Murder Rates Are Plummeting. What Should We Make of It?

“But aren’t murder rates still far above where they were in 2019? It would indeed seem silly to celebrate that homicides are down from super high to, say, very high. Thankfully, that’s not the case.
“A murder decline of even half the magnitude suggested by the early 2024 data,” writes Jeff Asher, a data analyst and co-founder of AH Datalytics, “would place the US murder rate this year largely on par with or below where it was from 2015 to 2019 prior to the surge in murder in 2020.” There are certainly reasons for caution here, chief among them that it is May, not December. The situation could certainly take a turn for the worse. But should the data continue on the current trajectory, then the number of homicides seen in the U.S. will indeed be back to, or under, pre-COVID levels—a concession also recently made by Charles Fain Lehman, a fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute.”

Ron DeSantis Says Letting People Buy Cultivated Meat Is Like Forcing Them To Eat Bugs

“It is not yet clear whether the alternative protein products known variously as “lab-grown,” “cell-cultivated,” or “cultured” meat will deliver the environmental benefits touted by their boosters or when they will be appealing and cheap enough to be competitive with conventional poultry, beef, and pork. But Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis already has made up his mind, deeming these products so repellent that selling them should be a crime.
When he signed the nation’s first ban on cultivated meat last week, DeSantis said he was “fighting back against the global elite’s plan to force the world to eat meat grown in a petri dish or bugs to achieve their authoritarian goals.” That bizarre, Orwellian spin, which portrays legal restrictions on consumer choice as a blow against authoritarianism, illustrates how right-wing virtue signaling—in this case reinforced by protectionism—compromises conservative principles by turning even activities as mundane as a trip to the supermarket into a political issue.

The technology that revolts the governor, first developed in 2013, uses cell samples to grow meat in bioreactors, obviating the need to raise and slaughter animals. Worldwide, more than 150 companies are working on such products, but they have been approved for sale only in Singapore and the United States, where their distribution so far has been limited to chicken sold by restaurants in San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

DeSantis nevertheless claims to think the threat posed by this nascent industry is grave enough to justify its criminalization. His reference to mandatory bug eating, bewildering on its face, goes to the meat of his complaint.

As DeSantis tells it, a “global elite” is conspiring to stop people from eating good, old-fashioned meat based on dubious environmental concerns, leaving consumers with icky alternatives that include insects as well as “fake meat.” As evidence of that conspiracy, DeSantis cites a 2021 World Economic Forum article describing insects as “a credible and efficient alternative protein source,” which he says reflects “the World Economic Forum’s goal of forcing the world to eat lab-grown meat and insects.””

“Although the Yale-educated, Harvard-trained lawyer’s populist pose is hard to take seriously, he evidently thinks it will appeal to Republican voters gullible enough to accept his equation of coercion with freedom. DeSantis is also playing to entrenched economic interests, as reflected in his promise to protect “100% real Florida beef” produced by “local farmers and ranchers.””

What’s Going on With Gaza’s Fatality Numbers?

“All the numbers we’re getting out of Gaza are from offices run by Hamas, the terrorist group that perpetrated the October 7 attack and runs the government (if you consider the government to be functional at all there). But there’s two main sources—the Government Media Office (GMO) and the Ministry of Health (MoH)—and the first, higher count is from the GMO, whereas the revised count is from the MoH.
In order to suss out the legitimacy of the numbers, we have to consider what is being counted as “identified” vs. “unidentified.” The MoH had long counted deaths reported by both hospitals and “reliable” media accounts; around the start of April, it revised the media-reported deaths to be categorized as “incomplete” and then “unidentified.” When a death is reported based on a media account (and a media account alone), there are no remains that have been identified—so the accuracy of this count remains disputed.

If you think these data-reporting practices are not so great, you should look at the GMO’s account. “Way back on Dec. 11, GMO reported the death of 8,000 children and 6,200 women out of 18,396 total fatalities,” writes David Adesnik, the director of research for the nonpartisan Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “Arithmetic shows there were (18,396-8,000-6,200=) 4,196 men. But GMoH reported at the time that hospitals had registered 5,577 male fatalities.” In other words: Hamas’ two data-reporting entities cannot even line up their stories.”

Pentagon Says Russia Has Launched a Mysterious Orbital Weapon

“The militarization of space is really heating up after the Pentagon accused Russia of launching a satellite that national security officials believe is capable of attacking other satellites in orbit, the BBC reports.
And most chillingly, this satellite, which the Russians launched last week, is on the same orbit as a US government satellite.

“Russia launched a satellite into low Earth orbit that we assess is likely a counter space weapon,” said Pentagon spokesperson Brigadier General Pat Ryder on Tuesday, as reported by the BBC.”

A US Navy carrier strike group locked in a Red Sea battle has fired over 500 munitions fighting the Houthis

“These targets include static Houthi facilities and sites located across Yemen, missiles and drones the rebels were preparing to launch at ships at sea, and weapons that they already fired into shipping lanes. The strike group has leaned on its aircraft and warships to engage targets and defend against varying threats.”