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Bleeding Edge Roundup

DISRUPTIVE TECHNOLOGY

Have Drone, Will Broadcast
By Philip Reed
Medium

A reporter — likely already wearing a head-mounted GoPro camera — armed with a camera-carrying drone is ready to capture and report on any news that breaks. Imagine a reporter in a protest or riot, a swarm of five or six drones overhead, scuffles and screams all captured from multiple angles as the story is told to an unseen audience.

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The Partnership of the Future
By Satya Nadella
Slate

Advanced machine learning, also known as artificial intelligence or just A.I., holds far greater promise than unsettling headlines about computers beating humans at games like Jeopardy!, chess, checkers, and Go. Ultimately, humans and machines will work together—not against one another. Computers may win at games, but imagine what’s possible when human and machine work together to solve society’s greatest challenges like beating disease, ignorance, and poverty.

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Chatbot lawyer overturns 160,000 parking tickets in London and New York
By Samuel Gibbs
The Guardian

An artificial-intelligence lawyer chatbot has successfully contested 160,000 parking tickets across London and New York for free, showing that chatbots can actually be useful. Dubbed as “the world’s first robot lawyer” by its 19-year-old creator, London-born second-year Stanford University student Joshua Browder, DoNotPay helps users contest parking tickets in an easy to use chat-like interface.

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SUSTAINABILITY & ENVIRONMENT

Just Five Common Foods Produce More Greenhouse Gas Emissions Than Nearly All Countries
By Natasha Geiling
ThinkProgress

According to a new report from Oxfam America, the production of wheat, soy, corn, rice, or palm oil emits more greenhouse gases annually than each of the world’s countries, save for the United States and China. A lot of those emissions occur on the farm, released from eroded soil or overgenerous amounts of fertilizer. Specific crops also contribute to climate change in unique ways: rice production is especially dangerous to climate because it generates methane, while crops like palm oil and soy contribute to global warming through deforestation. But emissions from food also extend well beyond the field, from the trucks it takes to ship the goods from warehouses to stores, to the methane that is released when those products end up in landfills.

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Study Links 6.5 Million Deaths Each Year to Air Pollution
By Stanley Reed
The New York Times

A sobering report released on Monday by the International Energy Agency says air pollution has become a major public health crisis leading to around 6.5 million deaths each year, with “many of its root causes and cures” found in the energy industry. The air pollution study is the first for the agency, an energy security group based in Paris, which is expanding its mission under its executive director, Fatih Birol.

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US, Mexico, Canada Pledge 50 Percent Clean Power by 2025
By Jennifer A Dlouhy and Angela Greiling Keane

Bloomberg

The US and Mexico will commit to joining Canada in boosting their use of wind, solar and other carbon-free sources of electricity, helping North America meet an ambitious goal of generating at least 50 percent of its energy from “clean” sources by 2025. “We believe this is an aggressive goal but one that is achievable by all three countries,” Brian Deese, a senior adviser to President Barack Obama on environmental and energy matters, said Monday on a conference call with reporters.

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LABOR, TRADE, & ECONOMY

At King Arthur Flour, Savoring the Perks of Employee Ownership
By Claire Martin
The New York Times

Since 2004, King Arthur Flour has been 100 percent employee-owned. After the first year of employment, all workers who log more than 800 hours a year, including seasonal and part-time laborers, are eligible for the employee stock ownership program, or ESOP. In 1996, Frank Sands, a fifth-generation owner of King Arthur Flour, and his wife, Brinna, began contemplating the succession plan for their business. With no family members interested in taking it over, Mr. Sands came up with the idea of selling it to his employees.

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The surprising truth about American manufacturing
By Simon Montlake
Christian Science Monitor

Without question, manufacturing has taken a significant hit during recent decades, and further trade deals raise questions about whether new shocks could hit manufacturing. In reality, United States manufacturing output is at an all-time high, worth $2.7 trillion in 2015, up from $1.7 trillion in 2009. And while total employment has fallen by nearly a third since 1970, the jobs that remain are increasingly skilled.Across the country, factory owners are now grappling with a new challenge: Instead of having too many workers, as they did during the Great Recession, they may end up with too few.

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The co-ops ploughing a new furrow to feed the world
By Susan Press
Co-operative News

Co-operative organisations in the field of agriculture are pioneering new farming methods using the latest in information technology. Drones, automatic-spreading machines, satellite imaging and mapping and other innovations are helping to meet the challenge of feeding a growing world with limited resources. Only 30 years ago, such technologies would have been the stuff of science fiction. But remote tools, such as drones, are becoming more important in enhancing resource efficiency, productivity, profitability and sustainability.

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GLOBAL CONFLICT & DEVELOPMENT

AI Fighter Pilot Beats a Human, But No Need to Panic (Really)
By Klint Finley
WIRED

While Google was building an artificial intelligence that could beat a grandmaster at the ancient game of Go, University of Cincinnati alum took a different tack. They designed an AI that could take on a fighter pilot. The idea isn’t to replace human fighter pilots. According to Nicholas Ernest, a University of Cincinnati alum and the founder of Psibernetix, the company that developed ALPHA, this AI may ultimately act as a kind of digital assistant that provides real-time advice to pilots. Or it may fly unmanned aircraft that act as wingmen for planes piloted by humans.

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Donald Trump’s trade policy would screw the world’s poorest people
By Zach Beauchamp
Vox

Tuesday afternoon, Donald Trump gave a speech that amounted to a full-throated denunciation of economic globalization and trade deals. Trade, according to Trump, is making America lose. To win, we need to embrace protectionism. There is real evidence that globalization has hurt America’s working class, particularly trade with China. That being said, polls show that most leading economists believe that globalization has been net-good for the United States. What’s beyond debate, however, is that globalization has been good for the global poor. Free trade is one of the best tools we have for fighting extreme poverty.

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Flare-up in Yemen violence kills 80 as peace talks stall
AFP

A flare-up in violence across Yemen on Tuesday killed 80 people, nearly half of them civilians, officials said, as lengthy peace talks in Kuwait made no headway. The escalation came after a wave of suicide bombings targeting Yemeni troops killed at least 42 people on Monday in the southeastern city of Mukalla, in attacks claimed by the Islamic State group. It also comes as UN-brokered talks between Houthi rebels and the government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi stuttered despite a visit by UN chief Ban Ki-moon to push the negotiations.

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AMERICAN COMMUNITIES

Check the Police
Campaign Zero

A new report by the Black Lives Matter-linked group Campaign Zero, details the barriers to police oversight and accountability found in police union contracts. The report found that, “72 of 81 cities' contracts and 13 of the 14 states with police bills of rights were found to impose at least one barrier to police accountability. 63 cities and 12 states had three or more provisions imposing barriers to accountability. Only Aurora, Boston, Chula Vista, Dallas, Denver, Fremont, Fresno, Long Beach, and Nashville did not contain problematic provisions in their police union contracts.”

Read the full report here.

US law professor exposes system that makes a profit from poverty
By Mary O’Hara
Guardian

A new book published last week by law professor and advocate Daniel L Hatcher, The Poverty Industry: The Exploitation of America’s Most Vulnerable Citizens, exposes a largely unrecognised yet deeply disturbing additional dimension to the issue: the vast scale of disadvantaged people being fleeced for profit. In this meticulously researched book Hatcher, who has represented vulnerable people in court for years, including children in foster care, lifts the lid on a system that rather than helping the needy, systematically turns them into “a source of revenue”.

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Mayors Urge State Leaders to Put Fracking in Local Control
By Yessenia Funes
COLORLINES

Since last year, states including North Carolina, Oklahoma and Texas have outlawed local fracking bans. Leaders say that the bans are an overreach of city power and that they damage an industry important to the state's bottom line.  On June 28, a group of mayors responded in kind. In a statement released on the heels of this year's Conference of Mayors, 33 mayors from 14 states demanded more control over fracking within their jurisdictions."As leaders of our nation’s cities, we are strongly opposed to efforts by state legislatures, and state and federal officials limiting the ability of communities to protect themselves from the harms of industrial fracking,” the statement begins.

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FUTURE LEFT PODCAST Ep.9:  Brexit, Frexit, and Texit

FUTURE LEFT PODCAST Ep.9: Brexit, Frexit, and Texit

Digital Abundance: Piracy, Open Access, and the Challenge to Capitalism

Digital Abundance: Piracy, Open Access, and the Challenge to Capitalism