Daily Digest 1/2 – A Plateful Of Plastic, Major Discoveries That Could Transform the World


PHOTOS: Iraqi Shiites break into U.S. Embassy in Baghdad (Thomas R.)

Iraq has long struggled to balance its ties with the U.S. and Iran, both allies of the Iraqi government. But the government’s angry reaction to the U.S. airstrikes and its apparent decision not to prevent the protesters from reaching the embassy signaled a sharp deterioration of U.S.-Iraq relations.

The Major Discoveries That Could Transform the World in the Next Decade (Thomas R.)

This year, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) began its first-in-human trial of a universal flu vaccine. The immunization aims to induce an immune response against a less variable part of the flu virus known as the hemagglutinin (HA) “stem.” This Phase 1 study will look at the safety of the experimental vaccine, as well as participants’ immune responses to it. Researchers hope to report their initial results in early 2020.

Here’s What the World Will Look Like in 2030 … Right? (Thomas R.)

In fairness, the world won’t suddenly end on January 1, 2030, if we don’t meet that goal. But the report is spot-on in its mantra: The faster we switch to a world economy run on renewable energy, the better we can attenuate the consequences—stronger storms, rising seas, fiercer wildfires.

Global ETFs accumulate a record $6T in assets under management (Thomas R.)

Global ETFs have accumulated a record $6T in assets under management. Yahoo Finance’s Seana Smith and ETF Trends CEO Tom Lydon discuss.

Why stock market traders should be terrified of robots in the next decade (Thomas R.)

Essaye said that “for all of us, especially traders, dealing with this extreme short-term volatility is something we all have to get more used to. And, we have to somehow assimilate that into our trading plans and figure out how we deal with that from a risk management standpoint.”

He added: “The market is getting more volatile in the short-term for no good reason and that could swing you out of trades, which we all know could hurt performance over the longer term.”

Putin Reminds the West: Those Who Ignore History Are Doomed to Repeat it (westcoastjan)

Putin’s reference to “tearing down monuments” pointed directly to Poland which has distinguished itself as the most enthusiastic annihilator of pro-Soviet WW2 monuments over the past 30 years. Since 1989, hundreds of such monuments have been torn down and although 200 still remain, their future is very questionable as anti-Russian sentiment has reached an all-time high. Other former Warsaw Pact nations which have followed suit in the destruction of pro-Russian monuments in recent years include the neo-Nazi ridden state of Ukraine, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria.

Jimmy Stewart’s Not-So-Wonderful Life With PTSD (westcoastjan)

Christmas can be a rough time for broken veterans. I can attest that we check on one another profusely, worry sick about our friends, drink a bit too much, and fear, deeply, that we might lose another mate to suicide. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be a lonely condition. Sometimes camaraderie and shared pain—even through historical example—is the only true comfort. Which brings me to Stewart.

The Human Tool (Afridev)

This pure power envy analysis forgets the game theory of the whole cultural thing. Just because something is a hierarchy doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad, especially when the history of culture is of better hierarchies (or better metanarratives, or better societal indoctrination memes) beating out worse ones. If you smash your hierarchy, the unsmashed hierarchy next door might move in and take over. If we’re going to play this highly dangerous social constructionist game, which amounts to building ourselves new Masters from whole cloth, then the very first thing we must do is look at the issue of efficacy. Is this new Master strong? If not, it won’t last.

‘It’s Creepy’: Unexplained Drones Are Swarming by Night Over Colorado (Sparky1)

The flights have drawn attention just as the Federal Aviation Administration last week proposed sweeping new regulations that would require most drones to be identifiable. Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the F.A.A., said that the timing of the proposed rule was coincidental, but that the agency had opened an investigation of the sightings in Colorado and Nebraska.

2019 Was a Bad Year for the “Only Cops Should Have Guns” Narrative (thc0655)

Meanwhile, 2019 provided reminders that police officers will shoot citizens dead in their own homes for no justifiable reason, as was the case with Atatiana Jefferson on October 12. According to multiple accounts the shooter — a now former cop named Aaron Dean — entered Jefferson’s private property unannounced in the middle of the night. He peered into Jefferson’s windows, and within seconds, the officer had shot Jefferson dead. Jefferson had been playing video games with her nephew.

Russia’s Hypersonic ICBM Is Operational. So What? (Thomas R.)

Interestingly, Putin also described Russia being the first nation to deploy hypersonic missiles as being “a unique situation in our contemporary history where they’re trying to catch up.” Which suggests that Putin considers it the norm for Russia to be trying to catch up in the arms race.

Why Did One-Quarter of the World’s Pigs Die in a Year? (Sparky1)

By late September, the disease had cost economic losses of one trillion yuan (about $141 billion), according to Li Defa, dean of the College of Animal Science and Technology at China Agricultural University in Beijing. Qiu Huaji, a leading Chinese expert on porcine infectious diseases, has said that African swine fever has been no less devastating “than a war” — in terms of “its effects on the national interest and people’s livelihoods and its political, economic and social impact.”

The Scientist Still Fighting for the Clean Fuel the World Forgot (Boomer41)

US companies are producing only a sliver of the cellulosic fuels called for under renewable-fuel standards put in place at the end of the last Bush administration, and much of that is ethanol derived from agricultural leftovers like corn stalks. Given that shortfall, the Environmental Protection Agency simply issues waivers for advanced biofuels each year, allowing the industry to largely continue business as usual.

NSW bushfires burn an area greater than Wales, the result of an exceptional spring (exlxq1949)

Between early September and the end of November, 220,000 hectares had been burnt in Queensland and still the fires rage on.

Fires have already occurred in every state and territory this season.

Australia scrambles to reach thousands stranded by bushfires (Thomas R.)

New South Wales (NSW) Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said emergency services faced a “real challenge” accessing isolated areas to help injured people, at least three of whom were later airlifted out suffering burns.

As fires raged across the country, some of the stranded were taking advantage of temporary road re-openings to return home while others faced a second trying night bedding down in make-shift accommodation.

UK snow forecast: Nordic blast bringing up to 20 INCHES of snow ready to blanket Britain (Thomas R.)

And with many areas of the country experiencing high groundwater levels due to the heavy downpours of the autumn and winter, the potential for more flooding is considerable.

The Met Office warned the band of wet weather could be met with periods of snowfalls across areas of high ground.

A plateful of plastic (Sparky1)

People could be ingesting the equivalent of a credit card of plastic a week, a recent study by WWF International concluded, mainly in drinking water but also via sources like shellfish, which tend to be eaten whole so the plastic in their digestive systems is also consumed.

Based on the findings of the study, Reuters created the following images to illustrate what this amount of plastic actually looks like over various time periods.

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