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Bleeding Edge Roundup

DISRUPTIVE TECHNOLOGY

Autonomous Trucks Complete Journey Across Europe
Futurism

The Netherlands started the experiment to find ways to save fuel and lower carbon emissions. Two trucks traveling 160,000 kilometers (100,000 miles) could save €6,000 (approximately $6800 USD).

Watch the video here.

The Sharing Economy Comes to Scientific Research
By Deborah Berry
The New Republic

To perform top-quality and cost-effective research, scientists need these technologies and the technical knowledge of experts to run them. When money is tight, where can scientists turn for the tools they need to complete their projects? An early solution to this problem was to create what the academic world calls “resource labs” that specialize in one or more specific types of science experiments. Researchers can then order and pay for that type of experiment from the resource lab instead of doing it on their own. By focusing on one area of science, resource labs become the experts in that area and do the experiments better, faster and cheaper than most scientists could do in their own labs.

Read the full article here.

Automation Brings Manufacturing Back Home
By Michael Belfiore

Automation World

Despite the inevitable impact of automation on the workforce, Jim Lawton of Rethinking Robotics is confident that, in the coming era of advanced manufacturing, workers and robots will peacefully coexist. “Every factory worker, the first thing they’re going to get is a robot; and the robot is going to be an extension of them,” he says. “It’s going to be a tool they can use to help them do their job better, and they will control the robot and what it does.” That control, he says, is key to fostering the acceptance of robots by workers in the shared workspace.

Read the full article here.

SUSTAINABILITY & ENVIRONMENT

Wind-powered vertical Skyfarms are the future of agriculture
By Lucy Wang
inhabitat

Raising food in the city is going help battle the global food crisis.  This alternative farming method will grow food vertically instead of horizontally.  The tall bamboo framed structure will fit right in with the rest of the city skyscrapers.

Read the full article here

The US Hits a Never-Before-Seen Milestone for Warmth
By John Metcalfe

CityLab

Some people living in the Northeast might not believe this, but, this past March was the warmest on record in the U.S. in over 100 years.  

Read the full article here.

LABOR, TRADE, & ECONOMY

Investing in Co-ops Builds “Stairway Out of Poverty”
By Oscar Perry Abello
NextCity

What could you do with $1.7 billion in a city of around 200,000, where 33 percent of households live below the federal poverty line? The city of Rochester, with Mayor Lovely Warren at the helm and supported by partners and allies across New York State and beyond, has hatched a plan to tap into at least that much to help level the economic playing field for Rochester’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods. “It’s about being able to give employees an opportunity to have ownership and to build wealth within their own communities,” says Warren.

Read the full article here.

French protest labor law reforms amid clashes
By Raphel Satter

The China Post

French police clashed with protesters who were rejecting labor law changes in several cities Saturday. The police were sending clouds of tear gas across the Place de la Nation in Paris and torrents of water against demonstrators in Nantes. Several rallies were marred by violence amid nationwide protests against the labor reforms being championed by the country's Socialist government.

Read the full article here.

Korean Election Brings Park's Labor-Law Overhaul to a Crossroad
By Cynthia Kim

Bloomberg

The fate of President Park Geun Hye’s effort to spur economic revival through an overhaul of labor laws hangs in the balance this week as South Koreans go to the polls for a parliamentary election. Her package of four bills to cut back restrictions on hiring contract workers has been the subject of heated debate in the National Assembly since it was submitted last year. Getting the legislation passed is central to her goals of raising the employment rate and boosting economic growth to 4 percent.

Read the full article here.

GLOBAL CONFLICT & DEVELOPMENT

Islamophobia threatens democracy in Europe
By Ishaan Tharoor

The Washington Post

In a report on the health of democracy in the post-Soviet world, Freedom House painted a bleak picture of the state of liberal values in parts of Europe. The Washington-based human rights advocacy organization, which publishes a global freedom index every year, highlighted a number of worrying trends in 29 countries in Eastern and Central Europe, the Balkans and Central Asia. Chief among them was the strengthening of authoritarian politics in a number of countries, as well as the rise of "illiberal nationalism" in others. The European struggle to come to grips with the migrant crisis on its borders, as well as ongoing economic turmoil, are the leading causes of this democratic malaise, accordingto Freedom House.

Read the full article here.

Dictators don’t stabilize the Middle East
By Lauren Kosa

The Washington Post

Lately, I’ve noticed an increased number of American politicians suggesting that the Arab Spring was a disaster and that the region needs strongmen to stabilize it. Ted Cruz famously insisted that the Middle East was safer when Saddam Hussein and Moammar Gaddafi were in power. Rand Paul said the current chaos stems from the toppling of dictators. Even Bernie Sanders argued on “Meet the Press” that while our ultimate goal is democracy, the region would be more stable under dictators. But when I worked on Middle East policy at the State Department, I saw just how destabilizing dictators in the region are.

Read the full article here.

New poll finds young Arabs are less swayed by the Islamic State
By Joby Warrick

The Washington Post

Two years after proclaiming a new “caliphate” for Muslims in the Middle East, the Islamic State is seeing a steep slide in support among the young Arab men and women it most wants to attract, a new poll shows. Overwhelming majorities of Arab teens and young adults now strongly oppose the terrorist group, the survey suggests, with nearly 80 percent ruling out any possibility of supporting the Islamic State, even if it were to renounce its brutal tactics.

Read the full article here.

AMERICAN COMMUNITIES

Obama to forgive student debt of permanently disabled people
By Danielle Douglas-Gabriel
The Washington Post

By law, anyone with a severe disability is eligible to have the government discharge their federal student loans. The administration took steps four years ago to make the process easier by letting people who are totally and permanently disabled use their Social Security designation to apply for a discharge, but few took advantage. The Department of Education is now taking it upon itself to identify eligible borrowers and guide them through the steps to discharge their loans.

Read the full article here.

When Real Estate Corruption Leads to Unjust Cities
By Sandy Smith
NextCity

The Panama Papers have shocked the world and brought down at least one world leader with their revelations of how plutocrats, politicians and plunderers use secret offshore bank accounts to hide assets from the tax collector or law enforcement. Land in cities is an increasingly desirable and valuable commodity, and especially where it is scarce, it opens up new avenues for corruption and distortion of markets. And corruption and money laundering in the world of real estate also hurts ordinary people as well as the public purse. A recent paper from a researcher at a global anti-corruption organization inspires the question: “Who needs offshore bank accounts when there’s urban real estate available?”

Read the full article here.

The Absurd Primacy of the Automobile in American Life
By Edward Humes

Citylab

Cars conquered the daily culture of American life back when top hats and child labor were in vogue, and well ahead of such other innovations as radio, plastic, refrigerators, the electrical grid, and women’s suffrage. A big part of why they’ve stuck around is that they are the epitome of convenience, a selling point not easily dismissed. But convenience, along with American history, culture, rituals, and man-machine affection hides the true cost and nature of cars. And what is that nature? Simply this: In almost every way imaginable, the car, as it is deployed and used today, is insane.

Read the full article here.

Bleeding Edge Roundup

Bleeding Edge Roundup