Ethics in the News: Climate Change, Overdose Prevention, Partisan Divides, and more…

Technology & Media

Google Promised to Defund Climate Lies, but the Ads Keep Coming
“In a report released on Tuesday, researchers from the organizations accused YouTube of continuing to profit from videos that portrayed the changing climate as a hoax or exaggeration. It is difficult to assess the full extent of misinformation on YouTube, researchers said, because watching videos is time-intensive work and they have limited data access, leaving them to rely on laboriously searching the platform with keywords. “I think it’s fair to say it’s probably the tip of the iceberg,” Mr. Hood added, referring to what they had found.”

Twitter Criticized for Allowing Texas Shooting Images to Spread
“Ms. Holloway was one of many Twitter users who criticized the social network for allowing the grisly images — including of a blood-spattered child — to spread virally across the platform after the shooting on Saturday. Though gruesome images have become common on social media, where a cellphone camera and an internet connection make everyone a publisher, the unusually graphic nature of the images drew sustained outcry from users. And they threw a harsh spotlight on Twitter’s content moderation practices, which have been curtailed since Mr. Musk acquired the company last year..”

The Next Fear on A.I.: Hollywood’s Killer Robots Become the Military’s Tools
“The foreboding is vague, but deeply worrisome. Could ChatGPT empower bad actors who previously wouldn’t have easy access to destructive technology? Could it speed up confrontations between superpowers, leaving little time for diplomacy and negotiation? In the military, A.I.-infused systems can speed up the tempo of battlefield decisions to such a degree that they create entirely new risks of accidental strikes, or decisions made on misleading or deliberately false alerts of incoming attacks.”

White House rolls out plan to promote ethical AI
“The actions include a $140 million investment from the National Science Foundation to launch seven new National AI Research (NAIR) Institutes, increasing the total number of AI-dedicated facilities to 25 nationwide. Google, Microsoft, Nvidia, OpenAI and other companies have also agreed to allow their language models to be publicly evaluated during this year’s Def Con. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) also said that it would be publishing draft rules this summer for how the federal government should use AI technology.”


Florida Legislature Passes Bill Banning Gender-Transition Care for Minors
“The Florida Legislature passed a bill on Thursday that would prohibit gender-transition care for minors and restrict it for adults, one of several measures aimed at L.G.B.T.Q. communities that have been passed during this year’s legislative session. The legislation goes further than policies adopted last year by the Florida Board of Medicine and Board of Osteopathic Medicine banning hormone treatments and surgical care for transgender people under 18 unless they are already receiving such treatments. The new bill would codify the ban and penalize doctors who violate it with up to five years in prison.”

Hearing Aids Are Changing. Their Users Are, Too.
“A raft of new hearing aids have hit the market in recent years, offering greater appeal to a generation of young adults that some experts say is both developing hearing problems earlier in life and — perhaps paradoxically — becoming more comfortable with an expensive piece of technology pumping sound into their ears…By the time they turn 30, about a fifth of Americans today have had their hearing damaged by noise, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently estimated. This number adds to the already substantial population of young people with hearing loss tied to genetics or medical conditions”

Abortion pill legal challenge threatens miscarriage care
“Mifepristone has long been subject to special restrictions, though experts say it’s as safe as the over-the-counter painkiller ibuprofen. For example, the FDA requires it to be dispensed by, or under the supervision of, a certified prescriber. Doctors say the current legal climate is tightening access further.”

To improve kids’ mental health, some schools start later
“The idea of later school start times, pushed by many over the years as a way to help adolescents get more sleep, is getting a new look as a way to address the mental health crisis affecting teens across the U.S..During the pandemic, soaring numbers of high school students expressed persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, with girls and LGBTQ+ youth reporting the highest levels of poor mental health and suicide attempts. It doesn’t help that research suggests middle and high school students aren’t getting enough sleep.”

US backs study of safe injection sites, overdose prevention
“For the first time, the U.S. government will pay for a large study measuring whether overdoses can be prevented by so-called safe injection sites, places where people can use heroin and other illegal drugs and be revived if they take too much. The grant provides more than $5 million over four years to New York University and Brown University to study two sites in New York City and one opening next year in Providence, Rhode Island.”

Standards of Conduct 

Alabama Discriminated Against Black Residents Over Sewage, Justice Dept. Says
“All these years we’ve been here, my kids have never — name a year — been able to go out there and play in the yard. And even when it wasn’t flooded, let me tell you something: the ground stays so soft, you could walk out there and like you sinking,” a resident whose yard has routinely flooded with waste for three decades told “60 Minutes” in 2021.

Tightening Supreme Court Ethics Rules Faces Steep Hurdles
“Justice Thomas’s behavior has underscored that financial disclosure rules for justices are porous and that the court has no binding code of ethical conduct like the one that governs lower-court judges. The court has shown no interest in adopting one, and proposals in Congress to force one upon it face steep political and constitutional hurdles. As a result, even as Supreme Court ethics have become a matter of public policy concern to a degree not seen since 1969 — when Justice Abe Fortas resigned in a scandal over taking outside income from a friend and a Wall Street financier — Washington finds itself grappling with growing questions about the court’s accountability and all but paralyzed over how to proceed. “

The state may expand ethics training to all who work with children
“For the first time, Idaho’s Professional Standards Commission may offer ethics training to classified personnel who work with children — like bus drivers, cafeteria staff and paraprofessionals. Research indicates that educators make between 1,500-3,000 non-trivial decisions in a day. And classified staff who work alongside children face the same responsibility. “

Climate and the Environment

Go Green, Then ‘Go Dark’?e
“companies scored points by drawing attention to their sustainability goals. Now the momentum appears to have shifted, with many engaging in “greenhushing.”An analysis of 1,200 companies published last fall by South Pole, a Swiss consultancy, found that one in four planned to go green but then “go dark” — that is, keep its climate commitments under the radar.”

Earth in hot water? Worries over sudden ocean warming spike
“It’s been about seven years since the last El Nino, and it was a whopper. The world has warmed in that seven years, especially the deeper ocean, which absorbs by far most of the heat energy from greenhouse gases, said Sarah Purkey, an oceanographer at the Scripps Institution for Oceanography. The ocean heat content, which measures the energy stored by the deep ocean, each year sets new record highs regardless of what’s happening on the surface.”

Living and Breathing on the Front Line of a Toxic Chemical Zone
“Two recent assessments, by the Environmental Protection Agency and city officials in Houston, found that residents were at higher risk of developing leukemia and other cancers than people who lived farther from the chemical plants. These same worries afflict households in Illinois, Louisiana, West Virginia and other spots around the United States where families live near manufacturing facilities that make or use these cancer-causing chemicals. “Sacrifice zones — that’s what we call them,” said Ana Parras, a founder of Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services, which sued the E.P.A. starting in 2020 to push for tighter rules on toxics. “These areas here are paying the price for the rest of the nation, really.”

Backup Power: A Growing Need, if You Can Afford It
“Extreme weather linked to climate change is causing more blackouts. But generators and batteries are still out of reach for many. Energy experts warn that power outages will become more common because of extreme weather linked to climate change. And those blackouts will hurt more people as Americans buy electric heat pumps and battery-powered cars to replace furnaces and vehicles that burn fossil fuels — a shift essential to limiting climate change.”

Law and Politics

What to Know About the Case of Richard Glossip, Death Row Prisoner
“The Supreme Court on Friday granted a stay of execution for the death row inmate Richard Glossip after Oklahoma’s attorney general made an extraordinary plea to stop what he says would have been an “unthinkable” error. The court put the execution on hold while it considers whether to formally review the case. Advocates for Mr. Glossip have argued that new evidence discovered in independent investigations — combined with problems with the state’s prosecution and the destruction of evidence — strongly suggests that there was not enough evidence to warrant a conviction, let alone a death sentence.”

After Mass Killings in Texas, Frustration but No Action on Guns
“In the past two years, as the state has been shaken by more than a dozen mass killings of four or more people, Texas has increased access to firearms, doing away with its permit requirements to carry handguns and lowering the age when adults can carry handguns to 18 from 21. On Sunday, Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, attended a vigil for the victims of the shooting at the shopping center, Allen Premium Outlets, but said earlier that there would be no new effort by his administration to limit access to firearms — because it would not work.”

Charges in NYC chokehold death may hinge on ‘reasonableness’
“The potential criminal charges against a U.S. Marine veteran who put Jordan Neely in a fatal chokehold aboard a New York City subway train might depend on whether a “reasonable” New Yorker would have acted similarly.Under New York’s penal code, a person who uses deadly force must not only prove that they feared for their own life or someone else’s, but that any reasonable person would have felt the same way.”

Migrant Child Labor Debate in Congress Becomes Mired in Immigration Fight
“Legislation to crack down on companies’ use of child labor has gone nowhere and currently has little Republican backing, while Democrats’ efforts to increase funding for federal agencies to provide more support services to migrant children who cross the border by themselves face long odds in the House, where the G.O.P. has pledged to slash agency budgets. Instead, as Congress prepares to wade into a bitter debate over immigration policy in the coming days, Republicans and Democrats have retreated to their opposite corners, abandoning whatever initial hope there may have been for tackling the issue of child labor in a bipartisan way.”

Money & Business 

Bringing A.I. Tools to the Workplace Requires a Delicate Balance
“Experts disagree about whether A.I. will wind up destroying more jobs than it creates over time. But it is clear that A.I. will alter work for most knowledge workers, shifting the skills they need and changing the staffing needs of most companies. Now it’s up to business leaders to figure out how to take advantage of the technologies today, while preparing workers for the disruption that the tools present over the medium term.”

Attorneys General to Investigate the N.F.L.’s Treatment of Female Employees
“The attorneys general of New York and California opened a joint investigation into allegations of workplace discrimination and pay inequities at the N.F.L. offices in both states in response to a report in The New York Times in February 2022 on the treatment of women who work for the league. The attorneys general, who issued subpoenas to the N.F.L. for relevant information regarding its handling of the claims, said the league had not taken sufficient steps to prevent discrimination and retaliation in the workplace. There is no time limit on the length of the investigation.”

‘It’s Going to Be a While’: No End in Sight for Hollywood Strike
“The Writers Guild of America, which represents 11,500 screenwriters, went on strike on Tuesday after contract negotiations with studios, streaming services and networks failed. By the end of the week, as companies punched back at union in the news media, and striking writers celebrated the disruption of shows filming from finished scripts, The W.G.A. has vowed to stay on strike for as long as it takes. “The week has shown, I think, just how committed and fervent writers’ feelings are about all of this,” Chris Keyser, a chair of the W.G.A. negotiating committee, said in an interview on Friday. “They’re going to stay out until something changes because they can’t afford not to.”

They Helped New York Bounce Back. Now Their Rents Are Surging.
“Three years after the pandemic flattened the Manhattan office market and the commercial ecosystem that depended on it, small businesses in the other boroughs are facing the biggest rent increases in the city, as storefront rents in Manhattan are falling. The burden is landing mostly on store owners in predominantly Black, Latino and Asian neighborhoods, according to a new analysis of Department of Finance data. At risk, they say, is the soul of the city: the minority- and immigrant-owned businesses that create a path to the middle class and provide hard-to-find goods and services in ethnic enclaves.”

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