World Backup Day, data loss prevention, tech tips
The author writes, “World Backup Day is March 31. This annual event reminds people to backup their data before they lose it by accident or malice, and make themselves an April Fool. In fact, there is a website for this event, started 10 years ago. Backing up and keeping at least one extra copy of your data on a separate storage device or in the cloud is a way to protect it even if the original copy is inaccessible, destroyed, or damaged.” Photo credit: Tilman Zitzmann / Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Stanford Scientists Reverse Engineer Moderna Vaccine, Post Code on Github ; California’s Top Court Ends Cash Bail for Some ; and More Picks 4/1

Stanford Scientists Reverse Engineer Moderna Vaccine, Post Code on Github (Dana)

From Vice: “Stanford scientists saved drops of the COVID-19 vaccine destined for the garbage can, reverse engineered them, and have posted the mRNA sequence that powers the vaccine on GitHub for all to see. The GitHub post is four pages long. The first two are an explanation by the team of scientists about the work, the second two pages are the entire mRNA sequence for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. … According to Stanford scientists Andrew Fire and Massa Shoura, this isn’t technically ‘reverse-engineering’ a vaccine. ‘We didn’t reverse engineer the vaccine. We posted the putative sequence of two synthetic RNA molecules that have become sufficiently prevalent in the general environment of medicine and human biology in 2021,’ they told Motherboard in an email.”

Inside the Koch-Backed Effort to Block the Largest Election-Reform Bill in Half a Century (DonkeyHotey)

From the New Yorker: “In public, Republicans have denounced Democrats’ ambitious electoral-reform bill, the For the People Act, as an unpopular partisan ploy. In a contentious Senate committee hearing last week, Senator Ted Cruz, of Texas, slammed the proposal, which aims to expand voting rights and curb the influence of money in politics, as ‘a brazen and shameless power grab by Democrats.’ But behind closed doors Republicans speak differently about the legislation, which is also known as House Resolution 1 and Senate Bill 1. They admit the lesser-known provisions in the bill that limit secret campaign spending are overwhelmingly popular across the political spectrum. In private, they concede their own polling shows that no message they can devise effectively counters the argument that billionaires should be prevented from buying elections.”

California’s Top Court Ends Cash Bail for Some Defendants Who Can’t Afford It (Reader Steve)

The author writes, “For years, California legislators and judges have tried to reform the state’s money bail system to reduce discrimination against the poor. [Last week], four months after voters rejected such a reform, the California Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional to require defendants to remain behind bars simply because they cannot afford bail. In a unanimous decision, the state’s top court told judges to favor pretrial release and consider a person’s ability to pay before setting bail. Thursday’s ruling is likely to lead to many more people being released without bail before they go to trial. Judges may keep criminal defendants locked up only when ‘clear and convincing’ evidence shows there is no other way to protect the public and ensure the defendants’ return for court appearances.”

Study of All Amazon Greenhouse Gases Suggests the Damaged Forest Is Now Worsening Climate Change (Mili)

The author writes, “The Amazon rainforest is most likely now a net contributor to warming of the planet, according to a first-of-its-kind analysis from more than 30 scientists. For years, researchers have expressed concern that rising temperatures, drought, and deforestation are reducing the capacity of the world’s largest rainforest to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and help offset emissions from fossil-fuel burning. Recent studies have even suggested that some portions of the tropical landscape already may release more carbon than they store. But the inhaling and exhaling of CO2 is just one way this damp jungle, the most species-rich on Earth, influences the global climate. Activities in the Amazon, both natural and human-caused, can shift the rainforest’s contribution in significant ways, warming the air directly or releasing other greenhouse gases that do.”

Thanks to a Genetic Mutation, These French Rabbits Prefer Handstands to Bunny Hops (Dana)

The author writes, “Sauteur d’Alfort is French for Alfort’s jumpers, but rabbits bearing the name don’t hop at all. When most rabbits would jump away — pushing off the ground with both back legs to propel themselves forward — sauteur d’Alfort bunnies instead throw their backends up over their heads, balance on their front paws and scurry forward…. Now, researchers have identified the specific genetic mutation that leads to the bunnies’ particular locomotion. The mutation causes a malfunction in the nerve cells that coordinate messages from around the body to other muscle groups, which is key to a balanced gait.”


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