Newsworthy – Aug 30th, 2019

Global warming is increasing precipitation in eastern parts of North America and northern Eurasia, studies show online couples have longer and happier marriages, the Trump administration looks to remove regulations on methane gas emissions.

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

Science and Environment

  • SpaceX test-launched an early prototype of the company’s Mars rocket, clearing another key hurdle in billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s interplanetary ambitions.

    From Reuters
  • Highly flexible and used to build solar cells, graphene is often praised for its mechanical and electrical properties. A team of researchers has now discovered that graphene is also a powerful mosquito repellent, opening the door to anti-mosquito graphene-lined clothing.

    From ZME Science
  • Researchers reported that miniature, engineered reconstructions of the developing human brain were found to have patterns of neural activity resembling those recorded in very young brains, raising ethical concerns.

    From The Wall Street Journal
  • Rises in temperatures associated with human-caused emissions of greenhouse gas have noticeably increased wintertime precipitation over wide swathes of northern Eurasia and eastern North America since the 1920s.

    Globally, precipitation is projected to increase by an average of 1-2% for each additional degree Celsius of increase in temperatures, because a warmer atmosphere holds more water vapor.

    From ZME Science
  • What is happening in the Amazon?

    Wildfires are raging throughout the Amazon forest, making headlines worldwide and pushing the world’s largest forest closer and closer to an ecological “tipping point” at which the forest could irretrievably degrade into drylands.

    The fires are mostly caused by farmers clearing forest for cropland or burning stubble after the harvest season. Illegal land-grabbers are also responsible, destroying trees to raise the value of the property they seize. They are manmade and, in many cases, deliberate.

    Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro weakened the country’s environment agency, attacking conservation NGOs and promoting the opening of the Amazon to mining, farming, and logging. He also dismissed satellite data on deforestation and fired the head of the space agency.

    The Amazon rainforest is known as the “planet’s lungs,” because it provides a large part of the Earth’s atmospheric oxygen. The rainforest also removes vast amounts of carbon from the atmosphere and stores it, which can help slow down global warming.

    From ZME Science

Health and Society

  • Numerous studies have found that higher consumption of animal protein is associated with chronic diseases and mortality and higher consumption of plant protein reduces this risk.

    From ZME Science
  • A new study finds that pet owners are healthier than people without pets.

    Dog owners are more likely to exercise and they’re also more likely to have better heart health.

    From ZME Science
  • Researchers found that more than a third of U.S. marriages between 2005 and 2012 started online—and that online couples have longer, happier marriages. The study found that the “relationship quality” of partners who meet online may be higher—and the rate of separation or divorce lower—than for partners who meet offline.

    From The Wall Street Journal

Business and Economics

  • The decadelong economic expansion that has showered the U.S. with wealth has passed many by. Households in the bottom half, as measured by wealth, have only recently regained what they lost in the 2007-09 recession. Compared with 2003, they are down 32%, adjusted for inflation—while the top 1% are up more than 100%. If another recession arrives, it could be devastating for people who have only just recovered from the last one.

    From The Wall Street Journal
  • As automatic brakes become common, so do complaints. Automatic emergency-braking systems that are promoted as a safety feature in cars don’t always work as intended and at times activate when there is no risk of a crash, drivers say.

    180,000 vehicles in the U.S. that manufacturers have recalled since 2015 to fix their automatic braking systems, according to the Center for Auto Safety.

    From The Wall Street Journal
  • Facing blame for the surge in teen vaping, Juul is offering $100 million in incentives to retailers to install a new electronic age-verification system intended to curb illegal sales to minors.

    The Wall Street Journal
  • A Wall Street Journal investigation found 4,152 items for sale on Amazon that have been declared unsafe by federal agencies, are deceptively labeled or are banned by federal regulators.

    From The Wall Street Journal
  • Disney’s expansion continues into Target stores, as the two companies plan to open 25 Disney Stores at Target locations across the U.S. this fall, with more to come by the end of 2020. The new partnership will boost Disney’s store count by about 22%.

    From The Wall Street Journal

Government and Politics

  • The Trump administration is moving to erase Obama-era rules on methane emissions from the oil-and-gas business. The proposal is the administration’s latest attempt to further boost record oil-and-gas production by easing regulations.

    From The Wall Street Journal
  • The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court for authority to immediately begin denying asylum to Central Americans who arrive at the U.S. border without first seeking refugee status in Mexico or other countries they traveled through.

    From The Wall Street Journal
  • The Trump administration plans to divert $271 million of Department of Homeland Security funds, including some designated for hurricane-stricken areas, to border enforcement in the south.

    From The Wall Street Journal
  • President Trump is so eager to complete hundreds of miles of border fence ahead of the election that he has directed aides to disregard environmental rules.

    He has waved off worries about contracting procedures and the use of eminent domain, saying “take the land,” according to officials who attended the meetings.

    From Washington Post
  • The U.S. government plans to launch a program in roughly one month that narrowly focuses on protecting voter registration databases ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

    The Department of Homeland Security fears the databases could be targeted by ransomware, where hackers lock up a system and demand payment.

    From Reuters
  • Hong Kong police used water cannons for the first time Sunday as pro-democracy protests turned violent after nearly two weeks of relative calm. The 12th consecutive weekend of protests had some of the fiercest skirmishes yet between protesters and police, including one that prompted an officer to fire his gun into the air as a warning.

    From The Wall Street Journal

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