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BeckyDem's Journal
BeckyDem's Journal
July 28, 2023

46,000-Year-Old Worm Possibly Revived from Siberian Permafrost

An international team of scientists says nematodes found in Siberian permafrost are 46,000 years old and survived using techniques similar to those of a modern lab favorite

By Meghan Bartels on July 27, 2023

At first glance, nematodes are unassuming roundworms—but don’t underestimate them.

In 2018 scientists announced they had discovered and revived two types of microscopic nematodes found in the Siberian permafrost, estimating they may have been 42,000 years old. Now these roundworms are the subject of more research, which posits that one of these nematode varieties represents a new species, dubbed Panagrolaimus kolymaensis for the Kolyma River where they were found. The new research, published on July 27 in the journal PLOS Genetics, also compares the Siberian worm’s survival mechanism with one found in another nematode species, Caenorhabditis elegans—a model organism used in laboratories around the world. The researchers further claim that the P. kolymaensis worms are actually 46,000 years old, based on their dating of plant matter found with these nematodes.

“The radiocarbon dating is absolutely precise, and we now know that they really survived 46,000 years,” says study co-author Teymuras Kurzchalia, a cell biologist emeritus at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden.

Excerpt: If the worms really are as old as the study suggests, they would be by far the most stunning examples of what scientists call cryptobiosis—an organism’s ability to suspend its own metabolism in poor conditions.

( Hat tip to the roundworm! )

July 28, 2023

How Costly Is Rising Market Power for the U.S. Economy?

Economic Brief
July 2023, No. 23-24
How Costly Is Rising Market Power for the U.S. Economy?
By Chen Yeh

We survey the recent, active debate on market power in the U.S. economy. While typical studies on market power focused on narrow industries due to data constraints, the relevance of market power for the aggregate economy was reinvigorated by a study focusing on publicly traded firms that documented a significant rise in U.S market power since the 1980s. This article is meant to provide a bird's-eye view of the (sometimes heated) discussion on market power. Furthermore, we examine the macroeconomic consequences of a rise in U.S. market power.

While economists are fully aware of the qualitative ramifications of market power, there are surprisingly few studies that try to quantify it. In this article, we survey the recent, active debate on market power and explore the implications of rising market power for the U.S. economy. We do so by first reviewing the study that documented a significant rise in U.S. market power since the 1980s. This study ignited the debate on market power, leading to many follow-up studies and criticism.

Excerpt: For an economy to achieve efficiency, it needs to be perfectly competitive. Only under this specific case are goods and services produced and sold at the lowest possible price. In the absence of perfect competition, however, resources are not allocated optimally, and consumers face higher prices due to firms exerting their market power. As a result, high levels of market power could have devastating consequences for welfare and inequality.


( The brief is somewhat long but not boring. How greed works is systematic and pervasive. )

July 28, 2023

Florida woman who stole nearly $3 million from Holocaust survivor gets over 4 years in prison

Updated 12:37 AM EDT, July 28, 2023

NEW YORK (AP) — A Florida woman who drained an 87-year-old Holocaust survivor’s life savings by posing as a love interest and then lived lavishly off the $2.8 million she got was sentenced Thursday to over four years in prison.

Peaches Stergo, 36, of Champions Gate, Florida, was described by U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos as “unspeakably cruel” and motivated by greed as he announced the sentence in Manhattan federal court.

Given a chance to speak, Stergo said: “I’m sorry.” She pleaded guilty in April to wire fraud, admitting that she drained the life savings of a man she met on a dating website seven years ago.

( Horrendous damage, & sentence should reflect that imo. )

July 28, 2023

FTC reaches proposed settlement with Surescripts in illegal monopolization case.

Proposed order remedies anticompetitive conduct that led to higher prices, stifled innovation, and reduced customer choice in e-prescription market

July 27, 2023

The Federal Trade Commission filed a proposed order that would prohibit health information technology company Surescripts from engaging in exclusionary conduct and executing or enforcing non-compete agreements with current and former employees. The FTC’s proposed order, filed in federal court, would resolve charges that Surescripts used anticompetitive tactics to illegally monopolize two e-prescription drug markets and would provide immediate relief to consumers.

The settlement follows a favorable federal court ruling that found that Surescripts possesses monopoly power in e-prescribing services with a 95 percent “supershare.” In adopting the Commission’s position, the opinion made important clarifications of the law, including on the establishment of monopoly power through market share and barriers to entry.

“The FTC will not hesitate to take action in enforcing the antitrust laws to protect health care consumers,” said FTC Bureau of Competition Director Holly Vedova. “The proposed order is a victory in creating a fair and competitive playing field in the e-prescription drug market. In large part because of Surescripts’ conduct, virtually everyone today who has a prescription filled electronically does so via the Surescripts networks. The proposed order would eliminate the anticompetitive restraints Surescripts has imposed on its customers since 2010 and would create conditions that allow competition to flourish for the benefit of anyone who gets a prescription filled at a pharmacy.”

In April 2019, the FTC sued Surescripts, alleging that the company employed illegal vertical and horizontal restraints in order to maintain its monopolies over two electronic prescribing, or “e-prescribing,” markets: routing and eligibility. The market for routing e-prescriptions uses technology that enables health care providers to send electronic prescriptions directly to pharmacies; whereas the market for eligibility enables health care providers to electronically determine patients’ eligibility for prescription coverage through access to insurance coverage and benefits information, usually through a pharmacy benefit manager.

( The nitty gritty of fighting back monopoly power. )

July 27, 2023


The legislation would repeal a restriction on striking workers receiving SNAP benefits.

Daniel Boguslaw
July 27 2023, 9:50 a.m.

WITH MORE THAN 150,000 actors and writers on the picket line in Hollywood and other labor actions heating up across the country, Sen. John Fetterman, D-Penn., is introducing legislation to ease the financial toll of their strikes.

The Food Secure Strikers Act of 2023 would repeal a restriction on striking workers receiving SNAP benefits, protect food stamp eligibility for public-sector workers fired for striking, and clarify that any income-eligible household can receive SNAP benefits even if a member of that household is on strike.

“The union way of life is sacred. It’s what built Pennsylvania and this nation. It is critical for us to protect workers’ right to organize, and that includes making sure they and their families have the resources to support themselves while on strike,” Fetterman wrote in a statement. “As Chair of the Nutrition Subcommittee and an advocate for the union way of life, this bill is just plain common sense. I’m proud to introduce this bill that will eliminate the need for workers to choose between fighting for fair working conditions and putting food on the table for their families.”


“It’s good to see lawmakers attempting to correct the wrongs of the past by reinstating a benefit for striking workers that never should have been taken away in the first place,” Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien said. “Congress should never pass laws that punish American workers, and hopefully this amendment is a repudiation of that practice.”

July 27, 2023

Amazon to be broken up? FTC's Lina Khan to reportedly file landmark antitrust lawsuit

Pranav Dixit
Updated Jul 27, 2023, 10:38 AM IST

The Lina Khan-led Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the United States is reportedly in the final stages of preparing a substantial antitrust lawsuit against Amazon, a move that could potentially lead to the dismantling of certain parts of the e-commerce giant.

Sources close to the matter, as reported by Politico, indicate that the lawsuit is expected to be filed as early as August and is likely to address a wide range of Amazon's business practices that have raised concerns about anti-competitive behaviour.

The scope of the lawsuit may have far-reaching consequences, potentially resulting in a court-ordered restructuring of Amazon's massive $1.3 trillion empire. The FTC has been conducting a lengthy investigation into Amazon, focusing on various potential claims, including allegations similar to existing cases where the company has been accused of imposing rules that require third-party retailers to offer their lowest prices exclusively on Amazon's platform.

Among the primary areas of focus for the forthcoming lawsuit are Amazon Prime and the practices that the FTC considers to be detrimental to fair competition. One major concern is that the bundled services offered through Amazon Prime are being exploited to illegally solidify the company's market power.


( Love to Lina!! )
July 27, 2023

Right-Wing Think Tank's Climate 'Battle Plan' Wages 'War Against Our Children's Future'

The Heritage Foundation's Mandate for Leadership would serve as a policy blueprint for the first 180 days if Trump—or another Republican—were to gain control of the White House in January 2025.

Jul 26, 2023

Close down the Department of Energy's renewable energy office. Cut cash flow to the Environmental Protection Agency's office of environmental justice. Stop the nation's electrical grid from expanding to include wind and solar. These are all items on a right-wing think tank's to-do list for the next Republican presidency.

The Heritage Foundation's 2025 Presidential Transition Project released the ninth edition of Mandate for Leadership: The Conservative Promise in April, and that mandate includes significant rollbacks to federal efforts to tackle the climate emergency, as E&E News reported Wednesday.

"Make no mistake: this is a battle plan," End Climate Silence founding director Genevieve Guenther tweeted in response to the news. "The war being waged is against our children's future."

( They have children and grandchildren, but clearly that means nothing to them. )

July 27, 2023

Prof. Stefan Rahmstorf 🌏 🦣 @rahmstorf: The tipping point of the Atlantic

The tipping point of the Atlantic overturning circulation in under 10 Minutes: watch my keynote at the Exeter conference on Climate Tipping Points. #AMOC


July 26, 2023

'Modern day lynching': Father hits out at cop who shot son after suspected fruit theft

By Sky Palma

July 26, 2023

Police body cam footage shows the fatal shooting of a New York man who was accused of stealing fruit, The New York Post reported.

The incident took place on July 3 when three officers in New Rochelle, New York, confronted Jarrell Garris, 37 at a grocery store and asked if he was "eating the food" inside the store.

As the video shows, Garris, who reportedly had mental health issues, began to fight with officers as they tried to handcuff him. At one point, Detective Steven Conn was heard in the video repeatedly saying, "Tase him!"

Garris then appears to place his hand on the belt of one of the officers, prompting Conn to yell, “He’s got a gun!
Conn can be seen hoisting his gun and firing one round which hit Garris in the neck, paralyzing him. He was taken off life support on July 10 and his death was ruled a homicide and is being investigated by the state Attorney General’s Office.

( Not shocking unfortunately. )

July 26, 2023

An Open Letter to the Biden Administration on Popular Constitutionalism

Wednesday, July 19, 2023
An Open Letter to the Biden Administration on Popular Constitutionalism

Mark Tushnet

Aaron Belkin and I have written the following open letter to the Biden administration urging that it endorse and take steps to implement popular constitutionalism as a response to what the President has described as "not a normal" Supreme Court. We urge readers to let the administration know in their own ways that reinvigorating the long and honored tradition of popular constitutionalism is both viable and urgently needed in today's circumstances.

We urge President Biden to restrain MAGA justices immediately by announcing that if and when they issue rulings that are based on gravely mistaken interpretations of the Constitution that undermine our most fundamental commitments, the Administration will be guided by its own constitutional interpretations.

We have worked diligently over the past five years to advocate Supreme Court expansion as a necessary strategy for restoring democracy. Although we continue to support expansion, the threat that MAGA justices pose is so extreme that reforms that do not require Congressional approval are needed at this time, and advocates and experts should encourage President Biden to take immediate action to limit the damage.

The central tenet of the solution that we recommend—Popular Constitutionalism—is that courts do not exercise exclusive authority over constitutional meaning. In practice, a President who disagrees with a court’s interpretation of the Constitution should offer and then follow an alternative interpretation. If voters disagree with the President’s interpretation, they can express their views at the ballot box. Popular Constitutionalism has a proud history in the United States, including Abraham Lincoln’s refusal to treat the Dred Scott decision as a political rule that would guide him as he exercised presidential powers.


( Food for thought. )

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