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Weekend Reader for Sunday, Dec. 24

With political media focused on the Trump tax bill, rollbacks of US environmental law continue. And Canada does a very, very Trump-like thing.

We've got a joyous holiday mix of food, health, climate and toxics stories for you.


Must-read investigation: The Louisville Courier-Journal continues its dogged reporting on the state's beleaguered coal industry: A melting Arctic and delinquent children figure into a shadowy figure's global scheme to distribute coal.

Nothing to see here: Unhealthy food giants fund healthy food researchers. Malaysia boasts Asia's worst obesity problems. You'll never guess who holds many of the purse strings for its nutritionists. (NY Times)

Science, Schmience: The Interior Department slapped a harsh cap on the number of scientists attending the American Geophysical Union's annual meeting -- one of the top science gatherings each year. (Washington Post)

EPA's press office becomes a story in itself. Buzzfeed reports on how EPA's Press Office is a bit more like a political opposition research operation these days.

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Festivus, or none of the above, enjoy the weekend.

Top Weekend News

Big Oil's decades of denial: More first-rate reporting from Inside Climate News on the long, long history of science and politics abuse on climate issues from Big Oil and its affiliates.

Superfund sites swamped? The Associated Press reports that 300+ toxic Superfund sites could be underwater due to sea level rise and anticipated increases in severe storms.Home-grown wisdom:

EHN/Daily Climate founder Pete Myers on the history of endocrine disruption science -- discovery, harassment, vindication and more. The premiere Science History Podcast.

Atomic piling on? The Nuclear Regulatory Commission launched its own Clinton investigation this week. But not so fast.... this one's not about Hillary, but the Clinton Nuclear Plant, near Clinton, Illinois. (Daily Energy Insider)

Smoke sidelines seniors: A Harvard study links small amounts of air pollution to health problems in senior citizens. (EHN.org)

Running dry: The Palm Springs Desert Sun continues its first-rate reporting on western water issues with a look at the very dry future of the Colorado River.

Opinions and Editorials

The Washington Post's Dana Milbank, a harsh critic of the Trump Administration, writes that Puerto Rico has been victimized twice, first by Hurricane Maria, then by politics.

Ed Perlmutter on the newly passed and signed "tax reform" legislation could cripple government science.

An op-ed in the Ventura (Calif.) News-Star dares to state the obvious: Its fire-weary readership has an impact of climate change literally in the backyard.

This Week in Trump

EPA is suffering a brain drain, as scientists and technical experts depart the agency in droves.

The Interior Department has ordered a halt to a study of its agency covering offshore oil safety.

MSNBC's Chris Hayes comments on the paranoia of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.

Government agencies drastically reduced the number of personnel authorized to attend last week's American Geophysical Union annual meeting -- one of the most important earth science gatherings every year. America First? There are stories on both the Interior Department and the USGS slashing their numbers of attendees.

And Barry Myers, CEO of AccuWeather, is Trump's pick to head NOAA. Can he truly separate himself from a family business that at times has featured climate denial?

Ready for a little good news?

Science Daily reports on a study on improving fetal health among neighbors of closed coal power plants.

Fractured: Harmful chemicals and unknowns haunt Pennsylvanians surrounded by fracking

We tested families in fracking country for harmful chemicals and revealed unexplained exposures, sick children, and a family's "dream life" upended.

This is part 1 of our 4-part series, "Fractured," an investigation of fracking chemicals in the air, water, and people of western Pennsylvania.

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www.bbc.com

'UK first' nuclear fusion plan for Nottinghamshire power station

A Nottinghamshire power station is put forward as a possible site for a prototype reactor.
www.bayjournal.com

Baltimore church converts neglected urban forest into ‘peace park’

Project to restore degraded woodlands in damaged community enlists help from all over.

www.newyorker.com

Bill McKibben: The shift to renewable energy can give more power to the people

We shouldn’t give up on the idea of democratizing energy ownership as much as possible.
news.mongabay.com

The possible meat: A Brazilian farmer shows ranching can regenerate the Cerrado

Matheus Sborgia, a Brazilian chef, decided to bet on regenerative agriculture after inheriting his grandfather's cattle ranch in the heart of the Cerrado.

news.mongabay.com

When Chinook salmon is off the menu, other prey will do for endangered orcas

For nearly 20 years, Robin Baird has been following killer whales, trying to figure out what they eat. At first, he would look to see what was in their mouths as the whales feasted on fish near the surface. But then he and his colleague, Brad Hanson, started looking for more subtle clues in their […]
news.mongabay.com

Facebook enabling Amazon land grabbing, deforestation, finds investigation

The illegal sale of protected land in the Brazilian Amazon has been going on for years, but a new BBC report got deeply inside the criminal network and found some land grabbers advertising on Facebook.