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Submission + - Recycling is Dying 1

HughPickens.com writes: Aaron C. Davis writes in the Washington Post that recycling, once a profitable business for cities and private employers alike, has become a money-sucking enterprise. Almost every recycling facility in the country is running in the red and recyclers say that more than 2,000 municipalities are paying to dispose of their recyclables instead of the other way around. “If people feel that recycling is important — and I think they do, increasingly — then we are talking about a nationwide crisis,” says David Steiner, chief executive of Waste Management, the nation’s largest recycler.

The problem with recylcing is that a storm of falling oil prices, a strong dollar and a weakened economy in China have sent prices for American recyclables plummeting worldwide. Trying to encourage conservation, progressive lawmakers and environmentalists have made matters worse. By pushing to increase recycling rates with bigger and bigger bins — while demanding almost no sorting by consumers — the recycling stream has become increasingly polluted and less valuable, imperiling the economics of the whole system. “We kind of got everyone thinking that recycling was free,” says Bill Moore. “It’s never really been free, and in fact, it’s getting more expensive.”

One big problem is that China doesn't want to buy our garbage anymore. In the past China had sent so many consumer goods to the United States that all the shipping containers were coming back empty. So US companies began stuffing the return-trip containers with recycled cardboard boxes, waste paper and other scrap. China could, in turn, harvest the raw materials. Everyone won. But China has launched "Operation Green Fence" — a policy to prohibit the import of unwashed post-consumer plastics and other "contaminated" waste shipments. In China, containerboard, a common packaging product from recycled American paper, is trading at just over $400 a metric ton, down from nearly $1,000 in 2010. China also needs less recycled newsprint; the last paper mill in Shanghai closed this year. "If the materials we are exporting are so contaminated that they are being rejected by those we sell to," says Valerie Androutsopoulos, "maybe it’s time to take another look at dual stream recycling."

Submission + - Jeremy Clarkson Dismissed From Top Gear

An anonymous reader writes: According to BBC News, Jeremy Clarkson, longstanding main host for the automobile television show Top Gear, will not have his contract renewed. This decision came about two weeks after he was suspended due to an altercation with a Top Gear producer involving catering during filming for the show. Admittedly not the nerdiest news of the day, but it can be said that his thirteen-year run on the new format of Top Gear has interested many Slashdot users who love their cars and the entertainment that the show has brought to them.

Submission + - Thirteen Wikipedia editors sanctioned in mammoth GamerGate arbitration case (wikipedia.org)

The ed17 writes: The English Wikipedia's Arbitration Committee has closed the colossal GamerGate arbitration case. One editor has been site-banned, while another twelve are subject to remedies ranging from admonishments to broad topic bans and suspended sitebans. Arbitrator Roger Davies told the Signpost that the case was complicated by its size and complexity, including 27 named parties and 41 editors presenting roughly 34,000 words worth of on-wiki evidence—a total that does not include email correspondence.

Submission + - Two Data Driven Investigations of 'Deflate Gate'

vortex2.71 writes: In light of the NFL 'Deflate Gate' scandal, Slate.com has a pair of articles on the New England Patriots’ statistically unlikely prevention of fumbles and on the change in their fumble rates after Tom Brady lobbied the NFL to allow teams to provide the balls for their own offenses in 2007 . Regardless of your team allegiance, the articles provide interesting statistical insight into the debate from a data science perspective.

Submission + - A Tumblr getting racists fired from their job (businessinsider.com) 4

An anonymous reader writes: There's a Tumblr dedicated to identifying people making racist comments online, and trying to get them fired from their job. Is this a scary example of groupthink, or an efficient way to cleanse the underbelly of America?

Submission + - A vast surveillance network runs across America, powered by repo men (betaboston.com)

v3rgEz writes: Even as some police departments curtail their sue of license plate scanning technology over privacy concerns, private companies have been amassing a much larger, almost completely unregulated database that pulls in billions of scans a year, marking the exact time and location of millions of vehicles across America. The database, which is often offered to law enforcement for free, is collected by repo and towing companies eager to tap easy revenue, while the database companies than resell that data, often for as little as $25 for a plate's complete recorded history.

Submission + - Man Jailed for Gmail Invite to Ex-Girlfriend

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: ABC News reports that a Massachusetts man has been jailed for sending his ex-girlfriend an email invitation to join Google+. But Thomas Gagnon, who has a restraining order against him, contends he didn't send it; Google did, without his knowledge or consent. When his ex-girlfriend received the invitation, according to the Salem News, she went to the police, complaining Gagnon had violated the restraining order by sending her the email. Police agreed and arrested him, the News reported. He was jailed then released on $500 bail. Gagnon’s attorney says his client has no idea how the woman he once planned to marry — popping the question with a $4,000 ring earlier this month — got such an invitation, suggesting that it's entirely possible Gagnon is telling the truth — that he did not intentionally or knowingly send the invitation. "If he didn't send it — if Google sent it without his permission and he was jailed for it — Google could be facing major liability." Shear pointed out a Google product forum from 2011 and 2012 titled "Prevent automatic email invitations to Google+?" that contains a number of angry complaints by Google+ users about the automatic invitation feature. In response these complaints, a Google Community Manager calling herself "Natalie" responded: "Thanks for your feedback. Right now the emails that go out alert people of your activity on Google+, and more importantly the sharing of content with them. We send them an email when they aren't yet on Google+ so they know that you are out there in the world [of] G+. They should only incur this email once." Shear noted: "Google is going through every one of your contacts and sending them an invitation, whether it's your doctor, your lawyer, your mistress, or your ex-fiancee who's got a restraining order against you." He called this, "a perfect example of what happens when a company oversteps its bounds."

Submission + - MuseScore aims make 50,000 new Braille scores available to blind musicians (kickstarter.com)

rDouglass writes: After meeting Eunah Choi, a blind pianist from S. Korea, and learning about the accessibility problems faced by classical musicians who cannot see, MuseScore is planning to radically increase the number of Braille scores available, to make them easier to find, and affordable to acquire. This effort is an extension to the Open Well-Tempered Clavier project, and will involve the creation of a free web-service that bridges the gap between open source MuseScore and MusicXML-to-Braille libraries. It also involves converting the 50,000 scores on MuseScore.com into Braille, and making the website more accessible to blind and vision impaired visitors. Why is this important? For every 100 scores that are available in a traditional music catalog, only one will be available as Braille for blind musicians.

Submission + - Want to see Booz Allen's FBI contracts? Fork over $271,095

v3rgEz writes: In most of America, you could probably buy a home for $270,000. Or, if you were a public documents wonk, you could get all of the 95,000 pages the FBI says may relate to its contracts with Booz Allen Hamilton over the last five years.

As part of a running look at outsourcing government work to Booz Allen Hamilton, MuckRock has already acquired thousands of pages of contracts with various agencies. A number of agencies, however, are requesting huge search fees simply to look at the contracts they have with one of America's largest service providers, Booz Allen Hamilton, including the Department of Labor ($1,500) and Homeland Security ($1,262).

That's still not the largest FOIA fee assessed though: Recently the Postal Service asked for $451,875 to hand over law enforcement tracking requests.

Submission + - Sea Level Rise Can't be Stopped 1

riverat1 writes: Sea level rise won't stop for several hundred years even if we reverse global warming according to a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change. As warmer water is mixed down into the oceans it causes thermal expansion of the water. Under the best emissions scenario the expected rise is 14.2 cm, under the worst 32.2 cm in 2100 (6 & 13 inches) from thermal expansion alone. Any glacial/ice sheet melt and water pumped from aquifers is on top of that. An easier to read summary is available at Reuters.

Submission + - Mac OS X 10.8 Limited to App Store/Signed Apps by Default (osnews.com)

I(rispee_I(reme writes: The newest preview release of the Macintosh Operating System is configured to prevent applications from running, unless they are signed by Apple. This includes applications found on the App Store. While this setting is optional, it is enabled by default. Is this the latest step in a series of restriction on using Apple platforms for general-purpose computing?

Submission + - Curt Schilling Fires Entire Staff At Video Game Company (ibtimes.com)

redletterdave writes: "On Thursday, former Boston Red Sox pitcher and tech entrepreneur Curt Schilling fired his entire staff at 38 Studios, his Rhode Island-based video game company, leaving more than 300 employees without jobs because the company couldn't repay its debt to the state. 38 Studios failed to pay Rhode Island's economic development agency $1.1 million, which was due last week, and also failed to meet payroll for its staff in both its Providence office and its Maryland subsidiary, Big Huge Games."

Submission + - Spontaneous fission in Fukushima Daiichi Unit 2 (japantimes.co.jp)

Kyusaku Natsume writes: Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Wednesday that some of the melted fuel in reactor 2 at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant may have triggered a brief criticality event. Tsuyoshi Misawa, a reactor physics and engineering professor at Kyoto University's Research Reactor Institute, said that if Tepco's data are correct, "it's clear that the detection (of xenon-133 and -135) comes from nuclear fission."

Tepco spokesman Junichi Matsumoto said the test results suggest that either small-scale fission occurred in the melted fuel, or conditions to trigger criticality were temporarily met for some other reason. He said the same thing could also happen at reactors 1 and 3.

But because the reactor's temperature and pressure level have not changed, the fission would not have been large-scale, Matsumoto said, adding it would not thwart Tepco's schedule for achieving a cold shutdown at the reactors.

In response, boric acid water was injected again in November 2. The Japan Atomic Energy Agency evaluated that the TEPCO's analysis result of the short-half-life radionuclide such as Xe-133 and Xe-135 detection was valid. On the plus side, the concentration of radioactive materials in air is low enough that in some areas inside Fukushima Daiichi for the first time since the accident workers will not use full face masks, starting next week.

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