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Massive coral reef larger than Delaware found at the mouth of the Amazon River

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A group of scientists has discovered a massive coral reef where it was believed that no reef could exist — the mouth of the Amazon River.

According to the L.A. Times, the reef covers 3,700 square miles and supports a “vibrant ecosystem” of plants, fish and other organisms that depend on the reef structure for lie.

University of Georgia oceanographer Patricia Yager told the Times that when the idea was first suggested to her by researcher Rodrigo Moura of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, she thought it was impossible. Coral reefs need abundant sunlight to survive and river mouths typically carry loads of sun-blocking sediment into the sea.

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“I kind of looked at him like he was crazy, thinking, ‘You know how muddy it is there — how could there possibly be a reef there?’” Yager said.

And yet, when she accompanied Moura to the site of the reef and the ship’s crew dredged the sea floor, they brought up a dazzlingly diverse array of reef life.

“Unbelievably, he brought up onboard the deck just the most amazing things I’d ever seen…beautiful, colorful reef animals that I had no idea were down there,” she recounted.

Coral are tiny animals related to jellyfish and sea anemones that harvest calcium and carbonate from the seawater around them to build rock-hard structures that can stretch for thousands of miles. Coral reefs are home to a wide array of plants and animals and play a vital role in the oceans’ biodiversity. However, the organisms are sensitive to changes in water acidity and temperature. Climate change and human activity are killing off reefs at alarming rates around the world.

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Fabiano Thompson, an oceanographer at the Federal University in Rio, told Smithsonian magazine, “This is something totally new and different from what is present in any other part of the globe.”

“But until now,” he said, “it’s been almost completely overlooked.”

The Washington Post noted that the reef’s discovery comes “at a time when reefs worldwide are under immense stress.”

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“Last week, a task force in Australia reported that 93 percent of the Great Barrier Reef has suffered at least some bleaching,” wrote the Post’s Sarah Kaplan. “The warming of oceans because of climate change and El Niño have weakened the world’s coral for months, scientists say, causing damage from Hawaii to the Indian Ocean.”

The newly discovered reef is under threat from local fishing and oil drilling, said Yager, although it is currently unclear how severe the threat is. Researchers are concerned that the reef will begin to die before they can fully explore it.

“Isn’t that always the case,” Yager told the Times, “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone?”

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The White House is now ‘furiously backpedaling’ after promoting gun background check legislation

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Will President Donald Trump support background checks on firearms sales? At this point, it’s not even clear if the White House has enough internal coherence to claim he even has any position at all on the matter.

News broke Wednesday morning, originally from the conservative Daily Caller reporter Amber Athey, that White House Legislative Affairs Director Eric Ueland, along with Attorney General Bill Barr, brought a proposal for expanded background checks modeled off the Manchin-Toomey bill to GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill:

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Did Lindsey Graham and Donald Trump break up over Iran?

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It appears there is trouble in Warhawk paradise if Twitter is any indication.

A Twitter exchange between Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and President Donald Trump are battling over the recent drone strike of the Saudi oil fields. Trump, Graham and the Saudis are all blaming Iran, but Japan said that there is no evidence that it was Iran.

Aaron Blake at the Washington Post noted that Trump and Graham have long been together on foreign policy issues, but something changed when it comes to Iran.

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Accused child molester Roy Moore defends Brett Kavanaugh: ‘I too was the object of false allegations’

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Accused child molester Roy Moore on Wednesday came to the defense of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who has been accused of sexual assault.

Moore's remarks came after The New York Times published accounts from a new book, which found that two of Kavanaugh's accusers were credible.

In a statement to the press, Moore defended Kavanaugh on Wednesday.

"I too was the subject of false allegations, but unlike Justice Kavanaugh and others who have suffered the ire of the left, I filed suit against my accusers and their conspirators," Moore said. "For over two years, I have not seen nor been able to question any of those who went on national television tol tell their false stories just 32 days before the election in December 2017, and ironically I have been sued for defamation for merely denying their false and malicious accusations."

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