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posted by mrpg on Saturday November 25 2017, @12:23PM   Printer-friendly
from the what-could-go-wrong? dept.

A major oil-by-rail terminal proposed on the Columbia River in Washington state poses a potential risk of oil spills, train accidents and longer emergency response times due to road traffic, an environmental study has found.

Many of the risks could be decreased with certain mitigation measures, but the study released Tuesday outlined four areas where it said the impacts are significant and cannot be avoided.

The study said that while "the likelihood of occurrence of the potential for oil spills may be low, the consequences of the events could be severe."

[...] The study identified the four risks that could not be avoided as train accidents, the emergency response delays, negative impacts of the project on low-income communities and the possibility that an earthquake would damage the facility's dock and cause an oil spill.

Washington state panel outlines risk of oil-by-rail terminal

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Saturday November 25 2017, @09:42AM   Printer-friendly
from the there-may-be-trouble-ahead dept.

Germany could hold new elections if Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union fails to form a stable coalition government:

The breakdown of the coalition talks last weekend has done more than dent Ms. Merkel's seeming invulnerability and raise the prospect of new elections, analysts say. Although the Social Democrats agreed on Friday to meet with the chancellor's party next week — raising hopes for, if not a coalition, then a tolerated minority government — the current situation may well signal the breakdown of Germany's postwar tradition of consensus and the dawn of a messy and potentially unnerving politics.

"The distinctive political tradition of the Federal Republic of Germany is change through consensus," said Timothy Garton Ash, a professor of European studies at the University of Oxford. That was what was at stake, he said. "It hasn't worked so far this time."

The leader of the Social Democrats has said that the party's members would have to vote on joining a coalition led by Merkel.

Also at DW (alternate), BBC, The Hill, and NYT (11/20 editorial).

Related: Germany's jubilant far-right has Merkel in its sights

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posted by mrpg on Monday November 20 2017, @11:59PM   Printer-friendly
from the life-energy-and-momentum dept.


Nebraska regulators approved an alternative route Monday for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. It was the last major regulatory hurdle facing project operator TransCanada Corp., though opponents say another round of federal approval may now be needed.

The Nebraska Public Service Commission's ruling was on the Nebraska route TransCanada has proposed to complete the $8 billion, 1,179-mile (1,897-kilometer) pipeline to deliver oil from Alberta, Canada, to Texas Gulf Coast refineries. The proposed Keystone XL route would cross parts of Montana, South Dakota and most of Nebraska to Steele City, Nebraska.

The long-delayed project was rejected by President Barack Obama in 2015, citing concerns about carbon pollution. President Donald Trump revived it in March, approving a permit.

[...] The five-member Nebraska Public Service Commission was forbidden by law from factoring pipeline safety or the risk of spills into its decision because pipeline safety is a federal responsibility. So, it couldn't take into account a spill of 210,000 gallons (790,000 liters) of oil on the existing Keystone pipeline in South Dakota announced on Thursday.

Also at Alternative Keystone XL route gets approved in Nebraska

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posted by martyb on Sunday November 19 2017, @01:43PM   Printer-friendly
from the nothing-lasts-forever dept.

Zimbabwe awaits news on Mugabe's future

Zimbabweans are waiting to see what steps the military will take next after seizing control of the country. President Robert Mugabe is said to be under house arrest but the whereabouts of his wife Grace, who was bidding to succeed him as president, are unknown.

South African ministers have been in the capital Harare meeting the army and political parties. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional bloc will hold emergency talks on Thursday.

President Mugabe, 93, has been in control of Zimbabwe since it gained independence from Britain in 1980. But the power struggle over who might succeed him, between Mrs Mugabe and her rival former vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa, has split the ruling Zanu-PF party in recent months.

More about Zimbabwe and former President Robert Mugabe.

Here is your emoji: 🇿🇼. Use it well.

CNN: Zimbabwe: Talks underway to form transitional government, source says
NYT editorial: For Zimbabwe, a Coup Isn't the Answer

Extras from BBC: Zimbabwe: Did Robert Mugabe finally go too far? - BBC News
Zimbabwe latest: How can you tell if a coup is happening?

Update: 'Mugabe Must Go': Thousands in Zimbabwe Rally Against Leader
Zimbabwe: Zanu-PF leaders meeting to decide Mugabe future
Pressure weighs on Mugabe to quit after mass protests

Update 2: Zanu-PF has removed Mugabe as party leader, and he may be impeached if he does not resign the Presidency by Monday.

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posted by martyb on Saturday November 18 2017, @01:15AM   Printer-friendly
from the changing-tide dept.

Australians have voted 61.6% to approve of same-sex marriage, and the Turnbull-led government has said it would aim to pass legislation by Christmas:

Australians decisively support same-sex marriage

Australians have overwhelmingly voted in favour of legalising same-sex marriage in a historic poll. The non-binding postal vote showed 61.6% of people favour allowing same-sex couples to wed, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said. Jubilant supporters have been celebrating in public spaces, waving rainbow flags and singing and dancing.

A bill to change the law was introduced into the Senate late on Wednesday. It will now be debated for amendments. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said his government would aim to pass legislation in parliament by Christmas. "[Australians] have spoken in their millions and they have voted overwhelmingly yes for marriage equality," Mr Turnbull said after the result was announced. "They voted yes for fairness, yes for commitment, yes for love."

The issue only went to a voluntary postal vote after a long and bitter debate about amending Australia's Marriage Act. The result on Wednesday brings an end to what was at times a heated campaign. The vote itself had been criticised by same-sex marriage supporters, many of whom said it was unnecessary when parliament could debate the issue directly.

Related: (U.S.) Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Same-Sex Marriage
One in Three People Globally Think Gay Marriage Should Be Legal
Taiwanese Court Invalidates Ban on Same-Sex Marriage

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posted by cmn32480 on Tuesday November 14 2017, @01:28AM   Printer-friendly
from the dissidents-beware dept.

Amos Yee is set to give his first ever public talk at Harvard.

Yee is a teenager from Singapore who has recently been granted political asylum in the US. He was in trouble with the Singaporean regime for repeatedly criticizing the country's late founder, Lee Kuan Yew. His treatment has been marginally better in the US. Although he was granted asylum by the US back in March, he was held in US jail until late September where he ran in to difficulties for his ongoing criticism of Islam. Currently, he is banned from Facebook for alleged, unspecified "community standards" violations. His videos are available on YouTube.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Monday November 13 2017, @02:06PM   Printer-friendly
from the cleaning-up dept.

Claiming a shortage of workers for the hospitality industry, Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago club has requested and obtained permission to hire 70 foreign workers. The claim of a shortage of available workers is disputed:

'"We currently have 5,136 qualified candidates in Palm Beach County for various hospitality positions listed in the Employ Florida state jobs database," CareerSource spokesman Tom Veenstra said Friday.'

70 is a slight increase over last year, when 64 foreign workers were hired.

"Making America Great Again" by hiring foreigners? Perhaps what is required is higher pay, not foreigners.

Original Submission

posted by takyon on Monday November 13 2017, @02:24AM   Printer-friendly
from the flame-on dept.

According to The Missoulian (archive):

Several of Missoula's top federal fire scientists have been denied permission to attend the International Fire Congress later this month, leading conference organizers to suspect censorship of climate-related research.

"Anyone who has anything related to climate-change research — right away was rejected," said Timothy Ingalsbee of the Association for Fire Ecology, a nonprofit group putting on the gathering. Ingalsbee noted that was his personal opinion, and that the AFE [Association for Fire Ecology] is concerned that a federal travel restriction policy may be more to blame.

The Missoulian also said (archive):

The scientists no longer attending include Matt Jolly, who was to present new work on "Climate-induced variations in global severe weather fire conditions," Karin Riley on "Fuel treatment effects at the landscape level: burn probabilities, flame lengths and fire suppression costs," Mike Battaglia on "Adaptive silviculture for climate change: Preparing dry mixed conifer forests for a more frequent fire regime," and Dave Calkin, who was working on ways to manage the human response to wildfire.

takyon: Also at Scientific American (thanks to another Anonymous Coward).

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Monday November 06 2017, @04:01PM   Printer-friendly
from the cleaning-house dept.

Something is definitely going on in Saudi Arabia:

Saudi authorities arrested at least 11 princes, several current ministers and dozens of former ministers in a sweeping move reportedly designed to consolidate power for the son of King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud. According to media reports citing Saudi-owned television network Al Arabiya, an anti-corruption committee ordered the arrests hours after King Salman directed the creation of the committee, headed by his favorite son and adviser, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The committee was established by the royal decree, The Associated Press reports, "due to the propensity of some people for abuse, putting their personal interest above public interest, and stealing public funds." Billionaire investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal is among those detained, The Wall Street Journal reports. Alwaleed holds stakes in some of the world's major companies, including Apple and Twitter.

Remember Prince Alwaleed? Bitcoin could outlive him.

It's unclear what those arrested are accused of doing, but Al-Arabiya reported that new investigations into the 2009 Jeddah floods and 2012 MERS virus outbreak have been launched.

Separately, the heads of the Saudi National Guard and Saudi Royal Navy have also been replaced.

BBC notes that the reform faction is in control here:

BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner says Prince Mohammed is moving to consolidate his growing power while spearheading a reform programme. [...] Prince Mohammed recently said the return of "moderate Islam" was key to his plans to modernise Saudi Arabia. Addressing an economic conference in Riyadh, he vowed to "eradicate the remnants of extremism very soon". Last year, Prince Mohammed unveiled a wide-ranging plan to bring social and economic change to the oil-dependent kingdom.

Some Soylentils have been skeptical of Saudi Arabia's recent moves towards liberalization (some listed below). Has this apparent purge of internal political opposition changed your mind about the viability of these reforms?

Also at NYT and Recode, which notes that the arrest of Prince Alwaleed bin Talal is a potential setback for Saudi Arabia's tech ambitions (Alwaleed has had stakes in Apple, Twitter, and Lyft).

Previously: SoftBank May Sell 25% of ARM to Vision Fund; Chairman Meets With Saudi King
Saudi Arabia, UAE to Donate to Women Entrepreneurs Fund
Saudi Arabia to Lift Ban on Online VoIP and Video Calling Services
Saudi Arabia Will Lift Ban on Women Drivers Next Year
Saudi Arabia Planning $500 Billion Megacity and Business Zone
Robot Granted "Citizenship" in Saudi Arabia, Sparking Backlash
Saudi Arabia Announced Plans to Extract Uranium for Domestic Nuclear Power Program

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Sunday November 05 2017, @11:59PM   Printer-friendly
from the the-web-is-misinformation dept.

According to The Daily Beast, Jenna Abrams was not a real person at all, but was part of a Russian plot to turn Americans against themselves:

Her opinions about everything from manspreading on the subway to Rachel Dolezal to ballistic missiles still linger on news sites all over the web.

[...] Her account was the creation of employees at the Internet Research Agency, or the Russian government-funded "troll farm," in St. Petersburg.

[...] Abrams' pervasiveness in American news outlets shows just how much impact Russia's troll farm had on American discourse in the run-up to the 2016 election—and illustrates how Russian talking points can seep into American mainstream media without even a single dollar spent on advertising.

While the the [sic] typical image of a Russian troll may be a hastily put together Twitter account blaring out non-stop political messages, Abrams' account went to great lengths to simulate a real, American person who existed outside of Twitter fights and amplifying racist disinformation.

Her Twitter account was created back in 2014. She had a personal website, a Medium page, her own Gmail, and even a GoFundMe page.

takyon: More Russia stuff follows:

SAN FRANCISCO — As many as 126 million people — or one-third the U.S. population — may have seen material posted by a Russian troll farm under fake Facebook identities between 2015 and 2017, according to planned testimony by Facebook's general counsel obtained by USA TODAY.

Source: USA Today

The weekend after Trump's election, thousands of people attended a left-wing anti-Trump protest in New York City that was secretly organized by Russian operatives, ads released by the House Intelligence Committee revealed.

More than 16,000 people RSVP'd on Facebook for the protest, which was titled: "Trump is NOT my President. March against Trump."

Also at Politico.

Finally, Facebook will require political advertisers to disclose their identities.

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