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Massive genetic study shows coronavirus mutating and potentially evolving amid rapid U.S. spread

Washington Post – “The largest U.S. genetic study of the virus, conducted in Houston, shows one viral strain outdistancing all of its competitors, and many potentially important mutations. Scientists in Houston on Wednesday released a study of more than 5,000 genetic sequences of the coronavirus, which reveals the virus’s continual accumulation of mutations, one of which may have made it more contagious. That mutation is associated with a higher viral load among patients upon initial diagnosis, the researchers found. The new report, however, did not find that these mutations have made the virus deadlier or changed clinical outcomes. All viruses accumulate genetic mutations, and most are insignificant, scientists say. The new study, which has not been peer-reviewed, was posted Wednesday on the preprint server MedRxiv. It appears to be the largest single aggregation of genetic sequences of the virus in the United States thus far. A larger batch of sequences was published earlier this month by scientists in the United Kingdom, and, like the Houston study, concluded that a mutation that changes the structure of the “spike protein” on the surface of the virus may be driving the outsized spread of that particular strain…”

MapLight Launches New Tools to Combat Misinformation Ahead of 2020 Election

“The nonprofit MapLight launched new, free tools today aimed at combating the spread of false and deceptive election-related information ahead of the 2020 election, including a browser plug-in called the Election Deception Tracker as well as a Text-to-Report line for people to report misleading information. The new tools allow anyone to quickly and easily report… Continue Reading

You Can Now Explore 103 ‘Lost’ Hokusai Drawings Online

Smithsonian – “Earlier this month, the British Museum announced its acquisition of a trove of newly rediscovered drawings by Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai, who is best known for 19th-century masterpiece The Great Wave Off Kanagawa. Visitors can’t yet see the illustrations in person, but as the London institution notes in a statement, all 103 works… Continue Reading

Supreme Court Appointment Process: Consideration by the Senate Judiciary Committee

CRS report via LC – Supreme Court Appointment Process: Consideration by the Senate Judiciary Committee, Updated September 22, 2020: “The appointment of a Supreme Court Justice is an event of major significance in American politics. Each appointment is of consequence because of the enormous judicial power the Supreme Court exercises as the highest appellate court… Continue Reading

Supreme Court Appointment Process: President’s Selection of a Nominee

CRS report via LC Supreme Court Appointment Process: President’s Selection of a Nominee, Updated September 21, 2020: “The appointment of a Supreme Court Justice is an event of major significance in American politics. Each appointment is of consequence because of the enormous judicial power the Supreme Court exercises as the highest appellate court in the… Continue Reading

Cybercrime and the Law: Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the 116th Congress

CRS report via LC – Cybercrime and the Law: Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) and the 116th Congress, September 21, 2020: “…Since the original enactment of the CFAA in 1984, technology and the human relationship to it have continued to evolve. Although Congress has amended the CFAA on numerous occasions to respond to new… Continue Reading

Finland to deploy coronavirus-sniffing dogs at Helsinki Airport

Washington Post – Very good dogs are being deployed to use their keen and accurate sensory acuity to identify illness and disease in humans. “…The voluntary canine tests will deliver results within 10 seconds and require less than a minute of travelers’ time, said Anna Hielm-Björkman, a researcher at the University of Helsinki who is… Continue Reading

How libraries are writing a new chapter during the pandemic

National Geographic – Read about book bikes, bibliophile hotels, outdoor story times, and other ways libraries are reacting to COVID-19. “Americans’ love affair with libraries has only grown during the pandemic—and so has their book borrowing. According to OverDrive, which libraries use to loan out digital material, weekly e-book lending across the United States has… Continue Reading

The N95 shortage America can’t seem to fix

Washington Post – Nurses and doctors depend on respirator masks to protect them from covid-19. So why are we still running low on an item that once cost around $1? “…Six months later, that shortage persists, leaving health-care workers exposed, patients at risk and public health experts flummoxed over a seemingly simple question: Why is… Continue Reading