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Genetically Modified Mosquitoes Cleared For Release In The US

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A company called Oxitec has received an experimental use permit from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to release genetically modified mosquitos into the wild. This would be the first time that such an experiment was attempted within the borders of the US, and the permit would allow for the release of millions of genetically modified mosquitos each week over the next two years. The genetically modified insects will be released in Florida and Texas, but they will easily be able to travel throughout the country from there.

The mosquitos are likely only being deployed in Texas and Florida for now, because the company needs approval from each individual state in addition to federal EPA approval. A previously planned release in the Florida Keys of an earlier version of Oxitec’s GM mosquito was canceled in 2016 after push back from local residents about the potential dangers.

However, other regions have welcomed Oxitec with open arms, including Brazil, the Cayman Islands, Malaysia, and Panama.

For the recent public forum regarding Oxitec’s recent permit application in the US, there were 31,174 comments opposing the release of the mosquitos and only 56 in support. While the EPA promised to consider these votes during their review process, the permit still went through anyway.

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Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Scientists hope that these genetically modified mosquitos can help eliminate diseases that are typically carried by mosquitos, such as dengue, chikungunya, yellow fever, and Zika.

The plan is that these genetically modified male mosquitos will mate with wild females, and their genetics will cause the children to die, and should cause a collapse of the wild population.

However, there is growing concern among scientists that this technology may not be ready for deployment, and that the risks have not been studied thoroughly enough. Many scientists are warning about the potential unintended consequences that can come from unleashing such insects into the wild. For example, researchers are entirely unaware of what type of allergic reactions that these insects could cause if they interact with people.

To help with some of these concerns, the Institute for Sustainability, Energy and Environment at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign hosted a “Critical Conversation” on genetically modified mosquitoes, which involved 35 researchers from various different backgrounds, including academia, governments, and nonprofit organizations. The researchers came from many different parts of the world, and were all experts in mosquito biology.

The ultimate conclusion that the researchers came to was that the process by which this type of genetic modification was sanctioned was not transparent enough, and that the entire risk assessment for the technology needed to be restudied and reconsidered before any further wild experimentation is done. They also noted that the new risk assessment procedures should be more transparent and open to the public so researchers can monitor the studies and be confident that everything is above board.

However, it doesn’t seem that anyone is actually listening to these scientists, because the experiments are planning to go ahead as scheduled and show no signs of slowing down any time soon.

Mark Horowitz is a graduate of Brandeis University with a degree in political science. Horowitz could have had a job at one of the top media organizations in the United States, but when working as an intern, he found that the journalists in the newsroom were confined by the anxieties and sensibilities of their bosses. Horowitz loved journalism, but wanted more freedom to pursue more complex topics than you would find on the evening news. Around the same time, he began to notice that there was a growing number of independent journalists developing followings online by sharing their in-depth analysis of advanced or off-beat topics. It wasn't long before Horowitz quit his internship with a large New York network to begin publishing his own material online.

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Nancy Pelosi Reelected As House Speaker In Narrow Vote

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Nancy Pelosi won another term as Speaker of the House of Representatives on Sunday, after a narrow vote.

80-year-old Pelosi will hold the position for a second consecutive two-year term and fourth overall, having previously been elected in 2007, 2009 and 2019.

Pelosi has served as a US representative from California since 1987. A member of the Democratic Party, she is the only woman in U.S. history to serve as Speaker and, until the inauguration of Kamala Harris as Vice President, is the highest-ranking female elected official in United States history.

As House speaker, Pelosi is second in the presidential line of succession, after the vice president.

During her first speakership, she was instrumental in the passage of many of the Obama administration’s landmark bills, including the Affordable Care Act, the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and the 2010 Tax Relief Act.

Pelosi lost the speakership in 2011 after the Republican Party won a majority in the House of Representatives in the 2010 elections.

She retained her role as leader of the House Democratic Caucus and returned to the role of House minority leader. In the 2018 midterm elections, the Democrats regained control of the House.

When the 116th Congress convened on January 3, 2019, Pelosi was again elected speaker, becoming the first former speaker to return to the post since Sam Rayburn in 1955.

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Under Pelosi’s leadership, the House of Representatives impeached President Donald Trump on December 18, 2019.

Despite supporting the $2000 checks for struggling Americans, Pelosi, along with everyone in congress have provoked anger from citizens who see them as being out of touch with the average people.

The nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) estimated in 2009 that Pelosi’s average net worth was $58 million which ranks her 13th among 25 wealthiest members of Congress.

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Roll Call said Pelosi’s earnings are connected to her husband’s heavy investments in stocks that include Apple, Disney, Comcast, and Facebook. Roll Call reported that the Pelosis have $13.46 million in liabilities including mortgages on seven properties.

According to Roll Call, Pelosi and her husband hold properties “worth at least $14.65 million, including a St. Helena vineyard in Napa Valley worth at least $5 million, and commercial real estate in San Francisco”.

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FAA Responds To Numerous Reports Of A UFO Over Hawaii

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The FAA was notified after multiple people reported seeing an Unidentified Flying Object (UFO) in the sky over Leeward Oahu on Tuesday evening. Witnesses all over the region called into 911 at around 8:30 p.m.

Officials with the Federal Aviation Administration said that there were no aircraft incidents or accidents in this area at the time of the reports, but multiple witnesses reported seeing a large blue object fall out of the sky and into the ocean.

Some of the witnesses managed to get video or photos of the incident.

Witness Misitina Sape told Hawaii News Now she captured a photo of the object at 8:26 p.m. near Haleakala Avenue in Nanakuli.

Another witness named Moriah said she had never been a believer in UFOs until she saw the object fall from the sky.

“I started calling my husband and them because they were all in the garage. I was like hey. Come look up there. See if you see what I see. They all said yea!” Moriah said.

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They jumped in the car to follow the object and see what it was.

“I don’t know what it was,” she said. “This one was going so fast.”

About three miles down the road, they saw the object fall into the water.

She said that it was larger than a telephone pole but didn’t make any sound when it hit the ground.

“We called 911,” Moriah said, “For have like one cop or somebody for come out and come check em out.

She also says that they saw another light in the sky after the blue object fell into the water. She says that police saw the second light as well.

“My husband went look up and he seen the white one coming,” she said. “The white one was smaller. Was coming in the same direction as the blue one.”

FAA spokesperson Ian Gregor said the agency received a report from police Tuesday night about a possible plane down in the area “but had no aircraft disappear off radars. And no reports of overdue or missing aircraft.”

Earlier this year, the Pentagon announced the formation of a new task force that will be studying UFOs or “Unidentified Flying Objects.”

The formation of this new task force was revealed last year when the Pentagon acknowledged that military pilots were encountering aircraft that might not have been made by humans.

The new task force was officially revealed to the public after the Pentagon released declassified videos that appeared to show government aircraft interacting with UFOs in the sky.

One of the videos, taken from US Navy aircraft, seems to show the pilots chasing a UFO off the east coast of the United States.

Navy pilots reported spotting the objects flying around 30,000 feet in the air at hypersonic speeds and showing no visible engines or exhaust plumes typical of any known aircraft currently on Earth.

The new agency has been called, The Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force (UAPTF).

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Mitch McConnell’s House Vandalized Over $2,000 Checks

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had his home vandalized this week, after blocking the vote to increase stimulus payments to $2,000.

Messages like ‘WERES MY MONEY’ and ‘MITCH K1LLS THE POOR.’ were spray-painted on the building.

Police said that they don’t have any suspects.

On Saturday, McConnell released a statement to the Louisville Courier Journal which read: “Vandalism and the politics of fear have no place in our society. My wife and I have never been intimidated by this toxic playbook. We just hope our neighbors in Louisville aren’t too inconvenienced by this radical tantrum.”

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In 2015, Time listed McConnell as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. McConnell is the longest-serving U.S. senator for Kentucky in history, and the longest-serving leader of U.S. Senate Republicans in history.

During the Trump administration, Senate Republicans, under McConnell’s leadership, broke records on the number of judicial nominees confirmed. Among those nominees were Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh who were recently confirmed to the Supreme Court.

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McConnell’s critics have called him by a variety of different nicknames, including “Moscow Mitch”, “Cocaine Mitch”, the “Grim Reaper”, “Darth Vader”, “Rich Mitch”, “Nuclear Mitch”, and “Midnight Mitch.” On some occasions, he has even embraced these nicknames, although he was apparently unhappy with the more recent “Moscow Mitch.”

McConnell has a net worth of $35 million dollars, and many Americans feel that he is out of touch. He isn’t the only US politician that was a target for vandalism this week.

 

According to a report from TMZ this week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had her house vandalized with a pig’s head and fake blood.

Spray painted in black on the white garage door were the messages “$2K,”  an apparent reference to the $2,000 COVID stimulus checks that have been held up in the U.S. Senate, as well as “CANCEL RENT!” and “WE WANT EVERYTHING!”

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