Smartphones Are Wising Up
January 9, 2020
“Storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it.”
“Before mass leaders seize the power to fit reality to their lies, their propaganda is marked by its extreme contempt for facts as such, for in their opinion fact depends entirely on the power of man who can fabricate it.”
– Hannah Arendt
Love Almonds? This One Is Going To Sting
The average American eats two pounds of almonds every year, more than in any other country. California produces 80 percent of the world’s almonds — almost 2.5 billion pounds in 2018. US almond milk sales have grown 250 percent over the past five years. 20 years ago almond orchards in California occupied 500,000 acres. By 2017 it was 1.24 million acres. Almond production is a multi-billion dollar industry. And it cannot exist without bees.
During the 19th and early 20th centuries, beekeepers earned a modest living selling beeswax and honey. By the end of the century almond growers had become the primary revenue stream for beekeepers, who would transport their hives to the groves to pollinate the almond blossoms.
Sadly the phenomenal growth of the almond industry has come at a huge cost for the pollinators. Commercial beekeepers who send their hives to almond farms are seeing their bees die in record numbers; they can routinely lose 30 percent or more every year. A recent survey showed that 50 billion bees, more than one-third of commercial US bee colonies — were wiped out in a few months during the winter of 2018-19.
Besides the continued use of lethal pesticides, there is America’s reliance on industrial agricultural methods. The almond industry in particular demands a large-scale mechanization of one of nature’s most delicate natural processes. Honey bees thrive in a biodiverse landscape, yet industrial almond farms strip the orchard ground bare to more efficiently treat for insects and fungi. “The bees in the almond groves are being exploited and disrespected,” says an organic beekeeper and professor of environmental studies in Arizona. “They are in severe decline because our human relationship to them has become so destructive.”
Quitting WWIII Cold (War) Turkey
- The Iranian strike on two military bases in Iraq early Wednesday apparently claimed no American lives. It seemed Iran’s leaders had found a way to retaliate, for America’s foolhardy assassination of its top military general, that would satisfy angry Iranians without further pressuring President Trump to punch-back-or-lose-face.
- After the attacks Iran’s foreign minister announced his nation had “concluded proportionate measures.” Even so, American troops in the region continued to fortify their positions in case of another attack.
- Later in a speech from the White House, Trump vowed to impose additional sanctions on Iran, but didn’t order additional use of force. He said the US “is ready to embrace peace with all who seek it.” (NYT)
Erik McGregor via Getty Images
If You Got Nothing Nice To Say, Take Our Money Please
- The US oil industry has spent billions to control the climate crisis conversation and rebrand itself as part of the solution rather than the problem. Lately a wide-ranging ad campaign called We’re On It, sponsored by the American Petroleum Institute, aims to counter top Democrats’ proposals to rapidly cut pollution from power plants and cars that run on petroleum and natural gas.
- One ad that’s popping up everywhere shows a friendly-looking older woman in a hard hat, beaming at the camera and holding a sign that reads: “Thanks to natural gas, the US is leading the way in reducing emissions.” Industry spokespeople are touting natural gas as helping to slow climate disruption by providing an alternative to coal, although it’s also a fossil fuel that emits heat-trapping carbon dioxide.
- The industry’s tactics recall the tobacco industry’s decades-long denials that their product was harmful to smokers’ health. Investigative reporting proves that Exxon has known since at least the 1960s that its products were causing global warming. Critics of the oil industry want the Democrat-led House to be more aggressive in seeking to counter the industry’s narrative. (Guardian)
The Japanese Fugitive
- Ex-Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn led an auto empire that spanned continents; he was arrested in Japan in late 2018, charged with financial wrongdoing and put on house arrest. He managed a bold escape and arrived in Lebanon a week ago.
- On Wednesday Ghosn made his first public comments at a news conference in Beirut. For more than two hours he passionately defended his decision to escape, portraying himself as the victim of a rigged justice system and a corporate coup by disloyal underlings.
- He outlined the minutiae of the case against him, discussed specific emails and statements to prosecutors, and presented documents he said supported his argument. In an interview with the New York Times Goshn admitted he had regrets, the biggest of which was that he wished he’d retired before everything unraveled. (NYT)
- Japan justice minister calls Ghosn’s accusations ‘absolutely intolerable’ (Reuters)
Additional World News
- Prince Harry and Meghan: Royal Family ‘hurt’ as couple begin ‘next chapter’ (BBC)
- The young Koreans pushing back on a culture of endurance (BBC)
- At ‘Sacred’ Lake, Chinese Declare Love for Xi and Communist Party (NYT, $)
- India Sets Executions For The 4 Men Convicted In New Delhi Bus Rape And Murder (NPR)
- 1MDB scandal: Malaysia’s former PM ‘asked UAE to fake evidence’ (Guardian)
- Indian towns and cities grind to halt as workers stage 24-hour strike (Guardian)
- U.S. imposes sanctions on South Sudanese vice president (Reuters)
- Much Of The World Doesn’t Trust President Trump, Pew Survey Finds (NPR)
- 2020 is here, it’s time to stop just learning about the world and start traveling it!
- Use this card, offering a 60,000-point bonus worth at least $700 towards travel to jump-start your next vacation
- Earn extra points on all travel, transit, and dining purchases worldwide, so you never have to “staycation” again.
- With this card you’ll have industry-leading travel and trip insurance automatically applied! So you can say goodbye to airport anxiety, and welcome in the New Year with stress free travel from booking to beach.
We Can All Breathe A Little Easier
- An analysis by the American Cancer Society shows that between 2016 and 2017 US cancer death rates had their sharpest drop on record. The cancer mortality rate dropped 2.2 percent, and seems to have been driven by accelerating declines in lung cancer mortality. A decline in smoking rates and new cancer treatments are playing a role.
- However, advanced lung cancer remains deadly. People who are diagnosed with lung cancer that has spread elsewhere in the body have only a 5 percent chance of surviving for five years. And many smokers and former smokers are not following the advice to get screened with a low-dose CT scan to catch cancer early.
- In 2015 only 4.4 percent of people eligible for this screening test (which is available under the Affordable Care Act at no cost) actually got screened. (NPR)
- Air filters create huge educational gains (Vox)
- Death by alcohol: More people are dying from drinking too much (NBC)
- The Flu Season May Yet Turn Ugly, C.D.C. Warns (NYT, $)
Additional USA News
- For Suicide Prevention, Try Raising The Minimum Wage, Research Suggests : Shots – Health News (NPR)
- Louisiana greenlights huge pollution-causing plastics facility in ‘Cancer Alley’ (Guardian)
- “Probably the worst briefing I’ve seen”: Inside the disastrous congressional Iran meeting (Vox)
- No draft, and definitely no draft by text message: U.S. Army warns of hoax (Reuters)
- Colorado just used its gun seizure law for the first time — one day after it took effect (WaPo, $)
- McConnell Says He Will Proceed on Impeachment Trial Without Witness Deal (NYT, $)
Smartphones Are Wising Up
- Reports and studies from 2019 have found that Americans spend a surprising amount of time staring at phone screens. The average American looks at their phone screen over eighty times a day – roughly once every twelve minutes – to check emails, look at social media, and to text the juiciest news stories to friends and family.
- 2020 could be a turning point in what many consider a cell-phone frenzy. Tech companies such as Google and Apple have been working on apps and programs for their newest devices which will help users disconnect from their “screen-addictions.” Companies that have profited off the success of the small, handheld supercomputers are now fighting against the epidemic they helped create. They are now challenging users to really monitor themselves rather than keep track of every new bit of news on their handheld screens.
- At CES, Apple, Facebook and Amazon are preaching privacy. Don’t believe the hype. (WaPo, $)
- Apple customers spent $1.4 billion on the App Store in a single week (CNN)
- Hollywood Bets On a Future of Quick Clips and Tiny Screens (Wired, $)
- Healthy habits ‘deliver extra disease-free decade’: Women can gain 10 and men seven years of life free of cancer, heart problems and type-2 diabetes from a healthy lifestyle, a study in the BMJ suggests. (BBC)
- Have couples who live apart discovered the secret to a happy relationship? (Guardian)
- Marine Labs on the Water’s Edge Are Threatened by Climate Change (NYT, $) & 2019 Was Second Hottest Year on Record (NYT, $)
- There are 2,373 squirrels in Central Park. I know because I helped count them. (NYT, $)
- The medications that change who we are (BBC)
- The College Wealth Premium Has Collapsed (Atlantic, $)
- Hollywood Fears 2020 Slump, With No ‘Endgame’ or ‘Frozen’ Coming (Bloomberg, $)
- How the Jesuits cultivated the idea of European empire (Aeon)
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