environment, UN, COP5, biodiversity, experts, hope
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7 Reasons Our Planet Might Not Be Doomed After All (Maria)

The author writes, “Gloomy messages … appeared all over Montreal in the last two weeks, as officials from more than 190 countries met in the city for a conference known as COP15. It’s the UN’s big meeting on biodiversity, where governments hashed out a historic plan to halt the decline of ecosystems. … While it’s hard to ignore the warning signs, there are plenty of reasons to still have hope for our planet’s future — starting with what happened at COP15.”

Putin’s War (Russ)

From The New York Times: “A Times investigation based on interviews, intercepts, documents and secret battle plans shows how a ‘walk in the park’ became a catastrophe for Russia.”

The Easy-to-Miss Twist That Makes the Supreme Court’s New Gay Rights Case So Strange (Dana)

From Slate: “When you first hear the facts of 303 Creative v. Elenis, you may be stirred to sympathy toward the plaintiff. According to her lawyers at Alliance Defending Freedom, Lorie Smith is just a humble website designer trying to make a living in accordance with her Christian beliefs. That means she must respectfully decline to create a wedding website for any same-sex couple, as such unions contradict her faith. Intolerant bureaucrats in Colorado are threatening to punish her for these deeply held beliefs. And so she has reluctantly asked the Supreme Court to shield her from this persecution. That’s the story that ADF told the Supreme Court … during oral arguments in 303 Creative. It’s the story that the court probably will adopt if it sides with Lorie Smith, as it very likely will. But it bears, at best, only a passing resemblance to the truth.”

33 Days Without Sunlight: Why Hundreds of Washington Kids Are Living in Windowless Emergency Rooms (Reader Steve)

From The Seattle Times: “Hundreds, if not thousands, of kids across Washington have been “boarded” inside emergency departments in recent years, because the hospital has determined they need to be admitted for psychiatric care but no mental health beds are available. No one interviewed for this story supports boarding. Instead, it’s widely viewed as a grim reality. And the problem, which existed before the pandemic, is only getting worse. Children are kept in the emergency department — or a medical unit — because they’re unsafe outside it. They might be suicidal, homicidal or in desperate need of care for hallucinations or psychosis.”

The Era of One-Shot, Multimillion-Dollar Genetic Cures Is Here (Sean)

From Wired: “Some of Steven Pipe’s hemophilia patients consider themselves cured. In a trial Pipe led from 2018 to 2021, they received a one-time gene therapy meant to override a DNA mutation that causes spontaneous bleeding episodes, some of them severe and life-threatening. Unlike most drugs, which relieve symptoms, gene therapy addresses the underlying cause of a disease. Thanks to the treatment, they haven’t had to worry about serious bleeding for years. The therapy, called Hemgenix, gained US approval from the Food and Drug Administration on November 22 to treat patients with severe hemophilia B. Shortly after its approval, CSL Behring, the pharmaceutical company commercializing the drug, announced its price: $3.5 million for a one-time dose. It’s now the most expensive drug in the world.”

The Great Purpling (Sean)

The author writes, “The sky over the city of Vancouver was the color of a television tuned to a Prince concert. OK, maybe not the whole sky. But enough of it that people noticed. A bunch of streetlights — a few hundred out of thousands — had suddenly changed. What had been moonshine white was now blue, or purple, or even violet. They weren’t any less bright, objectively speaking. But purple doesn’t exactly illuminate a sidewalk the way white does. The spectrum of Vancouver had taken a hard left turn. It didn’t look bad. It wasn’t unsafe, particularly. It was just weird.”

Massive Global Study Shows Belief in Witchcraft Is More Abundant Than You Might Think (Mili)

The author writes, “Belief in witchcraft is widespread around the world, according to a new global study that involved more than 140,000 people — but it’s highly variable from place to place. Based on the results, about a billion people across 95 countries believe in witchcraft, and the study notes that is ‘most certainly an undercount,’ given the sensitivity of discussing witchcraft for some respondents.”

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