Newsworthy – March 27th, 2020

Invasive herbivores might actually help ecosystems, testing in Iceland suggests 50% of COVID-19 cases are asymptomatic, Congress passes the largest economic stimulus package in recent memory, the Marine Corps is undergoing a transformation.

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

Science and Environment

  • A team at Durham University in England have used nearby galaxies to locate the Milky Way’s edge. The precise diameter is 1.9 million light-years, give or take 0.4 million light-years.

    – Science News Magazine
  • Scientists working in New Mexico found a fossilized 6-inch dinosaur claw that has led them to recognize a fierce new species: Dineobellator notohesperus, a cousin of the Velociraptor.

    – The Wall Street Journal
  • Longfin inshore squid are the first known animals that can tweak strings of RNA outside of a nerve cell’s nucleus. These genetic couriers, called messenger RNA, or mRNA, carry a cell’s blueprints for building proteins.

    – Science News Magazine
  • There is a lot of talk about invasive species among scholars — as there should be, since invasive species have been associated with damage to natural parks and 13% of a total of 953 global extinctions recorded thus far.

    But in some cases, foreign species herbivores can rewild ecosystems making the world more similar to its pre-extinction past.

    – ZME Science

Health and Society

  • For best sleep results, some research recommends a large breakfast one to two hours after waking, a nutrient-dense lunch and a light dinner, all during compressed eating hours.

    It is also important to not go to bed hungry, while avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and high sugar intake several hours before bedtime.

    – The Wall Street Journal
  • Buying, selling and consuming wild animals, as was done at the Wuhan, China, market where this novel coronavirus is believed to have originated, is increasingly spreading deadly infectious diseases.

    Zoonotic diseases — those spread from animals to humans — have quadrupled in the last 50 years, mostly in tropical regions.

    – Axios
  • Iceland’s testing suggests 50% of COVID-19 cases are asymptomatic.

    This would suggest that, on one hand, the virus is not as dangerous as we thought, but on the other hand, it would also suggest that it has spread far more than we are currently aware of.

    – ZME Science
  • The Tokyo Olympics — with 11,000 athletes from more than 200 countries, and a reported cost of $28 billion — have been pushed from a July 24 start into 2021.

    – Axios

Business and Economics

  • Oil prices crashed to around $30 a barrel, the fallout from a price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia that threatened to further flood the world with crude.

    – The Wall Street Journal
  • The Fed unveiled a major expansion of market intervention to prevent a liquidity crunch from turning into a solvency crisis for U.S. businesses.

    The central bank signaled it would do practically anything—extending loans to big and small businesses and purchasing unlimited amounts of government debt—to help an American economy in a race against time.

    – The Wall Street Journal

Government and Politics

  • The Senate approved the largest economic stimulus package in recent memory.The $2 trillion bill would provide loans and other disbursements to a wide swath of the economy, including direct payments to Americans and loans to large and small companies.

    The bill also greatly expands unemployment insurance to cover freelance and gig workers, refills drained state coffers and extends additional resources to health-care providers.

    Economists said the package would help stabilize the coronavirus-battered economy—but likely isn’t enough to bring it back to health.

    – The Wall Street Journal
  • The Marine Corps is undertaking its most sweeping transformation in decades. The Corps is pivoting from a focus on fighting insurgents in the Middle East to developing the ability to hop from island to island in the western Pacific to bottle up the Chinese fleet.

    To reinvent themselves as a naval expeditionary force within budget limits, the Marines plan to get rid of all of their tanks, cut back on their aircraft and shrink in total numbers from 189,000 to as few as 170,000.

    – The Wall Street Journal

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