Wildfires tear through the Brazilian Amazon

Amazon fires August 2019

Fire in Canutama, Brazil, along Transamazônica “highway”

Oton Barros (DSR/OBT/INPE)

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Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) has raised the alarm over a massive increase in Amazon forest fires, which blacked out Sao Paulo with smoke earlier this week (BBC News). The agency says its latest data shows 83 per cent more fires than during the same period in 2018. Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, who is in favour of the commercial exploitation of the Amazon and at loggerheads with the INPE, has been blamed for encouraging industries thought to set wildfires in order to clear land.

Facebook is finally rolling out a tool to allow users to prevent it from storing data about their activity on third-party websites (WIRED). However, although you can ask Facebook not to use your off-site data to deliver personalised advertising, the company will still collect and store the data, and use it, in anonymised form, to provide advertisers with data on how effective their campaigns are. For those who opt out, data will be decoupled from their account 48 hours after it’s been collected to give the company time to process it for advertisers.

New research by the University of Nottingham is the latest scientific evidence that the UK’s shale gas reserves probably aren’t all they were originally thought to be (The Guardian). The research, which used a revolutionary new technique to analyse UK shale samples, indicates that there are less than 10 years’ worth of gas to be obtained by fracking, based on current UK energy consumption levels.

The preliminary results of an independent audit commissioned by Facebook into alleged anti-conservative bias on its platform has found no evidence for the claims (Ars Technica). Carried out by law firm Covington & Burling LLP under the direction of a conservative ex-politician, former Republican Senator John Kyl, the report criticises Facebook for a general lack of transparency but couldn’t identify any specific bias. Other US conservatives say that the audit does not genuinely address their complaints.

Warner Bros. Pictures has announced that Lana Wachowski is to write, direct and produce a new instalment in the Matrix series (Vox). There’s currently no indication that she’ll be joined by sister Lilly, her original co-director, but long-time writing partners Aleksandar Hemon and David Mitchell are on board, as are original trilogy stars Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss.

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