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Magnet Fishers Pull Trash, and Treasure, From the Depths Below



Guns, shopping carts and bottle caps, lots of bottle caps: these are among the discoveries made this summer by people who have taken up magnet fishing, a hobby that works exactly as its name suggests.

Magnet fishing became popular during the Covid-19 pandemic, and, this summer, enthusiasts have been fined for pulling rockets out of a river on a military base in Georgia and been given an award for removing more than 20,000 pounds of metal from a river in Maine.

YouTube and TikTok are filled with videos of people using high-powered magnets attached to synthetic rope to haul vintage bicycles and antique firearms from water, but Ben Demchak, who has been magnet fishing for five or six years, said the most common finds are more mundane.

“What you’re not really seeing is all the scrap in between,” said Mr. Demchak, who in August 2020 founded Kratos Magnetics, a company that sells magnets and magnet fishing kits.

He was immediately flooded with orders and emails from people who were intrigued by a hobby that would take them outdoors, is inexpensive — the most basic kits can be found online for $20 — and is easy to start. He said he had not been able to keep up with the demand for magnets, even the most basic of which are stronger than a refrigerator magnet.

Mr. Demchak, an archaeologist, became interested in the hobby after he stumbled across a magnet fishing video on YouTube uploaded by someone who had found a gun.

“It’s a little different from the historical stuff I find,” he said. “It was the thrill of the hunt and the mystery of how it got there.”

In the United States, where there are more guns than people, it is not uncommon to find a firearm lurking in a local river or stream. People have also found knives, grenades and ammunition.

In late June, a magnet fisherman with 410,000 YouTube subscribers and two people who were with him were fined after finding 86 rockets and ammunition in a river at Fort Stewart, an Army base in Georgia where magnet fishing is banned. In July, two friends pulled an unexploded military shell out of the Passaic River in northern New Jersey. In May 2021, a man found a grenade in the Clarks River in Kentucky.

Magnet fishers are more likely to find scrap metal, which some enthusiasts sell for cash. Mr. Demchak said the most important thing is that magnet fishers are cleaning up waterways.

“People have been throwing stuff in the water for ages, ages,” he said. “I just pulled up an electric scooter, so it’s good to get that out of the water.”

Angel Lynn Carbone, who started magnet fishing a year ago and documents her experiences on TikTok, said people have started swimming in a lake near her home again because the lake bed is no longer covered with fishing hooks. She estimated that she pulled about 1,000 hooks out of the water in July alone.

Ms. Carbone, 50, who lives in Noblesville, Ind., said her hobby was like therapy.

“I am a person whose mind races, like every thought in the world,” Ms. Carbone said, speaking by phone from her garage, which she noted had 400 to 500 pounds of metal in it. “When I go magnet fishing and I throw that magnet in, the only thing I am thinking about is a plethora of things that could come up out of the water.”

Ms. Carbone said her most treasured find was a flashlight she was able to restore and put to use again. Overall, she estimates that she has pulled up more than 6,000 pounds of metal from waterways in about five states. Each month, a man comes by to collect most of the finds for recycling.

“It serves a purpose because, unfortunately, the waterways have gotten dirty and in my mind it doesn’t really matter how the waterways got dirty,” she said. “What matters is there is actually something I can do to help.”

Timothy Hoellein, an associate professor at Loyola University Chicago, also spends a lot of time cleaning up bodies of water because he is an aquatic ecologist who studies pollution. He says there is no way of knowing exactly how much garbage is in the nation’s ponds, rivers and streams, but it is a problem likely as old as human history.

People have long used rivers to get rid of things, he said.

“They were dumping grounds for food waste and other waste and it kind of goes away, it disappears, it will move downstream,” he said.

In his work, which currently involves removing garbage from urban streams and rivers in Chicago, Toronto and Massachusetts, he mostly finds trash related to single-use consumption, such as plastic bags, plastic bottles and aluminum cans. He said he has found a bow and arrow and bullets, but no guns.

Plastic waste is a bigger concern than metal waste because it has a greater biological impact on humans and wildlife. Floating plastics are consumed by wildlife, can entangle or trap organisms, contain potentially toxic chemicals and can absorb additional pollutants as they drift.

Though removing metals from bodies of water might not be the most pressing need for the environment, Professor Hoellein said he supported activities, including magnet fishing, that help people become more connected to their local rivers.

“These are bodies of water that are so long neglected but have so much potential to offer,” he said. “And if we change our system of valuing these ecosystems and think of them as an asset rather than as a place to dump trash, maybe they can be a real place to build community, well-being and education.”

Casey Deyoe, 32, has always had a close connection with water. She grew up in Mississippi, where her father was a river boat captain, and was a free diver before she took up magnet fishing a year ago.

The magnet fishing waters she explores in Northern California are murkier, and often smellier, than the clear waters she once dived in, but she said her new hobby has strengthened her relationship with the water. Crucially, it has allowed her to share that relationship with others through her YouTube videos and in conversations with curious strangers.

Ms. Deyoe said that when she goes magnet fishing, at least 10 to 15 people ask her about what she is doing. She often encourages them to try it for themselves, handing over her equipment. The last time she made that offer, the man she was speaking with insisted he couldn’t do it.

“The next thing I know,” she said, “I gave him a magnet and then he’s pulling up other stuff too.”

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The F.D.A. Now Says It Plainly: Morning-After Pills Are Not Abortion Pills



The F.D.A. said it made the change now because it had completed a review of a 2018 application to alter the label that was submitted by Foundation Consumer Healthcare, a company that in 2017 bought the Plan B brand from Teva Pharmaceutical Industries. Agency officials said the pandemic delayed the review process and that the timing was not motivated by political considerations.

A spokeswoman for the company, Dani Hirsch, said in an interview that for its 2018 application, the company had not conducted any new studies but had submitted “what was already out there.”

In a statement, the company’s marketing director, Tara Evans, said “the misconception that Plan B works by interfering with implantation can present barriers to broader emergency contraception access. The Plan B labeling correction will help protect continued over-the-counter emergency contraception access and reduce confusion about how Plan B works and further clarify that Plan B does not affect implantation.”

Plan B One-Step and its generic versions — including brands like Take Action, My Way and Option 2 — contain levonorgestrel, one of a class of hormones called progestins that are also found at lower doses in birth control pills and intrauterine devices. The pills are most effective in preventing pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of sexual intercourse, although they can sometimes work if taken within five days.

Another type of morning-after pill, marketed as Ella and containing a compound called ulipristal acetate, is only available by prescription and is not affected by the F.D.A.’s label change. There has been less research on this type of pill, but studies suggest that it is highly unlikely to prevent implantation of a fertilized egg. In 2009, after months of scrutiny, Ella was approved for sale in overwhelmingly Catholic Italy, where laws would have barred it if it had been considered to induce abortions.

According to data published in 2021 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one-quarter of women of reproductive age who have sex with men answered yes to the question: “Have you ever used emergency contraception, also known as ‘Plan B,’ ‘Preven,’ ‘Ella,’ ‘Next Choice,’ or ‘Morning after’ pills?” The agency did not break down the data by the type of pills taken.

As far back as the 1999 approval process, the maker of Plan B — Barr Pharmaceuticals, later acquired by Teva — asked the F.D.A. not to list an implantation effect on the label, The Times reported in 2012.

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Who are Caroline Ellison’s parents? Fraudster’s mom and dad are MIT economists



This apple fell far from the tree.

Caroline Ellison — who pleaded guilty to fraud charges related to her role in the FTX cryptocurrency scandal, which led to the extradition of Sam Bankman-Fried this week — is the daughter of high-profile economists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

According to his curriculum vitae, Ellison’s father, Glenn Ellison, was educated at Harvard, Cambridge and MIT before becoming the Gregory K. Palm (1970) Professor of Economics at the latter. 

In addition to coaching youth softball and his daughters’ middle school math teams, he writes “Hard Math,” a series of textbooks and workbooks about teaching arithmetic to younger students.

Glenn Ellison is also an Elected Fellow of the Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory and American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

Caroline Ellison’s parents, Glenn and Sara Ellison, outside their Newton, Mass., home in early December.
Robert Miller

Ellison’s mother, Sara Ellison, is also an accomplished academic. Armed with an undergraduate degree from Purdue University and a mathematical statistics diploma from Cambridge University, her profile shows she completed a doctorate at MIT in 1993. 

Sara Ellison is currently a senior lecturer in the department alongside her husband.

“We were definitely exposed to a lot of economics [growing up],” Ellison, 28, once told Forbes.

Ellison, 28, plead guilty to fraud this week.
Ellison, 28, pleaded guilty to fraud this week.
Twitter / @AlamedaResearch
Caroline Ellison's sister, Anna, now lives in the West Village.
Caroline Ellison’s sister, Anna, now lives in the West Village.

Glenn and Sara Ellison were photographed by The Post outside their home in Newton, an affluent Boston suburb, earlier this month. Armed with several bags, they told reporters they were too “busy” to comment on the FTX scandal.

The eldest of three sisters — including Anna, 25, who now lives in Manhattan’s West Village — Ellison distinguished herself as a precocious math whiz at a young age. 

When she was just 8 years old, she reportedly presented her father with a paper analyzing stuffed animal prices at Toys ‘R’ Us.

Sam Bankman-Fried leaving Manhattan Federal Court on Thursday.
Sam Bankman-Fried leaving Manhattan federal court on Thursday.
Matthew McDermott
Both Glenn and Sara Ellison are economists at MIT.
Both Glenn and Sara Ellison are economists at MIT.
Robert Miller

She went on to compete in the Math Prize for Girls while at Newton North High School before studying mathematics at Stanford University, where former professor Ruth Stackman described her to Forbes as “bright, focused, [and] very mathy.”

Ellison and Bankman-Fried, 30, crossed paths at the Wall Street trading firm Jane Street. Bankman-Fried’s parents are also both university lecturers, at Stanford in California. They became good friends and she joined Alameda Research, the hedge fund arm of the FTX crypto exchange, in 2018. She then became CEO in 2021. However, the company remained owned 90% by Bankman-Fried and 10% by another member of his circle.

In addition to documenting her supposed foray into polyamory on Tumblr, Ellison once boasted about drug use on social media.

Sara Ellison completed a doctorate at MIT in 1993.
Sara Ellison completed a doctorate at MIT in 1993.
Robert Miller

“Nothing like regular amphetamine use to make you appreciate how dumb a lot of normal, non-medicated human experience is,” she tweeted in 2021.

Ellison reportedly admitted to Alameda employees that FTX had used client funds to bail out the fledgeling hedge fund during a video call in November. She was eventually terminated as CEO by insolvency professional and current FTX CEO John J. Ray III after FTX and Alameda filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

She pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges on Monday, and has subsequently been released on $250,000 bail.

Ellison was spotted getting coffee in New York City on Dec. 4.
Ellison was spotted getting coffee in New York City on Dec. 4.
Twitter / @AutismCapital

Although she could be sent to jail for up to 110 years for her part in the FTX-Alameda scandal — which has been said by federal prosecutors to have lost between $1 billion and $2 billion of customers’ cash — she is thought to have struck a deal with the feds for a much lighter sentence in return for her cooperation.

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Iran condemns Zelensky’s remarks to Congress as ‘baseless.’



Iran has condemned President Volodymyr Zelensky’s remarks to the U.S. Congress, warning the Ukrainian leader against further accusing Tehran of supplying weapons to Russia for use in the war.

Mr. Zelensky told Congress on Wednesday that Iranian-made drones “sent to Russia in hundreds” had been threatening Ukraine’s critical infrastructure, a view shared by American and European officials. In Iran, he said, Russia had found an “ally in its genocidal policy.”

A spokesman for Iran’s foreign ministry, Nasser Kanaani, called Mr. Zelensky’s comments “rude” and “baseless.”

“Mr. Zelensky had better know that Iran’s strategic patience over such unfounded accusations is not endless,” Mr. Kanaani said in a statement on Thursday.

Although Iran has officially denied supplying Russia with the weapons since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, U.S. officials have said that the first shipment was delivered in August.

Mr. Zelensky has said that drones used in Monday’s wave of predawn attacks on Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities were from a batch recently delivered to Russia by Iran. The strikes came after Biden administration officials said that Russia and Iran were strengthening their military ties into a “full-fledged defense partnership.”

The European Union last week condemned Iran’s military partnership with Russia as a gross violation of international law and announced new sanctions against Iranian individuals and entities over their roles in supplying the drones that Moscow has used to attack Ukrainian civilians and infrastructure. That followed a round of sanctions on Iranians over the drone deliveries in October.

Mr. Kanaani “once again emphasizes” that Iran has not supplied military equipment for use in Ukraine, the statement issued on Thursday added, and urged Mr. Zelensky to learn “the fate of some other political leaders” who were happy with U.S. support. It was not clear which other leaders the statement was referring to.

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