- Business Insider
Pfizer is ramping up vaccine production and will meet its goal of 300 million doses 2 weeks early, its CEO says
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said on Twitter that his company was ramping up production of its COVID-19 vaccine.
- National Review
President Biden said it “remains to be determined” whether the police officer who fatally shot Daunte Wright, a black man, during a traffic stop in a Minneapolis suburb on Sunday did so on accident. Biden’s comments on Monday came after Police Chief Tim Gannon of the Brooklyn Center Police Department described the shooting as “an accidental discharge.” Gannon said the officer had intended to discharge a taser and instead fired a single shot at the man. Gannon said officers pulled the 20-year-old over for a traffic violation and tried to detain him after learning he had an outstanding warrant. The man then reentered his car and an officer shot him. The car rolled for several blocks until it hit another vehicle. Wright was pronounced dead at the scene. The officer, who has been identified only as a “very senior officer,” can be heard on body camera footage yelling “taser” before firing the single shot that killed Wright. She can then be heard saying “Oh s***, I just shot him.” The president said the death was tragic “but we have to wait and see what the investigation shows.” “The question is was it an accident? Was it intentional? That remains to be determined,” he said. “I’m calling for peace and calm and we should listen to Daunte’s mom, who is calling for peace and calm.” On Sunday night, Wright’s mother, Katie Wright called on protestors to remain peaceful. “All the violence, if it keeps going, it’s only going to be about the violence. We need it to be about why my son got shot for no reason,” she said. “We need to make sure it’s about him and not about smashing police cars, because that’s not going to bring my son back.” Protests broke out in the city late Sunday into Monday, with demonstrators clashing with police outside the Brooklyn Center police headquarters. Some rioters threw rocks and other objects at officers. National Guard members arrived in the city shortly before midnight to help local officers. The protests had largely petered out by 1:15 a.m. Monday, according to the AP. “The fact is that, you know, we do know that the anger, pain and trauma that exists in the black community in that environment is real,” Biden said. “It’s serious and it’s consequential. But it will not justify violence and/or looting.” The fatal shooting comes amid the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis officer accused of killing George Floyd during his arrest last May. Chauvin is seen in a video of the arrest kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes until he became unconscious. Floyd’s death set off months of protests and riots in cities nationwide.
- The Independent
White nationalist website calls Tucker Carlson’s ‘replacement’ rant ‘one of the best things Fox News has ever aired’
The Fox News host has won the praise of an officially designated hate group after appearing to endorse the racist ‘replacement’ theory
- Miami Herald
Costco announced Monday that it has “a limited number” of COVID-19 vaccines and, in South Florida, that’s apparently very limited.
As Britain grieves his death, so do some Pacific tribespeople who revere him as a spiritual figure.
The black army lieutenant filed a lawsuit against two policemen in Virginia after a traffic stop turned violent.
- The Telegraph
The Biden administration plans to withdraw the last US troops from Afghanistan by the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks later this year, ending American involvement in its longest war. President Joe Biden is expected on Wednesday to announce that he will keep thousands of forces beyond the May 1 deadline that was negotiated last year with the Taliban, but will promise to be out by September 11, according to several reports. And it was reported on Tuesday night that Britain will withdraw nearly all of its 750 troops stationed in Afghanistan after Mr Biden's announcement. British troops are heavily reliant upon US infrastructure and bases in the country. The US invaded the country shortly after the attacks on the World Trade Center buildings, marking the start of a decades-long “war on terror”. His predecessor, Donald Trump, had promised a swift drawdown but was urged by military advisers not to withdraw too quickly from the messy and intractable conflict.
A few celebrity couples ended their relationship or revealed their split in 2021, from Zoë Kravitz and Karl Glusman to Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas.
- Associated Press
Johnny Gaudreau scored 36 seconds into overtime and the Calgary Flames beat the first-place Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 Tuesday night. Juuso Valimaki and Elias Lindholm also scored for the Flames. Gaudreau and Lindholm each added an assist, and Jacob Markstrom stopped 24 shots.
- The Independent
Senator from Texas hauled in more than $5.3 million in 2021 first quarter
- The Independent
US president tells Russian counterpart he will not tolerate cyber-incursions or further election interference
One satellite grabs hold of another, older spacecraft to give it a new lease of life.
- USA TODAY
The GOP continues to struggle to maintain party unity after former President Donald Trump's election loss.
- The New York Times
When Chris Precht, an Austrian architect and artist, first learned about nonfungible tokens, the digital collectibles taking the art world by storm, he was so enthralled, he said, he “felt like a little kid again.” So Precht, who is known for his work on ecological architecture, was devastated to learn that the artworks, known as NFTs, have an environmental footprint as mind-boggling as the gold-rush frenzy they’ve whipped up. “The numbers are just crushing,” he said from his studio in Pfarrwerfen, Austria, announcing that he was canceling his plans, one of a growing number of artists who are swearing off NFTs, despite the sky-high sums some have fetched at auctions. “As much as it hurts financially and mentally, I can’t.” Sign up for The Morning newsletter from the New York Times Financially, for sure. Last month, a montage of art that had been turned into an NFT by the digital artist known as Beeple sold for more than $69 million at a Christie’s online auction. (Also last month, an NFT created from a New York Times technology column sold for more than $500,000, with the proceeds going to the Neediest Cases Fund, a Times-affiliated charity.) But, by Precht’s own calculations, creating the 300 items of digital art that he had planned to sell — 100 each of three art pieces — would have burned through the same amount of electricity that an average European would otherwise use in two decades, he said in an Instagram video late last month. What in the (warming) world? An NFT is a piece of artwork stamped with a unique string of code and stored on a virtual ledger called a blockchain. Fanned by viral marketing, hubris and perhaps some pandemic ennui, interest in the NFT market has exploded, driving up the price of digital artworks to fantastical levels. But blockchain technology, which also forms the basis of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, comes with enormous greenhouse-gas emissions. In a nutshell, when an artist uploads a piece of art and clicks a button to “mint” it, she or he starts a process known as mining, which involves complex puzzles, awesome computing power and a huge load of energy. That’s because Ethereum, the platform of choice for NFTs, uses a method called proof of work to create digital assets like nonfungible tokens. To successfully add an asset to the blockchain’s master ledger, miners must compete to solve a cryptographic puzzle, their computers rapidly generating numbers in a frenzied race of trial and error. As of mid-April, miners were making more than 170 quintillion attempts a second to produce new blocks, according to the trading platform Blockchain.com. (A quintillion is 1 followed by 18 zeros.) The miner who arrives at the right answer first is the winner, and gets her or his asset added to the blockchain. The system is intentionally designed to be onerous, ostensibly to make it transparent and competitive, and to prevent cheating. Bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency, also uses the energy intensive proof-of-work model. According to an estimate backed up by independent researchers, the creation of an average NFT has a stunning environmental footprint of over 200 kilograms of planet-warming carbon, equivalent to driving 500 miles in a typical American gasoline-powered car. Other attempts to calculate the energy use of blockchain have also arrived at gargantuan numbers. Researchers at Cambridge University have estimated that mining Bitcoin uses more electricity than entire countries like Argentina, Sweden or Pakistan. A recently published paper in the journal Nature Communications warned that, if left unchecked, cryptomining in China could undercut the nation’s climate goals. “I know it’s difficult to comprehend,” said Susanne Köhler, an expert in life cycle analysis at Aalborg University in Denmark who carried out a life-cycle analysis of blockchain technology. “You just click on a button or type a few words, and then suddenly you burn so much energy.” Making the problem worse, Köhler said, was that solving the puzzles becomes more competitive and more difficult as interest in blockchain grows and more people start mining. “So it doesn’t become more energy efficient over time, like other technologies do,” she said. “It just leads to a bigger emissions impact, unless their energy is carbon free.” This is not the first time the art world has grappled with its role in climate change. There has been concern at art museums over fossil-fuel funding, with some choosing to end lucrative oil company sponsorships. But NFTs have been particularly controversial, because the hype over digital tokens has been seen as a long-awaited shot for many smaller artists to finally garner more exposure, recognition and serious money for their work. “Why is it when the little guys get a foothold,” the designer Gareth Stangroom, also known as @fire_hydrant_man, said in response to Precht’s announcement, “everyone’s on their case about the ethics of it — instead of criticizing the big players that have been abusing our planet for decades?” Joanie Lemercier, a French artist known for his futuristic light sculptures, was one of the first to dig into NFTs’ environmental consequences. He had just released six tokenized videos, inspired by platonic solids, which were snapped up by buyers. But he had heard of the growing alarm over Bitcoin’s energy use, which worried him: Lemercier has also been involved in climate activism, campaigning for a move away from coal. He turned to Memo Akten, a computational engineer and artist carried out some of the first calculations specific to NFTs and posted them on a site he named CryptoArt.wtf. “It turns out my release of six crypto-artworks consumed in 10 seconds more electricity than the entire studio over the past 2 years,” Lemercier wrote on his website. He said he was putting future NFT releases on hold. “It felt like madness to even consider continuing that practice.” “It’s really a big boom and the prices have been going crazy. But it can’t continue like this,” Lemercier said. “So there’s a sense that there is a very limited amount of time to make as much money as possible. So that’s why many dismiss this energy impact.” The fallout has spread. Last month, the art app ArtStation canceled a drop of NFTs from a group of popular artists just hours after announcing it, after a backlash formed over the environmental impact. “It’s clear that now is not the right time,” ArtStation said. “It’s our hope that at some point in the future we’ll be able to find a solution that is equitable and ecologically sound.” There has been pushback against the environmental concerns. In a recent post on Medium titled “No, CryptoArtists Aren’t Harming the Planet,” the NFT trading platform Super Rare addressed what it argued were misconceptions about the tokens’ emissions footprint. Blockchains like Ethereum were more like a train running all day, the authors said, and the transactions like seats on the train. NFTs, therefore, do not add emissions, they argued, just like a train would keep running regardless of how many passengers were on board. However, Alex de Vries, a Dutch data scientist whose site, Digiconomist, tracks the sustainability of digital currencies, said that analogy did not hold up. “If one person doesn’t take a plane, it might not make a difference,” de Vries said, using a slightly different analogy. “But if a whole lot of people take planes, there’s more emissions from flying.” Promises by some platforms to invest in carbon offsets have been met with skepticism, given the enormity of the carbon footprint from NFTs. Saying, “Don’t worry! We’ll pay for carbon offsets” is the equivalent of setting a house on fire then placing a single potted plant on the burned property as “compensation,” the freelance illustrator Bleached Rainbows said on Twitter. Ethereum has said it is reducing its footprint by moving toward a different model called “proof of stake,” which doesn’t require miners to compete to add assets to the blockchain. The new model instead rewards miners based on how much cryptocurrency they already own, vastly cutting down on the computational work, and by extension, associated emissions. But since announcing the idea several years ago, Ethereum has been vague on when the change will actually happen. Dankrad Feist, a researcher at the Ethereum Foundation, a nonprofit that is working with the network on the switch, said by email that the effort would take another six to 12 months. “Switching to proof of stake is not trivial for a network that currently already secures hundreds of billions of dollars in value, that’s why it unfortunately can’t happen overnight or there would be a high risk of failure,” Feist said. “I’m quite impatient about this and trying to push the merge as much as possible without overly compromising Ethereum’s security.” Some smaller NFT platforms, including one known as Hic Et Nunc, have already started using proof of stake, attracting artists like Lemercier. By cutting down on the number-crunching required, Hic Et Nunc doesn’t just reduce energy consumption; it also seeks to roll back the cost of listing NFTs, which can reach many hundreds of dollars, according to Rafael Lima, the founder of Hic Et Nunc. “It’s just a more efficient algorithm,” he said. This article originally appeared in The New York Times. © 2021 The New York Times Company
- The Independent
Less support for requirement to carry card with them to enter a business
- The Telegraph
The Government has been defeated in the House of Lords over a bid for a prosecution limit on soldiers for war crimes. The Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill, which has already cleared the Commons, seeks to limit false and historical allegations arising from deployments by introducing a statutory presumption against prosecution, which would make it exceptional for personnel to be prosecuted five years or more after an incident. However the Lords backed by 333 votes to 228, moved to ensure the most serious of offences are not covered by legislation aimed at protecting service personnel from vexatious battlefield claims. The Government also sustained further defeats to the Bill, with peers backing changes aimed at preventing personnel facing delayed and repeated investigations into allegations arising from foreign deployments at 308 votes to 249, and removing a planned six-year time limit on troops bringing civil claims against the Ministry of Defence at 300 votes to 225. The Bill has faced criticism for not excluding war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and torture from its scope, as it did for rape and sexual violence. Critics argued this risked damaging the UK's international reputation and could lead to service personnel ending up before the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Bill seeks to limit false and historical allegations arising from overseas operations by introducing a statutory presumption against prosecution, making it exceptional for personnel to be prosecuted five years or more after an incident. Calls for this provision not to cover genocide and torture were led by Labour former defence secretary Lord Robertson of Port Ellen, who also previously served as secretary general of Nato. Urging "tactical retreat" by ministers, he said: "For the first time in the history of British law, we would be creating a two-tier justice system where troops acting for us abroad would be treated differently from other civilians in society. "In addition to that, this Bill by saying that there is a presumption against prosecution for the most serious of all crimes, namely genocide, crimes against humanity and torture, it undermines some of the most basic international legal standards for which this nation was renowned.” However, Defence minister Baroness Goldie, rejected the demands, as she said the Bill provided an appropriate balance between victims' rights and fair protection for service personnel. Responding to news that Peers had defeated the Government in amendments to the Bill, Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK’s Director, said: “The Overseas Operations Bill would be a huge stain on the UK’s international reputation, it would end total opposition to torture, and it’s a hugely welcome that the Lords have made this principled stand today. MPs should reflect on this defeat and drop the Bill all together when it returns to the Commons. “Yet again it has fallen to the Lords to act as the UK’s moral compass. “Granting troops a licence to torture would be an enduring disgrace for the UK and would set a very dangerous international precedent.”
- Business Insider
Republican lawmakers in the three 2020 battlegrounds are advancing legislation to restrict voting by mail before 2022.
- LA Times
"I couldn't be more excited if I tried," writes "Drivers License" hitmaker Olivia Rodrigo on unveiling the title and art for her debut album.
- Miami Herald
Every year, thousands of Venezuelans arrive in the United States, leaving behind a country they no longer can call home. This isn’t by choice, but by necessity. Thanks to dictators Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela’s economy has all but collapsed. Venezuela’s future will depend on foreign investment to rebuild its economy and create jobs and opportunity once again.
Zack Snyder doesn't think he'd survive a zombie apocalypse despite directing 2 movies in the genre - and there's a logical reason why
During an "Army of the Dead" event, Snyder said he probably wouldn't fare so well against zombies because it's tough to predict how they'd really be.