This Week’s Under-reported News Summary – May 29, 2024

Compiled by Bob Nixon

  • Mining in Madagascar is making water undrinkable
  • AI has the potential to widen the racial wealth gap
  • Los Angeles crews discard Narcan while dismantling homeless encampments

After cyclones and severe storms swept through southeastern Madagascar in early 2022, villagers witnessed massive fish kills, which nearly wiped out local fish populations. The area residents blamed the fish die-off on pollution from the local QMM minerals plant owned by the Anglo-Australian mining company Rio Tinto working with the Madagascar government. The mine extracts materials for titanium dioxide used in white pigments in paints and plastics and also extracts monazite, a mineral that contains rare earth elements used in magnets in electric vehicles.

(”It’s Dirty Water,” The Intercept, April 3, 2024)

A new generation of Artificial Intelligence, known as Generative AI, has Wall Street investors eager to cash in on this new technology revolution that can generate huge profits. ChatGPT, for example, can create new content, such as art, audio, computer coding, music, text and videos, automating tasks once performed by people. The Center for Public Integrity reports that this new technology has raised old worries about automation destroying working class jobs, especially for people without a college education.

(“What Generative AI Means for the Racial Wealth Gap,” Center for Public Integrity, Feb. 14, 2024)

More than 2,200 unhoused people died in Los Angeles County, California in 2021 the most recent year with complete data.  Drug overdoses were responsible for more than a third of the deaths in 2020 and 2021. In the impoverished Los Angeles neighborhood known as Skid Row, fatal overdoses have increased by more than 1,000 percent since 2017, with fentanyl involved in more than 70 percent of those deaths. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nationally overdoses increased by roughly 53 percent during that same period.

(“As Fentanyl Overdoses Soar, LA City Crews Toss State Funded Narcan from Encampments,” In These Times, Feb. 5, 2024)

This week’s News Summary was narrated by Anna Manzo.

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