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The Upbeat: Mother's Day

This weekend was Mother's Day, a wonderful celebration of mothers and the bonds of family. Mother's Day, incidentally, is a demonstration that holidays and other aspects of culture don't come from nowhere: the modern holiday originated on the initiative of one Anna Jarvis of Philadelphia, who started holding memorial services for her mother in 1907 and promoted the wearing of a carnation to honor mothers. The custom rapidly gained public acceptance and was made a national holiday by Woodrow Wilson in 1914. Happy belated Mother's Day!

The world continues turning, people keep voting, politicians keep politicking, and we remain alive another day. Enjoy some positive developments from the past few days.

-- Seal with a Pen

Government seeks to counter quantum codebreaking. So much of our data -- much of it personal and private -- is stored on computers nowadays that the threat of hacking is something quite scary to many Americans. For now, this data is secured by encryption and other fancy security technologies developed in large part by various parts of the U.S. government over the course of the 20th century. The rise of "quantum computers," however, has thrown our security into doubt: it's believed that quantum computers, a new technology much faster than the electronic computers we use today, may be able to apply new techniques to break through our security protocols very quickly, enabling hackers to get away with more than ever before. As such, the government is now ordering federal agencies to start working on new security protocols that will be more resistant to quantum codebreaking, offering us the key to avoiding pandemonium now and ensuring peace of mind in the future. Read more: (Government Executive), (CNET), (National Security Administration press release)

Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

All women and children have been evacuated from the siege in Mariupol. You may have heard of the ongoing siege of Mariupol in Ukraine. Mariupol is the tenth largest city in Ukraine and a major military target, being both a major seaport and near the border with Russia. The Russian military had already succeeded in conquering most of the city, but for the last few weeks, a large number of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians have held out in labyrinthian tunnels underneath the massive Azovstal steel plant. Ukraine. The United Nations successfully negotiated the evacuation of women, children, and all civilians, however, and as of today they've all been safely brought out of the plant, with options to stay in Mariupol or travel to Ukraine-controlled territory. The Associated Press published an exposition on the evacuation here. Read more: (Reuters), (Associated Press)

The Department of Justice tackles pollution scandals. Occasionally, companies and government agencies engaged in industrial work end up polluting residential areas and neighborhoods, whether by accident or negligence. One famous example is the incident at Love Canal, New York in which a neighborhood was built over a chemical dumping ground, resulting in disease and serious harm for the people living there, especially children. "Environmental justice" is thus one segment of law that seeks to address pollution and environmental damage concerns where people are hurt due to the reckless behavior of others. In accordance with an executive order from last year, the federal Department of Justice is now seeking to improve their ability to address environmental justice concerns by creating a team of lawyers -- an "Office of Environmental Justice" -- who will prosecute pollution cases in court. In another change, companies found liable for their behavior will be offered opportunities to fund local eco-friendly initiatives that couteract the harm they did as recompense for their negligence. Read more: (Government Executive), (NBC News)

Elections continue across the world. On Thursday Northern Ireland (part of the United Kingdom) voted to elect a new legislature, a significant step for a region that has been racked by violence for decades in a conflict known as the Troubles. Northern Irish politics are mostly split between two camps: Protestant "unionists," who want to remain British, and Catholic "nationalists," who want to rejoin the rest of Ireland. This election, however, saw a centrist party that seeks to bridge the divide more than double their seats in the assembly, while both unionist and nationalist parties lost seats. Tensions still run high however and it's unclear if the two sides will be willing to fulfill their legal obligation to work together. The Philippines, a former U.S. territory, are also voting today on a new President and Congress; "Bongbong" Marcos, the son of a former dictator, is widely expected to win the presidential race. Read more: (Irish election, Associated Press), (Philippine election, Associated Press)

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