For $1,000, anyone can track your location and app use


Begin and end a morning commute. Red dots = standing still over 4 minutes.

❝ Privacy concerns have long swirled around how much information online advertising networks collect about people’s browsing, buying and social media habits — typically to sell you something.

But could someone use mobile advertising to learn where you go for coffee? Could a burglar establish a sham company and send ads to your phone to learn when you leave the house? Could a suspicious employer see if you’re using shopping apps on work time?

❝ The answer is yes, at least in theory. New University of Washington research, which will be presented Oct. 30 at the Association for Computing Machinery’s Workshop on Privacy in the Electronic Society, suggests that for roughly $1,000, someone with devious intent can purchase and target online advertising in ways that allow them to track the location of other individuals and learn what apps they are using…

❝ “Because it was so easy to do what we did, we believe this is an issue that the online advertising industry needs to be thinking about,” said co-author Franzi Roesner, co-director of the UW Security and Privacy Research Lab… “We are sharing our discoveries so that advertising networks can try to detect and mitigate these types of attacks, and so that there can be a broad public discussion about how we as a society might try to prevent them.”

Mail me a penny postcard when the advertising industry and our plastic, fantastic lawmakers take this seriously.

Pollution’s Annual Cost? $4.6 Trillion and 9 Million Dead

❝ And that was just in 2015, according to a new global report on the consequences of humanity’s actions.


DelhiUdit Kulshrestha/Bloomberg

❝ Pollution in all its forms killed 9 million people in 2015 and, by one measure, led to economic damage of $4.6 trillion, according to a new estimate by researchers who hope to put the health costs of toxic air, water and soil higher on the global agenda.

In less-developed nations, pollution-linked illness and death drag down productivity, reducing economic output by 1 percent to 2 percent annually, according to the tally by the Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health, published Thursday by the U.K. medical journal. The report is intended to illuminate the hidden health and economic consequences of harmful substances introduced into the environment by human activity…

❝ The report represents an “extremely comprehensive and rigorous quantification” of pollution costs, said Francesca Dominici, a professor of biostatistics at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, who wasn’t involved in the study.

“In the scientific community, I don’t think there is any disagreement about the cost-benefit analysis of controlling pollution,” Dominici said. Reducing air pollution from vehicles and power plants, for example, would simultaneously improve human health and reduce planet-warming carbon emissions, she said. “The major barrier has been political, but not scientific.”

❝ As large as that figure is, it may even underestimate the full cost of pollution. Because the amount is derived from death rates, it doesn’t include the price of medical expenditures or lost productivity from those sickened but not killed by pollution-related disease. And it doesn’t measure some forms of pollution that are likely to have health effects, such as soil tainted with heavy metals or industrial toxins, because data to calculate its influence on health are insufficient.

No surprise when Bloomberg offers articles like this one. Folks selling services to investors realize that folks in all walks of life can develop a conscience about principled profit-making versus scumbags who don’t care how their profits are acquired.

GM Commits to an All-Electric Path


2017 Chevrolet Volt

General Motors has announced how it is executing on a major element of its vision of a world with zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion, recently announced by GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra.

“General Motors believes in an all-electric future,” said Mark Reuss, General Motors executive vice president of Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain. “Although that future won’t happen overnight, GM is committed to driving increased usage and acceptance of electric vehicles through no-compromise solutions that meet our customers’ needs.”

In the next 18 months, GM will introduce two new all-electric vehicles based off learnings from the Chevrolet Bolt EV. They will be the first of at least 20 new all-electric vehicles that will launch by 2023…

GM also introduced SURUS — the Silent Utility Rover Universal Superstructure — a fuel cell powered, four-wheel steer concept vehicle on a heavy-duty truck frame that’s driven by two electric motors. With its capability and flexible architecture, SURUS could be used as a delivery vehicle, truck or even an ambulance — all emissions free.

GM ain’t leading the way in the United States or globally — BUT, it’s pretty damned important that they have made the decision to join in on the path to a future of mobility and less pollution together.

Phony-Quality Steel scandal hits Boeing, Toyota, Nissan and more


Kobe executives now qualify for their own reality TV show

❝ Boeing, Toyota, Nissan and other big companies are scrambling to check the safety of their products after it emerged they had been supplied with falsely certified metal from Kobe Steel in a deepening scandal that has dealt a fresh blow to confidence in industrial quality controls in Japan.

More than a fifth of the value of Japan’s third biggest steelmaker was wiped off after trading resumed in the company following its admission of falsifying inspection data on an estimated 20,000 tonnes of metals shipped to about 200 customers in the year to August 2017.

❝ The steelmaker had sold metal with strength that did not match the quality standard it had promised its clients for use in products ranging from cars to aircraft. It warned at the weekend that the problems could stretch back 10 years.

❝ It is the latest in a string of scandals highlighting wider concerns about inspection and quality control in Japan from wobbly building pilings at the construction arm of Asahi Kasei to overstated fuel economy at Mitsubishi Motors. The Kobe Steel news came just days after Japanese carmaker Nissan was forced to recall about 1.2m vehicles that were inspected by unauthorised technicians.

Other companies affected by the Kobe Steel scandal include Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, IHI, Honda, Mazda and Subaru. Kobe Steel said it had no evidence of any safety concerns as a result of the fraudulent certification.

If Japan can get away with corruption like this for a decade, it sets a new goal for Trump and his chump followers to try to match.

Most honey samples now show pesticide contamination

❝ A new study has found traces of neonicotinoid chemicals in 75% of honey samples from across the world.

The scientists say that the levels of the widely used pesticide are far below the maximum permitted levels in food for humans.

In one-third of the honey, the amount of the chemical found was enough to be detrimental to bees.

❝ Industry sources, though, dismissed the research, saying the study was too small to draw concrete conclusions…In economic terms, that means they couldn’t care less. As long as they’re not killing humans or turning them sterile, all’s right with the world – and their profits.

❝ Neonicotinoids are considered to be the world’s most widely used class of insecticides…These systemic chemicals can be added as a seed coating to many crops, reducing the need for spraying. They have generally been seen as being more beneficial for the environment than the older products that they have replaced.

However, the impact of neonics on pollinators such as bees has long been a troubling subject for scientists around the world. Successive studies have shown a connection between the use of the products and a decline in both the numbers and health of bees.

Earlier this year, the most comprehensive field study to date concluded that the pesticides harm honey bees and wild bees.

You can read the report from this latest study over here.

Trump’s $20 Billion/Year Welfare Check to Dirty Energy


Click to enlarge

Millions of Americans may be struggling to pay routine household bills, but still US taxpayers are handing out a whopping $20 billion in fossil fuel subsidies a year.

This is the major finding of a new report Dirty Energy Dominance: Dependent on Denial published by Oil Change International…

…There is something deeply ironic about the Trump Administration subsidizing an industry with billions of dollars which is causing climate change which is costing billions to America and Caribbean nations from hurricane-related damage.

But the irony gets worse. There is something morally wrong with a billionaire-led Administration handing out money to rich executives, when this money could help America’s poorest and most at need.

The cost of the subsidies to American taxpayers is equivalent to the projected 2018 budget cuts from Trump’s proposals to slash 10 public programs and services, including supports for America’s most vulnerable children and families.

Read ’em and weep, folks. Here’s the Report.

Tesla Rolling Out Prototype Semi Truck Look and Test-Ride in October

Tesla’s announcement of an electric semi-truck is a big deal – not only does it have the potential to disrupt one of the nation’s largest industries, but it marks another leap forward in making Tesla’s grand vision a reality. That said, we caution that it will take years for the Tesla Semi to come to market.

❝ Based on Tesla’s history, the most logical go-to-market approach would be staggered: Within about 3 years, Tesla could target short haul trucking (think of UPS or Fedex trucks that return to a depot to be charged at night). Then in about 5 years, Tesla could target long haul trucking, and, in 6-10 years, offer a fleet of trucks as a service. We expect the Oct 26th event will be short on details (we don’t expect details on pricing or delivery date) and long on the opportunity. That opportunity is ripe for Tesla’s taking, considering legacy truck manufacturers’ past struggles with innovation.

Way cool!

The Medical Mystery That Traced Back To Slaughterhouse Profits and Shelf Life

❝ In the 1950s, the U.S. poultry industry began adopting a new process: Acronizing. Ads that ran in women’s magazines pictured crisp-skinned whole chicken that tasted “fresh,” “wholesome” and “country sweet” thanks to a “revolutionary process which helps maintain freshness in perishables” like chicken.

❝ In reality, Acronizing referred to the use of antibiotics. Birds were doused in a diluted solution of antibiotics while they were being butchered. The goal was to keep the meat from spoiling, allowing birds to be sold not just days, but weeks after slaughter.

❝ But as Acronizing became widespread, so too did its misuse. Slaughterhouse workers didn’t always get training on how to use the antibiotics properly, and even those who did sometimes used way more of the drugs in their solutions than the manufacturers called for. That meant some birds might be getting far more antibiotics than could be denatured through the heat of cooking.

As Maryn McKenna writes in her new book, Big Chicken: The Incredible Story of How Antibiotics Created Modern Agriculture and Changed the Way the World Eats…”it was possible that housewives were unwittingly feeding their families tetracycline-laced fish and chicken. And doctors would soon discover that the people responsible for getting those proteins to dinner tables were being exposed to antibiotics in a manner that no one had accounted for.”

RTFA, an excerpt from her book

Court’s Ruling on Science and Climate Change Could Affect Other Fossil Fuel Projects

❝ Fossil fuel projects nationwide could be on notice after an appeals court ordered the federal government to rethink the climate change impacts of two giant coal mines, environmental lawyers and energy consultants tell Bloomberg BNA.

The decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit only directly affects Arch Coal and Peabody Energy, which operate the Wyoming mines in question, and only applies to five Western states…

❝ But the Sept. 14 decision establishes an argument that could be tested nationwide in other courts to challenge any fossil fuel-related project that might have climate change effects, said Jayni Foley Hein, policy director at New York University School of Law’s Institute for Policy Integrity. These might include natural gas pipelines, oil sand pipelines, coal railroads, and coal export terminals…

❝ Michelle Benedict Nowlin, an environmental law professor at Duke University, said the decision highlights language in the National Environmental Policy Act requiring that agencies follow the best available science. That language provides a bulwark against any given administration’s rejection of scientific consensus, Nowlin said.

Anyone have any idea which corrupt politicians, in or out of office, she might be thinking of? Someone who would reject scientific understanding, the common good, for the ideology of short-term profit above all else?