This story was originally published by Undark and appears here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration. Joanne Seiff, a resident of Manitoba, contracted Lyme disease a couple of years ago but didn't remember pulling off the tick that bit her; nor did she have the telltale bullseye rash of a tick bite. Her husband Jeff Marcus, who grew up in New York's Hudson Valley, about an hour and a half from the eponymous town of Lyme, Connecticut, recognized her symptoms immediately because Lyme disease was common there. Canadian doctors, however, were not convinced. "Even though we had been telling people for months that she had Lyme disease and that all she needed was about four weeks of antibiotics, we were seeing specialist after specialist, and getting the same run-around," Marcus says.
A new dating site intended for Trump-admirers seeking other Trump-admirers for romance, Trump.Dating, up until the last few days featured the image of a convicted sex offender, Barrett Riddleberger, alongside his wife Jodi on its homepage, wearing his-and-hers hats reading "Trump" and "Make America Great Again."
The Trump White House has devoted much of its first year to putting America first, cracking down on who can come into this country--from promising a wall along the US-Mexico border and the deportation of thousands of undocumented immigrants, to numerous attempts at a travel ban blocking entrance for people from several Muslim-majority countries. But under the America First banner, the administration has been quietly but vastly increasing hurdles in another area: for foreign nationals looking to live and work legally in the US. Since the spring, the Trump administration has introduced a number of administrative changes aimed specifically at increasing scrutiny on work visa applications. Issued through policy memoranda from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency tasked with handling and adjudicating work and citizenship applications, the revisions have largely flown under the radar, as many of them have been incremental or seem innocuous on the surface. What's more, because a large number of the changes are adjustments to existing department policies or guidance, many have been able to go into effect immediately, without needing to undergo a formal rule proposal process or public comment period.
"Is it OK to put a jade egg in my vagina?" A team of New Zealand researchers posed these questions and 47 others to digital assistants to determine how effectively Siri et al. could answer questions on sex. The informal study, which was not peer-reviewed, was published online Wednesday by the medical journal BMJ. Three researchers used laptops to type out questions to Google.co.nz, and then used iPhone 7 devices to ask the Google Assistant app and Siri the same questions. The responses were rated by quality, with expert sources like universities and hospitals ranked most highly.
If you haven't lost your job to a computer yet, you probably will. Experts predict that robots will be folding laundry for us in the next five years, driving trucks in the next 10, and performing surgery in the next 40. And, they predict, they'll be doing it better than humans. This could lead to a massive shift in our economy, setting off an "era of mass joblessness and mass poverty," as Mother Jones' Kevin Drum recently reported.
As a person living in the 21st century, it's almost inevitable that you've had the seamless, fast, and hassle-free experience of shopping online: a few clicks and you're done without ever needing to interact with anyone, and then your items can show up at your door in as little as a day. But as the holiday season ramps up, it's a good time to remember that there's actually a whole lot of human labor behind that fast and easy click. While we at Mother Jones recently reported on how robots will one day take these jobs, they haven't taken over just yet. Just consider a great story last week from Gizmodo's Bryan Menegus shedding light on a mysterious program known as Amazon Flex: a "nearly invisible workforce" of independent contractors charged with delivering the "last mile" of Amazon orders from a local storage facility to the customer's door. As Menegus explains, "It's a network of supposedly self-employed, utterly expendable couriers enrolled in an app-based program which some believe may violate labor laws."
Fast-food workers, cashiers, cooks, delivery people and their supporters held a rally outside New York City Hall on May 24, 2017.Erik Mcgregor/Pacific Press/Zuma From the window of his university office in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, philosophy professor Philippe Van Parijs--considered by many to be Europe's most prominent advocate for the idea that the state should provide a regular income to every citizen--can see the mailbox where he sent off invitations to the first "basic income" conference more than 30 years ago. "I'm quite amazed by the seed we threw on the ground now," he says. After decades of obscurity, the idea is suddenly in fashion. Politicians around the world are interested and a handful of governments, such as Finland and the Canadian province of Ontario, are planning or considering basic-income pilot projects. But the idea of basic income has been around for more than 200 years, rising on waves of political and economic turmoil only to disappear in calmer times.
The Trump administration officially issued a new rule Friday that weakens the Affordable Care Act's mandate requiring employers to provide free birth control as part of health insurance plans. The final rule resembles a draft that was leaked back in May. It vastly expands the types of employers that can opt out of birth control coverage and eliminates some of the hoops those employers have had to jump through to do so. "With this rule in place, any employer could decide that their employees no longer have health insurance coverage for birth control," Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in an emailed statement. "The Trump administration just took direct aim at birth control coverage for 62 million women."
"This will be the widest scale event that we've used drones for to date," said Justin Herndon, a spokesman for Allstate. Herndon says his company expects to conduct hundreds of drone flights per day after Harvey--thousands a week. Farmer's, another major property insurance company, is also planning to deploy drones for the same purpose. The drones that most insurance companies will use aren't huge; they fit in a medium-sized suitcase and are packed with high-resolution cameras that can take aerial images of roofs and property. It's not always safe for a person to walk on the roof of a severely damaged building, and some areas are often impossible to assess until other parts are repaired or special rigging is used.