climate change, ancient ancestors, homo erectus, extinction
The author writes, “Of the six or more different species of early humans, all belonging to the genus Homo, only we Homo sapiens have managed to survive. Now, a study combining climate modeling and the fossil record in search of clues to what led to all those earlier extinctions suggests that climate change — the inability to adapt to either warming or cooling temperatures — likely played a major role in sealing their fate.” Photo credit: Tiia Monto / Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

How to ‘Weaponize’ Misleading Narratives About Voting ; Inside the Airline Industry’s Meltdown ; and More Picks 10/20

How to ‘Weaponize’ Misleading Narratives About Voting (Gerry)

From Snopes: “In the weeks after Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, his aides began searching for a narrative that could explain why he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton. Stephen Miller, a top aide now known as the driving force behind many of the Trump administration’s most draconian immigration policies, emailed a former Department of Justice (DOJ) attorney named J. Christian Adams. … Adams responded to Miller by sending a report that his organization — the Public Interest Legal Foundation (or PILF) — had recently published, titled ‘Alien Invasion in Virginia.’ The report alleged — falsely, it would turn out — to have discovered ‘1046 aliens who registered to vote illegally.’ Evidently, this narrative worked for the Trump team.”

Chinese Military Beefs Up Coastal Forces as It Prepares for Possible Invasion of Taiwan (Peg)

From the South China Morning Post: “Beijing is stepping up the militarisation of its southeast coast as it prepares for a possible invasion of Taiwan, military observers and sources have said. The People’s Liberation Army has been upgrading its missile bases, and one Beijing-based military source said it has deployed its most advanced hypersonic missile the DF-17 to the area.”

Portland Police Plan to Stencil Large 3-Digit Numbers on Officers’ Helmets For Protests (Reader Steve)

The author writes, “Portland police plan to stencil large three-digit numbers on officers’ helmets by Nov. 15 to help people more easily identify officers during protests. The three-digit number will reflect a new numbering system for city officers’ identification, now four and a half months into nightly social justice protests that began shortly after the May 25 death of George Floyd. … The Police Bureau has faced criticism since it allowed officers in early June to remove their name tags during the protests and replace them with tape containing six-digit employee numbers that are difficult to read and mark down. Portland police have said they removed officers’ name tags from uniforms out of concern for officers’ personal safety following doxxing.”

Inside the Airline Industry’s Meltdown (Dana)

The author writes, “Among all the industries hit by Covid-19, aviation suffered in two distinct ways. Most obviously, there was the fear of contagion. No other business depends on putting you into knee-by-thigh proximity with strangers for hours, while whisking potentially diseased humans from one continent to another. Less directly, there was the tumbling economy. It is an axiom in aviation that air travel correlates to GDP. When people have more money, they fly more. But in the midst of this historic downturn, no one was buying plane tickets.”

The World’s Richest King, His Mysterious Fortune, and the Protesters Who Want Answers (Russ)

The author writes, “The crown prince of Thailand’s third marriage unraveled in lurid headlines: The princess was stripped of her titles, her parents and brothers jailed over vague corruption allegations, her uncle purged from his senior police post. Then the heir to the throne had to finesse a divorce settlement. Luckily for the prince, he had access to one of the largest royal fortunes in the world, a secretive holding company laden with stakes in blue-chip Thai companies and prime land in the heart of Bangkok. The company covered the payment, reportedly close to $6 million. Two years later, in 2016, the prince ascended to the throne.”

Death by Black Hole: Astronomers Spot Flare From “Spaghettification” of Star (Dana)

The author writes, “It’s a popular misconception that black holes behave like cosmic vacuum cleaners, ravenously sucking up any matter in their surroundings. In reality, only stuff that passes beyond the event horizon — including light — is swallowed up and can’t escape, although black holes are also messy eaters. That means that part of an object’s matter is actually ejected out in a powerful jet. If that object is a star, the process of being shredded (or ‘spaghettified’) by the powerful gravitational forces of a black hole occurs outside the event horizon, and part of the star’s original mass is ejected violently outward. … Now astronomers have recorded the final death throes of a star being shredded by a supermassive black hole.”

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