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Top News: (3/20-2/26)


Here are the top stories for this week all summarized so you can stay informed and save time!



All sources are at the end of the post.


Biden’s Pick to Lead FAA Withdraws:

Phillip Washington, President Biden’s pick to run the FAA, has withdrawn his nomination after he failed to gain enough support in the closely divided Senate. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)


President Joe Biden’s choice to run the Federal Aviation Administration has withdrawn his nomination. This is due to Denver International Airport CEO Phillip Washington’s nomination lacking support in the closely divided Senate. Republicans unitedly opposed Washington, calling him unqualified due to his limited aviation experience. Democrats and allied independents could still have pushed the nomination through, but lacked support from key senators on their side. The White House will likely address this by seeking assurances of support from moderates such as Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Jon Tester of Montana. The FAA has lacked a Senate-confirmed administrator since March 2022. The agency is trying to reassure Americans that air travel is safe despite a surge in close calls between planes this year. The agency is being led by an acting administrator, Billy Nolen, a pilot who has held safety jobs at three airlines and the FAA. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who led opposition to Washington, said Nolen could win bipartisan support.


Israeli PM Fires Defense Minister for Urging Halt to Overhaul:

Israeli police use a water cannon to disperse demonstrators blocking the freeway during a protest against plans by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government to overhaul the judicial system March 25, 2023.Ariel Schalit/AP


On Saturday, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant became the first senior member of the ruling Likud party to speak out against the country’s judicial overhaul plan. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promptly fired him for this. The dismissal signaled that the overhaul plan will move ahead this week despite it sparking mass protests, angering military and business leaders, and raising concerns among allied nations. The upcoming parliamentary vote will be on a centerpiece of the overhaul — a law giving the governing coalition the final say over all judicial appointments. It also seeks to pass laws granting parliament the authority to override Supreme Court decisions with a basic majority and limiting judicial review.


Indian Startup Uses Rice Crop Waste to Make Biodegradable Foam Packaging Instead of Burning it:

Arpit


A Delhi-based engineer has designed a replacement for polystyrene packaging out of “rice stubble” the dead stalks left over after the rice season in India, millions of tons of which are burned every year. The engineer, named Arpit Dhupar, launched a new business venture called Dharaksha Ecosystems in order to tackle the rice stubble problem. Its high moisture content means it’s not useful for stove fuel, so they burn it in massive pyres. To combat this, his company’s factory turns 250 metric tons of rice stubble harvested from 100 acres of farmland in Punjab and Haryana into packaging, while paying the farmers a rate of $30 per acre for something they would usually burn. Baked in the oven, the mycelium-bound stubble becomes hard and fire-retardent, allowing it to be laser engraved. Further, the product can tolerate high moisture content and is also anti-static. Arpit has already prevented over half a million pounds of polystyrene from entering landfills since launching his product and looks to continue the trend in the future.


New Brain Implant Device Could Restore Function in Paralyzed Limbs:

University of Cambridge Department of Engineering and Clinical Neurosciences


A brain implant that can restore arm and leg movements has been developed by British scientists to boost connections between neurons and the paralyzed limbs, offering hope to accident victims. The device combines flexible electronics and human stem cells to better integrate with the nerve and drive limb function. By sandwiching a layer of muscle cells reprogrammed from stem cells between the electrodes and the living tissue in rats, the researchers found that the device integrated with the host’s body and the formation of scar tissue was prevented. While extensive research and testing will be needed before it can be used in humans, the device is a promising development for amputees or those who’ve lost function in limbs.


Sources:

New Brain Implant Device Could Restore Function in Paralyzed Limbs (goodnewsnetwork.org)


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