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Bats Have a Unique Superpower. Climate Change Is Turning It Into a Liability. (Maria)

The authors write, “Bats are, without a doubt, exceptional creatures. Not only do bats pollinate our crops, prey on pests like mosquitos, and spread seeds that help damaged ecosystems recover, but they also possess a superpower that’s unique among mammals: flight. … [But] bats’ flight-adapted physiologies make them highly susceptible to severe droughts and heat waves. Plus, the proliferation of wind turbines — a climate solution that provides energy without harmful greenhouse gas emissions, and one we’ll need more of to combat warming — is killing them in droves.”

Prisoners in the US Are Part of a Hidden Workforce Linked to Hundreds of Popular Food Brands (Reader Jim)

The author write, “A hidden path to America’s dinner tables begins here, at an unlikely source — a former Southern slave plantation that is now the country’s largest maximum-security prison. Unmarked trucks packed with prison-raised cattle roll out of the Louisiana State Penitentiary, where men are sentenced to hard labor and forced to work, for pennies an hour or sometimes nothing at all. After rumbling down a country road to an auction house, the cows are bought by a local rancher and then followed by The Associated Press another 600 miles to a Texas slaughterhouse that feeds into the supply chains of giants like McDonald’s, Walmart, and Cargill. Intricate, invisible webs, just like this one, link some of the world’s largest food companies and most popular brands to jobs performed by U.S. prisoners nationwide.”

Why the War in Ukraine Is Bad for Climate Science (Laura)

From NPR: “Lack of data about conditions in the Russian Arctic is already hampering climate science, and will cause ever-growing gaps in our understanding of how climate change affects the fastest-warming region of the planet, scientists warn. The Arctic is warming up to four times faster than the Earth as a whole. And Russia has more Arctic land than any other nation. But, since Russia invaded Ukraine, it’s been increasingly difficult for climate scientists in Russia to collaborate or share data about conditions in the country’s vast frozen areas.”

Texas Superintendent Defends Suspending Black Student Over Locs Hairstyle in Full-Page Ad: ‘Being American Requires Conformity’ (Dana)

The author writes, “A Texas school district superintendent defended the continued suspension of a Black student over his locs hairstyle in a full-page newspaper ad, paid for by an education foundation. Darryl George has been suspended repeatedly by the Barbers Hill Independent School District for his hair. The teen’s family filed a federal civil rights lawsuit saying the punishment violates the CROWN Act, an acronym for ‘Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair,’ which became law in Texas in September.”

‘Hey Zach’: Church Extends Unique Invitation to Thief Who Stole Pride Flag (Reader Steve)

From the San Francisco Chronicle: “Just a week into the new year, someone stole the rainbow Pride banner from the front of Sacramento’s Parkside Community Church. This wasn’t the first or second or even third banner to be stolen or vandalized. The church has a history of raising progressive signs, and so many have been taken or destroyed over the years that banners are a line item in its budget. But the theft, this time, was caught by a security camera. … The church council considered handing the video over to the police. It discussed sharing the video on social media and seeing if someone could identify the thief. Neither of those options felt right.”

A Virus That Generates Electricity (Sean)

The author writes, “Our bodies are alive with electrical signals that allow us to contract muscles and sense the world. The complex brain orchestrates these processes, but it turns out that even simpler biological entities generate electricity. In a new study published in Advanced Materials, researchers reported that a bioengineered virus generated electricity when exposed to heat, a phenomenon known as pyroelectricity.”

NASA Photos From Space Show How Beavers Fight Drought and Forest Fires (Gerry)

From Atlas Obscura: “If you were wandering the wilds of the Wasatch National Forest in Utah in September 2023, you might have encountered a strange sight: a line of slowly marching horses, with beavers saddled on their backs. Unfortunately, the rodents were not wearing tiny cowboy hats and boots. They were inside carriers, but their journey via horseback was still a fairly Wild West–type of solution to a problem. These beavers were headed to a new home—a battleground in the fight against drought and wildfires in the region.”

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