NASA’s $10B Successor to Hubble Telescope Ready to Launch (Maria)

The author writes, “The James Webb Space Telescope is set to launch Friday, traveling to a spot 1 million miles away where it will look for signs of alien life and will attempt to look back in time 13.7 billion years. In a mission by NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency, the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope will launch from the coast of French Guiana in South America. The $10 billion, 7-ton telescope will have to be folded into the nose cone of a rocket. It will then unfold as it heads to its destination.”

The Supreme Court Found a Sonoma County Man’s Arrest Illegal. A State Appeals Court Upheld His Conviction Anyway (Reader Steve)

From the San Francisco Chronicle: “Six months ago, a North Bay man who was pursued into his garage by police scored a rare defense victory in the U.S. Supreme Court, which limited officers’ authority to enter a suspect’s home without a warrant. That meant the entry into Arthur Lange’s garage was illegal — but because the officer couldn’t have known that in advance, Lange’s drunken-driving conviction was valid, a state appeals court ruled Monday.”

The Push to Ban Books in Texas Schools Spreads to Public Libraries (Dan)

From The Texas Tribune: “When the Llano County Library shuts down for three days this week, starting Tuesday, it won’t be for the holidays. Instead, a group of six librarians in this small Central Texas county will be conducting a ‘thorough review’ of every children’s book in the library, at the behest of the Llano County Commissioners Court. Their mission will be to make sure all of the reading material for younger readers includes subjects that are age-appropriate. A new ‘young adults plus’ section will be added to separate books written for an older teen audience from those geared toward younger readers.”

Vladimir Putin Has Shifted From Autocracy to Dictatorship (Gerry)

The author writes, “In 1987, when Memorial was set up to document Stalinist repressions, the state was holding about 200 prisoners of conscience. Today, according to Memorial’s count, Russia has at least 410 political prisoners. On the day the Michelin stars were awarded, Vyacheslav Egorov, an activist involved in protests against a landfill site in a historic town near Moscow, was sentenced to 15 months in prison. A few days earlier, Sergei Zuev, the rector of the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences (known as Shaninka), one of the country’s leading independent universities, was taken to a prison cell from his hospital bed; the university faces closure. After being released and undergoing cardiac treatment he was jailed again on November 9th.”

Thousands of Patients Were Implanted With Heart Pumps That the FDA Knew Could Be Dangerous (Mili)

From ProPublica: “What John Winkler didn’t know: Months before his implant, the Food and Drug Administration put HeartWare on notice for not properly monitoring or repairing HVAD defects, such as faulty batteries and short circuits caused by static electricity, that had killed patients. The agency issued a warning letter, one of its most serious citations. It demanded fixes within 15 days, but took no decisive action as problems persisted.”

How Mathematicians Cracked the Zodiac Killer’s Cipher (Sean)

The author writes, “In the late 1960s, a serial killer self-identifying as ‘the Zodiac’ killed at least five people in Northern California and claimed to have murdered more. In November 1969, the Zodiac Killer sent a card to the San Francisco Chronicle containing a 340-character secret message that for more than 50 years went unsolved by detectives, cryptography experts, amateur sleuths and curious others. Wonder no more, true-crime aficionados.