US gun violence, Brady Group, assault rifles, ban, new ad campaign
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US Gun Safety Group’s Chilling New Ad Calls for Assault Weapons Ban (Maria)

The author writes, “A gun safety group has created a provocative new ad campaign calling for the renewal of a federal assault weapons ban, in the wake of several devastating mass shootings across the US that involved the use of military-style rifles. … The campaign also includes images showing a casket draped in an American flag, an honor given to soldiers killed in battle, in everyday places that have been the sites of mass shootings, such as schools and grocery stores. ‘These weapons and their tactical features are designed for the battlefield and not for civilian hands,’ said Christian Heyne, [gun safety group] Brady’s vice president of policy.”

Fox Can Claim Tax Write-off for Defamation Settlement (Dana)

From The Lever: “Fox’s massive settlement with private equity-backed voting machine company Dominion Voting Systems didn’t just spare the conservative news organization from a lengthy public defamation trial or a full public reckoning for its election lies — it could also mean a tax break as large as $213 million, according to a Lever review. … Thanks to an arcane line in the tax code, Fox can deduct that settlement payment from its income taxes, according to a company spokesperson and tax experts consulted by The Lever. That’s because federal law allows taxpayers to write off many legal costs, providing that they are ‘ordinary and necessary’ business expenses. The IRS has repeatedly affirmed that for major corporations, paying out settlements is just part of the cost of doing business.”

Court: Election Lawsuit Filed by Arizona GOP Was Groundless (Reader Steve)

The author writes, “The state Court of Appeals has upheld a ruling declaring a lawsuit filed by the Arizona Republican Party after the 2020 election to be groundless and filed in bad faith and ordering the party to pay legal fees. In a ruling late Thursday, the three-judge panel said Maricopa County Superior Court Judge John Hannah Jr. was correct in tossing the demand by the GOP that a legally required post-election hand count audit of ballots be done by precinct.”

The Smoking Gun in the Senate Report on COVID Origins (Sean)

The author writes, “Last week, the man who oversaw safety programs at the U.S. Army’s maximum-containment lab at Fort Detrick, Md., examined the way the Chinese government runs its labs and warned that, ‘It is very, very apparent that their biological safety training is minimal.’ [Wednesday], the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee released its full report, detailing the evidence that researchers affiliated with the Wuhan Institute of Virology started working on a vaccine for the virus that causes Covid-19 before the rest of the world had even heard about the virus. In this light, it is not surprising that most Americans agree with the FBI and Livermore Labs: The most likely cause of the Covid-19 pandemic was a lab accident at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”

In the Dead of Night (Mili)

From Al Jazeera: “Almost every night, between midnight and 5am, the Israeli army breaks into Palestinian homes across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. Armed to the teeth and often masked, the soldiers arrive in groups of 10 to 100-plus and force their way into homes, sometimes blowing the door open. All family members — children to elderly people — are awoken and held at gunpoint as soldiers destroy their home and search, interrogate, beat and photograph them, among other things. … Al Jazeera spoke to four Palestinians about their experiences with the home invasions and military detention.”

Inside the Secret List of Websites That Make AI Like ChatGPT Sound Smart (Gerry)

The authors write, “AI chatbots have exploded in popularity over the past four months, stunning the public with their awesome abilities, from writing sophisticated term papers to holding unnervingly lucid conversations. Chatbots cannot think like humans: They do not actually understand what they say. They can mimic human speech because the artificial intelligence that powers them has ingested a gargantuan amount of text, mostly scraped from the internet. This text is the AI’s main source of information about the world as it is being built, and it influences how it responds to users. If it aces the bar exam, for example, it’s probably because its training data included thousands of LSAT practice sites.”

End-of-Life Dreams (Sean)

From Commonweal: “A hospice doctor makes sense of our final visions.”

How Climate Change Is Making It Easier to Hit Home Runs (Laura)

From Grist: “Even America’s favorite pastime is not immune from climate change. A new study from researchers at Dartmouth College says that a warming atmosphere could be causing more home runs in professional baseball. The research, published [this month] in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, looked at 100,000 Major League Baseball games and found that at least 500 home runs since 2010 can be attributed to climate change. As the planet warms, the authors predict that climate change could be responsible for nearly 10 percent of all home runs by 2100, with each degree of warming associated with 95 more home runs per season. Eventually, the report concludes, several hundred additional home runs per season could be due to climate change.”

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