Newsworthy – Oct 11th, 2019

Human skulls exhibit Golden Ratio, poor diets can lead to depression, the wealthiest Americans paid a lower tax rate, $700 billion a year of U.S. healthcare spending is wasted.

These, and more, are the newsworthy stories from this past week.

Science and Environment

  • The Golden Ratio was noted in the human skull dimensions, but not in other mammals. The findings may have important anthropological and evolutionary implications.

    The Golden Ratio, described by Leonardo da Vinci and Luca Pacioli as the Divine Proportion, is an infinite number often found in nature, art and mathematics. It’s a pattern in pinecones, seashells, galaxies and hurricanes.

    From Neuroscience News
  • Twenty new moons have been found orbiting Saturn, giving the ringed planet a total of 82 and putting it in first place for the most moons in the solar system.

    From AP
  • Warm weather in the San Francisco area has extended tarantula mating season—a surprisingly public affair that has led to advisories to be on the lookout for giant male spiders.

    From The Wall Street Journal
  • Too much groundwater pumping is draining many of the world’s rivers. Over half of pumped watersheds could pass a critical ecological threshold by 2050.

    From Science News Magazine
  • A startup called BioCarbon Engineering has a drone mini fleet that can plant as many as 400,000 trees in a single day. The company wants to use this approach to restore forests in India’s mountains, as well as in Sri Lanka.

    From ZME Science

Health and Society

  • As climate change opens new regions to mosquitoes, Nepal suffers an outbreak of the painful viral disease that has sickened more than 9,000 people.

    From Science News Magazine
  • There is strong epidemiological evidence that poor diet (rich in red meat and processed foods) is associated with depression. The reverse has also been shown: eating a healthy diet rich in fruit, vegetables, fish, and lean meat, is associated with reduced risk of depression.

    From ZME Science

Business and Economics

  • Porsche and Boeing yesterday announced a partnership to explore the air taxi market with a flying sports car.

    The companies are developing a concept for a fully electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicle.

    From Axios
  • For the first time on record, the 400 wealthiest Americans last year paid a lower total tax rate — spanning federal, state and local taxes — than any other income group.

    The overall tax rate for the richest 400 households last year was 23%, down from 70% in 1950 and 47% in 1980.

    From The New York Times
  • By 2030, African American workers stand to lose hundreds of thousands of jobs as a result of increased automation, widening the racial wealth gap and weighing down overall U.S. growth.

    From Axios
  • The fastest-growing cities in the U.S. may be adding lots of jobs for well-off people, but many have low rates of upward mobility for lower-income kids growing up there.

    The extent of racial disparities and economic mobility “is so extreme in the U.S. that it’s almost like they’re two Americas”.

    From Axios

Government and Politics

  • Comcast Corp. ’s NBCUniversal won’t continue to air a Trump re-election campaign ad on any of its cable networks unless changes are made to the spot.

    The 30-second commercial contains an unsubstantiated claim about former Vice President Joe Biden’s role in the ouster of a Ukrainian prosecutor.

    The ad, which CNN rejected last week, alleges Mr. Biden, who is vying for the Democratic nomination, promised Ukraine $1 billion to fire a prosecutor looking into a Ukraine gas company with ties to his son Hunter Biden.

    From The Wall Street Journal
  • 25% of US healthcare spending is wasted, or over $700 billion a year.

    The greatest source of waste, at over a quarter trillion dollars annually, is administrative complexity. The US healthcare system is a fragmented mammoth, with many differences between states and even different counties. Pricing inefficiency, in particular drug pricing, was another major source of inefficiency, accounting for around $240 billion wasted. Failure of care delivery, failure of care coordination, and over-treatment accounted in total for around $300 billion.

    From ZME Science
  • Some of the FBI’s electronic-surveillance activities violated the constitutional privacy rights of Americans swept up in a controversial foreign intelligence program, a secretive surveillance court ruled.

    The ruling deals a rare rebuke to U.S. spying programs that have generally withstood legal challenge and review since they were dramatically expanded after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

    The opinion resulted in the FBI agreeing to better safeguard privacy and apply new procedures, including recording how the database is searched, to detect possible compliance issues.

    From The Wall Street Journal
  • The U.S. added 28 Chinese entities to an export blacklist, citing their role in Beijing’s repression of Muslim minorities in northwest China.

    The decision came days before high-level trade talks are set to resume in Washington.

    The U.S. said the action isn’t related to trade talks, but it is likely to disturb Chinese officials already incensed over what Beijing sees as U.S. support for the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong.

    From The Wall Street Journal

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