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A US small-town mayor sued the oil industry. Then Exxon went after him

A US small-town mayor sued the oil industry. Then Exxon went after him

Climate crimesClimate crisisA US small-town mayor sued the oil industry. Then Exxon went after him The mayor of Imperial Beach, California, says big oil wants him to drop the lawsuit demanding the industry pay for the climate crisisSupported byAbout this contentChris McGreal in Imperial BeachSat 16 Oct 2021 06.00 EDTSerge Dedina is a surfer, environmentalist and mayor of Imperial Beach, a small working-class city on the California coast.He is also, if the fossil fuel industry is to be believed, at the heart of a conspiracy to shake down big oil for hundreds of millions of dollars.Imperial Beach, CaliforniaExxonMobil and its allies have accused Dedina of colluding with other public officials across California to extort money from the fossil-fuel industry. Lawyers even searched his phone and computer for evidence he plotted with officials from Santa Cruz, a city located nearly 500 miles north of Imperial Beach.The problem is, Dedina had never heard of a Santa Cruz conspiracy. Few people had.“The only thing from Santa Cruz on my phone was videos of my kids surfing there,” Dedina said. “I love the fact that some lawyer in a really expensive suit, sitting in some horrible office trying to find evidence that we were in some kind of conspiracy with Santa Cruz, had to look at videos of my kids surfing.”That’s where the laughter stopped.The lawyers found no evidence to back up their claim. But that did not stop the …

Eco-friendly, lab-grown coffee is on the way, but it comes with a catch

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Eco-friendly, lab-grown coffee is on the way, but it comes with a catch

Green lightEnvironmentEco-friendly, lab-grown coffee is on the way, but it comes with a catchBeanless brews can cut deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions dramatically – but what will happen to workers in traditional coffee-growing regions? Supported byAbout this contentNadra NittleSat 16 Oct 2021 06.00 EDTHeiko Rischer isn’t quite sure how to describe the taste of lab-grown coffee. This summer he sampled one of the first batches in the world produced from cell cultures rather than coffee beans.“To describe it is difficult but, for me, it was in between a coffee and a black tea,” said Rischer, head of plant biotechnology at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, which developed the coffee. “It depends really on the roasting grade, and this was a bit of a lighter roast, so it had a little bit more of a tea-like sensation.”Rischer couldn’t swallow the coffee, as this cellular agriculture innovation is not yet approved for public consumption. Instead, he swirled the liquid around in his mouth and spit it out. He predicts that VTT’s lab-grown coffee could get regulatory approval in Europe and the US in about four years’ time, paving the way for a commercialized product that could have a much lower climate impact than conventional coffee.The coffee industry is both a contributor to the climate crisis and very vulnerable to its effects. Rising demand for coffee has been linked to deforestation in developing nations, damaging biodiversity and releasing carbon emissions. At …

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How did Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin fail to dominate the billionaire space race?

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How did Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin fail to dominate the billionaire space race?

Blue OriginHow did Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin fail to dominate the billionaire space race?The company employs the world’s top engineers and has access to unlimited money but is plagued by safety concerns and toxic workplace culture Daniel OberhausSat 16 Oct 2021 05.00 EDTLast modified on Sat 16 Oct 2021 12.44 EDTThe billionaire space race is only a race by name. In actuality, there is SpaceX – and everyone else.Only the company founded by Elon Musk nearly two decades ago has sent an orbital rocket booster into space and landed it safely again. Only SpaceX has landed a rocket the size of a 15-storey building on a drone ship in the middle of the ocean. Only SpaceX has carried both Nasa astronauts and private citizens to the International Space Station. Only SpaceX is producing thousands of its own table-sized communication satellites every year. Only SpaceX has the almost weekly launch cadence necessary to single-handedly double the number of operational satellites in orbit in less than two years. Only SpaceX is launching prototypes of the largest and most powerful rocket ever made, a behemoth called Starship that is destined to carry humans to the moon.SpaceX’s total dominance of the rocket industry is not what you would expect.There is more innovation happening in the commercial space sector today than at any time in history and the launch services sector is particularly competitive. Relativity Space is building the world’s first 3D-printed rocket and plans to …

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Climate crisis poses ‘serious risks’ to US economy, Biden administration warns

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Climate crisis poses ‘serious risks’ to US economy, Biden administration warns

Biden administrationClimate crisis poses ‘serious risks’ to US economy, Biden administration warnsWhite House issues 40-page report and sets out steps for action as ‘climate impacts already affecting’ jobs, homes and businesses Oliver Milman and Joanna Walters in New York and agenciesFri 15 Oct 2021 10.10 EDTFirst published on Fri 15 Oct 2021 08.35 EDTJoe Biden’s administration on Friday issued a 40-page report warning that the climate crisis “poses serious and systemic risks to the US economy and financial system” and setting out steps for action as “climate impacts are already affecting American jobs, homes, families’ hard-earned savings, and businesses”.The climate disaster is here – this is what the future looks likeRead moreUnder the new plan, the federal government will weigh up climate risks for employee benefit and retirement plan investments, incorporate climate disasters into lending and budgeting decisions and revise building standards for homes at risk of flooding. Government-backed mortgages for public housing will factor in the risk of calamitous floods, wildfires and other climate impacts.“The intensifying impacts of climate change present physical risk to assets, publicly traded securities, private investments, and companies,” the US president said in the report. The climate crisis “threatens the competitiveness of US companies and markets, the life savings and pensions of US workers and families, and the ability of US financial institutions to serve communities”, he added.Gina McCarthy, Biden’s top climate advisor, said that the climate crisis “poses …

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UK public warms to road pricing as fuel duty replacement considered

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UK public warms to road pricing as fuel duty replacement considered

Fuel dutyUK public warms to road pricing as fuel duty replacement consideredAlmost four in 10 back road pricing to replace fuel duty and other taxes as people switch to electric cars Gwyn Topham@GwynTophamFri 15 Oct 2021 08.28 EDTLast modified on Fri 15 Oct 2021 12.35 EDTRoad pricing is seen as a fairer possible system to raise revenue than fuel duty and motoring taxes, thinktank research has found.The switch to electric cars means almost £30bn in fuel duty raised annually for the Treasury will need to be replaced, but politicians have shied away from introducing road pricing as an alternative.Polling for the Social Market Foundation, however, suggests that the conventional political wisdom that voters are opposed to road pricing no longer holds true. Its research found that almost four in 10 people (38%) back road pricing to replace fuel duty and other taxes, with just over a quarter opposed (26%).The rest were open to persuasion, the SMF said, and shared a strong public perception that fuel duty was a heavier burden than other taxes.Fuel duty is 58p per litre of petrol or diesel in the UK. The rate has been frozen by successive Conservative chancellors for more than a decade after becoming a politically sensitive issue after protests.The government has banned the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles from 2030, making reform of taxes an urgent question for the Treasury.Last month, sales of battery electric cars reached a record 33,000, about …

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Google warns of surge in activity by state-backed hackers

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Google warns of surge in activity by state-backed hackers

HackingGoogle warns of surge in activity by state-backed hackersMore than 50,000 alerts sent so far this year, including of an Iranian group that targeted a UK university Dan Milmo Global technology editorFri 15 Oct 2021 08.00 EDTLast modified on Fri 15 Oct 2021 08.54 EDTGoogle has warned of a surge in activity by government-backed hackers this year, including attacks from an Iranian group whose targets included a UK university.The search group said that so far in 2021 it had sent more than 50,000 warnings to account holders that they had been a target of government-backed phishing or malware attempts. This represents an increase of a third on the same period last year, Google said in a blogpost, with the rise attributed to an “unusually large campaign” by a Russian hacking group known as APT28, or Fancy Bear.However, the Google post focused on a group linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, known as APT35, or Charming Kitten, which regularly conducts phishing attacks – where, for instance, an email is used to trick someone into handing over sensitive information or to install malware.“This is the one of the groups we disrupted during the 2020 US election cycle for its targeting of campaign staffers,” wrote Ajax Bash, from Google’s threat analysis group. “For years this group has hijacked accounts, deployed malware, and used novel techniques to conduct espionage aligned with the interests of the Iranian government.”In one attack in early 2021, APT35 attacked a website …

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Sprouts Farmers Market to Pay $280,0000 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Suits

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Sprouts Farmers Market to Pay $280,0000 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Suits

DENVER, Colo. – SFM, LLC, doing business as Sprouts Farmers Market — which operates grocery stores in Colorado and other states — will pay $280,000 to three Deaf injured parties and provide other significant relief to settle lawsuits filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Raymond Clark, the federal agency announced today. The lawsuits charged that Sprouts denied employment to applicants because of their disabilities and that Sprouts denied them reasonable accommodation in the application and hiring process.According to the lawsuits filed by the EEOC and Clark, after Sprouts managers contacted the applicants to interview them for available positions in Colorado, the applicants requested the assistance of an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter for their interviews. The EEOC alleged Sprouts managers failed to make any arrangements for ASL interpreters and ignored the applicants when they followed up about their requests for an accommodation and the interviews.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination based on disability and also requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodation to applicants with disabilities unless doing so would cause significant difficulty or expense for the employer.

The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, Civil Action No. 1:21-cv-02600 NYW, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process and continued negotiations prior to filing suit. Clark joined in the EEOC’s lawsuit, which sought relief for the other two charging parties, and was represented by his own attorney. Under the three-year consent decree settling the suit, Sprouts will pay a total of $280,000 to resolve the claims in these lawsuits. The decree enjoins Sprouts from engaging in discrimination based on disability in the future; requires that Sprouts review and revise its ADA policies; adopt written guidance on reasonable accommodations; and provide ADA training. Sprouts will also send a letter of apology to each of the charging parties.  

 “We appreciate Sprout’s agreement to resolve this case without protracted litigation,” said Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill of the EEOC’s Phoenix District Office. “This consent decree compensates the charging parties, and it will help build policies and practices that will ensure Sprouts affords equal employment opportunities to Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals, including by providing reasonable accommodations during the hiring process and throughout the course of employment.”   

Field Director Amy Burkholder of the EEOC’s Denver Field Office said, “Deaf and hard-of-hearing people face barriers to employment not encountered by other applicants and employees. This settlement highlights the EEOC’s commitment to breaking down those barriers and ensuring Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals are afforded equal employment opportunities.”   

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.

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‘It’s a sweat factory’: Instacart workers ready to strike for pay and conditions

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‘It’s a sweat factory’: Instacart workers ready to strike for pay and conditions

Gig economy‘It’s a sweat factory’: Instacart workers ready to strike for pay and conditionsGig workers report falling wages, unmanageable orders and lack of concern from the company Gloria Oladipo@gaoladipoFri 15 Oct 2021 07.39 EDTLast modified on Fri 15 Oct 2021 09.13 EDTFor Instacart workers across the country, the popular grocery delivery app promised flexibility and a solid wage, perks that enticed thousands to join the app during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.But amid worsening working conditions including plummeting pay, safety concerns, and a punitive rating system, Instacart employees, known as shoppers, will be staging a walkout on 16 October and will continue striking until the company meets their demands for better treatment.Workers, uniting as the Gig Workers Collective, have been organizing against Instacart for years, citing what they say is a trend of unresponsiveness from the company in the face of their concerns. The collective’s asks are mostly for a restoration of features the company has dropped: reinstating Instacart’s commission pay model, paying its shoppers per order rather than bundling them, a 10% default tip instead of the current 5%, transparency about how orders are assigned, and a rating system that doesn’t hurt shoppers forproblems outside their control.Shoppers have also asked for occupational death benefits, noting the increasing dangers shoppers face on the job.Ahead of the walk-off, the Guardian spoke to three Instacart shoppers on their journey to joining Instacart, problems they have encountered since joining the app, and why …

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Ships backed up outside US ports pumping out pollutants as they idle

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Ships backed up outside US ports pumping out pollutants as they idle

Supply chain crisisShips backed up outside US ports pumping out pollutants as they idleThe Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, two of the nation’s busiest, create more than 100 tons a day of smog that choke local communities Gabrielle Canon in Los Angeles@GabrielleCanonFri 15 Oct 2021 07.05 EDTLast modified on Fri 15 Oct 2021 07.07 EDTDozens of behemoth cargo ships adorned with tall stacks of brightly colored containers still dot the coastline off southern California. Part of a shipping bottleneck plaguing US ports, the ships – their diesel-fueled engines always ablaze – are also pumping out pollutants as they idle, anchored off-shore.The clogged supply chain has been described as an economic calamity as the delayed cargo caused shortages in common goods and drove consumer prices higher. But environmentalists and public health advocates are concerned it’s also turning into a climate catastrophe.The container ships awaiting entry are compounding the levels of contaminants that have long come from the ports and that impact the local environment, coastal communities and ambitious carbon targets needed to curb the worst effects of climate change. With the holiday shopping frenzy just around the corner, there are now concerns the problem may get worse before it gets better.“The conversation right now is really focused on supply chain backlog and refilling the shelves with products – but that’s not the whole story,” said Madeline Rose, the climate campaign director for Pacific Environment, a climate advocacy organization that has …

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Food fraud and counterfeit cotton: the detectives untangling the global supply chain – podcast

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Food fraud and counterfeit cotton: the detectives untangling the global supply chain – podcast

Amid the complex web of international trade, proving the authenticity of a product can be near-impossible. But one company is taking the search to the atomic level. By Samanth Subramanian How to listen to podcasts: everything you need to know Read the text version here …

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