Mississippi River, rerouting, coastal erosion, ecosystem engineering
The author writes, “If all goes as planned, two years from now, engineers will punch a massive hole in a nearby levee that holds back the Mississippi River. A 3.5-kilometer-long canal will carry sand and muck from the muddy river into the bay, helping rebuild vast wetlands eroded by sinking land and rising seas. ... The diversion, expected to cost $2 billion, is a critical part of a much larger effort aimed at preventing coastal Louisiana — and the human and wild communities it supports — from slipping beneath the sea.” Photo credit: Joshua J. Cotten / Unsplash

The Postal Service Is Running a 'Covert Operations Program' That Monitors Americans' Social Media ; NASA Extracts Breathable Oxygen From Thin Martian Air ; and More Picks 4/23

The Postal Service Is Running a ‘Covert Operations Program’ That Monitors Americans’ Social Media Posts (Dana)

From Yahoo News: “The law enforcement arm of the U.S. Postal Service has been quietly running a program that tracks and collects Americans’ social media posts, including those about planned protests, according to a document obtained by Yahoo News. The details of the surveillance effort, known as iCOP, or Internet Covert Operations Program, have not previously been made public. The work involves having analysts trawl through social media sites to look for what the document describes as ‘inflammatory’ postings and then sharing that information across government agencies.”

Bay Area Disrupted: How the Boba Shortage Reflects a Pandemic-Strained Supply Chain (Doug)

From the San Francisco Chronicle: “At the start of the month, around two dozen big ships were waiting in line to unload at the Port of Oakland, an ‘unprecedented’ challenge that could delay everything from electronics to clothing to, yes, boba tea from reaching consumers. The port reported record-high container volume for both imports and exports in March, including a 45% surge compared to last year, as the pandemic was taking hold. The port expects the surge to last for months or more. … ‘The shortage isn’t just about boba, but the entire ecosystem that depends on overseas inventory,’ said the owners of popular chain Boba Guys, which also runs a Hayward boba factory, on Instagram last week.” 

He Was the King of Water in the Desert. His Abusive Reign Revealed a Troubling Culture (Reader Steve)

The author writes, “In the work camps of the sprawling Colorado River Aqueduct system, Donald Nash was known as king of the desert. For more than half a decade, Nash was responsible for operating and maintaining the pumping plants, reservoirs and pipelines that deliver much of Southern California’s drinking water — while also exerting a tyrannical presence in the remote communities of aqueduct workers that have sprung up across desolate stretches of the California desert. Coworkers said they complained about Nash’s abusive behavior and recklessness to the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California as he became increasingly erratic over the years. Nash was eventually fired in 2019. But his story, drawn from MWD records, court files and interviews with workers, reveals what some employees and members of the agency’s board of directors contend is a troubling lack of oversight in the largest distributor of drinking water in the nation.”

NASA Extracts Breathable Oxygen From Thin Martian Air (Mili)

The author writes, “NASA has logged another extraterrestrial first on its latest mission to Mars: converting carbon dioxide from the Martian atmosphere into pure, breathable oxygen, the U.S. space agency said on Wednesday. The unprecedented extraction of oxygen, literally out of thin air on Mars, was achieved Tuesday by an experimental device aboard Perseverance, a six-wheeled science rover that landed on the Red Planet Feb. 18 after a seven-month journey from Earth.”

Italian Hospital Employee Accused of Skipping Work for 15 Years (Dana)

The author writes, “A hospital employee in Italy has been accused of skipping work on full pay for 15 years, local media report. The man is alleged to have stopped turning up to work at the Ciaccio hospital in the southern city of Catanzaro in 2005. He is now being investigated for fraud, extortion and abuse of office, Italian news agency Ansa reports.”


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