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wepon ([personal profile] wepon) wrote2017-03-02 07:56 am
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Link Roundup February 2017

Trump’s Immigration Ban Is Already Harming American Science
International travel is a major and inescapable part of modern science. Many scientists have foreign collaborators, which “substantially increases the pace of discovery and ideas,” says Plotkin. Researchers are expected to attend conferences abroad to share their work. Some have no choice but to fly to visit remote field sites, or unique paleontological digs, or sites of disease outbreaks, or one-of-a-kind facilities like telescopes and observatories.

The Demon Voice That Can Control Your Smartphone
(Earlier this month, a local news report about a young child who ordered a dollhouse through Amazon’s voice assistant triggered Amazon Echo devices sitting near viewers’ TVs to place the same order during the segment.)

In corruption-riddled Romania, officials now allow some room for abuse
The country's governing Social Democratic Party shocked domestic and international observers Tuesday when it adopted an emergency measure to decriminalize official misconduct causing damage worth less than about $48,000. Thousands of Romanians protested the decision, calling it a blow to recent progress in fighting chronic corruption in a European Union nation where accusations of bribe-taking, favor-trading and bureaucratic abuses are part of everyday life. The directive will stop ongoing investigations and prevent new ones from being launched. Another decree might end up freeing convicted officials from prison.

Hostage standoff in Delaware prison ends with one corrections officer dead
Hostage-takers had apparently delivered a message to a local newspaper saying that their rebellion was a response to President Trump’s policies and concerns about what his administration would mean for the future of the prison. “Everything that he did. All the things that he’s doing now,” they said during the second of two manifesto-like phone calls to the News Journal newspaper in Wilmington. “We know that the institution is going to change for the worse.”

USDA abruptly purges animal welfare information from its website
Seven states currently require pet stores to source puppies from breeders with clean USDA inspection reports, according to the Humane Society of the United States — a requirement that could now be impossible to meet.

Syria's Secret Mass Executions
Saydnaya prison is notorious for being a closely held secret, and until recently little was known about how it operates. Earlier this summer, Amnesty released a separate report on the prison that detailed its living conditions. But these new interviews outline a structured means to kill those opposed to Assad—everyone from factory owners to students and professors. The report shows how Assad’s regime has executed these men in ways deliberate, and highly conscious of how, if exposed, the global community would denounce such acts. Amnesty investigators interviewed 84 people, including former prisoners, guards, judges, and the doctors who signed off on the death certificates of those killed at Saydnaya. These interviews show a human rights crisis that the Syrian government has sanctioned since at least 2011, and which could pose a problem for the new Trump administration.

Republicans vote to rebuke Elizabeth Warren, saying she impugned Sessions’s character
The Senate voted, 49 to 43, strictly on party lines, to uphold the ruling that Warren violated Rule 19 of the Senate that says senators are not allowed to “directly or indirectly, by any form of words impute to another Senator or to other Senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a Senator.” Pursuant to that rule, Warren was ordered to sit down and forbidden from speaking during the remainder of the debate on the nomination of Sessions.

Can You Turn A Terrorist Back Into A Citizen?
Lowry is also troubled by the fact that the Federal Bureau of Prisons has yet to indicate whether it will arrange for the new Minnesota program to work with inmates; Lowry fears that extremists who receive no treatment while incarcerated will be impossible to deradicalize once they’re released.

A Jewish Reporter Got to Ask Trump a Question. It Didn’t Go Well.
Mrs. Frankfurter, the magazine’s senior editor, said it was clear that Mr. Trump was not an anti-Semite and that Mr. Trump “must have misheard the question” from the magazine’s reporter. “The president is very sensitive to such an accusation, and we find the fact that he’s sensitive to it reassuring,” she said, because it means he understands how awful it is to be thought of as an anti-Semite.

How a $47 Shrimp Treadmill Became a $3-Million Political Plaything
It is disingenuous for the Republican-controlled House Committee on Science, Space and Technology to promote the idea that scientists are wasting millions of taxpayer dollars to run shrimp on treadmills based on a 30-second video clip.

At Jewish Cemetery, Seeking Answers Amid Heartbreak
Since the start of the year, at least 53 Jewish community centers around the country have received bomb threats, according to the J.C.C. Association of North America. More than a dozen of the facilities, including centers in Albuquerque; Baltimore; Birmingham, Ala.; Milwaukee; and Wilmington, Del., have reported repeated threats. In addition, jarring graffiti of swastikas have been reported on some college campuses as well as the New York City subway.

Ethicists advise caution in applying CRISPR gene editing to humans
The report did not recommend an absolute prohibition of gene editing on the human “germline” if such interventions can be proved safe. This would involve genetic changes to eggs, sperm or embryos that would persist in an adult and could be inherited by future generations.

Scientists discover 7 ‘Earthlike’ planets orbiting a nearby star
“Before this, if you wanted to study terrestrial planets, we had only four of them and they were all in our solar system,” said lead author Michaël Gillon, an exoplanet researcher at the University of Liege in Belgium. “Now we have seven Earth-sized planets to expand our understanding. Yes, we have the possibility to find water and life. But even if we don't, whatever we find will be super-interesting.”

Who is Nils Bildt? Swedish ‘national security advisor’ interviewed by Fox News is a mystery to Swedes
The surname Bildt is well-known in Swedish political circles due to Carl Bildt, the former Swedish prime minister and Swedish foreign minister. Nils Bildt said that he was related to Carl Bildt, who he described as a "most decent and good man." However, when contacted by WorldViews, Carl Bildt noted that his brother, a successful Swedish entrepreneur who is also called Nils, was "highly irritated" when he heard Nils Tolling had began using the surname Bildt. Carl Bildt suggested that the former Nils Tolling had been "trying to use the name to gain favors."