Summary of “Tim Berners-Lee: ‘Stop web’s downward plunge to dysfunctional future'”

Global action is required to tackle the web’s “Downward plunge to a dysfunctional future”, its inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee has told the BBC. He made the comments in an exclusive interview to mark 30 years since he submitted his proposal for the web.
In an open letter also published on Monday, the web’s creator acknowledged that many people doubted the web could be a force for good.
“We need open web champions within government – civil servants and elected officials who will take action when private sector interests threaten the public good and who will stand up to protect the open web,” he wrote.
Wandering round the data centre at Cern, Sir Tim Berners-Lee was in a playful mood, remembering how he’d plugged the very first web server into the centre’s uninterruptible power supply over Christmas so that nobody would switch it off – only for the whole place to be powered down.
Sir Tim has a plan – the Contract for the Web – to put things back on the right track but it depends on governments and corporations doing their part, and the citizens of the web pressing them to act.
When, as my last question, I asked Sir Tim whether the overall impact of the web had been good, I expected an upbeat answer.
His brilliant creation has grown into a troubled adolescent – and Sir Tim sees it as his personal mission to put the web back on the right track.
Sir Tim’s vision was “At once utopian and realistic”, said Jonathan Zittrain, author of The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It. It rested on the idea that a free and open web would empower its users, rather than reduce them to simply being consumers, he explained.

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Summary of “This Is Where Your Childhood Memories Went”

While a handful of psychologists saw merit in this claim, the most commonly accepted explanation for childhood amnesia was that children simply couldn’t form stable memories until age 7-even though there was little evidence to support this idea.
This work laid bare the contradiction at the heart of childhood amnesia: Infants can create and access memories in their first few years of life, yet most of these memories eventually vanish at a rate far beyond the typical forgetting of the past we experience as adults.
While the brain undergoes this prolonged development outside the womb, the large and complex network of disparate brain regions that collectively create and maintain our memories is still under construction, Bauer explains, and not as capable of forming memories as it will be in adulthood.
As a consequence, the long-term memories formed in our first three years of life are the least stable memories we ever make and highly prone to disintegrating as we age.3.
New brain cells might crowd the territory of other neurons or even replace them altogether, which could in turn break or reconfigure the small circuits that likely store individual memories.
This restructuring of memory circuits means that, while some of our childhood memories are truly gone, others persist in a scrambled, refracted way.
Studies have shown that people can retrieve at least some childhood memories by responding to specific prompts-dredging up the earliest recollection associated with the word “Milk,” for example-or by imagining a house, school, or specific location tied to a certain age and allowing the relevant memories to bubble up on their own.
Even if we manage to untangle a few distinct memories that survive the tumultuous cycles of growth and decay in the infant brain, we can never fully trust them; some of them might be partly or entirely fabricated.

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Summary of “Could a massive aquifer beneath the Mojave Desert solve California’s water problem?”

It also is among several critical decisions on water policy facing the new Democratic governor, Gavin Newsom, who in his first State of the State address in February highlighted what he called California’s “Massive water challenges.” He already has scaled back one major water project – turning a proposed twin-tunnel pipeline to run beneath the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta into a single tunnel – and will soon consider changes in river-water allocations for urban and agricultural users.
Cadiz would draw water from the ground, pump it east through a proposed 43-mile pipeline to the Colorado River Aqueduct, then sell it to water districts as far as 200 miles away.
The two main questions: How quickly will the aquifer recharge with water if drawn down? And is the aquifer connected to other sources of groundwater, namely a spring that serves as an important watering ground for wandering bighorn sheep, the threatened desert tortoise and migratory birds?
A required environmental assessment, paid for by the company, found that 32,000 acre-feet of water would naturally recharge the aquifer each year, an 18,000-acre-foot annual deficit that Cadiz acknowledges would last for the project’s 50-year life.
The water district, which serves 56,000 homes in Orange County, has signed on to buy 5,000 acre-feet of Cadiz water each year at a cost of about $5.8 million.
Ferons said the district’s local water supply is too high in salt, and, like investors, California water districts are increasingly looking to diversify their sources, for safety reasons.
Most of the district’s water is imported at a time when the threat of earthquakes to the aqueducts and pipes that constitute California’s elaborate water circulatory system is a major concern to state officials responsible for the supply.
In a December letter to Cadiz, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife cited recent studies, dismissed by the company as paid for by environmentalists, that show the same chemical signatures in the spring water and in water drawn from the Fenner Basin.

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Summary of “Spain’s Watergate: inside the corruption scandal that changed a nation”

Over the next few years, Peñas and Correa saw little of each other but in 2005, that all changed.
Peñas had seen signs of corruption before among colleagues, he said, but in late 2005, after overhearing Correa discuss a bribe so blatant he couldn’t ignore it, he was forced to make a decision.
Peñas kept working on the new political party with Correa, but from early 2006 he began recording his friends and colleagues, hiding his voice recorder inside a folder he would place on the desk, or keeping it in his jacket pocket.
“For many politicians who were easily corrupted this was incredibly attractive, and Correa knew how to exploit this. He had this gift for that old way of doing things in Spain.” Mayors and their families received holidays through Correa’s travel company, or gifts of designer watches or sports cars.
Over expensive dinners in Madrid’s elite Salamanca neighbourhood, Peñas said, Correa would order wine but leave it untouched to retain a clear head. While his guests, politicians in charge of vast budgets, drank or chased women, Correa patiently watched for their weak spot.
Correa, and others like him, thrived because, until recently, corruption was not seen as a major issue.
Correa took the bait, telling him: “I, Paco Correa, have given 1bn pesetas personally to Bárcenas.” Not only that, he continued, but he knew where Bárcenas kept his money, and “How he gets it out of Spain and offshore”.
While the sentencing noted his invaluable contribution to the case, it also questioned his complicity in corruption during the period he worked for the PP and before he began recording Correa.

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Summary of “Child poverty report: food, housing, and money, not work requirements, work best”

The result of pressure from California Democratic Representatives Barbara Lee and Lucille Roybal-Allard, the provision called for the National Academy of Sciences to convene a group of experts to produce “a nonpartisan, evidence-based report that would provide its assessment of the most effective means for reducing child poverty by half in the next 10 years.”
A “Work-based package,” which increases the Earned Income Tax Credit, makes the Child Care Tax Credit fully refundable, boosts the minimum wage, and scales up WorkAdvance, a training program “In which program staff work closely with employers to place disadvantaged individuals with moderate job skills into training programs for specific sectors that have a strong demand for local workers.” This plan does the least to reduce child poverty out of the four options, cutting it from 12.6 percent to 10.2 percent, and lifting 1.8 million kids out of poverty.
That’s a reduction in child poverty of about a third: much better than the work-focused plan, but not enough to meet the goal of halving child poverty.
A “Universal supports and work poverty reduction package,” which includes a bigger increase in the EITC than the first three packages, includes a minimum wage increase to $10.25 per hour and makes the Child Tax Credit refundable, offers various anti-poverty programs to legal immigrants who are currently barred, and, most importantly, includes a child allowance of $2,700 per year, as well as a $1,200 per year publicly funded minimum child support payment for single parents entitled to child support from their former partner.
Promoting work doesn’t get you much of anywhere One thing the report suggests is that we’re hitting the limits of how much we can reduce poverty through work alone.
“There is insufficient evidence to identify mandatory work policies that would reliably reduce child poverty, and it appears that work requirements are at least as likely to increase as to decrease poverty,” they conclude.
You need to give people money A few years ago, another group of eminent poverty researchers – including Duncan, the NAS committee chair, and fellow NAS committee members Smeeding and Garfinkel, as well as fellow poverty experts Jane Waldfogel, Kathryn Edin, Luke Shaefer, David Harris, Sophie Collyer, Christopher Wimer, and Hirokazu Yoshikawa – offered a stirring call for a large child allowance, of $3,000 to $3,600 per year, paid out monthly and perhaps in greater amounts for young children, in a paper for the Russell Sage Foundation.
The single policy that does more than any other to reduce poverty is a $2,700 child allowance, which would single-handedly cut child poverty by a third.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Rare L.A. mega-storm could overwhelm dam and flood dozens of cities, experts say”

Rare L.A. mega-storm could overwhelm dam and flood dozens of cities, experts say – Los Angeles Times.
In heavily populated areas of the Los Angeles Basin, epic runoff from the San Gabriel Mountains could rapidly overwhelm a flood control dam on the San Gabriel river and unleash floodwaters from Pico Rivera to Long Beach, says a recent analysis by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
In a series of recent public hearings, corps officials told residents that the 60-year-old Whittier Narrows Dam no longer met the agency’s tolerable-risk guidelines and could fail in the event of a very large, very rare storm, such as the one that devastated California more than 150 years ago.
The dam – which stretches from Montebello to Pico Rivera and crosses both the San Gabriel and Rio Hondo rivers – is one of a number of flood control facilities overseen by the corps.
Among the communities hardest hit in a dam failure would be Pico Rivera, a city of about 63,000 people immediately below the dam.
After examining 13 California reservoirs – most of them over 50 years old – the authors argued that the risk of dam failure was likely to increase in a warming climate.
The study cited the 2017 crisis at Oroville Dam, when extreme water flows caused the dam spillway to disintegrate and triggered the evacuation of more than 180,000 people.
In the case of Whittier Narrows Dam, Travis Longcore, a spatial scientist at USC, suggested people had grown complacent about the effectiveness of the area’s flood control system.

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Summary of “Five Things Spotify Needs to Fix in 2019 – Rolling Stone”

Amid its year-end financial-results announcement, Spotify confirmed that it was set to spend between $400 million and $500 million on acquisitions throughout 2019, including the recent buyouts of podcasting content company Gimlet Media and distribution platform Anchor.
Things are looking up for Daniel Ek and his green machine – but Spotify still faces a few stark challenges.
Spotify CFO Barry McCarthy told investors on February 6th that self-serve advertising, whereby clients upload their own ads and target audiences themselves, is now “Our fastest-growing [ad] channel.” Spotify Ad Studio, the firm’s self-serve platform, is currently available to varying degrees in markets including the U.S., U.K. and Canada, ahead of an expected wider global rollout.
Analysts at MIDiA Research have predicted that 2019 will likely be the year that streaming subscription growth slows in the North America and Europe – meaning that Spotify will really need to up its game in the Middle East and North Africa region, where it launched in November.
In its forecast for 2019 – partly due to that acquisition budget of $400 million-$500 million – Spotify is projecting another annual operating loss of €200 million to €360 million.
Spotify has reportedly just paid more than $200 million to acquire New York-based podcasting production company Gimlet Media, in addition to podcasting distribution house Anchor.
If this wasn’t indication enough that Spotify is banking its future on the spoken word, Ek told investors this month that his company wants more than 20 percent of listening on Spotify dedicated to podcasts, rather than music, in years to come.
So how can Spotify use podcasts to improve its financial numbers as time wears on? Ek was asked this precise question on the Spotify Q4 earnings call.

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Summary of “How the vegan food trend made a star of the pungent jackfruit”

Thousands of miles from this tropical forest habitat, in food trucks in Los Angeles, vegan eateries in London – and now even at Pizza Hut- jackfruit consumption is surging among diners looking for an ethical alternative to meat.
Jackfruit is renowned for its meaty texture but the cumbersome fruit comes in many guises, I learned in the hills around Kochi city, at the farm of VA Thomas, Kerala’s one-man jackfruit encyclopedia.
For lunch, Thomas served us dry jackfruit, dehydrated jackfruit pieces, fresh jackfruit and boiled jackfruit mashed with turmeric and grated coconut.
Food researchers are trumpeting the potential for jackfruit to become a staple crop on a warming planet.
“The thing about jackfruit is that it’s huge – one of the biggest tree fruits in the world,” said Danielle Nierenberg, president of the Food Tank, a Washington DC-based food study institute.
In May 2018, the Kerala government declared jackfruit the state’s official fruit, with the winning slogan: “Jackfruit is the best fruit. Its fruit has innumerable good qualities.” It is now being processed into ice-cream, crisps and juices.
He signals for a waiter, who brings a plate of fish fried in batter made with one-quarter jackfruit flour.
Another study, to be presented in Rome in April, claims the use of diabetes medication fell in Kerala during jackfruit season last year, when the government was heavily promoting the consumption of its new state fruit.

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Summary of “Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant is focused on building a future after basketball”

He’s always begging Durant to talk more about the business and philanthropic ventures they’ve built together.
Because while Durant can impose his will on the basketball court, he’s still a bit reluctant to flex off of it.
The company has 10 employees at the moment, but it is moving into a new office building in New York City as it continues what Durant insists is a careful expansion.
If Durant is more comfortable downplaying their accomplishments and ambitions, he’s fine with it.
As the No. 2 pick of the 2002 NBA draft, he had the same kind of golden pathway laid out as Durant did as the No. 2 pick five years later.
“I told them that this building has my name on it, but it’s yours,” Durant says.
Durant had been wanting to expand his charitable giving in the same way he’d expanded his business portfolio.
In 2018 alone, he donated a total of $3 million to the basketball and sports leadership programs at the University of Texas and committed this $10 million to the Durant Center.

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Summary of “Ruth Bader Ginsburg Isn’t Looking to Retire Yet, But Is Another Supreme Court Justice Ready to Go?”

No one tells a Supreme Court Justice when to retire.
The public story is that of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Court’s senior liberal.
The more complex drama involves Clarence Thomas, who is seventy years old and the longest-tenured Associate Justice on the Court.
The summer of 2019 would seem an ideal time to add a third younger conservative to the Court.
With a conservative future of the Court secure, why wouldn’t he call it a day after twenty-eight years? Because, according to his friends, he feels an obligation to continue doing the job for as long as he is able, regardless of the political implications of his departure.
A former professor at Notre Dame Law School, Barrett was nominated to the appeals court by Trump, in 2017, and she has already been considered for a Supreme Court seat-the one that went to Kavanaugh.
Barrett’s personal story is ready-made to weather a Supreme Court confirmation battle.
With another Supreme Court vacancy, or two, Trump’s record and influence on the future of the country will look even more secure.

The orginal article.