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Scientists Hope ‘World’s Loneliest Tree’ Will Help Answer Climate Questions (Maria)

The author writes, “It is regarded as the loneliest tree in the world’ but the Sitka spruce on uninhabited Campbell Island has been keeping good company of late — with a team of New Zealand researchers who believe it could help unlock climate change secrets. The nine-meter tall spruce holds the Guinness World Record title for the ‘remotest tree’ on the planet.”

GOP Escalates Fight Against Citizen-Led Ballot Initiatives (DonkeyHotey)

The author writes, “Hundreds of thousands of people signed petitions this year backing proposed ballot initiatives to expand voting access, ensure abortion rights and legalize recreational marijuana in Arizona, Arkansas and Michigan. Yet voters might not get a say because Republican officials or judges have blocked the proposals from the November elections, citing flawed wording, procedural shortcomings or insufficient petition signatures. At the same time, Republican lawmakers in Arkansas and Arizona have placed constitutional amendments on the ballot proposing to make it harder to approve citizen initiatives in the future.”

Police Investigating How Michigan Voting Machine Wound Up for Sale Online (Sean)

From CNN: “Authorities in Michigan are investigating how a missing voting machine from the state wound up for sale on eBay last month for $1,200. The machine was purchased by a cybersecurity expert in Connecticut who alerted Michigan authorities and is now waiting for law enforcement to pick up the device. CNN determined the machine was dropped off at a Goodwill store in Northern Michigan, before being sold last month on eBay by a man in Ohio. In an interview with CNN, the Ohio man said he purchased the machine online at Goodwill for $7.99 before auctioning it on eBay for $1,200.”

America’s Secrets: Trump’s Unprecedented Disregard of Norms (Reader Steve)

The author writes, “Donald Trump isn’t the first to face criticism for flouting rules and traditions around the safeguarding of sensitive government records, but national security experts say recent revelations point to an unprecedented disregard of post-presidency norms established after the Watergate era.”

This Startup Wants to Copy You Into an Embryo for Organ Harvesting (Sean)

From MIT Technology Review: “In a search for novel forms of longevity medicine, a biotech company based in Israel says it intends to create embryo-stage versions of people in order to harvest tissues for use in transplant treatments. The company, Renewal Bio, is pursuing recent advances in stem-cell technology and artificial wombs demonstrated by Jacob Hanna, a biologist at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot. … Hanna showed that starting with mouse stem cells, his lab could form highly realistic-looking mouse embryos and keep them growing in a mechanical womb for several days until they developed beating hearts, flowing blood, and cranial folds.” 

What Comes After Ambition? (Russ)

From Elle: “Women are in the midst of a revolutionary reckoning with our ambitions. We’re not resigning en masse — because who can afford to quit her job in this economy?! — but we are trying to figure out a new set of goals and guidance for our professional lives. Thanks to long-simmering inequality and stubborn sexism, clarified by the pain of the pandemic, our definitions of success increasingly lie outside the realm of work. We are waking up to the fact that our jobs are never going to love us back. And we are trying to adjust accordingly.”

Ancient Maya Used Ashes of Rulers to Make Rubber Balls, Some Researchers Suggest (Mili)

The author writes, “Maya people cremated their rulers and used the ashes to help make rubber balls that were used in ballgames, an archaeologist has claimed. The researcher and his team believe they’ve found evidence of this practice while excavating the Maya city of Toniná, in southern Mexico. Researchers refer to it as the ‘ballgame’ as its rules and name may have changed over time. It was often played by two teams using a rubber ball on a capital I-shaped court.”