Melting Arctic Ice Opens New Sea Routes

Sep 02, 15 Melting Arctic Ice Opens New Sea Routes

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What once were impassable ocean routes are now open thruways. The some 55,000 ships in the world’s cargo carrying fleet have new shipping routes, and it’s all thanks to the melting of arctic ice. Back in August 2013, the Yongsheng became the first Chinese cargo ship to travel through the Arctic’s formerly frozen northeastern sea route. The trip took 33 days. Had it gone via the Suez Canal, it would have taken 48 days. The Yongsheng wasn’t the first one to capitalize on the planet’s changing environment, either. In 2010, four ships traveled through the northern sea route. In 2013, there were 71. Last year, there were 53. While the melting arctic ice does afford new opportunities, experts say that the risks still outweigh the benefits of traveling through the previously inaccessible sea routes. “There’s about a thousand nautical miles that’s saved by being able to transit that,” said Finley Foster of business consulting firm Alixpartners. “The problems are really more a matter of the practicality. When you go through the arctic, you’re going through the least-chartered ocean space on the globe of the earth.” While the days of using arctic routes are still early, and haphazard, scientists at the National Academies of Sciences in the U.S. predict that there will be more ice melted, and therefore more routes opened, by mid-century. This melting ice is not entirely a boon, however. According to Carbon Brief, which reports on the latest developments and media coverage of climate science and energy policy, melting arctic ice can have dire effects on the environment. First of all, less ice means more heat. Snow-covered ice reflects 85% of sunlight. Without it, the Earth will absorb more heat. Secondly, the melting ice could disrupt a part of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, a major circulation system that carries warm surface toward northward, giving Europe its more mild climate. In other words, it could change the continent’s climate. Thirdly, it could increase the severity of winter. Professor Charles Greene of Cornell University told Carbon Brief that “Global warming has...

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Man Recovers $10,000 In Winning Lotto Tickets He Threw In The Trash

Aug 29, 15 Man Recovers $10,000 In Winning Lotto Tickets He Threw In The Trash

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We’ve all thrown out things we’ve probably needed: receipts for something that we wanted to return, a piece of paper with an important number on it, or the post-it with our home’s wifi password. But have you ever thrown out $10,000? Rome News Tribune reports that for Cedric Jackson, the panic of tossing out a few thousand dollars was all too real. Jackson, a regular customer at Rick’s Food Mart in Rome, Georgia, bought four tickets on Saturday, August 15th. Of those four tickets, two of them were eligible for lottery payments of $5,000. However, not realizing he had winning tickets, Jackson asked the man behind the counter to throw them in the trash. It was only a few hours later that Jackson realized his mistake. Making his way back to Rick’s Food Mart, he explained the situation to the staff. They began an extensive search for the tickets, looking through all the areas where garbage can be disposed. ”I had to go inside the dumpster cause I thought I had thrown them out for real,” says Jackson. Unfortunately, their search found nothing, and Jackson left empty handed — and heartbroken. Fortunately, however, Jackson got a call later that day from the store’s owner, Sarabjeet “Ricky” Singh. Singh found the tickets after remembering that he had dumped the counter trash into a bin inside his office. Jackson retrieved the tickets the next day, and immediately set to cash them out. That is, after he purchased a few more scratch off cards at Rick’s Food Market. Jackson says he will use the money to help and to pay off bills. And, of course, he made sure to leave Ricky Singh a nice tip for all his...

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Tragic: LGBT Seniors Who Marry Could Risk Losing Retirement Benefits

Aug 27, 15 Tragic: LGBT Seniors Who Marry Could Risk Losing Retirement Benefits

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When the U.S. Supreme Court granted same-sex couples the right to marry this June, gay and lesbian couples across the nation finally gained access to the legal and financial benefits of marriage. Some gay and lesbian couples waited half a century or more for the right to marry, but now some of those couples face a heartbreaking choice. Retirement experts say that gay and lesbian seniors who finally exchange their vows could risk losing crucial retirement benefits, such as subsidized home care or disability payments. Although most Americans probably associate the LGBT movement with young, Millennial activists, U.S. seniors played a crucial role in the recent landmark decisions on gay marriage. The U.S. Supreme Court initially heard United States v. Windsor, which was based on the lawsuit of Edith Windsor, 86, after she was denied federal estate tax exemption upon the passing of her spouse. So after SCOTUS officially extended marriage rights to same-sex couples, many older gay and lesbian couples rushed to get their long-awaited marriage licenses. But experts say that could leave many couples financially vulnerable; for instance, many seniors depend on Medicaid to cover nursing home care. As the Baby Boomer population ages, the U.S. population of seniors (ages 65 and above) has never been higher, and up to 90% of older Americans wants to continue living in their own homes for as long as possible. Programs like Medicaid can help make that possible, but if a gay or lesbian senior marries, their combined financial assets could disqualify them from such programs. “It’s a matter of ‘Be careful what you ask for,’” says retirement expert Anthony Timiraos. “Now [LGBT people] have all the issues involving marriage that straight people do.” SAGE USA is a nonprofit that serves LGBT seniors, and the group recently created “Talk Before You Walk,” an educational program that helps seniors weight the financial pros and cons of marriage. SAGE Executive Director Michael Adams says, “our concern is that people will make a decision based on that excitement...

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Pictures Shared by HONY Photographer Help Raise Over $2 Million For Pakistani Workers

Aug 25, 15 Pictures Shared by HONY Photographer Help Raise Over $2 Million For Pakistani Workers

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Since the first photograph was taken 186 years ago, it’s estimated that more than 3.5 trillion photos have been taken around the world. These days, everyone has a camera phone they can use to snap a quick pic to post on their social media sites. But some photographers, like Brandon Stanton from Humans of New York (HONY), have been trying to use their photography skills for a greater purpose. Stanton, known for his chronicles of colorful characters on his Humans of New York blog, has spent the month of August taking a trip to Pakistan. While there, Stanton has replaced his daily posts, which usually feature New Yorkers, with photographs of the people he has encountered there. This includes Syeda Ghulam Fatima, the founder of the Bonded Labour Liberation Front in Pakistan. Fatima’s group fights against the unjust working conditions of bonded labor at brick kilns. ”Throughout rural Pakistan, illiterate and desperate laborers are tricked into accepting small loans in exchange for agreeing to work at brick kilns,” Staton wrote on the HONY page. “But due to predatory terms, their debt balloons, growing larger as time goes on.” The laborers, unable to keep up with the demands of their loans, end up working for the rest of their lives with no compensation. The working conditions of these brick kilns are harsh, and often lack modern conveniences such as running water. If a laborer dies, their debt falls on the shoulders of their children. NBC News reports that since the pictures from Pakistan have gone up, Stanton has seen an overwhelming amount of support from his followers. Stanton originally set up a month-long Indiegogo campaign, aiming to raise $100,000 for the Bonded Labor Liberation Front. Four days after the campaign was started, over $2.1 million was raised. In response to the overwhelming support, Fatima said, “This is a big step for laborers that this has received so much attention, and that their voices have reached a global stage and we are being hear. With this,...

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Boston Already Preparing for Snow

Aug 25, 15 Boston Already Preparing for Snow

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August may seem early to start planning for winter storms, but Boston isn’t taking any chances after last season’s historic snowfall. The Boston Redevelopment Authority met Aug. 13 to discuss where to build the city’s next “snow farm,” where snow that’s removed from city streets, sidewalks and parking lots can be piled. They are considering the former Hess Oil site at 148 Condor St. in East Boston. “If this past winter taught us anything, it’s that being prepared can never be a bad thing,” Nick Martin, a BRA spokesperson, told the Boston Business Journal Aug. 12. The seven-acre site is vacant, having contained Hess fuel tanks until 1998. There are an increasingly limited number of vacant parcels that can be used to store plowed snow in the city, and it appears that Boston’s winters are getting snowier and snowier. The 2014-2015 season shattered records for the city, with the snow level at Boston Logan Airport being recorded at over 110 inches, or more than nine feet. To put that in perspective, that places Boston in the company of cities like Salt Lake City, Anchorage, and Denver, all of which have received eight or more feet of snow in record seasons. At the meeting, the BRA also discussed issuing a bid for snow plowing at BRA-owned properties across Boston. The contract could end up costing up to $100,000 for the snow season starting Nov. 14. That’s actually not an unreasonable amount, considering the combined costs of snow removal and snow damage across the country; last year, winter storms caused about $2.3 billion in insured losses in the United States. Boston’s Snow Farms The massive snow piles at snow farms throughout Boston this past winter gained quite a bit of fame, both online and closer to home. TripAdvisor dubbed the five-story “Alps of MIT” snow farm in Cambridge a tourist attraction, and another in South Boston (near Northern and Tide) made national news for its 75-foot height. In fact, the last of the city’s snow melted...

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UK Study Reveals that Private School Students Earn More Than State School Contemporaries

Aug 19, 15 UK Study Reveals that Private School Students Earn More Than State School Contemporaries

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A new UK study reveals that alumni who graduate from privately funded universities are likely to earn more money than alumni from state schools. The study was conducted by Sutton Trust and Upreach. For their research, they examined individuals who had careers that dealt with law and finances. Between the privately funded universities and state schools, the researchers found shocking discrepancies. So much, in fact, that their findings suggest that where you go to school almost immediately determines your financial success after graduation. On average, alumni from private universities earn a little under £5,000 more per year. That totals to about $5,500 USD. Not only did graduates of private universities get paid more, but researchers also found that the alumni from these institutions received higher pay raises than state school alumni; in total, private school alumni salaries were an average of £4,450 higher, or $4,856 USD, over the course of three years. The correlation between private education institutions and high levels of achievement isn’t exactly earth-shattering news. When comparing standardized test scores in the United States, studies show that students who attend private high school score an average of 50 points higher on all three sections of the SAT, making their overall SAT score an average of 150 points higher than public school students’ SAT scores. Researchers at Sutton Trust and Upreach attribute the salary discrepancies to a number of factors. One of the most obvious factors, of course, is wealth. Privately funded universities and schools have more access to resources, academic materials, and funding for programs. Other factors researchers noted were assertiveness and academic attainment. Despite the discrepancies in earnings, however, the study also revealed that while private school alumni earn more off the bat, it was individuals from state schools that were more likely to keep their position within a high status job. In that same three-and-a-half-year window, statistics showed that 71% of public school individuals were able to keep their positions, as compared to 68% of private school alumni. Although not...

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