News Burst – Get The News! ~ March 1, 2023


  • Russia’s Pulkovo Airport in St. Petersburg temporarily suspended all flights on February 28, the city government said. It did not provide a reason. An unconfirmed media report from online Russian news outlet Baza said an unidentified object had been spotted in the sky and that fighter jets had been dispatched to investigate. Reuters could not immediately confirm the report. Data from the Flight Radar website showed a number of domestic flights headed for St. Petersburg turning back.
  • A rare fossil has revealed new insights into the evolution that saw some of the oldest dinosaurs give rise to the ancient ancestors of birds, telling us that some of them may have been making bird-like vocalizations back in the Cretaceous. It’s the oldest laryngeal fossil known to science, say researchers on a new paper, revealing that a spiky armored dinosaur had the right voice box for making certain bird sounds. Against the odds, the larynx of an ankylosaur, Pinacosaurus grangeri, has remained preserved since around 84-72 million years ago. They would’ve used these vocalizations in a similar way to modern animals, for courtship and parental calls, as well as defending themselves against predators and their territory from intruders.
  • The United States has publicly warned China against using US lawmakers’ visits to Taiwan “as a pretext for military action” and has demanded that other countries warn Beijing against conflict over the island. The statements were made last week by US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman. They come amid speculation that more American congressional representatives will soon visit Taiwan. US lawmakers have been making such trips since then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit last August, which created a crisis and caused China to respond with large-scale military exercises. Sherman’s warning also comes amid an increase in US-China tensions over the so-called ‘spy balloon’ that recently flew over American territory.
  • The German military is facing a shortage of essential hardware as a result of Berlin’s provision of weapons to Ukraine for use in its conflict against Russia, according to Colonel Andre Wustner, the head of the German Armed Forces Association (DBwV). Last February, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz vowed to invest €100 billion ($105.6 billion) in the Bundeswehr with the aim of making it the best-equipped military in Europe. However, Wustner told Bild am Sonntag newspaper on Sunday that, one year on, Scholz’s promise remains unfulfilled. The Bundeswehr wasn’t in full operational readiness even before the conflict in Ukraine, but the deliveries of German weapons to the Kiev government have further increased gaps in its material supply, he explained.
  • Twitter CEO Elon Musk polarized his followers with a tweet declaring there was “no question” that the 2014 change of government in Ukraine was a “coup.” On Saturday, the billionaire tweeted that while “the election” – presumably referring to the 2010 vote that elected Viktor Yanukovich president – was “arguably dodgy,” what followed “was indeed a coup.” The tweet was a response to a post from user @KanekoaTheGreat that featured the front page of an article by University of Chicago Professor John Mearsheimer titled “Why the Ukraine Crisis Is The West’s Fault.” Dating from 2014, the piece – subtitled “The Liberal Delusions That Provoked Putin” – argues that “NATO enlargement” and Western meddling in Ukrainian politics, and not “Russian aggression,” are to blame for Crimea’s accession to Russia. Mearsheimer states that “for Putin, the illegal overthrow of Ukraine’s democratically-elected and pro-Russian president – which he rightly labeled a ‘coup’ – was the final straw,” an explanation Musk appeared to agree with, at least in part.
  • The White House Office of Management and Budget issued guidance on Monday giving all federal agencies 30 days to wipe TikTok from employees’ devices. Mandated by Congress, the move follows similar guidance by the Pentagon, Department of Homeland Security, and the State Department, all of which cited alleged data harvesting by the Chinese-developed app. “How unsure of itself can the world’s top superpower be to fear a favorite app of young people like that?” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning told a press briefing on Tuesday.
  • A school on the Isle of Man has paused its sex education program after parents complained about “graphic” and “indecent” lessons in which a drag queen lectured students on gender. Pupils at Queen Elizabeth II High School in the town of Peel were taught by a drag queen who told them there are 73 genders, a local representative claimed this week. When one pupil responded “there’s only two,” the cross-dressing man made the child leave the classroom, she alleged.
  • Hungary needs to watch out for potential sabotage on pipelines that deliver Russian natural gas to the country, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Monday, pointing to the September 2022 blasts on the Nord Stream pipelines connecting Russia to Germany via the Baltic Sea. “The blowing up of the Nord Stream was a simple act of terrorism,” Orban said in a speech to parliament in Budapest. “What we need to know is, if they did it in the north just to stop the Russian gas coming to Europe … then they could do it in the south as well.”
  • Futuristic biocomputers that use human brain cells can soon become quite real. A new study conducted by Johns Hopkins University’s scientists and published in “Frontiers in Science” shows that it is possible to use brain organoids taken from tiny human skin samples, thereby revolutionizing the hi-tech industry. “Biocomputing is an enormous effort of compacting computational power and increasing its efficiency to push past our current technological limits,” the research team claims. The scientific team used brain tissue the size of a pen dot for experiments, sort of like biological hardware. The researchers stress that although computers can outmatch the human brain in calculations, when it comes to making complex logical decisions they fall short.
  • UK Border Force guards at Manchester and Heathrow airports have been told to “deprioritise” checks for contraband if they would cause long queues. Emails leaked to a daily newspaper reveal customs staff were told to only routinely search passengers for illegal items like narcotics and weapons if “there is no likelihood of an excessive queue time.” Anonymous sources said that would mean that, during busy periods, checks would only be made on passengers singled out in ‘Category A’ orders, based on intelligence from the National Border Targeting Centre. Officers at London Heathrow, the UK’s biggest airport, said they were told not to make checks “proactively” during the school half-term holiday week in February.
  • China’s Zhurong rover has provided one of the few peeks into what lies below the surface of Mars. Data returned by Zhurong’s ground-penetrating radar instrument reveals evidence of craters buried just under the surface of Mars and other, sloping features with less certain origins, according to a new paper. This view of the Martian surface, which shows several clear features, contrasts starkly with the shallow subsurface structure of Earth’s moon, also revealed by ground-penetrating radars. The moon’s uppermost 33 feet (10 meters) consists of fine layers that have been ground up by a bombardment of micrometeorite strikes. The difference may be explained by Mars’ thin atmosphere, which offers protection against micrometeorites and also has weathering effects on the surface.

News Burst 1 March 2023


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