The IRS plans to crack down on 1,600 millionaires to collect millions of dollars in back taxes
This is news from a couple of weeks ago, but it’s still worth celebrating.
The IRS announced on [September 8 that] it is launching an effort to aggressively pursue 1,600 millionaires and 75 large business partnerships that owe hundreds of millions of dollars in past due taxes.
IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel said that with a boost in federal funding and the help of artificial intelligence tools, the agency has new means of targeting wealthy people who have “cut corners” on their taxes.
“If you pay your taxes on time it should be particularly frustrating when you see that wealthy filers are not,” Werfel told reporters in a call previewing the announcement. He said 1,600 millionaires who owe at least $250,000 each in back taxes and 75 large business partnerships that have assets of roughly $10 billion on average are targeted for the new “compliance efforts.”
Werfel said a massive hiring effort and AI research tools developed by IRS employees and contractors are playing a big role in identifying wealthy tax dodgers. The agency is making an effort to showcase positive results from its burst of new funding under President Joe Biden’s Democratic administration as Republicans in Congress look to claw back some of that money.
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🍿 Repellent Republicans Rushing toward Ruin 🍿
The DKos community has been totally on top of all the schadenfreudelicious stories about the Rotting Republicans (or Rutting Republicans, in the case of Boebert). So for those who like to stay informed about all the various messes and may have missed any of these diaries, here are some recent links:
That guy Boebert got vulgar with in the theater? A gay-friendly bar owner who hosts drag shows.
Gaetz attacks McCarthy in wild House speech
Ken Paxton’s impeachment trial escalates Texas Republican civil war
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Good news from my corner of the world
Oregon made the DKos front page on Saturday with this story:
Oregon launches legal psilocybin access amid high demand and hopes for improved mental health care
From AP via Daily Kos:
Epic Healing Eugene — America’s first licensed psilocybin service center — opened in June, marking Oregon's unprecedented step in offering the mind-bending drug to the public. The center now has a waitlist of more than 3,000 names, including people with depression, PTSD or end-of-life dread.
No prescription or referral is needed, but proponents hope Oregon's legalization will spark a revolution in mental health care. ✂️
The Oregon Psilocybin Services Section, charged with regulating the state's industry, has received “hundreds of thousands of inquiries from all over the world," Angela Allbee, the agency's manager, said in an interview. “So far, what we’re hearing is that clients have had positive experiences,” she said.
While psilocybin remains illegal in most of the United States, the Food and Drug Administration in 2018 designated it a “breakthrough therapy.” This summer, the FDA published draft guidance for researchers designing clinical trials for psychedelic drugs. Researchers believe psilocybin changes the way the brain organizes itself, helping a user adopt new attitudes and overcome mental health issues.
And here’s a recent story about additional medical issues that psilocybin might address, furthering the case for legalizing it for medical use throughout the nation:
One way to heal a brain injury? Let LSD open your mind—literally.
From National Geographic via Future Crunch (avoids the paywall):
In recent years, clinical trials and lab research has revealed that psychedelic drugs taken in a controlled, supportive environment can improve mood disorders including severe depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Now a growing number of scientists are exploring whether these powerful medicines might also treat physical injuries to the brain along with other disorders that result from different brain-wiring. This could have implications for stroke and traumatic brain injury (TBI), as well as brain diseases including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. ✂️
Most brain-injury research so far—conducted in test tubes and lab animals, with only a few small studies in people—points to the psychedelics’ potential to limit brain damage after injury, stimulate the birth of new neurons to replace impaired ones, and open the learning windows that let the brain acquire new skills. One recent study, published in the journal Nature, found lab animals taking psychedelics adopted skills as adults that were previously limited to childhood.
State of Oregon sues Fox over 2020 election coverage
Good, let’s pile on.
From The Oregonian:
The state of Oregon and New York City’s pension funds sued Fox Corporation on Tuesday, alleging the company harmed investors by allowing Fox News to broadcast falsehoods about the 2020 election that exposed the network to defamation lawsuits. The lawsuit, filed in Delaware, accuses the company of inviting defamation claims by amplifying conspiracy theories about the election, including a lawsuit Fox News agreed to settle for nearly $800 million with the voting machine company Dominion Voting Systems.
In a statement, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said that Fox breached its fiduciary duties by disregarding legal risks. “The directors’ choices exposed themselves and the company to liability and exposed their shareholders to significant risks,” she said. “That is the crux of our lawsuit, and we look forward to making our case in court.”
New York City’s pension funds are long-term shareholders of Fox Corporation, with shares valued at $28.1 million as of the end of July. Oregon holds shares in the company worth approximately $5.2 million. “Fox’s board of directors has blatantly disregarded the need for journalistic standards and failed to put safeguards in place despite having a business model that invites defamation litigation,” said New York City Comptroller Brad Lander, who manages the city’s pension funds.
Urban League on a ‘placemaking’ mission at Pendleton Round-Up
It’s very encouraging to find a hopeful story about bridging the rural/urban, White/Black divide in Oregon.
From Oregon Public Broadcasting:
Founded in 1945, the Urban League focuses on providing advocacy and social services for Oregon’s Black communities. This year, the Urban League arrived in Pendleton 40-strong, the largest group the league has ever brought to the Round-Up. The organization aimed to give its members the full Round-Up experience: a day at the rodeo, a wagon in the non-mechanized Westward Ho! Parade and time to connect with people in Pendleton.
While much of the group she was with had never been to Round-Up or even a rodeo in general, Urban League President and CEO Nkenge Harmon Johnson said she started bringing the organization out to Pendleton as a way of “placemaking,” creating a space for Black Oregonians who otherwise might not feel comfortable at an event where most of the participants are white. ✂️
Whether it was the actual sport of rodeo or the fashion in the stands, the Urban League visitors enjoyed the Round-Up on their own terms. ✂️
The Pendleton Round-Up takes place in Umatilla County, where only 1% of the population is Black. Other counties in the region have a similar or smaller share of Black residents. But at a meeting the Urban League held after the Westward Ho! Parade on Friday, the group reminded a small audience that Eastern Oregon is rich in Black history.
Historians estimate one in four cowboys were Black during the early 20th Century, a fact reflected locally by George Fletcher, known as the “people’s champion” for his daring rides at the 1911 Round-Up. A few decades later, the all-Black 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion, known as the “Triple Nickles,” trained in Pendleton as smokejumpers during World War II. Further east, Black loggers helped make Maxville the largest town in Wallowa County in the 1920s and 30s before a logging company shut down its timber operation.
30 Wineries Sign Up to Refillable Wine Bottle Service in Oregon
I already had this story in my draft when I saw WineRev’s mention of it in his intro to yesterday’s History Corner. Thanks for boosting this good news from Oregon, Rev!
From Good News Network:
Bringing a bit of European small-time organization across the pond, a US/Dutch resident of Oregon is launching a startup to allow wine drinkers to bring bottles back to wineries for a refill. Such infrastructure exists in Europe, but in the US, where 765 million glass bottles are used every year in the wine industry, only one-third are even recycled, much less reused.
The company is called Revino, and they collect, wash, and sanitize the bottles before removing labels and returning them to wineries to be refilled. The design is imprinted with a leaf to help customers identify them, and they are also tailor-made to fit into existing automatic filling machines. Customers can either take them directly to wineries for a refill or deposit the bottles at collection points at liquor stores and recycling facilities. ✂️
The manufacturing process produces bottles that are rated for 50 reuses, which can reduce the bottle’s overall carbon footprint by 85%, even if it meets just one-third of that total.
There are many major companies already using recycled materials in the beverage industry, but Revino wants to prove what’s possible with small producers, and after their 2024 spring launch in Oregon wineries, O’Hern wants to move into Northern California where there are many small wineries with a lot of local consumption.
Here’s a video from the Revino website:
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Good news from around the nation
Planned Parenthood to resume offering abortions
next [this] week in Wisconsin, citing court ruling
This is being challenged, of course, but so far, so good.
Planned Parenthood announced Thursday that it will resume offering abortions in Wisconsin next week after a judge ruled that an 1849 law that seemingly banned the procedure actually didn’t apply to abortions.
The resumption of abortions Monday at clinics in Milwaukee and Madison comes as the lawsuit challenging the state law continues in county court. It is expected to eventually reach the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which flipped to liberal control on Aug. 1.
Abortion clinics across the state stopped offering abortions following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling overturning Roe v. Wade in June 2022. Until then, Wisconsin’s decades-old statutes — interpreted to outlaw abortion in all cases except to save a mother’s life — were effectively nullified by the 1973 Roe ruling providing a right to abortion nationwide.
New York University will divest from fossil fuels in win for student activists
Since NYU is “one of the US’s largest private universities, whose endowment totals over $5bn,” this is very good news indeed.
From The Guardian:
New York University plans to divest from fossil fuels, the Guardian has learned, following years of pressure from student activists. The move from one of the US’s largest private universities, whose endowment totals over $5bn, represents a significant win for the climate movement, organizers said.
The university first formalized the commitment in an August letter from William R Berkley, chair of NYU’s board of trustees, which was seen by the Guardian, addressed to a student activist group. “New York University commits to avoid any direct investments in any company whose primary business is the exploration or extraction of fossil fuels, including all forms of coal, oil, and natural gas, and not to renew or seek out any dedicated private funds whose primary aim is to invest in the exploration or extraction of fossil fuels,” he wrote. ✂️
The letter follows a February meeting between the NYU board of trustees’ investments committee and the university’s chapter of the youth-led climate organization Sunrise Movement, which has led recent advocacy for divestment on campus. ...In an unusual move, Berkley addressed the letter directly to Sunrise organizers.
“I’ve read a lot of other divestment announcements from other schools and it’s not common for them to name, much less to celebrate, the success of the student groups that got them there,” said Alicia Colomer, an NYU senior who co-founded the school’s Sunrise chapter in 2020, and also serves as communications coordinator for Fossil Free Research, an advocacy group focused on eliminating oil and gas funding in academia. Students have been pushing NYU to divest from fossil fuels since at least 2004, but were previously rebuked.
Ammon Bundy, others blocked from moving assets
Bad news for Ammon is always good news for us. And this ruling is an excellent way to make sure he pays the damages to St. Luke’s that he’s been ordered to pay.
From Idaho State Journal:
An Idaho judge has blocked Ammon Bundy and others from moving financial assets...
The lawsuit, brought by St. Luke’s Health System, alleges that Bundy has made fraudulent property transfers to evade collection of millions of dollars in damages awarded to the health system in its initial lawsuit against him, People’s Rights Network and his campaign for governor.
“Unless the Court reconsiders the ruling, the preliminary injunction will remain in place until the lawsuit is resolved, by motion or at trial,” attorney Erik Stidham, representing St. Luke’s Health System, told the Idaho Capital Sun in a text message. ✂️
The preliminary injunction blocks Bundy, his wife Lisa Bundy, his campaign for governor and People’s Rights Network from:
- Selling, transferring or conveying any real property;
- Transferring any ownership interests they hold in an entity;
- Causing an entity they hold an ownership interest in to transfer, sell or convey interest in real property or material assets;
- Transferring monetary assets from any banks;
- Incurring new material obligations.
White Barn Enterprises, LLC, which Bundy sold his home to, is only blocked from transferring or selling the home. The Bundys are allowed to spend up to $5,750 per month on living expenses and can pay the minimum on regular bills.
Colorado mountain honoring governor who led Indigenous massacre renamed
One more genocidal asshole can now be forgotten.
From The Guardian:
Federal US officials renamed a Colorado mountain that was previously named after a disgraced governor of the state who led a massacre against Indigenous people. Members of the US Board on Geographic Names voted to change the name of Mount Evans to Mount Blue Sky, at the request of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes.
The new name was approved on Friday during a Council of Geographic Name Authorities board meeting in Oregon, according to a press release from the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes. The new name holds significance for both tribes. The Arapaho are known as the Blue Sky people, and the Cheyenne Tribe hold an annual ceremony that is called Blue Sky… .
The mountain, a nearly 15,000ft peak in south-west Colorado, was previously named after John Evans, the notorious state governor who resigned in 1865 for his role in the Sand Creek massacre, when more than 200 Arapaho and Cheyenne people were killed in a south-eastern region of Colorado. Most of those killed were women, children and people who were elderly, the AP reported.
The governor of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes, Reggie Wassana, celebrated the renaming as an important part of the “healing process”.“It is a huge step, not only for the Cheyenne and Arapaho people, but also for the Ute Mountain Ute tribe, Southern Ute tribe, Northern Arapaho tribe, Northern Cheyenne tribe, and other allies who worked diligently to begin the healing process, bringing honor to a monumental and majestic mountain,” Wassana said in a statement published by the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal Tribune.
Both tribes are now working to have the name of the Mount Evans wilderness area, which sits adjacent to the peak, changed to the Mount Blue Sky wilderness area.
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Quote of the day
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Good news from around the world
Growing number of countries consider making ecocide a crime
Creating a legal structure to prevent ecocide is increasingly important, and it’s good to see it taking hold in Central America, where colonialism left a legacy of ecological destruction.
BTW, note the irony of the fact that Russia is one of the few nations to have criminalized ecocide, which they’re committing daily in Ukraine.
From The Guardian:
A growing number of countries are considering introducing laws to make ecocide a crime.
Mexico is the latest country where politicians are seeking to deter environmental damage – and to get justice for its victims – by criminalising it. Karina Marlen Barrón Perales, congresswoman for Nuevo León, has submitted a bill to the Mexican congress introducing a new crime of “ecocide”.
While damaging the environment is already an offence in most countries, recognition of ecocide elevates the most egregious cases to a crime – with accompanying penalties. The new Mexican bill looks to criminalise “any unlawful or wanton act committed with the knowledge that there is a substantial likelihood of severe and either widespread or long-term damage to the environment”. If passed, anyone found guilty of ecocide could be jailed for up to 15 years and fined as much as 1,500 pesos (£70) a day.
The Mexican bill uses a definition of ecocide developed by an international panel of legal experts in 2021. The definition was mainly intended to be adopted by the international criminal court through an amendment to the Rome statute – the key goal of the Stop Ecocide Foundation – but is now also being used for national-level legislation.
Only a few states around the world have criminalised ecocide, including Vietnam, Ukraine and Russia. Ukraine’s public prosecutor is already investigating a possible case of ecocide against Russia for breaching the Nova Kakhovka dam.
Water and Pesticide Use Cut Nearly in Half After ‘Better Cotton’ Helps Farmers Become Sustainable
From Good News Network:
It’s everyone’s favorite fabric—and over the last decade it’s become way more sustainable. Better Cotton just published a major annual impact report highlighting significant progress in India that has slashed pesticide and water use, while making improvements to farmers’ livelihoods.
The world’s largest cotton sustainability initiative charted the performance of Indian farmers from 2014 to 2022 and found overall pesticide use decreased 53%—with water usage dropping by nearly one-third. Enrolled in the Better Cotton Program, almost a million farmers also saw their costs reduced by 15.6% per hectare of land (equal to about 2.5 acres), since the group launched its India operation in 2011.
The report shows a dramatic reduction in the use of pesticides and highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs) by Better Cotton Farmers as a result of the adoption of capacity strengthening trainings on an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and the delivery of effective awareness campaigns. ✂️
Over one-fifth of the world’s cotton is now grown under the Better Cotton Standard, with 2.9 million farmers in 23 countries receiving training on sustainable farming practices, and 2.2 million farmers earning Better Cotton licenses.
Look for this label on the cotton clothing you buy:
WCK restaurant model uplifts local economy in Ukraine
World Central Kitchen doesn’t just feed people — they also help to boost economies disrupted by war and natural disasters.
From World Central Kitchen:
WCK began building a network of restaurants in Ukraine within days of the full-scale Russian invasion. Even before our Relief Team was able to enter the country, restaurant partners were cooking meals for people fleeing the conflict or sheltering in the face of relentless attacks. In the months that followed, this network expanded to include more than 500 restaurants, food trucks, and caterers that helped provide millions of meals to Ukrainians in need, ensured restaurants and their staff could keep cooking, and offered much-needed economic support.
WCK pioneered this restaurant model in 2020 when we saw millions of people struggling to access fresh, nutritious food while thousands of stocked restaurant kitchens sat unused. In light of the exponential need, we launched our Restaurants for the People program, which tackled the growing crisis on two fronts by paying local restaurants to cook nourishing meals for their neighbors in need—getting food to hungry people while at the same time keeping restaurants and their teams open and working. Both in response to Covid and to the invasion of Ukraine, this model has disbursed hundreds of millions of dollars to support businesses at a time of extreme hardship.
Today, acute food needs in Ukraine have shifted to newly liberated and frontline communities—mostly along the country’s east and south. As a result, many of our restaurant partners in other parts of the country have reopened to the general public, buoyed by the support they received from WCK. Our teams still maintain close relationships with many restaurants and several remain invaluable partners helping our Emergency Response Team provide food as quickly as possible to civilians impacted by Russian attacks.
And more good news for Ukraine from WCK:
Seeds of Hope: Here’s what is growing in Ukraine’s soil
Black soil is the most fertile soil found on earth—and 65% of Ukraine’s land is covered in it. Because of this, more than half of Ukrainian households grew their own home gardens before Russia’s full scale invasion began. In the months since, this rich soil has sat fallow as backyard farmers throughout the country have been unable to continue growing their own food. They face a myriad of challenges including constant threat of attack, damaged infrastructure, a disrupted financial system, and lack of access to seeds.
In recent months, WCK has worked to remedy part of the problem. As of June, we have provided more than 165,000 seed kits to the people of Ukraine. The packets include a variety of vegetables and herbs, like cucumbers, carrots, zucchini, lettuce, beets, dill, eggplant, onions, and peas.
Now, our teams throughout the country are met with excitement and pride. “Whenever we go to someone’s house, every single time, they show us their garden,” said Ned, WCK’s Relief Team lead for Ukraine. “There’s something about cucumbers—they’re pulling all these cucumbers off and they’re like, ‘Try it!’ So I’ve been eating a lot of cucumbers.” These cucumbers, and the other vegetables in the gardens, grew from WCK-provided seeds planted in the rich black soil. ✂️
The idea to provide seed kits to Ukrainians came from a friendship José [Andrés] formed with two restaurateurs in Chernihiv—a city in northern Ukraine. From there, the simple idea sprouted into a regional program offering more than just a temporary fix. “It empowers individuals to sustain themselves by equipping them with the necessary tools to grow their own food,” said Yuliia, WCK’s media and translation lead in Ukraine. Ned adds: “There really is this sort of hope and optimism that comes from the growing of seeds.”
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Good news in medicine
Could a multiple sclerosis drug help treat Alzheimer’s?
This is exciting new research.
From Medical News Today:
...a new study by scientists at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine...found that a drug used to treat multiple sclerosis (MS) could also be used as a therapy for Alzheimer’s disease. This finding is based on research in both mouse models and human brain cells. ✂️
While the main symptoms of Alzheimer’s include memory loss and cognitive deficits, a person with the disease can also experience mobility issues similar to those in MS, including balance and coordination problems. As the disease advances, people with Alzheimer’s disease may lose the ability to stand, walk, and eat. ✂️
For this study, researchers focused on a drug called ponesimod — under the brand name Ponvory — that is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat MS. “Ponesimod inhibits a specific cell signaling pathway that induces neuroinflammation in multiple sclerosis,” Dr. Erhard Bieberich, a professor in the Department of Physiology at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and lead author of this study explained to Medical News Today. “We reasoned that ponesimod would also inhibit neuroinflammation in Alzheimer’s disease.” ✂️
...the researchers found...mice treated with ponesimod had a better attention span and working memory than non-treated mice Additionally, the scientists tested their theory on human brain samples, finding data collected from both tests were consistent and showed ponesimod could be used as an Alzheimer’s therapy. ✂️
MNT also spoke with Dr. Santosh Kesari, a neurologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, CA, and regional medical director for the Research Clinical Institute of Providence Southern California, about this study. “I think this is exciting as it’s becoming increasingly clear that Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative conditions are really rooted in inflammation and immune dysfunction in the brain as the cause of the disease or promoting the symptoms of the disease,” he said when asked about his first reaction to the study findings.
Better nutrition can cut risk of TB deaths by 60%, Indian study finds
This is wonderful news.
To read the study abstract, go to this link.
From The Guardian:
Infectious, deadly and long associated with poverty, tuberculosis causes weight loss, while poor diets increase the likelihood of developing the disease. Now, a study in India has found that improved nutrition can cut the risk of death by 60% and reduce the chances of infection within families by about 40%.
India has the highest burden of TB and TB deaths globally and has launched an ambitious plan to reduce incidence and death rates by 80% and 90% respectively by 2025.
The trial, called Rations (Reducing Activation of Tuberculosis by Improvement of Nutritional Status), is the largest so far to provide evidence that good nutrition improves TB treatment rates and prevention. It was supported by the Indian Council of Medical Research. ✂️
“This is the first trial globally for the prevention of TB in family members by nutritional supplementation,” said [Dr Anurag] Bhargava, who led the project with his wife, Madhavi, a surgeon turned public health specialist. They started the three-year study involving more than 10,000 people in 2019, travelling to remote, often hard-to-reach villages in Jharkhand state.
Family members of someone with infectious TB were given a monthly food basket of 5kg of rice, 1.5kg of pulses and micronutrient pills for six months. In the following two years, researchers found incidences of TB had reduced by between 39% to 48% compared with people not receiving the extra nutrition.
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Good news in science
DNA-based computer can run 100 billion different programs
Yup, we are indeed living in the future!
A liquid computer can use strands of DNA to run over 100 billion different simple programs. It could eventually be used for diagnosing diseases within living cells.
Fei Wang at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China and his colleagues set out to make circuits similar to those on a computer chip, except with DNA molecules acting as wires and instructing the wires to configure in certain ways.
When you enter a command on a conventional computer, it instructs electrons to flow through a specific path on a silicon chip. These circuit configurations each correspond to different mathematical operations – adding functions to chips means adding such paths. To replace the wiring with DNA, Wang and his team modelled how to combine short segments of DNA into larger structures that could serve as circuit components, like wires, or function to direct those wires to form different configurations. ✂️
They called the building blocks of their computer DNA-based programmable gate arrays (DPGA), and each DPGA could be designed to implement over 100 billion distinct circuits by adding different short molecules into its tube. In one experiment, they connected three DPGAs, comprising about 500 DNA strands, to make a circuit that solves quadratic equations, and in another, they made a circuit for taking square roots. They input numbers by adding molecules of a specific shape that then participated in chemical reactions with molecules that made up the circuit, analogous to an electron moving through wires. ✂️
They used a similar method to design a DPGA that could classify different small RNA molecules, picking out the ones that are known to be related to a type of renal cancer. This last experiment is the beginning of what the team ultimately wants to do with DPGA technology.
Using Heat Instead of Electricity to Power More Efficient Computers
This looks like an amazing breakthrough.
A new approach to computer technology could revolutionize the energy efficiency of neural networks and artificial intelligence systems. Researchers are exploring the possibility of using heat instead of electricity to power these computational systems, which could significantly reduce their energy consumption.
According to Nicolas Brunner, a researcher at the University of Geneva in Switzerland, the energy consumption of AI systems like ChatGPT is currently unsustainable. ChatGPT, for example, consumes an excessive amount of energy, estimated to be comparable to the daily energy consumption of over 30,000 households in the US.
By harnessing the power of heat, researchers believe that computers could run algorithms that efficiently power neural networks and AI systems, while also reducing their energy demands. This novel approach could potentially solve the energy inefficiency issues that currently plague these computational systems.
The use of heat as a power source for computers has the potential for significant benefits. In addition to reducing energy consumption, it could also improve the overall performance and speed of AI algorithms. Heat-based computing could lead to the development of advanced neural networks and more powerful AI models.
This breakthrough in computer technology could have far-reaching implications for various industries that heavily rely on AI systems, such as healthcare, finance, and transportation. It could pave the way for more sustainable and environmentally friendly computational solutions, while also driving advancements in AI capabilities.
Teen Finds Whale Skull from 34 Million Years Ago While Fossil Hunting in Alabama
What a thrilling discovery for a budding paleontologist!
From Good News Network:
[Lindsey] Stallworth has been looking for sharks’ teeth on her family farm since she was little, and after her first biology class at the Alabama School of Math and Science in Mobile, she learned her new teacher, Andrew Gentry, was a paleontologist. Showing him a plastic bag of some of the teeth she had found over the years, one in particular caught Gentry’s eye, and he was curious to look in the area where she’d found it.
Not long ago geologically speaking, Alabama was covered in shallow seas, and it’s why Stallworth finds shells and sharks’ teeth nowhere near the beach. She invited Gentry to come along on a fossil hunt on the farm, and it’s where they found the staggering discovery.
“To find one that’s this complete is actually very rare,” Gentry told NBC 15’s Andrea Ramey. “We’re very excited by the fact that we got the majority of the skull out and that there is more of the skeleton left to uncover, which could give us the complete animal.”
The animal is from the family Basliosauridae, a group of extinct, primitive, toothed whales that may have included the heaviest and largest animal ever to live. ✂️
It took months to extract the skull from the rock and bring it to the ASMS in Mobile for further examination. The date—34 million years ago—indicates that it’s likely to be a new species of Basilosaurid.
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Good news for the environment
This Texas building has self-cooling walls
This seems like an idea that could be easily implemented wherever heat is a recurring problem.
From Fast Company:
When Houston hit 109 degrees in late August—tying an all-time temperature record for the city—26 of the previous 27 days had been over 100 degrees. As the hot city gets even hotter because of climate change, it also keeps using more energy for air conditioning.
But in the suburb of Conroe, one new building is pioneering a strategy to stay cooler: “self-cooling” concrete walls with a scalloped shape that helps repel heat. The deep grooves in the corrugated pattern give more surface area for heat to move away from the wall.
“In a way, the wall is working a bit like a very large radiator,” says Phu Hoang, founding director of the architecture studio Modu, which worked on the design with a climate-focused engineering firm called Transsolar. In tests, Hoang and cofounder Rachely Rotem discovered that the patterned material could stay as much as 18 degrees cooler than a flat wall.
The newly-completed building, a 14,000-square-foot commercial space that will soon house retail stores and medical offices, also has white walls to reflect sunlight, another design choice that keeps the interior cooler. Since white paint can sometimes look dirtier, the architects chose a type of paint that repels dirt. “You get the environmental performance without the associated maintenance,” says Hoang.
Researchers put a fresh spin on depleted turbines
A great win-win for the environment: keep turbines out of landfills and use them to build pedestrian bridges.
From Positive News:
Upcycled wind turbines could be turned into bridges, street furniture and telecoms towers, say researchers from Queen’s University Belfast.
Turbine blades, which are made of glass fibre reinforced polymer material, have a 20 to 25-year lifespan and as they are not currently recyclable they have to be landfilled or incinerated.
Queen’s has partnered with fellow academics from Ireland and the US on the Re-Wind project to find new purpose for decommissioned blades. It estimates that in the next two decades, a global 8.6m tonnes will need to be upcycled.
Angie Nagle, who co-founded BladeBridge – a company that repurposes unwanted wind turbine blades into pedestrian bridges and outdoor furniture – told BBC News the potential for repurposing turbine blades was “huge”. “It’s very expensive material, it’s incredibly durable, it’s incredibly strong,” she said.
“They have been basically cyclically loaded for 20 to 30 years, but when put in static applications, such as using them as girders for pedestrian bridges, they can last for another 60 years.”
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Good news for and about animals
Brought to you by Rosy, Rascal, and Nora, who is still with us in spirit.
Rosy said there was only one possible choice for her “good dog” story this week.
A 4-year-old police dog named Yoda detained fugitive Danilo Cavalcante, bringing an end to the exhaustive, nearly 2 week-long manhunt
Moments after law enforcement officials spotted convicted murderer Danilo Cavalcante’s head peeking through the underbrush, they released a police dog who bit and subdued Cavalcante, leading to his apprehension nearly two weeks after he escaped prison, officials said.
The dog, a 4-year-old Belgian Malinois male named Yoda, was from one of two tactical teams that moved in on Cavalcante at around 8 a.m. in a wooded Pennsylvania area, ending an intensive manhunt that drew hundreds of law enforcement officials to the area without any shots fired during the arrest.
Yoda was a significant force in the takedown, preventing Cavalcante from using a stolen rifle in his possession that lay within arms-reach, said Lt. Colonel George Bivens of the Pennsylvania State Police during a news conference Wednesday.
“He was just essential as far as the tracking and searching, as were numerous other K-9s that were here,” Robert Clark, supervisory deputy US Marshal for Pennsylvania’s eastern district, told CNN on Wednesday. “All these K-9 resources were utilized from different tactical teams from the area, and they were just incredible resources.”
Rascal liked this story about how farmers can grow better crops and create better conditions for birds at the same time.
Amid steep global bird declines, farmers create refuges
From The New Lede:
Farms that make use of smaller plots, varied crops, and tracts of forest, are helping boost bird populations in Costa Rica, scientists wrote in a paper published [on September 4th] in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The findings add to previous evidence that diversified farming is an important conservation tool, said co-author and Stanford University researcher Nicholas Hendershot. ✂️
Hendershot and his colleagues determined that over 18 years, bird species living on diversified Costa Rica farms were more likely than those in forests to have increasing, rather than decreasing populations. The varied crops and natural features on diversified farms provide a home for the birds and for insects and other animals that birds eat, said Hendershot.
On intensified farms, which generally plant only one crop and make use of high amounts of pesticides, the only species of birds thriving long-term were those that were adapted to highly-degraded landscapes, indicating the importance of diversified farms to provide habitat for other bird species, he said.
The research also “confirms what Indigenous communities around the world have already known for a long time, which is that humans can and should have reciprocal relationships with the rest of the local ecological community they are part of,” said Tadashi Fukami, an author on the paper and a professor of biology at Stanford University. ✂️
Birds are especially important as they tend to indicate the health of a whole ecosystem, said Hendershot, making them a good proxy for understanding human impacts on ecosystems. Birds also contribute to food security and ecosystem health by pollinating crops and devouring crop pests. “We’re so dependent upon birds and the services they provide for us,” he said.
Nora chose this story a few days before her death. She always loved stories about cats helping people, especially kids.
And our little family was happy to see that The New Yorker marked Nora’s passing by choosing a cover for the latest issue that features a black bodega cat who looks a lot like her:
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wapo.st/...(gift link): I’ve always loved tech. Now, I’m a Luddite. You should be one, too. A concise and thoughtful op-ed that roots our current issues with tech in some very interesting history.
www.newyorker.com/...How Elon Musk Went from Superhero to Supervillain. Great news for those of us who can’t see ourselves slogging through the 688 pages of Walter Isaacson’s new bio of Musk but who’d like to get some highlights (or lowlights). Jill Lepore’s wonderfully acerbic review delivers the goods.
neurosciencenews.com/….Decoding Morality: How Our Brains Differentiate Right from Wrong. A very interesting piece. “...liberals (progressives) are more sensitive to...care/harm and fairness/cheating...[while] conservatives...place greater emphasis on...loyalty/betrayal, authority/subversion, and sanctity/degradation.”
www.theatlantic.com/… The Man Who Became Uncle Tom. “Harriet Beecher Stowe said that Josiah Henson’s life had inspired her most famous character. But Henson longed to be recognized...for his own achievements.” Among other accomplishments, Henson guided 118 enslaved people to freedom (Harriet Tubman is believed to have freed about 70).
wapo.st/...(gift link): Bizarre AI-generated products are in stores. Here’s how to avoid them. ”AI-generated coloring books, plant guides and home goods are filling online stores as sellers try to make a quick buck.” Forewarned is forearmed.
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Where Ever is Herd
Morning Good News Roundups at 7 x 7: These Gnusies lead the herd at 7 a.m. ET, 7 days a week:
As noted last week, our lineup has changed on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Thanks again to niftywriter for holding down truth and justice on Wednesdays!
- The Monday GNR Newsroom (Jessiestaf, Killer300, and Bhu).
- Alternating Tuesdays: arhpdx every Tuesday through October 3, then alternating with NotNowNotEver.
- Wednesdays: 2nd MCUBernieFan, 3rd WineRev, 4th karij. 1st and 5th: lemay50, Andrew F Cockburn, DoctorStrange.
- Thursdays: Mokurai.
- Fridays: chloris creator. Regular links to the White House Briefing Room.
- Saturdays: GoodNewsRoundup, the one and only!
- Sundays: 2thanks. A brief roundup of Roundups, a retrospective, a smorgasbord, a bulletin board, an oasis, a watering hole, a thunder of hooves, a wellness, a place for beginners to learn the rules of the veldt. For instance, we do not welcome grammar-police comments in Roundups.
hpg posts Evening Shade diaries at 7:30 p.m. ET every day! After a long day, Gnusies meet in the evening shade and continue sharing Good News, good community, and good actions. Find Evening Shades here or on the Trending List.
For more information about the Good News group, please see our detailed Welcoming comment, one of the first comments in our morning diaries.
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Good News Sources
🎩 to Mokurai for putting our old lists of sources together in alphabetical order!
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Do Some Good!
There are more and more opportunities to take action. You won’t be able to do them all, so choose the ones you care about most and be assured that others will do what you can’t. 💙
Sadly, climate change is creating more and more devastating events like the Morocco earthquake and the floods in Libya. Our ability as individuals to make as many donations as we would like will be stretched thin, but not our compassion.
Donate to help the victims of the Morocco Earthquake
Global Giving will direct your donation to the Morocco Earthquake Relief Fund, which provides both “emergency relief and long-term support to affected communities.”
Donate to help flood victims in Libya
Again, I recommend Global Giving as a safe way to make sure that your donation goes directly to local emergency responders on the ground and to programs that will provide long-term support as Libyan communities attempt to rebuild.
Donate to on-the-ground relief efforts on Maui
I always prefer donating to local organizations on the ground in disaster zones, because they really understand the communities and their needs.
From an email sent to DKos subscribers:
Donations benefit the Maui Community Power Recovery Fund—which includes the groups listed below—and the Hawaiian Humane Society.
Maui Community Power Recovery Fund groups include:
- Our Hawai’i is organizing a grassroots political movement to create a Hawai‘i that puts local working kama‘āina and Kānaka Maoli families first.
- ‘Āina Momona is a community organization dedicated to achieving environmental health and sustainability through social justice and restoring Hawaiian sovereignty.
- Hawai'i Funder Hui partners community organizations with philanthropists to deliver equitable, community-led funding of non-profits in Hawai’i.
- Kākoʻo Maui is a Native Hawaiian led relief effort directing 100% of funds to Maui organizations, hosted by the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement which enhances the cultural, economic, political, and community development of Native Hawaiians.
- Onipa‘a Maui works to ensure that local elected officials work on behalf of Maui’s people and environment, not special interest lobbies.
Donate to David Hogg’s Leaders We Deserve
David Hogg, one of the heroes of the Parkland shooting, has started a political action fund. Here’s how he describes their mission:
Young Progressive candidates face systemic barriers. At every level of government, the average politician is older than the average American. Our political system is stacked against young people – in favor of those who are older, wealthier and white. In 2020, Millennial and Gen-Z individuals only held 21% of State Legislative seats despite representing 45% of the electorate.
Leaders We Deserve is a grassroots organization dedicated to electing young progressives to Congress and State Legislatures across the country to help defeat the far-right agenda and advance a progressive vision for the future. Our mission is to identify and elect more trailblazers – youthful, audacious, and charismatic leaders who aren’t afraid to challenge the status quo. We pledge to stand with them, equipping their campaigns with the tools to succeed: from fundraising and messaging to scheduling and budgeting. We’ll raise the banner of their cause, rallying funds online and in person.
Reminder: Goodie has set up a Biden donation page just for Gnusies!
We’ve raised $4,672 as of yesterday, 46% of the $10,000 goal. Can we get to 50% today??
Goodie introduced the fundraiser with this statement:
Let’s get Biden re-elected!
In the wise words of Chris Jackson:
Thanks to @POTUS @JoeBiden, we now have an unemployment rate lower than Trump's, an inflation rate lower than Reagan's, and a NATO alliance more united than ever in world history.
He has achieved all of this despite a daily onslaught against him and his family and with a press that flatly refuses to cover anything remotely positive happening in our country.
He never whines or complains; he just wakes up every day and does his job with honor, character, and competence.
If you are a Democrat, be proud of this record! Republicans almost unanimously stand behind a twice indicted man who had a record of failure. Surely, we can unite behind this good and decent man who is achieving more than any Democratic president has in half a century!
When people you talk to bring up the president's age, you bring up his record. The job of president is to get things done, not score style points.
We can't turn back.
That is exactly why we need to do all we can to help him win next November!
We have set up an ActBlue so that we, as a good news community, can pool our money and get Biden re-elected!
Reminder: Bilboteach has set up a donation page for the new Dems in Congress
$1,688 raised as of yesterday, a little over one-third of the $5000 goal.
Here’s bilboteach’s intro to this fundraiser:
New Faces in Congress is a diary series meant to highlight our new and diverse members of Congress in the Democratic Party. These 36 House freshmen range from political neophytes to seasoned legislative veterans. The series will run every Sunday morning, bright and early.
Reminder: Donate to “24 in 24” — House races we can win and take back the House!
$3,717.92 raised as of yesterday, 37% of the $10,000 goal.
Let's take back the House by targeting the 6 most vulnerable CURRENT Democrats and the 18 districts that Biden won in 2020 that have R reps! That brings us 24 in 24!
Reminder: Donate to Voters of Tomorrow to help Florida’s Gen Z defeat DeSantis!
From student activist Will Larkins’ description of their initiative:
I'm Will Larkins, a 18-year-old student organizer from Orlando, Florida, an LGBTQ+ youth activist, and a proud member of Voters of Tomorrow. ...
We’re registering as many first-time voters as we can because our generation’s future is at stake, and if our leaders don’t protect us, we’ll vote them out. It’s that simple.
But we’re in high school and college. We’re ONLY grassroots-funded and we need your help to fuel our efforts!
Reminder: If you want Trump’s trial in D.C. to be televised, here’s an action you can take
From the diary that Kossack sepiasiren wrote on Friday (Glenn Kirschner Knows How to Get Cameras in the Courtroom):
I was ecstatic to learn that a few people were already vigorously pushing the idea of live-streaming DJT’s trials. Among them is Glenn Kirschner, a renowned legal analyst, and former federal prosecutor of 30 years. Kirschner also hosts the popular Apple podcast Justice Matters.
Nicole Erwin of Justice Democrats and the Be Your Own Hero podcast, reached out to Glenn Kirschner regarding his ingenious plan to make that dream a reality. He shared his cliff notes of the plan, which involves the utilization of the Crime Victims' Rights Act, 18 US Code section 3771(a)(3), which in a nutshell, guarantees a victim’s right to be inside the courtroom during their assailant’s trial.
If you would like to see the trials as well, you can use the below form to contact your local congressman and demand they fight for the live stream of these unprecedented hearings.
Dear ______________ (elected official),
In Count 4 of his most recent indictment, Donald Trump is charged with victimizing the American voters by conspiring to deprive us of our right to vote. As crime victims, the American people have a right "not to be excluded" from Trump's trial, which will be held in Washington, D.C.
I am asserting my rights under the Crime Victims' Rights Act, 18 US Code section 3771(a)(3), not to be excluded from the trial. Given that the courtroom has a limited capacity, if the trial is not televised, I will be excluded from the courtroom in violation of my federal legal statutory rights.
Accordingly, respectfully request that you do everything in your power to ensure that my legal right to attend Donald Trump's trial is not violated.
Write with Postcards to Voters
🎩 to Progressive Muse for the following info, from a comment on Saturday:
On this morning’s Postcards To Voters menu (no changes since Thursday):
1 - Addresses for Reproductive Rights in Ohio
2 - Addresses for Florida Vote By Mail - Volusia County
The Ohio campaign is to urge voters to vote Yes on issue 1 on the November ballot, ending Ohio’s abortion ban. Early voting begins October 11 so that’s why we’re writing now.
The Florida campaign is to provide voters with information about signing up for Florida’s Vote By Mail program. Under the DeSantis maladministration, everyone who was previously registered was kicked off the program, so now we’re racing to get as many Democrats re-registered as possible. ✂️
Returning Postcards To Voters writers can use these methods to request addresses:
•Text HELLO to (484) 275-2229.
•Email (if you have trouble with the linked address, you can use Postcards@TonyTheDemocrat.org instead, which will be answered by a human)
If you are new to Postcards To Voters, you can get set up by texting or emailing:
•Text JOIN to (484) 275-2229
BTW, the texting function (“Text HELLO to (484) 275-2229”) hasn’t been working since early September. I emailed Tony and got this response:
Yes. We are working on the texting snafu.
In the meantime…
Already an approved writer? Here are two easy ways to request your addresses:
1. Message HELLO to Abby the Address Bot on our Slack channel here: https://bit.ly/SlackAbby or
2. Send an email to: Request@AbbyAddresses.org
Get postcarding supplies
I like to buy my cards from PtoV because that’s one more way to support them. Here’s my favorite, which costs $18 for 100 cards:
And FWIW, these are my favorite pens — not too thin, not too thick, don’t bleed through: Stabilo Pen 68 Felt-Tip Pen. Even though the ink is water-based, once it’s dry you can get it wet and it doesn’t run.
Support the Hollywood strikers!
SAG-AFTRA links to an Emergency Financial Assistance and Disaster Relief Fund on its website, while WGA has Good and Welfare Emergency Assistance Loans for its writers. The Entertainment Community Fund is also helping assist those on strike.
Also, if you’re on social media, post your support for the strikers.
How you can fight the climate crisis in your own yard
🎩 to Gardening Toad for this encouraging list of ways we can fight the climate crisis:
Good news! There’s so much we can all do to fight the climate crisis and repair the biosphere!
Encouraging mass action
Mass action begins with you
A roadmap to climate resilience
Examples of what our world could look like:
Beautiful inspiration video
🎩 to alamancedem for this very important link: 21 day anti-racism challenges. Challenge yourself to learn more, bring it to your workplace, share it with friends and colleagues. We can all benefit from sharpening our awareness of racism.
Here’s an easy action you can take RIGHT NOW:
Donate to two organizations providing support to people in no-abortion states who need assistance getting abortions.
National Network of Abortion Funds
The Brigid Alliance
Both of these organizations provide help with transportation, medical fees, hotel stays, etc., for those who have to travel out of state for an abortion. NNAF is a central clearing house for that assistance, The Brigid Alliance does that work directly.
And here’s another resource for women seeking abortions which I discovered only recently: Women on Web. They provide abortion pills worldwide for women who need to use them immediately and also for women who want to keep a supply on hand. You can make donations on their website to further their work.
NEW! Please pass this info along to anyone you know who may become pregnant.
From the National Network of Abortion Funds:
Misinformation is an anti-abortion tactic designed to already confuse people who are trying to get an abortion. In addition to pointing people to abortion funds, you can help by sharing accurate and important resources with your community:
- If/When How's Repro Legal Helpline is a free legal resource for people seeking abortions who have questions about their legal rights. Helpline attorneys and advocates can be reached at reprolegalhelpline.org or 844-868-2812.
- People need to know their rights when interacting with the health care system. If/When/How and Physicians for Reproductive Health created this simple guide with everything you need to know about talking to a healthcare provider after a miscarriage or abortion.
Get the truth out
Indivisible has created a Truth Brigade to push back against the lies.
Propaganda, false characterizations, intentionally misleading messages, and outright lies threaten our democracy and even our lives. We can effectively combat disinformation, despite the well-funded machines that drive it. They may have money, but we have truth and we have people.People believe sources they trust. When we share and amplify unified, factual messages to those who trust us, we shift the narrative. When we do this by the thousands--we’re part of the Indivisible Truth Brigade, and we get our country back. Join us.️
Our own Mokurai is a member. You can see all of the diaries in the Truth Sandwiches group on DK here.
Call out tax exempt organizations whose political stance violates IRS regulations
A suggestion from chloris creator:
Tax-exempt organization complaint referrals. 13909. You can fill this out for the NRA and lots of other organizations. How about if some of us white folk go into some of the MAGA churches and video record what they’re saying?
Goodie’s action steps
Most important: DON'T LOSE HOPE. This is a giant and important fight for us but, win or lose, we keep fighting and voting and organizing and spreading truth and light. We never give up.
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A Herbie Hancock classic from 1980.
It's the same old story
About somebody with a dream
Looking for the glory
No matter how far the future seems
You've got stars in your eyes
There's a whole world out there for you
❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️
Thanks to all of you for your smarts, your hearts, and
your faithful attendance at our daily Gathering of the Herd.
❤️💙 RESIST, PERSIST, REBUILD, REJOICE! 💙❤️