Newsworthy – Aug 23rd, 2019

Vast fires are destroying the Amazon rainforest, this week marks the 400th anniversary of the beginning of slavery in what would become the United States, many economists see a recession in the next 2 years.

These, and more, are the newsworthy stories from this past week.

Science and Environment

  • In what is being described as a sign of global warming, an exotic plant in the United Kingdom has produced male and female cones outdoors. This is believed to be the first time this phenomenon took place in 60 million years.

    Cycads used to live in what is now Britain millions of years ago in an era when the Earth’s climate had naturally high levels of carbon dioxide. Fossils of the plants were found in the Jurassic strata of rock stretching from the Isle of Wight to the Dorset coast.

    From ZME Science
  • Vast fires, many of them set by loggers, are ravaging the Amazon at a rate not seen in years, sending plumes of smoke that darken skies over Brazilian cities.

    Deforestation in Brazil has soared since Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro took office in January.

    From The Wall Street Journal

Health and Society

  • The exposure to environmental pollution could be linked to an increase in the prevalence of psychiatric disorders, such as bipolar disorder and major depression, according to a new study by a group of international researchers.

    From ZME Science
  • MDMA has been branded as a “breakthrough treatment” for PTSD, and has been shown to make people more social. In a new study, consumption of MDMA (commonly known as “ecstasy”) has been shown to be safe in controlled conditions — and it has also shown potential in treating alcoholism.

    From ZME Science
  • Events in Virginia this week are marking the 400th anniversary of the first arrival of captured Africans to the area, which many historians consider the founding of black slavery in the British colonies that later became the United States.

    Historians and those campaigning for African-American rights have long considered 1619 the start of what many call America’s “original sin.” The commemorations come as many people re-examine the role of slavery’s legacy in America’s troubled race relations, from the colonial era to the present day.

    From The Wall Street Journal

Business and Economics

  • Researchers in Austria envision a future where gigantic airships, more than 5x as long as the Empire State Building is tall, will soar high in the atmosphere carrying more than 20,000 tons of cargo.

    Today, maritime shipping accounts for 90% of traded goods — and all those cargo ships are emitting a boatload of carbon emissions. Airships, on the other hand, would emit only a tiny fraction of that since they’d be essentially powered by jet streams.

    From ZME Science
  • European Commission officials are pushing to set up a European Future Fund that would invest more than $100 billion in high-potential European companies.

    The goal is to get Europe competing head-on with the American and Chinese tech giants it has lagged behind for decades.

  • Apple has committed more than $6 billion for original shows and movies ahead of the launch of its streaming service.

    From Financial Times
  • Americans are spending ever more for blazing internet speeds, on the promise that faster is better. Is that really the case? A WSJ study found that quality didn’t improve much with higher speeds. Picture clarity was about the same. Videos didn’t launch quicker.

    For a typical household, the benefits of paying for more than 100 megabits a second are marginal at best.

    From The Wall Street Journal
  • Population growth has stalled in many major economies. By 2050, a quarter of the world will be 60 or older.

    One of the big economic impacts not talked about: older people buy less than younger people.

    From Axios
  • Three-quarters of 226 economists surveyed by the National Association for Business Economics, in a twice-yearly report out today, see a recession in the next two years.

    But they’re evenly split on whether it’ll be before or after the election.

    The economists, who mostly work for corporations and trade associations, think President Trump’s tariffs and higher budget deficits could eventually dampen the economy.

    From AP

Politics and Government

  • The Trump administration has been secretly talking with top aides of Nicolás Maduro in an effort to push Venezuela’s authoritarian president from power and clear the way for free elections in the economically devastated country.

    From The Wall Street Journal
  • The Trump administration moved to allow the government to indefinitely detain families crossing the U.S.-Mexico border and supersede a decades-old federal court settlement that limits how long migrant children can be held in custody and sets standards for their care.

    The policy change could permit authorities to detain families through the duration of their immigration proceedings, rather than release them or separate children from their detained parents.

    From The Wall Street Journal
  • Hundreds of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators braved torrential rain to hold the largest rally in Hong Kong in weeks.

    Sunday’s peaceful protest was a show of mass support that reset the movement that opposes Beijing’s tightening grip on the city—and added pressure on officials to resolve Hong Kong’s worst political crisis in decades. The demonstration was in contrast to past weeks’ clashes between protesters and police.

    From The Wall Street Journal
  • Twitter and Facebook took down accounts they say are suspected of having links to the Chinese government and were trying to undermine antigovernment protests in Hong Kong. A large peaceful march in the city over the weekend has raised pressure on government officials to find a political solution.

    From The Wall Street Journal

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