San Francisco Just Passed the Nation’s Toughest Ban on Styrofoam – JENNY LUNAJUN. 29, 2016 12:59 PM

Come 2017, selling any polystyrene product will be prohibited.

Denis Vrubleski/Shutterstock

San Franciscans, bid adieu to Styrofoam. On Tuesday, the city unanimously passed an ordinance banning the sale of any product made from polystyrene, the petroleum-based compound that’s molded into disposable dishware, packing materials, and beach toys—among other things. Even though it’s commonly known as Styrofoam, that’s just a name-brand owned by the Dow Chemical Company.

It’s not SF’s first such restriction. In 2007, the city prohibited the use of polystyrene use in all to-go food containers. More than 100 cities, along with Washington, DC, now have similar laws in place. (The first Styrofoam ban was passed in 1988 by the city of Berkeley.) But San Francisco’s new ordinance, part of the city’s goal of “zero waste” by 2020, is the broadest yet. As of January 1, 2017, it will be unlawful to sell polystyrene packing materials (those infuriating foam peanuts, for instance), day-use coolers, trays used in meat and fish packaging, and even foam dock floats and mooring buoys.

Polystyrene’s story begins in the first half of the 20th century, but it didn’t become a staple of our everyday lives until the second half, when world production of plastic resins increased 25 fold. Before long, polystyrene was synonymous with take-out food, barbeque plates, and disposable coffee cups—Americans today still use an estimated 25 billion foam cups each year.

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Senate passes Puerto Rico debt bill – By COLIN WILHELM and SEUNG MIN KIM 06/29/16 03:44 PM EDT Updated 06/29/16 07:30 PM EDT

Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., speak to reporters on Capitol Hill on Tuesday.

Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., speak to reporters on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. | AP Photo

The compromise bill now heads to the president’s desk with just a day to spare before a catastrophic default.

With a day to spare, the Senate passed a bill to rescue Puerto Rico from a $73 billion debt crisis, sending it to President Obama’s desk to be signed into law before the commonwealth defaults on Friday.

The final vote was 68 to 30.

Earlier on Wednesday, the measure easily cleared a procedural hurdle on a 68-32 vote, although lawmakers objecting to the measure, particularly Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), continued to push to amend or replace the bill.

Menendez, perhaps the Senate’s loudest opponent to the bill, expressed major concerns about the powers and structure of the federal oversight board that the legislation creates. He also wanted to strip measures that could allow the Puerto Rico’s governor to lower the minimum wage and provide an exemption from the Department of Labor’s overtime rule.

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The movement that’s fueling Donald Trump’s white nationalist supporters – Vice News Published on Jun 28, 2016

Right-wing groups that promote themselves as “white advocates” have been emboldened by Donald Trump’s candidacy. They say the presumptive Republican nominee is instinctively receptive to many of their ideas.

Far from the rough-and-tumble bigots of the KKK, these clean-cut white nationalists in suits and ties nonetheless hold extreme views on — and believe Trump’s candidacy helps their cause.

VICE News went to an annual conference held by the white nationalist magazine American Renaissance to talk to some of the intellectual leaders behind this growing movement.

Watch “Donald Trump applauds Brits for taking their country back” –

Why Sony and Former MTV Chief Are Recruiting ‘Transmedia’ Storytellers – by Michal Lev-Ram JUNE 29, 2016, 5:30 AM EDT


A new social media incubator working on the future of storytelling.

Picture this: A gender-bending take on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, fed to consumers in non-linear bits and pieces across multiple media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat and Vine.

Actually, such a thing already exists. It’s the brainchild of former MTV Networks CEO Judy McGrath and Sony Music Entertainment. In 2013, the two parties joined forces to create a “next generation content studio” called Astronauts Wanted. What exactly do they do? One of their recent productions was A Trip to Unicorn Island, a documentary about YouTube personality Lilly Singh. (Never heard of Singh? She’s got more than 9 million subscribers on YouTube—that’s waaay more viewers than the official channels of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Donald Trump combined.) Earlier this month, Astronauts Wanted unveiled another innovative project: A “social residency program” for digital storytellers.

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5 winners and 4 losers from this Supreme Court term – Updated by Michelle Garcia, Dara Lind, Andrew Prokop, Emily Crockett, and Victoria M. Massie on June 28, 2016, 1:10 p.m. ET

Pro-choice and pro-life activists demonstrate on the steps of the United States Supreme Court on June 27, 2016, in Washington, DC. -- Pete Marovich/Getty Images

Pro-choice and pro-life activists demonstrate on the steps of the United States Supreme Court on June 27, 2016, in Washington, DC. — Pete Marovich/Getty Images

This year’s Supreme Court term was unsettling. Following the sudden death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia earlier this year — and Senate Republicans’ refusal to fill the seat — it initially seemed the Court might take a more reserved approach.

And the justices did punt in a few areas, including birth control access, and made more convoluted decisions in other cases, but they didn’t back away from all major decisions, particularly in high-profile cases. A few clear winners and losers emerged: The Court decided on the first major abortion rights case in a generation, and essentially put an end to the Obama administration’s sweeping deferred deportation plans for undocumented immigrants.

Here’s who came out ahead this term and who may be traumatized by the sound of a gavel in the future.

Humanity Is Killing Off Thousands of Species. But It’s Creating Them, Too – LIZZIE WADE. 06.28.16. 7:00 PM

During World War II, Londoners often sought shelter from German bombs in the city’s subway tunnels. There, they encountered another type of enemy: hordes of voracious mosquitoes. These weren’t your typical aboveground mosquitoes. They were natives of the metro, born in pools of standing water that pockmarked the underground passageways. And unlike their open-air cousins, London’s subterranean skeeters seemed to love biting humans.

Fifty years after the war ended, scientists at the University of London decided to investigate the subway population. They collected eggs and larvae from subway tunnels and garden ponds and reared both populations in the lab. The tunnel bugs, they confirmed, preferred feeding on mammals over birds. And when the scientists put males and females from different populations in close quarters designed to encourage mating, not a single pairing produced offspring. That sealed the deal: The underground mosquitoes were a whole new species, adapted to life in the subway tunnels people had built.

It’s stories like that one that got Joseph Bull thinking. As a conservation scientist at the University of Copenhagen, he hears a lot about how humans are driving other species extinct. If the current rate stays steady, the planet is on its way to its sixth mass extinction, a severe event on par with the meteorite impact that killed the dinosaurs. But he wondered if there might be a flip side. “I hadn’t really seen any kind of analysis of whether all these kinds of activities that humans get up to around the planet, whether and how they cause new species to emerge,” he says. The Anthropocene—while not quite yet an official geological epoch, still a supremely useful concept—is defined by the myriad ways in which humans affect the Earth. Civilization is destructive, but it’s generative too, sometimes in disturbing ways. A new world will emerge out of the Anthropocene, and it will be shaped by the species humans create and foster as well as the ones they kill off.

The most obvious way that people create new species is through domestication. By picking out the traits in a wild population that are most beneficial to humans and breeding for them, people can “force evolution in different species,” Bull says. Wolves become dogs, nubby grass becomes maize, wild boars become pigs.

But humans can drive speciation in other, less purposeful ways. “It’s important to think about the creation of new species as a process,” Bull says. One of the most dramatic ways people put that process in motion is by moving members of an existing species from one place to another. Sometimes those individuals die in the new environment. Sometimes they hang on and interbreed with native species. And sometimes, they take over, like kudzu in the American South or snakes on Guam. Over time, the new environment exerts different pressures on the invasive population, causing it to diverge from its ancestors. The invasive species might also change the game for native species, pushing them in new genetic directions (if, of course, it doesn’t just drive them extinct).

Although hunting is one good way to drive a species extinct (just ask the passenger pigeon), it can also spur evolution by removing certain types of individuals from a species gene pool—birds of an easy-to-see color, say, or fish large enough to be caught in a net. No new species is known to have been created through hunting alone, Bull says, but given enough time it’s far from impossible.

Finally, we have the process that created the underground mosquito: People’s propensity to create whole new ecosystems, including and especially cities. Populations of animals colonize these new environments and adapt to their demands, from mosquitoes developing a taste for mammals blood underground to city birds becoming better problem-solvers than their rural relatives.

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