Tag Archives: the US

The Apocalypticon ~ Migration, the US, data, the Earth, 1000th condor


Migrant image turns heads — A picture of an armed Mexican National Guard soldier impeding a crying migrant mother and her child from getting to the United States is spreading on social media and making headlines in Mexico. Mexico has beefed up border security after pressure and financial threats from Trump.
As many as 150 refugees are believed dead after their wooden boat that had been bound for Europe capsized off Libya’s coast. According to the United Nations, it’s the worst loss of life this year in Mediterranean.
US Marines arrested for ‘human smuggling’ — The Navy has apprehended 18 Marines and one sailor over their alleged involvement in human smuggling, drug offences and other crimes, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service said. [NCIS!]

US economic growth fell to a 2.1% annual rate in the second quarter — down from 3.1% in the first three months of 2019, and despite Trump’s pledge of 3%.
US drug company execs arrested for flood of opioids — Federal officials have indicted two former executives at the pharmaceutical wholesaler Miami-Luken for allegedly distributing millions of opioid pills illegally in rural Appalachia. Two pharmacists have also been charged, according to a statement from the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio. [But hey, the profits!]
US beaches full of bacteria —A new report has found that more than half of the beaches in coastal states, the Great Lakes states and Puerto Rico saw at least one day in 2018 where their water wasn’t safe for swimming. Why? Bacteria levels are higher than the level the Environmental Protection Agency deems acceptable.
Louisiana cops fired for suggesting Representative Ocasio-Cortez should be assassinated — Two police officers in Gretna, Louisiana in the USA have been fired over a Facebook post that suggested Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez should be killed. One of the officers published the content and another police officer liked it. [Justice! But also very scary since what they were reacting to was fake information anyway.]
Wonderful man Bill Gates, who is really, really rich but who funds Third world toilets, has been profiting from prisons — According to Bloomberg, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Trust, which manages the charity’s endowment assets, just added about 200,000 shares to Serco Group Plc, which operates private prisons and detention centres across the UK, Australia, and New Zealand. This reportedly brought the shares to 3.74 million, which amounts to about $9 million.
Gates’ former company, Microsoft, will pay out $37 million in a settlement to resolve charges its staff bribed government officials in Hungary.

Big Data — YouTube is ‘getting serious’ about hate speech, but its service is still riddled with it: more than six weeks later, however, it remains disturbingly easy to find channels associated with hate groups on the platform.
US employers tracking their workers in detail — To be an employee of a large company in the US now often means becoming a workforce data generator – from the first email sent from bed in the morning to the Wi-Fi hotspot used during lunch to the new business contact added before going home. Employers are parsing those interactions to learn who is influential, which teams are most productive and who is a flight risk.
Hackers have managed to steal data from Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) — The attackers managed to steal about 7.5 terabytes of data from a major FSB contractor, thus exposing the secret projects the agency was working on to de-anonymise Tor browsing, scrape data from social media, and to cut off Russia’s internet from the rest of the world. [Coz Russia, you know, sucks.]
Apple contractors listen to Siri conversations — A small number of recordings are passed on to contractors working for Apple, tasked with determining if the Siri activation was accidental or on purpose, if it was a query within the range of Siri’s capabilities, and whether Siri acted properly.
Groundswell of resentment in Russia — As Russian President Vladimir Putin approaches his 20th year in power, anger over bread-and-butter issues is sparking protests across the country. Even in sleepy Pereslavl-Zalessky, population 40,000, locals no longer hide their frustration with the powers that be.

Earth — Who stops killer asteroids from striking Earth? No one, really, but a few scientists are ‘looking at it‘.
Australian minister wants sacred trees ripped out to save two minutes drive — Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley has consented to the destruction of trees sacred to the Djab Wurrung people, who are the traditional owners of the land.
Europe is burning — A heat wave, the second in roughly a month, is taking over the continent, and it’s already breaking records. Again. And these are some of the world’s oldest temperature records.
US communities aren’t ready for climate change — Mayors from small and midsize towns along the Mississippi River are calling for more federal support to upgrade infrastructure and help move residents out of harm’s way.

England gets its Trump : like Trump, Johnson is a larger-than-life populist who has made controlling immigration and restoring his nation’s standing in the world key issues in recent years. (Unlike Trump, he is given to speaking in Latin, making ancient historical allusions and has written a biography of Winston Churchill). [So wait, we’re supposed to be happy England has a Trump with a private school education and some Latin?]

Good news — There aint much. But in the 1980s, fewer than two dozen Californian condors were left in the world. Conservationists rounded up the remaining condors and began breeding them in captivity: the 1000th chick has just hatched. Yay.

The Apocalypticon ~ The US, China, the word, the Persistence of Chaos, volunteers


America the Great — No relief: Texas House Republican Republican Chip Roy has blocked a $19.1 billion disaster aid bill because it didn’t include provisions for boosting border security. [So if you suffered in a disaster, tough.]
Outbreak suspends processing —US Customs and Border Protection temporarily suspended intake at the McAllen Central Processing Center, the largest migrant processing center in South Texas, after the outbreak of what the agency calls “a flu-related illness…” This is where hundreds of people are kept together in fenced pens, frigid holding cells or sleep outside in the parking lot.
Trump authorises evidence hiding — Trump has authorised Attorney General William Barr to “declassify, downgrade, or direct the declassification or downgrading of information or intelligence” related to the origins of the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, according to an official order.
Democrats split on impeachment — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will convene a meeting Wednesday morning to hear from Democrats on whether to move forward with impeachment proceedings against President Trump.
Inside Google’s ‘civil war‘ — 20,000 Google employees in 50 cities around the world had joined their colleagues to protest the company’s handling of sexual harassment.
Amazon goes all Black Mirror on its worker drones — Amazon is currently experimenting with a pilot program that turns warehouse jobs into a sort of video game, a system the company claims is meant to break up the monotony of the day-to-day tasks required of its workers but has, conveniently, led to competition among employees to outperform their colleagues. [Mr Orwell, please come back.]
The man who oversaw the US nuclear industry now thinks it should be banned Gregory Jaczko served on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission from 2005 to 2009, and as its chairman from 2009 to 2012.
US birth rate hits 32-year low — Americans are continuing to have fewer and fewer children, according to a new government report released this week.
Baltimore hacked into services blackout — Anonymous hackers breached the city of Baltimore’s servers two weeks ago. Since then, those servers’ digital content has been locked away – and the online aspects of running the city are at an impasse.

The Persistence of Chaos — A computer infested with six of the word’s most infamous viruses is being sold as an art piece called ‘The Persistence of Chaos.’ The auction has already topped US$1 million.
Ukraine’s new president, former(?) comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy , has been sworn into office and immediately said one of his first actions will be to dissolve parliament.
“Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem,” quoted Zelenskiy in his inauguration speech.

Around the whirled — Is Earth heading for overpopulation? If so, what does that mean? Gizmodo investigates.
More pile-ons for Huawei — A Huawei executive was involved in a plot to steal trade secrets, claims California-based electronics startup CNEX Labs.
Ford slashes — Ford is eliminating about 7000 white-collar jobs – or about 10% of its salaried workforce – as part of a previously announced companywide global restructuring.
Trumps amps Middle Eastern military presence — President Trump has ordered some 1500 troops to the Gulf region to serve a “mostly protective” purpose for American forces and interests.
Indonesian presidential opponents spit the dummy — Confirmation of Indonesian President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo’s reelection win has set off violence in Jakarta, where at least six people died after protests morphed into riots in the capital. Widodo’s challenger, retired right-wing military general Prabowo Subianto, is refusing to concede the race. [Coz if you don’t get what you want, try and burn democracy down.]
Indonesia then became the latest nation to hit the hammer on social media after the government restricted the use of WhatsApp and Instagram following deadly riots.
China secretly boosts damaging emissions — Since 2013, annual emissions of a banned chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) have increased by around 7000 tonnes from eastern China, according to new research published in Nature.

Any good news? A solution to loneliness could be volunteering. New Zealand’s National Volunteer Week celebrates the collective contribution of the 1.2 million volunteers who enrich Aotearoa. This year it runs from June 16-22. Look for events near you (I know MOTAT has plans).

The Apocalypticon ~ Collapse of nature, the US, Trump and all that, food killing, suicides rising, sadder music, Tesla auto-death, ebola worsens, coal fail


How to prevent nature’s collapse — Scientists warned last week that a million species could go extinct, and it’s all our fault. ‘Our’ fault as in humanity’s. Gizmodo has some suggestions.
Carbon in the atmosphere hits record — Scientists recorded the first ever carbon dioxide reading above 415 parts per million (ppm) at the Mauna Loa Observatory. They’ve been measuring carbon dioxide levels continuously since 1958 at that location, but ice cores and other data show that it’s not just the highest carbon dioxide has been in 61 years of data. It’s the highest its ever been 800,000 years of data
Startling El Nino — Australian scientists have developed an innovative method using cores drilled from coral to produce a world first 400-year long seasonal record of El Niño events, a record that many in the field had described as impossible to extract. And clearly, Central Pacific El Niño activity increased in the late 20th Century.
Ice loss — a quarter of the ice sheets in West Antarctica, the most vulnerable part of the continent, have destabilised. Ice loss has sped up fivefold across the region’s most imperilled glaciers in just 25 years.
Remote islands strangled in plastic — a marine biologist from Australia traveled to a remote string of islands in the Indian Ocean to see how much plastic waste had washed up on the beaches, and found “373,000 toothbrushes and around 975,000 shoes, largely flip-flops,” says Jennifer Lavers of the University of Tasmania in Australia. And that’s not all: more than 414 million pieces of plastic debris are estimated to be currently sitting on the Cocos Keeling Islands, weighing a remarkable 238 tons.

US will not sign Christchurch call against online extremism — The US will not sign onto the Christchurch call to action against online extremism expected to be released Wednesday, citing concerns that the pact would violate free speech protections in the First Amendment, the Washington Post reports.
Is it because terrorists buy guns, and that’s profitable? A series of internal National Rifle Association documents leaked online have detailed lavish six-figure spending on clothing and travel expenses for CEO Wayne LaPierre. [Quick, right wing morons, donate more money!]
Mueller cover-up — If lawmakers eventually win, they — and potentially us — could learn more about what Mueller uncovered during his roughly 22-month investigation.
Trump welcomes hard-right Hungarian — President Trump has hosted Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban at the White House , a gesture the past two US presidents avoided granting to the hard-right European leader.
Navy SEAL gets hacked and tracked — Military prosecutors in the case of a US navy Seal charged with killing an Islamic State prisoner in Iraq in 2017 installed tracking software in emails sent to defence lawyers and a reporter in an apparent attempt to discover who was leaking information to the media, according to lawyers who said they received the corrupted messages.

Ultra-processed foods is killing people — Over the past 70 years, ultra-processed foods have come to dominate the US diet. They are made from cheap industrial ingredients and engineered to be super-tasty and generally high in fat, sugar and salt. The rise of ultra-processed foods has coincided with growing rates of obesity, leading many to suspect that they’ve played a big role in our growing waistlines. A new study suggests yes, it is.

Girl suicides rising — The number of people dying by suicide in the US has been rising, and a new study shows that the suicide rate among young teenage girls has been increasing faster than it has for boys of the same age.

Music getting sadder — Today’s music expresses an even deeper unhappiness than the songs of the past is the conclusion of two recent analyses examining thousands of US and UK hits from the last few decades.

Another Tesla autopilots into a death — In March, a Tesla Model 3 crashed into a semi-truck turning onto a Florida highway, killing the driver. After a preliminary investigation, the National Transportation Safety Board has concluded Autopilot, Tesla’s semi-autonomous driving technology, was engaged at the time of the fatal crash.

Second worst Ebola outbreak kills higher percentage — The current outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has infected 1720 and killed 1136, giving the viral disease a whopping 66% fatality rate. The situation is making public health experts on the ground increasingly nervous.

Fourth-largest coal producer in the US files for bankruptcy Wasn’t Trump going to save coal? [Take. Make. Use. Lose.]