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Photo credit: NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center / Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

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Here’s What the Latest Mars Rover Has Learned So Far (Maria)

The author writes, “It’s easy to take it for granted, but we’re driving around on freakin’ Mars right now. We’ve done this a few times before, sure, but it remains one of humankind’s most impressive technological feats. The latest rover to continue our presence on the red planet is Perseverance, the star of the Mars 2020 mission that launched in July of that year and landed in February of 2021. … News of what we’re discovering — beyond the stream of photos — tends to come in discrete bits that can be hard to connect into a bigger picture if you aren’t following closely. Consider this your wide-angle recap.”

Mitch McConnell Will Not Go Gently Into the Senate Goodnight (Dana)

From The Nation: “Senator Mitch McConnell is not well. Without going too deep into an armchair diagnosis of his recent spate of freezes and falls, it shouldn’t be controversial to say that an 81-year-old man who mysteriously stops talking and can’t start up again is likely suffering from some kind of significant health issue. If he were a woman, the calls for him to retire would be deafening. If he were a Democrat, the calls would be coming from within his own party. If he were Joe Biden, The New York Times would run a three-part exposé on his nap times.”

SCOTUS Has Placed Itself Above Congress, the Constitution, and the Founders (Gerry)

The author writes, “Senator Sheldon Whitehouse just filed an ethics complaint about corruption in the Supreme Court. Weirdly, he had to file it with Chief Justice John Roberts himself (this is sort of like complaining to George Santos that George Santos is corrupt) because, as Whitehouse noted in his complaint: ‘I write to you in your capacity both as Chief Justice and as Chair of the Judicial Conference because, unlike every other federal court, the Supreme Court has no formal process for receiving or investigating such complaints.”

Floaters: Our Reflection in the Rio Grande (Laura)

From The Intercept: “The media was filled this summer with news of migrants blocked and wounded by orange buoys and sharp wire that the governor of Texas placed on the Rio Grande, the river bordering Mexico. A poll taken in August found that 51 percent of Americans approve of these hostile barriers — including four of every 10 Democrats. This is so even though it’s increasingly dangerous for migrants to try to enter the US without going through official ports of entry. During the last three fiscal years, more people have died trying to cross the border than at any other time in recorded US immigration enforcement history. The dead include hundreds of adults who’ve expired from heat, vehicle collisions during Border Patrol chases, and mishaps in rivers — mostly the Rio Grande and its canals. Children, too, have died in droves, mainly by drowning. But as current polling suggests, you don’t have to like Donald Trump to be hostile or indifferent to this suffering.”

‘This Is Huge’: Newsom to Sign Historic Climate Disclosure Bills for Big Corporations (DonkeyHotey)

The author writes, “Climate advocates expressed hope Monday that California Gov. Gavin Newsom would help usher in a new era of accountability for corporate polluters nationwide after he confirmed plans to sign legislation forcing companies to publicly disclose their climate-related risks and more complete accounting of their total emissions. … The bill would require companies operating in California and earning at least $1 billion per year to disclose the climate risks at every stage of their supply chains and disclose all greenhouse gas emissions, including investments, attributable to their business practices.”

A Flesh-Eating Bacterium Is Creeping North as Oceans Warm (Mili)

From Wired: “Marine biologists … are tracking an unprecedented surge in ocean-going bacteria known as Vibrio, which recently killed three people and sickened a fourth in Connecticut and New York, at least two of them after swimming in the coastal waters of Long Island Sound. For swimmers and fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico, Vibrio is a known summer foe. It is one of the reasons for the old saying that you shouldn’t eat oysters in months that don’t have an R in their name: Warmer water encourages bacterial growth, and oysters accumulate these organisms when they feed. The bacteria is also an infection hazard for anyone who gets a cut while cleaning up soaked debris after a hurricane. But Vibrio appearing in the waters of the upper East Coast is a new and unfamiliar problem.”

How a Card Game Helped Avoid Nuclear War (Sean)

The author writes, “It is possible that, without the cognitive toolset of game theory and its capacity to coldly calculate the unthinkable, humans might have destroyed the planet with nuclear weapons. Maybe, just maybe, a field of knowledge that came out of a close analysis of poker saved the world.”

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