Tuesday’s Real News

Who is starting all those California Wildfires? We are
Science Magazine

As parts of the western United States choke on smoke from wildfires scorching more than 660,000 hectares, renewed attention is falling on the role that people have played in starting some of these blazes. An Oregon fire that has consumed 13,000 hectares, for instance, is thought to have been started by teens tossing firecrackers.

Jennifer Balch, a wildfire ecologist at the University of Colorado in Boulder, has examined just how big a role people are playing in starting wildfires in the United States. Nationwide, humans are responsible for starting 84% of wildfires, according to a paper co-authored by Balch, published this past March in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In California, the eastern United States, and the coastal Northwest, people are behind more than 90% of wildfires. And, by starting so many fires, humans are essentially lengthening the fire season, into times of the year when natural causes—such as lightning—don’t play a major role.

N. Korea hackers download US war plan BBC

Hackers from North Korea are reported to have stolen a large cache of military documents from South Korea, including a plan to assassinate North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un.

Rhee Cheol-hee, a South Korean lawmaker, said the information was from his country’s defence ministry.

The compromised documents include wartime contingency plans drawn up by the US and South Korea.

They also include reports to the allies’ senior commanders.

The South Korean defence ministry has so far refused to comment about the allegation.

Plans for the South’s special forces were reportedly accessed, along with information on significant power plants and military facilities in the South.

Three accuse Weinstein of rape The New Yorker


— How New York blew its chance to nail Weinstein
The Daily Beast

Harvey Weinstein had no sooner apologized to the 22-year-old woman who had accused him of groping her than he seemed ready to do it again.

“After he apologized, he said, ‘Listen, come up to my room,’” an NYPD commander with direct knowledge of the case says.

Ambra Battilana excused herself to use the restroom and she was met by a detective from the special victims unit, which had been using two cellphones to record this March 28, 2015, meeting in the bar/restaurant at the Tribeca Grand Hotel in downtown Manhattan. Battilana seemed close to panic. The detective promised her that she would be safely under protective surveillance if she went along with Weinstein’s request.

Battilana agreed and headed upstairs with Weinstein. The detectives were close behind, ready to move in immediately if Weinstein tried to grope her again as she alleged he had earlier. He would have been caught in the act.

But Battilana suddenly backed away and departed.

“She got scared,” the police commander says.

Zuckerberg’s “voyeuristic tourism” in Puerto Rico

zuckerberg-virtual-reality-puerto-rico-hurricaneFacebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has been labeled a “heartless billionaire” engaging in “voyeuristic tourism” by users of the social network after he appeared as a virtual reality cartoon in hurricane-hit Puerto Rico.

Zuckerberg appeared as a 3-D avatar alongside Facebook’s head of social virtual reality, Rachel Franklin, in order to demonstrate Facebook’s VR tool Spaces and discuss his company’s partnership with NetHope and American Red Cross.

Zuckerberg drew criticism from some Facebook users after appearing to forget the name of Hurricane Maria, the Category 4 storm that devastated the island in September, while simultaneously describing how VR is “magical” in its ability to virtually teleport people to disaster zones.

China hastens the world toward the electric car
New York Times

SHENZHEN, China — There is a powerful reason that automakers worldwide are speeding up their efforts to develop electric vehicles — and that reason is China.

Propelled by vast amounts of government money and visions of dominating next-generation technologies, China has become the world’s biggest supporter of electric cars. That is forcing automakers from Detroit to Yokohama and Seoul to Stuttgart to pick up the pace of transformation or risk being left behind in the world’s largest car market.

Beijing has already called for one out of every five cars sold in China to run on alternative fuel by 2025. Last month, China issued new rules that would require the world’s carmakers to sell more alternative-energy cars here if they wanted to continue selling regular ones. A Chinese official recently said the country would eventually do away with the internal combustion engine in new cars.

“We are seeing ourselves at a crossroads in the development of the automobile industry in this country, with a global scale in mind,” said Jürgen Stackmann, Volkswagen’s top executive for VW brand sales and marketing, during a visit to Shanghai.

California to require disclosure of source of political ads 
Courthouse News Service

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) – California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill to require clear disclosure of political contributors to print, television and online ads, a bill that far surpasses requirements under federal law.

Assembly Speaker Pro tem Kevin Mullin, D- South San Francisco, wrote the Assembly Bill 249, carrying on similar efforts by former Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, who was elected to Congress last year.

“No more fine print,” Mullin said in a statement. “California voters will now be able to make informed decisions, based on honest information about who the true funders are of campaign ads. This transparency is critical to our democracy and I am proud that California has taken this historic first step to shine the light on ‘dark money.’ Hopefully this will encourage others to follow suit.”

Truckers fear the driverless future 
The Guardian

Jeff Baxter’s sunflower-yellow Kenworth truck shines as bright and almost as big as the sun. Four men clean the glistening cab in the hangar-like truck wash at Iowa 80, the world’s largest truck stop.

Baxter has made a pitstop at Iowa 80 before picking up a 116ft-long wind turbine blade that he’s driving down to Texas, 900 miles away.

Baxter, 48, is one of the 1.8 million Americans, mainly men, who drive heavy trucks for a living, the single most common job in many US states. Driving is one of the biggest occupations in the world. Another 1.7 million people drive taxis, buses and delivery vehicles in the US alone. But for how long? Having “disrupted” industries including manufacturing, music, journalism and retail, Silicon Valleyhas its eyes on trucking.

Google, Uber, Tesla and the major truck manufacturers are looking to a future in which people like Baxter will be replaced – or at the very least downgraded to co-pilots – by automated vehicles that will save billions but will cost millions of jobs. It will be one of the biggest changes to the jobs market since the invention of the automated loom – challenging the livelihoods of millions across the world.
I’m scared to death of that,” says Baxter, an impish man with bad teeth that he hides behind his hand as he laughs. “I can’t operate a pocket calculator!”

Mall of America’s poet laureate The Guardian

Trump to use high IQ, exec powers to ruin Obamacare The Independent

Donald Trump has confirmed he plans to use an executive order to undermine some of the key elements of Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

US media had reported draft details of an order which would effectively create loopholes for millions of people to avoid the insurance rules set by the act, known as Obamacare.

Mr Trump said he would “be using the power of the pen” to act on his desired healthcare reforms, “since Congress can’t get its act together”.

> 22 quotes from a demented man obsessed with IQ CNN

> This is what Trump could do to Obamacare Bloomberg

How Chicago gets its guns 

John Thomas set up the deal the way he had arranged nearly two dozen others. A friend said he wanted to buy as many guns as he could, so Thomas got in touch with someone he knew who had guns to sell.

The three of them met in the parking lot of an LA Fitness in south suburban Lansing at noon on Aug. 6, 2014. Larry McIntosh, whom Thomas had met in his South Shore neighborhood, took two semi-automatic rifles and a shotgun from his car and put them in the buyer’s car. He handed over a plastic shopping bag with four handguns.

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None of the weapons had been acquired legally — two, in fact, had been reported stolen — and none of the men was a licensed firearms dealer.

No, we’re not living in a computer simulation 
Popular Science

From Star Trek: The Next Generation’s “Ship in a Bottle” episode, to the eponymously named computer system in the movie The Matrix, the idea that life is little more than a computer simulation has served as a sci-fi standby for generations. But that technological twist on the idea that life might just be a dream can’t possibly be true. Right?

Well, what if it is? What if this life is just a simulation of the real thing? What if you, in an incredibly meta act, are reading this on a computer while residing inside of a computer? Once inserted, the thought niggles away at us—we can’t think our way out of this quagmire. “What if you were unable to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world?” asks Morpheus in The Matrix. Dude.

But now researchers say they’ve sussed out the whole situation for us. Theoretical physicists Zohar Ringel and Dmitry Korvizhini, who are based at Racah Institute of Physics Hebrew University in Israel and Oxford University in the United Kingdom, claim to prove the concreteness of our reality in a recent Scientific Advances study.

Most don’t want “dreamers” deported AP

About 60 percent of Americans favor allowing those young immigrants, commonly referred as “Dreamers,” to stay in the U.S. legally, compared to 22 percent who are opposed. Just 19 percent of respondents say all these childhood arrivals should be deported.

Sixty-eight percent of Hispanics, 61 percent of blacks and 57 percent of whites favor extending protections. Eight in 10 Democrats favor allowing the young immigrants to stay legally. So do more than 4 in 10 Republicans.

“For the ones who are already here, there should be a way for them to stay because it wasn’t their fault,” said Nik Catello, a 57-year-old independent film producer from Orange County, California. “But you have to give them a path to citizenship.”


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