news

News 05.10.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

by

News 05.10.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@tina_kristina_morena
News 05.10.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@freakery
News 05.10.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@margarita_karenko

Humans Are Speeding Extinction and Altering the Natural World at an ‘Unprecedented’ Pace

WASHINGTON — Humans are transforming Earth’s natural landscapes so dramatically that as many as one million plant and animal species are now at risk of extinction, posing a dire threat to ecosystems that people all over the world depend on for their survival, a sweeping new United Nations assessment has concluded.

The 1,500-page report, compiled by hundreds of international experts and based on thousands of scientific studies, is the most exhaustive look yet at the decline in biodiversity across the globe and the dangers that creates for human civilization. A summary of its findings, which was approved by representatives from the United States and 131 other countries, was released Monday in Paris. The full report is set to be published this year.

Its conclusions are stark. In most major land habitats, from the savannas of Africa to the rain forests of South America, the average abundance of native plant and animal life has fallen by 20 percent or more, mainly over the past century. With the human population passing 7 billion, activities like farming, logging, poaching, fishing and mining are altering the natural world at a rate “unprecedented in human history.”

Read the rest of this article at: The New York Times

News 05.10.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The Mystery of the Millionaire Hermit

News 05.10.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

On the afternoon of Aug. 22, 2015, Dale Tisserand and Melani Rodrigue opened the front door to a small white house in Corning, Calif., a town of 7,500 about 115 miles north of Sacramento. The women, who’d been given the keys by local police, are investigators for the office of the Tehama County Public Administrator. They knew the owner had died in the house the previous week and that his name was Eugene Brown.

The neighborhood mail carrier was the one who’d called the police. Every day, Brown would wait for her in a chair by his door, and the two would exchange pleasantries. But for the past five days, there’d been no sign of him. Police did a welfare check and discovered his body in a pool of dried blood by the toilet. Members of the coroner’s office who were dispatched to the house determined that he died of a stroke, but not before breaking his nose in a nasty fall. They did a quick search for a will and contact information for family members and friends—return addresses on envelopes, phone numbers jotted on scraps of paper. Not finding anything, they called Tisserand and Rodrigue.

Many counties in the U.S. have public administrators, though a lot of people don’t know they exist. They operate within the murky ecosystem of public agencies and private businesses that kick into gear when someone dies: locksmiths, biohazard and trauma cleanup services, trash haulers, auctioneers, real estate agents, courts, attorneys, and banks. Tisserand and Rodrigue were in Brown’s house to locate his will and heirs, which can be difficult when people die alone. They would also oversee his estate. Even a simple death, something peaceful in your sleep, requires the assistance of an awful lot of people.

Public administrators in California usually report to the district attorney’s office, the sheriff, or some other county agency. Only a few, such as Rodrigue, head standalone departments. She has dark hair and deep-set brown eyes that serve as a barometer of her mood. “Yes! You Can!” is one of several inspirational sayings scrawled on her office’s dry-erase board, near a sign that reads “Boss Lady.” Rodrigue was appointed public administrator of Tehama County in 2012 after having a similar job in a nearby county. Tisserand, a no-nonsense former legal secretary with frosted hair and a soft spot for animals, works as one of her three deputies. They get along well. Sometimes they call each other by the nicknames El Capitan and Cash Money.

Read the rest of this article at: Bloomberg

Belgrave Crescent Tuscany Tote in Cognac

Shop the Tuscany Tote in Cognac
at Belgrave Crescent & shop.thisisglamorous.com

Real Estate’s Latest Bid: Zillow Wants to Buy Your House

In today’s on-demand digital world, buying and selling a home remains stubbornly, painfully analog. Most sales still begin with a real estate agent (and a 6 percent commission). Most still end in an office, with the two sides signing page after page of legalese.

Silicon Valley wants to change that. Tech companies have begun to nibble away at the edges of the residential real estate industry, offering virtual open houses, digital closings and other services. Now they are coming straight for the real estate transaction itself through “instant buying,” in which companies buy homes, perform some light maintenance and put them back on the market.

Established companies like Zillow and venture-backed upstarts like Opendoor and Offerpad have raised billions of dollars on the promise that they can use sophisticated algorithms to predict the value of individual homes. They contend that those predictions, combined with old-fashioned economies of scale, will allow them to be far more efficient than traditional home flippers.

The companies and their backers say they are doing what tech is best at: bringing efficiency and convenience to a process not known for either. Silicon Valley has already upended the way we hail a cab and order takeout, they argue. Why not improve a transaction that even well-educated professionals find intimidating?

Read the rest of this article at: The New York Times

News 05.10.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The Complete Mercenary

News 05.10.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

WHEN ERIK PRINCE arrived at the Four Seasons resort in the Seychelles in January 2017 for his now-famous meetings with a Russian banker and UAE ruler Mohammed bin Zayed, he was in the middle of an unexpected comeback. The election of Donald Trump had given the disgraced Blackwater founder a new opportunity to prove himself. After years of trying and failing to peddle a sweeping vision of mercenary warfare around the world, Erik Prince was back in the game.

Bin Zayed had convened a group of close family members and advisers at the luxurious Indian Ocean resort for a grand strategy session in anticipation of the new American administration. On the agenda were discussions of new approaches for dealing with the civil wars in Yemen, Syria, and Libya, the threat of the Islamic State, and the United Arab Emirates’ longstanding rivalry with Iran. Under bin Zayed’s leadership, the UAE had used its oil wealth to become one of the world’s largest arms purchasers and the third largest importer of U.S. weapons. A new American president meant new opportunities for the tiny Gulf nation to exert its outsized military and economic influence in the Gulf region and beyond.

Prince was no stranger to the Emiratis. He had known bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and de facto ruler of the UAE, since 2009, when he sold the sheikh on creating an elite counterterrorism unit. That deal ended badly for Prince, but Trump’s election had recalibrated his usefulness. As a prominent Trump supporter and close associate of Steve Bannon, not to mention the brother of incoming cabinet member Betsy DeVos, Prince was invited to the meeting as an unofficial adviser to the incoming administration.

Read the rest of this article at: The Intercept

Inside China’s Massive Surveillance Operation

News 05.10.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The woman remembers the first time she got a smartphone.

It was 2011, and she was living in Hotan, an oasis town in Xinjiang, in northwest China. The 30-year-old, Nurjamal Atawula, loved to take pictures of her children and exchange strings of emoji with her husband while he was out. In 2013, Atawula downloaded WeChat, the Chinese social messaging app. Not long after, rumors circulated among her friends: The government could track your location through your phone. At first, she didn’t believe them.

In early 2016, police started making routine checks on Atawula’s home. Her husband was regularly called to the police station. The police informed him they were suspicious of his WeChat activity. Atawula’s children began to cower in fear at the sight of a police officer.

The harassment and fear finally reached the point that the family decided to move to Turkey. Atawula’s husband, worried that Atawula would be arrested, sent her ahead while he stayed in Xinjiang and waited for the children’s passports.

This article is a co-production with Coda’s Authoritarian Tech channel.

“The day I left, my husband was arrested,” Atawula said. When she arrived in Turkey in June 2016, her phone stopped working—and by the time she had it repaired, all her friends and relatives had deleted her from their WeChat accounts. They feared that the government would punish them for communicating with her.

She was alone in Istanbul and her digital connection with life in Xinjiang was over. Apart from a snatched Skype call with her mother for 11 and a half minutes at the end of December 2016, communication with her relatives has been completely cut. “Sometimes I feel like the days I was with my family are just my dreams, as if I have been lonely all my life—ever since I was born,” she said.

Atawula now lives alone in Zeytinburnu, a working-class neighborhood in Istanbul. It’s home to Turkey’s largest population of Uyghurs, the mostly Muslim ethnic minority native to Xinjiang, a vast, resource-rich land of deserts and mountains along China’s ancient Silk Road trade route.

Read the rest of this article at: Wired

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M.

Follow us on Instagram @thisisglamorous