Mysteries of Ancient Egypt’s Sacred Baboons Revealed – Scientific American

When I recounted this tale to my Kenyan colleagues, it elicited knowing nods and a proverb: “Not all baboons that enter a maize field come out satisfied.” Like many African proverbs, this one is layered with meaning. It alludes to the monkeys’ insatiable crop raiding while simultaneously evoking sinister intent. Catherine M. Hill, a professor of anthropology at Oxford Brookes University in England, has found that baboons exact a devastating toll, reducing crop yields by half for some families in western Uganda. Indeed, baboons are the foremost pest for many subsistence farmers in Africa, and cultural aversions to the animals run deep. If erasure is the ultimate measure of contempt, then it is telling that in the art and handicraft traditions of sub-Saharan Africa, baboons are largely absent. This history makes the ancient Egyptians’ worship of this creature—and its ubiquity in their art—deeply perplexing.

— Read on www.scientificamerican.com/article/mysteries-of-ancient-egypts-sacred-baboons-revealed/

Chip Shortage Has Manufacturers Turning to Lower-Tech Models – WSJ

Makers of appliances and other products are adapting designs, shipping uncompleted units and focusing on older, lower-tech models because of the global shortage of semiconductors.
— Read on www.wsj.com/articles/chip-shortage-has-manufacturers-turning-to-lower-tech-models-11636885801

Chocolate contains cadmium that can increase cancer risk

But behind its delicious taste, cacao contains cadmium, a chemical substance harmful to kidneys. It also increases the risk of cancer.

If we compare it to other harmful heavy metals like arsenic, cadmium may not seem to be that bad. But, exposure to cadmium for a long time, even in small amounts, can be dangerous as it accumulates in the body. Our body needs ten to thirty years to digest cadmium.

This is why the European Commission last year decreased the safety threshold of the amount of cadmium in processed chocolate in the region. The cadmium threshold is between 0.1 and 0.8 milligrams per kilogram of chocolate, depending on the type of chocolate.

Dark chocolate, for instance, has a lower ceiling than milk chocolate. All chocolate imported to Europe have to comply with the limit.

Europe’s decision was based on research that showed even though cadmium exposure in adult non-smokers in the region is still below WHO’s upper limit, exposure through food in children reaches twice the safe limit.
— Read on theconversation.com/amp/chocolate-contains-cadmium-that-can-increase-cancer-risk-131155

Cadmium in chocolate: A “deep rooted” problem for consumers and producers alike | 2020-11-09 | Food Engineering

We all know that too much cadmium (Cd) in our bodies is just as dangerous as lead. Both are heavy metals, and while specific limits have been put on lead exposure (both in the air and orally), cadmium isn’t quite as well documented—at least in the U.S. The EPA places maximum allowable levels of cadmium in our drinking water as 5 parts per billion (ppb) with a goal of 0 ppb, but FDA has not set limits on safe levels of cadmium in food except . . .
— Read on www.foodengineeringmag.com/articles/99189-cadmium-in-chocolate-a-deep-rooted-problem-for-consumers-and-producers-alike

Facebook Is Stifling Independent Report on Its Impact in India, Human Rights Groups Say – WSJ

Human rights groups say Facebook is stifling an independent report it commissioned to investigate hate speech on its services in India, the company’s largest market by customers and where scrutiny of its operations is increasing.

Representatives for the organizations say they have provided extensive input to a U.S. law firm that Facebook commissioned in mid-2020 to undertake the report. The groups say they supplied hundreds of examples of inflammatory content and suggested ways Facebook could better police its services in India.

Facebook executives from the company’s human rights team, which is overseeing the law firm’s effort, have since narrowed the draft report’s scope and are delaying a process that has already taken more than a year, the groups say.

“They are trying to kill it,” said Ratik Asokan of India Civil Watch International, one of the organizations that provided the law firm with input. Mr. Asokan said that Facebook has raised technical objections through the law firm that have caused delays, such as changing definitions of what can be considered hate speech and included in the report, undermining what Facebook said would be an independent study. The law firm hasn’t provided a timeline for completing it, he said.
— Read on www.wsj.com/articles/facebook-is-stifling-independent-report-on-its-impact-in-india-human-rights-groups-say-11636725601

American’s Beer Consumption up 19% During the Pandemic

America’s thirst for Budweiser is showing no sign of drying up as the brand dominates its rivals in the battle of the beers across the country.
— Read on topagency.com/report/beer-report/

Novel approach to a plant-based diet, unique to long-necked dinosaurs — ScienceDaily

Keep It Simple, Sauropods

“The diet of extinct dinosaurs was incredibly varied, spanning tiny meat-eaters to massive plant-eaters,” says Dr. Melstrom. “Our research sheds light on the range of adaptations that allowed so many plant-eaters to live alongside one another.”

Using computerized tomography (CT) and microCT scanning, Dr. Melstrom and his colleagues made 3D models of specimens from around the globe, capturing the great diversity of tooth complexity in Late Jurassic dinosaurs.

“This whole project was conducted during the pandemic. Instead of traveling the world to gather data, we relied on researchers who had made their data available to other scientists, as well as the incredible collections here at NHM. I think this project really demonstrates the importance of sharing information, it can lead to new discoveries even during a pandemic,” says Dr. Melstrom.

They converted the toothy hills and valleys of dinosaur teeth into numbers, quantifying tooth complexity between the three groups of dinosaurs: meat-eating theropods, plant-eating ornithischians, and similarly herbivorous sauropods.

What they found was an entirely new evolutionary strategy to handle a plant-based diet 150 million years ago. While meat-eating dinosaurs had sharp simple teeth expected for carnivores, and ornithischians had the more complex teeth similar to herbivores living today, sauropods had very simple teeth, unlike any other known herbivores extinct or living.

In sauropods, they found that the more complex the tooth, the more slowly teeth were replaced, a correlation that demonstrates that tooth replacement rate is related to tooth complexity, unlike any other known animals. More specifically, diplodocoids like Apatosaurus and Diplodocus exhibited incredibly fast replacement rates and simple teeth, possibly allowing them to eat different foods from the other group of sauropods, macronarians like ??Brachiosaurus, which had more complex teeth.

Simple teeth would have made sense for sauropods’ long necks. Smaller teeth built to be lost weigh less than the tougher teeth of all other herbivores, which helps lighten the skull at the end of those long necks. The peculiar tooth replacement pattern meant these sauropods could focus on plant food other dinosaurs and non-dinosaur plant-eaters passed by.

“Time and time again, the fossil record shows us that there isn’t one solution to evolutionary problems. For sauropods, when it comes to eating tough plants, the simplest solution was the best,” says Dr. Melstrom.
— Read on www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/11/211111080404.htm

Taiwan Unveils China’s Military Playbook

Taiwan, the independent and democratically governed island China claims as part of its own territory, has become the epicenter of a major geopolitical showdown between Washington and Beijing—to the point it was dubbed “the most dangerous place on Earth” by the Economist earlier this year amid fears its fate could spark a war between the two world superpowers. 

There are other important takeaways from the 208-page door stopper for defense wonks to pour through. One that stood out to us was how China plans to beef up its intelligence-gathering capabilities on Taiwan, including through the “deployment of JB series and Tiantong series reconnaissance and communications satellites to strengthen its supremacy in space and electromagnetic domains.” Another ominous takeaway is China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is “beefing up” amphibious capabilities and “strengthening training for its marines for joint landing operations.”
— Read on foreignpolicy.com/2021/11/11/can-taiwan-show-china-its-a-porcupine/

Flashpoint: China and Taiwan | Conflict | Al Jazeera

101 East investigates rising tensions between China and Taiwan.
— Read on www.aljazeera.com/program/101-east/2021/11/11/flashpoint-china-and-taiwan

Neighbours of Belarus say migrant crisis risks military clash | Reuters

Countries bordering Belarus on Thursday warned the migrant crisis on the European Union’s eastern borders could escalate into a military confrontation while Ukraine said it would deploy thousands more troops to reinforce its frontier.
— Read on www.reuters.com/world/europe/poland-reports-violent-clashes-overnight-migrants-attempt-new-border-breach-2021-11-11/