An ex-Louisville cop pleads guilty to using excessive force in Breonna Taylor protests

NPR - Wed, 10/12/2022 - 11:52

A former police officer blamed for instigating a conflict that led to the fatal shooting of a Black barbecue restaurant owner during the Breonna Taylor protests has pleaded guilty in federal court.

(Image credit: Louisville Metro Police Department via AP)

Categories: World News

What a MacArthur Foundation ‘Genius Grant’ Gave Me

N.Y. Times - Wed, 10/12/2022 - 11:52
The award is about so much more than money and secrecy.
Categories: Local News

‘American Idol’ runner-up Willie Spence dies at 23

San Jose Mercury - Wed, 10/12/2022 - 11:51

Willie Spence, a singer who as a teen went viral with his rendition of Rihanna’s hit “Diamonds” and was the runner up on Season 19 on “American Idol, has died the show confirmed in a social media posting on Wednesday.

He was 23 years old.

“We are devastated about the passing of our beloved American Idol family member, Willie Spence,” read the caption on a video of Spence’s “Idol” audition, posted on the show’s verified Instagram account. “He was a true talent who lit up every room he entered and will be deeply missed. We send our condolences to his loved ones.”

The singer was killed in a car accident in Tennessee on Tuesday, according to CNN affiliate WSB, citing the Marion County Sheriff’s Office.

Spence was driving an SUV when he went off the road and crashed into a car that was stopped on the shoulder, according to the accident report.

TMZ also reported that a family member confirmed to them that Spence died after a crash.

CNN has reached out to representatives for Spence.

The West Palm Beach, Florida native relocated with his family to Georgia as a child. It was while singing in his local high school that Spence was first discovered.

A video of him singing “Diamonds” in what appeared to be a classroom in 2017 went viral and has since racked up more than 15 million views on YouTube.

The performance landed him an appearance on Steve Harvey’s daytime talk show. Spence also chose to perform the song for his audition for “American Idol” in 2021.

He blew judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan away with Richie declaring Spence “unbelievable” and Bryan saying he did not want the singer’s performance to end.

“When you think about your future, and you think about the voice you have cause you know it stops people in their tracks, this is the magic you have, in five years what do you want it to look like?” Perry asked Spence. “In your wildest dreams, if nothing was standing in your way?”

“I just want my voice to reach the world and just share my gift,” Spence replied. “Hopefully winning a Grammy one day. That’s where I see myself in five years.”

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“American Idol” fifth season runner up Katharine McPhee Foster took to her Instagram stories to post a tribute to Spence, who she met on “Idol” during his season.

“I received very tragic news tonight. Sweet @williespenceofficial passed away in a car accident,” she wrote on her Instastory along with a video of her and Spence from the show. “Only 23 years old. Life is so unfair and nothing is ever promised. God rest your soul Willie. It was a pleasure to sing with you and to know you.”

She also shared his final Instagram posting, a video of himself in a car singing the Christian tune “You Are My Hiding Place.”

Categories: Local News

Heating costs forecast to soar this winter

CNN World News - Wed, 10/12/2022 - 11:50
No matter how you heat your home, the cost of that heat is likely to soar, according to a forecast Wednesday from the Energy Information Administration.
Categories: World News

Nuclear Power Isn’t Clean — It Creates Hellish Wastelands of Radioactive Sewage

TruthOut - Wed, 10/12/2022 - 11:47

Joshua Frank’s brilliant Atomic Days, from Haymarket Books, takes us deep into the horrific clogged bowels of the failed technology that is nuclear power.

Frank’s excursion into the radioactive wasteland of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, in eastern Washington State’s Columbia River Valley, is the ultimate real-world nightmare.

Unfortunately, it serves as a wailing siren for what faces us with the atomic wastes from our commercial reactors, now joined at the toxic hip to the global weapons industry.

“Like a ceaseless conveyer belt,” Frank writes, “Hanford generated plutonium for nearly four long decades, reaching maximum production during the height of the Cold War.”

It is now, he says “a sprawling wasteland of radioactive and chemic sewage … the costliest environmental remediation project the world has ever seen and, arguably, the most contaminated place on the entire planet.”

Current cost estimates to clean up the place, says Frank, “could run anywhere between $316 and $662 billion.”

But that depends on a few definitions, including the most critical: What does it mean to “clean up” a hellhole like Hanford? If you want to remove plutonium from a radioactive wasteland, what do you do so that it doesn’t create another radioactive wasteland? And what does that say about the 90,000 tons of high-level waste sitting at more than 50 U.S. commercial reactor sites?

To put it in perspective, we spend $2.6 billion each year just to preserve Hanford as it is. The clean-up estimate, according to Frank, has roughly tripled in the past six years, leaving us to believe that in another six years it could easily be over $6 trillion.

The environmental consequences are colossal. As Frank abundantly documents, Hanford is an unfathomable mess. Giant tanks are leaking. Plutonium and other apocalyptic substances are rapidly migrating toward the Columbia River, which could be permanently poisoned, along with much more. Local residents have been poisoned with “permissible permanent concentration” of lethal isotopes on vegetables, livestock, and in the air and drinking water.

Such exposures have even included a deliberate experiment known as the “Green Run” in which Hanford operatives “purposely released dangerous amounts of radioactive iodine.”

Such emissions are especially damaging to embryos, fetuses and small children, whose thyroids can be easily destroyed (as we are now seeing at Fukushima). But back then the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wanted to know how fallout would flow in wind currents.

The product was a “death mile” stretching from the Columbia River basin to the ocean, filled with casualties of radioactive poisoning.

After decades of devastating leaks from defective storage tanks, the Los Angeles Times reported that more radioactivity was stored at Hanford “than would be released during an entire nuclear war.”

Thousands of such tanks at Fukushima may soon be given a governmental green light to dump their poisons in the Pacific, with potentially apocalyptic results.

Giant tanks are leaking. Plutonium and other apocalyptic substances are rapidly migrating toward the Columbia River, which could be permanently poisoned.

At Hanford, “the waste was so hot it would boil … for decades to come,” i.e., right up to the present day, writes Frank.

Despite official denials, Frank documents a terrifying range of catastrophic leaks into the soil, water tables and streams throughout the reservation. By 1985, he writes, “despite $7 billion spent over the previous ten years, no progress had been made in ridding the aging tanks” of their deadly offal.

To this day “Hanford remains the most complex environmental mess in the United States,” riddled with problems that provide huge profits for corporations that land clean-up contracts and then fail to deliver, exceeding the complexity even of the infamous waste dump at West Valley, New York, and the highly radioactive fallout zone at Santa Susana, California, just north of Los Angeles.

But Hanford’s not alone. Frank also takes us to Chelyabinsk, the site of a Soviet era disaster, and to another wasteland around Kyshtym. Like the 1000-square-mile “dead zone” around Chernobyl, Hanford is full of areas where human life is perilous at best.

To put the nuclear power industry in a larger context, Frank guides us through the “permanent war economy” birthed during WWII, and discusses Franklin Roosevelt’s ambivalent relations with the “Malefactors of Great Wealth” who often stood in the way of making the U.S. the “Arsenal of Democracy,” and who once even plotted to kill him.

With the decision to build an A-Bomb, the giant Bechtel Corporation used the 120-square-mile reservation at Hanford to produce 103.5 metric tons of plutonium, perhaps the deadliest substance known to humanity.

But there was no effective solution for what might happen to the place in the aftermath. The Waste Treatment Plant meant to “vitrify” rad wastes into glass began construction in 2002, with plans to open in 2011. It has become, in both cost and area, “the largest single construction operation taking place anywhere in the United States,” now with an estimated price tag of $41 billion and a projected opening in 2036.

With “a string of bungled jobs under its belt,” Bechtel’s failed “Big Dig” in Boston — a much-vaunted tunnel from Logan Airport to downtown — reflected its work at Hanford when a collapse killed a 39-year-old woman and resulted in $357.1 million settlement exempting management from criminal prosecution.

As the U.S.’s fourth-largest privately held company, Bechtel spending $1.8 million on D.C. lobbying in 2019-20 was par for the course. The payback, Frank writes, comes in the tragic diseases suffered by Hanford workers like Abe Garza and Lawrence Rouse, usually amid terse, well-funded official denials. Researchers like Karen Wetterhahn and veterans like Victor Skaar have joined Vietnam victims of Agent Orange in being victimized by exposures they were repeatedly assured were “safe.” Whistleblowers like Ed Bricker were even subjected to intense spying and sabotage by close associates he was deceived into accepting as friends.

Meanwhile activists like Russell Jim of the Yakama Tribe began to force “an immeasurable amount of transparency” around the Hanford disaster. Their decades of hardcore community organizing came with a growing demand for accountability that has changed the political atmosphere surrounding the cleanup.

The debate has carried into the use of commercial atomic power.

Because of Hanford’s nuclear presence, five atomic reactors were constructed in Washington State, promising electricity that would be “too cheap to meter.”

But like the soaring costs of plutonium production and clean-up, the Washington Public Power System plunged into the biggest public bankruptcy in U.S. history, due to massive delays and cost overruns. Only one of the nukes now operates.

Sadly, some self-proclaimed climate activists have fallen into the atomic pit, arguing that in the face of the acute threat of climate change, nuclear power should be pursued as a way to lower emissions.

But they all ignore the big lesson Joshua Frank teaches us about Hanford: All the rhetoric in the world can’t cover for the physical realities of dealing with atomic radiation. And atomic fires burning at 571 degrees Fahrenheit will never cool the planet. The mines, the mills, the fuel fabrication, the reactors themselves, the waste dumps, all that horrendous multitrillion-dollar paraphernalia — they together comprise the most lethal and expensive technological failure in human history.

Many reactor promoters have long vehemently denied any connection between their “peaceful atom” and the scourge of war, but anti-nuclear activists have exposed the falsity of those claims. For example, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, a British advocacy organization that opposes both nuclear weapons and the building of new nuclear power facilities, writes:

The civil nuclear power industry grew out of the atomic bomb programme in the 1940s and the 1950s. In Britain, the civil nuclear power programme was deliberately used as a cover for military activities…. The development of both the nuclear weapons and nuclear power industries is mutually beneficial. Scientists from Sussex University confirmed this once again in 2017, stating that the government is using the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station to subsidise Trident, Britain’s nuclear weapons system.

As the atomic energy business is increasingly priced out of the electricity market by wind, solar, batteries, and increased efficiency and conservation, we will likely see the nuclear power industry increasingly admitting to what it always was — a necessary servant of the nuclear weapons industry.

Fittingly, the only future for atomic reactors will be as a bottomless pit for ecological suicide and massive public subsidies — exactly like Hanford.

Indeed, for readers truly interested in the future of atomic energy, take a good look at how it plays in Joshua Frank’s Atomic Days. Then ask how soon we can cover the whole damn place with solar panels.

Categories: World News

Microsoft attempts to eat Oracle's database lunch with Azure migration service

The Register - Wed, 10/12/2022 - 11:45
Redmond hopes move will lure more to its PostgreSQL managed service

Microsoft is launching a database migration tool to help Oracle users shift to a PostgreSQL managed service on Azure.…

Categories: Tech News

'We Don't Have Much Time Left': Co-Author of UN Climate Report Detained at Climate Protest

Motherboard (Vice) - Wed, 10/12/2022 - 11:42

On Tuesday morning, an IPCC report author and climate scientist was taken into police custody while protesting  alongside activists blocking traffic in Bern, Switzerland. 

The scientist, Julia Steinberger, is a professor of ecological economics at the University of Lausanne and contributed to the 6th Assessment Report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, specifically its third chapter on emissions mitigation pathways that are still possible this century. 

The protest was organized by Renovate Switzerland group, and advocated for improved energy efficiency in buildings. Activists glued themselves to the road as part of a blockade; it was the fifth action by the group in the last week, according to local news reports. In a video of the protest, Steinberger was carried off by police and placed in a van as she said in French, "non-violent civil action is important. We don't have much time left."

On its website, Renovate Switzerland paints a dire picture of the climate crisis. Its page on explaining the urgency behind climate protests opens up with a dark quote from the United Nations Secretary general, Antonio Guterres, who said in April that the IPCC report "is a litany of climate policies. It's a record of shame, cataloging the empty promises that set us firmly on the path to an unlivable world." 

Renovate Switzerland also points to multiple IPCC reports, as well as a study that suggests that by 2070 some 3.5 billion people will be forced to migrate because of inhospitable living conditions thanks to climate change. 

“This summer, Switzerland recorded the second hottest summer since measurements began in 1864. Record-breaking heat wave summers such as we have experienced this year will be the norm for an average summer by 2035,” the group's website states. “Such heat brings its share of disasters and suffering. In Switzerland, glaciers are disappearing at a breakneck pace, forests are burning or dying, agricultural land is drying up, harvests are failing, lakes and rivers are evaporating. Elsewhere in the world, millions of people are losing their place of residence or are already suffering from famine.”

In response to the Swiss government’s energy conservation plan in the face of gas and power shortages, Renovate Switzerland announced it will commit to protests to pressure Switzerland’s government to carry out an extensive housing renovation plan that would improve insulation and energy efficiency. “With regard to energy savings, [the government] discharges its responsibilities by counting on the small voluntary gestures of the population and businesses,” the group told local news.

"The thermal renovation of buildings… is logical, socially progressive… it creates jobs," Steinberger said at the protest in a video shared by Renovate Switzerland. "But the government does not do it. So we see that we are at an impasse."

The IPCC report, and the chapter worked on by Steinberger specifically, offer gloomy outlooks for the future beyond Switzerland. In it, scientists find that humanity will likely exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius within the next two decades unless steep cuts are made. By 2050, we can expect famines, droughts, and mass migrations as extreme weather events become more common. 

Heatwaves, to take one example, already kill thousands and will only become deadlier as we surpass 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming. One recent UN and Red Cross report suggests that "projected future death rates from extreme heat are staggeringly high—comparable in magnitude by the end of the century to all cancers or infections diseases—and staggeringly unequal, with people in poorer countries seeing far greater levels of increase."

Over the years, IPCC reports have painted an increasingly grim picture for what needs to be done. Earlier this year, an author of the IPCC’s synthesis report—a compilation of what we’ve learned about climate change thus far—told The Atlantic that there are three broad buckets of scenarios to anticipate. One is that a third of Earth's total energy production goes towards removing carbon from the atmosphere while decarbonizing everything, a situation deemed nearly impossible. A second envisions that energy demand nearly collapses, decarbonization and carbon removal continue, and energy efficiency outpaces its historical rate of progress—all at the same time. The most likely one is that we fail to limit global temperature growth to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

In the face of all this, then, it makes sense that Steinberger decided to join protests to block traffic. There’s a growing debate over the best way to pressure governments and corporate actors to act, from civil disobedience to destruction of fossil fuel infrastructure, but what is clear is that something needs to be done to mobilize more action lest we find ourselves in some of the worst climate scenarios.

A photo posted by Renovate Switzerland later showed Steinberger standing alongside fellow activists outside a police building. "Today's 7 sympathizers are free again, they're fine and will do it again as long as BR doesn't have a plan to #RenovateSwitzerland," the group said. 

Steinberger did not respond to Motherboard’s request for comment.

Categories: Tech News

Scientists Taught Brain Cells in a Dish to Play Video Games and It's Pretty Wild

Motherboard (Vice) - Wed, 10/12/2022 - 11:42

The brain is often compared to a computer––after all, both use electrical signals to send messages—and recent research has sought to combine them. This is the basis behind DishBrain, the first real-time synthetic biological intelligence system that can harness the inherent adaptive computation of the neuron to perform goal-oriented tasks such as playing the legendary arcade game Pong

In a study that was published on Wednesday in Neuron, researchers wired up in vitro biological neuronal networks (BNNs) made from embryonic rodent and human-induced pluripotent stem cells to create the DishBrain. According to the study, the DishBrain system “can leverage the inherent property of neurons to share a 'language'’ of electrical activity to link silicon and BNN systems through electrophysiological stimulation and recording.” This system was then essentially plugged into a virtual recreation of the beloved table tennis-inspired video game Pong

“We chose Pong due to its simplicity and familiarity, but, also, it was one of the first games used in machine learning, so we wanted to recognize that,” Brett Kagan, Chief Scientific Officer of Melbourne-based biotech start-up Cortical Labs and one of the study’s authors, said in a press release

It’s not the first time brain-computer interfaces have been used, nor is it the first time they’ve been applied to video games. However, this study wanted to see if the jumbles of neurons could be induced to display signs of what the paper deems "sentience,” or “responsive to sensory impressions through adaptive internal processes." 

When provided with simple electrical sensory input and feedback, the neurons in the DishBrain system were able to adjust their firing activity and improve performance over time, demonstrating learning, according to the authors. In comparison, systems with a stimulus but no feedback showed no learning. Specifically, the study relies on the free energy principle or the idea that the brain (or in this case, groups of neurons) needs to change its actions to adapt to its environment to be more efficient. 

As the first of its kind, the DishBrain system is a promising demonstration of a synthetic-biological system that can learn over time. It also paves the way for future research on the brain, learning, and intelligence. 

Dr. Hon Weng Chong, Chief Executive Officer of Cortical Labs and study co-author, also noted that it could provide insight into debilitating conditions such as epilepsy and dementia. 

“This is brand new, virgin territory,” Chong said in a press release. “We want more people to come on board and collaborate with this, to use the system that we’ve built to further explore this new area of science.” 

Categories: Tech News

Andy Detwiler, Armless Farmer Who Became a YouTube Star, Dies at 52

N.Y. Times - Wed, 10/12/2022 - 11:37
After a childhood accident, he learned how to drive tractors and feed farm animals with his feet. Then he started a popular farming channel on YouTube.
Categories: Local News

This Chicken Dinner Recipe Makes for a Sophisticated Weeknight Meal

N.Y. Times - Wed, 10/12/2022 - 11:35
The two are paired with a buttery pan sauce for an easy, low-lift, high-reward weeknight meal.
Categories: Local News

TikTok wants to be Amazon, plans US fullfillment centers and poaches staff

ARS Technica - Wed, 10/12/2022 - 11:33
TikTok wants to be Amazon, plans US fullfillment centers and poaches staff

Enlarge (credit: NurPhoto / Contributor | NurPhoto)

When Jeff Bezos started Amazon, his motto was “get big fast,” and apparently, ByteDance is applying the same ethos to set its meteorically popular social media platform, TikTok, hot on Amazon's heels. In the past few weeks, TikTok has posted a series of job listings that, as Axios reported, mark TikTok’s first major move into US e-commerce—unpredictably, by building Amazon-like fulfillment centers.

Job listings for "Fulfillment By TikTok Shop" seek to staff key roles like logistics solutions managers or operations research engineers to assist TikTok in building “international warehousing, customs clearings, and supply chain systems that support domestic e-commerce efforts in the US and cross-border e-commerce efforts,” Axios reported.

It looks like TikTok is building a US-based workforce capable of warehousing, delivering, and processing returns.

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Categories: Tech News

Trump Will Finally Have To Face Questions About Alleged Rape, Judge Rules

Motherboard (Vice) - Wed, 10/12/2022 - 11:28

Former President Donald Trump must sit for a deposition as part of a defamation lawsuit over his alleged rape of columnist E. Jean Carroll, a federal judge in Manhattan ruled Wednesday. 

And that deposition is coming up fast. The date is now set for Wednesday, Oct. 19—in just one week.

The ruling, delivered by U.S. District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan, means Trump is now all but certain to actually have to sit down and answer questions about the incident. 

Carroll accused Trump in 2019 of raping her in a New York department-store dressing room in the the mid-1990s. Trump denied the claim, and accused Carroll of inventing the accusation to help sell a book. Trump’s denial prompted Carroll to launch her lawsuit accusing Trump of defaming her with his denial. 

Trump attempted to delay the deposition, and Kaplan’s decision formally denied that request. Kaplan said he believed Trump’s appeal, which is still pending in federal court in Washington D.C., would not succeed. And in the meantime, forcing Trump to sit for the already-delayed deposition wouldn’t create an undue hardship for Trump, Kaplan said. 

Kaplan’s decision also included a reprimand for Trump’s legal team, which had described Carroll’s legal position as “asinine.” 

“The Court will not tolerate by counsel such inappropriate language again,” Kaplan said. 

Carroll is scheduled to be deposed this Friday. 

Trump, who once infamously boasted of grabbing women by their genitalia, has repeatedly denied allegations from over a dozen women who accused him of sexual misconduct. 

Trump’s failure to delay his deposition adds to his already towering tsunami of legal trouble. Trump faces a criminal investigation in Georgia over his alleged attempt to reverse his 2020 electoral defeat, and another from the Department of Justice over whether he improperly stored highly-sensitive classified information at his Palm Beach club. 

Trump has denied all wrongdoing and insisted that the swirl of accusations are all part of a Democratic “witch hunt.” 

Trump invoked his Constitutional Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination during a recent deposition in New York, which took place as part of a sweeping investigation into potential fraud at his private company. Trump declined to answer questions even though he had previously said the Fifth Amendment was only for guilty people and “the mob.”

A defendant’s decision to invoke the Fifth Amendment cannot be used against them in a criminal trial. But it can be used to draw an adverse inference in a civil lawsuit. In other words, in a civil case, lawyers are allowed to infer that a defendant refused to answer questions because the truth made them look bad.

Categories: Tech News

Turmoil Returns to the U.K. Bond Market

N.Y. Times - Wed, 10/12/2022 - 11:27
The Bank of England started a bond-buying program last month to stabilize financial markets. But its plan to end the program this Friday is only making investors more nervous.
Categories: Local News

Doug Wilson believed in Mike Grier in 2006. Wilson, Grier said, still has his back now

San Jose Mercury - Wed, 10/12/2022 - 11:25

SAN JOSE – Mike Grier has put his stamp on the San Jose Sharks roster since he became the team’s general manager this summer, moving out certain players and bringing in ones he feels play to a certain identity.

One of Grier’s biggest advocates, he said, has been Doug Wilson, the man he replaced when he became the Sharks’ GM three months ago.

Wilson, who stepped down as the Sharks’ top hockey executive in April after 19 years on the job, will attend the special recognition night the team is holding for him Saturday prior to its game against the Chicago Blackhawks.

“It will be great to see him in on Saturday,” Grier said in a text message to this news organization. “He has been very supportive of me through this process. He has done so much for this city and organization that I’m thrilled that he is being honored.”

Grier and Wilson have known each other for over 15 years.

In his playing days, Grier, as a free agent in July 2006, was 31 when he left the Buffalo Sabres to sign a three-year contract with the Sharks worth a then-reported $5.3 million. The average annual value of Grier’s contract, $1.77 million, was a raise over the $1.36 million he earned with the Sabres the previous season.

Grier and Curtis Brown signed with the Sharks at the same time, and part of the reason they were brought in was to help address the Sharks’ woeful penalty killing, which finished 23rd out of 30 teams the previous season.

“We’ve addressed our penalty-killing, our size, and our experience,” Wilson said then. “We’ve found guys in the prime of their careers that are quality people.”

In 2006, the Sharks lost in the second round in six games to the Edmonton Oilers, who would go on to play Bret Hedican, the Sharks’ color analyst on broadcasts, and the Carolina Hurricanes in the Stanley Cup Final.

“He’s a physically dominant guy that we would have liked to have in the series against Edmonton,” Wilson said of the then-6-foot-1, 220-pound Grier. “He kills penalties, he scores big goals and he punishes people, too.”

“As soon as I found out the Sharks were involved, they shot up to the top of the list for me,” Grier said that year after he signed. “I like the commitment here. In the coming years, they have a real legitimate chance at winning the Stanley Cup.”

The Sharks won the Pacific Division in 2008 and captured the President’s Trophy the NHL’s best regular season team in 2009. But San Jose never made it past the second round in any of Grier’s three seasons with the team, and he re-joined the Sabres in 2009 for the final two seasons of his NHL career.


Geier was a leader for the Sharks — on and off the ice. But in his time here, he also watched how Wilson went about his business as the team’s general manager.

“I learned many things from him about management that I have incorporated into how I do my job,” Grier said.

Categories: Local News

For Israel and Lebanon, a U.S.-mediated deal settles a long-running maritime dispute

NPR - Wed, 10/12/2022 - 11:25
An Israeli soldier walks past a sign at a tourist site at the Israeli side of the border with Lebanon in Rosh Hanikra, Israel, on Tuesday.

After a decade of negotiations, this week's agreement resolves questions of who gets to drill for natural gas in disputed waters off the Mediterranean coast. But its implementation isn't a sure thing.

(Image credit: Amir Levy/Getty Images)

Categories: World News

Leonard Leo Pushed the Courts Right. Now He’s Aiming at American Society.

N.Y. Times - Wed, 10/12/2022 - 11:25
After leading efforts to put conservatives on the bench, the activist has quietly built a sprawling network and raised huge sums of money to challenge liberal values.
Categories: Local News

East Coast real estate firm buys San Jose hotel for nearly $16 million

San Jose Mercury - Wed, 10/12/2022 - 11:20

SAN JOSE — A San Jose hotel that’s part of a four-hotel purchase package has been bought in a deal whose final price wound up at just under $16 million, documents filed with Santa Clara County officials show.

The hotel, located at 5190 Cherry Ave. in San Jose next to the Bass Pro Shops-anchored Almaden Ranch retail and restaurant complex, was bought by an affiliate of Magna Hospitality, according to public records.

Magna Hospitality’s affiliate paid nearly $15.8 million for the hotel building, a transfer tax statement that was filed on Oct. 6 with the county shows.

Rhode Island-based Magna Hospitality also obtained a ground lease for the land beneath the hotel, according to the county public filing.

The new owner intends to convert the hotel into a Hampton Inn, according to a license application filed with the state Alcoholic Beverage Control agency.

The purchase makes sense, said Alan Reay, president of Irvine-based Atlas Hospitality Group, which tracks the California lodging market.

“Magna Hospitality is a good company and a good operator,” Reay said. “This is a good play by Magna especially when you are talking about newer products like this.”

The hotel was developed in 2019 and has 115 rooms. At present, the hotel is part of the Wyndham Hotels & Resorts brand.

“You are going from the Wyndham reservation system to the Hilton network,” Reay said. “You are targeting higher-end business travelers. This will result in higher revenue and bigger profits.”

Magna Hospitality, to help bankroll its purchase of the four hotels that included the San Jose lodging complex, obtained $77.5 million in financing from Western Alliance Bank, the county documents show.

In addition to the purchase financing, some of the loan funds might also be used for physical upgrades or other endeavors to help convert the San Jose hotel to a Hampton Inn.

Seeking to upgrade a just-bought hotel dovetails with Magna Hospitality’s philosophy, a post on the real estate firm’s website suggests.

“Magna continues to focus on value-add hotel investment opportunities exclusively within the lodging sector,” the web post states.

Buying a hotel at what works out to roughly $137,000 a room also appears to be an excellent strategy, even in the aftermath of the coronavirus outbreak.

The economic impacts unleashed by the coronavirus devastated the worldwide travel and lodging sector and were particularly brutal in the Bay Area, which greatly depends on business travel and convention visitors.

“If you wanted to replace the hotels that Magna Hospitality just bought with a new hotel, the construction costs would probably be $250,000 to $300,000 a room,” Reay said. “Plus, you have to find a location and get the project approved.”


Categories: Local News

Kids 5-11 can now get the bivalent, BA.5-targeting COVID booster

ARS Technica - Wed, 10/12/2022 - 11:17
Avery, 6, and Aidan, 11, got their second Moderna COVID-19 vaccine doses at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center on Friday, June 25, 2021, as part of the KidCOVE study evaluating the safety and efficacy of the Moderna vaccine in young children.

Enlarge / Avery, 6, and Aidan, 11, got their second Moderna COVID-19 vaccine doses at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center on Friday, June 25, 2021, as part of the KidCOVE study evaluating the safety and efficacy of the Moderna vaccine in young children. (credit: Getty | MediaNews Group)

The US on Wednesday expanded access to the "updated" bivalent COVID-19 boosters targeting the omicron subvariant BA.5, now allowing children ages 5 to 11 to get a fall booster shot. Previously only adults and kids no younger than 12 were eligible.

In quick succession, the Food and Drug Administration this morning announced the expanded authorization of both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna bivalent COVID-19 boosters, with the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Rochelle Walensky, endorsing that authorization—officially making the vaccines available to little arms—just a few hours later.

"This is a critical step in our fight against COVID-19," Walensky wrote in a tweet announcing her recommendation. "An updated vaccine can help bolster protection for our children this winter."

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Categories: Tech News

Woman dead in East Bay hit-and-run; police say driver was speeding

San Jose Mercury - Wed, 10/12/2022 - 11:16

ANTIOCH — A motorist speeding in a vehicle fatally hit a woman late Tuesday, police said.

The driver took off from the scene, and police in a statement from spokesman Officer Darryl Saffold said they are looking for him. The fatality is considered a hit-and-run, Saffold said.

The 50-year-old woman was walking in a crosswalk west across the street at Contra Loma Boulevard and Buchanan Road about 11:05 p.m. when the collision happened. The driver was going south on Contra Loma Boulevard.

Officers found the woman about 50 yards away from the intersection. Saffold said the driver was speeding and fled the area.

The woman was alive when officers arrived, and medics worked to save her at the scene. She died later at a hospital after being rushed there in an ambulance.

Authorities did not identify her Wednesday.

Police asked anyone with information about the fatality to contact Officer Joshua Egan at

Please check back for updates.

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Categories: Local News

Federal Reserve Officials Worried About Risks of Faster Inflation at Last Meeting

N.Y. Times - Wed, 10/12/2022 - 11:15
Minutes from the Fed’s September meeting showed many were more worried about doing too little to control inflation than too much.
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