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Weekly News Bites #006 | $12 UFO's, toxic plumes, A.I. Chatbot has feelings, and a legend dies
Nibbles of news while you nibble on your toast
This week was loaded with UFOs and a chemical disaster. It appears highly likely that the UFOs were hobbyist “pico balloons” that cost between $12 - $150, but that has not been confirmed.
If you are tracking the East Palestine derailment news, I did an entire post earlier this week. There are some updates that I included in the features below.
We periodically enter news cycles that come so fast and furious that they can be destabilizing. As important as I think it is to be informed, taking a breather is equally important if it gets too overwhelming. Conspiracy theories and sensationalism can be entertaining, but they can also drive you nuts if you are not careful.
By the way, I do get the irony of me saying this considering that what I do is aggregate and share the news. But I do my best to remain balanced and to give the news cycle a breather to allow more information to come out before jumping on the news hype wagon. This also means sometimes I am a little behind the news cycle, but I am okay with that to provide current and accurate information.
But if you want more in-the-moment daily news and culture breakdowns, follow me on Instagram. 😉 I publish breaking news and live updates in my stories every day.
Ok, that is enough. Time for some news bites!
East Palestine UPDATES:
Ohio is cleaning up toxic train derailment as pollution 'plume' moves downstream. During a press briefing on Wednesday, Tiffany Kavalec, head of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency's surface water division, said a thick stream of pollutants is making its way down the Ohio River towards Mississippi, drawing near Huntington in West Virginia on Tuesday afternoon. The speed at which it travels is 1 mile per hour (1.61 km per hour).
Wastewater treatment facilities in cities near the plume's path have been advised to take proactive steps to avoid contamination. So far, no flags have been raised related to drinking water quality, and standard water purification processes should be able to eliminate any trace contaminants that could remain.
Norfolk Southern skips East Palestine town hall. Residents in East Palestine, Ohio, packed a high school gym Wednesday night, hoping to get information after a Norfolk Southern train carrying hazardous materials derailed in the area earlier this month, prompting evacuations and health and environmental concerns. Norfolk Southern did not send a representative to the town hall meeting citing safety concerns.
What do we know about the latest UFOs? Biden says several of the ariel objects weren’t linked to Chinese espionage. Biden says 3 of the aerial objects were likely tied to private companies, recreation, or research. Demand continues for more transparency from the Biden administration over the balloon incident.
The Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade told Aviation Week on Thursday that one of the UFOs shot down last weekend possibly belonged to its enthusiast club. Biden ordered the $12 balloon shot down by the US Air Force with a $400,000 missile.
Congress has asked the Department of Defense for a comprehensive report on the unidentified aerial objects shot down over the United States and Canada. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) recently destroyed three aerial objects without providing prior notification or authorization from Congress. The Senators received a classified briefing on the objects shot down on Wednesday due to surveillance concerns.
Nikki Haley officially announces her 2024 presidential campaign, the second candidate following Trump to run for the GOP nomination. Haley, ex-Governor of South Carolina and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations under the Trump administration, has previously stated that she would refuse to run for president if Donald Trump wishes to seek a second term in 2024.
Senators signal bipartisan support for kids’ online safety proposal. A bipartisan group of senators put forth a bill, named the “Kids Online Safety Act” (KOSA), on Tuesday that aims to safeguard minors from any deceptive activity encountered on social media platforms. KOSA has proposed rules for platforms to protect minors from inappropriate content through new specifications and default security configurations. Additionally, it requires default privacy settings enabled for kids, regular audits of privacy policies, and more clarity about them.
GOP Senator Josh Hawley proposes banning social media for kids under 16. To create greater security and safety, a bill has been proposed which would require social media companies to check the age of their users by scanning a valid government identification. Both sides of the political aisle agree with this move due to research pointing out that too much social media can have an adverse effect on young people's brain development.
Senator John Fetterman was recently hospitalized for depression, marking his second hospital stay this month. He has been dealing with numerous health problems since his stroke while campaigning. According to Congress' attending physician, he is struggling with severe depression.
Three people were killed in a shooting at Michigan State University. On Tuesday, a 43-year-old gunman attacked the campus in East Lansing and killed three people and injured five people critically. He later died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The motive for this violent attack remains unknown as the campus remains closed for now.
NYT columnist experiences 'strange' conversation with Microsoft A.I. chatbot. In a recent article by the New York Times, technology reporter Kevin Roose shared about his experience interacting with Microsoft's AI-driven search engine feature, Sydney.
NYC teachers who refused COVID vax were flagged for law enforcement. The fingerprints of unvaccinated New York City teachers were reportedly sent to the FBI with "problem code" flags. On Wednesday in the Manhattan Federal Court, John Bursch argued on behalf of teachers who have sued the city due to firing them for not getting a Covid vaccine. Bursch said that these educators were flagged with "problem codes" and their fingerprints were then sent to the FBI and Department of Justice. The US Department of Education attaches a problem code to an employee's personnel file, which is then flagged in their fingerprints. This data is sent to both the FBI and the State Division of Criminal Justice Services and stored in national databases.
Nearly 1 in 3 high school girls report they seriously considered suicide: CDC data. Teen girls across the United States are “engulfed in a growing wave of violence and trauma,” according to federal researchers who released data Monday showing increases in rape and sexual violence and record levels of feeling sad or hopeless.
A government-backed group blacklisting conservatives views 'disinformation.' A shocking report has revealed that the State Department financially supported a group, the Global Disinformation Index, a British organization with two affiliated U.S. nonprofit groups, that created an advertising blacklist, impacting the income of legitimate conservative news outlets. This has caused a significant decrease in their potential earnings. Additionally, the list also advocated that companies should put their advertising dollars towards left-wing news outlets since they are reliable sources.
The global disinformation index listed the ten riskiest outlets: The American Spectator, NewsMax, The Federalist, The American Conservative, One America News, The Blaze, The Daily Wire, Real Clear Politics, Reason, and the New York Post.
Depression rampant among teen girls. New research from the CDC found that nearly 57% of high school girls struggled with persistent sadness or hopelessness in the past year. 30% of the girls reported seriously considering suicide in 2021. Both numbers significantly increased over a decade ago, with 36% reporting sadness or hopelessness and 19% reporting suicidal thoughts in 2011.
Republicans in at least 14 states have introduced bills targeting drag shows. The bills ban children from performances, block shows from public venues or force places that host these shows to register as “adult-oriented businesses.” The bill has been introduced in Arizona, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Texas, to name just a few.
Black students allegedly used violent force to make white peers pledge allegiance to BLM at an Ohio school. Police in Springfield, Ohio, is conducting an inquiry into a possible racially motivated assault that occurred at a playground last week. Reports are that white students were attacked and allegedly assaulted and coerced to say "Black Lives Matter" against their will.
Springfield police were called to Kenwood Elementary School on Monday morning regarding the incident, which occurred during Friday’s recess.
Inflation remains stubbornly high. According to a Tuesday Labor Department report, inflation has reduced but stayed high compared to the same period last year. Particularly, the costs of housing and food remain elevated.
“While the government is going to say that we're moving in the right direction, although very slowly, the things that Americans touch every day or every week – like oil, and food – are starting to prove a little bit more sticky than the government would like, or anybody would like,” Scott Shellady, market expert and host of Cow Guy Close on RFD-TV.
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A new study from the independent policy institution Cochrane reveals masks made "little to no difference" in curbing the spread of Covid. A review of 9 studies and 276,917 people found that covering your face with a mask doesn't have much of an effect at all on preventing you from catching coronavirus.
Past COVID infection 'as good as vaccines' at preventing severe illness. According to a recent study published in The Lancet, immunity acquired from contracting the Covid virus is able to protect people from the most serious outcomes like vaccines. This protection is likely on par with that provided after two doses of an mRNA vaccine.
Russian Warships Armed With Nuclear Weapons Deployed: Norway. Russia has begun deploying tactical nuclear weapon-armed vessels in the Baltic Sea for the first time in the last 30 years. The key part of the nuclear potential is on the submarines and surface ships of the Northern Fleet, the Norwegian intel noted. An escalation of a localized war into a wider conflict involving the United States, NATO, and Norway cannot be ruled out.
Russia advances in southern Ukraine with the aid of its Wagner mercenary group. Wagner has a history of promoting conflict in various developing countries, allowing Russia to influence the situation and advance its own agenda. Recently, a video surfaced of the Wagner group killing one of their members with a sledgehammer for attempting to defect to Ukraine.
Bruce Willis has frontotemporal dementia, and the condition worsens. Bruce Willis' condition "has progressed," and the "Die Hard" actor has been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, according to his family. The news comes after they previously revealed his aphasia diagnosis in 2022.
Actress and bombshell Raquel Welch die at age 82. Welch’s doeskin bikini that she dawned in One Million Years B.C. became one of the most iconic cinematic images of the 1960s. She was once called "a marvelous breathing monument to womankind.”
AMC Unveils New Ticket Pricing Strategy. AMC recently announced an unpopular pricing structure that would increase charges for prime seats and lower prices for the front row. This was heavily criticized since it would give favored treatment to wealthy individuals and put a financial strain on people of lesser means.