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‘Bananas:’ Scientists Stunned by Planet’s Record September Heat (Maria)

The author writes, “Global temperatures soared to a new record in September by a huge margin, stunning scientists and leading one to describe it as ‘absolutely gobsmackingly bananas.’ The hottest September on record follows the hottest August and hottest July, with the latter being the hottest month ever recorded. The high temperatures have driven heat waves and wildfires across the world. September 2023 beat the previous record for that month by 0.5C, the largest jump in temperature ever seen. … Datasets from European and Japanese scientists confirm the leap.” 

Hobbs: Area Codes Don’t Change Being Arizona Governor (Reader Steve)

From the Arizona Daily Star: “Katie Hobbs says she’s the governor, no matter where she goes — no matter what else. Hobbs acknowledged Monday that the Arizona Constitution spells out that the powers and duties of the governor go to the next in line of succession on ‘the governor’s absence from the state.’ That is currently the secretary of state. When that person is gone, the powers fall to the attorney general who is next, followed by the state treasurer and, if it ever gets that far, the superintendent of public instruction. … The issue arose most recently when a series of events this past week resulted in Hobbs, Secretary of State Adrian Fontes and Attorney General Kris Mayes — all Democrats like the governor — being out of the state at the same time. That left Treasurer Kimberly Yee, a Republican, to put out a statement that she would be ‘acting governor.’”

Biggest Surprise of SBF Trial? That It’s Happening at All (Reader Jim)

From Newser: “This week brings a milestone in the world of cryptocurrency — the trial of accused fraudster Sam Bankman-Fried [began] Tuesday in New York. Bankman-Fried, or SBF, founded the FTX exchange that famously went belly-up and cost a lot of people — many of them everyday investors swayed by celebrity endorsements — a lot of money. Not too long ago, SBF was perhaps the face of the crypto world, but if you think that world is now rallying behind him, think again. And if you think people who lost a fortune in the collapse of FTX are done with crypto, think again on that, too.”

‘They’re Just Meat’: Russia Deploys Punishment Battalions in Echo of Stalin (Mili)

The authors write, “Drunk recruits. Insubordinate soldiers. Convicts. They’re among hundreds of military and civilian offenders who’ve been pressed into Russian penal units known as ‘Storm-Z’ squads and sent to the frontlines in Ukraine this year, according to 13 people with knowledge of the matter, including five fighters in the units. Few live to tell their tale, the people said.”

Malaria Vaccine Big Advance Against Major Child Killer (Dana)

The author writes, “A cheap malaria vaccine that can be produced on a massive scale has been recommended for use by the World Health Organization (WHO). The vaccine has been developed by the University of Oxford and is only the second malaria vaccine to be developed. Malaria kills mostly babies and infants, and has been one of the biggest scourges on humanity. There are already agreements in place to manufacture more than 100 million doses a year.”

Facing ‘Horrific’ Pacific Rise, Tuvalu Crafts Climate Survival Plan (Laura)

From Context: “Fearing ‘horrific’ risks from a rising ocean that could swamp low-lying islands, the Pacific nation of Tuvalu aims to reinforce its coasts in a novel partnership with Australia aimed at helping the developing island state adapt to climate change. The project will test a new U.N. blueprint under which one rich nation takes responsibility for raising funds to enable a climate-vulnerable country to roll out measures to cope better with heat waves, floods, storms, droughts and rising seas.”

Why Human Writing Is Worth Defending in the Age of ChatGPT (Sean)

From Literary Hub: “A specter is haunting the landscape — the specter of generative AI. First came fears that student cheating would explode, plus that artists and actors would be unemployed. Then the ante was upped: Some of the very technology’s creators warned that AI’s potential risk to humanity as we know it was on par with pandemics and nuclear war. This cascade of angst was triggered by the launch of ChatGPT by OpenAI in November 2022. Among its wiles, the bot is best known for its prowess at churning out prose. On an existential level, does it matter if AI writes for us? For a non-kneejerk answer, we need to make a serious stab at understanding how writing affects us as people.”


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