DAILY DOSE: Rich and famous off anti-vaccine propaganda; NASA spacecraft enters the Sun’s atmosphere.


By now, Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s anti-vaxx exploits are well known. He’s become the poster child of the anti-science, conspiracy theory, misinformation-spewing movement that has aligned with far-right activists. He’s made a name for himself (as if being a Kennedy weren’t enough) and has made dollars doing it. The Associated Press did a deep dive into just how the Kennedy bete-noir does his thing. Per the article, “An investigation by The Associated Press finds that Children’s Health Defense has raked in funding and followers as Kennedy used his star power as a member of one of America’s most famous families to open doors, raise money and lend his group credibility. Filings with charity regulators show revenue more than doubled in 2020, to $6.8 million. Since the pandemic started, Children’s Health Defense has expanded the reach of its newsletter, which uses slanted information, cherry-picked facts and conspiracy theories to spread distrust of the COVID-19 vaccines. The group has also launched an internet TV channel and started a movie studio. CHD has global ambitions. In addition to opening new U.S. branches, it now boasts outposts in Canada, Europe and, most recently, Australia. It’s translating articles into French, German, Italian and Spanish, and it’s on a hiring spree.” https://bit.ly/3m3OXqo


There’s this narrative going around these days that because Omicron appears to result in a milder disease, getting through the wave of infections that are definitely coming will be a walk in the park. Scientists and public health officials beg to differ. Per Science, “Even if Omicron causes milder disease, as some scientists hope, the astronomical case projections mean the outlook is grim, warns Emma Hodcroft, a virologist at the University of Bern. ‘A lot of scientists thought Delta was already going to make this a really, really tough winter,’ she says. ‘I’m not sure the message has gotten across to the people who make decisions, how much tougher Omicron is going to make this.’” Of course, we’ve seen this movie before and all the geniuses who have no background in science will figure that they know better because… well… that’s just the world we live in these days. https://bit.ly/3yAW7rd


Tokyo. A cramped, concrete jungle if there ever was one. Just like other dense cities around the world, green space in the Asian metropolis is at a premium. In the past, there was a decisive effort to create as many parks as possible in neighborhoods. However, in recent decades the trend has slowed down. Now, public planners and the public hope that the injection of private money will jump start the green space movement. Per the Japan Times, “Even Tokyo’s greenest neighborhoods are found wanting when compared to the availability of parks in other major cities around the world. At 27 square meters per person, London is as green on average as Chiyoda Ward. What’s more, Washington has nearly twice as much park space per person as London, while Stockholm leads the pack with a remarkable 80 square meters of green space per resident. This is despite Japan having undergone a green and park space revolution in the 20th century. According to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, green spaces increased fivefold in Japan from 1970 to 2010. But that growth has stumbled and then slowed over the past decade. Park space per person in Japan sat at 128,264 hectares at the beginning of 2020 — up just 10,000 hectares from the figures compiled for 2010, after growing twice that amount in the previous decade.” https://bit.ly/3GRPYtP


Mice on the Farallon Islands are a big problem and the U.S. government wants to get rid of them. They’ve decided to poison them. But poisoning the cute four-legged pests is manageable in a house or even a building. However, scaling up to an entire island can certainly pose its challenges. Per the Los Angeles Times, “So the mice are essentially co-conspirators in the demise of the storm petrels, and the question is: How do you poison 60,000 or so mice who live on an island 30 miles off San Francisco? You load helicopters with roughly 2,800 pounds of pellets laced with a rodenticide called brodifacoum and air-drop the load onto the island, a lethal last supper for the unsuspecting target audience. Some environmentalists, unsurprisingly, are going out of their minds.” https://lat.ms/3DSDjF3


We’ve gone on the record to fawn all over the efforts and overall cool things space agencies all around the world are achieving. Mars, the moon, inter-stellar space have all been visited by machines made by human hands. Now, you can add another achievement to that list. Entering the Sun’s atmosphere without melting or disintegrating. Per Nature, “A NASA spacecraft has entered a previously unexplored region of the Solar System — the Sun’s outer atmosphere, or corona. The long-awaited milestone, which happened in April but was announced on 14 December, is a major accomplishment for the Parker Solar Probe, a craft that is flying closer to the Sun than any mission in history.” It’s certainly refreshing to have some straight good news to put a smile on your face. https://go.nature.com/3GKlSbj

Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.

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