Top stories

Anti-Semitism and concussion

On Friday, Israel’s chief rabbi, David Lau, called for a ban on Jews wearing yarmulkes and other skullcapes, saying that it “encourages idolatry and moral delinquency.” The analogy drew accusations that the rabbi was blaming the millions of Jews killed in the Holocaust on the very ways they protected themselves. Following the outbreak of a nationwide epidemic of schistosomiasis, a parasitic disease, the World Health Organization praised Balkan countries for their border controls, advising tourists to stay out of the countries if the disease is present. Skijoring, a centuries-old sport in which women and young girls ski in pairs or on personal sleds, is apparently not a pursuit subject to such scrutiny. Skijoring fans were angered, which was just one reason why World Skijoring’s world championships in Mount Baker, Washington were postponed. The sport’s website wrote that organizing committee member Gregory Bridgman was “a bit pissed off, I have to be honest” after being asked to reschedule the event for next year.

The result of the science is scary.

Following an alarming burst of genetic discoveries, scientists have identified some of the key genetic variations involved in chronic stress, a process of biological trauma caused by something such as a family tragedy, another chronic loss, or multiple emergencies. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest more than 730,000 people in the United States suffer from anxiety disorders related to post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. One doctor told USA Today that many people with mental illnesses often blame their ailment on the ones who died as a result of the trauma or their own bad decisions.

Fake news and scientific evidence

Anti-ISIS forces in Iraq have discovered evidence that the terrorist group has hidden biological weapons in the regions it controls. In one instance, experts found sarin nerve gas, an agent used in chemical weapons attacks around the world, in the tunnel complex of Mosul University. During its stay in control of Mosul, ISIS used nerve gas against Kurdish peshmerga forces. However, despite the presence of chemical weapons in Mosul, the U.S. government has said it will not undertake military action to disarm the group.

Oil prices and deficits

Crude oil prices rose to a three-year high on Friday, in response to an unexpectedly strong increase in Chinese oil production and a global slowdown in oil consumption, analysts said. China overtook Saudi Arabia to become the world’s largest oil producer for the first time in 2016. “Our tendency is to believe that Chinese oil production will peak in the next few years because of a better policy towards domestic and offshore oil and gas,” Trilby Lundberg, chairman of the Lundberg Survey, told Reuters. “I am a little bit more cautious now. China has picked up at a rate that is very rapid, so there is a risk that we haven’t accounted for the rise of their shale oil production.”

The moment of truth for U.S. trade

President Trump said the United States is willing to extend a long-delayed trade agreement with South Korea to buy more American goods in exchange for an agreement to fix barriers to U.S. automakers and ship more autos to South Korea. Talks broke down over concerns that U.S. cars would face an unfair tax. “We should extend a temporary five-year deal that I signed,” Trump said. The move would give the Trump administration some time to finalize a comprehensive trade deal.

Science news that surprised us

On Thursday, the U.S. Geological Survey tweeted an update on a sample that was found on a 1953 spacecraft left over from the moon landing. The meteorite was found off the coast of Massachusetts and was “the only piece of lunar material ever found in the United States,” a USGS spokesperson said. The light-years away stone reveals the presence of water. It contains traces of hydrogen and carbon, the gas that provides the material to form water. Astronomers believe that water appears on a small portion of the moon, but that it exists as a “ghost of its former self” on the rest of the moon. This most recent discovery could shed new light on water’s overall existence on the moon, where it is believed to be frozen in underground frozen pools of water.