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Georgia House passes GOP bill rolling back voting access

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Georgia Legislature

ATLANTA — Republican lawmakers in Georgia muscled legislation through the state House on Monday that would roll back voting access, over the objection of Democrats and civil rights groups gathered at the Capitol to protest.

The bill comes after record turnout led to Democratic wins in Georgia’s presidential election and two U.S. Senate runoffs.

House Bill 531 passed the lower legislative chamber by a vote of 97-72. It now goes to the state Senate for more debate.

The far-reaching bill would require a photo ID for absentee voting, limit the amount of time voters have to request an absentee ballot, restrict where ballot drop boxes could be located and when they could be accessed, and limit early voting hours on weekends, among many other changes.

It is one of a flood of election bills being pushed by GOP lawmakers across the country this year that would add new barriers to voting.

Republicans say the measure is needed to restore the public’s confidence in elections, after former President Donald Trump and his allies relentlessly pushed false claims about fraud.

“House Bill 531 is designed to begin to bring back the confidence of our voters back into our election system,” said Republican Rep. Barry Fleming, the measure’s chief sponsor.

Democrats say the legislation furthers Trump’s lies and would disproportionately affect voters of color.

Rep. David Dreyer (D-Atlanta) speaks to demonstrators at an HB 531 protest outside of the Georgia State Capitol Building on day 25 of the legislative session in Atlanta, Monday, March 1, 2021.

AP

Georgia Legislature

Rep. Angelika Kausche (D-Johns Creek) speaks to demonstrators at an HB 531 protest outside of the Georgia State Capitol Building on day 25 of the legislative session in Atlanta, Monday, March 1, 2021.

AP

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“It’s pathetically obvious to anyone paying attention that when Trump lost the November election and Georgia flipped control of the U.S. Senate to Democrats shortly after, Republicans got the message that they were in a political death spiral,” Democratic Rep. Renitta Shannon said. “And now they are doing anything they can to silence the voices of Black and brown voters specifically, because they largely powered these wins.”

Dozens of protesters gathered just outside the Capitol on Monday in opposition to the bill, chanting “say no to voter suppression” and “protect the vote.”

“Today, before the eyes of this country, Georgia is poised to pass some of the most egregious, dangerous and most expensive voter suppression acts in this entire nation, rolling back years of hardball progress and renewing our own reputation for discrimination,” the Rev. James Woodall, president of the Georgia NAACP, said at the rally.

Alaina Reaves, the president of the Clayton County Young Democrats, was among the protesters.

“We take one step forward and then you know these legislators are trying to bring us up to two steps back,” Reaves said.

Later Monday, the state Senate Ethics Committee approved a Republican-backed bill that would limit who can vote absentee in Georgia to those 65 and older, people with a disability and people who will be away from their precinct on Election Day.

That bill would do away with no-excuse absentee voting adopted by a Republican-controlled legislature in 2005. It could soon move to the full Senate for a vote.

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Bill Gates said to be growing potatoes for McDonald’s fries

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Bill Gates said to be growing potatoes for McDonald's fries

Next time you savor a McDonald’s french fry, remember to thank Bill Gates for the tasty spud.

As reported in The Post, the soon-to-be single computer magnate happens to own more farmland than anyone else in the United States. Known for loving fast food — although his burger of choice comes from the Washington-based chainlet Burgermaster — Gates, according to NBC News, grows potatoes for McDonald’s in fields so vast they can be scoped from outer space.

Although Gates has focused his energies on saving our climate, he has made clear that the tater patches are strictly money-making operations.

“My investment group chose to do this,” stated Farmer Bill during an AMA on Reddit. “It is not connected to climate.”

Considering that Gates is said to own 269,000 acres of fertile land in 18 states, it’s easy to imagine him keeping track of it all on some souped-up series of spreadsheets. If so, gangs of divorce lawyers — including some who worked on the Jeff Bezos bust-up — have surely been scrutinizing the potato haul. Gates, the fourth-richest person in the world, married his impending ex, Melinda, without a prenuptial agreement, so they will be splitting property via a so-called “separation contract.”

No word on whether or not she will soon reign as McDonald’s potato queen.

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Honeybee worker can produce millions of identical clones, study shows

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Honeybee worker can produce millions of identical clones, study shows

A South African subspecies of the honeybee is reportedly able to produce millions of clones of itself. 

According to new research published in the journal Current Biology and Proceedings of the Royal Society B, one such insect – known as the Cape honeybee or Apis mellifera capensis– has managed to do so many times over the past 30 years. 

It’s a process called thelytokous parthenogenesis, which a group of international scientists said is akin to the “virgin birth of a female.” 

While asexual reproduction is fairly common, genetically identical offspring is not. 

The exchange of genetic material between different organisms, or “recombination,” normally leads to the production of offspring with combinations of different traits.

If there even is only one parent, New Scientist noted, offspring born from thelytokous parthenogenesis will still be born with a slightly different genetic makeup.

And yet, the worker Cape honeybee has reportedly found a way to reduce recombination and remain genetically healthy, whereas asexual reproduction has been lethal in honeybees before, resulting in inbred larvae that don’t survive. 

“For workers, it is important to reduce the frequency of recombination so as to not produce offspring that are homozygous.”

In order to learn more, the paper’s authors “experimentally manipulated” Cape workers and Cape queens to reproduce thelytokously.

“The two female castes of the Cape honeybee, Apis mellifera capensis, differ in their mode of reproduction. While workers always reproduce thelytokously, queens always mate and reproduce sexually,” the researchers explained in the paper’s abstract.

Performing fieldwork at South Africa’s Plant Protection Research Institute in Stellenbosch, the team instrumentally inseminated a queen with the semen of a single male and then introduced a brood comb holding several hundred eggs laid by the queen into a colony to be reared. 

Queens were made to reproduce asexually using what researchers said amounted to a “chastity belt.”

“When the queens were 5 days post eclosion we constrained them in an artificial insemination apparatus [37] without narcosis. We then glued a 5 mm piece of surgical tape (Micropore, 3M, Minnesota) over the sting chamber using nail varnish,” the paper explained. 

The researchers monitored the queens, confirming the chastity belts were intact after each flight around the colony and, eventually, compared asexually reproduced larvae of the queen to those of the workers.

“We monitored the queens closely for the next two weeks, to determine if and when oviposition had commenced. We collected larvae as soon as they appeared into ethanol,” the researchers wrote.

“Not all queens flew, not all returned from mating flights, and not all laid. In the end, we were able to harvest one queen and 25 of her larval progeny into ethanol.”

The group also genotyped four workers and 63 of their larvae.

Ultimately, the authors found that the queen showed levels of genetic recombination 100 times more than seen in the cloned offspring of the worker bees.

“Using a combination of microsatellite genotyping and whole-genome sequencing we find that a reduction in recombination is confined to workers only,” the abstract concluded.

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Russia’s navy kicks off large-scale drills in Pacific ocean

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Russia's navy kicks off large-scale drills in Pacific ocean

Large-scale drills of Russia’s Pacific Fleet began in the central part of the Pacific Ocean, the Russian Ministry of Defense reported on Thursday, June 10.

According to the ministry, 20 warships, submarines and support vessels are taking part in the exercises. In particular the missile cruiser “Varyag”, the large anti-submarine ship “Admiral Panteleev”, the frigate “Marshal Shaposhnikov” as well as other military and support vessels.

In addition, about 20 aircraft are involved in the exercise, including Tu-142mz long-range anti-submarine aircraft and MiG-31BM high-altitude fighter-interceptors.

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