1. Closed parks could be an open invitation to vandals (KPCC)
The National Park Services reported that vandals cut locks at two sites in the Santa Monica Mountains Friday night, after park officials limited access to the national recreation area due to a red flag warning. Officials say “it appears that the gates were vandalized in response to the Federal government shutdown.”
26 properties national parks remain closed in California. As federal furloughs continue, conservationists have warned of the risk of environmental harm.
2. NFL is in a 'league of denial' about brain injury (NPR)
"One of the more chilling things about this whole thing is that the people who are dying, many of them are dying in very macabre ways. They're drinking anti-freeze or they're driving their trucks into a tanker truck at 100 miles per hour...[Dave] Duerson, after spending years denying that this was an issue and warning that the NFL was turning the league into a league of sissies, he then shoots himself in the chest to preserve his brain and then he writes this note... 'PLEASE, SEE THAT MY BRAIN IS GIVEN TO THE NFL'S BRAIN BANK'...it was found to have CTE."
1. Destruction of Syria's chemical weapons system begins (NPR)
In Syria, a team of international weapons experts has begun the process of destroying the country's chemical weapons arsenal.
"The inspectors used sledgehammers and explosives to begin the work," NPR's Deborah Amos reports for our Newscast unit. "They are on a tight deadline to destroy more than 1,000 tons of nerve gas and banned weapons within a year."
2. Iran says 4 have been arrested in nuclear sabotage plot (NPR)
Iran arrested four people it says were intent on sabotaging facilities in its nuclear program. The head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran says the four are being questioned.
As for who Iran might hold responsible for the alleged plot, the AP reports that Ali Akbar Salehi told the semiofficial Fars news agency, "hostile countries." Decoding the possible meaning of that statement, the AP says, "In Iranian official terminology, hostile countries are usually a reference to Israel and the United States."
1. Weekend Reading: Silk Road's currency cocoon (Quartz)
Silk Road, the illicit online marketplace seized by the Feds this week, is said to have collected revenues of more than 9.5 million bitcoin since 2011, reports Quartz.
For a sense of how important Silk Road is to the bitcoin economy: "The Federal Reserve currently estimates that there are $10,771 billion in circulation. For a single company to dominate the US dollar the way Silk Road does bitcoin, it would need to have earned $8,745 billion in revenue over the two and half year period, or $3,498 billion a year."
2. Sometimes nature is better than Danish hair metal (NPR)
White lion cubs were the pride of the Internet this week. However, if the last white lion you thought about is the one hairsprayed into the history of 1985, you might find the recent animal footage out of South Korea and Serbia somewhat lacking in tight pants.
1. Peer-review pressure: Fake science is being published, for a fee (NPR)
An experiment by "Science," a leading mainline journal, concluded that many online journals are ready to publish bad research in exchange for a fee. The result should trouble doctors, patients, policymakers, researchers cheated out of meaningful feedback, and anyone who has a stake in the integrity of science (read: everyone).
Deliberately faked research was submitted 305 times — more than half the journals accepted it, failing to flag the fatal flaws noticeable to "anyone with more than high-school knowledge of chemistry."
2. Latino education gap threatens California’s future (KPCC)
Despite a decade of effort, educators have failed to close the achievement gap for the state's largest minority group.
Latinos scored a hundred points less than their white counterparts, and more than 150 points below Asian students, on this year's California's Academic Performance Index. It could be years before the public knows whether Common Core will help Latinos.
1. New aging: 'Crystallized intelligence' compensates for diminished brain power (KPCC)
Unless you've already forgotten, you know that humans lose cognitive ability as we age. Now, a UC Riverside study finds that our hard-earned wisdom helps make up for that loss of brain power.
The study looks at two kinds of intelligence — "fluid intelligence," which gives us the ability to learn and process information (that's what degrades as we age), and "crystallized intelligence," or accumulated life experience, seems to pick up the slack.
2. In 1948, LA banned comic books. MEANWHILE... (KPCC)
In September 1948, the L.A. City Council passed a ban on comic books. This Sunday at El Cid, Captured Aural Phantasy Theater will present its "Night of Noir" variety show that brings some of these banned comics to life in the style of an old radio program.