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Judge, Jury, and Retailer: Wal-Mart’s New “Sustainability Index”

On Thursday, Wal-Mart is going to announce its new effort to create a comprehensive "sustainability index" for every product it sells. The plan is...


On Thursday, Wal-Mart is going to announce its new effort to create a comprehensive "sustainability index" for every product it sells. The plan is to give every microwave, bean bag, book, and Transformer a score that reflects its full environmental impact, from manufacture through use and disposal, taking into account greenhouse gas emissions, use of materials and natural resources, and impacts on "people and communities."Wal-Mart has enormous power over companies who want to sell their goods in its stores. Its buying policies can all but force a supplier to change its products or packaging. This new sustainability index, in other words, is going to be a number that Proctor and Gamble and General Mills care about.And it looks like the index has been designed well. The details are being hammered out by a "consortium" including Wal-Mart, Wal-Mart competitors like Target, consumer goods companies, and academics. Importantly, the consortium is being led by those latter folks: professors of sustainability from University of Arkansas and Arizona State University.This is really big news. Wal-Mart has the clout to force businesses to dig up and release real data. And Wal-Mart has the reach to create a standard the average American pays attention to. Their index probably won't be perfect, but it will be our first real starting point in developing a comprehensive national measure of the actual cost of our stuff. That's pretty exciting.
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For more than 20 years. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has served the citizens of Maine in the U.S. Senate. For most of that time, she has enjoyed a hard-fought reputation as a moderate Republican who methodically builds bridges and consensus in an era of political polarization. To millions of political observers, she exemplified the best of post-partisan leadership, finding a "third way" through the static of ideological tribalism.

However, all of that has changed since the election of Donald Trump in 2016. Voters in Maine, particularly those who lean left, have run out of patience with Collins and her seeming refusal to stand up to Trump. That frustration peaked with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

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Politics
NHM Vienna/Hans Reschreiter

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A study published in Science took a look at over 100 late Neolithic and early Bronze Age skeletons found in a burial site in southern Germany. The study "shed light on the complexity of social status, inheritance rules, and mobility during the Bronze Age." Partly by looking at their teeth and the artifacts they were buried with, researchers were able to discover that wealth inequality existed almost 4,000 years ago. "Our results reveal that individual households lasting several generations consisted of a high-status core family and unrelated low-status individuals, a social organization accompanied by patrilocality and female exogamy, and the stability of this system over 700 years," the study said.

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via Truthout.org / Flickr and Dimitri Rodriguez / Flickr

Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign looks to be getting a huge big shot in the arm after it's faced some difficulties over the past few weeks.

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Fellow member of "the Squad," Ilhan Omar, endorsed him on Wednesday.

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Politics

When former Pittsburgh Steelers' center Mike Webster committed suicide in 2002, his death began to raise awareness of the brain damage experienced by NFL football players. A 2017 study found that 99% of deceased NFL players had a degenerative brain disease known as CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy). Only one out of 111 former football players had no sign of CTE. It turns out, some of the risks of traumatic brain injury experienced by heavily padded adults playing at a professional level also exist for kids with developing brains playing at a recreational level. The dangers might not be as intense as what the adults go through, but it can have some major life-long consequences.

A new PSA put out by the Concussion Legacy Foundation raises awareness of the dangers of tackle football on developing brains, comparing it to smoking. "Tackle football is like smoking. The younger I start, the longer I am exposed to danger. You wouldn't let me smoke. When should I start tackling?" a child's voice can be heard saying in the PSA as a mother lights up a cigarette for her young son.

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via ICE / Flickr

The Connors family, two coupes from the United Kingdom, one with a three-month old baby and the other with twin two-year-olds, were on vacation in Canada when the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) turned their holiday into a 12-plus day-long nightmare.

On October 3, the family was driving near the U.S.-Canada border in British Columbia when an animal veered into the road, forcing them to make an unexpected detour.

The family accidentally crossed into the United States where they were detained by ICE officials in what would become "the scariest experience of our lives," according to a complaint filed with the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security.

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Travel