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Top News: (8/29-9/4)

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.

Challenges to citizen-led ballot initiatives in Missouri, other states:

Members of the Michigan Board of State Canvassers, from left, Richard Houskamp, Anthony Daunt and Mary Ellen Gurewitz listen to attorneys Olivia Flower and Steve Liedel during a hearing, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022, in Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)

Hundreds of thousands of people have signed petitions this year in support of ballot initiatives expanding voting access, protecting abortion, and legalizing marijuana in Arizona, Arkansas, and Michigan. In spite of this, these may be blocked by Republican officials due to a lack of signatures, poorly worded ballots, or procedural shortcomings. In addition to this, Republican lawmakers in Arkansas and Arizona have amended the ballot process in their states to make approving citizen initiatives more difficult in the future. This is part of a several-year trend as Democratic-aligned groups have increasingly used petitions to force public votes on issues that Republican-led legislatures have opposed. While some Democrats assert that this is subverting the will of the people, the Republicans responsible contend that they are protecting the integrity of lawmaking against well-funded interest groups.

While about half the states have citizen initiatives, they still are required to be verified by executive and judicial officials to confirm they are clear and properly formatted. This past week in Michigan, two Republican members of the bipartisan Board of State Canvassers blocked initiatives to enshrine abortion in the state constitution and expand opportunities for voting. Both had significantly more than the required 425,000 signatures needed, but GOP board members shot down the voting measure for unclear wording and the abortion measure was flawed because of spacing problems that scrunched some words together. Both decisions have been appealed to the Democrat majority Michigan Supreme Court.

G7 countries back plan to cap price of Russian oil:

Tanks belonging to Transneft, a Russian state-owned company that operates the country's oil pipelines, in Ust-Luga, Russia, in March 2022. Igor Grussak/picture alliance via Getty Images

On Friday, the G7 Finance Ministers agreed to move forward with a plan to put a price cap on purchases of Russian oil and petroleum products in response to its continued invasion of Ukraine. This cap is aimed at preventing Russia from funding its war by keeping the Kremlin from further profiting from its oil exports while limiting the invasion's effect on global energy prices. US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen supported the bid in a statement that the agreement is "a critical step forward in achieving our dual goals of putting downward pressure on global energy prices while denying Putin revenue to fund his brutal war in Ukraine." The effect of the price cap can already be seen as Russia attempts to negotiate discounted oil trades. Russia, for its part, is threatening to withhold oil sales from countries taking part in the capping plan.

This Group Has Rerouted 250 Million Pounds of Food From Landfills to Feed People in Need:

– released by Jen Serena Food Forward.

A Los Angeles-based non-profit is helping reroute perishing produce to communities in need of more fresh fruits and veggies all over the country. A combination of inflationary governmental fiscal policy and the centrally-planned response to COVID-19 has really damaged the ability of rural or food desert-based communities to buy fresh produce. Since 2009, Food Forward has rerouted 250 million pounds of food from landfills and delivered over a billion servings of fresh produce to food insecure communities. Based in Southern California, Food Forward has mastered the logistical challenge of rerouting produce destined for landfills to communities that need it. SoCal is both the largest exporter and importer of produce in the country, making them perfectly placed.

Coming out of the centrally-planned chaos of the pandemic, Food Forward feels they are getting a grip on the demand for fresh produce rather than reacting to it in difficult or emergency circumstances. Their operation is so tight that every $1 donated allows them to redirect 10 pounds of produce from restaurants, grocery stores, or farms before sending them to communities that rarely get to buy a bright red tomato or a crisp head of romaine. They’ve also helped the environment since keeping that perishing produce out of landfills also reduces methane gas emissions. While much has been done so far their job isn’t done yet and Food Forward looks forward to helping more families in the future.

Axolotls can regenerate their brains, revealing secrets of brain evolution and regeneration:

The axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum) is an aquatic salamander renowned for its ability to regenerate its spinal cord, heart, and limbs. These amphibians also readily make new neurons throughout their lives. In 1964, researchers observed that adult axolotls could regenerate parts of their brains, even if a large section was completely removed. But one study found that axolotl brain regeneration has a limited ability to rebuild original tissue structure. A more comprehensive study by the Truetin Lab and Tanaka Lab team found that there were three key stages to brain regeneration. The first phase involves the creation of progenitor cells which initiate the wound healing process which then leads to the second phase where they turn into neuroblasts which are made to replace damaged neurons. The last stage then repairs the tissue with the progenitor cells and neuroblasts then repair the connections in the axolotl’s brain, allowing it to completely regenerate. These findings if all causes for the process itself are found, can give more insight into human brain regeneration due to the similarity in cell composition in the process.


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