May 1st Daily Digest

May 1st Daily Digest

Good afternoon,

Welcome to our first daily digest. In this digest, we'll be linking some of the main news stories we've been reading this morning. The length, scope and format of the digest will continue to evolve.

World News

One person has died and three missing after a 26-story tower block collapsed in the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo on Tuesday after a fire blazed through the building. 

The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Monday that Israel had:

uncovered documents showing that Iranian officials had lied when they said the country had never pursued nuclear weapons, adding that the Islamic Republic had a detailed plan to develop nuclear weapons—and had hidden the relevant documents away in an archive in Tehran.

What Netanyahu was hoping to achieve with his presentation is not clear [...]. His main evidence that Iran had cheated on the nuclear deal was that it had not fully disclosed the details of its past nuclear programs to the IAEA,

Still, Netanyahu’s announcement could have dramatic consequences not only for the future of the nuclear deal, which is known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), but also in stoking the already high tensions between Israel and Iran.

Ten journalists have died in the last week covering the conflict in Afghanistan, nine died in the city of Kabul during two suicide blasts while one died in a shooting in the eastern province of Khost.

UK News

The Royal Bank of Scotland announced today (Tuesday) that it would be shutting down 162 branches and cutting 792 staff. The Unite union

has calculated that in the case of 71 of the 162 branches closing, customers will be forced to make return journeys of about 25 miles to reach another one.

RBS has said it hopes more customers will move to digital banking and will be setting up a new taskforce to help teach digital banking skills to those who need them.

In an exclusive, the Evening Standard revealed that Theresa May "overruled Cabinet ministers pleading for more doctors from overseas to fill empty NHS posts."

A Whitehall source said Mrs May “absolutely refused to budge” when asked to lift the cap in recent months.

In more bad news for May, the government suffered a defeat in the Lords.

An amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill giving MPs the power to stop the UK from leaving without a deal, or to make Theresa May return to negotiations, was approved by 335 votes to 244.

Today the former investment banker and new Home Secretary Sajid Javid continues to promise to end "hostile environment" that Theresa May helped create towards immigrants. He told MPs:

I don’t like the phrase ‘hostile’ so I think the terminology is incorrect. I think it is a phrase that is unhelpful and it does not represent our values as a country

George Eaton's article in the New Statemen about how London became a Labour city is well worth a read if you have a moment. Je writes that even bankers and executives are turning to Labours more socially liberal position while the Tories have changed from being the  "party of the Economist to that of the Daily Mail."

US News

On Monday the New York Times revealed that special prosecutor Robert Mueller has a list of at least four dozen questions he would like to ask US president Donald Trump to determine whether he tried to obstruct the Russia investigation. Questions include “What efforts were made to reach out to Mr. Flynn about seeking immunity or possible pardon?” and “What knowledge did you have of any outreach by your campaign, including by Paul Manafort, to Russia about potential assistance to the campaign?” 

While speaking to the visiting President of Nigeria Donald Trump gave a statement that some have described as a "riot act" in which stated the continued killing of Christians in Nigeria is unacceptable. Trump also promised heavy US investment if Nigeria removed barriers to trade between the countries.

A caravan is heading towards the US border with Mexico. The members who make it up are fleeing dangerous conditions in their own countries. Buzzfeed News spoke with 18 of them and the stories they have to tell are harrowing. One 18 year old from El Salvadore explained

I was threatened by gangs after refusing to sell drugs for them. They threatened my stepdad and then they killed him. I left on Aug. 8 by myself.

Science

2018 marks the centenary of the Spanish flu pandemic which killed an estimated 50 million people. Despite 100 years of research, there is still no universal flu vaccine. Bill Gates wants to change this. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is:

offering $12 million in seed money to spur innovative thinking on a scientific challenge that has stumped the influenza research community for decades and is considered the holy grail of flu research.

successful grant recipients will need to move quickly. The foundation says experimental vaccines developed with its money must be ready to be tested in people in 2021 — which leaves scant time for developing a vaccine, testing it in animals, making human-grade batches, and designing the first human trial.

Individual grants in the pilot phase will range between $250,000 and $2 million, paid out over two years.

A rule of thumb holds that around 1 billion dollars is required to develop a new vaccine however the costs for producing a universal flu vaccine will likely be far higher due to how complex a task it is. 

Some experts such as Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases believe a universal flu vaccine is unattainable, however:

he believes vaccines that protect against seasonal strains, regardless of how they mutate, plus some of the most threatening animal strains, would be a realistic goal.

In an interview, Bill Gates explained 

We think a universal flu vaccine would not only eliminate the pandemic risk, but would have significant health benefits. It would be fantastic!

Tech

The second Whatsapps cofounder in 6 months plans to leave Facebook over concerns about user privacy and Facebooks desire to weaken encryption on Whatsapp. 

Koum’s exit is highly unusual at Facebook. The inner circle of management, as well as the board of directors, has been fiercely loyal during the scandals that have rocked the social media giant.

Facebook declined to comment on the reasons for Koum’s departure but didn’t dispute the accounts.

Twitter's stock price rose after it was announced it would be working with Walt Disney Co. to

create live sports programming and other content for the social-media platform, part of a push to turn Twitter’s service into a destination for premium streaming video.

The collaboration will help Twitter compete with its rivals such as Facebook who are also "doubling down on livestreaming and video."

Media/Journalism

In today's Try This! — Tools for Journalism newsletter from Poynter Ren Laforme offers a way for journalists and media organisations to drive engagement on Reddit. 

Taking a cue from the Post and others, I set up Crowdtangle (free and available to anyone who publishes original content) to alert me via email and the whole team via Slack every time a user posts a Poynter article to any subreddit (for the Reddit uninitiated, a subreddit is a sort of channel focused on a specific topic). If you’d like to copy our Crowdtangle settings, here they are.

Now we always know when someone has shared our work on Reddit and can jump in to say hi, add context and toss out some questions. There’s probably an easier way to do it, but it works for us. Keep in mind that this just a starting point to make the most of Reddit. The Post's commendable results mostly come from audience editor Gene Park's time, dedication and voice.

Also in the news this week is the case of Michael Segalov who is suing the police after they refused to grant him a press part for the last Labour party conference because they feared he would disrupt the event. The police drew on confidential intelligence to allege that "Segalov had demonstrated an increased willingness to take part in protests that involved breaking the law." Segalov counters that he had attended those protests as a journalist and not participant. The court papers show that the police had no evidence that Segalov had committed any criminal acts. A hearing is scheduled for tomorrow (Wednesday) where Segalovs lawyers are "seeking to persuade the high court to allow his case against Sussex and Greater Manchester police to go ahead."

Reddit

Earlier an article from CBS submitted to r/News by /u/yyeeaahhhboiiii hit the front page of Reddit with the title "Flood insurance companies spend more money on litigation fighting their policy holders’ claims than the victims claims are actually worth." The article is an interesting read but /u/i0datamonster explains why the approach is to be predicted:

Insurance companies are contracted as brokers to sell the policies. They litigate every claim. If they paid out on every claim the fund would be depleted ending the program. Which would also mean the end of their government cash cow.

In another post to hit the front page /u/dmh2493 shares an image of the letter of congratulations from Lucasfilms to Marvel Studios after Avengers: Infinity War had the biggest opening weekend of all time with a combined US and global opening of $630 million. In a comment on that post /u/rain-dog2 shared an Imgur album showing that the history of this type of letter goes back decades.

Podcast Takeaways

Yesterday I listened to an episode of Every Little from the Gimlet podcast network. The episode is titled "Public Toilets: To Sit Or To Hover?" and here are my key takeaways:

  • Most people hover or use toilet paper to cover public toilet seats.

  • Buttcheeks have fewer bacteria than buttcrack but around the same number as most other non-moist parts of the body.

  • Faecal bacteria spray up from the toilet when you flush and cover the seat and surrounding area

  • Tissue paper isn’t a barrier to microbes and won’t stop bacteria getting on you

  • In areas with good hygiene and vaccines as long as you wash your hands you are extremely unlikely to contract anything dangerous from sitting on a toilet seat.

  • Many harmful microorganisms die when they leave your body and if you wash your hands most of the ones that don’t will also be dead or gone.

  • Sitting down on the toilet is as safe as the alternatives just don't forget to wash your hands.

Youtube

And finally, Vox released a video yesterday explaining the role of audio engineers in TV sports broadcasting and why sports should sound better in your living room.

Thanks for reading this digest. See you soon. 

May 2nd Daily News Digest

May 2nd Daily News Digest

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