The Daily Moth 12-21-17

December 22, 2017


December 21 is “Winter Solstice”; UN General Assembly Rejects Trump’s Decision to Recognize Jerusalem as Capital of Israel; Venus Williams Will Not Be Charged for Fatal Car Crash, But Family of Victim Will Pursue Civil Lawsuit; Woman Murders Mother of Newborn Baby And Kidnaps Child To Cover Up For Her Miscarriage; News Briefs: Australia Vehicle Plows in Pedestrians, U.S. Life Expectancy Lowered, & House Votes for 2 Bills; Four Tech News Briefs; Genetic Scientists Makes More Breakthroughs in "Curing" Deaf Mice


Hello, welcome to the Daily Moth! It is Thursday, December 21. Ready for news? 




Today, December 21, is the winter solstice — which is the shortest day and the longest night of the year on Earth’s northern hemisphere. It is the “start” of the winter season. 


But on the southern hemisphere, those south of the equator, it is their summer solstice, which is the longest day of the year. Hot over there, cold here. 


It is based on the Earth’s tilt on its current position on its orbit around the sun. Right now, the sun’s rays cover more of the southern hemisphere, so there is more daylight and higher temperatures, while for the northern hemisphere, there is less daylight and lower temperatures. 


The times of sunsets differ depending on where you are in North America, though. Generally northern states have 


The winter solstice is celebrated by many people who follow astronomy or pagan traditions at various ancient sites such as Stonehenge.




The U.N. General Assembly today passed a nonbinding resolution to reject the Trump administration (USA)’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. 128 countries voted for it, 9 against, with 35 abstaining. 


Before this vote, the US’s UN Ambassador Nikki Haley had warned that if countries voted against the U.S., they would “take names” and remember it. She said America will put its embassy in Jerusalem and no vote by the UN would make any difference. 


President Trump warned the UN by threatening to cut financial aid to countries who voted against them. He said, “let them vote against us. We’ll save a lot. We don’t care.” 


The UN Security Council had proposed this resolution earlier this week, but the US vetoed it, so Turkey, Yemen, and other countries with a Muslim majority requested the UN to hold an emergency session today. 


The UN has long been at odds with Israel — they have never supported nor recognized Israel’s occupation of east Jerusalem and other areas during the Six-Day War in 1967. 


Palestine’s Foregin Minister Riyad al-Maliki said the US’ decision (to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital) supports the Israel government with their colonial plans and serves the powers of extremism and terrorism in the region. 


But Israel’s UN representative Danny Danon said this UN meeting is shameful, that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, period. Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu said the UN was a “house of lies.” 


So the U.S. has taken another step to support Israel in their claim on Jerusalem — while the international community takes another step in opposition to this.




Remember when tennis star Venus Williams was involved in a car accident with an elderly couple on June in south Florida — which led 78-year old Jerome Barson to be taken to the hospital, later dying of organ failure 13 days later? 


The Palm Beach Gardens Police Department said Venus will not be charged for the accident. 


The crash happened when Venus drove her SUV across an intersection, became “delayed” because a car turned in front of her, and was hit on its side by the elderly couple who saw a green light. 


This raised controversy because police initially said Venus was “at fault,” but after surveillance video was released, police said Venus was lawful in crossing the intersection on a green signal, and pointed to the other car that turned in front of her for causing the delay, leading to the accident. 


The widow and family of Jerome Barson has filed a wrongful death civil lawsuit against Venus and said they disagree with the police’s decision and will still pursue the lawsuit. 


Police released body-camera footage of them responding to the accident. It showed an officer telling Venus that she was at fault for the crash, but that she would not get a citation because she was stuck in a bad situation. It also showed the elderly couple dazed in their wrecked car with deflated airbags. 


So with this, Venus will not get any criminal consequences, but will still have to deal with the lawsuit.




On Tuesday morning in Houston, Texas — a mother of a newborn 6-week old baby was murdered in her apartment with the baby missing. The baby — Shamali — has been found safe and police has arrested the suspected killer — a woman who apparently wanted to cover up her miscarriage with the baby. 


Houston Police on Tuesday afternoon found the mother, Carolina Flores (33), stabbed to death and when they saw the baby was missing, issued an Amber Alert. Police worked with the FBI to search for the child, offered a $5,000 reward, and said they suspected that the person who had the baby would act as if she was the mother. 


Police had thought the baby might be with his father, who lived in San Antonio. When they met with him, they saw he was not involved and released him. 


Then last night, this early Thursday morning, police went to an apartment building and saw a female with her boyfriend holding a baby that matched the description of the missing baby. They were arrested without incident. The baby was checked at a hospital, is okay, and is in the custody of Texas Child Protective Services. 


The suspected killer and kidnapper is Erica Miranda-Alvarez (28). Police said she recently had a miscarriage — she was expecting a baby in January. She continued to tell her family/friends that she was pregnant. 


So it appears to be the motive for the killing and kidnapping — to cover up her miscarriage and act as if she was the mother of the baby. She knew the baby’s mother (Carolina) through her brother and was a friend of the family for several years.


Houston Police Chief Acevedo said while they can’t bring the mother back, it is joyous that they have found the baby. He said this discovery and arrest was possible through building trust with the community — many of the people in the apartment area were immigrants. Acevedo had said he didn’t care about their immigration status — he just wanted information to get justice. 


It is not known how police was able to quickly find the suspects and whether the $5,000 reward will go to someone.




Three News Briefs: 


1 ) In Melbourne, Australia — a SUV plowed through pedestrians, injuring at least 19 people, four of them critically, including a young child. 


There were no fatalities reported. Police said it was a deliberate act, but that it is not related to terrorism. 


The driver is Australian with an Afghan descent and had previous run-ins with police on assault, drug use, and mental health issues. 


2 ) The life expectancy for Americans are worse for a second straight year — Americans are dying at a younger age for the second straight year. The life expectancy is 78 and a half years. 


A big reason for the decline is the opioid drug problem — there are many young Americans dying from overdoses. There were 63,600 people who died from drug overdoses in 2016. 


3 ) The House has passed a bill to keep the government funded up to January 19 — an extension of the current spending bill, to avoid a government shutdown. UPDATE: The Senate has voted to pass this bill. 


The House also voted for a $81 billion disaster assistance package for states and U.S. territories hit by hurricanes and fires. UPDATE: The Senate will delay this until Jan. 




Toj: Now I will share some tech news briefs.


1) Backlash Against Net Neutrality Repeal


Since the FCC voted to remove the Net Neutrality rules, many states have objected and started proposing state-level bills protecting NN. They’ve also started filing lawsuits against the FCC.


– Ajit Pai, the FCC chairperson said “I'm shocked — shocked! — that people are going to challenge this decision in court!”

– This isn’t the first time the FCC went to court related to NN.

– The last time, in 2015, it was the opposite, where ISPs were trying to remove NN rules after they were established.

– Some articles have pointed out that the courts usually side with the FCC, supporting it’s authority to change any decision it makes – as long as they can prove it is not “arbitrary or capricious.”




2) Fake Comments on FCC’s Website


In separate, but related news, last week before the FCC voted, there were reports that the FCC’s website had been flooded with thousands of fake comments created by computer programs, called bots.


– Today, one senator announced that he found a fake comment using his name.

– One article from PC Gamer said they found another fake comment from Obama.

– The point of the comments was to allow American citizens to express their opinions on NN with the FCC.

– With so many fake comments, many politicians said this was not a fair representation of the public opinion.

– They asked the FCC suspend the vote and investigate this, but the FCC ignored those requests and went ahead with the vote.


3) Bitcoin Exchange Hacked, investigators Point to North Korea


Yesterday, in South Korea there was a big hack that forced one company to shut down. The company that was hacked is responsible for managing a bitcoin exchange called Youbit.

– Youbit was hacked earlier in April, with hackers stealing $35 million.

– The company did not say how money was stolen this time.

– Many people suspect the hack came from North Korea.

– South Korean police have accused North Korean hackers of attacked four different exchanges this year.

– North Korea has denied these allegations.


4) Apple Admits to Slowing Down Older Phones

Is your iPhone running slow? Today Apple announced a statement admitting they slow down older iPhones. This confirms something many people have suspected.

– Apple said they sent out software updates that make the phones slow down in order to improve battery life.

– They said that the batteries used by these phones degrade over time, causing the phone to randomly power off.

– They said they are committed to providing the best experience to their customers.

– Many angry customers have said they will leave Apple and switch to Samsung.

– Have you experienced this? Will you leave Apple?





Genetic scientists just published an article showcasing more successes with genetic editing — to “cure” mice born with hereditary deafness. 


Scientists at Harvard and MIT used mice called a “Beethoven mouse” — that had a mutations to their gene called TMC1 that caused them to lose hearing early in their lives and gradually lose more hearing later in life due to hair cells in the ear dying. Some humans have similar “defects” that cause “late” deafness.


Scientists used the new gene-editing technique called CRISPR-Cas9. It works by going into the ears of mice via injection where the CRISPR-Cas9 can precisely identify the mutated genes that cause deafness — cut them out — and leave the “good genes.” We have two copies of each gene, one from the mother and one from the father. CRISPR-Cas9 will cut out the “bad copy” and leave the good copy. 


The mice who were untreated could listen noises 80 decibels or louder — which is equivalent to a garbage disposal. While the treated mice could hear 60-65 decibels and up, which is a quiet conversation. 


This is another step for the genetic scientists. It could take 10 years before it can be used on humans — first they will need to test this on human cells, then on larger animals like pigs or primates, then get it approved for clinical trials. 


The lead scientist, Dr. Liu, did make remarks about the deaf community — saying they are mindful and recognize the importance of cultural considerations within the deaf community as this work moves forward. 


I just shared news on Tuesday of a new FDA-approved genetic treatment that can improve sight in some forms of genetic blindness.




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