Planting New Forests ‘Can Do More Harm Than Good’: Research

‘I Begged Them to Let Me Die’ ; Police Unions Spend Millions to Influence Policy ; and More Picks

climate change, planting trees, new research
The author writes, “Rather than benefiting the environment, large-scale tree planting may do the opposite, two new studies have found. One paper says that financial incentives to plant trees can backfire and reduce biodiversity with little impact on carbon emissions. A separate project found that the amount of carbon that new forests can absorb may be overestimated.” Photo credit: Eugeniu Rotari / Flickr
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Amid Threats and Political Pushback, Public Health Officials Are Leaving Their Posts (Russ)

The author writes, “Public health workers, already underfunded and understaffed, are confronting waves of protest at their homes and offices in addition to pressure from politicians who favor a faster reopening. Lori Tremmel Freeman, chief executive of the National Association of County and City Health Officials, said more than 20 health officials have been fired, resigned or have retired in recent weeks ‘due to conditions related to having to enforce and stand up for strong public health tactics during this pandemic.’ Although shutdown measures are broadly popular, a vocal minority opposes them vociferously. There have been attacks on officials’ race, gender, sexual orientation and appearance. Freeman said some of the criticisms ‘seem to be harsher for women.’”

‘I Begged Them to Let Me Die’: How Federal Prisons Became Coronavirus Death Traps (Chris C.)

From the Marshall Project: “The Bureau of Prisons was unprepared and slow to respond. Then officials took steps that helped spread the virus.”

8 Hospitals in 15 Hours: A Pregnant Woman’s Crisis in the Pandemic (Bethany)

The author writes, “Neelam Kumari Gautam woke up at 5 a.m. with shooting labor pains. Her husband put her gently in the back of a rickshaw and motored with her to a hospital. Then another. Then another. Her pain was so intense she could barely breathe, but none would take her. ‘Why are the doctors not taking me in?’ she asked her husband, Bijendra Singh, over and over again. ‘What’s the matter? I will die.’”

One in Four UK Adults at Risk of Hunger and Potential Malnutrition Following Lockdown (Mili)

The author writes, “25% of adults [in the UK] have struggled during the pandemic to access food they can afford, and are likely to have been susceptible to hunger and potential malnutrition as a result. Meanwhile, nearly one in four adults looking after children have eaten less so they can feed the children in their household.”

Revealed: Police Unions Spend Millions to Influence Policy in Biggest US Cities (Gerry)

The author writes, “The Guardian identified about $87m in local and state spending over the last two decades by the unions. That includes at least $64.8m in Los Angeles, $19.2m in New York City and $3.5m in Chicago. … At the federal level, police officers and their unions have spent at least $47.3m on campaign contributions and lobbying in recent election cycles … ‘The power of their money runs very deep,’ said Hamid Khan, director of Stop LAPD Spying, a grassroots anti-surveillance watchdog group. ‘[Local governments] have become rubber-stamp bodies in which police power is never challenged.’ The totals include payments to city council members and state legislators, as well as lobbying costs. The amount that police unions have spent during these periods is probably even higher as incomplete state campaign finance data makes it nearly impossible to pin down the true figure.”

Report: IRS Used Cell Phone Data to Try to Track Potential Suspects (Reader Steve)

From The Hill: “In 2017 and 2018 the IRS Criminal Investigation unit had a subscription to Venntel, a company that obtains anonymized location data from the marketing industry and resells it to governments. The subscription cost the government $20,000, the Wall Street Journal reported.”

Science Finally Explains This Classic Optical Illusion (Mili) 

The author writes, “With a new series of experiments, scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology say they have a better idea why we fall for a very old optical illusion called simultaneous brightness contrast. The question is whether the ‘illusion’ part is generated in our brains or in the visual data our eyes are sending to our brains. Over the course of three experiments, the scientists say they believe the phenomenon occurs in each eye, even before the information from both eyes is merged together.”

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