INHERITANCE HIS NAME WAS EMMETT TILL In 1955, just past daybreak, a Chevrolet truck pulled up to an unmarked building. A 14-year-old child was in the back. The dentist was a few minutes late, so I waited by the barn, listening to a northern mockingbird in the cypress trees. His tires kicked up dust when he turned off Drew Ruleville Road and headed across the bayou toward his house. He got out of his truck still wearing his scrubs and, with a smile, extended his hand: “Jeff Andrews.” The gravel crunched under his feet as he walked to the barn, which is long and narrow with sliding doors in the middle. Its walls are made of cypress boards, weathered gray, and it overlooks a swimming pool behind a white columned house. Jeff Andrews rolled up the garage door he’d installed. Our eyes adjusted to the darkness of the barn where Emmett […]

Via an unprecedented wave of lawsuits, America’s petroleum giants face a reckoning for the devastation caused by fossil fuels  Are you a fossil fuel industry insider? We want to hear from you About this contentChris McGreal After a century of wielding extraordinary economic and political power, America’s petroleum giants face a reckoning for driving the greatest existential threat of our lifetimes. An unprecedented wave of lawsuits, filed by cities and states across the US, aim to hold the oil and gas industry to account for the environmental devastation caused by fossil fuels – and covering up what they knew along the way. Coastal cities struggling to keep rising sea levels at bay, midwestern states watching “mega-rains” destroy crops and homes, and fishing communities losing catches to warming waters, are now demanding the oil conglomerates pay damages and take urgent action to reduce further harm from burning fossil fuels. But, even […]

People are drawing connections between Gates’s vast farmlands and climate change advocacy. Bill Gates might be a tech billionaire — but he and his wife Melinda French Gates, who are in the process of divorcing, are also two of the largest private farmland owners in the United States. Recent reports detailing the extent of Gates’s land ownership have prompted criticism from some environmental advocates and farmers, who say there seems to be a contradiction between his public environmental advocacy and his personal investment strategy. Others have speculated the farmland purchases may be a part of the billionaire’s overall climate efforts. Bill Gates has said there’s no connection, either way. But the new details on the purchases — and the discussion surrounding them — serve as an important reminder that billionaires can store their massive wealth in all sorts of unexpected places, and that there can often be a tension between their personal investments and their […]

Here’s how to (finally) let go of that grudge. We all know that letting go of a perceived slight is a lot better than harboring a grudge, but let’s be real here—forgiving someone can be very, very hard to do. However, holding onto all the times that someone has wronged you can have a negative effect on your health, and people who forgive others often report that they later feel happier, and even lighter, in a sense. In fact, a 2015 study on forgiveness and physical activity showed that when participants who remembered a time when they refused to forgive someone, they judged hills to be about 5 degrees steeper than those who recalled making amends. Forgivers also jumped an average of 3 inches higher in a fitness test than their still-bitter counterparts, suggesting that ill will can literally bring you down. Plus, when you hold a grudge, you tend to stew over it. This […]

People who work from home get fewer raises and promotions. But there might be a way to avoid the remote-work penalty. What really gets Wasserstrum’s goat is when people say no one should come into the office, because that would be more fair to the people who don’t want to come into the office. He said that although he wouldn’t fire someone for asking to work remotely full-time, SquareFoot is a real-estate company. “If somebody didn’t believe in the value of an office at least one day a week, they probably shouldn’t be at the company anyway,” he said. At a recent Wall Street Journal conference, WeWork CEO Sandeep Mathrani cheered cubicle life even louder, saying that the most “engaged” workers are those who want to work from the office most of the time. “People are happier when they come to work,” he added confidently. Perhaps you’re thinking that People are happier when they come […]

A New Generation of Vaccines Is Coming,Some With No Needles The coronavirus outbreak made household names of companies like Moderna Inc. and BioNTech SE, whose shots offered hope for ending the pandemic. Now a new wave of vaccines is on the horizon that may get the world over the finish line of inoculation. Protecting 7.7 billion people is a herculean task. There are more than 250 vaccine candidates in the wings to take on the challenge, including 82 in human studies. In addition to sheer numbers, they offer unique benefits compared to the dozen now available. The next generation includes shots built from the coronavirus’s genetic material and nasal sprays that defend without using a needle at all. They are stealthy, faster to make and easier to ship, offering workarounds for hurdles that limit the impact of the first inoculations to reach the market. “It’s absolutely essential to share vaccine products with […]

Bias, disrespect, and demotions: Black employees say Amazon has a race problem Interviews with diversity managers and internal data obtained by Recode indicate that Black Amazon employees are promoted less frequently and are rated more harshly than non-Black peers.By Jason Del Rey@DelRey  Feb 26, 2021, 8:00am ESTAmazon’s downtown Seattle campus. | Meron Menghistab for Vox When Chanin Kelly-Rae started working at Amazon in 2019 as a global manager of diversity in the company’s cloud computing division, she had big ambitions for her new job. She had nearly two decades of experience leading diversity and inclusion efforts inside important institutions, like Washington state’s governor’s office, but she’d never worked at an influential global business leader like Amazon. But less than a year later, Kelly-Rae quit. Her tenure inside the company convinced her that Amazon’s corporate workplace has deep, systemic issues that disadvantage Black employees and workers from other underrepresented backgrounds. And she was dismayed by […]

What the Color ‘Haint Blue’ Means to the Descendants of Enslaved Africans In the Lowcountry, the unique shade is both protective talisman and source of unspeakable suffering. A haint blue porch ceiling. Beaufort County, South Carolina, a marshy world of low-lying coastal islands, is awash in blue. The cerulean of the skies that darken to shades of cobalt in storm-kissed summers. The blue-gray of the churning Atlantic. The sapphire waters of the rivers and saline estuaries that account for almost 40 percent of the county’s 923 square miles. But while the color blue dominates Lowcountry skies and waters, for centuries it was nearly impossible for human hands to reproduce. Only indigo—a leggy green plant that emerges from the soil in bushy, tangled clumps—can generate the elusive jewel tones. In Beaufort County and elsewhere in the Lowcountry of South Carolina and Georgia, blue had the power to protect enslaved Africans and […]

It’s time to end the LeBron James-Michael Jordan debate Another title and James’ accomplishments outside of basketball have elevated his stature in the pantheon of Black athlete activists By winning his fourth NBA title, LeBron James has not only just leaped into history, he’s also leaped over Michael Jordan in the heated, ongoing debate over which player is greatest. James scored 28 points and had a triple-double Sunday to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to the franchise’s 17th NBA title. There has not been another NBA superstar to lead three different teams to a championship: not Jordan, not Magic Johnson, not Kobe Bryant. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar led the Milwaukee Bucks to a title and then helped the Lakers win five, but no one has matched James. And none of them had to compete in the bizarre atmosphere of a bubble. This NBA championship has been like no other and has been […]

Life, in Dog Years My father always pampered his pets. So when he fell ill and moved in with us, it was no surprise that his corgi came to rule our home. What I didn’t expect was for Trilby to care for me after Dad was gone. Trilby at the author’s Houston home on February 25, 2019. Photo by Matt Rainwaters. My father came to live with my husband, John, and me when he was 86, after he took a tumble on our stairs and broke his hip on Thanksgiving Day 2013, just before 26 of our friends were set to arrive for dinner. The fall was probably fortuitous, because his memory was already slipping, and leaving him alone in his apartment was becoming increasingly challenging. John, who often knows me better than I know myself, noted that we were facing down one of life’s toughest choices: either I could […]

Are Aliens Hiding in Plain Sight? Several missions this year are seeking out life on the red planet. But would we recognize extraterrestrials if we found them? ‘You can’t hunt for something if you have no idea what it is.’ In July, three unmanned missions blasted off to Mars – from China (Tianwen-1), the US (Nasa’s Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover) and the United Arab Emirates (Hope). The Chinese and American missions have lander craft that will seek signs of current or past life on Mars. Nasa is also planning to send its Europa Clipper probe to survey Jupiter’s moon Europa, and the robotic lander Dragonfly to Saturn’s moon Titan. Both moons are widely thought to be promising hunting grounds for life in our solar system – as are the underground oceans of Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus. Meanwhile, we can now glimpse the chemical makeup of atmospheres of planets that orbit […]

This Overlooked Variable Is the Key to the Pandemic There’s something strange about this coronavirus pandemic. Even after months of extensive research by the global scientific community, many questions remain open. Why, for instance, was there such an enormous death toll in northern Italy, but not the rest of the country? Just three contiguous regions in northern Italy have 25,000 of the country’s nearly 36,000 total deaths; just one region, Lombardy, has about 17,000 deaths. Almost all of these were concentrated in the first few months of the outbreak. What happened in Guayaquil, Ecuador, in April, when so many died so quickly that bodies were abandoned in the sidewalks and streets?* Why, in the spring of 2020, did so few cities account for a substantial portion of global deaths, while many others with similar density, weather, age distribution, and travel patterns were spared? What can we really learn from Sweden, […]

Obituary: Toots Hibbert – the man who coined the word reggae Toots Hibbert, frontman of the legendary reggae band Toots and the Maytals, has died at the age of 77. One of Jamaica’s most influential musicians, he helped popularise reggae in the 1960s with songs like Pressure Drop, Monkey Man and Funky Kingston. He even claimed to have coined the genre’s name, on 1968’s Do The Reggay. Hibbert’s family said he had died on Friday. The cause was not disclosed, but he had recently been taken to hospital with Covid-like symptoms. The musician was later placed in a medically induced coma, and a spokesman said the musician was “fighting for his life.” It is with the heaviest of hearts to announce that Frederick Nathaniel "Toots" Hibbert passed away peacefully tonight, surrounded by his family at the University Hospital of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica… pic.twitter.com/zOb6yRpJ7n — Toots & The […]

Catastrophic wildfires are spewing smoke all over the West Coast. This website lets you track the respiratory crisis in real time—with a few caveats. WHEN I WOKE up on Wednesday morning, I thought my phone was wrong when it showed the time as 7:45. So I checked my watch and my microwave—both 7:45. It was nearly dark out and not because it was dawn, but because the San Francisco sky was choked with wildfire smoke, turning the landscape a Blade Runner dark orange. As I’ve done first thing every morning for the past several weeks during California’s unprecedented outbreak of wildfires, I checked the website PurpleAir—my rock in this summer’s churning Sea of General Awfulness. Drawing crowdsourced data from air quality sensors it sells to the public—ranging between $200 and $300—PurpleAir builds maps that show in real time just how bad a neighborhood like mine is suffering from particulate matter (PM) 2.5 pollution, the particles […]

What Lockdown 2.0 Looks Like: Harsher Rules, Deeper Confusion Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city, is becoming a case study in handling a second wave of infections. There are lots of unanswered questions. Australia’s second-largest city, Melbourne, is grappling with a spiraling coronavirus outbreak that has led to a lockdown with some of the toughest restrictions in the world — offering a preview of what many urban dwellers elsewhere could confront in coming weeks and months. The new lockdown is the product of early success; the country thought it had the virus beat in June. But there was a breakdown in the quarantine program for hotels. Returning travelers passed the virus to hotel security guards in Melbourne, who carried the contagion home. Even after masks became mandatory in the city two weeks ago, the spread continued. And now, as officials try to break the chain of infections, Melbourne is being reshaped by sweeping […]