Good morning. We’re not alone in this universe. Well, at least that’s what scientists say.
According to a study published yesterday in The Astrophysical Journal, scientists estimate a minimum of 36 active, communicating intelligent civilizations within the Milky Way.
Disclaimer: The Drake Equation – used to calculate this number – is widely considered an approximation, rather than law. It was written in 1961 to start a scientific dialogue on the search for extraterrestrial life (SETI).
“The sun himself is weak when he first rises, and gathers strength and courage as the day gets on.”
– Charles Dickens
Supreme Court Grants LGBTQ Protections
The U.S. Supreme Court announced a landmark LGBTQ rights decision yesterday, prohibiting employers from discriminating against workers based on gender identity or sexual orientation.
A deeper dive… Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act already prevented workplace discrimination on the basis of “sex.” This is the first federal decision to recognize LGBTQ employment discrimination as an extension of sex discrimination.
The court’s 6-3 decision was authored by Justice Neil Gorsuch – a recent Trump appointee – with conservative Chief Justice Roberts also joining the court’s four left-leaning justices.
Gorsuch explained that sex plays a “necessary and undisguisable role” in the decision to fire transgender or homosexual employees, thus violating Title VII.
Justice Gorsuch’s majority opinion came after two gay men and one trans woman were fired because of sexual orientation and gender identity, respectively, and sued their employers alleging discrimination.
What’s Next? The ruling will now protect the estimated 3.9 million working-age Americans that identify as LGBTQ in the ~27 states without laws prohibiting LGBTQ employment discrimination. Future plaintiffs will be able to seek damages where their sexuality or gender identity is a motivating factor in hiring decisions.
So… what are people saying?
The Supreme Court victory for LGBTQ rights is also a triumph for the rule of law
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Protest & Coronavirus Updates
Global cases rose above 8.10 million yesterday (up ~120k from yesterday), with over 438,600 deaths (up ~3.5k). The number of confirmed U.S. cases rose past 2.18 million (up ~20k), with 117,853 confirmed deaths (up ~450).
The FDArevoked emergency use authorization for malaria drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine yesterday, citing a lack of evidence that shows the drugs are effective for COVID-19.
The entire 10-person SWAT team of Hallandale Beach, Florida, resigned on Friday, citing safety concerns and anger at their command chiefs for taking a knee with protestors.
The NYPDannounced the removal of its plainclothes anti-crime units on Monday. The department will reassign the ~600 officers to other duties, including the detective bureau.
Russia Sentences Former U.S. Marine
A Russian court sentenced former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan to 16 years in prison on espionage charges on Monday. Russian authorities have not publicly provided details of the charges against Whelan, who was convicted in a closed-door trial. Last October, the House passed a bipartisan resolution calling for Whelan’s release.
More: According to Whelan’s lawyers, a long-time friend (who is a Russian intelligence officer) planted a flash drive containing classified materials on Whelan’s person while visiting his hotel room in 2018.
Filipino journalist Maria Ressa – CEO of the news-based website Rappler – was convicted of cyber libel in a Philippine court on Monday. The conviction relates to a 2012 Rappler article containing allegations that a well-known businessman, Wilfredo Keng, had been under government surveillance over alleged ties to criminal activity. Keng filed a formal libel complaint in 2017, which led to the present-day conviction.
More: Many view the verdict – which carries a prison sentence of up to six years – as a blow to press freedom in the Philippines, which ranks 136th (out of 180) on the 2020 World Press Freedom Index.
Over three-quarters of people (78%) who tested positive for COVID-19 reported mild or asymptomatic symptoms, according to data from more than 30,000 tests performed by California health technology company Color.
BP will write down the value of its assets by up to $17.5 billion due to long-term projections of the impact of COVID-19.
A survey of nearly 3,000 adultsfound that Americans who switched from working in an office to working from home on average spent more money last month, with a stark contrast between generations.
The DOJ on Monday charged six former eBay employees with participating in a cyberstalking campaign against the husband-and-wife publishers of an e-blog that criticized the company. The department alleges the defendants conducted covert home surveillance, sent threatening Twitter messages, and ordered an assortment of packages to the victims’ home, including live cockroaches, a funeral wreath, and a preserved fetal pig.
More: The employees in question were fired from eBay last September following an internal company investigation.
Apple’s App Haul
Apple facilitated an estimated $519 billion in billings and sales on its App Store in 2019, according to a new study commissioned by the company. The figure includes transactions handled by Apple (such as paid apps & in-app purchases) as well as other economic activity that happened via iPhone or iPad apps (such as sales of in-app ads).
More: Last May, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of allowing iPhone users to move forward with an antitrust lawsuit against Apple involving its App Store.
Rosa MacDonald-Burns began her college career after immigrating to the U.S. from Santiago, Chile, when she enrolled in ESL classes at Brazosport College in Lake Jackson, TX. Working full-time for the DOW Chemical Company, the mother (and later, grandmother) soon expanded her coursework to pursue a bachelor’s degree.
On Saturday, at 70 years old, Rosa graduated from Brazosport with a bachelor’s degree in applied technology. With her in-person graduation ceremony canceled due to the pandemic, Rosa’s son organized bilingual messages of congratulations from proud family members around the country to create a touching video tribute for the aged alumnus.
When doctors diagnosed Jerron Herman with cerebral palsy – a movement disorder associated with reduced muscle response – they focused their attention solely on his limitations. The aspiring artist was told that he would always lack full control over the left side of his body and that he would never be able to live on his own.
Fast forward to today, and Jerron now performs as a dancer with the Heidi Latsky Dance Studio in New York City, embracing the unique motions and rhythms of his body. Jerron is also a prolific playwright and a member of the Board of Trustees at Dance/USA, where he is a vocal advocate for performers with disabilities.
Sing Their Praises
Under normal circumstances, nurses at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, TN, provide around-the-clock care to patients with life-threatening conditions. During the pandemic, with loved ones prohibited from visiting the sick, the facility’s medical workers have gone out of their way to create meaningful connections with their patients.
Nurses Anna Henderson and Megan Palmer have been singing to their patients to provide them comfort in their illness, often bringing their laid-up listeners to tears. Starting with simple tunes, such as “Happy Birthday,” the amateur musicians have transitioned to original songs, which they co-write in partnership with nonprofit organization House of Song.
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