UN, climate crisis, war on nature, carbon-free challenge
The authors write, “As an extreme year for hurricanes, wildfires and heat waves comes to an end, the head of the United Nations challenged world leaders to make 2021 the year that humanity ends its ‘war on nature’ and commits to a future free of planet-warming carbon pollution.” Photo credit: Christopher Michel / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Historians Sue Trump Administration to Preserve Records ; How COVID-19 Drove Polio Cases in Afghanistan ; and More Picks 12/3

Historians Sue Trump Administration to Preserve Records (Reader Steve)

The author writes, “Historians and watchdog groups sued the Trump administration again over its alleged failure to preserve White House records. … The Presidential Records Act, passed in the wake of the Watergate scandal of the 1970s, designates all White House records as public and requires that they be preserved. … The new complaint takes particular aim at the use of WhatsApp and private email accounts by the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner. WhatsApp sends encrypted text messages that can only be viewed by the sender or receiver.”

Lawsuit Challenges Alaska’s New Ranked-Choice Voting Ballot Measure (Judy)

From the Anchorage Daily News: “The Alaskan Independence Party, its chairman and two Anchorage residents are suing the state of Alaska to overturn Ballot Measure 2, a sweeping election reform initiative that would install ranked-choice voting in Alaska’s general elections. Their lawsuit, filed Tuesday, claims that the measure would violate the plaintiffs’ rights ‘to free political association, free speech, right to petition, right to due process’ and other rights guaranteed by the Alaska and U.S. constitutions.”

Black Farmers Have Been Robbed of Land. A New Bill Would Give Them a ‘Quantum Leap’ Toward Justice (Dana)

From Mother Jones: “After the US Civil War, newly emancipated Black growers won a share of the agricultural landscape. They did so despite fierce backlash and the ultimately failed promises of Reconstruction. By the 1910s, around 200,000 Black farmers owned an estimated 20 million acres of land, mostly in the South. That turned out to be a peak. Since then, due largely to lingering white supremacy and racist machinations within the US Department of Agriculture, the number of Black farmers has plunged by 98 percent. The remaining few managed to hold on to just 10 percent of that hard-won acreage. A new Senate bill, called the Justice for Black Farmers Act … would mount a long-delayed federal effort to reverse the ‘destructive forces that were unleashed upon Black farmers over the past century—one of the dark corners of shame in American history.’” 

How COVID-19 Drove New Polio Cases in Afghanistan (Dana)

The author writes, “Polio vaccinations are largely targeted to very young children and are highly effective. In the past, polio cases mostly flared up in regions coping with military conflict and Taliban insurgency. Even so, in recent years, health officials had ‘managed to eradicate polio from many parts of Afghanistan,’ said Merjan Rasekh, head of public awareness for the Polio Eradication Program run by the Ministry of Public Health. But now, the Covid-19 pandemic is remapping polio across the country, creating pockets of cases where there recently were none. … According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the disruption in immunization due to the pandemic left a total of 50 million children without their polio vaccine in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the last two polio-endemic countries in the world.”

Zebra Finches Amazing at Unmasking the Bird Behind the Song (Mili)

The author writes, “If songbirds could appear on The Masked Singer reality TV competition, zebra finches would likely steal the show. That’s because they can rapidly memorize the signature sounds of at least 50 different members of their flock, according to new research from the University of California, Berkeley. In findings recently published in the journal Science Advances, these boisterous, red-beaked songbirds, known as zebra finches, have been shown to pick one another out of a crowd (or flock) based on a particular peer’s distinct song or contact call.”


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