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Japanese Town to Create ZERO Waste by 2020: Here’s How

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The average, modern city produces thousands of tons of ‘garbage’ every year, and much of it ends up in landfills, burned, thus polluting the air, or worse, in the oceans, damaging precious marine life. All three of these waste disposal methods harm the ecosystem, and spit in the face of Mother Nature. Though we have prevented 87.2 million tons of waste from negatively impacting the environment from recycling and composting in recent years, there is one Japanese town that is taking the ZERO waste concept to an entirely new level.

Sonae Fujii of the Zero Waste Academy in Kamikatsu stands next to containers filled with waste

Sonae Fujii of the Zero Waste Academy in Kamikatsu stands next to containers filled with waste

The town of 1700 residents, Kamikatsu, is likely to become the first zero waste city in Japan, championing the practices of reduce, reuse, and recycle in a way that most cities cannot yet fathom, but should. If it seems an impossible task, it isn’t, but zero waste does take a profoundly different attitude and set of actions which every single member of the town participates in. Here’s how they do it:

• Recyclables are separated into 34 different bins. That means that not only is paper, and plastic separated out for reuse – or recycle, but so are old cell phones and electronics, food containers, and even recyclable metals like iron, tin, and aluminum. If you think separating trash for one container in your Suburban town in the US is a hassle, then you have a long way to go to meet the dedication of these Japanese citizens.
• Currently only 20 percent of the entire city’s trash is headed for a landfill, with the aim to make it zero by 2020. In previous times, the Japanese simply burned their refuse, further polluting the environment, so this is a huge improvement in waste management, and honoring all life in the ecosystem.
• Citizens bring their refuse that has already been sorted to recycling centers, the city does not do it for them. Talk about taking responsibility for a better planet! Instead of waiting for the mayor or some other city official to approve a bill for recycling, they just do it themselves. A documentary by Seeker Stories interviews a resident who says, “If you get used to it, it becomes normal. Now I don’t think about it. It’s become natural to separate the trash correctly.”
• The town has a factory that finds ways to repurpose items which have been discarded or are no longer useful in their current form. New clothing is made from old material, and gifts are made from items that would have ended up in the trash bin.
• The town also has a ‘circular’ which could be compared to sections of Craig’s List where people are encouraged to list items to trade or give to others, when they are no longer in use.

Zwia.org, or the International Zero Waste Alliance has more ideas about how you can reduce the trash you create. Even businesses are trying to find more ways to recycle or repurpose non-toxic items so that they are not incinerated, sent to landfills, or put into the environment.

If this small Japanese town can do it, then we can all imagine an industrial system in which nothing ever really ‘dies’ or gets discarded. The highly “unnatural” processes of chemical engineering, manufacturing, packaging, distribution, and disposal would all aspire to a state of nature, where anything and everything is a renewable resource. The familiar “reduce, reuse, recycle” would apply not just to products at the end of their life span, but to the materials and methods that created them throughout their cycle of use. This is a dream for sustainability we can make a reality.

Sources:

http://www.epa.gov/smm/advancing-sustainable-materials-management-facts-and-figures

GM Food and the precautionary principle

http://www.boston.com/news/education/higher/articles/2007/03/11/a_world_without_waste/?page=full

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Corruption

Man Who Spent Decades in Prison Gets $6 Million After Cop Found to Have Faked Evidence

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A North Carolina man who spent decades in prison was awarded $6 million in damages by a federal jury after it was found that he was wrongfully convicted thanks to evidence fabricated by a detective.

Darryl Howard languished in prison for over 20 years on double murder and arson charges in 1995 for killing a woman and her teen daughter in 1991. Last Wednesday, a jury in Winston-Salem found that former Durham police detective Darryl Dowdy simply faked the evidence that resulted in his conviction.

In 2016, Howard’s 80-year sentence was stricken down by a Durham County judge who cited the misconduct of police and prosecutors. The $6 million award was the result of a 2017 federal civil rights lawsuit filed by Howard, reports the News & Observer.

Dowdy, 65, denied the accusations in the lawsuit. The former detective was a 36-year veteran of the Durham Police Department before he retired in 2007.

Howard and his legal team have expressed satisfaction that the jury recognized the grave injustice he faced, but are disappointed that the $6 million is a mere fraction of the $48 million in damages they requested.

Attorney Nick Brustin, who represented Howard, said that Dowdy’s defense attacked Howard for his past gunshot wounds and history of selling and using drugs.

“I think to some extent the racist defense that they have been implementing since the beginning of the ligation has in some ways succeeded,” Brustin said. “I think the verdict doesn’t value the suffering that Darryl went through.”

Howard himself noted that the heavy damage dealt by his long incarceration have completely altered his life.

“I am happy about the verdict, but I am kind of upset about the damages,” Howard told the News & Reporter.

“Just imagine, 23 years I stayed in prison,” he added.

Brustin also highlighted the systemic nature of the injustice his client suffered as a result of Dowdy’s police work.

“The kinds of misconduct are pattern misconduct,” he noted, adding that Durham police need to review other cases handled by the crooked cop.

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Happy Holidays? Billionaire CEO Fires 900 Workers in Zoom Call

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The boss of an online mortgage lending company has come under fire as callous and heartless after he unceremoniously fired about 900 staff members in the run-up to the holidays – all on one single Zoom call.

Vishal Garg, the chief executive of New York-based mortgage firm Better.com, didn’t mince words in the call, telling employees:

“This isn’t news that you’re going to want to hear … If you’re on this call, you are part of the unlucky group that is being laid off. Your employment here is terminated effective immediately.”

Adding that he did “not want to do this,” he explained that “this is the second time in my career I’m doing this … The last time I did it, I cried.” 

While the 43-year-old CEO claimed that the mass sacking was a painful ordeal, he also noted that the “market has changed” and the company required streamlining to deal with the cool-off in the recent housing boom.

However, Garg neglected to mention that the company recently received $750 million from investors just last week.

According to Fortune, the chief executive also was the anonymous author of a blistering blog post to professional network Build that put his own employees on blast.

“You guys know that at least 250 of the people terminated were working an average of 2 hours a day while clocking 8 hours+ a day in the payroll system?” Garg wrote, adding that “they were stealing from you and stealing from our customers who pay the bills that pay our bills. Get educated.”

Garg also has come under fire for his poor management approach and history of abusing workers after an email he sent to employees was published by Forbes last year.

“You are TOO DAMN SLOW,” the CEO wrote. “You are a bunch of DUMB DOLPHINS… SO STOP IT. STOP IT. STOP IT RIGHT NOW. YOU ARE EMBARRASSING ME.”

Regardless of his personal frustrations with employees, social media users were stunned by news of the mass firing, calling the move “cold,” “a horrible move,” and “harsh” – especially with Christmas around the corner.

Employment law and business experts have also lambasted Garg’s actions, noting that such mass firings run counter to the law in most countries, and are not only abusive but destructive toward morale, despite being perfectly legal in the United States.

“Existing employees will look to how the company treats people as a signal to how it will treat them in the future,” Gemma Dale of the Liverpool John Moores University in the UK told the BBC.

“There are ways to do these things which, even in difficult conditions, are empathetic and decent,” she added. “There is a right way to do these things both morally and legally.”

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Environment

China Was Just Caught Literally Changing The Weather For Communist Party Celebration: Study

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In recent years, China has made a number of head-turning and downright dazzling technological advances. Now, according to a new study, the East Asian giant has successfully managed to literally change the weather.

According to a recent report from the South China Morning Post, scientists at Tsinghua University say that during the 100-year anniversary of the Communist Party of China, authorities succeeded in modifying the weather in Beijing to clear the sky and improve air quality for the masses gathered to celebrate the party’s centenary in Tiananmen Square.

The large-scale operation involved lacing the clouds above the capital with chemicals to usher in rainfall over suburban parts of Beijing before the July 1 centennial event. According to the Tsinghua researchers, eyewitnesses report rockets being launched from mountains outside the city in the run-up to the event.

The Beijing researchers claim that the artificial rain managed to reduce the level of PM2.5 air pollutants by over two-thirds, bringing air quality to “good” conditions from “moderate” levels per World Health Organization Standards.

The use of chemicals to modify weather conditions is a practice that dates back to at least the 18th century, when European states used gunfire to shoot at storms in hopes to prevent hail from harming crops.

By the turn of the 20th century, dozens of hail cannons were deployed for commercial purposes despite the unproven nature of such primitive geo-engineering methods.

Fast forward to the 2020s, and the People’s Republic of China has reportedly invested vast resources into weather modification programs that will be tested in a region spanning 5.5 million square miles by the year 2025. The impact of such geo-engineering efforts could lead to regional tensions with China’s increasingly nervous neighbors.

Meanwhile, as the potential for a new cold war with the people’s republic continues to grow, professional China skeptics have stoked fears that the ruling Communist Party could use its newfound ability to manipulate the weather for military purposes. However, it’s worth noting that the United States military has been hoping to weaponize the rain since at least 1967.

However, with arid conditions and extreme drought threatening the food security of populations across the globe, the ability to literally make rain fall may not be as frightening as some make it out to be.

Additionally, some researchers have claimed that geoengineering could play a role in mitigating the impact of rampant climate change. However, it remains far too early to know the long-term impact of lacing skies with chemicals on a widespread, regular basis.

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