Newsworthy – Nov 15th, 2019

The Marshall Islands is in danger from rising sea levels and radioactive waste, drug resistant germs are more of a public health issue than previously thought, Instagram to remove “likes” feature.

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

Science and Environment

  • Children absorb more information from family stories than most adults think. And that knowledge bestows surprising psychological benefits, research shows.

    – The Wall Street Journal

  • Almost all countries are failing their Paris Agreement contributions. Three years after being implemented, the Paris Agreement faces a lack of ambition.

    – ZME Science
  • In Venice, St. Mark’s Basilica flooded during the lagoon city’s highest tide in 53 years, with “priceless mosaics drowned in sewage,” according to Italian coverage.

    The basilica “flooded for the sixth time in 1,200 years — but the fourth in the last 20.”

    – Reuters
  • In the Marshall Islands, Runit Dome holds more than 3.1 million cubic feet of U.S.-produced radioactive soil and debris, including lethal amounts of plutonium.

    Between 1946 and 1958, the United States detonated 67 nuclear bombs on, in and above the Marshall Islands — vaporizing whole islands, carving craters into its shallow lagoons and exiling hundreds of people from their homes.

    Now the concrete coffin, which locals call “the Tomb,” is at risk of collapsing from rising seas and other effects of climate change.

    Officials in the Marshall Islands have lobbied the U.S. government for help, but American officials have declined, saying the dome is on Marshallese land and therefore the responsibility of the Marshallese government.

    – Los Angeles Times

Health and Society

  • Drug-resistant germs sicken about 3 million people every year in the United States and kill about 35,000, representing a much larger public health threat than previously understood.

    – Washington Post
  • The CDC started a vaping panic — now they think they found the culprit, and it’s not legal e-cigarettes.

    The culprit is a substance called Vitamin E acetate, and it can be traced back to counterfeit e-cigs.

    – ZME Science
  • Tampons will no longer be taxed as luxuries in Germany. As of 2020, the tax for tampons will drop for 19% to 7% — a big win for those who advocate the change as well as woman rights in general.

    Only 12 U.S. states have dropped tampon taxes.

    – ZME Science
  • Dungeons & Dragons, celebrating its 45th anniversary, “appears to have been resurrected as if by a 17th-level necromancer”.

    The reasons for its comeback: a new set of rules designed around storytelling, a focus on representing the diversity of its players in gameplay, and an increasing acceptance of geek culture as a part of the mainstream.

    – The New York Times

Business and Economics

  • Instagram will begin testing removal of public “like” counts for some U.S. accounts this week.

    Twitter is also deploying tests to motivate users to engage more positively and cut down on harassment and bullying.

    These efforts aren’t totally altruistic. The platforms’ high-engagement environment is burning out some users.

    – Axios
  • Google is moving into banking. Its project, code-named Cache, is expected to launch next year with checking accounts run by Citigroup and a credit union at Stanford University.

    Checking accounts contain a treasure trove of information, including how much money people make, where they shop and what bills they pay.

    – The Wall Street Journal
  • Google is working with St. Louis-based Ascension, one of the country’s largest health-care systems, on a project to collect and crunch the detailed personal-health information of millions of people across 21 states.

    The data involved includes lab results, doctor diagnoses and hospitalization records and amounts to a complete health history, including patient names and dates of birth. Neither patients nor doctors have been notified.

    Privacy experts said it appears to be permissible under federal law.

    – The Wall Street Journal
  • The steepest agricultural downturn in a generation has traditional farm banks lending less and on stricter terms—forcing cash-strapped farmers to turn to less-regulated lenders whose rates can be twice what banks charge.

    – The Wall Street Journal
  • American CEOs are increasingly stepping up to take positions on domestic issues like gun control, transgender rights and climate change. But when it comes to abuses outside U.S. borders, they tend to fall silent — or say things they regret.

    – Axios

Government and Politics

  • Jewish West Bank settlements are going mainstream in Israel. Built on territory captured from Jordan in the 1967 war, they are among the most emotional issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, seen by many advocates of a two-state solution as an obstacle to peace.

    The settlements are now home to 450,000 Israelis, up from 116,300 in 1993, and newcomers say they are motivated less by politics than by economics and lifestyle.

    – The Wall Street Journal
  • Immigrants have helped protect America through U.S. military service throughout most of the nation’s history. But it’s becoming harder for non-citizens to enlist — and to gain citizenship after their service.

    2.4 million of the nation’s veterans were born outside the U.S. or are children of immigrants, according to the Migration Policy Institute — 13% of the overall veteran population.

    – Axios

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