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Your first impression covers new U.S. sanctions on Russia, wearable (and potentially affordable) robot exoskeletons, and drug overdose data that may (or may not) surprise you.
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“I never lose. Either I win or learn.”
⚖️ The One About the Supreme Court
Congressional Democrats introduced legislation yesterday to expand the Supreme Court from nine to 13 justices.
It runs counter to an executive order signed last week by President Biden creating a 36-member bipartisan commission to study possible changes to the Supreme Court’s membership, jurisdiction, and lifetime terms.
The commission will report its findings in six months.
🤿 A deeper dive..
While the U.S. Constitution states there must be a Supreme Court, it gives no specific directions on the number of justices.
The Supreme Court can be expanded – or contracted – by an act of Congress, which occurred several times in the 19th century. Since 1869, the Court has remained at its current total of nine justices.
However… The Democratic bill to expand the Court appears dead on arrival. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told reporters she doesn’t support the legislation and has “no plans” to bring it to the floor for a vote.
📢 Public Response
Republican lawmakers are united in opposition to a Democratic plan that would eliminate the current 6-3 conservative majority and allow President Biden to appoint four new justices.
Likewise, many liberal-leaning lawmakers and jurists, including Justice Stephen Breyer, have suggested altering the court’s makeup for ideological reasons would damage its reputation as an apolitical body.
Democratic lawmakers sponsoring the legislation argue the move is a necessary response to Republicans quickly filling the vacancy left by former Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in an election year (after letting President Obama’s 2016 SCOTUS nomination expire).
Are Ambitious Parts Of Democrats’ Agenda Good For Democracy … Or Just The Democratic Party?
Questions about the rating system we use? Learn more
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🇺🇸 White House Sanctions Russia 🇷🇺
The Biden administration announced a range of retaliatory measures in response to “the full scope of Russia’s harmful foreign activities,” citing alleged election interference, a widespread hacking campaign, and Moscow’s claimed annexation of the Crimean Peninsula.
The White House will sanction dozens of Russian officials and entities, expel ten diplomats from the U.S., and set new restrictions on buying Russian debt (among other things).
More: As part of the sanctions, the U.S. formally accused Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) of carrying out last year’s massive SolarWinds hack that affected federal agencies and corporations alike.
The last day of testimony in the Derek Chauvin trial concluded before noon yesterday.
Chauvininvoked his Fifth Amendment right not to testify before the defense rested its case.
The prosecutionrested its case Tuesday morning after calling 38 witnesses over the course of 11 days.
Judge Peter Cahill dismissed the jury until Monday morning for closing arguments. He told them to pack a bag for their deliberations, during which they will be sequestered (isolated from any outside influence).
Mobile gaming company AppLovin raised $1.8B in an initial public offering early Thursday morning valuing it at $28.6B.
AppLovin creates tools to help developers of smartphone apps improve marketing and increase revenue. It also runs more than 200 mobile-game apps (the full list) and has said it holds about 1% market share of the $189B global mobile apps market.
The company’s stock closed Thursday down 18.5% from its IPO price, cutting AppLovin’s valuation to $23.3B.
🐉 Furry, er… Scale-y Friends Friday: The Dragon Master
Fourteen-year-old Belle Cress has loved fantasy and dragons her whole life. Her dream? To have one of the flying creatures as a pet.
After an almost year-long battle with osteoporosis – a rare form of bone-cancer – The Make-A-Wish Foundation set out to make her dream come true.
Make-A-Wish partnered with Arrow Electronics in this “marvel of engineering,” creating a fully functional robot dragon for the fantasy loving teen.
Dusk the Dragon is able to recognize and respond to Belle’s face, react to touch in multiple ways, and move on its own, showing off animal-like movements like stretching its body and wings. (Fun fact: The pair’s initial meeting took place in VR.)
“What everybody involved in this project tried to do was bring Belle’s imagination to life, and I think we’ve done that.”
The seventeen pound dragon’s body was 3D printed with each scale individually glued to its body. It contains 26 motors, several computer boards, blinking eyes, unfoldable wings, and of course, a wagging tail.
“Excited … like a feeling that I can’t really explain in my chest … sort of nervous.. excited,” Belle said, “I’ve loved dragons ever since I can remember.”
🌾 Straight Into Compton… Plenty, a vertical farming company that grows crops indoors in vertically stacked shelves, plans to build a farm inside a warehouse in Compton, CA, that will rely on robots and LED lights to produce 365 harvests of leafy greens per year. Read more.
💪 I Am Iron Man… a study conducted by technological consulting company ABI Research predicts global exoskeleton revenues will increase by a factor of 17 within the next decade. Driving the trend? “Wearable robots” that ease the strain of manual labor on the human body becoming more accessible to consumers. Read more.
🙈 Now You See Me… European physicists developed a method of making solid objects “invisible” by calculating a specific variety of light wave that can penetrate an object. Read more.
🧬 Life Finds A Way… biologists at the Gene Expression Laboratory in La Jolla, CA, created the first ever embryos that are a mix of human and monkey cells, an innovation aimed at helping scientists find new ways to produce organs for patients who need transplants.* Read more.
*Fun fact: Mixed-species embryos are named “chimeras” after a Greek mythological creature that is part lion, part goat, and part snake.
✍️ What’s in a Name?
In Game of Thrones creator George R.R. Martin’s name, what do the initials ‘R.R.’ stand for?
A) Raymond Richard B) Roland Roy C) Robert Ray D) Ronald Ryan
(keep scrolling for the answer)
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Although he is sometimes referred to as “the American Tolkien,” George R.R. Martin’s middle initials are not an homage to Lord of the Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien, but rather a coincidence. George R.R. Martin was born George Raymond Martin, and adopted Richard as his Catholic confirmation name at age 13.