The January 6 Hearing & Elon Musk’s Musk
October 14, 2022
Corrupted Critter Count
Humans are obviously outcompeting our fellow animals, to the point where it might not even be considered a competition at all. According to the Living Planet Index, a collaborative effort between the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Zoological Society of London, monitored vertebrate populations declined by an average of 69% from 1970 to 2018. Luckily, global populations of animals with spines haven’t actually shrunk by two-thirds in under 50 years.
Get ready for some fun math! If the study tracks three populations of birds, bears, and sharks, and the birds decline to 5 individuals from 25 (a drop of 80%), the bears to 45 from 50 (a 10% decline), and the sharks to 8 from 20 (60%), the studied populations declined by 50% on average. However, the actual number of animals dropped from 150 to 92, down just 39%. Scientists say the Index is built this way because it wants to understand how the roughly 32,000 studied animal populations change over time.
There are still plenty of worries over biodiversity for the future. Despite years of legislation aimed at saving biodiversity, humanity has very little to show for our conservation efforts. “Year after year we are not able to start improving the situation, despite major policies,” said Henrique M. Pereira, a professor of conservation biology. “At most we have been able to kind of slow down the declines.” In December, countries plan to meet to establish new goals for protecting biodiversity, though the last plan failed to meet its targets. According to Dr. Rebecca Shaw, who authored the report, “when we get really focused conservation efforts that incorporate the community, that have the communities stewarding the outcomes because they benefit from it, we see that it is possible to have increases in populations,” she stated. (NYT, $)
It’s time to play… Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader (if that 5th grader read a TON of news). Test your knowledge of recent world news with this short quiz. Submissions must be made by 12pm EST Monday, 10/17. The winner, announced Wednesday, will win bragging rights for the week as well as a free Daily Pnut t-shirt.
A Royal Rebuttal
- In response to a U.S. statement criticizing OPEC’s decision to cut oil production last week, Saudi Arabia issued a sharp rebuke Thursday, stating that the Saudi-led oil cartel’s production cut was solely motivated by “economic considerations” and not “politically motivated” at all. After OPEC+, a wide-ranging oil cartel headed by Saudi Arabia, announced that it would be reducing oil production by 2 million barrels a day, President Biden stated that his country would be reviewing his country’s relationship with the human rights-abusing oil kingdom.
- Biden’s “consequences” for the Saudi petro-monarchy include the possibility of limiting security cooperation and arms sales. “These outcomes are based purely on economic considerations that take into account maintaining balance of supply and demand in the oil markets, as well as aim to limit volatility that does not serve the interests of consumers and producers,” read the Saudi statement. The kingdom also suggested that the Biden administration had asked that the production cut be put off until after crucial midterm elections back in the U.S. (WaPo, $)
We Only Negotiate With Authoritarians
- Russian President Vladimir Putin met with fellow authoritarian leader Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey on Thursday, bringing up the possibility of turning Turkey into a “hub” through which Russia could export oil to Europe in the future. As Russia considers redirecting its oil exports away from the remains of the Nord Stream Baltic gas pipelines, the country may turn to its neighbor on the Black Sea.
- At the meeting in Kazakhstan, Putin said that exporting oil through Turkey could stabilize the oil trade and remove politics from the equation. Turning the country into an oil hub would make it “a platform not only for supplies, but also for determining the price, because this is a very important issue,” he said. “Today, these prices are sky-high. We could easily regulate [them] at a normal market level, without any political overtones.”
- According to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, both leaders looked into the deal with great interest following the meeting. Turkey’s relationship with Russia remains relatively friendly despite its NATO member status, though it has called the Russian annexation of some Ukrainian territory a “grave violation” of international law. (Reuters)
Additional World News
- Deadly Ebola Outbreak Spreads to Uganda’s Capital (WSJ, $)
- Taiwan welcomes back visitors after ending COVID quarantine rules (Reuters)
- North Korea claims test of two cruise missiles already deployed to carry “tactical nukes” (CBS)
- China’s major party congress is set to grant Xi Jinping a 3rd term. And that’s not all (NPR)
- Russia Hits Ukraine’s Kyiv Region With Drone Attack (WSJ, $)
- Holocaust-surviving lawmaker opens Italy’s Senate, even as the far-right takes office (NPR)
- U.S. and Mexico reach agreement on plans for Venezuelan migrants (WaPo, $)
“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.” – Albert Einstein
Let’s See How He Gets Out Of This One
- The (most likely) final January 6 committee hearing took place on Thursday, and featured a great deal of previously unseen footage of members of Congress during the riot at the Capitol. Perhaps most importantly, however, was the final few minutes, in which the committee voted to subpoena the former president.
- Bennie Thompson said, “we have left no doubt knowing that Donald Trump led an effort to upend American democracy that directly resulted in the violence of January 6. He is the one person at the center of the story of what happened on January 6. We want to hear from him.” Liz Cheney requested a full roll call of the vote, to show the unanimous decision.
- Thompson added, “We also recognize that a subpoena to a former president is a serious and extraordinary action. That’s why we want to take this step in full view of the American people, especially because the subject matter issue is so important.” Trump is likely to fight the subpoena or plead the fifth, but it’s still a significant symbol of his perceived role in the violence. (Guardian)
Forget Prime Day, It’s Social Security Day!
- On Thursday, Social Security announced an 8.7% cost of living adjustment (COLA) for retirees, marking the largest adjustment to benefits in forty years. Medicare enrollees will also see the standard Part B premium, which is typically deducted from Social Security benefits, decline next year.
- The increase will be applied starting in January 2023, and is based on the government’s recent inflation figures. The news comes after the Labor Department announced the Consumer Price Index for September, which came in at 8.2%. The COLA will provide added benefits to about 17 million Americans. (NYT, $)
Additional USA News
- Half of voters motivated by demise of Roe v. Wade, poll finds (Axios)
- Judge hears case on whether Biden’s student loan forgiveness can move forward (CNN)
- Michael Fanone, officer brutally injured in Capitol riot, says Lindsey Graham suggested shooting protesters “in the head” (CBS)
- Parkland shooting: School shooter avoids the death penalty after jury recommends life in prison (CNN)
- After trial setbacks, Durham rebukes his own witness and slams FBI’s Russia probe (CNN)
- Montgomery planning board resigns amid scandals, at council’s urging (WaPo, $)
- New York attorney general asks court to block Trump Organization from moving assets (CNN)
The Smell Of…Success?
- Elon Musk’s latest brainchild isn’t a new car, a space program, or a flamethrower. His most recent venture into cosplaying as Tony Stark is – wait for it – a perfume. The scent’s name is “Burnt Hair,” and Musk says he’s sold 10,000 bottles to the tune of $1 million in total revenue.
- “With a name like mine, getting into the fragrance business was inevitable – why did I even fight it for so long!?” Musk said on Twitter, which he is in the process of buying. The perfume, described as “the essence of repugnant desire,” launched through the billionaire’s “Boring Company,” which also sells hats and flamethrowers.
- Some of Musk’s more grandiose ideas include colonizing Mars, establishing a new sustainable energy economy, and the creation of rocket company SpaceX. More recently, Musk has announced plans to create an “everything app” named X following his pending purchase of Twitter. (Reuters)
- New York City announces its largest fentanyl seizure in history, eclipsing record bust from last month (CNN)
- ‘It felt like I was never going to get better’: patients navigating long Covid (Guardian)
- ‘Rare portrayal’ of ancient warriors found on Roman mosaic unearthed in Syria (USA Today)
- MacArthur Foundation Announces 25 New ‘Genius’ Grant Winners (NYT, $)
- ACT test scores drop to their lowest in 30 years in a pandemic slide (NPR)
- Stanford University apologizes for excluding Jewish students in 1950s (NPR)
- Ohio Fishing Duo Charged With Cheating and Attempted Grand Theft (NYT, $)
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