A pandemic seems like a great time to *checks notes* weaken regulations on toxic pollutants?

In case you weren't panicking enough about the way that ambient environmental factors might be surreptitiously destroying your body, the EPA decided that right now would be a great time to change the rules about how they calculate the risk associated with mercury and other toxic metal factory byproducts.

From The New York Times:

The new Environmental Protection Agency rule does not eliminate restrictions on the release of mercury, a heavy metal linked to brain damage. Instead, it creates a new method of calculating the costs and benefits of curbing mercury pollution that environmental lawyers said would fundamentally undermine the legal underpinnings of controls on mercury and many other pollutants.

By reducing the positive health effects of regulations on paper and raising their economic costs, the new method could be used to justify loosening restrictions on any pollutant that the fossil fuel industry has deemed too costly to control.

The real insult-to-injury here is that it would be easy for the EPA to turn a blind eye to these sort of regulations. Offices are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, and with so much chaos in the world, shady actors in the EPA could deliberately let these rules slip by while still maintaining plausible deniability.

In fact, the EPA already did something like that earlier in this lockdown crisis. In late March, it announced that it was suspending  enforcement of environmental compliance — essentially leaving it up to private companies to decide for themselves if they're following pollution laws. Read the rest

Gamer who attacked wife on livestream reinstated by Twitch (UPDATE: banned again)

Last month, an Australian Fortnite player who streamed himself attacking his wife off-screen while his screaming children watched was charged with assault and banned from Amazon-owned Twitch. But after only two weeks, the service has restored Luke Munday's account and is profiting from his newfound notoriety.

Twitch and Munday and Munday’s attorney didn’t respond to requests for comment from The Daily Beast.

Munday, who goes by “MrDeadMoth” on Twitch, was a small-time streamer until the night of Dec. 9. That’s when his pregnant girlfriend, unhappy that he had missed dinner with his family, asked him to stop playing Fortnite and chatting with his Twitch fans.

Angered, Munday went off-screen, but kept the camera running. After Munday left the stream, a slapping sound could be heard on the video, while his girlfriend cried and their two children, both toddlers, were heard screaming.

There are three stages to how tech platforms keep their racist, sexist, criminal celebrities afloat in the face of criticism.

1. Smiling and promising to do better. 2. Smiling, teeth clenched, silently, like the creepy Fassbender robot from the new Alien movies. 3. Mask-off distinterest in criticism, trending toward open hostility.

Welcome to 2, Twitch! (YouTube's been at 3 since the Pewd N-bomb.)

UPDATE: He's been rebanned, reports The Verge. Read the rest

Before Tumblr switched off access to NSFW blogs, it blocked archivists who were trying to preserve them

When Tumblr announced its plan to purge "female-presenting nipples from its service, the volunteer Archive Team leapt into action, working furiously to preserve years of material before Tumblr tore a huge hole in the internet's historical record. Read the rest