Exxon Well Leak Caused Huge Methane Leak in OH ; How Playing the Drums Changes the Brain ; and More Picks 12/24

Colleges Are Turning Students’ Phones Into Surveillance Machines (Chris)

The author writes, “Short-range phone sensors and campuswide WiFi networks are empowering colleges across the United States to track hundreds of thousands of students more precisely than ever before. Dozens of schools now use such technology to monitor students’ academic performance, analyze their conduct or assess their mental health. But some professors and education advocates argue that the systems represent a new low in intrusive technology, breaching students’ privacy on a massive scale.”

Exxon Well Blast Caused Huge Methane Leak in Ohio, Study Shows (Chris)

From Bloomberg: “An Exxon Mobil Corp. natural gas well in Ohio released more methane into the atmosphere during a blowout in 2018 than some countries do in a year, according to a team of American and Dutch scientists. Using data from satellites, the researchers found that a well explosion in Belmont county on Feb. 15 of that year discharged the potent greenhouse gas at a rate of about 80 tons an hour and lasted for nearly 20 days.”

ICE Signs Contracts for Detention Centers Days Before CA Law Will Ban Such Agreements (Reader Steve)

The author writes, “The agency secured the contracts on Dec. 20 to continue to detain thousands of immigrants in existing facilities near Los Angeles and San Diego and to add about 2,000 beds in three additional facilities, according to a government website. The contracts with GEO Group, CoreCivic, and Management and Training Corp. will last five years, with the possibility of two five-year renewals.”

California’s Consumer Privacy Law Is Coming (Reader Steve)

The author writes, “Californians are on the cusp of acquiring a host of new rights to control how their personal information is collected, stored and sold online. The landmark California Consumer Privacy Act, the first major statewide internet privacy law in the country, takes effect Jan. 1. Consumers will have the power to tell businesses not to sell their data and to demand that they delete the information altogether.”

How Playing the Drums Changes the Brain (Mili)

From Science Daily: “People who play drums regularly for years differ from unmusical people in their brain structure and function. The results of a new study suggest that they have fewer, but thicker fibers in the main connecting tract between the two halves of the brain. In addition, their motor brain areas are organized more efficiently.”