EARLY EDITION: Five Fast News Stories For The Water Cooler (Thurs. Mar 9)

TODAY'S FIVE: Abandoning college? 100m Russian Rounds; Fed Hurts Poor; Afgan withdrawal shocker; More Biden Docs; energy 'miracle'?

TODAY’S FIVE: Abandoning college? 100m Russian Rounds; Fed Hurts Poor; Afgan withdrawal shocker; More Biden Docs; energy ‘miracle’?

1. Americans souring on college eduction

The pandemic disrupted norms and ushered in many changes. One unexpected change is a significant shift in attitudes to post-secondary education.

Will Donald Trump win the 2024 election?

What first looked like a pandemic blip has turned into a crisis. Nationwide, undergraduate college enrollment dropped 8% from 2019 to 2022, with declines even after returning to in-person classes, according to data from the National Student Clearinghouse. The slide in the college-going rate since 2018 is the steepest on record, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Economists say the impact could be dire.

At worst, it could signal a new generation with little faith in the value of a college degree. At minimum, it appears those who passed on college during the pandemic are opting out for good. Predictions that they would enroll after a year or two haven’t borne out. –AP

The AP story considers factors like debt, but they don’t ask whether an ideological hijacking of higher learning has played any role in that attitude shift.

2. Iran gives Russia 100M rounds of ammo for Ukraine

As a war of attrition plays out in Ukraine, the question of which side blinks first will be answered, in part, by whose supplies last longer.

On Tuesday, News sources ran a story about Russian soldiers ‘armed with shovels’ as they faced ammo shortages in Bakhmut. According to a Sky News report, Iran is stepping in to solve that problem.

The source claimed that two Russian-flagged cargo ships departed an Iranian port in January bound for Russia via the Caspian Sea, carrying approximately 100 million bullets and around 300,000 shells.

Ammunition for rocket launchers, mortars and machine guns was allegedly included in the shipments.

The source said Moscow paid for the ammunition in cash. — SkyNews

3. Fed hikes could hit poorer nations hard

The higher the Fed raises interest rates to rein in inflation, the more that ripple effects hurt countries on the brink, abroad.

It’s an open question how high the Fed will crank up interest rates before it levels out. But with each bump in the rate, foreign investors break into a sweat wondering if this is the place where it will finally level out?

“Fed tightening towards 6% would firmly test historical ‘pain thresholds’ for emerging market assets,” said UBS strategist Manik Narain in a note, predicting India’s rupee, China’s yuan and the Philippine and Chilean pesos could weaken as much as 5% if the Fed ramped up rates to 6%.

…”Frontier markets is where you’ll likely see the brunt of the hit” of sharply rising rates, said Sahil Mahtani, multi-asset strategist at investment firm Ninety One.

The number of smaller, riskier emerging markets where investors demand a premium of 10 percentage points or more over safe-haven U.S. Treasuries has remained broadly steady at around 30 countries, with a recent rally bringing no relief, analysts at Tellimer found. These countries, which include Kenya, Egypt and Pakistan, are essentially locked out of capital markets. — Reuters

4. The fatal decision that did NOT save the lives of 13 US vets in Afghanistan

The House Foreign Affairs Committee held hearings on the botched Afghanistan withdrawal on Wednesday. Among the witnesses was a man who could have saved the lives of Americans and Afghans slain by the suicide bomber on the final days before the pullout.

Tyler Vargas-Andrews, a sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps, was part of a sniper team on duty that day, overseeing the withdrawal efforts. He testified the Committee that he had eyes on the bomber.

Vargas-Andrews’s sniper team was provided with detailed information about the suspected bomber, including what he looked like. “I asked the intel guys why he wasn’t apprehended sooner since we had a full description,” the military veteran testified before the Foreign Affairs Committee during its first public hearing on the bungled withdrawal operation. “I was told the asset could not be compromised.”

Soon after, Vargas-Andrews and his team spotted the bomber but were told to stand down by a commander in charge. “We reassured him of the ease of fire on the suicide bomber,” Vargas-Andrews said. “Pointedly, we asked him for engagement authority and permission. We asked him if we could shoot. Our battalion commander said, and I quote, ‘I don’t know.'”

“Plain and simple, we were ignored,” Vargas-Andrews testified. “Our expertise was disregarded. No one was held accountable for our safety.” — FreeBeacon

His request for clearance fell on deaf ears. And people needlessly died because of it.

5. Nine more boxes of Biden’s classified Docs that we weren’t told about

At the very moment when Biden was wagging his finger about Trump and Mar-a-lago douments, the same government agencies were aware that he had classified documents scattered hither and yon all over the place.

Yet, only one of those two parties would have had any authority to change the classification levels of those documents to have lawful possession of them… and it wasn’t Biden.

It makes you wonder why we are looking at the extreme difference in both legal and emotional reactions to different instances of documents being held where they ought not to be.

When they know about documents in a locked room in a building guarded by the Secret Service, it’s a grave national security risk. Trump is giving away our nuclear codes or something. We need to announce it just in time to shift public opinion for the midterm elections.

But when Biden has boxes of documents all various locations all over Hell’s half-acre, some of them going back to when he was a mere Senator? *yawn* No big deal. The public has no reason to know THAT.

The Archives had not previously publicly disclosed the number of boxes taken from Boston. It had been reported that Moore had shipped boxes of documents from the Penn Biden Center to his Boston office before discovering the initial trove of classified documents at the Washington, D.C.-based think tank.

In response to questions by Johnson and Grassley in a Feb. 24 letter asking how and when the archives learned that records were transported to Boston, Acting Archivist of the United States Debra Steidel Wall responded the agency learned about it on Nov. 3, 2022.

“When NARA [National Archives and Records Administration] contacted President Biden’s personal counsel on November 3, 2022, to arrange to pick up boxes from the Penn Biden Center in Washington, D.C., they informed NARA that Mr. Moore had moved other boxes from the Penn Biden Center to Mr. Moore’s law firm in Boston,” the letter states. — FoxNews

News Of The Weird

Enzyme could provide brand new electricity source

If a Journal of Nature discovery can be commercially scalable, we might be able to literally pull electricity right out of the air.

Dr. Rhys Grinter, Ph.D. student Ashleigh Kropp, and Professor Chris Greening from the Monash University Biomedicine Discovery Institute in Melbourne, Australia, were looking at hydro-gen consuming enzymes from a common soil-based bacteria and stumbled on an amazing find.

They’ve unlocked how an enzyme called Huc draws trace amounts of Hydrogen out of the air as an energy source where nutrient sources are otherwise scarce.

The enzyme is quite stable, whether frozen or heated up to as much as 80 degress Celsius (176 F), while retaining its ability to produce energy. The enzyme is described as a ‘natural battery’ continually producing a current from air.

As for scalability? That will be the next goal. But they are optimistic sinceMycobacterium smegmatis is common and can be grown in large quantities.

Sources cited:
1. AP; 2. SkyNews; 3. Reuters; 4. FreeBeacon; 5. FoxNews
Weird:  Phys dot org

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