Amazon Near Tipping Point of Changing From Rainforest to Savannah

Court Rules Trump Administration Can’t Hold Immigrant Children in Hotels ; Meet the Swing Voters Who Embrace Conspiracy Theories ; and More Picks

climate change, Amazon rainforest, savannah, study
The author writes, “Much of the Amazon could be on the verge of losing its distinct nature and switching from a closed canopy rainforest to an open savannah with far fewer trees as a result of the climate crisis, researchers have warned. Rainforests are highly sensitive to changes in rainfall and moisture levels, and fires and prolonged droughts can result in areas losing trees. ... In the Amazon, such changes were known to be possible but thought to be many decades away. New research shows that this tipping point could be much closer than previously thought.” Photo credit: Ria Sopala / Pixabay
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Appeals Court Rules Trump Administration Can’t Hold Immigrant Children in Hotels (DonkeyHotey)

The author writes, “Three judges on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals left in place a lower court’s order that requires the U.S. to stop using hotels in most situations to detain children unaccompanied by a parent. The judges denied the U.S. government’s request for a stay of that order. Border agents since March have placed at least 577 unaccompanied children in hotel rooms before expelling them from the country without a chance to request asylum or other immigration protections.”

‘He’s Incapacitated’: Stanford Prof Questions Trump’s Ability to Lead While on Dexamethasone (Dan)

The author writes, “A Stanford law professor who says she was once treated with dexamethasone for brain surgery claims that President Donald Trump should be ‘incapacitated’ after recently taking the same drug to treat his COVID-19 diagnosis. Michele Dauber, who teaches law and sociology at Stanford University, said there’s no way Trump could lead the country after taking the treatment.”

Meet the Swing Voters Who Embrace Conspiracy Theories (Dana)

The author writes, “Sometimes people say really dumb things during focus groups. As a moderator for nearly 20 years, I’m used to it. The other night I was conducting a focus group following the Cleveland presidential debate, and a woman in Ohio claimed that Joe Biden is a socialist because ‘he socializes with the public better than Trump does.’ She was neither joking nor being ironic.”

COVID-19 Testing Was a Political Bust — but a Scientific Triumph (Peg)

From Undark: “By playing politics with coronavirus testing numbers and subsequently getting caught, governments undermined public faith in their data. But they also distracted us all from what has, in many respects, been a tremendously successful scientific effort to develop, scale up, and deploy coronavirus tests around the world. While the political story of coronavirus testing is anything but uplifting, the scientific story offers a lot more hope.”

Bid to Open Ice Cream Shop Turns Into a Bitter Saga Because of Byzantine Small Business Rules (Reader Steve)

From the San Francisco Chronicle: “All Jason Yu wants to do is serve ice cream. But his sweet dream has turned awfully sour — thanks to a San Francisco city government that’s wrapped in red tape and often makes even the simplest idea for a small business shockingly complicated. Sixteen months after signing a lease on a shop at 20th and Valencia streets — and more than $150,000 in the hole due to rent, a lawyer, an architect and other costs — Yu has nothing to show for it. The walls he wants to paint bright pink are still a dull gray and white. The windows are still boarded up. The space is still empty. Yu’s entrepreneurial dreams are melting like soft serve on a hot day.”

Curly the Curling Robot Can Beat the Pros at Their Own Game (Dana)

The author writes, “The sport of curling requires such precision and strategy that it’s sometimes referred to as “chess on ice.” Players push 40-pound stones across frozen sheets, rotating the stones just enough that they ‘curl,’ and try to knock opposing teams’ stones out of central rings. Subtle variables at play—tiny, ever-changing bumps in ice, the pressure exerted by one’s hand, the smoothness of the stone—all impact the outcome, so much that curling requires machine-like precision from its players. So, it makes sense that an actual machine might have a shot at winning, if it could learn to strategize on its own. Enter Curly: a robot powered by artificial intelligence (AI) that recently competed against professional South Korean curling teams and won three out of four official matches.”

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