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Australia to Protect Barrier Reef by Banning Coal Mine (Maria)

The author writes, “Australia’s new government announced on Thursday it plans to prevent development of a coal mine due to the potential impact on the nearby Great Barrier Reef. Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek said she intends to deny approval for the Central Queensland Coal Project to be excavated northwest of the Queensland state town of Rockhampton. … The marine park manages the network of more than 2,500 reefs that cover 134,000 square miles of seabed off the northeast Australian coast.” 

What’s (Not) the Matter With Kansas (Dana)

From Washington Monthly: “Republicans in the Kansas legislature put a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would have superseded a pro-choice state Supreme Court ruling. It would have greenlit the legislature to start banning abortion. (Current Kansas law only prohibits abortion after 20 weeks, with an exception for a threat to life or ‘major bodily function.’) The Republican statehouse began its attempt to repeal abortion rights in January 2021, before knowing that the Supreme Court would do so nationally the following year. Still, by scheduling the referendum in the dog days of August 2022, when Democrats rarely have contested primaries and Republicans have many, the pro-lifers hoped to reap the benefits of a low turnout. Kansas has about 850,000 registered Republicans versus 500,000 Democrats. The Republican legislators made two big miscalculations.” 

The Victim Cloud (Mili)

From Harper’s Magazine: “During the pandemic, millions of Americans were … duped; the FTC reported a 70 percent increase in fraud reports in 2021, including $770 million in losses to social media fraud and a record number of romance scams. Sixty million people lost money to phone-based scams between 2020 and 2021 — other analyses estimated that their losses totaled nearly $30 billion. Of those who lost money this way, 19 percent were duped more than once.”

What Will it Take to Get Brittney Griner Home? (Dana)

The author writes, “Now that WNBA star Brittney Griner has been convicted of drug possession and sentenced to nine years in prison, attention turns to the prospect of a prisoner swap between the United States and Russia that could get her home. Secretary of State Antony Blinken went public with that possibility last week, revealing in an unusual announcement that the U.S. had made a ‘substantial proposal’ aimed at securing the release of Griner and another jailed American, Paul Whelan. With her court case concluded and her sentence pronounced, such a deal — assuming one can be reached with the Russians — is Griner’s best chance of being freed early.”

The Ultimate Restaurant Amenity for Washington VIPs? The Secret Back Door. (Reader Steve)

From Washingtonian: “When abortion rights protestors showed up at downtown DC steakhouse Morton’s to disrupt Brett Kavanaugh’s recent dinner, they never directly confronted the Supreme Court Justice. His security detail reportedly whisked him out a back door before he got to dessert. Sure, pretty much every restaurant in America has a rear exit, but in optics-conscious and protest-prone Washington, it’s not uncommon to find back doors devoted specifically to VIPs who want to dine out discreetly. And perhaps ironically, these covert access points are a bragging point for some establishments.”

Robot Ships Debut at RIMPAC, Helping US Navy Sail Toward a Less-Crewed Future (Sean)

The author writes, “Docked by the sunken wreckage of a 1909 dreadnought, two unusual vessels are helping the U.S. Navy navigate its way toward its future. The unmanned Nomad and Ranger, which resemble seagoing flatbed trucks loaded with conex containers, represented the debut of uncrewed surface vessels at the giant biannual Rim of the Pacific exercise. RIMPAC’s experimentation allows the Navy to test out and learn from the AI capabilities in its unmanned platforms, Adm. Mike Gilday, chief of naval operations, told Defense One last month.” 

A Disturbing Process Has Been Accelerating in Freshwater Lakes Worldwide, Study Finds (Mili)

The author writes, “On top of intensifying algal blooms and depleting oxygen, a new study reveals Earth’s bodies of freshwater are also evaporating at a greater rate than we realized. What’s more, ‘lake evaporation plays a larger role in the hydrological cycle than previously thought,’ says ecologist Gang Zhao who was at Texas A&M University during the study. This process thus has a substantial impact on our climate and weather modeling.”

Pig Organs Partially Revived in Dead Animals — Researchers Are Stunned (Sean)

From Nature: “Researchers have restored circulation and cellular activity in the vital organs of pigs, such as the heart and brain, one hour after the animals died. The research challenges the idea that cardiac death — which occurs when blood circulation and oxygenation stops — is irreversible, and raises ethical questions about the definition of death. The work follows 2019 experiments by the same scientists in which they revived the disembodied brains of pigs four hours after the animals died, calling into question the idea that brain death is final.”