WHAT TO WATCH FOR TODAY!
US sanctions on Russia take effect.
The sanctions were announced in response to the poisoning of Russian national Sergei Skripal in the UK, about which Moscow has denied any involvement. The restrictions will end foreign assistance and some arms sales, and stay in place for a year.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry said the sanctions will only create more tension between the two countries, the RIA news agency reported on Friday.
Although President Donald Trump has often said he would like better ties with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, Washington’s relations with Moscow are at a low – frayed by U.S. allegations Russia interfered in its 2016 presidential election, and by disagreements over Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and its role in the Syrian civil war.
Plans to impose the latest sanctions were announced by the Trump administration on Aug. 8, a response to what the State Department said was Moscow’s use of a nerve agent against a former Russian agent and his daughter in Britain in March.
Moscow has denied involvement in the attack. It has also denied meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections.
‘CHANGE IN BEHAVIOR’
Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, said on Friday Moscow must change its ways before the United States will lift its already long list of sanctions.
“The sanctions remain in force and will remain in force until the required change in Russian behavior,” he told a news conference in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev.
The new measures will be published and come into effect on Aug. 27 and remain in place for at least one year, according to the notice in the Federal Register, a daily catalog of government agency actions. They are authorized by the 1991 Chemical and Biological Weapons and Warfare Elimination Act.
Space flight activities, government space cooperation, areas concerning commercial aviation safety and urgent humanitarian assistance will be exempt.
A second batch of penalties will be imposed after 90 days unless Russia gives “reliable assurance” that it would no longer use chemical weapons and allow on-site inspections by the United Nations or another international observer group.
Soon after the attack on the Skripals, Washington also showed solidarity with Britain and announced it would expel 60 Russian diplomats, joining governments across Europe in punishing the Kremlin.
The US Open kicks off in New York.
The fourth and final Grand Slamtennis tournament of the year sees American Sloane Stephens and Spaniard Rafael Nadal attempt to become the first repeat champions since Roger Federer won the tournament five years in a row starting in 2004.
NAFTA negotiations continue.
Apparent breakthroughs in bilateral negotiations between Mexico and the US on issues like cars and energy could mean that differences may be resolved as soon as today.Along with Canada, they’ve been negotiating for a year to overhaul the 24-year-old accord at the insistence of Donald Trump. The U.S. president says the deal has led to hundreds of thousands of lost American jobs, and he promised to either change it to be more favorable to the U.S., or withdraw.
Trump said Saturday on Twitter that the U.S. could have a “big Trade Agreement” with its southern neighbor soon. The terms of any deal struck by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer would need the president’s final approval. Companies operating across North America have worried that some of Trump’s demands could hurt the region’s economy.
Talks continued Sunday at the USTR’s offices in Washington. Arriving at the meeting, Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo was upbeat.
“The story of these types of things is always defined in the final minute, and I would say that we’re practically into the final hours of this negotiation,” Guajardo told reporters. “We’ll do everything possible to try to land a deal.”
Guajardo predicted that the U.S. and Mexico would need at least a week of work to resolve issues with Canada whenever the nation rejoins talks.
Mexico’s peso strengthened as much as 0.7 percent to 18.7789 per dollar in early Asian Monday trading.
There were signs this weekend of progress on some of the most complicated issues. Jesus Seade, the Nafta representative for Mexican president-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, on Saturday predicted that the nations will agree on a lighter version of a so-called “sunset clause,” an automatic expiration after five years — a key U.S. demand.
Guajardo has said repeatedly he expects the issue to be one of the last resolved once Canada returns to the talks. He’s proposed regular Nafta evaluations without the threat of any sudden death to the agreement.
The sunset clause is likely to see some type of compromise, said a U.S. official who asked not to be named. The person added that work on bilateral issues with Mexico is almost entirely complete.
It remains unclear how U.S. and Mexican negotiators would frame any announcement about the completion of work on their bilateral issues. Guajardo has signaled that the nation won’t declare victory on Nafta until Canada also signs on.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Sunday morning that the administration has “no announcements or anything finalized at this time.” Lighthizer and Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, declined to comment on Sunday afternoon as they left USTR, apparently headed for lunch.
The administrations of Trump and outgoing Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto have been working for five weeks to resolve specific bilateral issues so Canada can rejoin the talks. The U.S. and Mexico are pushing for an agreement this month that would give the countries time to sign the pact before Lopez Obrador takes office in December.
A Canadian official declined to comment and referred back to remarks from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who said last week he was encouraged by optimism coming from the U.S. and Mexico but won’t sign just any deal.
On Saturday, Seade told reporters that the nations have resolved concerns that the deal had too many restrictions on how the next government can treat foreign oil companies investing in Mexico.
The U.S. and Mexico in recent weeks had largely focused on the thorny issue of car manufacturing, as the Trump administration pushes for a deal aimed at boosting factory jobs in the U.S. Washington has proposed tightening regional content requirements for car production and having a certain percentage of a car manufactured by higher-paid workers.
While a U.S. proposal to increase tariffs on cars imported from Mexico that don’t meet new content rules has long been a sticking point, that issue appeared to have been resolved by Thursday.
The U.S. agreed to keep the 2.5 percent tariff currently applied under World Trade Organization rules if the cars are made at factories that already exist, according to two people familiar with the plans, who asked not to be named discussing private negotiations.
That would leave open the possibility that cars that don’t meet the rules and are built at new plants could face tariffs of 20 percent to 25 percent, pending the results of a Section 232 national security investigation that Trump ordered in May, the people said.
While Trump has floated the idea of negotiating bilateral trade accords — finalizing one with Mexico before moving to pursue a separate pact with Canada — both Mexico and Canada have said they want to keep a three-nation deal.
OVER THE WEEKEND
Senator John McCain died.
A celebrated war hero and former GOP presidential candidate, McCain spent the last year in treatment for brain cancer. McCain, 81, was often critical of Donald Trump, and the White House didn’t release an official statement on his death ,The president did not make even the most cursory public show of respect on Sunday for Mr. McCain, against whom he had continued to indulge a personal grievance even as it was apparent that the Arizona Republican was losing his battle with brain cancer. The president spent much of the day golfing and attacking his usual enemies on Twitter.
It was the start of what promises to be a difficult week for Mr. Trump. Mr. McCain quietly declared before his death that he did not want Mr. Trump to take part in his funeral, a decision that will render the president a virtual pariah as the senator is eulogized by former presidents and other luminaries as a principled war hero and dedicated public servant.
But more than just the culmination of a political feud, the specter of Mr. Trump’s highly visible absence from Mr. McCain’s funeral on Saturday morning at Washington National Cathedral underscored the degree to which the president has veered from the norms of his office, unwilling to act as a unifying force at major moments in the life of the country.—Trump tweeted condolences to his family instead. The president will reportedly not attend the funeral (paywall).
Three people died in a shooting in Jacksonville, Florida.
The suspect shot dead two people and injured nine others at a video-game tournament, before killing himself, on Sunday. Jacksonville sheriff Mike Williams said the shooter was 24-year-old David Katz from Baltimore, who was a participant at the competition.
Asked if FBI and ATF agents were investigating the home in Baltimore believed to be connected to Katz, Williams said: “We are having … there is some cooperation going on in Baltimore.”
Several dozen gamers had been playing or watching others play the Madden NFL19 football video game, which simulates American football.“The suspect used at least one handgun to commit this act,” said Williams.
The shooting took place at a popular complex called the Jacksonville Landing. Searching the shops and restaurants in the aftermath of the shooting, the local sheriff said armed response officers found “many people hiding in locked areas”.
Of the nine people with gunshot wounds, Williams said, seven were taken to hospital and two transported themselves.
Florida’s governor, Rick Scott, said local authorities would be provided with all required assistance. Senator Marco Rubio said federal authorities were involved. The White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, told reporters Donald Trump had been briefed on events in Florida. Scott said Trump had called to offer all necessary assistance.
The UN released its report on the Myanmar crisis.
Human rights investigators said that the country’s army killed and raped Muslim Rohingya people with “genocidal intent,” and recommended that the commander-in-chief and five generals be prosecuted. It has been one year since the military crackdown in Rakhine state that drove hundreds of thousands of Rohingya from their homes.
A report by investigators was the first time the United Nations has explicitly called for Myanmar officials to face genocide charges over their campaign against the Rohingya, and is likely to deepen the country’s isolation.
The investigators called for the U.N. Security Council to impose an arms embargo on Myanmar, subject its officials to targeted sanctions and set up an ad hoc tribunal to try suspects or refer them to the International Criminal Court in the Hague.
The report also could serve as a major catalyst for change in how the world’s big social media companies handle hate speech in parts of the world where they have limited direct presence but their platforms command huge influence.The investigators sharply criticised Facebook, which has become Myanmar’s dominant social media network despite having no employees there, for letting its platform be used to incite violence and hatred.
Elon Musk said Tesla will stay public.
Writing on the company’s blog, the CEO indicated that he accepted investors’ concerns about the difficulties of taking the company private—it would be “even more time-consuming and distracting than initially anticipated,” he wrote. Instead, Musk vowed to focus on ramping up Model 3 production and Tesla’s profitability.
“I’m incredibly excited to continue leading Tesla as a public company,” Musk wrote. “It is a privilege.” He also sent an email to employees explaining his decision, according to CNBC.
You can read the entire Tesla blog post below.
Earlier this month, I announced that I was considering taking Tesla private. As part of the process, it was important to understand whether our current investors believed this would be a good strategic move and whether they would want to participate in a private Tesla.
Our investors are extremely important to me. Almost all have stuck with us from the time we went public in 2010 when we had no cars in production and only a vision of what we wanted to be. They believe strongly in our mission to advance sustainable energy and care deeply about our success.
I worked with Silver Lake, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, who have world-class expertise in these matters, to consider the many factors that would come into play in taking Tesla private, and to process all the incoming interest that we received from investors to fund a go-private transaction. I also spent considerable time listening to current shareholders, large and small, to understand what they think would be in the best long-term interests of Tesla.
Based on all the discussions that have taken place over the last couple of weeks and a thorough consideration of what is best for the company, a few things are clear to me:
- Given the feedback I’ve received, it’s apparent that most of Tesla’s existing shareholders believe we are better off as a public company. Additionally, a number of institutional shareholders have explained that they have internal compliance issues that limit how much they can invest in a private company. There is also no proven path for most retail investors to own shares if we were private. Although the majority of shareholders I spoke to said they would remain with Tesla if we went private, the sentiment, in a nutshell, was “please don’t do this.”
- I knew the process of going private would be challenging, but it’s clear that it would be even more time-consuming and distracting than initially anticipated. This is a problem because we absolutely must stay focused on ramping Model 3 and becoming profitable. We will not achieve our mission of advancing sustainable energy unless we are also financially sustainable.
- That said, my belief that there is more than enough funding to take Tesla private was reinforced during this process.
After considering all of these factors, I met with Tesla’s Board of Directors yesterday and let them know that I believe the better path is for Tesla to remain public. The Board indicated that they agree.
Moving forward, we will continue to focus on what matters most: building products that people love and that make a difference to the shared future of life on Earth. We’ve shown that we can make great sustainable energy products, and we now need to show that we can be sustainably profitable. With all the progress we’ve made on Model 3, we’re positioned to do this, and that’s what the team and I are going to be putting all of our efforts toward.
Thank you to all of our investors, customers and employees for the support you’ve given our company. I’m incredibly excited to continue leading Tesla as a public company. It is a privilege.
The pope asked Ireland for forgiveness.
During an emotionally fraught visit, Francis admitted that church officials should have done more to combat sexual abuse and the mistreatment of unwed mothers. On Sunday, Francis said he would not respond to a statement by a former top Vatican official calling for his resignationand accusing him of knowing for years about the sex-abuse allegations against US cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
The wet and windy weather may be partly to blame, but several thousands opted to join a large gathering of protestors against years of sex abuses by clergy that the Roman Catholic Church has quietly ignored for years. The protest was organized by Colm O’Gorman, Amnesty International’s executive director who has openly spoken about being raped by a Catholic priest as a teen.
Reports of predatory, pedophilic behavior by priests, and sexual abuse in Catholic-operated orphanages and shelters have rocked the Irish Catholic Church. Among the most egregious cases involves the Raphoe diocese’s Rev. Eugene Greene, who served nine years in prison for raping and molesting 26 boys between 1965 and 1982. The discovery of a mass grave of 800 children at a Catholic-run home in Tuam, County Galway last year and testimonies about the inhumane and squalid conditions at the Magdalene Laundries, operated by the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of Refuge, have eroded the Church.
Pope Francis sided with protestors and asked for forgiveness.“We ask forgiveness for all the times that we, as the Church, did not provide survivors of any kind of abuse compassion, to look for justice, and the truth, and concrete actions, so we ask forgiveness,” he said during today’s mass, echoing the message of his Aug. 20 papal letter.
The Pope also delivered the contrite message when he met with Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar, the country’s first openly gay taoiseach, on Saturday (Aug. 25). “The failure of ecclesiastical authorities—bishops, religious superiors, priests and others—adequately to address these appalling crimes has rightly given rise to outrage, and remains a source of pain and shame for the Catholic community. I myself share those sentiments,” he said.
But former Vatican ambassador to Washington Carlo Maria Vigano doesn’t believe Pope Francis will act on his resolutions and called for his resignation. In an 11-page testimony, Vigano claims that the Pope Francis willfully ignored reports about Washington, DC’s disgraced Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, who reportedly made sexual advances towards children, priests and seminarians.
Q-MHI OBSESSION INTERLUDE
Gwynn Guilford on how 1825 foreshadowed the problems facing emerging markets today. “The slow-building threat of US tightening has given emerging-market leaders plenty of time to build reserves, limit reliance of dollar-denominated sovereign debt, and rein in budget deficits. But if the lessons of history are anything to go by, the deeper their ties to global financial centers, the less control smaller countries have over their own monetary systems—which means there may be more shakeups ahead.”
As of the end of 2017, corporations in emerging markets owed $3.7 trillion in dollar debt, nearly twice the amount they owed in 2008, according to the Bank for International Settlements. Analogies to 1997’s Asian financial crisis and Mexico’s “Tequila” crisis of 1994 abound. But the roots of emerging-market crises lie further back in the history books. In The Volatility Machine: Emerging Economics and the Threat of Financial Collapse, finance professor Michael Pettis urges us to look to Europe in the early 1800s, just after the end of the Napoleonic Wars. The financial conditions and innovations that gave rise to the first truly global crisis, in 1825, are in many ways similar to the conditions that have led Turkey and Argentina to their current precarious states.
For France, the year 1815 started out calm enough. Napoleon Bonaparte was in far-away Elba off the Tuscan coast, having been exiled to the island by a coalition of European powers. But in February, Napoleon escaped—and wasted no time in going back to attacking coalition forces in what became known as the Hundred Days War.
On the evening of June 18th, English and Prussian armies surprised Napoleon with a decisive defeat at Waterloo. When the ink dried on the Treaties of Paris in late November, France suddenly owed the rest of Europe a heck of a lot of money. As reparations for the Hundred Days War, the victors slapped France with a bill of 700 million francs, to be paid over the next five years—equal to around 20% of France’s annual GDP. (You can see how sharp that increase was in the chart below.)
That was a tough ask for France. Its war-sacked treasury was virtually bare. Its credibility was similarly void, having defaulted on previous sovereign debts—suggesting it would have to pay nosebleed rates on debt to lure buyers to take on the risk. Indeed, in 1816, it was forced to issue short-term treasury bonds at the steep rate of 12%, according to research (pdf, p.13) by economist Eugene N. White.
Somehow, though, France prevailed—a feat that not only restored its public finances, but that also had much bigger global implications. The unexpected foreign enthusiasm for French bonds sold to pay the war debts created a borderless surge of liquidity—a crucial early component of what would soon become the first global lending boom.
The big rentes bull market
France’s fiscal comeback began with the help of one of the world’s most esteemed financiers, the British banker Alexander Baring, one of the heads of Baring Brothers & Co, as well as of the London branch of the Dutch bank, Hope & Co. Starting in 1817, Baring issued a series of loans to France. After underwriting the loan, Baring then sold the rentes, as government bonds were known, to investors via the secondary market.
MATTERS OF DEBATE
Software should encourage us to stop and think.
From impulse buys to knee-jerk reactions, we’re using technology to make the world more haphazard.
A recent study by comparison-shopping site Finder revealed that more than 88 percent of Americans admitted to spontaneous impulse buying online, blowing an average of $81.75 each time we lose control. Clothes, videogames, concert tickets. One in five of us succumb weekly. Millennials do it the most.
“The main emotion that people feel after this impulsive spending is regret,” says Jennifer McDermott, a consumer advocate for Finder. While it’s not an impartial estimate, Finder calculates that we spend more than $17 billion on impulse buys—which is a lot of regret.
Aramco should ditch its IPO.
Saudi Arabia needs to focus on weaning itself off oil first (paywall), then attract investments in a more stable economy.The long-awaited initial public offering of Saudi Arabian Oil Co., or Saudi Aramco, has been put on hold, according to my colleagues in Bloomberg News. Given it is already two-and-a-half years since the sale was first mooted, “on hold” sounds a lot like “how about never?” For their part, the Saudi authorities, citing preparations made to date, insisted late Wednesday evening that the IPO hadn’t been cancelled — as Reuters had earlier reported — but that it would go ahead at a time of the government’s own choosing.
In any case, it’s fair to say that MBS’s confident proclamations about the mother of all IPOs were a tad premature and that $2 trillion valuation he spoke of was decidedly not secured (still, at least no one could mistake $2,000,000,000,000 for a joke about weed).
One obvious explanation for deferring the IPO further still is that while oil prices are far better than they were in early 2016, oil at $70-ish a barrel isn’t enough to pull the trigger. Obvious, but shallow. There’s a much bigger problem: Like Musk’s $420-a-share take-private tweet, the whole concept of the Aramco IPO was far too premature.
The One Percent
Implied valuations for Aramco remain closer to $1 trillion than $2 trillion, with even small moves in the discount rate moving the needle a lot
Source: Bloomberg News, Bloomberg Opinion analysis
Note: Assumptions include crude oil production of 11 million barrels a day; downstream cash flow per barrel of $3; realized crude oil price at 91 percent of Brent.
Bassam Fattouh and Laurence Harris of the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies nailed the issue in a report published in March 2017:
[T]he IPO can’t be isolated from the range of recent reforms and adjustments taking place in Saudi Arabia and the pace of these reforms will be key in determining the valuation of Saudi Aramco.
Put another way: MBS dropped the bombshell of an Aramco IPO as part of a marketing blitz for his bigger plan to reform the Saudi economy, and in doing so got things precisely backwards.
When I took a stab at valuing Aramco a few months ago, two things were clear. One, getting to $2 trillion under any reasonable set of assumptions was nigh on impossible. Two, the biggest determinant of whatever that number was going to be was the discount rate investors would put on Aramco’s free cash flow. This was, above all, a dividend story. Long-term oil-price assumptions mattered (another reason why it’s shallow to focus on today’s price) but the risk premium was the big swing factor, with a 1 percentage point move shifting things by $200 billion or more.
And that risk premium was tied inextricably to the Saudi reform project. State-owned oil companies, even one as highly respected as Aramco, are a tough sell to minority shareholders (see this). But they’re an easier sell if investors are comfortable with the state they’re in. Thus, for example, selling shares in Aramco wasn’t a necessary step in reforming Saudi Arabia’s subsidized domestic energy prices. But getting the latter done would tee up an eventual IPO nicely, both by showing evidence of wider economic reforms and removing a big burden from Aramco’s financial statements. Needless to say, stuff like rounding up princes and detaining them at Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton or getting into a spat with the Canadians don’t settle nerves.
You can pack your kids the same lunch every day.
A good lunch only needs healthy essentials, not a social media-friendly aesthetic that changes daily.If Instagram and Pinterest are to be believed, there are parents who take real pleasure in lovingly crafting beautiful lunches for their children to take to school every day. Fruit medleys of citrus stars studded with blueberries, kid-friendly sushi rolls with smiley faces, and bright veggie kabobs with dipping sauces fill cuter-than-cute bento boxes, taunting the rest of us with their seemingly boundless creativity.
This is not to say that you can’t go wild with seasonal fruit or take special requests, or send favorite leftovers to school on request. But you want to have a boring baseline they’ll eat consistently and that you dedicate as little brainspace to as possible. And hey, if packing beautiful lunches in adorable bento boxes fills you with joy, please continue to do so.
Current water infrastructure is like “a dinosaur in today’s climactic age.”
From rainwater catchments to direct potable reuse, our latest installment of “Shallow Waters” explores all of the unlikely methods engineers are trying on the hunt for sustainable solutions to water scarcity.
But these gigantic objects are becoming dinosaurs in a new climactic age, characterized by growing human demand for freshwater and worsening, lengthening droughts. As Michael Hightower, a research professor of civil engineering at the University of New Mexico, puts it: “You don’t see people building new reservoirs, because they know there’s not going to be water to put in those reservoirs.”
That means water engineers need to radically rethink the traditional approach to water infrastructure. They will need to get creative. In some cases, it may mean going back to basics and installing cisterns in backyards to harvest the rain. In others, it may mean doing as the astronauts have done since the advent of space travel: drinking one’s own recycled urine.
Sometimes the best solutions are the simplest. Texas, for example, is now getting serious about “rainwater catchment,” essentially putting really big buckets next to homes in order to harvest the rain.
The state changed its tax code in 2011 to make rainwater-catchment installations tax-exempt, and in the same year passed a law (pdf)making it illegal for homeowners’ associations to ban people from putting the systems into place. That law also requires “that rainwater harvesting…be incorporated into the design and construction” of any new state building “for which the incorporation of such systems is feasible.”
Though rainwater catchment is still a (relatively) niche water-supply strategy, it sometimes make economic sense for households and businesses. In his 2018 book A Thirsty Land, Seamus McGraw spoke to a resident in parched Terlingua, in West Texas, who spent $13,000 to install a rainwater-catchment system that can store up to 20,000 gallons at a time (on average, Americans use 80-100 gallons per day each). Terlinguans have the option to purchase tap water through a utility, but between the oft-repeated claims that the utility water tastes “bad,” and a tendency towards radical self-sufficiency, most residents prefer to source their own water. The other option for those trying to avoid utility water is to drill a well. But, as McGraw reports, that would have cost the Terlinguan resident he interviewed around $15,000. Anyway, anyone who drills in the area is likely to end up sucking sand—or groundwater too salty to drink.
The vast majority of the water underground is brackish: too salty, and sometimes too contaminated with naturally occurring toxicants like arsenic for humans to consume. The freshwater pumped from underground aquifers for people to use is typically just the layer that sits on top of a separate sea of brackish water; there is five to 10 times more brackish water than freshwater in any given aquifer system. Texas estimates that 880 trillion gallons of brackish water are sitting, untapped, in its aquifers. That’s enough to flood the entire state under 15.7 ft of water, or the entire Mexican border state of Chihuahua under 44 ft.
But what if we could use that brackish water? Just tapping into the brackish water under Texas would be enough to slake the thirst of the whole state for 150 years (at current consumption levels), according to a Texas State Comptroller report. If only it were that easy.
Water engineers politely call it “direct potable reuse.” Others call it “toilet-to-tap.” The United Nations calls it a massive untouched resource that could nudge society into a “circular economy,” where economic development is “balanced with the protection of natural resources…and where a cleaner and more sustainable economy has a positive effect on the water quality.”
In Singapore, an island nation lacking any freshwater resource big enough to sate its growing population (pdf), they’re a bit more direct: “Basically, you drink the water, you go to the toilet, you pee, and we collect it back and clean it,” George Madhavan, a director at Singapore’s public utility, told USA Today in 2015.
The science behind this isn’t new. In fact, a high-tech version of direct potable reuse has been used by American astronauts since humans first left Earth. In space, humans have no choice but to drink their own distilled urine. On the US side of the International Space Station, a high-tech water system collects astronauts’ urine, sweat, shower water, and even the condensate they breathe into the air, and then distills it all to drinking-water standards.
“It tastes like bottled water, as long as you can psychologically get past the point that it’s recycled urine and condensate,” Layne Carter, who manages the ISS’s water system out of the Marshall Flight Center in Alabama, told Bloomberg Businessweek (paywall) in 2015. The Russian astronauts, however, decline to include their urine in their water-purification system. So the US astronauts go over to the Russian side of the ISS and pick up their urine, bring it back over to the American side, and purify it. Water is precious, after all.
People still aren’t wearing enough sunscreen.
Deadly melanoma is on the rise in the US.The prevalence of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is growing in the US.The trend is a bit perplexing. Scientists have a thorough understanding of how ultraviolet radiation from the sun damages the skin and acts as a carcinogen—and, more importantly, we have an affordable, easy-to-obtain solution. Modern sunscreens that protect against both ultraviolet-A (longer UV rays that cause the skin to produce more melanin, aging the cells in the process) and ultraviolet-B (shorter UV rays that primarily cause genetic damage to skin cells) rays has been around since the 1970s (paywall).
We have the knowledge and means to protect ourselves from the sun—so why are rates of melanoma still going up in the US? Simply, we’re not protecting ourselves from the sun nearly as much as we should be. Sun protection can be cumbersome; wearing hats, long sleeves, and pants in the summer can be uncomfortably warm and in some cases—like while swimming—pretty much impossible. That means skin will be exposed, and that skin needs to be protected by sunscreen, which can be goopy, smelly, or oily. There are mineral-based sunscreens (usually zinc oxide or titanium oxide) that offer a high-amount of protection from UV rays with a more comfortable texture. However, there’s a cosmetic trade off: they’re bright white and don’t rub in very easily.
Madame Tussauds has given up on Australian leaders.
The turnover in prime ministers is so rapid, the museum’s Sydney outpost can’t make wax figures fast enough.
As the Liberal Party grapples with the fallout from Friday’s leadership change, an unexpected consequence of the end of Malcolm Turnbull’s prime ministership has been revealed by none other than the Sydney outpost of Madame Tussauds.
The wax museum announced on Friday that work on a new wax figure for the now-former prime minister has stopped abruptly – and the museum’s curators are considering whether it’s even worth their while to continue adding more Australian prime ministers to its World Leaders exhibit.
“Malcolm Turnbull was set to be the next figure to take the stage in our World Leaders room but, in light of the current situation in Canberra, we have advised the studio team to stop work on the figure immediately,” Madame Tussauds Sydney’s general manager, Mark Connolly, said.
The plan had been to unveil his statue on October 24, Turnbull’s 64th birthday. It’s not the first time the wax museum has halted the creation of an Australian political leader’s statue due to their premature exit from office.
In 2013, weeks after work began on creating Kevin Rudd’s figure, the team were advised to stop work. In 2015, when Tony Abbott was voted out by his fellow MPs, the decision was made again.
The museum has now lost confidence in the ability of Australian politics to retain a leader long enough to build their likeness out of wax. “Due to the high turnover of prime ministers, we cannot see ourselves making a figure of a sitting Australian prime minister again,” Mr Connolly said. “We want to ensure Madame Tussauds Sydney’s World Leaders room remains current and relevant to our local and international guests and not a room full of retired prime ministers, which has prompted our decision to put a halt on making figures of Australian prime ministers. “We hope there are no hard feelings.”
The only prime minister from the past 10 years to grace the halls of the wax museum is Julia Gillard, whose figure was unveiled in 2012 when the attraction opened. It took six months to create.
Despite her short reign, Mr Connolly said Madame Tussauds Sydney is “very proud to have her figure as she was our first female PM”
Capitalism is proliferating in North Korea.
The country’s 400-plus officially sanctioned private markets bring in $60 million a year for Kim Jong Un’s regime. There are 436 officially sanctioned markets in North Korea, according to research released (Aug. 26) from Washington-based think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), with help from Seoul-based think tank North Korea Development Institute. Together, these markets bring in about $56.8 million a year for the government through taxes and rents. The largest of them, Sunam market, in the country’s third-largest city Chongjin, makes almost $850,000 a year.
The report collected the data through satellite imagery and field interviews cross-referenced with testimonies from defectors and other secondary source materials.
According to a recent survey of 36 North Koreans conducted by the authors of the report, 72% of respondents said that almost all their household income came from markets, and 83% of people said that outside goods and information had a greater impact on their lives than decisions by the central government. CSIS said that many North Koreans they surveyed expressed anger at attempts by the government to redenominate the currency, or change the value of its banknotes, in essence destroying the cash holdings of citizens.
Amazon is giving employees $50 gift cards to tweet nice things about the company.
Participants in the “FC Ambassador Program” also get lunch and a day off. An Amazon spokesperson confirmed the so-called “FC Ambassador Program” (FC is short for “Fulfillment Center”) to Quartz (Aug. 26), claiming, “FC ambassadors are employees who have experience working in our fulfilment centers… The most important thing is that they’ve been here long enough to honestly share the facts based on personal experience.”
The ambassadors’ comments seem to revolve around warehouse working conditions and compensation—two topics for which the e-commerce giant has been heavily scrutinized in recent years.
The 14 ambassadors participating in the program aren’t paid for their tweets—but they do receive some minimal alternative forms of compensation. A former FC ambassador told Yahoo Finance that he received “a paid day off (that expired in 3 weeks lol) and a $50 Amazon gift card. Plus, they gave us lunch. Coldcuts and sandwich bread.”
The program aims to convince the world that Amazon warehouse employees are being treated well. But cold cuts and sandwich bread sure don’t sound like much.
Sports teams are betting on pink.
Painting the opponents’ locker rooms with the color is hoped to lower testosterone and decrease aggression. The sporting director of Norwich City, a club in the second tier of English soccer, told fans that doing so is aimed at lowering the aggression of opponents. The team’s own dressing room, by contrast, is a bright white. The local Eastern Daily Press quoted a psychology lecturer from the University of East Anglia who suggested the color’s effect would be small—yet possibly enough to tip results in marginal games.
It’s not the first sports team to try this, or the first sport. The gridiron opponents of the University of Iowa face not only an all-pink locker room, but also all-pink bathrooms, including the urinals and the ceilings. It was the brainchild of former head coach Hayden Fry, who had a master’s degree in psychology.
“When I talk to an opposing coach before a game and he mentions the pink walls, I know I’ve got him,” Fry wrote in his autobiography, according to Sports Illustrated. “I can’t recall a coach who has stirred up a fuss about the color and then beat us.” Colorado State also did something similar.
The research on this comes from Alexander Schauss, who found a particular shade of pink in the late 1970s to “have a maximal effect on reducing hyper-excitability.” He named it after the commanders of the Naval Correctional Center in Seattle that allowed him to test out his theories by painting cells there; the color is now known as Baker-Miller pink.