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Stories You Might Have Missed This Week

Scientists revise results on a major climate study, Trump supports criminal justice reform, and palm oil production threatens orangutan habitat.
An Orangutan is seen at Ragunan Zoo's 'Schmutzer Primate Center' on February 15th, 2007, in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Greenpeace has targeted the snack company that makes Oreos for its involvement in business dealings with slash-and-burn farmers, which harm orangutans.

This week at Pacific Standard, we brought you an interview with the sexual abuse survivor suing California's Catholic bishops, an investigation into industry influence on the Department of the Interior, a dispatch from a rally against Amazon HQ2, and more.

But the news just keeps rolling—can you believe the mid-terms were just last week?—and our small newsroom can't cover everything. Here are a few more stories we're keeping an eye on.

Scientists Walked Back the Results of a Climate Change Study

Last month, researchers from Princeton University and the University of California–San Diego's Scripps Institution of Oceanography published a study in the journal Nature, which included alarming findings on rising ocean temperatures. But this week, mathematician and independent researcher Nic Lewis called them out for botching a key calculation, writing that "a quick review of the first page of the paper was sufficient to raise doubts as to the accuracy of its results."

Forced to re-evaluate, the study's authors quickly redid their calculations. And they concluded that the increase in ocean temperature—which they'd found was 60 percent greater than estimates put forth by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change—could not be estimated as precisely as they'd thought. "We really muffed the error margins," co-author Ralph Keeling said, according to the Los Angeles Times.  

Trump Endorsed a Bipartisan Criminal Justice Measure

President Donald Trump on Wednesday gave his official support to the First Step Act, telling lawmakers he'd be "waiting with a pen." The Senate package, which is meant to decrease crime and recidivism rates, would lower mandatory minimum sentences for drug charges and work to reduce the disparity in treatment of crack and cocaine offenses, among other provisions.

"By preparing inmates bound for release to become productive citizens, we can reduce crime and the social and economic cost of incarceration," the bill's lead co-sponsors, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Senator Richard Durbin (D-Illinois), said in a statement. "And by ensuring that punishments fit the crimes, we can better balance the scales of justice."

Oreos Are Caught Up in a Deforestation Scandal

In Greenpeace's efforts to stop rainforest destruction, the environmental group has targeted the snack company that makes Oreos, Bloomberg reports. At issue is the environmental impact of palm oil, a key ingredient in the cookies. Damaging slash-and-burn farming techniques have allegedly been used to clear rainforest lands for oil palm plantations. According to Greenpeace, those lands include a huge swath of orangutan habitat. Mondelez International, which makes Oreos, told Bloomberg it has cut out several companies "as a result of breaches" and is working toward greater traceability.