Hurricane Ida, Grand Isle, LA, 2021
Photo credit: © Patsy Lynch/Fema/Planet Pix via ZUMA Press Wire

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Study: 10 Biggest Climate Disasters of 2021 Cost $170 Billion (DonkeyHotey)

The author writes, “Ten of 2021’s most extreme weather events in the world were driven by climate change and caused a total of $170.3 billion in damage — with the deadly Hurricane Ida that struck the U.S. the most costly, per a new study.”

The Year Basic Income Programs Went Mainstream (Reader Jim)

The author writes, “At least 20 guaranteed income pilots have launched in cities and counties across the U.S. since 2018, and more than 5,400 families and individuals have started receiving between $300 and $1,000 a month, according to a Bloomberg CityLab analysis. If all these programs complete their pilot periods as planned, they’ll have given out at least $35 million. These figures mark the close of a year of rapid growth for U.S. programs that give some residents direct cash payments, with a half-dozen other pilots promised to launch in cities next year. For many advocates, the concept of ‘basic income’ has evolved from the more expansive UBI — a universal basic income to all residents — to more targeted guaranteed income programs that have the goal of narrowing inequality and dismantling poverty.” 

Oregon’s New Drug Price Transparency Project Finds Eye-Popping Prescription Costs (Reader Steve)

From The Oregonian: “Joan Morgan’s father faced a $10,000 a month price tag for a drug to keep him alive after he was found to suffer from a rare genetic mutation, she told Oregon regulators earlier this month. But that figure pales in comparison to other high-cost drugs detailed in a new state report previewed at the hearing, which was held by the state’s Prescription Drug Price Transparency Program. Genetic therapies from the global biopharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb topped the list of pricey new drugs reported to the program, which was created by the Legislature in 2018 to increase transparency around drug costs. … Abecma was the most expensive at $419,500 for a single infusion, made from a patient’s own immune cells, followed by Breyanzi at $410,300 for the one-time treatment. Both are CAR-T (chimeric antigen receptor T-cell) therapies used to treat certain types of cancer.”

Chinese Scientists Develop AI ‘Prosecutor’ That Can Press Its Own Charges (DonkeyHotey)

From the South China Morning Post: “Researchers in China say they have achieved a world first by developing a machine that can charge people with crimes using artificial intelligence. The AI “prosecutor” can file a charge with more than 97 percent accuracy based on a verbal description of the case, according to the researchers. The machine was built and tested by the Shanghai Pudong People’s Procuratorate, the country’s largest and busiest district prosecution office.”

How Exercise May Affect Our Alcohol Consumption (Dan)

The author writes, “People who work out regularly and are aerobically fit tend to guzzle a surprising amount of alcohol, according to a new study, well timed for the holidays, of the interplay between fitness, exercise and imbibing. The study, which involved more than 40,000 American adults, finds that active, physically fit men and women are more than twice as likely to be moderate or heavy drinkers as people who are out of shape. The results add to mounting evidence from previous studies — and many of our bar tabs — that exercise and alcohol frequently go hand in hand, with implications for the health effects of each.”

The Single-Staircase Radicals Have a Good Point (Sean)

The author writes, “The Seattle-based architect Michael Eliason has a number of complaints about the way America makes its apartment buildings. The components are inferior, he says: The best sliding doors and windows are made elsewhere. The designs rarely accommodate larger families. And there are too many staircases. Too many what now? Eliason is the founder of Larch Lab and the lead evangelist of a small group of architects and developers intrigued by the possibilities of making multifamily buildings with only one stairway. And conversely, fed up with the North American standards that require most apartments to be accessible by two of them.”

Bizarre Incident: Man Gets Swept Away by a Kite in Sri Lanka  (Dana)

The author writes, “A video on Twitter is spreading like wildfire. In the dramatic video, a man is being swept away by a kite. Yes, it’s true. While trying to fly a man-size kite that was tied to jute ropes, he lost control when unexpected heavy gusts of wind hit the scene. The kite unexpectedly picked up speed and next thing he knew, he was in the air.”


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