March 2, 2023

Posted by orrinj at 9:05 PM


A win against Russia - outside Ukraine ( The Monitor's Editorial Board, March 1, 2023, CS Monitor)

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has been clarifying for Europe about its values - democratic values that helped restrain the ethnic nationalism of its own past wars and now drives Moscow's aggression. The latest example is an agreement brokered by the European Union to normalize ties between Serbia and Kosovo, nearly a quarter century after a war between them left thousands killed.

The two states in the Balkans, both remnants of the former Yugoslavia, accepted an 11-point plan on Feb. 27 to improve ties, respect each other's borders, and deal with the ethnic Serb minority in Kosovo, a nation of mainly ethnic Albanians. If implemented, the plan would deal a blow to Russia's attempts to control states in Europe with Slavic or Orthodox Christian populations such as Serbia.

The invasion forced Serbia to take steps to partially distance itself from Moscow, such as seeking alternatives to Russian gas and oil. Serbia also voted for a United Nations resolution condemning the invasion and refusing to recognize Russia's annexations of eastern Ukraine.

Serbia's decision to accept the EU plan "should bring what everyone has been defending for years - peace, coexistence, a better life for Serbs and Albanians," wrote Zorana Mihajlović, a former minister under President Aleksandar Vučić, on Instagram. The move might also help accelerate Serbia's candidacy for membership in the EU.

Posted by orrinj at 9:02 PM


Beauty Is Truth, Truth Beauty: Aesthetics and the Perception of Accuracy (Mane Kara-Yakoubian, 1/03/23, Areo)

John Keats. Portrait by Joseph Severn (1821-23)
"Beauty is truth, truth beauty,--that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."
--John Keats, "Ode on a Grecian Urn" (1819)

In recent decades, empirical studies have found that aesthetics can influence assessments of credibility, evaluations of goodness and even judgements of accuracy. The more aesthetically pleasing something is, the more credible, good and accurate it is perceived to be.

Posted by orrinj at 8:50 PM



A team of engineers at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, has developed a tiny, flexible robotic arm that's designed to 3D print material directly on the surface of organs inside a living person's body.

The futuristic device acts just like an endoscope and can snake its way into a specific location inside the patient's body to deliver layers of special biomaterial to reconstruct tissue, clean up wounds, and even make precise incisions -- an amazing jack-of-all-trades they say could revolutionize certain types of surgery.

Posted by orrinj at 8:21 PM


Posted by orrinj at 9:30 AM


What does Tinubu's victory mean for Nigeria (UMAR YUNUS, 3/02/23, TRT World)

Of all the presidential polls in Nigeria since the country returned to civilian rule in 1999, this year's election tops the rest in terms of springing surprises.

The Labour Party, which had won just a handful of seats in previous elections, pulled off the most stunning result this time when its presidential candidate Peter Obi vanquished Tinubu in his fortress Lagos State. To put matters in context, Tinubu is often called the "godfather of Lagos", Nigeria's commercial hub, which he led as governor for two terms.

The Lagos victory paved the way for the Labour Party to claim the majority of National Assembly seats in several South East states, as well as Abuja, ousting serving senators and representatives along the way. 

Another surprise, also delivered by the Labour Party, is winning Nassarawa and Plateau States in North Central Nigeria, the home state of APC national chairman Abdullahi Adamu, and the Director General of APC and sitting governor, Simon Lalong, respectively. Lalong also lost his bid to become a senator.

Other surprises of this election include Atiku Abubakar's PDP winning both Katsina and Yobe, the home states of President Muhammadu Buhari and Senate president Ahmad Lawal. And the relatively unknown NNPP won Kano state, a traditional APC stronghold, by a wide margin.

This election differs from previous elections in many ways.

There were three strong contenders instead of two, as was the case in the past. The emergence of an LP candidate made the contest more competitive. The difference between the three contenders in the final result has significantly narrowed.

Vote buying has also substantially reduced, unlike in the past when electorates were offered cash to vote for specific candidates. This was possible mainly due to recent efforts by the Central Bank of Nigeria which introduced redesigned currency notes just weeks before the elections. This is believed to have hurt some politicians who might have stashed cash for vote-buying.

The use of advanced technology, such as the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) and INEC Results Reviewing Portal (IReV), is an improvement in past elections. These innovations effectively reduced electoral irregularities such as vote buying, ballot snatching, rigging, over-voting, underage voting, multiple voting and other misconduct associated with elections in Nigeria.

This election witnessed a massive participation of the youth. It's believed that these young people, aggrieved mainly by the present economic hardships in the country, partook in the process of pushing for a better government. 

.,..and if Nigeria develops good governance it should get the seat. 

Posted by orrinj at 9:27 AM


Feds arrest Michigan man who plotted to kill Jewish elected officials in the state (ANDREW LAPIN, MARCH 1, 2023, JTA)

Jack Eugene Carpenter III, a resident of Tipton, Michigan, had tweeted on Feb. 17 that he was "heading back to Michigan now threatening to carry out the punishment of death to anyone that is jewish in the Michigan govt if they don't leave, or confess," according to the FBI's affidavit. There are several prominent Jewish elected officials in the state, including Attorney General Dana Nessel, U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin and a handful of state senators and representatives. [...]

On a Twitter account the FBI linked to Carpenter, he claimed to be a former employee of the University of Michigan who "was fired for refusing to take experimental medication," apparently referring to the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Posted by orrinj at 9:13 AM


Frequency illusion: When seeing is believing, not fact (Esteban Pardo, 3/02/23, Deutsche-welle)

A frequency illusion is a cognitive bias , which takes place in the mind and affects the way we perceive the world around us.

Arnold Zwicky, a linguistics professor at Stanford University in the US, coined the term frequency illusion in 2005.

The idea was that we become more aware of things when we learn about them for the first time and that that can cause us to think that they are happening more often than they are in reality.

For example, if you buy a new red car, you may start seeing red cars more frequently and think that more people are buying red cars, or that red cars are trendy, when in reality it is possible that the number of red cars hasn't changed at all.

If we counted the number of red cars, or checked official statistics for car sales, we may indeed find that there are more red cars on the roads. But we're talking about the perception of facts here, rather than the facts themselves. 

And that's important because such perceptions, or frequency illusions, can affect the way we think and make decisions in our daily lives. We may, for example, overestimate crime rates when crimes are covered more frequently in the media.

Posted by orrinj at 8:57 AM


Global clean energy growth offset rise in CO2 emissions last year, IEA says (Emma Newburger, 3/02/23, CNBC)

Global energy-related emissions of carbon dioxide rose less than anticipated in 2022 thanks to the growth of clean energy sources like solar, wind, electric vehicles and heat pumps, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said Thursday.

Global emissions from energy rose by less than 1% last year to a new high of over 36.8 billion tons, as renewables helped limit the impacts of a global rise in coal and oil consumption, according to the IEA analysis. By comparison, global emissions from energy rose by 6% in 2021.

Posted by orrinj at 8:53 AM


Shell Energy adds last of 16 solar batteries to "landmark" virtual power plant (Sophie Vorrath, 2 March 2023, Renew Economy)

Sixteen regional commercial New South Wales government offices will soon act as a rooftop solar fuelled virtual power plant, as the last of 16 battery systems are installed for the landmark project.

The innovative VPP, installed and operated by Shell Energy in partnership with the NSW state government, has been designed to aggregate the battery storage units as a grid stabilising or bolstering resource.

The initiative by Property & Development NSW (PDNSW) will use the batteries to store excess solar output and feed up to 1,280kWh of energy back into the electricity network during peak demand periods.

Posted by orrinj at 8:23 AM


Posted by orrinj at 8:16 AM


Please Lie to Me, Tucker (MONA CHAREN  MARCH 2, 2023, The Bulwark)

Does it strike you as outrageous to suggest, as Fox News host Tucker Carlson has, that President Joe Biden's slow response to the toxic spill in East Palestine, Ohio is evidence that he doesn't care about white people? Carlson put it this way: "East Palestine is overwhelmingly white, and it's politically conservative. That shouldn't be relevant, but it very much is. . . . [It's] a poor benighted town whose people are forgotten, and in the view of the people who lead this country, forgettable." Not to be outdone in the racial sweepstakes, Charlie Kirk denounced Biden's "war against white people."

If you're disgusted by that, you may understand how some conservatives felt in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina became the occasion for charging George W. Bush with racism. Jesse Jackson told CNN, "I saw five thousand African Americans on the I-10 causeway. It looked like Africans in the hull of a slave ship." He also claimed that when churches were contacted about offering aid, they first demanded to know whether the victims were black or white. During NBC's telethon for hurricane relief, Kanye West famously declared that "George W. Bush doesn't care about black people." Those sentiments got a good airing on major TV outlets. (That West wound up on the Mar-a-Lago patio 17 years later in company with a Nazi suggests that perhaps he shouldn't have been treated as an oracle back then.)