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Prehistoric Fish May Spawn in Georgia for First Time in 50 Years (Maria)

The author writes, “Scientists and students embarking on a census of Georgia lake sturgeon have found three females with mature eggs — an indication the armored ‘living fossils’ may be reproducing in that state for the first time in a half-century. ‘It’s exciting because it’s confirmation that they are becoming mature and trying to spawn,’ Martin J. Hamel, an associate professor at the University of Georgia Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, said. … Fossils indicate that the spade-nosed fish with a bottom-mounted vacuum hose instead of jaws has existed for more than 136 million years, according to scientists.”

Gerrymandering Competitive Districts to Near Extinction (DonkeyHotey)

From the Brennan Center for Justice: “One of the most consequen­tial outcomes of this redis­trict­ing cycle has been the continu­ing decrease in the number of compet­it­ive congres­sional districts. Under new maps, there are just 30 districts that Joe Biden won by less than eight percent­age points in 2020 and, like­wise, just 30 districts that Donald Trump won by less than eight points. All told, there are now fewer compet­it­ive districts than at any point in the last 52 years. If the good news is that both parties emerged with reas­on­able oppor­tun­it­ies in coming years to win control of a closely divided House, the bad news is that they will fight that battle on the narrow­est of terrains under maps arti­fi­cially engin­eered to reduce compet­i­tion.”

Kids-for-Cash Judges Ordered to Pay More Than $200M (Reader Steve)

The author writes, “Two former Pennsylvania judges who orchestrated a scheme to send children to for-profit jails in exchange for kickbacks were ordered to pay more than $200 million to hundreds of people they victimized in one of the worst judicial scandals in U.S. history. U.S. District Judge Christopher Conner awarded $106 million in compensatory damages and $100 million in punitive damages to nearly 300 people in a long-running civil suit against the judges, writing the plaintiffs are ‘the tragic human casualties of a scandal of epic proportions.’”

The Family That Mined the Pentagon’s Data for Profit (Sean)

From Wired: “The Freedom of Information Act helps Americans learn what the government is up to. The Poseys exploited it — and became unlikely defenders of transparency.”

The Fires Below (Mili)

From High Country News: “Coal seams, glinting ribbons of flammable ore that unspool across every continent except Antarctica, have caught fire for millions of years. They ignite on the surface, sparked by lightning or nearby wildfires, or through spontaneous combustion. They devour the surface coal and burrow deep belowground where they continue to smolder, lasting anywhere from a few years to centuries; Australia’s Mount Wingen has been burning underground for at least 6,000 years. While there are hundreds of underground fires in the Western United States, many are concentrated in the Powder River Basin, a lung-shaped swath of southeast Montana and northeast Wyoming.”

Yes, There Are More Infectious Diseases Popping Up These Days — Experts Say There Are 7 Clear Reasons Why (Sean)

The author writes, “2022 has been a banner year for global infectious disease spread — and it’s not just COVID. First, there were the reports of little kids with mysterious and life-threatening liver failure across the US and Europe. Then monkeypox cases surged across the globe like never before. … Then, just last week, New York City announced that there is polio in its wastewater, mirroring a highly unusual trend picked up in London’s sewers in the spring. ‘It’s like all the biblical plagues are coming back, right?’ Dr. Madhukar Pai, a global health expert at McGill, told Insider. It didn’t happen overnight, and it’s not a direct result of the pandemic either, but disease experts agree: the pace of these infectious outbreaks is quickening.” 

California Police Responded to a 911 Call. This Baby Monkey Was to Blame (Dana)

The author writes, “Calling 911 for a false emergency can land a person in some pretty hot water. But police in California were a little more forgiving when they discovered a 911 call they responded to had been placed by a mischievous monkey. ‘They said it was much better coming to where they thought there was something wrong and winding up with a smile on their face,’ said Lisa Jackson, assistant director of Zoo to You.”