World Oceans Day, fifth ocean, Southern Ocean, antarctica, climate change
The author writes, “Those familiar with the Southern Ocean, the body of water encircling Antarctica, know it’s unlike any other. ... Since National Geographic began making maps in 1915, it has recognized four oceans: the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, and Arctic oceans. Starting on June 8, World Oceans Day, it will recognize the Southern Ocean as the world’s fifth ocean. ‘The Southern Ocean has long been recognized by scientists, but because there was never agreement internationally, we never officially recognized it,’ said National Geographic Society Geographer Alex Tait. ... The Southern Ocean has a crucial impact on Earth's climate.” Photo credit: Christopher Michel / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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The Secret IRS Files: Trove of Never-Before-Seen Records Reveal How the Wealthiest Avoid Income Tax (Reader Jim)

From ProPublica: “In 2007, Jeff Bezos, then a multibillionaire and now the world’s richest man, did not pay a penny in federal income taxes. He achieved the feat again in 2011. In 2018, Tesla founder Elon Musk, the second-richest person in the world, also paid no federal income taxes. … ProPublica has obtained a vast trove of Internal Revenue Service data on the tax returns of thousands of the nation’s wealthiest people, covering more than 15 years. The data provides an unprecedented look inside the financial lives of America’s titans, including Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Rupert Murdoch and Mark Zuckerberg. It shows not just their income and taxes, but also their investments, stock trades, gambling winnings and even the results of audits.”

What Rebekah Jones Saw Behind the Scenes at the Florida Department of Health (DonkeyHotey)

From the Miami Herald: “The daily reality of the Florida Department of Health is far tamer than what conspiracy theorists on Twitter imagine. There are no bodies kept in warehouses to skew death statistics, Jones said. A review of thousands of emails Jones downloaded from her DOH inbox tells the story of a lurching but sincere effort to keep Floridians safe that was defined more by chaos than conspiracy. Florida’s COVID data are collected and analyzed by a bare-bones group of epidemiologists at the department of health — a team, referred to in short as ‘Epi’ — located in a nondescript office in Tallahassee usually worlds away from politics and drama.”

Improving Ventilation Will Help Curb SARS-CoV-2 (Gerry)

From the Economist: “In cracking the puzzle of superspreading, researchers have had to re-evaluate their understanding of SARS-CoV-2’s transmission. Most documented superspreadings have happened indoors and involved large groups gathered in poorly ventilated spaces. That points to SARS-CoV-2 being a virus which travels easily through the air, in contradistinction to the early belief that short-range encounters and infected surfaces were the main risks. This, in turn, suggests that paying attention to the need for good ventilation will be important in managing the next phase of the pandemic, as people return to mixing with each other inside homes, offices, gyms, restaurants and other enclosed spaces.”

What Happened When Evanston Became America’s First City to Promise Reparations (Dana)

The authors write, “Cities across the country and the state of California are starting to make a case for local reparations. They would have to be more limited but could come sooner. Evanston [IL] is relatively small and relatively wealthy, with some 75,000 people living in eight square miles. About 16% of the city’s residents are Black, and some of the families … have lived there for more than a hundred years. Evanston had set up an Equity and Empowerment Commission in 2018 and apologized for its history of discrimination. It’s not a surprise that it was the first to agree to pay reparations. But Evanston’s ambitions have collided with the program’s particulars, especially since the City Council voted in late March to begin paying out the first $400,000 to a select few applicants in the coming months.” 

Amazon Delivery Drivers Are Injured More Often Than the Company’s Warehouse Workers (Reader Steve)

The author writes, “Drivers for the hundreds of Amazon delivery contractors in the U.S. ferrying packages to customers’ doorsteps sustain injuries at higher rates than any other link in the commerce giant’s logistics chain, according to a new report from a national labor organization. Amazon’s contract delivery drivers are also hurt at higher rates than competitor UPS, according to the report, from the Strategic Organizing Center. The labor union coalition analyzed injury data collected by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.”

Pesticides Are Killing the World’s Soils (Sean)

The authors write, “Scoop up a shovelful of healthy soil, and you’ll likely be holding more living organisms than there are people on the planet Earth. Like citizens of an underground city that never sleeps, tens of thousands of subterranean species of invertebrates, nematodes, bacteria and fungi are constantly filtering our water, recycling nutrients and helping to regulate the earth’s temperature. But beneath fields covered in tightly knit rows of corn, soybeans, wheat and other monoculture crops, a toxic soup of insecticides, herbicides and fungicides is wreaking havoc, according to our newly published analysis in the journal Frontiers in Environmental Science.”

Chinese Elephant Herd Hits the Road on Quest Through Urban Jungle (Dan)

From the South China Morning Post: “They started suddenly about six months ago and nobody really knows why. In December, a herd of 15 elephants, including mothers with their young, left their tropical forest home of Puer prefecture in southwest China’s Yunnan province and started marching north. After 400km (250 miles) they are still on the move and less than 100km from the provincial capital of Kunming, a distance an adult elephant can cover in a day. On the way, the herd has strolled through villages and towns, and down metropolitan highways and main roads, ignoring police sirens.”

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