DAILY DOSE: U.S. Congress decides to find some science; Martina Navratilova cancer diagnosis.


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American universities received an injection of funding from Washington D.C. recently with the passage of its 2023 spending bill. According to the Associated Press,

The $1.7 trillion spending package that Congress passed on 23 December does more than fund the entire U.S. government in 2023. Senators and members of the House of Representatives from both parties also used it to funnel $15 billion to 7200 projects in their districts that federal funding agencies never requested. The projects include new research facilities and academic programs at hundreds of public colleges and universities.

That spending signals the robust resurgence of earmarks, the sometimes controversial—and until recently banned—practice in which legislators use their constitutional authority over federal spending to benefit their constituents. The dollar amount and number of earmarks rose by half over this year, according to one count by The New York Times. The 2023 total also tops levels seen before Congress banned the practice in 2010 after some notorious earmarks drew widespread ridicule—and figured in the conviction of one lawmaker for accepting bribes.

However, in early 2021 Congress removed the ban starting with the upcoming 2022 fiscal year. Proponents argue that such directed funding addresses local and state needs, increases support for must-pass spending bills, and serves as a counterweight to the spending priorities of the executive branch.

With all the anti-university rhetoric coming out of segments of the political class, it’s nice to know they still put aside some money for higher education and research. https://bit.ly/3ChNkNS

A change in Presidential administration in Brazil has also ushered in a decidedly more environmentally friendly stance. Per the AP,

Brazil´s President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva announced Thursday that Amazon activist Marina Silva will be the country´s next minister of environment. The announcement indicates the new administration will prioritize cracking down on illegal deforestation even if it means running afoul of powerful agribusiness interests.

Both attended the recent U.N. climate conference in Egypt, where Lula promised cheering crowds “zero deforestation” in the Amazon, the world’s largest rainforest and a key to fighting climate change, by 2030. “There will be no climate security if the Amazon isn’t protected,” he said.

Silva told the news network Globo TV shortly after the announcement that the name of the ministry she will lead will be changed to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change.

Many agribusiness players and associated lawmakers resent Silva. That stems from her time as environment minister during most of Lula’s prior presidency, from 2003 to 2010.

As they say, sometimes elections do matter. https://bit.ly/3Q6iHkk

The aftermath of the tragic flooding that hit the Philippines during the Christmas weekend continues to worsen. According to the AP,

Thousands of people in the Philippines remained in emergency shelters in the wake of devastating Christmas flooding, as the death toll climbed to 51 with 19 missing, authorities said Monday.

Images showed residents in southern Misamis Occidental province sweeping away thick mud from the floors of their homes. In the seaside village of Cabol-anonan, coconut trees were uprooted and huts made of light material were nearly flattened.

The Northern Mindanao region bore the brunt of the disaster, reporting 25 deaths, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. Most of the deaths were from drowning and landslides, and among the missing were fishermen whose boats capsized.

Floods have subsided in most parts, but more than 8,600 people were still in shelters.

Over 4,500 houses were damaged by the floods, along with roads and bridges, and some areas still struggle with disrupted power and water supply, the disaster management agency said.

Compared to the Northern island of Luzon where Manila is located, Mindanao has historically been plagued by reinvestment, resulting in less than ideal infrastructure. https://bit.ly/3Q7xY4i

One of the greatest tennis player ever to grace the court has been diagnosed with cancer. According to BBC Sport,

Martina Navratilova has been diagnosed with both throat and breast cancer.

The 18-time Grand Slam singles champion, who previously had breast cancer in 2010, will start treatment in New York later this month.

Navratilova, 66, said both cancers had been caught at an early stage.

The double whammy is serious, but fixable, and I'm hoping for a favourable outcome," she said. "It's going to stink for a while, but I'll fight with all I have got."

Navratilova noticed an enlarged lymph node in her neck during November's WTA Finals in Fort Worth, Texas.

A subsequent biopsy revealed stage one throat cancer.

During the tests, a lump was also discovered in her breast, which was later diagnosed as an unrelated cancer.

Navratilova was due to cover this month's Australian Open from the Tennis Channel studio, but will instead make some occasional remote appearances.

The disease was caught at an early stage, something that increases the chances of a full recovery. Still, it will be a long road. No doubt she’s up to it. https://bit.ly/3GdVjwR

Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.


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