plants, circadian rhythm, DNA, climate change, new research
The author writes, “Plants have the same variation in body clocks as that found in humans, according to new research that explores the genes governing circadian rhythms in plants. The research shows a single letter change in their DNA code can potentially decide whether a plant is a lark or a night owl. The findings may help farmers and crop breeders to select plants with clocks that are best suited to their location, helping to boost yield and even the ability to withstand climate change.” Photo credit: Craig Upshaw / Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Questions Arise in Vaccine Distribution as Georgia Tops 500,000 COVID-19 Cases (Dana)

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Tanner Health System, with 3,500 employees, is bursting with COVID-19 patients. For weeks it has been operating at full capacity, with some 55 patients needing admission Friday afternoon but waiting for beds. It has 61 COVID-19 patients being treated in units at its Carrollton, Villa Rica and Bremen hospitals. But the not-for-profit system so far has received no doses of the new COVID-19 vaccine to protect its staff. … Nearby in Coweta County, the opposite situation prevails. In the same health district as Tanner, Cancer Treatment Centers of America’s hospital in Newnan said it had received every dose it needed to vaccinate all its employees. The for-profit cancer hospital listed just over 1,000 staff, including 148 administrators and support staff, in its latest filing with the state a year ago.”

Tyson Fires 7 at Iowa Pork Plant After COVID Betting Inquiry (Dan)

The author writes, “Tyson Foods has fired seven top managers at its largest pork plant after an independent investigation confirmed allegations that they bet on how many workers would test positive for the coronavirus, the company announced Wednesday. The company said the investigation, led by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, revealed troubling behavior that resulted in the firings at the plant in Waterloo, Iowa. An outbreak centered around the plant infected more than 1,000 employees, at least six of whom died.”

A Whistleblower Said High-Level Prison Officials Were Wasting Money. Was the Inquiry Biased? (Reader Steve)

From the Sacramento Bee: “Two high-ranking officials in California’s prison system might have broken state rules so that one of them could work from home, make a 250-mile commute on state time and use a state vehicle for the drive. But the state’s taxpayers will never know for sure, due to the ‘flawed and biased’ way the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation handled a 2018 whistleblower complaint making those allegations, according to a new report from the Office of the Inspector General.”

Facebook Accuses People Tied to French Military of Running Troll Accounts (Russ)

The author writes, “Facebook accused people linked to the French military on Tuesday of running a covert online influence operation targeting parts of Africa. It is the first time Facebook has publicly linked a campaign like this to individuals connected to a Western military. The deceptive tactics allegedly used, which include using Facebook to pose as locals in the targeted countries, mirror misinformation campaigns run by the Russian government. Facebook staff told reporters on a press call Tuesday that the company could not say if the operation was directed by the French military itself — they only said it was run by ‘individuals associated’ with the military.”

Florida Man Pays Off Overdue Bills for 114 Families at Risk of Having Their Utilities Shut Off (Reader Jim)

The author writes, “A Florida business owner turned Santa for 114 households this year by paying off their overdue utility bills before Christmas. Mike Esmond of Gulf Breeze, Florida, explained that he decided to give back this holiday season because he remembers what it’s like to spend a winter without heat or electricity. The 74-year-old’s generosity started last year when he paid the past-due bills of 36 households who were at risk of having their utilities shut off, which added up to $4,558. However, this year, with both Hurricane Sally and Covid-induced economic turmoil hitting his community, Esmond felt the urge to up the ante.”

Wearing Someone Else’s Face: Hyper-Realistic Masks Go on Sale in Japan (Dana)

The author writes, “A year into the coronavirus epidemic, a Japanese retailer has come up with a new take on the theme of facial camouflage — a hyper-realistic mask that models a stranger’s features in three dimensions. Shuhei Okawara’s masks won’t protect you or others against the virus. But they will lend you the exact appearance of an unidentified Japanese adult whose features have been printed onto them.”