News briefs

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Ripples from Wisconsin Supreme Court battle could reach the Hill

WASHINGTON — The fight to control Wisconsin’s highest court has thrust the Midwestern battleground into the national spotlight as Election Day closes in on a pivotal race that could dictate future abortion and redistricting measures — and have implications for 2024.

At its core, the election Tuesday will determine the ideological split of the state Supreme Court. Liberals are within striking distance of securing a majority on the seven-member bench, which conservatives have dominated since 2008.

The officially nonpartisan race for the open slot pits liberal Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Janet Protasiewicz against conservative Daniel Kelly, a former state Supreme Court justice who lost his seat in an election three years ago.

In a state that boasts both a Democratic governor and strong Republican legislative majorities, the court’s role is especially notable. Wisconsin justices have previously issued decisive rulings on district lines, laws that limited the power of the executive branch and a host of other issues.

—CQ-Roll Call

Antisemitism bill falls short at Georgia General Assembly

ATLANTA — A bill that would have made antisemitism part of Georgia’s hate crimes law failed early Thursday morning without receiving final votes before the General Assembly adjourned for the year.

Opponents of the legislation said it could have limited speech against Israel, though backers of the proposal said it would have only applied when Jewish people were targeted by crimes or discrimination.The bill didn’t pass because state Senate leaders never called for a vote on the last day of the annual legislative session.

The measure, House Bill 144, would have defined antisemitism and made it a part of Georgia’s hate crimes law, allowing harsher criminal penalties against those who target victims on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, sex, national origin, religion, or physical or mental disability.

Members of Muslim, Jewish and civil rights organizations who were critical of the bill said it could have been used to curtail freedom of speech on university campuses.

—The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Human milk is essential, yet scientists know little about it. UCSD plans to change that

It is one of the few foods that nearly everyone on the planet has consumed at some point. It’s linked to a host of health benefits, from reducing the risk of asthma and Type 1 diabetes to fighting off infections.

Yet despite the outsized role it plays in sustaining our species, this essential substance — human milk — has been the subject of curiously little research, especially compared to other aspects of diet and reproduction.

Thursday, UC San Diego formally inaugurates the Human Milk Institute, the first academic institution in the U.S. devoted to a crucial element of human nutrition that science is, in many ways, only beginning to understand.

“I find it fascinating that we know so little about it,” said institute director Lars Bode, a sugar biologist at UCSD. “How is it possible that there is an entire biosynthetic pathway in the human body where if you had to put this in a biochemistry textbook, you would have an empty page?”

—Los Angeles Times

Vatican distances itself from colonial-era ‘doctrine of discovery’

ROME — The Vatican has distanced itself from a colonial-era doctrine used to justify crimes against indigenous peoples, including slavery, saying it is not “part of the teachings of the Catholic Church,” according to a statement released on Thursday.

The statement, which came from two dicasteries or ministries in the Holy See, was mainly focused on distancing the Church from the so-called “doctrine of discovery.”

Catholic colonial rulers used to consider this doctrine a justification for the displacement, disenfranchisement and dispossession of indigenous people in colonized territories.

A statement by the Vatican authorities for culture, education and human integral development said many Christians had “committed evil acts against indigenous communities.” The old papal decrees, which the former colonizers used as a justification for their actions, should be considered as political documents, it added.