NASA Releases Webb Telescope’s First Images

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By Carlos Gamino

In mid-July 2022, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) released the first images captured by the James Webb Space Telescope, a high-powered, space-based telescope that’s about a million miles from Earth right now. The agency launched the telescope in December 2021 from French Guiana, and it’ll hang out in its current position (give or take a few miles) for at least five years. It could – like the Opportunity Mars Rover – outlive expectations, lasting ten years or more, but only if it has enough fuel to maintain its orbit and it’s able to dodge the effects of space’s harsh environment.

How is the Webb Telescope Different From the Hubble Telescope?

The Webb Telescope (just Webb for short) is different from the Hubble. In addition to being technologically superior, it’s a lot farther out in space. The Hubble is in low-Earth orbit, just 375 miles from Earth (that’s about the distance from Milwaukee to Detroit if you drive around Lake Michigan). Because of Webb’s distance from Earth, it’s not serviceable; NASA doesn’t have any plans to send manned missions out there during its planned lifespan.

Webb can see a lot farther than the Hubble Telescope can, too. Right now, it’s looking at what happened in the universe shortly after the Big Bang – and that’s when the first stars and galaxies began to form. That’s why scientists have found the images so riveting; it can take them back to “explore every phase of cosmic history.”

The other – and most significant – difference between Webb and the Hubble is that the Webb Telescope can pick up infrared light. The Hubble Telescope can do that, too, but only to a small extent. That means scientists can observe extremely faint objects that they just couldn’t pick up with the Hubble.

What About Webb’s First Images?

The first images NASA released depict thousands of galaxies across the universe. Some of these galaxies formed around 13.2 billion years ago.

But perhaps what’s most fascinating about the images is that they’re incredibly tiny. The telescope uses gravitational lensing, which occurs when a massive object magnifies or distorts the light of objects behind it. According to NASA, the gravitational field of a huge galaxy cluster can bend light rays from more distant galaxies (just like a camera lens bends light to create a picture). As a result, the Webb images you see come from a picture that’s about as small as a grain of sand held at arm’s length – and they only depict a miniscule fraction of the vastness of space.

What Do You Think About the Webb Telescope’s Images?

Have you checked out the images from the James Webb Space Telescope? What did you think of them – were you impressed, or are you waiting for NASA to do another photo dump? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this – so please feel free to share them on my Facebook page or on my Twitter feed.

Carlos Gamino

Are We in for Another Pandemic With Monkeypox?

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By Carlos Gamino

As the U.S. and much of the world is still reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic, news outlets all over the country are reporting on monkeypox – but is it really a big deal? Who needs to be worried, and should you rush to get a vaccine?

Most experts agree that handling the recent monkeypox outbreaks in major cities is the key to preventing it from becoming a big deal. The virus, which is from the same family as smallpox is, is treatable, but there are currently nearly 2,000 cases across the U.S. with some possibly going undiagnosed. At this point, it’s officially an “outbreak,” not a pandemic. Though there have been a few cases diagnosed in Wisconsin, most physicians here feel that it’s manageable (though physicians in larger cities with larger numbers of cases disagree).

According to news outlet WEAU, monkeypox isn’t typically spread during short periods of close contact. That means the risk to the public is still pretty low in Wisconsin. The virus typically spreads through:

  • Direct skin contact with someone who has a rash
  • Contact with surfaces or objects used by someone with monkeypox (like clothing, bedding or toothbrushes)
  • Respiratory droplets

And because most people recover in a few weeks without treatment, it’s not particularly life-threatening to the general population.

There are tests for monkeypox, and there are also vaccines available. But the vaccines aren’t widely available to most people, and because it’s not typically considered a serious illness (except in immunocompromised people), many people may not jump on board – just as many haven’t been vaccinated against COVID-19.

What Do You Think?

Are you concerned about monkeypox in Wisconsin? Would you get a vaccine if it were widely available? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this – so please feel free to share them on my Facebook page or on my Twitter feed.

Carlos Gamino

The Two-Night Curfew in Milwaukee as a Response to Mass Shootings in the City

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By Carlos Gamino

Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson imposed a two-night curfew after three deadly shootings in the city that took place in mid-May. The curfew was from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., and it was the first time since 1967 that a curfew had been imposed in Milwaukee. The mayor said the curfew was necessary to quell the violence and restore order in the city.

The curfew was met with criticism from some residents, who said it would not solve the underlying problems that led to the violence. Others said it was an important step to take to keep people safe.

The curfew was lifted after two nights, and no major incidents were reported during that time.

A Look at Mass Shootings in the U.S. in 2022

The United States averages 1.5 mass shootings per day this year. In other words, there have been more mass shootings in the United States this year than there have been days in the year.

While this number is shocking and saddening, it’s not entirely surprising. Mass shootings have become more frequent in recent years, with the number of incidents increasing each year since 2013.

There are a number of factors that may have contributed to this increase, including the easy availability of firearms, copycat effects and mental illness.

Does the Milwaukee Mayor Have the Right to Impose a Curfew?

The Milwaukee mayor’s decision to impose a curfew was met with mixed reactions. Some people believe that the curfew was an important step to take in order to keep people safe. Others argue that the curfew is not an effective way to reduce violence and that it unfairly punishes innocent people.

What Do You Think?

Do you think that the mayor was right to impose a curfew? Did you support Mayor Johnson’s curfew, or do you think it was an abuse of mayoral powers? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please feel free to share them on my Twitter feed or my Facebook page.

Attorney Carlos Gamino

Wisconsin Experiences Unprecedented Baby Formula Shortage – Now What?

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By Carlos Gamino

As the baby formula crisis continues in Wisconsin, parents are finding it increasingly difficult to find formula for their children. Here’s what you need to know about the situation.

The shortage is affecting parents nationwide, and Wisconsin is no exception. Shelves are empty down baby formula aisles, leading some parents to join social media groups where they swap formulas, share recipes for homemade formulas, and even sell to each other.

The United States government has said that supply chain issues, labor shortages and even a recent formula recall have made the situation worse. Though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is working with manufacturers to increase their output, there’s no definite answer on how long this shortage will last.

According to White House representative Christen Linke Young, the government has “been working around the clock to do everything in our power to put formula on shelves across the country and make sure that families can access it.”

Wisconsin officials are working to address the baby formula shortage, and if you’re a parent in Wisconsin who is struggling to find baby formula, there are resources available to help you. You can contact your local health department or the Wisconsin Department of Health Services for assistance, or visit https://www.hhs.gov/formula/index.html to learn more. You can also check with your child’s doctor or pediatrician to see if they have any recommendations.

Doctors say that you should not make homemade formula if you can avoid doing so, and that you should never add extra water to stretch out your formula supply because that can dilute the nutrition and lead to health problems for your baby. However, doctors say that if the formula you usually use isn’t available, it’s okay to switch brands (as long as you’re not using a specialty formula because of your baby’s allergies or sensitivities). you just need to know that a switch can take a baby a few days to get used to.

What Do You Think?

Who do you think is responsible for the baby formula crisis, and do you have any tips to share for families who are struggling to find food for their babies? Please share your thoughts and your suggestions on my Twitter feed or on my Facebook page, where you can join the conversation.

Attorney Carlos Gamino

2.75 Million Chickens Culled in Wisconsin to Prevent Bird Flu Pandemic

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By Carlos Gamino

Avian flu, ordinarily a virus that only affects birds, has jumped to humans in the past – and some officials are extremely concerned about one of the virus’s recent evolutions. Officials are so concerned, in fact, that they’ve ordered the culling of approximately 2.75 million chickens in Wisconsin alone in an effort to prevent the virus from entering the food supply. Though no human cases have been detected in the United States, this is the biggest U.S. outbreak of the disease since 2015.

Often called the bird flu, avian influenza virus occurs naturally among wild birds and domestic poultry all over the world. Birds from infected flocks won’t enter the food system. The Wisconsin cull will result in about 6.7 million commercially raised chickens and turkeys being killed nationwide since February. The countries of Mexico, China and Korea have state-specific import restrictions in place that prevent importation of chicken and turkey from areas with known issues.

Birds are culled after outbreaks are discovered, and even when the majority of the birds aren’t infected, the entire flock must be terminated. In addition to Wisconsin, bird flocks are being culled in Maryland, South Dakota, Missouri, Delaware, Indiana and Kentucky.

The newest strain poses a low risk to the public due to the culling. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, “Right now, the H5N1 bird flu situation is primarily an animal health issue.” However, the agency also says, “Given past human infections with bird flu viruses resulting from close contact with infected birds/poultry, sporadic human infections with current H5N1 bird flu viruses would not be surprising, especially among people with exposures who may not be taking recommended precautions.”

Culling is nothing new in the poultry industry; for every egg-laying hen born into the system, a male chick is culled. Experts estimate that around 300 million male chicks are culled each year so breeders don’t incur losses.

What Do You Think?

Are you concerned about the new strain of avian flu, or is it low on your list of things to worry about? Have you had experience with bird flu in the past? I’d love to hear your take on it, so feel free to leave me a note on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Attorney Carlos Gamino

Should Parents Be Held Accountable When Kids Get Guns?

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By Carlos Gamino

A Chicago-area shooting in March 2022 may put a man behind bars, but not the person who pulled the trigger. The father of a 3-year-old boy who accidentally shot his mother is now facing a misdemeanor gun charge, according to Dolton Police Chief Robert Collins, Jr.

The boy allegedly picked up his father’s legally owned weapon while riding in the car with his parents. His father was driving and his mother was sitting in the passenger seat; the toddler was in his car seat in the back and found the gun. The toddler began to play with the firearm, which resulted in an accidental – and fatal – gunshot to his mother’s neck.

A detective who specializes in interviewing children said that the boy was the one who fired the gun. Police do not suspect any foul play on the father’s part. The state is charging the father with illegally transporting a firearm; in Illinois, you must have a concealed carry permit to transport a firearm unlocked in the passenger compartment of a vehicle.

But should parents face other types of charges when their children get their hands on guns? Some experts think so – and it’s happening in other states. For example, James and Jennifer Crumbley, the parents of alleged school shooter Ethan Crumbley, were charged with involuntary manslaughter after a mass murder in an Oxford, Michigan high school.

According to a gun control advocacy group, Everytown for Gun Safety, unintentional shootings by children under the age of 18 killed 154 people and left 244 people wounded in 2021.

What Do You Think?

Do you think parents should be charged with crimes when their children get ahold of weapons? Do you feel differently if it’s an accident or negligence? I’d love to hear your thoughts on parental responsibility for kids being able to access guns at home, so please feel free to share them on my Facebook page or on my Twitter feed.

Attorney Carlos Gamino

Would You Get an Animal Organ Transplanted in Your Body?

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By Carlos Gamino

Medical experts transplanted a heart from a genetically modified pig into a man in January 2022, marking the first time anyone has ever received one. David Bennett, the 57-year-old recipient, had no other options: He was ineligible for a human transplant, and the pig used in the experimental surgery had been bred to be an organ donor.

The donor was a one-year-old, 240-pound pig bred specifically for Bennett’s heart transplant. The pig’s genome was modified to increase the likelihood that the donation would be successful; scientists deleted four genes, including one that would prevent the heart from continuing to grow after transplantation. Scientists also added six genes to make the pig’s organ easier for human immune systems to deal with.

But the transplant raises ethical questions for some – including animal rights activists. Animal Aid, a UK-based animal rights group, issued a statement that said, “Animals have a right to live their lives, without being genetically manipulated with all the pain and trauma this entails, only to be killed and their organs harvested.”

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said something similar: “Animals aren’t tool sheds to be raided but complex, intelligent beings.”

Bennett, who’s so far doing fine, agreed to the surgery knowing the risks of a poor outcome. This surgery followed just months after New York doctors successfully transplanted a pig kidney into a human. Doctors are still monitoring him closely, and he’ll need to remain under observation for the foreseeable future.

What Do You Think?

There are more than 100,000 people on the national transplant waiting list, which is notoriously difficult to nab a spot on – and there’s a dire shortage of organs. Around 17 people on the waiting list die every day in the United States.

Do you think it’s moral and ethical to genetically modify pigs (or any other animals) to help alleviate the shortage? Some medical experts say no one should die waiting for an organ, but I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please feel free to share them with me on Twitter or on my Facebook page.

Attorney Carlos Gamino

Go Ahead and Look Up: 3,400-Foot-Wide Asteroid Giving Earth Plenty of Space

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By Carlos Gamino

If you’ve been scrolling through Netflix recently, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve seen Don’t Look Up. On its face, it looks like a movie about a giant comet hurtling toward Earth (though it’s really about the looming climate crisis).

But in real life, there’s a 3,400-foot-wide asteroid doing a flyby in late January, and though it won’t even be a near-miss (it’ll be about a million miles away), it’s going to be moving fast at about 12 miles per second. The same asteroid, known as 7482, shows up from time to time, but it won’t be this close again for another 200 years or so. On January 17, 1933, the asteroid was about 700,000 miles away.

The asteroid is about three times as tall as the Empire State Building, and although it’s extremely far away, NASA classifies it as “potentially hazardous.” That’s because its orbit crosses ours, making a collision more likely.

So why isn’t NASA worried about Earth being on an eventual collision course with 7482? It’s all about math. There are around 25,000 near-Earth asteroids that would be devastating in the event of a crash.

Related: The billionaire space race

Don’t worry, though: The space agency is working on the Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or DART, which will collide with a 525-foot-wide space body (a moonlet, to be specific) called Dimorphos at about 15,000 miles per hour in September of this year. DART will give scientists a good idea on whether it’s possible to divert an asteroid that’s on a collision course with Earth in the future.

What Do You Think?

First, I’d love to hear whether you watched Don’t Look Up (and what you thought of it). Then, share your thoughts on 7482 and the 25,000 near-Earth asteroids – are you concerned that one of them will hit Earth sooner or later? Share your thoughts on these deep space questions on my Twitter feed or on my Facebook page to join the conversation!

Attorney Carlos Gamino

Britney Spears Conservatorship Ends in Fall 2021

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By Carlos Gamino

A Los Angeles judge ended Britney Spears’ 13-year-long conservatorship with the stroke of a pen in mid-November, freeing the former child star from her father’s control over her finances, career decisions and personal matters.

Spears’ father, Jamie Spears, had maintained that the conservatorship was necessary to protect the singer from herself. However, he eventually said that it was time for her to “retake control of her life.”

Though most Americans know about conservatorship – and most are of the belief that it’s designed to protect people from themselves – there is potential for abuse. Spears, for example, claimed that her parents ruined her life through the abuse of her conservatorship, which is a form of legal guardianship typically reserved for people who can’t make sound decisions.

Spears’ conservatorship began in 2008 following a series of unfortunate events for the singer, including a hospitalization that raised concerns about her mental health. During Spears’ time as her father’s ward, she continued to perform, holding concerts in Las Vegas and several other venues. However, Spears alleges that she wasn’t allowed to use the money she earned from those performances, that her father prevented her from seeing a doctor to remove her intrauterine device, or IUD, and that her father forced her to take lithium to treat bipolar disorder.

A handful of documentaries, including one by The New York Times entitled Controlling Britney Spears, in conjunction with the “Free Britney” movement (a collection of fans protesting for the pop star’s release from conservatorship) have drawn significant attention over the past few years.

What Do You Think?

Did you see any of the “Free Britney” documentaries or docuseries? Do you believe that Spears needs further guidance, or is she better off without a guardian? What do you think of her father’s role in the conservatorship? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please share them on my Facebook page or Twitter feed!

Attorney Carlos Gamino

FDA Authorizes Pfizer-BioNTech COVID Vaccine for Kids 5 to 11

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By Carlos Gamino

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children as young as five in mid-November, prompting the company to issue a statement saying that it won’t be able to produce the vaccines until sometime during the first half of 2022.

The vaccine, widely available to teens and adults, has been under rigorous safety testing to ensure that “it doesn’t interfere with immunity generated by routine childhood vaccinations – and that standard vaccination protocols are not interfering with the COVID-19 vaccine,” said Moshe Arditi, Academic Director of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Cedars-Sinai Hospital.

Though children are less likely to contract serious cases of the coronavirus, Pfizer’s Chief Executive Officer, Albert Bourla – along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FDA – believe that protecting them is the next step in mitigating the spread of COVID-19.

“We are working with the U.S. government to help ensure communities across the country have access to pediatric doses as soon as possible. The introduction of doses for young children will be another critical milestone in addressing this public health crisis,” Bourla said.

The kids’ COVID-19 shot contains the same ingredients as the adult version, but it’s given as a smaller dose. In fact, children in the 5 to 11 age group receive about a third of the adult-sized dose.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky issued a statement saying, “There are children in the second grade who have never experienced a normal school year. Pediatric vaccination has the power to help us change all of that.”

What Do You Think?

Will your children be getting the vaccine when it becomes available? Why or why not? Have your children experienced a normal school year, or is COVID all they know? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the vaccine and whether your family will be getting it, so please share them on my Facebook page or on my Twitter feed!

Attorney Carlos Gamino