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Category: Rat Race (Page 1 of 7)

How Industrially Produced Edible Substances took over your shopping basket, and what are they doing to us?

It’s cheap, attractive and convenient, and we eat it every day – it’s difficult not to. But is ultra-processed food making us ill and driving the global obesity crisis?

Bee Wilson, via The Guardian »

Ultra-processed foods (or UPF) now account for more than half of all the calories eaten in the UK and US, and other countries are fast catching up. UPFs are now simply part of the flavour of modern life. These foods are convenient, affordable, highly profitable, strongly flavoured, aggressively marketed – and on sale in supermarkets everywhere.

You might say that ultra-processed is just a pompous way to describe many of your normal, everyday pleasures. It could be your morning bowl of Cheerios or your evening pot of flavoured yoghurt. It’s savoury snacks and sweet baked goods. It’s chicken nuggets or vegan hotdogs, as the case may be. It’s the doughnut you buy when you are being indulgent, and the premium protein bar you eat at the gym for a quick energy boost. It’s the long-life almond milk in your coffee and the Diet Coke you drink in the afternoon. Consumed in isolation and moderation, each of these products may be perfectly wholesome. With their long shelf life, ultra-processed foods are designed to be microbiologically safe. The question is what happens to our bodies when UPFs become as prevalent as they are at the moment.

Evidence now suggests that diets heavy in UPFs can cause overeating and obesity. Consumers may blame themselves for overindulging in these foods, but what if it is in the nature of these products to be overeaten?

Listen to the podcast version of this article »

Mastercard should stop selling our personal data

EFF »

Knowing where you shop, just by itself, can reveal a lot about who you are. Mastercard takes this a step further, as U.S. PIRG reported, by analyzing the amount and frequency of transactions, plus the location, date, and time to create categories of cardholders and make inferences about what type of shopper you may be. In some cases, this means predicting who’s a “big spender” or which cardholders Mastercard thinks will be “high-value”—predictions used to target certain people and encourage them to spend more money

Driver will soon be charged a hefty toll to drive into downtown Manhattan

The new toll beginning in spring 2024, is expected to be between US$9 and $23 per day for passenger vehicles. Commercial vehicles will be charged upon each entry and exit to the zone.

Regional planners believe the toll will nudge some drivers onto transit. The MTA plans to use the proceeds from congestion pricing to shore up its aging infrastructure.

Why New York Will Charge $23/Day To Drive Into Manhattan

Note: Clicking the above image will load and play the video from YouTube.

Venice is charging a €5 entry fee due to overtourism

BBC »

Over the past three decades, Venice has become one of the most notable victims of overtourism. The city currently welcomes an estimated 30 million visitors per year, far above the 50,000 residents that actually call it home. And more than two thirds of visitors come just for the day.

This month, Venice’s municipal authorities announced plans to fight these issues with a controversial move: charging day trippers a €5 entrance fee. This will make Venice the first city in the world to charge visitors to enter its premises. News of the entry fee has sparked controversies, and with travellers eager to understand how the new measure will affect them, BBC Travel talks to authorities and locals to understand when it starts, who will have to pay and how people can visit the city in a more sustainable way.

98% of Europeans breathing highly damaging polluted air linked to 400,000 deaths a year

The Guardian »

Analysis of data gathered using cutting-edge methodology – including detailed satellite images and measurements from more than 1,400 ground monitoring stations – reveals a dire picture of dirty air, with 98% of people living in areas with highly damaging fine particulate pollution that exceed World Health Organization guidelines. Almost two-thirds live in areas where air quality is more than double the WHO’s guidelines.

The worst hit country in Europe is North Macedonia. Almost two-thirds of people across the country live in areas with more than four times the WHO guidelines for PM2.5, while four areas were found to have air pollution almost six times the figure, including in its capital, Skopje.

Traffic, industry, domestic heating and agriculture are the main sources of PM2.5 and the impact is often felt disproportionately by the poorest communities. »

Child poverty more than doubled in U.S. after expanded tax credits, stimulus checks ended

CNBC »

  • The child poverty rate surged to 12.4% in 2022, up from 5.2% in the year prior, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • The bureau attributed the increase in child poverty to the expiration of expanded child tax credits and the end of stimulus checks.
  • The U.S. had made historic gains in fighting child poverty during the Covid-19 pandemic due in large part to the expanded tax credits. »

Wagner Group, a Russian mercenary organization, to be declared a terrorist organisation by UK

BBC »

Prigozhin, who founded the group in 2014, died in a suspicious plane crash along with other Wagner figures on 23 August and was buried in St Petersburg.

The group’s name will now be added alongside that of other proscribed organisations in the UK such as Hamas and Boko Haram.

The Terrorism Act 2000 gives the home secretary the power to proscribe an organisation if they believe it is concerned in terrorism.

The Guardian | RFi | VoA | Channel News Asia

Employees keep resisting the call to return to the office full time

Washington Post »

Even with millions of workers across the country being asked to return to their cubicles, office occupancy has been relatively static for the past year. The country’s top 10 metropolitan areas averaged 47.2 percent of pre-pandemic levels last week, according to data from Kastle Systems. This time last year, the average was around 44 percent.

The lagging return is vexing leaders from city halls to the Oval Office as downtowns struggle to rebound from the pandemic. President Biden recently called on Cabinet officials to urge their employees to return to offices this fall, as downtown D.C. struggles to regain its pre-pandemic crush of commuters. (A July report from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office showed that 17 of 24 federal agencies had average building utilization of 25 percent or less.)

About 52 percent of remote-capable U.S. workers are operating under hybrid arrangements, according to data from Gallup, while 29 percent are exclusively remote. And though executives like Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg have argued that the rise of flexible work has had a deleterious effect on productivity, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that labor productivity rose 3.7 percent in the second quarter of 2023 and is up 1.3 percent compared to this time last year.

Bad news for anyone with a brain » Microplastics could trigger inflammation in human brain cells

ScienceAlert »

We’ve utterly surrounded ourselves with plastics. We drape ourselves with them, communicate with them, eat from them, drink out of them, live within coats of them, travel in them and on it goes – amounting to 390 million tons of plastic produced in just 2021 alone. Each of these copious sources shed fragments known as microplastics throughout their useful lives, not just after disposal.

Exposed to elements like rain, wind, and sunlight, these tiny fragments change in shape and structure before finding their way back into living bodies.

Eight WHO aspartame review panelists are now known to be linked to alleged Coca-Cola front group

The Guardian »

That contradiction stems from beverage industry corruption of the review process by consultants tied to an alleged Coca-Cola front group, the public health advocacy group US Right-To-Know said in a recent report.

It uncovered eight WHO panelists involved with assessing safe levels of aspartame consumption who are beverage industry consultants who currently or previously worked with the alleged Coke front group, International Life Sciences Institute (Ilsi).

Their involvement in developing intake guidelines represents “an obvious conflict of interest”, said Gary Ruskin, US Right-To-Know’s executive director. “Because of this conflict of interest, [the daily intake] conclusions about aspartame are not credible, and the public should not rely on them,” he added.

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