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Author: The Conversation

Vapors of Death: The failed promise of alternative nicotine products

By Risa Robinson, Professor and Department Chair, Mechanical Engineering, Rochester Institute of Technology The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is looking closely at the different flavored nicotine juices and other substances users may be vaping in e-cigarettes to determine how the aerosol might be affecting users’ lungs. On September 12, 2019, the CDC lowered the number of confirmed and probable cases from more than 400 to 380. The number was lower, the agency said, because it is no longer reporting “possible cases.” The mystery and concern remain. And, many smokers who use these devices to quit are concerned...

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Reactions from critics to 1619 project shows continued efforts to distort the history of slavery

By Kelley Fanto Deetz, Lecturer in American Studies, University of Virginia Four hundred years after the event, the New York Times has published a special project focusing on the first Africans arriving in 1619 at Point Comfort, Virginia, and the legacy of slavery in the United States. “No aspect of the country that would be formed here has been untouched by the years of slavery that followed,” the introduction said. While there has been much praise for the project’s recasting of American history, it has been given a chilly reception by others. These critics, including former top GOP legislator...

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A Knowledge Economy: How Artificial intelligence can enhance journalism

By Nicholas Diakopoulos, Assistant Professor of Communication Studies, Northwestern University Much as robots have transformed entire swaths of the manufacturing economy, artificial intelligence and automation are now changing information work, letting humans offload cognitive labor to computers. In journalism, for instance, data mining systems alert reporters to potential news stories, while newsbots offer new ways for audiences to explore information. Automated writing systems generate financial, sports and elections coverage. A common question as these intelligent technologies infiltrate various industries is how work and labor will be affected. In this case, who – or what – will do journalism in...

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Building trust as a solution to breaking the infinite loop of an echo chamber

By C. Thi Nguyen, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Utah Valley University Pick any of the big topics of the day – Brexit, climate change or Trump’s immigration policies – and wander online. What one is likely to find is radical polarization – different groups of people living in different worlds, populated with utterly different facts. Many people want to blame the “social media bubble,” a belief that everybody sorts themselves into like-minded communities and hears only like-minded views. From my perspective as a philosopher who thinks about communities and trust, this fails to get at the heart of the...

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Investment in rail infrastructure is a key part of making public transportation cleaner

By Andreas Hoffrichter, Executive Director of the Center for Railway Research and Education, Michigan State University Transportation represents about 29 percent of U.S. emissions, and the share has been rising in recent years. Rail proponents often argue that investment in trains and public transportation is a key part of making transportation cleaner, and indeed, the Green New Deal calls for greatly expanding high-speed rail. As a scholar of rail, it is clear to me that the quickest way to decrease greenhouse gases from transportation is to travel by train and move goods by rail instead of on the road...

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How environmental instability from climate change is displacing farmers from Central America

By Miranda Cady Hallett, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Human Rights Center Research Fellow, University of Dayton Rising global temperatures, the spread of crop disease and extreme weather events have made coffee harvests unreliable in places like El Salvador. On top of that, market prices are unpredictable. Clouds of dust rose behind the wheels of the pickup truck as we hurtled over the back road in Palo Verde, El Salvador. When we got to the stone-paved part of the road, the driver slowed as the truck heaved up and down with the uneven terrain. Riding in the back bed...

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