Scientists are Confused About the Ethics of Big Data Research
By Sarah Zhang
When a rogue researcher last week released 70,000 OkCupid profiles, complete with usernames and sexual preferences, people were pissed. When Facebook researchers manipulated stories appearing in Newsfeeds for a mood contagion study in 2014, people were really pissed. OkCupid filed a copyright claim to take down the dataset; the journal that published Facebook’s study issued an “expression of concern.” Outrage has a way of shaping ethical boundaries. Shockingly, though, the researchers behind both of those big data blowups never anticipated public outrage.
Newsites Are Tracking Your Web Traffic Way More Than Porn Sites
By Joshua Kopstein
Online news sites track users across the web with more third-party tracking code than any other type of site, a new study has found. Using a custom open-source measurement tool, Princeton researchers analyzed the top 1 million websites ranked by the web analytics firm Alexa. What they found is that news sites load far more third-party trackers than sites in other categories including sports, games and even, yes—porn.
UAW Pushes To Unionize Tesla Factory As Company Expectations Rise
By Alanis King
Tesla’s flagship Fremont factory is the only non-unionized American-owned assembly factory in the U.S., and the United Auto Workers want to change that. With Tesla considerably upping the manufacturing expectations for its electric fleet, their motives just got stronger. Those expectations rose to producing 500,000 cars annually—the factory’s max capacity, according to Tesla—by 2018, moving the original date for reaching the goal up by two years. In response, USA Today reports that UAW president Dennis Williams said Thursday that the organization remains interested in unionizing workers.
SUSTAINABILITY & ENVIRONMENT
McDonald's fish: Row over sustainability 'cover-up'
By Matt McGrath
New Zealanders will still see the Filet-o-Fish® on the McDonald’s menu even though campaigners asked the fast food chain to remove it. This following a memo that was leaked revealing the New Zealand government was aware of the illegal discarding of fish. A study by the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries which points out the long term problems of illegal fishing practices, says the number of fish taken from New Zealand seas was 2.7 times greater than what was actually reported. People dining at the restaurant can still enjoy a Kiwiburger® or Georgie Pie®Steak Mince ‘N’ Cheese Combo though.
Pakistan digs mass graves as heat wave looms
By Yiming Woo
This can’t be how we deal with climate change.
LABOR, TRADE, & ECONOMY
Green really is the new black as big oil gets a taste for renewables
By Terry McCallister
The world’s largest oil companies have in recent weeks announced a series of “green” investments – in wind farms, electric battery storage systems and carbon capture and storage (CCS). These unexpected moves come hot on the heels of revelations by Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest crude exporter, that it plans to sell off parts of its national oil company and diversify its economy away from petroleum. They also come in the aftermath of a United Nations climate change agreement and before annual general meetings for Shell and Exxon Mobil this week, meetings at which shareholders will demand that more be done to tackle climate change. So has the fossil fuel industry finally woken up to the dangers posed to their futures by a move to a low-carbon world, or is this all “greenwash” – relatively insignificant investments designed to shake off critics?
Elizabeth Warren takes on the so-called “Gig Economy” in a speech
By Devin Coldewey
Senator Elizabeth Warren has some choice words for Uber, TaskRabbit, Alfred and all the other companies taking part in the “so-called gig economy,” as she put it in a speech Thursday for the New America Foundation’s annual conference. She isn’t against them by any means, but urged both the companies and lawmakers to make labor-friendly changes: “No worker should fall through the cracks.”
When you should let your employees own your company
By Andrew Seale
Beau’s Brewery announced in a press release the the company will be incorporating an Employee Share Ownership Plan (ESOP) into its business model. “By handing the reins over to our employees we are saying this changes everything, because this change is everything – we look forward to our expansion and success across Canada, with the help of our new company stewards.” Employees will be able to spend up to two per cent of their salary on shares, with between four and five per cent of the business being sold the first year. They’ll also be entitled to any dividends declared by the company’s board of directors, which could be lucrative with the company boasting growth at a compounded rate of 45 per cent year-over-year.
GLOBAL CONFLICT & DEVELOPMENT
How 3D Printing Is Helping With Relief Efforts
By Emma Birchley
The use of 3D printing in disaster zones is transforming the way communities can be helped to rebuild after a crisis. Replacement parts to mend leaking pipes, incubators and medical equipment are already being printed by the not-for-profit organisation Field Ready in Nepal, following last year's earthquakes. And as the technology improves, the potential to provide onsite assistance is expected to increase significantly - from printing emergency shelters to lifejackets.
More than half UN schools in Middle East targeted in conflicts
By Lyse Doucet
Nearly half the schools run by the UN in the Middle East have been attacked, damaged or rendered inoperable in the past five years, according to a new report obtained by the BBC. The report by UNRWA, the UN's agency for Palestinian refugees, warns that the education of thousands of children has been disrupted. More than 300 UN schools were attacked or shut down. In Syria, more than half of the UNWRA schools are no longer in use. Some are destroyed, some cut off by fighting, others are shelters for displaced families. Most schools have been looted and more than 400 teachers have fled Syria.
Why Communist Parties Continue to Thrive in the World’s Largest Democracy
By Gabriele Parussini
Wall Street Journal
Across much of the globe, communism and its boosters have struggled since the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union collapsed. However in India, the world’s largest democracy, they still command considerable loyalty in some parts. Take Kerala in the south. Exit polls show the Communist Party of India likely to regain control of the legislature in this relatively affluent state after a narrow loss five years ago—its first defeat here in decades. Official results from Monday’s elections are due Thursday. “It is us against the bourgeois parties,” said the party’s chief campaigner, 92-year-old V.S. Achuthanandan. “Our mission is the eradication of capitalism.” Communism has deep roots in India, going back to the fight for workers’ rights and against imperialism in the latter days of British rule. In 1957, the year the Soviets put Sputnik into orbit, Kerala elected its first communist government.
Reclaiming the Civic Core of Education
By Nathan Pippenger
In the latest issue of Boston Review, Danielle Allen leads a symposium on the purpose of education with an essay advocating a “participatory” conception over the “vocational paradigm” that has come to dominate education discourse and policy over the last several decades. Allen provides a concise history of this STEM-centered approach to schooling. It merges a “technology-based analysis of inequality” with a vocational approach to education “focuse[d] specifically on economic equality,” Allen writes. Yet our social inequalities are not limited to differences in income and wealth, and the attempt to ameliorate these gaps through science and math education only reinforces an apolitical solution to what is mistakenly viewed as an apolitical problem.
This is how cities of the future will get their energy
By Chelsea Harvey
The Washington Post
In the global effort to fight climate change, cities have some of the greatest potential– and the greatest imperative — to make a difference. With an increasing global migration into the world’s urban areas, which are expected to support at least two-thirds of the total human population by 2050, experts have argued that cities have no choice but to transition toward low-carbon systems if they’re going to remain sustainable. Energy will need to be a primary focus of that effort. From the expansion of renewable energy sources to the adoption of cutting-edge energy efficiency and storage technologies, cities have the opportunity to drastically reduce their carbon footprints. This is the focus of a new paper, published Thursday in the journal Science that discusses the ways cities can integrate renewable energy, as well as energy-saving technologies, into the urban landscape.
Primed To Fight The Government
By Kevin Sullivan
The Washington Post
Law enforcement officials and the watchdog groups that track the new self-styled “patriot” groups call them anti-government extremists, militias, armed militants or even domestic terrorists. Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors extremism, said there were about 150 such groups in 2008 and about 1,000 now. Potok and other analysts, including law enforcement officials who track the groups, said their supporters number in the hundreds of thousands, counting people who signal their support in more passive ways, such as following the groups on social media. Much of the movement traces its roots to the deadly 1990s confrontations between civilians and federal agents at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and in Waco, Tex., but now a “Second Wave” is spreading across the country, especially in the West, fueled by the Internet and social media.