Joe Biden, Paris Climate Accord, climate changeThe author writes, “In one of his first acts in the Oval Office, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to have the United States rejoin the Paris climate agreement, the largest international effort to curb global warming.” Photo credit: Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 2.0)
President Joe Biden. Photo credit: Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Trump Senate Trial Depends Largely on 145-Year-Old Case ; Bill Gates Is America’s Biggest Owner of Farmland ; and More Picks 1/21

Senate Trial of Former President Trump Depends Largely on 145-Year-Old Case (Reader Steve)

From the San Francisco Chronicle: “No impeached president has ever been tried by the Senate after leaving office. But the 145-year-old case of a Cabinet member accused of corruption could serve as a precedent for the trial of soon-to-be-former President Trump. Secretary of War William Belknap rushed to President Ulysses S. Grant’s office and resigned in 1876 after learning that he was about to be impeached on charges of taking kickbacks at an American Indian trading post. But the House impeached Belknap anyway, and the Senate, by majority vote, decided that it had authority to bring him to trial. Later, senators fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to convict Belknap and bar him permanently from federal office, though he never held office again.”

Poster Artist Helped Connect Candidates, Voters in Georgia (Reader Steve)

The author writes, “For some, helping to get out the vote during Georgia’s U.S. Senate runoffs meant writing checks for campaigns. Others signed up to canvass neighborhoods or make calls for campaign phone banks. Brandon Litman took a different approach by making thousands of pieces of art to connect the Democratic candidates with voters. The 39-year-old artist from Brooklyn, New York, packed up his spray paint and traveled to Atlanta in early December amid a critical election overtime period in Georgia. … His plan: to create and give away art that would inspire voters to turn out for Democratic Senate contenders Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock.”

America’s Biggest Owner of Farmland Is Now Bill Gates (Dana)

From Forbes: “Bill Gates, the fourth richest person in the world and a self-described nerd who is known for his early programming skills rather than his love of the outdoors, has been quietly snatching up 242,000 acres of farmland across the U.S. — enough to make him the top private farmland owner in America. … It is not entirely clear how Gates’ farmland is being used, or whether any of the land is being set aside for conservation. (Cascade did not return Forbes’ request for comment.) However, there is some indication that the land could be used in a way that aligns with the [his] foundation’s values. Cottonwood Ag Management, a subsidiary of Cascade, is a member of Leading Harvest, a nonprofit that promotes sustainable agriculture standards that prioritize protections of crops, soil and water resources.”

Electric Car Batteries With 5-Minute Charging Times Produced (Dan)

The author writes, “Batteries capable of fully charging in five minutes have been produced in a factory for the first time, marking a significant step towards electric cars becoming as fast to charge as filling up petrol or diesel vehicles. Electric vehicles are a vital part of action to tackle the climate crisis but running out of charge during a journey is a worry for drivers. The new lithium-ion batteries were developed by the Israeli company StoreDot and manufactured by Eve Energy in China on standard production lines.”

Cats Evolved to Love Intoxicating Plants for One Very Shrewd Reason (Mili)

From Inverse: “In 1709, a Japanese botanist became the first person to describe how cats go wild for catnip and silver vine — plants that put felines into a state of drug-like euphoria. However, while it’s very established cats are happy to rub their faces against these plants, what caused the evolution of this behavior — and why it triggers feline brains so powerfully — was not known. In a new study, scientists suggest they’ve found those answers. Engaging with a newly identified chemical in silver vine activates a cat’s opioid reward system, the study claims. This encourages the cat to interact with the stimulating substance and, in turn, possibly protect itself from an all-too-familiar pest.”

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