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VUToday: Spider virus, Hurricane Matthew featured in weekly roundup of VU stories in the news

by Oct. 14, 2016, 3:33 PM

vutoday-emailUniversity News and Communications publishes VUToday, a compilation of Vanderbilt mentions in the media, each weekday. Read a selection of Vanderbilt news stories for the week of Oct. 10. To subscribe to the daily VUToday newsletter, visit

The Washington Post: This virus may have stolen deadly DNA from black widow spiders

Researchers studying WO, a virus that infects a bacteria found in most spiders and insects, found a surprising collection of animal-like snippets in the virus’ DNA, including part of the gene for latrotoxin, the chemical that gives the black widow spider venom its punch. Study co-author Seth Bordenstein, associate professor of biological sciences, is quoted. Co-author Sarah Bordenstein, lab manager, is mentioned.

Bloomberg: It’s federal disaster relief, stupid: Could Matthew affect the vote in Florida?

Voters are heavily biased toward the period right before an election and largely blind to longer-term trends, Princeton’s Christopher Achen and Vanderbilt’s Larry Bartels, May Werthan Shayne Professor of Public Policy and Social Science, contend in their 2016 book, Democracy for Realists. An additional challenge: People are superbly bad at discerning the effect of a party’s policies on the economy, let alone how seemingly random fluctuations can change fortunes. As with economic hardship, natural disasters can influence voters’ moods around election time. Achen and Bartels pore over case studies, teasing out evidence that random disasters helped shape elections.

Reuters: Effort to replace Trump on ballot would face tremendous obstacles

Some prominent Republicans are urging Donald Trump to quit as the party’s presidential nominee after video surfaced of him making vulgar comments about women. But any attempt to replace Trump on the ballot would face huge legal and logistical hurdles. Thomas Schwartz, professor of history, is quoted.

Religion Dispatches: Opinion: From “it’s just words” to just words: Speech ethics in the time of Trump

Emilie Townes, dean of the Divinity School and E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of Womanist Ethics and Society, is quoted throughout this opinion piece, which calls on people of faith and moral conscience to insist on more noble speech ethics from their politicians.

ABC News: Locally transmitted Zika virus cases found in new area in Florida

Public health officials in Florida have identified a new area in Miami-Dade County where the Zika virus is being spread by mosquitoes, according to Florida health officials. William Schaffner, professor of preventive medicine and health policy, is quoted.