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Showing posts from August 9, 2017

Today's Trumpery

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Wyoming Residents Reject First New Coal Mine in Decades

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[The state has been hemorrhaging coal jobs for years. See also: Renewable Sector Is Hiring 12 Times Faster Than Rest of US Economy. *RON*]

Joe McCarthy, Global Citizen, 3 August 2017
Wyoming produces 40% of the US’s coal, nearly quadruple the amount produced by West Virginia, the second highest producer.

So far this year, production in the state has increased by 15 million tons.

Yet Wyoming hasn’t opened a new coal mine in decades — long-standing mines are filling the demand.

And it looks like the state might not open a new mine anytime soon.

Ramaco Carbon, a Chinese-owned company, was cleared by state regulators to begin construction of a new mine near the town of Ranchester earlier this year.

Then local landowners stepped in and lobbied a regional council to block the permit, arguing that the proposed mine had deficiencies that would ultimately harm the local environment.

They said that the proposed mine could pollute water wells, it lacked blasting …

Present and Perspectives of the “Triangle” Between China, Latin America and the United States

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[If China becomes the new lead player in Latin America will this be good or bad for its relations with the US? *RON*]

Patricio Giusto, Council on Hemispheric Affairs, 4 August 2017

To download a PDF of this article, click here.

This article provides a general outlook on the current state and perspectives of the triangular relation between China, Latin America (LAC) and the United States (US), regarding a series of geopolitical and economic implications for LAC. In recent years, there has been a clear retreat of the U.S. from the LAC in terms of political and economic influence. This has triggered an academic debate about the possible consolidation of a new “triangle” in LAC, presumably dominated by China, the emerging superpower of the 21st century. The big question now is: Would this lead in short order to a new phase of mutually beneficial cooperation or, in contrast, to increasing tension between China and the U.S. in LAC?

China into the former …

Chinese chatbots apparently re-educated after political faux pas

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[The long arm of Chinese censorship extends to chatbots, as China struggles to keep up with the rest of the world in technology while firmly controlling its use. *RON*]

Pei Li and Adam Jourdan, Reuters, 3 August 2017


BEIJING/SHANGHAI (Reuters) - A pair of 'chatbots' in China have been taken offline after appearing to stray off-script. In response to users' questions, one said its dream was to travel to the United States, while the other said it wasn't a huge fan of the Chinese Communist Party.

The two chatbots, BabyQ and XiaoBing, are designed to use machine learning artificial intelligence (AI) to carry out conversations with humans online. Both had been installed onto Tencent Holdings Ltd's popular messaging service QQ.

The indiscretions are similar to ones suffered by Facebook Inc and Twitter Inc, where chatbots used expletives and even created their own language. But they also highlight the pitfalls for nascent AI in China, w…

Segregated Valley: the ugly truth about Google and diversity in tech

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[Silicon Valley says it is committed to racial diversity in its workforce. But the numbers tell a different story. See also: Google staffer's hostility to affirmative action sparks furious backlash; and Google Fires Author of Divisive Memo on Gender Differences. *RON*]

Julia Carrie Wong, The Guardian, 8 August 2017
Google has spent much of the past 72 hours insisting its commitment to diversity is “unequivocal” after the internal publication and subsequent leak of an anti-diversity polemic by a Google engineer. The unidentified software engineer argued, among other things, that biological differences between men and women account for the extreme gender imbalance at Google and other technology companies.
“We are unequivocal in our belief that diversity and inclusion are critical to our success as a company,” said Danielle Brown, Google’s vice-president of diversity, integrity and governance.

“Building an open, inclusive environment is core to wh…

No more tuition fees for adult basic education or English language learning in B.C.

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[Premier says 'thousands' kept out of English language studies and adult basic education due to costs. One of the best things that can be done to reduce inequality is to increase the education level of the public. *RON*]

CBC News, 8 August 2017
The new NDP government in B.C. is eliminating tuition fees on adult basic education or English language learning programs, reversing a 2015 decision by the B.C. Liberals, Premier John Horgan announced Tuesday.

Horgan said the announcement means the NDP has delivered on a promise made during the election campaign.

"We've seen literally thousands of people not participate or not move forward with English language learning and adult basic education as a result of the barriers that costs impose on people," Horgan said at a media event.

"We wanted to get this out as quickly as possible so that the September school year can see an increase in enrolment."

In 2015, institutions were all…