Mon 3.12

How a player in the Trump-Russia scandal
led a double life as an American spy
Felix Sater has been cast as a Russian mafioso, a career criminal, and a key business associate of President Donald Trump — but he spent more than two decades as an intelligence asset who helped the US government track terrorists and mobsters. “Greed is my go-to weapon.”

Musk says launch for Mars next year
dog-pony-sepiacroppedThe guy is a genius at many things, including getting rich people to lend him money.
— Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk told an audience at South by Southwest that his timeline for sending a space vehicle to Mars could mark its first milestone early next year.
— The privately-funded venture, announced in September 2017, aims to send a cargo mission to the Red Planet by 2022. SpaceX’s ultimate objective is to plant the seeds to put a human colony on Mars.

Women: Men don’t “get” your feelings
And Science cannot figure out why
woman-with-head-in-hands (1).jpg–For women who think that men just don’t seem to understand, well, you’re right: Men really are less empathetic than women, and a new study from England offers clues about why this might be the case.
— Empathy is the ability to recognize and relate to what’s going on in another person’s mind, but scientists still know very little about what makes some people more attuned to someone else’s feelings than others.
— In the new study, published yesterday (March 11) in the journal Translational Psychiatry, the researchers turned to genetics for an answer. To do so, they combed through data on nearly 47,000 people who had used 23andMe, an at-home DNA testing kit, for links between how well they performed on an empathy test and genetic variations.

My union or my president? Dueling loyalties in PA race
NY Times
PITTSBURGH — The special election deep in Trump country in southwest Pennsylvania on Tuesday has become an acid test for the allegiance of working-class voters, and organized labor has gone all in for the Democrat in the race, Conor Lamb.
— Union activists have been knocking on members’ doors, standing at the gates of steel mills and generally trying to claw back votes from 2016, when Hillary Clinton failed to connect with blue-collar workers across the industrial Midwest.
>>> Or, for a paywall-free version, try The Guardian

Sec’y of Education gets F-minus on test
Vice News
— Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos struggled to answer basic questions about the education system during an interview with 60 Minutes on Sunday.
— During the interview, Devos said schools should have the option of arming teachers but also that she couldn’t “ever imagine” her own first-grade teacher with a gun.
— The interview touched on other areas of DeVos’ controversial education policies, like school choice, that she either couldn’t directly answer or repeatedly contradicted herself — even about her home state of Michigan.
>>> After years of experiments run on our children by the billionaire Betsy Devos, Michigan ranks near the bottom – 42nd out of 50 – for educational achievement.
— Fayous Saad, candidate for Congress, Michigan

2nd “package bomb” kills Austin resident
CBS News

It may be the end of the road for potholes
Researchers in Minnesota, Zurich, and New York all have promising approaches to fix the problem once and for all.

Hundreds of Missouri’s 15-year-old brides may have married their rapists
Kansas City Star
… “They wanted me to get married,” Ashley, now 24 and the mother of four, said. “I knew I shouldn’t have been making that decision that young. It was just something they told me that, like, I had to do or my child’s father would go to jail.” …

Do anti-depressants work? Maybe. Sometimes
NY Times
The bad news is that even though there were statistically significant differences, the effect sizes were still mostly modest. The benefits also applied only to people who were suffering from major depression, specifically in the short term. In other words, this study provides evidence that when people are found to have acute major depression, treatment with antidepressants works to improve outcomes in the first two months of therapy.

Big Pharma is rid of the Shkreli embarrassment, but…

— Don Bailey at Questcor, Heather Bresch of Mylan, Mike Pearson at Valeant Pharmaceuticals and Allan Oberman of Concordia all did the same as Shkreli, or worse.
— What about the CEOs of Celgene, Biogen and Amgen, who greenlight higher prices of their “innovative” drugs multiple times per year, every year?
— During the fourth quarter last year, Acadia Pharmaceuticals raised the price of its Parkinson’s disease drug … twice!

The Web’s reached the point where it may need regulation
Tim Berners-Lee
The Guardian
It’s dangerous having a handful of companies control how ideas and opinions are shared.

EU slams trade “bullies” 

Totally predictable
Trump backs down on gun control

But don’t worry, the Wise One will…
Appoint a “commission” to “study” how to “harden” schools
The Hill
Backs off on age restriction. In other words, he’s afraid of the NRA.
>>> If they’re young enough to date Roy Moore, they’re old enough to buy a gun.
— “Tea Pain” on Twitter


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