In Portugal, 268 wildfires broke out on Saturday alone.

Abstracts: Resignations, Fires, and More

• Kenneth Frazier, CEO of Merck Pharma, publicly resigned from a White House manufacturing council yesterday, saying he felt “a responsibility to take a stand against violence and extremism” in light of racially charged, violent events that took place this weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia. Frazier was the only black member of the council. (STAT)

In Portugal, 268 wildfires broke out on Saturday alone. Visual: Ricardo Faria/Flickr

• Portugal has requested assistance from Europe to fight deadly fires that have hit the country this summer, including one in June that left 64 people dead. The country is preparing for the worst as temperatures are expected to rise and wind speeds increase in the coming days. (Reuters)

• Last week, President Trump declared the opioid epidemic a national emergency. If this declaration is formally issued, the federal government could then use FEMA funds to address the problem, redeploy public health workers, and make medication-assisted treatment more accessible, among other potential impacts. (NPR)

• An August 4 article about a study analyzing the bacteria present on kitchen sponges incited strong reactions from readers, many of whom were worried about the risks associated with reusing sponges. Here, the author explains the main takeaways of the study: separate sponges by use, dispose of sponges once they begin to smell, and disinfect sponges in the dishwasher or microwave. (New York Times)

• Australia plans to discontinue its only long-running ecological monitoring program in the Simpson Desert, to the alarm of some Australian ecologists. The Long Term Ecological Research Network (LTERN) covers over 1,100 field plots in a diversity of ecosystems, and supporters say that the program is crucial for understanding how climate change will effect the country’s environmental resources. (Science)

• Chimpanzees can play rock, paper, scissors as well as four-year-old humans, a new study reveals. While the apes require more time to learn the game and seem to employ different learning tactics, they ultimately can grasp the rules of the game. (Independent)

• Some turtle-headed sea snakes living near Pacific Ocean cities have lost their signature stripes over the last few decades. Scientists now believe that the color of the sea snakes may have adapted in order to keep them free of industrial pollutants. (National Geographic)

• And finally, scientists are looking into whether the exoplanet Proxima b, which orbits the sun’s nearest neighboring star, might have an atmosphere that could support life. (Scientific American)