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We could be in a little less trouble than we thought.

Here’s how humanity could all but ensure its own demise: Dig up all the coal we have left and burn it, warming the planet 4 to 6 degrees C.

But that worst-case scenario doesn’t match up with what’s really happening in the world, Justin Ritchie, lead author of a new study published in Environmental Research Letters, told Grist.

That’s because money spent on climate change measures goes further than it did 30 years ago. Plus, baseline trends show greenhouse gas emissions are on the decline. Most studies underestimate the effect these factors have on global decarbonization.

The study indicates that the goals outlined in the Paris Agreement are more achievable than previously projected — but that’s not to say humanity isn’t in deep trouble.

It’s not “4 to 6 degrees bad,” Ritchie says. “It’s 3 degrees bad. You can’t say we don’t have to worry about implementing policies, we do. But it’s not going to reach the truly catastrophic scenarios.”

Another recent study published in the same journal shows that if all the coal plants currently planned actually get built, humanity could blow past the Paris goal of limiting warming to 2 degree C above pre-industrial levels.

Ritchie said his research doesn’t counteract that finding. “There’s a whole range of scenarios that can occur,” he says. “What our paper is trying to do is look at that whole range and how can we design policies that are more robust.”

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We could be in a little less trouble than we thought.

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The Trump administration brought a climate change policy back from the dead.

Here’s how humanity could all but ensure its own demise: Dig up all the coal we have left and burn it, warming the planet 4 to 6 degrees C.

But that worst-case scenario doesn’t match up with what’s really happening in the world, Justin Ritchie, lead author of a new study published in Environmental Research Letters, told Grist.

That’s because money spent on climate change measures goes further than it did 30 years ago. Plus, baseline trends show greenhouse gas emissions are on the decline. Most studies underestimate the effect these factors have on global decarbonization.

The study indicates that the goals outlined in the Paris Agreement are more achievable than previously projected — but that’s not to say humanity isn’t in deep trouble.

It’s not “4 to 6 degrees bad,” Ritchie says. “It’s 3 degrees bad. You can’t say we don’t have to worry about implementing policies, we do. But it’s not going to reach the truly catastrophic scenarios.”

Another recent study published in the same journal shows that if all the coal plants currently planned actually get built, humanity could blow past the Paris goal of limiting warming to 2 degree C above pre-industrial levels.

Ritchie said his research doesn’t counteract that finding. “There’s a whole range of scenarios that can occur,” he says. “What our paper is trying to do is look at that whole range and how can we design policies that are more robust.”

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The Trump administration brought a climate change policy back from the dead.

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Now you can use Google to organize your neighbors around solar.

Following an exceptionally dry winter in 2015, Gov. Jerry Brown mandated that cities cut back on water use by 25 percent. Californians responded by letting their grass turn brown, or replacing it with artificial turf and less thirsty plants.

Sod suppliers, landscapers, and conservation activists now say that lawns are coming back into fashion, the Guardian reports. California did away with mandatory water restrictions in June, which may have sent the wrong message to residents. In August, urban water consumption had risen nearly 10 percent from the previous year.

Before it dropped these restrictions, the state spent $350 million on rebates for those who tore out their water-sucking grass. Anti-lawn campaigns emerged, such as “Brown is the new green,” and the media drought shamed those who maintained lush, grassy expanses.

It seemed like these efforts were working: One major lawn supplier saw orders plunge from 500 per day to 80 during the height of drought shaming.

The orders have now crept into the hundreds — despite the severe drought conditions that persist. Another dusty winter would send California into its sixth straight year of drought.

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Now you can use Google to organize your neighbors around solar.

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Here’s Why Most Non-Whites Can’t Stand Republicans

Mother Jones

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Over at The Corner, Roger Clegg highly recommends a piece in Forbes about a new SEC proposal that would require public companies “to include in their proxy statements more meaningful board diversity disclosures on their board members and nominees.” This rule would not mandate any diversity goals. It would merely require a disclosure of current board diversity and any future diversity plans, if any. Here’s the Forbes piece:

In May, 1996, Sister Doris Gormley wrote a letter to T.J. Rodgers, the founder and then-CEO of Cypress Semiconductor. She argued that Cypress ought to diversify its board by adding some women.

Replying to her, Rodgers wrote, “Choosing a Board of Directors based on race and gender is a lousy way to run a company. Cypress will never do it. Furthermore, we will never be pressured into it, because bowing to well-meaning, special-interest groups is an immoral way to run a company, given all the people it would hurt. We simply cannot allow arbitrary rules to be forced on us by organizations that lack business expertise.”

To people who actually run business enterprises, getting sound advice from the board is important. It can help them avoid costly mistakes. But that requires deep knowledge of the specific business field. Companies have every incentive to find such people, which has nothing at all to do with the happenstance of their ancestry or sex.

If Republicans are wondering why blacks, women, Hispanics, Asians, and pretty much every non-white-male group in America seems to hate them, this is why. If you want to oppose diversity mandates, that’s one thing. There are ways to do it. But to blithely claim that the whole idea is nonsense because no board of directors in America would ever choose a board member for any reason other than pure merit? This is just willful blindness. Every black, female, Hispanic, and Asian person in the country has been a victim of this faux meritocracy argument and knows perfectly well that it’s rubbish.

All that is bad enough. But then to get high-fived for it by National Review and the Wall Street Journal and Fox News? It rubs non-white faces in the fact that conservatives not only don’t want to make any real efforts to break up the white men’s club, but that they’ll go out of their way to deny that it even exists. So they vote for Democrats. At least the Dems don’t flatly insult them with obvious baloney.

For reference, compare this to Lauren Rivera’s conclusions after sitting in on post-interview discussions of candidates for a professional services firm (via Leniece Brissett at Vox). Here’s a summary in the Harvard Business Review:

Black and Hispanic men were often seen as lacking polish and moved to the reject pile, even when they were strong in other areas, whereas white men who lacked polish were deemed coachable and kept in the running. A similar pattern emerged among men who appeared shy, nervous, or understated: Nonwhites were rejected for being unassertive, but in whites, modesty was seen as a virtue. Among candidates who made minor mistakes in math, women were rejected for not having the right skills, and men were given a pass—interviewers assumed they were having an “off” day.

Different kinds of people, it turns out, were evaluated very differently:

I don’t doubt that most corporate board members think they consider nothing but pure merit. But they plainly don’t. The CEO wants board members who will support him. Another board member wants to repay a favor. Another recommends someone who sits on another board with him. The others want people who will “fit in.” And in between all that, yes, there will be a few chosen for their particular expertise.

If Republicans care even a tiny bit about ever appealing to non-whites, the very least they need to do is acknowledge that non-whites face particular problems and biases that are often subtle, often unconscious, and haven’t disappeared yet. Even if they never support doing anything about it, they have to at least acknowledge this. If today’s anti-diversity harangues are any indication, they’re nowhere near that yet.

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Here’s Why Most Non-Whites Can’t Stand Republicans

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Menstrual Syncing Is Baloney

Mother Jones

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Simon Oxenham busts a myth today:

Another popular theory is that when women live together, their menstrual cycles align. The idea has become a popular example of how pheromones can control us, but over time many studies have failed to replicate and confirm the finding. But for some reason, this idea is particularly resilient to debunking, living on in an abundance of newspaper articles and anecdotal conversations between friends.

I can propose one possible reason this idea resists debunking: Nobody is debunking it. I learned about this in college in the late 70s, when it was believed to be true. In the intervening 45 years, this is the first time I’ve heard that it’s wrong. That might be understandable if I didn’t read a lot, but I do. And I’ve never heard until now that the menstrual syncing theory is wrong.

Eventually, I suppose, my generation will die off and younger generations will never have been exposed to this idea, but that process sure takes a while. In the meantime, we are all prisoners of the fact that fascinating scientific results always get a lot of media attention, while the slow work of falsifying them—which is rarely done in a single blockbuster study—ends up buried in academic journals.

I think we need a new academic journal: The Journal of Popular Myths and Delusions, or some such. They would tackle things in two ways. First, when a popular theory gets to the point where it’s widely discredited in the scientific community, they’d write an article about it that would give news organizations a hook to report it. Second, they would annually commission a survey of known scientific falsehoods and then spend the following year debunking the most popular ones. I recommend they start with the whole eight glasses of water thing.

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Menstrual Syncing Is Baloney

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The Border Patrol Is in Chaos. Can Its New Chief Make a Difference?

Mother Jones

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A new chief took over the US Border Patrol this month, and for the first time in 92 years, it isn’t someone who rose through the ranks. Mark Morgan—a former FBI official who once specialized in intelligence and counterterrorism—has stepped in to lead the scandal-plagued group once described as “America’s most out-of-control law enforcement agency.”

Predictably, Morgan’s hiring has caused a stir among Border Patrol agents, who expected one of their own to take the helm. The Border Patrol union—which recently endorsed Donald Trump and has vocally opposed Obama’s immigration actions—urged Morgan to remember that those who protect the border every day are “the real experts in border security.” Joshua Wilson, a spokesman for the union’s San Diego chapter, asked the Los Angeles Times, “How can someone who has never made an immigration arrest in his career expect to lead an agency whose primary duty is to make immigration arrests?”

But Border Patrol critics have been pushing for a shakeup at the top for years. US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the umbrella agency that encompasses the Border Patrol, is the largest law enforcement agency in the country with 44,000 armed officers, double the size of the FBI and larger than the New York Police Department. Since its rapid expansion in the wake of 9/11, critics have said that CBP’s training and capacity to investigate employee misconduct hasn’t kept up, leaving new recruits green and often unaccountable.

Here are some of the biggest complaints about the Border Patrol in recent years:

Corruption

Reports of corrupt Border Patrol agents have led journalists and politicians to question whether officers are doing enough to secure the borderlands against illegal drugs and gang activity. In fact, CBP as a whole has long been plagued by allegations of corruption within its ranks. A recent investigation by the Texas Tribune and Reveal found that at least 134 officials have pleaded guilty or been convicted in the last 12 years on corruption charges, often for allowing drugs and undocumented immigrants to cross into the United States. Fifty-two of those were Border Patrol agents.

For example, two brothers, both Border Patrol agents in San Diego, made more than $1 million smuggling 1,000-plus undocumented immigrants across the border, according to the Justice Department. Another agent in El Paso allegedly smuggled weapons, including high-powered pistols and flare guns, into the country with the help of his girlfriend. In Texas, yet another agent has been linked to a gruesome cartel-linked beheading. He now faces murder and organized crime charges. A CBP spokeswoman told Mother Jones that the agency plans to cooperate fully with that investigation. CBP also says that it does not tolerate corruption within its ranks and that the overwhelming majority of its officers and agents perform their duties with honor.

Abuse

Numerous reports have indicated that Border Patrol agents and other CBP employees often operate with impunity. The advocacy group American Immigration Council reported that more than 800 abuse complaints against CBP agents were filed between 2009 and 2012—and only 13 resulted in disciplinary action. In one case, a Border Patrol agent was accused of kicking a pregnant woman and causing her to miscarry. Another group of agents was accused of stripping an undocumented immigrant, leaving him naked in a cell, and calling him a “faggot” and a “homo.” Yet another allegedly forced female immigrants into sex. A CBS News investigation also found that sexual misconduct within CBP is significantly higher than at other federal law enforcement agencies. And in 2012, Border Patrol agent Luis Hermosillo was sentenced to eight years in prison for kidnapping and sexually assaulting a Mexican tourist. (CBP has said that it has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to sexual assault.)

To make matters worse, the agency has also been notoriously slow in processing complaints. Among those cases that were closed, CBP took an average of 122 days to come to a decision. The rest were often in limbo for more than a year. After R. Gil Kerlikowske became CBP commissioner in 2014, he created a CBP Integrity Advisory panel to assess the agency’s progress toward greater accountability. However, as recently as this March, the panel described the agency’s internal affairs team as “woefully understaffed” and its disciplinary system as “broken.” The panel recommended that CBP add 350 criminal investigators to look into employee misconduct. (The agency has made room in next year’s budget request for 30 new investigators and is seeking $5 million for cameras, including body cameras.)

Interestingly enough, Morgan has experience overseeing such internal probes: In 2014, he served as acting assistant commissioner for internal affairs at CBP, during which he launched an investigative unit dedicated to criminal and serious misconduct.

High-Profile Deaths

More than 50 people have died during altercations with CBP agents since 2010, including at least 19 US citizens. Several of those incidents involving the Border Patrol have gained nationwide attention. In 2011, Jesús Alfredo YanÌ&#131;ez Reyes was shot in the head after allegedly throwing rocks and a nail-studded board at Border Patrol agents attempting to take his companion into custody. The next year, a Mexican teenager named José Antonio Elena Rodríguez was walking along a street near his hometown when an agent on the other side of the border opened fire, killing Rodríguez. Another cross-border shooting case, in which unarmed teenager Sergio Adrian Hernandez Güereca was shot near El Paso, is currently being considered by the Supreme Court.

In 2013, the Police Executive Research Forum, a policy and research group focused on law enforcement agencies, issued a report criticizing CBP agents’ practice of shooting rock-throwers and vehicles that don’t pose an immediate threat to agents’ lives. The report noted that in some fatal incidents, the shots appeared to have been taken “out of frustration.” The agency eventually changed its use of force policy, but its initial response was to challenge the recommendations and suppress the report for weeks.

Since then, CBP has announced that its agents have been using force less frequently. The agency says on its website that last year, use-of-force incidents fell by roughly 26 percent. The American Civil Liberties Union, however, reports that the number of people hurt or killed during encounters with CBP agents actually increased during that same time period.

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The Border Patrol Is in Chaos. Can Its New Chief Make a Difference?

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Samantha Bee Demonstrates How Frighteningly Easy it Is to Purchase a Gun

Mother Jones

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On the latest Full Frontal, Samantha Bee took us on her quest to rent the costume of the National Rifle Association’s esteemed gun safety mascot, Eddie Eagle. But doing so proved to be a surprisingly onerous process—one that required filling out an 18-page application and dealing with the group’s mandatory 20-day waiting period before anyone can get their hands on Eddie’s gear.

Compare that to the relatively simple task of acquiring a gun, whether it be online, at your run-of-the-mill gun shop, or at a gun show in New Mexico:

“Are you a felon?” one gun own seller in New Mexico asked a Full Frontal producer.

“No,” she replied.

“Ok.”

Another gun secured! As the episode goes on, Bee and her team are able to add to their arsenal with frightening ease, all while being repeatedly denied an elusive Eddie Eagle costume.

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Samantha Bee Demonstrates How Frighteningly Easy it Is to Purchase a Gun

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A Journalist Was Just Manhandled and Detained at a Trump Rally

Mother Jones

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Videos posted on Twitter earlier this afternoon show a photographer for Time magazine being violently thrown to the ground by a member of Donald Trump’s security team, possibly a US Secret Service agent. Morris, an award-winning photojournalist who has covered war zones, struggles back to his feet and is led away by several other security team members.

It’s not clear what precipitated the incident, which happened at a Trump rally at Virginia’s Radford University, but the confrontation appears to have occurred inside the enclosure usually reserved for members of the press.

A uniformed police offer and other men in suits can be seen leading Morris away from the scene.

Another video shows the journalist being handcuffed by uniformed police offers. Morris says he was briefly detained and then released.

Gabby Morrongiello, a reporter for the Washington Times who was covering the rally, tweeted that the incident occurred when the Time photographer attempted to leave the press corral to take photos of protesters.

A spokesman for the Secret Service did not respond to a request for comment about the episode.

Update: Another perspective on the takedown.

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A Journalist Was Just Manhandled and Detained at a Trump Rally

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The Year’s Best Under-the-Radar Podcasts

Mother Jones

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Ah, the holidays—more time to binge on your favorite TV shows and catch the midnight showing of the new Star Wars flick. Or maybe instead you’ll want to close your eyes and sink into the latest media craze: podcasts. Pull out your phone right now and you’d find hundreds of thousands of shows to choose from. Nearly a third of the podcasts currently listed on iTunes launched after June 2014, the month that marked the release of Serial, the hugely popular murder mystery series hosted by Sarah Koenig. While it quickly shot to fame and attracted more listeners than any podcast in history, Serial isn’t the only smart, timely audio show out there. Here are some of our favorite lesser-known podcast gems of 2015:

Whistlestop. Hosted by political wonk John Dickerson—the all-star moderator of the second Democratic debate—Whistlestop is an antidote to the head-splitting news coverage of the desperate race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. Dickerson, a veteran political correspondent for Slate and the new host of CBS’ Face the Nation, takes his listeners deep into campaign history, from JFK’s struggle to convince voters to look past his religious identity to the worst answer to the question “Why do you want to be president?” in history. Whether it’s the historical precedent for Donald Trump or the rise of talk shows mirroring today’s rise of social media, the electoral politics of yesteryear put today’s presidential race in context.

Reply All. One of several shows recently launched by industry newcomer Gimlet Media, Reply All explores the culture of the internet through stories of human greed, mischievousness, vulnerability, regret, kindness, and wonder. Why are there so many fake historical photo accounts on Twitter? What’s it like to navigate online dating as an Asian woman? How do you delete a sent email? Hosts PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman, both former staffers at WNYC’s On the Media, play resident ecologists of the internet, pointing out the treasures and travails of the age of technology. This show isn’t just for Reddit dwellers or the Twitter-obsessed, but for anyone who’s grown accustomed to living in the digital age.

#GoodMuslimBadMuslim. Comedian Zahra Noorbakhsh and writer and activist Tanzila “Taz” Ahmed used to tease each other about which one was the “bad Muslim.” Noorbakhsh drinks, eats pork, has sex, and prays. Ahmed shuns alcohol and pork but rarely prays. Walking a fine line between “good” and “bad”—both in Muslim communities and in post-9/11 America—Noorbakhsh and Ahmed host laughter-filled, unvarnished conversations about politics, pop culture, and Islamophobia. With anti-Muslim sentiment prominently on display in the wake of the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California, Noorbakhsh and Ahmed’s candid conversations are a much-needed breath of fresh air.

99% Invisible. Still going strong after five years, this curious podcast zooms in on the unassuming objects in our lives that we rarely give a second thought. Radio host Roman Mars reveals the hidden stories behind neon lights, a 90-year-old building in New York, silly putty, the couch where Sigmund Freud saw his patients, and barbed wire (a.k.a. “the Devil’s rope”). Mars has such a loyal following that he holds office hours at a local cafe where his admirers can ask him about his work. At one of those gatherings, he told a young journalist that he chooses the stories based on what he’d want to tell people at parties. So if you’re searching for conversation fodder for your family reunion, look no further.

The Mystery Show. Self-styled detective and radio host Starlee Kine investigates the little ordinary mysteries that bug us—the origins of a childhood treasure, a confounding lunchbox illustration, or the exact height of actor Jake Gyllenhaal. In the short time it has been on the air, this Gimlet Media creation has made its way into the Top 20 most popular podcasts on iTunes. As Kine says in one episode, “If you have a mystery,” (no matter how small), “you carry it with you always.” That is, until Kine shows up to break the case wide open.

Another Round. Another pair of sharp and charismatic ladies talk about race, culture, politics, feminism, identity, and life in this weekly show. Fueled by booze and bad jokes, hosts Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton—two black women writers for Buzzfeed—interview everyone from comedians and mental health professionals to cultural and political heavyweights like Melissa Harris-Perry, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Hillary Clinton. Nigatu and Clayton are always entertaining, and they offer a break from the usual string of white, male voices. The A.V. Club writes that they “have very quickly established themselves as funny and insightful hosts, bringing their infectious personalities to conversations that range from squirrels to self-care to microaggressions in the workplace.”

Gravy. Yankee radio journalist Tina Antolini presents portraits of the changing American South through the lens of food. In one recent episode, Antolini zeros in on the cuisine at the Kentucky Derby—not the food served to the spectators, but the food eaten on the go by the stable workers, most of whom are from Central America. One week, Antolini talks to a struggling Louisiana fisherman. Another week, she reflects on fried chicken, at once an iconic comfort food and an ingredient for a hateful racial stereotype. Antolini navigates questions of changing demographics and economic power through heartfelt tales of home-cooked meals. Warning: Do not tune in on an empty stomach.

Guys We Fucked. Originally banned by iTunes for its racy title and now listed as one of its top five comedy podcasts, each episode of Guys We Fucked showcases a running, profanity-laced conversation between two female comedians and their guests, who have included Daily Show co-creator Lizz Winstead, sex columnist Dan Savage, and adult film star and writer Stoya. Dubbed “The Anti-Slut Shaming Podcast,” Guys We Fucked is on a mission to reclaim female sexuality. Even though it’s a comedy show, it has ventured into taboo subjects like pedophilia, sex work, and sexual violence. Creators Corinne Fisher and Krystyna Hutchinson describe their target audience as people who are “ready to stop living a suffocated, shame-filled bedroom life.”

The Specialist. The brainchild of KALW public radio in San Francisco, The Specialist offers brief glimpses into jobs we don’t think about and the lives of those who do them. In one particularly fascinating episode, host Casey Miner interviews the women of Comb it Out, a California hair salon dedicated to removing lice from the scalps of their unlucky hosts. In another, she interviews a woman in charge of preparing food for zoo animals. The episodes are short but engrossing, offering windows into the most obscure sectors of our economy.

Death, Sex, and Money. Pop quiz: What are the three things you’re not supposed to talk about at the dinner table this holiday season? Hint: You’ll find them in the title of WNYC’s second most popular podcast (after Radiolab). Through intimate interviews with celebrities and everyday people, host Anna Sale, whom Vulture has called the most likely successor to Fresh Air’s Terry Gross, delves into subjects like why people don’t have sex and how you get elected coroner.

The Thomas Jefferson Hour. Humanities scholar Clay Jenkinson is a Jefferson expert and has been impersonating the nation’s third president for more than 30 years. Producing The Thomas Jefferson Hour from inside a converted farmhouse in North Dakota, Jenkinson answers listeners’ questions in the voice of Thomas Jefferson, based on the former president’s writings and actions in life. When Mother Jones asked what would most disturb Jefferson about our society today, Jenkinson replied in character, saying he was terrified by “your national debt, your capacity for violence, including war, but also domestic violence.” Jenkinson’s TJ is more than just an entertaining impersonation. It’s a vehicle for discussing political theory and the values that shaped our nation—both for the better and for the worse.

Startup. This show documents the origin story of Gimlet Media, founded by Alex Blumberg, former host of NPR’s Planet Money. Blumberg left the public radio world—one of many defectors joining the podcast movement—with the goal of starting his own media company, which he hoped would become the “HBO of podcasting.” As he embarked on this new adventure, Blumberg turned the microphone on himself, his wife, and his co-workers. The result is a trying story of the emotional up and downs of starting one’s own business.

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The Year’s Best Under-the-Radar Podcasts

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Breaking: Another Massive Explosion Rocks Industrial City in China

Mother Jones

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Another huge explosion has erupted in China, this time in the eastern city of Dongying, according to the People’s Daily, a Chinese state-run newspaper:

The cause of the blast is not yet known. Earlier in August, the city of Tianjin, one of China’s largest industrial shipping centers, was rocked by massive explosions inside warehouses that reportedly stored hazardous chemicals and “explosive materials.” The explosions killed at least 150 people.

This is a breaking news post. We will update as more information becomes available.

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Breaking: Another Massive Explosion Rocks Industrial City in China

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