insects, decline, planet, food supply, saving
The author writes, “Insects, like every bit of the natural world, are declining,” says Matthew Forister, an insect ecologist at the University of Nevada, Reno, who contributed to a new scientific report. “But it’s clear insects have a possibility to rebound. It’s grim, but it’s not too late.” Photo credit: Ken-ichi Ueda / Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Domestic Terrorism: A More Urgent Threat, but Weaker Laws ; 2021 Will Be the Year of Guaranteed Income Experiments ; and More Picks 1/12

Domestic Terrorism: A More Urgent Threat, but Weaker Laws (Reader Steve)

The author writes, “In the days leading up to the attack on the U.S. Capitol, the FBI received intelligence that extremists were planning violence as lawmakers gathered in Washington to certify the electoral victory of President-elect Joe Biden. FBI officials managed to dissuade people in several places from their suspected plans, a senior FBI official said — but there was not enough evidence to issue arrest warrants.”Prior to this event, the FBI obtained information about individuals who were planning on potentially traveling to the protests, individuals who were planning to engage in violence,’ said the senior FBI official. ‘The FBI was able to discourage those individuals from traveling to D.C.’”

Why D.C.’s Mayor Should Have Authority Over the D.C. National Guard (Dana)

From Just Security: “There are fifty-four National Guard organizations in the United States: one for each state as well as Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia. Of these, only the D.C. National Guard (DCNG) is never under local control. Instead, under § 49-409 of the D.C. Code — which was enacted by Congress and predates the creation of D.C.’s local government — the president is at all times the DCNG’s commander-in-chief. By contrast, all other National Guard units report to their state or territorial governor unless and until they are federalized. Moreover, the DCNG is federally funded, while other Guard units are state funded unless they are federalized or performing a federal mission under Title 32.”

2021 Will Be the Year of Guaranteed Income Experiments (Dan)

The author writes, “Giving people direct, recurring cash payments, no questions asked, is a simple idea — and an old one. Different formulations of a guaranteed income have been promoted by civil rights leaders, conservative thinkers, labor experts, Silicon Valley types, U.S. presidential candidates and even the Pope. Now, it’s U.S. cities that are putting the concept in action. Fueled by a growing group of city leaders, philanthropists and nonprofit organizations, 2021 will see an explosion of guaranteed income pilot programs in U.S. cities. At least 11 direct-cash experiments will be in effect this year, from Pittsburgh to Compton. Another 20 mayors have said they may launch such pilots in the future, with several cities taking initial legislative steps to implement them.” 

A New Frontier Is Opening in the Search for Extraterrestrial Life (Russ)

The author writes, “On Dec. 18, the world learned that Breakthrough Listen, a privately funded search for extraterrestrial intelligence, had found its first official candidate signal. The signal’s existence lit up the Internet. Was BLC-1, as it’s called, finally our moment of contact? Breakthrough Listen scientists, now hard at work on a paper about their findings, were quick to explain that the answer was probably ‘no’: Given the wealth of human-made radio signal interference out there, BLC-1 will probably turn out to be of human origin. Their preliminary conclusion, however, does not defuse the excitement of BLC-1. The fact that there’s a candidate at all is cause for celebration. That’s because something remarkable is happening in the science of life and intelligence beyond Earth. The age of ‘technosignatures’ is dawning.”

We Finally Know What a Dinosaur’s Butthole Looks Like (Dana)

From Slate: “For the entirety of my career as a journalist covering paleontology, I’ve been wanting to know: What does a dinosaur’s butthole look like? When I wrote My Beloved Brontosaurus, a book about dinosaur biology, the chapter on reproduction required a lot of time imagining the nature of a Jurassic behind; one had yet to be found preserved. Even dinosaur models and sculptures often demur on the point of the dino butt, leaving the terrible lizards with terrible constipation. Now I finally have a clearer view, thanks to a fossil of a horned dinosaur called Psittacosaurus, described in a paper online.”

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