Vast majority of truck-driving jobs are not under threat from automation

The looming threat of mass-unemployment driven by automation has been grossly overstated: while it's true that "truck driver" is one of the most common jobs in America, the vast majority of truck drivers are not long-haul drivers, which are the drivers at risk of having their jobs automated out of existence. Read the rest

Mystery solved: why has a beach in France been blighted by washed-up parts for toy Garfield phones for more than 30 years?

For more than thirty years, the beaches of France's Iroise Marine Nature Park have been blighted by a seemingly endless stream of a highly specific form of washed-up plastic waste: part of a toy Garfield telephone -- more than 200 pieces in all.

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UPS Teamsters ready to stage America's biggest strike since 1997, with solidarity as the main sticking point

Unionized UPS Teamsters -- 260,000 of them -- are set to strike in the biggest American strike since UPS's unionized drivers walked out in 1997. Read the rest

Vanuatu will use drones to deliver vaccines across its remote chain of tiny islands

Vanuatu and UNICEF have issued a request for tender inviting drone companies to bid on a contract to deliver vaccines along the nation's chain of tiny, remote islands -- 83 volcanic islands strung along a 1600km atoll. Read the rest

Rail barons and the new gilded age: one-percenters travel in style by hitching private "super-luxe" railcars to Amtrak trains

The Wall Street Journal profiles rich "train buffs" who buy vintage Gilded Age railcars and refurbish them, then pay to have them hitched to Amtrak trains and pulled between their city houses and their country places. Read the rest

A common satellite comms package for ships and oil rigs has a backdoor that won't be patched

An audit of Inmarsat's AmosConnect 8 (originally sold by Stratos Global, now an Inmarsat division) reveals that the ship-to-satellite internet product has a deliberate hidden backdoor -- and an accidental SQL code-injection vulnerability -- that allows anyone in the world to take over all, interrupt, and/or spy on the internet access on many of the world's largest ships and oil rigs. Read the rest

Small town Uber driver quits, launches a one-driver rival

Suzanne Ashe was the only Uber driver in Haines, Alaska, and the app wouldn't let her stay logged in and available because the rides came so infrequently. Read the rest

Truck-driving is a modern form of indentured slavery

USA Today undertook a year-long investigation into southern California truckers, so-called "independent contractors" who form a critical link from America's busiest port to the rest of the country, and found that drivers are sunk into deep pits of debt due to predatory contracts they signed under duress, debts that are used to force them to work unsafe hours, falsify their work records, and sometimes bring home literal pennies a week after working 80+ hours (some drivers even finish the week in deeper debt, owing money to the companies they "contract" for). Read the rest

Disney wants to build an "aerial tramway" between the Disney World parks

Disney's "skybuckets" are fondly remembered as the best place in the themepark to do some sneaky kissin', but they were also a magnet for antisocial behavior, from smoking weed to spitting on people to jumping out of them -- and they proved lethal to park maintenance crews. Read the rest

UK gives OK to Amazon for drone delivery exploration

Amazon.com says it has entered into a partnership with the British government to get the nation's aviation authority approval for deliveries via small drones. Read the rest

18% of the world's cargo ships are sitting idle

In the aftermath of the 2008 crash, international shipping sank to record lows -- but container ship companies kept on building, turning out some of the biggest ships the seas have ever seen. Read the rest

Uber loves competition, when it's the one doing the competing

Uber terminated access to its API for Urbanhail, a startup that compared pricing and availability among ride-hailing apps and taxi companies, after chastising the company's founders for violating its terms of service, which forbid creating competitive uses. Read the rest

Luxury overnight bus with sleeper cabins shuttles between LA and San Francisco

Sleepbus is a startup that's "disrupting long distance transport" -- it's a bus. Read the rest

Pirates hacked shipping company, cherry-picking targets based on cargo

An unnamed shipping company had its unpatched content management system hacked by sea-pirates, who then sorted the ships at sea by the value of their cargo to help prioritize attacks to maximize the take. Read the rest

How the standard, high-quality disaster-relief tarpaulin came to be

Tarpaulins are critical supplies for disaster relief and humanitarian aid, serving as cover, shelter, carpet and all-round utility infielder. Read the rest

Amazon Prime Air: drone-based 30 minute delivery

Jeff Bezos took to 60 Minutes to announce Prime Air, a drone-based 30-minute delivery system for densely populated areas that comes with its own video design-fiction illustrating how it might work. The vision is an exciting one, but the designfic elides some important questions like the regulatory framework under which thousands (millions?) of drones might share the sky as businesses compete to do airborne delivery; whether that framework would be sufficient to actually maintain public safety (hello midair drone collision over a busy highway with attendant plummeting shrapnel into the path of speeding cars!); and what the energy and carbon footprint of drones would be, especially with comparison to conventional delivery logistics. Read the rest

Container ship breaks in half, sinks, burns

Here's a gallery of photos showing an enormous container ship breaking in two at the middle, and then the stern section sinking. The bow of the ship -- the Mitsui O.S.K. Lines's MOL Comfort -- was towed away, but burst into flames and broke free of its tow, off the coast of Gujarat, India.

On June 17, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines’ MOL Comfort began suffering from severe hogging and broke in two while underway from Singapore to Jeddah with a load of 7,041 TEUs. The crew escaped in life rafts and picked up by another merchant vessel... On June 27, the stern section began taking on water and sank with an estimated 1,700 containers and 1,500 metric tons of fuel oil. These photos sent to gCaptain were taken over a five minute period... On July 2, the MOL Comfort’s bow section broke free from its towing wire while in “adverse” sea conditions. Crews were able to reconnected and continue towing. Four days later, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines reported that on July 6, a fire broke towards the rear of the bow section of the MOL Comfort, and fire fighting efforts commenced.

The whole set is pretty amazing -- container ships are one of my prime fascinations, and to see these huge packetized lumps of consumer good being tossed around like children's blocks is terrifying.

A Look Back: MOL Comfort Incident Photos [25 PHOTOS]

(Thanks, Fipi Lele!) Read the rest

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