AP Analysis: Blacks Largely Missing From High-Salary Positions

Jonathan Garland’s fascination with architecture started early: He spent much of his childhood designing Lego houses and gazing at Boston buildings on rides with his father away from their largely minority neighborhood.  But when Garland looked around at his architectural college, he didn’t see many who looked like him. There were few black faces among students, and fewer teaching skills or giving lectures.    “If you do something simple like Google ‘architects’ and you go to the images tab, you’re primarily going to see white males,” said Garland, 35, who’s worked at Boston and New York architectural firms. “That’s the image, that’s the brand, that’s the look of an architect.” And that’s not uncommon in other lucrative fields, 50 years after the Reverend Martin Luther King, a leader in the fight for equal employment opportunities, was assassinated. An Associated Press analysis of government data has found that black workers are chronically underrepresented compared with whites in high-salary jobs in technology, business, life sciences and engineering, among other areas. Instead, many black workers find jobs in low-wage, less prestigious fields where they’re overrepresented, such as food service or preparation, building maintenance and office work, the AP analysis found. ‘Other America’ In one of his final speeches, King described the “Other America,” where unemployment and underemployment created a “fatigue of despair” for African-Americans. Despite economic progress for blacks in areas such as incomes and graduation rates, some experts say many African-Americans remain part of this “Other America,” with little hope of attaining top professional …

Scientists Track Chinese Space Station’s Final Hours in Orbit

Scientists are monitoring a defunct Chinese space station that is expected to fall to Earth sometime this weekend — the largest man-made object to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere in a decade. The head of the European Space Agency’s debris office, Holger Krag, says China’s Tiangong-1 space station likely will fall to Earth Sunday. Krag said it still not yet known where the space station will hit Earth, but said it would be extremely unlikely for anyone to be injured when it does. “Our experience is that for such large objects typically between 20 and 40 percent of the original mass, of 8.5 tons, will survive re-entry and then could be found on the ground, theoretically,” he said. “However, to be injured by one of these fragments is extremely unlikely. My estimate is that the probability to be injured by one of these fragments is similar to the probability of being hit by lightning twice in the same year,” Krag added. China’s first space lab, Tiangong-1 — or “Heavenly Palace 1″ — was launched in 2011 as a facility for testing docking capabilities with other Chinese spacecraft and to explore the possibilities for building a larger permanent space station by 2023. Chinese astronauts visited it several times flying aboard the Shenzhou spacecraft. It was scheduled for a controlled de-orbit and eventual crash into the Pacific Ocean, but in September 2016 China’s space agency conceded it had lost contact with the station. Krag, says the 8-and-a-half ton craft will re-enter the atmosphere at …

Australian Project to Probe Links Between Head Injuries in Sport, Disease

Researchers in Australia have begun an ambitious task to learn more about the long-term impacts of head injuries suffered by athletes. This week, the Australian Sports Brain Bank was launched in Sydney, and experts are encouraging players who have participated in all levels of sport – whether or not they’ve had a head injury – to donate their brains to the cause after they die. The Brain Bank has been set up to investigate links between concussion, head injuries and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE.  It is a neurodegenerative disease found in people with a history of repetitive brain trauma. The Australian study is being supported by American researchers, who set up a similar brain bank a decade ago. Dr. Chris Nowinski, head of the Boston-based Concussion Legacy Foundation which has examined the brains of deceased National Football League players, says the presence of CTE among them is pervasive. “Any contact sport where you receive repetitive brain trauma puts you at risk for this disease.  We do not know at what risk but we have seen CTE in 110 of the first 111 players that we have studied, which has really surprised us.” Nowinski believes energy from blows to the head during competition causes brain tissue to move.  Symptoms of CTE include depression, aggression and memory loss, and can take years or decades to appear. The cause of CTE has yet to be established, but the disease has prompted a class action lawsuit in the U.S. Australia’s Brain Bank is …

Helping the Planet, One Burger at a Time

Chef Rob Morasco didn’t set out to make a planet-friendly burger. But the 25 percent mushroom burger he created at food service company Sodexo not only has a lower carbon footprint, it’s also lower in calories, fat and salt. It’s juicier, too. “When you bite into it, it’s kind of like a flavor explosion,” Morasco said. “And you don’t taste the mushrooms, either.” And because mushrooms are cheaper than beef, he could answer customer demand for antibiotic- and hormone-free burgers “without having to jack up the price,” he said. Mushroom-blended burgers have been catching on among both chefs and environmentalists. In March, Sonic Drive-In became the first fast-food chain to offer them. WATCH: These Burgers Are Better for the Planet, but You’d Never Know It ​2 million cars Americans eat about 10 billion hamburgers each year, according to the World Resources Institute (WRI). All those burgers take a toll on the planet. Beef is “the most resource-intensive food that we commonly eat,” Richard Waite of WRI said. Beef accounts for about half the greenhouse gases produced by the American diet, he added. Cows take far more feed, land and water than any other source of protein. If every burger in America were blended with mushrooms, WRI estimates the greenhouse-gas savings would be like taking more than 2 million cars off the road. It would save as much water as nearly 3 million American households use in a year. And it would reduce the demand for farmland by an area larger …

These Burgers Are Better for the Planet, but You’d Never Know It

As the world’s population heads toward 10 billion by midcentury, experts are wrestling with how to feed the world without wrecking the planet. It’s not easy to find foods with lower environmental impact that still taste as good as the ones they are intended to replace. But chefs and environmentalists are both cheering one new menu item: the mushroom-blended burger. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more. …

NY’s Immigrant Taxi Drivers Despair as Taxi Industry Slumps

A financially distraught yellow cab driver from Romania recently hanged himself in his New York garage, marking the fourth suicide among city taxi drivers in as many months. In the tragedy’s aftermath, members of New York’s taxicab drivers union are renewing their calls for a cap on the number of app-based for-hire vehicles, such as Uber and Lyft, which they say are driving workers of a once-thriving industry into the ground. VOA’s Ramon Taylor reports. …

Trump EPA Expected to Roll Back Auto Gas Mileage Standards 

The Trump administration is expected to announce that it will roll back automobile gas mileage and pollution standards that were a pillar in the Obama administration’s plans to combat climate change.  It’s not clear whether the announcement will include a specific number, but current regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency require the fleet of new vehicles to get 36 miles per gallon in real-world driving by 2025. That’s about 10 mpg over the existing standard.  Environmental groups, who predict increased greenhouse gas emissions and more gasoline consumption if the standards are relaxed, say the announcement could come Tuesday at a Virginia car dealership. EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman said in an email Friday that the standards are still being reviewed. Legal showdown Any change is likely to set up a lengthy legal showdown with California, which currently has the power to set its own pollution and gas mileage standards and doesn’t want them to change. About a dozen other states follow California’s rules, and together they account for more than one-third of the vehicles sold in the US. Currently the federal and California standards are the same.  Automakers have lobbied to revisit the requirements, saying they’ll have trouble reaching them because people are buying bigger vehicles due to low gas prices. They say the standards will cost the industry billions of dollars and raise vehicle prices due to the cost of developing technology needed to raise mileage.  When the standards were first proposed, the government predicted that two-thirds of new vehicles …

UN Blacklists Dozens of Ships, Businesses Over N. Korea Smuggling

The U.N. Security Council on Friday blacklisted 27 ships, 21 companies and a businessman for helping North Korea circumvent sanctions, keeping the pressure on Pyongyang despite its recent diplomatic opening to talks, a diplomat said. Acting on a request from the United States, a council committee approved the largest-ever package of sanctions designations on North Korea, the council diplomat said on condition of anonymity. The move is part of a global crackdown on the smuggling of North Korean commodities in violation of U.N. sanctions resolutions, which were adopted in response to Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile tests. Thirteen North Korean oil tankers and cargo vessels were banned from ports worldwide, along with 12 other ships for helping Pyongyang smuggle banned commodities or supplying oil and fuel shipments, according to a U.N. document obtained by AFP. Two other North Korean vessels were hit with a global assets freeze but were not banned from port entry.  Twenty-one shipping and trading firms were hit by an assets freeze. Three of them are based in Hong Kong, including Huaxin Shipping, which delivered shipments of North Korean coal to Vietnam in October. 12 North Korean firms hit Twelve North Korean firms were blacklisted for running ships involved in illegal transfers of oil and fuel, according to the document. Two other companies — Shanghai Dongfeng Shipping and Weihai World Shipping Freight, also based in China — were blacklisted for carrying North Korean coal on their vessels. The remaining firms are in based Singapore, Samoa, the Marshall Islands …

South Sudan Dispute With Mobile Firm Disrupts Service

Hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese remained without mobile phone service Friday, as network operator Vivacell continued a standoff with the government over a licensing dispute. The government cut the network’s signal to its roughly 900,000 subscribers just after midnight Tuesday, alleging that Vivacell owed tens of millions of dollars in licensing fees. The government’s information minister, Michael Makuei, told VOA earlier this week that Vivacell previously had been exempted from taxes and licensing fees. “We want them to pay a sum of up to $66 million for their license, and up to now they are dragging their feet,” he said. The licensing fee dispute underscores the mounting financial pressures facing the government in a country ravaged by civil war since late 2013. Ruling party holds Vivacell stake Pagan Amum – the former secretary general of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), the country’s ruling party – said Vivacell already pays for a valid license it has held for years. “There is no way Vivacell can be required to pay for another license,” he told VOA’s “South Sudan in Focus” radio program on Thursday. Amum said that, as secretary general, he had helped negotiate the original deal with Lebanon’s Fattouch Investment Group – Vivacell’s majority owner – giving the SPLM party a minority share in the telecom firm.  Vivacell has operated in South Sudan since 2008 under a license issued to the SPLM, Amum said. He added that, since 2012, the ruling SPLM has received $100,000 a month from Vivacell …