science, wildlife, biodiversity, reindeers, vision, eye color change, food hunt
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Blue Eyes Act as Night Vision Goggles to Help Reindeer Find Food in Winter: Study (Maria)

The author writes, “Rudolph does not need to use his famous red nose to guide his fellow reindeer as the animals have a special form of night vision that they use to forage for food, scientists have concluded. Researchers looked into why the species are the only mammals whose eyes change color depending on the season, from golden orange in summer to a blue hue in the winter months. The study found that while the color shift may help them see better in the peak of winter when snowfall is heavy, it also allows their eyes to transmit ultraviolet light. … They also said this is the reason why the deer are able to see clearly in the dark and scour for food items such as lichen.”

Biden Is Not on the New Hampshire Primary Ballot. A Write-In Effort Is Trying Everything to Make Him Win. (Reader Steve)

From The Boston Globe: “With just weeks before the state’s presidential primary, Democrats in New Hampshire are trying to lure volunteers from Massachusetts. They’ve reportedly launched a fledgling super PAC. On Thursday, they took the obvious, if extraordinary, step of modeling exactly how they want voters to fill out their ballot on Jan. 23. Vote Joe Biden, they say. Or rather, write ‘Joe Biden.’ This multipronged effort to convince voters to write in the president’s name underscores the politically difficult — and fundamentally strange — effort before them: to convince voters not only to show up at the polls next month but also cast a ballot for someone who intentionally chose to keep his name off it.”

The Supreme Court Refuses to Block an Illinois Law Banning Some High-Power Semiautomatic Weapons (DonkeyHotey)

The author writes, “The Supreme Court on Thursday declined to put on hold a new Illinois law that would ban high-power semiautomatic weapons like the one used in the mass killing of seven people at a 2022 parade in a Chicago suburb. The justices did not comment in refusing an emergency appeal from a gun rights group and others.”

Big Tech Funds the Very People Who Are Supposed to Hold It Accountable (Russ)

From The Washington Post: “Tech giants including Google and Facebook parent Meta have dramatically ramped up charitable giving to university campuses over the past several years — giving them influence over academics studying such critical topics as artificial intelligence, social media and disinformation. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg alone has donated money to more than 100 university campuses, through either Meta or his personal philanthropy arm, according to new research by the Tech Transparency Project, a nonprofit watchdog group studying the technology industry. Other firms are helping fund academic centers, doling out grants to professors and sitting on advisory boards reserved for donors, researchers told The Post.”

Dismantling Forced Arbitration: A Political Winner (Al)

From The American Conservative: “There is a legal issue looming that has the potential to descend from the legal academy into mainstream conservative thought. … I am speaking, of course, about tort reform and arbitration agreements. As Sohrab Ahmari has pointed out, this is an issue that presents an opportunity to level the playing field between big business, ordinary consumers, and workers. This issue can help address the disturbing practice of personal data collection from big tech companies. It presents an opportunity to restore due process, the right of normal Americans to seek justice through courts of law without elites blocking them via arguably coercive contracts. Forced arbitration agreements are the center of the problem.”

US Intelligence Assesses Ukraine War Has Cost Russia 315,000 Casualties (Sean)

The author writes, “A declassified U.S. intelligence report assessed that the Ukraine war has cost Russia 315,000 dead and injured troops, or nearly 90% of the personnel it had when the conflict began, a source familiar with the intelligence said on [last week]. The report also assessed that Moscow’s losses in personnel and armored vehicles to Ukraine’s military have set back Russia’s military modernization by 18 years, the source said.”

Earth on Verge of Five Catastrophic Climate Tipping Points, Scientists Warn (Laura)

The author writes, “Many of the gravest threats to humanity are drawing closer, as carbon pollution heats the planet to ever more dangerous levels, scientists have warned. Five important natural thresholds already risk being crossed, according to the Global Tipping Points report, and three more may be reached in the 2030s if the world heats 1.5C (2.7F) above pre-industrial temperatures. Triggering these planetary shifts will not cause temperatures to spiral out of control in the coming centuries but will unleash dangerous and sweeping damage to people and nature that cannot be undone.”

NASA: Let’s Ketchup on International Space Station Tomato Research (Dana)

The author writes, “Growing food aboard the International Space Station is one of the many research investigations ripe for long duration spaceflight missions to the Moon and Mars. NASA astronaut Frank Rubio recently shared the saucy story of two rogue tomatoes, which he had accidentally lost track of while harvesting for the eXposed Root On-Orbit Test System (XROOTS) experiment he conducted aboard the space station in 2022.”


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