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The American West Is the Best Place to Spot UFOs


Thursday, February 29th, 2024


Today’s newsletter is: 911 words; 4 min.


The Supreme Court will hear former President Donald Trump’s claim that he has absolute immunity in his criminal case over his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. The stunning decision is a huge win for Trump and imperils the timing of Jack Smith’s prosecution of the former president.

Senate Republicans blocked consideration of a bill that would have protected IVF nationwide. The move comes as Republican lawmakers scramble to save face after the unprecedented Alabama ruling.  

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will step down as Senate Republican leader in November. The decision will end his record run in Senate leadership and signals his waning influence in the party that’s now dominated by the man who once called his wife “Coco Chow.” 

Former President Donald Trump offered to secure a bond of only $100 million to pause the $454 million penalty in his New York fraud case. The offer suggests Trump lacks the money to cover the full amount and/or can’t find a bonding company willing to vouch for him.


A new study uncovered the key drivers of brain fog during long COVID


Scientists Uncovered the Mechanism Behind Brain Fog During Long COVID

A new study by researchers at Trinity College Dublin found disruptions in the blood-brain barrier, along with a hyperactive immune system, are the key drivers of brain fog associated with long COVID.

Leaky vessels: 

  • The study found the integrity of blood vessels in the brains of patients suffering from long COVID and brain fog are disrupted, hinting at a “leaky” blood-brain barrier that the team found isn’t present in people with long COVID but no brain fog.

  • The researchers say their study is the first to uncover the possible key drivers of brain fog during long COVID, describing the findings as “critically important” to understanding the underlying cause of the condition and developing therapies in the future.



A new survey found Christian nationalism is “strongly linked” to Republican party affiliation


Christian Nationalism Is “Strongly Linked” to Republican Party Affiliation

A new survey by the Public Religion Research Institute found 30% of U.S. adults qualify as “adherents” or “sympathizers” of Christian nationalism, with Republicans (55%) being more than twice as likely as independents (25%) and three times as likely as Democrats (16%) to qualify.

Where it’s brewing: 

  • The survey found 38% of residents in red states qualify as Christian nationalists, nearly double the proportion of blue state residents who qualify (22%).

  • Support for Christian nationalism was also “nearly perfectly correlated with vote for Donald Trump in the 2020 election,” and when the analysis is restricted to only white Americans, the relationship between support for Christian nationalism and voting for Trump “becomes even stronger.”



A new study shows NASA’s DART mission reshaped an asteroid


NASA’s Crash into an Asteroid Changed Its Shape

A new study by researchers at the University of Bern in Switzerland found NASA’s successful 2022 DART Mission, which crashed a spacecraft into an asteroid called Dimorphos, caused an impact so great that it changed the shape of Dimorphos altogether, turning it into a flat-topped oval, much like an M&M candy. 

Why it matters: 

  • Aside from it being cool as hell to launch a rocket at an asteroid, DART crashed into Dimorphos to test whether we can deflect future, possibly Earth-threatening space rocks.

  • The findings published this week also showed the impact caused a change in Dimorphos’s orbit of its larger binary partner Didymos, slowing it by around 33 minutes.


The American West Is the Best Place to Spot UFOs

If you’re interested in spotting UFOs, you might want to head west, at least according to a new study by researchers at the University of Utah.

  • The researchers examined 98,000 UFO sightings from 2001 to 2020, analyzing the sightings in light of the location’s sky view potential (the amount of light pollution and cloud and tree cover in the area) and the potential for the object to be human-made (meaning proximity to airports and military installations).

What they found: 

The team found the majority of sightings happened in the West due to the region’s geography featuring plenty of wide-open spaces and dark skies (also plenty of cannabis, incidentally). 

  • The West and far Northeast were found to be “hot spots” for sightings, while “cold spots” were concentrated in the central plains and Southeast (view a map of the “hot” vs “cold” spots). 

  • Reports were also associated with air traffic and military activity, suggesting people were seeing real objects they simply didn’t recognize. 

Why it matters:

The study suggests UFO sightings are influenced by a person’s surrounding environment, which the researchers believe will help identify truly anomalous objects, including ones that could be a threat, by making it easier to rule out things that are human-made or celestial.


  • 500,000 acres - The size of the Smokehouse Creek Fire currently ripping through the Texas Panhandle, making it the second-largest wildfire in the state’s history. 

  • 5.04 billion - The number of active users of social media around the world in 2023, up 6% over the past year and equivalent to around 63% of the world’s total population, according to a new report by We Are Social.  

  • 18 miles - The length of the oil slick caused by a Houthi attack earlier this month on a cargo vessel off the coast of Yemen. The vessel is anchored but sinking, and awaiting towing to a safe harbor amid concerns of a larger oil spill. 


Long Video. Learn about the medieval surgery that saved King Henry V’s life. (13 min) 

Short Video. Here’s what a magnitude 15 earthquake would be like. (3 min)

Fun Video. Learn why Olympic curling stones are so expensive. (9 min)

Good Read. Read about how the Las Vegas strip emerged from the Nevada desert. (851 words; 4 min)

Neat List. Here are the top 10 cities with the worst drivers, according to Forbes Advisor.


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Written by Ryan Wittler