of us don’t realize — at least I didn’t realize — how [inhaling through the nose] can trigger different hormones to flood into our bodies, how it can lower our blood pressure … how it monitors heart rate … even helps store memories. So it’s this incredible organ that … orchestrates innumerable functions in our body to keep us balanced.
…You can think about breathing as being in a boat, right? So you can take a bunch of very short, stilted strokes and you’re going to get to where you want to go. It’s going to take a while, but you’ll get there. Or you can take a few very fluid and long strokes and get there so much more efficiently. … You want to make it very easy for your body to get air, especially if this is an act that we’re doing 25,000 times a day. So, by just extending those inhales and exhales, by moving that diaphragm up and down a little more, you can have a profound effect on your blood pressure, on your mental state. Read More > at NPR
What Happens If 1,000 Movie Theaters Disappear? – AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. has 630 movie theaters with 8,048 screens in America. The company stated that it may not be able to operate as a “going concern” because of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. What happens if all these screens go dark?
AMC has taken a brutal beating and had a net loss of about $2.2 billion in the first quarter. This number is bound to get much worse in the current quarter.
The first victim of a shutdown of AMC theaters is the movie studios. Last year, the total box office revenue was $11.3 billion domestically. Most movies are released into 4,000 theaters. A sharp drop puts some of that revenue at risk.
Where do people who watch just-released movies go? One theory is that theaters will force a sort of social distancing. This will involve removing a large number of seats so people can sit far apart. Additionally, people will need to wear masks. Seats will need to be wiped down completely between movies. That, in and of itself, will cut the hours movies actually show films. Also, people may shun theaters altogether because of health concerns. Read More > at 24/7 Wall St
Zoom has partially fixed two new flaws, with other security hurdles ahead – Cisco Talos researchers recently uncovered two new flaws in Zoom that could allow attackers to execute arbitrary code on users’ computers, according to research published Wednesday.
Zoom has partially fixed the vulnerabilities, according to Cisco Talos. The cybersecurity company said it worked with Zoom on addressing the flaws.
It’s the latest set of security bugs discovered in Zoom, a teleconferencing company whose software has come under heightened scrutiny in recent months as the coronavirus pandemic forced people around the world to telework and rely on videoconference platforms. Competitors include Cisco WebEx, Microsoft Teams, and GoToMeeting.
Zoom fixed one of the issues, dubbed TALOS-2020-1056, in May. And while Zoom addressed the other flaw, dubbed TALOS-2020-1055, in a server-side update, Cisco Talos’ Jon Munshaw said in a blog he believes that a client-side update will be necessary to fully mitigate any risk. Read More > at Cyber Scoop
Bricks, fires, frozen bottle projectiles: the organized tactics of America’s violent rioters – Law enforcement officials across the country say the anarchists who are inflaming peaceful demonstrations honoring George Floyd and transforming them into violent riots are more organized, better coordinated and supplied than any militants seen in civil discord in years.
Police intelligence units have uncovered encrypted and walkie-talkie communications as well as social media postings that coordinate the delivery and hiding of weapons and projectiles and the direction of anarchists to specific locations at specific times.
In essence, these professional rioters have created command-and-control apparatus as well as supply chains unseen in prior riots that followed the deaths of Michael Brown (Ferguson, Mo.) and Freddie Grey (Baltimore) and the verdict in the case of those officers who beat Rodney King (Los Angeles).
One federal law enforcement official told Just the News, “The anarchists have upped their game.”
U.S. Park Police Acting Chief Gregory T. Monahan said Tuesday one of the most troubling tactics seen near the White House is anarchists trying to grab police weapons during clashes. Other weaponry, he said, was being hidden in areas for perpetrators to pick up to use against officers. Read More > at Just the News
Can a Powerful Psychedelic Fight the Opioid Crisis? – 46,802 Americans died from opioid overdoses in 2018, the latest year for which CDC data is available. This painful cost has been exacted regularly in recent years, the price of rampant opioid overprescription and profit-hungry pharmaceutical companies.
Preventing these deaths means finding an effective way to treat opioid addiction. Somewhere around two million Americans suffer from opioid-related substance use disorder. Treatments like buprenorphine and methadone calm the brain circuits affected by opioids, reducing cravings and withdrawal. In conjunction with counseling, these medications can gradually ferry addicted individuals back to normalcy. Unfortunately, medications are underutilized and states generally lack the resources to provide them to all afflicted individuals.
It is into this quagmire that some have suggested inserting a new, surprising treatment: a powerful psychedelic drug called ibogaine.
Derived from the root or bark of a West African shrub called Tabernanthe iboga, ibogaine has been used in the Bwiti spiritual discipline of the forest-dwelling Punu and Mitsogo peoples of Gabon for generations. Unforgettable to those who have taken it, a high dose of ibogaine induces an “oneirogenic” waking dream-like state for as long as 36 hours, with introspective effects that can last for months afterwards, supposedly permitting takers to conquer their fears and negative emotions.
A curious side effect, anecdotally recognized in the 1960s, is that ibogaine significantly reduces cravings for alcohol, cocaine, methamphetamine, opiates, and nicotine, so much in fact that some people claimed to be completely rid of their drug addictions after a single, mind-altering dose. Read More > at Real Clear Science
Fossil Fuels for Decades and Beyond – The hard data tell the tale, and these data are readily available in the latest World Energy Outlook (WEO) by the International Energy Agency (IEA). And by “hard data,” I mean absolute numbers, not the growth percentages frequently used to exaggerate the relevance of non-fossil sources like wind and solar. Here is the reality:
- Over 81% of global energy demand is met by fossil fuels, which provide the equivalent of 11,595 million tons of oil (Mtoe)
- 64% of electricity generation comes from fossil fuels, including 38% from coal and 23% from natural gas
- Liquid fuels from oil provide some 95% of global transportation—moving people, raw materials, finished products and agricultural goods.
More than one writer has hyperbolically averred that the Covid 19 crisis has “forever” changed energy demand and the recent trajectory of onward and upward will never return. But the coronavirus notwithstanding, energy demand will resurge and continue to increase for decades to come. China’s gasoline and diesel consumption are already back to pre-virus levels and daily coal burn at power plants is on the rise as factories reopen. India’s fuel demand “is set to reach pre-coronavirus levels in June” stated Indian Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan. Meanwhile, the IEA recently affirmed its projection that peak oil demand is “nowhere in sight.”
Finally, Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the IEA, put the situation in perspective: “American business consultants using Zoom will not compensate for 150 million new urban residents in India and Africa traveling, working in factories and buying products transported by trucks.” This is the shape of things to come. Read More > at Real Clear Energy
Pediatricians say kids should be in school despite coronavirus risk – The damage done by keeping children out of school might outweigh the risks of COVID-19 transmission, a regional organization of pediatricians said Tuesday, pushing back against educators who have cautioned against reopening campuses too soon.
The Southern California chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which represents about 1,500 doctors, issued a statement pointing to research suggesting that the risks of COVID-19 transmission among children are lower than for adults, but that keeping children away from in-person instruction for longer will have negative consequences.
“Prolonging a meaningful return to in-person education would result in hundreds of thousands of children in Los Angeles County being at risk for worsening academic, developmental and health outcomes,” the statement said. “Children rely on schools for multiple needs, including but not limited to education, nutrition, physical activity, socialization, and mental health. Special populations of students receive services for disabilities and other conditions that are virtually impossible to deliver online.” Read More > in the Los Angeles Times
What States Can Learn from Tuesday’s Election Mishaps for November – The primary elections held Tuesday in several states were seen as a critical test ahead of the presidential election of election officials’ ability to expand absentee and early voting in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
But problems that emerged Tuesday, including hours-long waits at polling places, requested mail-in ballots that were never delivered and botched ballots, underscore the difficulties that officials still face as they prepare for much larger turnout in November.
States shouldn’t expect that efforts to expand absentee voting will be a magic bullet, particularly in regions that have not historically seen much reliance on voting by mail, said John Fortier, the director of governmental studies at the Bipartisan Policy Center.
“Each state has to think a little more realistically in what it’s been doing before and how much it is going to change,” he said. “As well as states try to plan for it, we still have to think about early voting and polling place voting during the election.” Read More > at Route Fifty
Amazon’s Market-Share Decline Is Nothing to Worry About – Online commerce is surging amid the coronavirus pandemic. With shoppers avoiding stores, ordering items for delivery or curbside pickup has become many consumers’ preferred way of buying everything they need.
Online sales at Walmart, Target, and Best Buy exploded higher in the first quarter. Digital sales more than doubled for both Target and Best Buy; Walmart’s online sales grew 74%, led by its efforts in grocery.
But Amazon.com reported just 24% growth in its online stores. And while its quarter ends in March (versus April for the other retailers mentioned), management expects a similar growth rate for the second quarter.
That slower growth means it’s losing market share to big-box competitors. Before COVID-19, Amazon’s share of online spending was 42%, according to Rakuten Intelligence. That fell to 34% in mid-April.
Consumers are trying out same-day fulfillment options at Amazon’s competitors while the e-commerce giant experiences shipping delays. With indications it could still be a while before Amazon’s one-day shipping for Prime members gets back to normal, investors may be worried big-box retailers are cutting into Amazon’s sales growth with the promise of faster fulfillment. Read More > at The Motley Fool
Survival of the littlest: the long-term impacts of being born extremely early – Babies born before 28 weeks of gestation are surviving into adulthood at higher rates than ever, and scientists are checking in on their health.
Babies born so early are fragile and underdeveloped. Their lungs are particularly delicate: the organs lack the slippery substance, called surfactant, that prevents the airways from collapsing upon exhalation….
The late twentieth century brought huge changes to neonatal medicine. Lex Doyle, a paediatrician and previous director of VICS, recalls that when he started caring for preterm infants in 1975, very few survived if they were born at under 1,000 grams — a birthweight that corresponds to about 28 weeks’ gestation. The introduction of ventilators, in the 1970s in Australia, helped, but also caused lung injuries, says Doyle, now associate director of research at the Royal Women’s Hospital. In the following decades, doctors began to give corticosteroids to mothers due to deliver early, to help mature the baby’s lungs just before birth. But the biggest difference to survival came in the early 1990s, with surfactant treatment.
Today, many hospitals regularly treat, and often save, babies born as early as 22–24 weeks. Survival rates vary depending on location and the kinds of interventions a hospital is able to provide. In the United Kingdom, for example, among babies who are alive at birth and receiving care, 35% born at 22 weeks survive, 38% at 23 weeks, and 60% at 24 weeks3.
For babies who survive, the earlier they are born, the higher the risk of complications or ongoing disability (see ‘The effects of being early’). There is a long list of potential problems — including asthma, anxiety, autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, epilepsy and cognitive impairment — and about one-third of children born extremely prematurely have one condition on the list, says Mike O’Shea, a neonatologist at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill, who co-runs a study tracking children born between 2002 and 2004. In this cohort, another one-third have multiple disabilities, he says, and the rest have none. Read More > at Nature
Most California districts would get more in federal aid than they’d lose in budget cuts – State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond and coalitions of labor and school district groups are asserting that California schools won’t be able to open safely if Congress doesn’t provide more aid to cope with the coronavirus pandemic.
Yet by one measure, school districts collectively would get nearly as much in already promised federal aid as their proposed state funding would be cut in 2020-21. And many districts may get more than they’ll lose in state aid.
Through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that Congress passed in March, California’s K-12 schools would receive enough to cover more than 90% of the $6.4 billion that Newsom is proposing to cut from school districts’ and charter schools’ funding in the next state budget to make up for a massive projected decline in tax revenue. Read More > at EdSource
Clothes. Electronics. Sports cars. Looters wreak havoc on Bay Area as police struggle to keep pace – The difference this time is what was once traditionally a metropolitan problem has gone mobile and gone bigger. Roving thieves are hitting outlying cities like Walnut Creek, Fairfield and Vallejo.
Many of the hits were sophisticated, said San Leandro Police Chief Jeff Tudor. On Sunday night, officers reported traffic clustered with coordinated vehicles, some loaded up four-to-five deep in vans.
The vehicles would hit an area in tandem, with a getaway driver dropping off their passengers and others, in various locations, acting as lookouts.
On Friday night in Oakland, dozens stormed an uptown Target as alarms blared. The groups formed an assembly line of sorts, one member running a supermarket sweep down the aisles while others waited outside for the handoffs.
In more extreme incidents, officers have been fired upon and members of the public have been shot.
On Monday in Alameda County, 122 people were booked into jail on suspicion of felonies that include robbery, burglary, looting, stolen vehicles, weapons and drugs, according to sheriff’s officials. San Francisco police recorded 66 incidents of looting during a state of emergency by Monday, resulting in 46 arrests. Only 15 of the suspects were residents of San Francisco. read More > in the San Francisco Chronicle
The psychology behind why people think 5G makes them sick – Phantom vibrations. Trouble breathing. An unexplainable itch. These are often types of things that we all experience at some point, even if there is no obvious physiological cause. But just because you can’t pinpoint what is causing it, doesn’t make it any less real.
“There is a group of people that tends to attribute these symptoms then to environmental causes, and these are typically people who have what we call modern health worries,” he said. Instead of the historically more-common sensitivities to things like perfumes and household cleaners, this group of people with “modern health worries” are increasingly attributing symptoms to electromagnetic radiation in the environment. This is where a natural alignment with 5G conspiracy theorists starts to arise.
The effects of 5G radiation has been described as “damaging” by some less reputable outlets, despite plenty of evidence to the contrary. Some conspiracies even go as far as to claim that the networking tech caused the coronavirus pandemic, which is definitively untrue. But that didn’t stop angry protesters from burning down cell towers and spraying anti-5G graffiti all over the world. The media coverage of these acts hit the global audience just as coronavirus concerns began to take over the world, and soon the idea that 5G causes disease went viral. Read More > at Engadget
9 More Bizarre Consequences Of The Covid-19 Coronavirus Pandemic – The pandemic has also created new jobs that didn’t exist before. Reporter Megan Moltini explains the training she received at a coronavirus contact tracing academy.
Wired magazine also notes, “Researchers have spent years teaching robots to shake hands — an effort possibly doomed by a global turn against human contact.”
A clever app developed by Japanese firm Yamaha allows fans to remotely cheer (or boo) players from home, played through the stadium speakers so that players can feel the energy of the online crowd.
The article wryly notes, “The app does not, as yet, allow fans to question the referee’s eyesight, or the eating habits of players who struggled to stay match-fit during the league’s virus-enforced break.” Read More > at Forbes
To stimulate the economy, help America’s Dreamers – Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, Manuel Bernal—a resident physician assigned to one of Chicago’s busiest hospitals—has been working day and night to deliver lifesaving care to patients suffering from COVID-19. Manuel is just one among thousands of health care workers who has put the safety of others before his own in the fight against the coronavirus. And he is just one among thousands who could soon be deported because of his immigration status.
Any day now, the Supreme Court will decide the fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), and with it, the future of America’s Dreamers. Dreamers are undocumented immigrants who, like Manuel Bernal, were brought to this country as children through no fault of their own. For the sake of our health care system and the recovering economy, it’s critical that Congress act now to provide these individuals with permanent legal status.
…Consider the invaluable contributions of Dreamers to the nation’s coronavirus response. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are approximately 29,000 DACA recipients working in health care. These include not only physicians like Manuel Bernal but intensive-care nurses like Ana Cueva, who is working 12-hour night shifts at a hospital in a California community hit hard by COVID-19, and medical assistants like Francisco Matias, who is risking infection both to himself and his family by seeing up to 14 patients a day. These are men and women who are placing themselves in harm’s way to conduct coronavirus tests, administer emergency relief to our grandparents, intubate critically ill patients, and ultimately save lives. Read More > in The Hill
The Mysterious Anomaly Weakening Earth’s Magnetic Field Seems to Be Splitting – New satellite data from the European Space Agency (ESA) reveal that the mysterious anomaly weakening Earth’s magnetic field continues to evolve, with the most recent observations showing we could soon be dealing with more than one of these strange phenomena.
The South Atlantic Anomaly is a vast expanse of reduced magnetic intensity in Earth’s magnetic field, extending all the way from South America to southwest Africa.
Since our planet’s magnetic field acts as a kind of shield – protecting Earth from solar winds and cosmic radiation, in addition to determining the location of the magnetic poles – any reduction in its strength is an important event we need to monitor closely, as these changes could ultimately have significant implications for our planet.
At present, there’s nothing to be alarmed about…
Exactly why this is happening remains a mystery. Earth’s magnetic field is generated by electrical currents produced by a swirling mass of liquid iron within the outer core of our planet, but while this phenomenon appears stable at any given moment, over vast timescales, it’s never really still.
Research has shown that Earth’s magnetic field is constantly in a state of flux, and every few hundred thousand years (give or take), Earth’s magnetic field flips, with the north and south magnetic poles swapping places. Read More > at Science Alert
Reforming Occupational Licensing In Reopening Plans Would Benefit Everyone – More than 40 million Americans — 24 percent of the U.S. labor force — are unemployed and wondering when they can return to work. As states permit businesses to safely reopen and hospitals to resume elective surgeries, furloughed and laid-off workers can hopefully return to their jobs. However, some workers were locked out of opportunities before COVID-19 hit and will struggle to secure work after mandated closures are lifted.
…Many other workers who obtain occupational licenses in one state are prohibited from operating or setting up shop if they have to move. The issue is particularly acute for people who move frequently, such as military spouses.
Not recognizing out-of-state licenses is just one harmful aspect of occupational licensing. Often, the requirements themselves for education, training, and fees can be so costly and time-consuming, they create unnecessary burdens and insurmountable obstacles. In addition, some states impose blanket exclusions for people with criminal convictions, regardless of how long ago the offense occurred or whether it is related to the job for which a person seeks a license.
Certainly, some licenses are necessary to protect the health and safety of both workers and consumers. Doctors hold someone else’s health and life in their hands, so it’s reasonable they are licensed, but do florists need certification to arrange flowers?
The number of jobs requiring licenses has ballooned from just 5 percent of the workforce in the 1950s to nearly 30 percent today. Often, license requirements are arbitrary and unconnected to any health or safety rationale. Instead, they serve to protect licensed businesses and block new competition from entering the market. Read More > in The Federalist
The Free Market Of Space – They didn’t carry the gravitas of the 1960s NASA missions, but Saturday’s SpaceX launch and Sunday’s dock with the International Space Station are more than historical footnotes in human space travel. They’re another step in the commercialization of space.
Few would argue that America’s moonshot should not have been a government project. A raging Cold War with the Soviet Union made it necessary to develop a space program and put men on the moon before the communists did. In a number of ways, NASA was an extension of our national defense.
Today, though, we have a Space Force. Let it take care of defense duties. The private sector can handle travel and exploration.
The privatization or commercialization of space shouldn’t be an alien idea in a country built on enterprise, where the innovative and the industrious are always looking for that next market. What we once considered “the final frontier” is now a grand business opportunity. The private sector is far ahead of the federal space administration, which hasn’t launched astronauts into space in nearly a decade. Read More > at Issues & Insight
Neurobiologist finds potent pain-suppression center in the brain – A Duke University research team has found a small area of the brain in mice that can profoundly control the animals’ sense of pain.
Somewhat unexpectedly, this brain center turns pain off, not on. It’s also located in an area where few people would have thought to look for an anti-pain center, the amygdala, which is often considered the home of negative emotions and responses, like the fight or flight response and general anxiety.
“People do believe there is a central place to relieve pain, that’s why placebos work,” said senior author Fan Wang, the Morris N. Broad Distinguished Professor of neurobiology in the School of Medicine. “The question is where in the brain is the center that can turn off pain.”
“Most of the previous studies have focused on which regions are turned ON by pain,” Wang said. “But there are so many regions processing pain, you’d have to turn them all off to stop pain. Whereas this one center can turn off the pain by itself.” Read More > at Duke TODAY
PG&E could become a nonprofit someday under California bill – California lawmakers may still create a path to overhaul PG&E Corp.’s structure even though the company is poised to remain an investor-owned business after its expected emergence from bankruptcy this year.
State Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, is carrying legislation that could make the utility subsidiary Pacific Gas and Electric Co. owned by a new nonprofit public benefit corporation called Golden State Energy. But it would only happen if the PG&E’s bankruptcy implodes or state regulators take the drastic step of revoking the company’s operating license.
While the bar for such a revocation is high, it is an option that the California Public Utilities Commission enshrined in a new enforcement process when it approved PG&E’s bankruptcy reorganization plan Thursday. Regulators at the commission could reconsider the license if the company causes more disasters and other enforcement measures prove insufficient. Read More > in the San Francisco Chronicle
It’s Past Time to Examine How Police Unions Protect Bad Cops – Police brutality has been seared into the consciousness of many Americans — especially blacks — since the 1960s, when TV showed civil-rights protestors being clubbed and hosed by Jim Crow police departments.
After every nationally publicized incident — the latest being the horrific death of George Floyd — there are calls for change. Experts demand better police training, more civilian oversight, and the hiring of a more diverse force. Many police departments have taken those steps.
But New York mayor Bill de Blasio had to admit on Sunday, “We need faster, speedier discipline when it comes to policing.” Yet it never seems to happen.
Maybe it’s finally time to consider the role that police unions play in perpetuating police brutality. Mayor de Blasio has frequently tangled with his city’s powerful unions, but he’s never challenged their vast political power. And make no mistake, that power is often used to cover up and deflect charges of police misconduct.
“The unions, at least in New York City, outright just protect, protect, protect the cops,” retired NYPD commander Corey Pegues wrote in his memoir, Once a Cop. “It’s a blanket system of covering up police officers.”
Writing in the Stanford Law Review, scholar Katherine Biel notes that ever since “the rise of police unions to political power in the 1970s,” they have succeeded in shielding their members from public accountability. “Police unions have established highly developed political machinery that exerts significant political and financial pressure on all three branches of government,” Biel writes. “The power of police unions over policymakers in the criminal justice context distorts the political process and generates political outcomes that undermine the democratic values of transparency and accountability.”
Take the issue of cellphone cameras, which proved of such value in establishing the horrific nature of George Floyd’s death. Andy Skoogman, executive director of the Minnesota Chiefs of Police, told Fox News’s Chris Wallace earlier today: “I believe cellphone videos are game changers. . . . They weed out the bad apples. Video is definitely the key in this case as it is in so many other cases in this day and age.” Read More > in the National Review