Showing posts from October 2, 2016

Hawaiian bees are first on US endangered species list

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[See also: Neonicotinoids: Unpublished Industry Studies Detail Harm to Bee Health, and Bayer and Monsanto: A Merger of Two Evils, and Farmers and anti-GMO groups call for Competition Bureau review of Monsanto takeover. *RON*]

BBC World News, 1 October 2016
Seven species of yellow-faced bee native to Hawaii have become the first bees to be added to the US federal list of endangered and threatened species.

Conservationists say the bees face extinction through habitat loss, wildfires and the introduction of non-native insects and plants.

The bees are crucial to pollinating some of Hawaii's endangered plants.

The listing follows years of study by researchers including the Xerces Society conservation group.

Exxon's Big Bet on Oil Sands a Heavy Weight To Carry

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[I had no idea that Exxon is tied in such a do-or-die way to the tar sands. Tar sands account for 35% of the oil giant's liquid holdings, up from 17% a decade ago, and may come under scrutiny in the SEC's probe of its reserve accounting. *RON*]

By Nicholas Kusnetz, Inside Climate News, 30 September 2016
State and federal investigators are zeroing in on ExxonMobil's accounting practices as part of two independent probes, asking whether the energy giant might have misled investors about the value of its assets.

Increasingly, those assets are made up of Canadian tar sands oil, among the world's most expensive and dirtiest forms of crude oil.

An Inside Climate News analysis of the company's financial disclosures shows that Exxon's oil sands reserves grew dramatically over the past decade. Doing so has deepened the company's dependence on an oil source that some economists say should be one of the first to be abandoned if gov…

Robots, Automation, and a Universal Basic Income

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["In more and more sectors, companies are pining to make human labor obsolete. What can be done?" A good counter-point to Robert Reich Has a Startling Formula for Helping to Fix Poverty. *RON*]

Justin Miller, American Prospect, 27 September 2016

A Kiva robot drive unit is seen, foreground, before it moves under a stack of merchandise pods, on a tour of one of Amazon's newest distribution centers in California in 2014.

The specter of robots replacing workers is not a new one. Much has been written about how technological advances will make human labor, which requires cumbersome things like wages and health care, obsolete. But now we’re beginning to see just how robots and automation are laying the groundwork for future domination in some sectors.
Now, robots are becoming more sophisticated, more autonomous, and more readily able to complete more complicated tasks once reserved for humans.

Warehouses are ground zero. For years, ret…

A Federal Court Orders Wisconsin to Stop Suppressing the Vote

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[The state must investigate the DMV’s failure to issue voter IDs in time for the November election. "Republicans like Scott Walker seem to believe that suppressing the vote is the only way they can win." See also: Wisconsin Is Systematically Failing to Provide the Photo IDs Required to Vote in November. *RON*]

By Ari BermanTwitter, The Nation, 30 September 2016

On Wednesday, The Nation published an exclusive story showing how the DMV in Wisconsin was systematically failing to provide the voter IDs required to cast a ballot this election. We told the story of two African-American voters, Zack Moore and Claudell Boyd, who brought multiple documents with them to the DMV confirming their identities but were still turned away without the necessary voter ID. Recordings from the DMV provided to The Nation detailed how Moore and Boyd were not offered certificates for voting within six business days, as required by Wisconsin law.

Today federal di…

Germany said it took in more than 1 million refugees last year. But it didn’t.

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[The most interesting thing is the table showing the number of refugees for each country - that, and the racist reader comments.*RON*]

By Rick Noack, Washington Post, 30 September 2016
LONDON — 1.1 million. The number has been featured in countless headlines and discussed in German parliamentary sessions as the number of refugees and migrants the country said it had accepted last year.

In reality, Germany never accepted that many.

On Friday, the German Interior Ministry corrected one of 2015's most widely discussed numbers by 200,000. The current official tally is about 890,000 entered the nation as part of last year's massive exodus into Europe from war-ravaged places such as Iraq and Syria.

According to officials, previous estimates were based on preliminary registration numbers, which included double registrations. Moreover, some of those registered in Germany later moved to other countries such as Denmark or Sweden.

Strange Deaths of JPMorgan Workers Continue

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[This is decidedly odd; I hadn't heard about this. *RON*]

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens, Wall Street On Paradde, 29 September 2016
Last Thursday, September 22, 2016, the body of Ann Korkki, a Senior Administrative Assistant in the Wealth Management division of JPMorgan Chase in Denver, Colorado was found with the body of her sister, Robin Korkki, inside their luxury vacation villa at the Maia Resort on Seychelles, an island in the Indian Ocean off the East African coast. Ann Korkki was 37; her sister Robin was 42.

According to the local Seychelles newspaper, there was no sign of violence on the bodies of the women who were on a one week vacation at the resort. The mother and brother of the sisters are currently in Seychelles “pressing U.S. and local officials for details” and making arrangements to bring the sisters back to the U.S. according to a news report in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, which covered the story because the sisters had at…