IBM Tops 2018 Patent List as AI and Quantum Computing Gain Prominence

IBM earned a record 9,100 U.S. patents in 2018, marking the 26th year in a row the Armonk, New York-based company has been the top recipient. Samsung was second with 5,850 patents while tech giants Apple and Microsoft also appeared in the top ten, according to a list compiled by research service IFI Claims. IBM’s […]

C.E.O. Resigns Over Case of Woman in Vegetative State Who Gave Birth

The chief executive of the corporation that runs a private nursing home in Arizona where a woman in a vegetative state was sexually assaulted and later gave birth to a child resigned on Monday, the company said in a statement. The company, Hacienda HealthCare, said the resignation of the executive, Bill Timmons, was unanimously accepted […]

States that spend more on libraries, parks, and highways have happier Americans says new study

According to a Baylor University study, Americans are happier in states where taxpayer money is spent on public goods like libraries, parks, highways, and natural resources. Part of the reason for this correlation appears to be the fundamental nature of sharing, researcher Patrick Flavin tells EurekAlert! He notes that “Public goods are things you can’t exclude people from using — and one person using them doesn’t stop another from doing so.”

Public libraries are arguably the single most important institution in a democracy. Anyone can come in to seek and find information on any subject, for free. Besides that very fundamental truth, libraries also house historical archives and serve as community centers, after-school spaces, and sources of cultural programming in the many communities they serve. Conservatives are not big fans of public libraries. Not being able to control access to information creates the kind of anxiety in conservatives like the Koch brothers that only time in an ether chamber can ameliorate.

Public parks and other spaces can help build community, while also providing people with a respite from the general grind of trying to make ends meet. The Trump administration’s attacks on public lands will take years to fix, and exemplify the base narcissism inherent in conservative big-business-will-provide ideology.

According to Flavin, even though higher government spending on public goods is usually accompanied by higher property taxes, people’s happiness seems to outweigh the cost, whether it’s that “happier citizens self-select by moving to states that spend comparatively more on public goods” or that “happier citizens support higher spending on public goods and elect state officials to deliver on that policy.”

We do know that there is one ideology that opposes government spending on public goods, so we can infer one of two things from that: Conservatives don’t want communities to be happy; or conservatives are generally unhappy people. Just saying.

You can read more about the movement to privatize public libraries over at Susan Grigsby’s diary on the subject.

Shutdown, Golden Globes, Whales: Your Monday Evening Briefing

(Want to get this briefing by email? Here’s the sign-up.) Good evening. Here’s the latest. Image CreditGuillermo Arias/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images 1. President Trump will deliver a prime-time address on Tuesday night about what he called the crisis at the southern border. He also plans to travel to the border later in the week […]

What’s Going On With AOC?

Tom Williams/Congressional Quarterly/Newscom via ZUMA Looking for news you can trust?Subscribe to our free newsletters. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez sure does know how to attract attention. I guess that’s no surprise: she’s hot, she’s young, she’s the leader of the #Resistance, and she defends herself pretty well on camera without constantly resorting to tedious talking points. She’s […]

China’s Health Care Crisis

HEFEI, China — The Chinese government claims that it provides medical coverage for nearly all of its citizens. But the reality is that the country’s health care system is broken. Attacks by frustrated patients against doctors are common. Some patients who lack access to lifesaving drugs have resorted to making them at home. Long lines […]

Who is Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun? The Saudi woman seeking asylum with the world watching

In the past few days, eighteen-year-old Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun has made international headlines thanks largely to her Twitter pleas for help going viral. The Saudi teenager has been granted temporary admission into Thailand after reportedly fleeing her family because she feared for her life. Why has this made international news?

Most recently, she was involved in what can only be described as a standoff at a hotel in Bangkok for two days. Thai officials originally arranged a flight out of Bangkok for her on Monday, but she refused to vacate her hotel room before she spoke to someone from the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

And of course, there was her viral thread of tweets. In a video posted to Twitter on Sunday evening, Alqunun said, “I’m not leaving my room until I see UNHCR. I want asylum.”

Let’s break down what’s happened to Alqunun, and why her story is so important.

ExxonMobil takes another big hit as SCOTUS says Massachusetts AG has power to pursue oil giant

After a 2015 report exposed that fossil fuel giant ExxonMobil hid its knowledge of the fossil fuel industry’s adverse impact on our planet’s environment, Massachusetts and New York state attorneys general filed lawsuits against the corporation. The charges in the lawsuits are that not only has the corporation hidden important information from consumers, but it has actively pushed misinformation about the science of climate change. One legal battle has been over how many decades’ worth of documents ExxonMobil would have to release. ExxonMobil has argued that its privacy is being compromised. On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to hear the oil giant’s appeal of a 2017 Massachusetts judge’s ruling.

x

Today’s #SCOTUS victory clears the way for our office to investigate Exxon’s conduct toward consumers and investors. The public deserves answers from this company about what it knew about the impacts of burning fossil fuels, and when. https://t.co/BljXQzcY49

— Maura Healey (@MassAGO) January 7, 2019

This is another setback in a slew of setbacks for ExxonMobil. Even former U.S. Secretary of State and climate-change-question-evader Rex Tillerson* has not been able to shield his former company.

*Remember him?
 

Weatherman Is Fired After Using Racial Slur in Naming Martin Luther King Jr.

A meteorologist for a television station in Rochester was fired Sunday after he uttered a racial slur on air while describing a city park named after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Jeremy Kappell, a News10NBC meteorologist, used a derogatory term for black people as he was describing a picture of the park during a Friday […]

Fed Nominee Nellie Liang Withdraws From Consideration

WASHINGTON — The White House said Monday that Nellie Liang, an economist and financial regulation expert nominated by President Trump for a seat on the Federal Reserve’s board of governors, had withdrawn her name from consideration. Ms. Liang, who was nominated in September, faced opposition from the banking industry and Senate Republicans sympathetic to Wall […]