Hulk Hogan, World Heritage Sites, and a Missing Tortoise: What's Worth Reading This Week

May 27, 2016
Michael Halpern
Former contributor

Here are a few things I found interesting this week.

Australia pressured UNESCO to remove references to Australia in climate change report: Worried that discussion of coral bleaching and other environmental damage due to climate change would limit tourism, the Australian government pressured UNESCO to delete references to Australia from a climate change report on World Heritage sites.  The report’s lead author, UCS scientist Adam Markham, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that he was disappointed by the Australian government’s actions, and has posted much of the Great Barrier Reef study data on this blog.

Trade deals are about regulation, not trade: Celia Wexler, who recently left UCS, writes elegantly about how trade deals are less about tariffs and more about who has the power to regulate and protect the public from unsafe products. The analysis comes on the heels of news that Chevron pressured the EU to give foreign investors the right to challenge government decisions.

A tortoise, and not the one who went missing for more than thirty years. Photo: Alexander Montuschi via Flickr/creative commons.

A tortoise, and not the one who went missing for more than thirty years. Photo: Alexander Montuschi via Flickr/creative commons.

Lawsuits, another way for the uber-wealthy to influence news coverage: John Marshall writes about “a huge, huge deal” on who is bankrolling Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker and what that means for media that speak truth to power. A bad, bad deal for democracy.

Exploited labor is exploited labor regardless of the employer. It was highly disappointing to see the U.S. Public Interest Research group come out against new overtime rules for lower-wage workers. Their argument that mission-driven organizations should be exempt from paying overtime while other employers should pony up is absurd. Anyway, here’s their statement. I’m proud to work at an organization where we pay living wages and do not ask entry-level staff to work excessive hours without additional compensation.

The Oscars for civil servants: Some of the federal government’s top employees were recognized for their service, and an impressive number of them are scientists. Check out who created new protections for construction workers and who flew airplanes into tropical storms.

Slow news is good news: A Brazilian family thought their tortoise was gone forever when it went missing in 1982. You won’t believe where they found it. Read in English or Portuguese.

Finally, check in with those you love this Memorial Day. I learned over the weekend that a friend took his own life. The funeral was Wednesday. He was a bright light with an open-mouthed smile. I loved each and every one of our encounters, and I still can’t believe that I won’t ever see him again. I go a little numb when he pops into my mind. No need to be sorry for my loss, but in his memory, I’d be grateful if you’d choose one friend to check in with this weekend. Think of his or her name and write it on your hand. Thanks.