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The News You May Have Missed: March 2020

The End Is (Not) Near

Glacier National Park is removing signs stating that all glaciers will be melted by the year 2020 (kpax.com, Jan. 6). Park spokeswoman Gina Kurzmen explained that since the early 2000s scientists have analyzed data indicating that glaciers would recede by 2020, and that the latest research shows shrinking, but in ways much more complex than what was predicted. Because of this, the park, located in northwestern Montana on the U.S.-Canada border, must update signs that incorrectly state that all glaciers will have melted by this year. Kurzmen says Glacier National Park will work with the U.S. Geological Survey, a federal scientific agency that studies the American landscape, to monitor the glaciers.


The Pressures of Plant Parenthood

Seven out of ten millennials (age 25-39) consider themselves “plant parents,” yet new research has found that 67 percent say taking care of plants is more of a challenge than they bargained for (New York Post, Jan. 24). Almost half of millennials don’t own plants because they don’t know how to take care of them, and 20 percent would sooner sit through a root canal than take care of a plant because of the pressure. The study, conducted by OnePoll, also found that 22 percent are apprehensive about owning a plant because they’ve accidentally killed one in the past. Many millennials are taking care of plants to see if they’re ready to take care of real pets. Three in four respondents agreed that plants are a good barometer of whether you are responsible enough to get your own pet.


Hot Bots

There’s a model on Instagram who’s so gorgeous that admiring fans wonder how she could possibly be human. “You don’t even look real. You [look] like a painting,” one user commented after Shudu, a South African, posted another photo. “Omg!!! Im in love.” Shudu, who has 196,000 followers, is more painting than person. She’s a 3-D digital animation created by Cameron-James Wilson, who calls Shudu “the world’s first digital supermodel.” Shudu is representative of a growing crop of beautiful and highly realistic avatars on social media, created for the sole purpose of gaining followers and making money. These artificial beauties are landing lucrative partnerships with the biggest names in fashion, including Balmain, Calvin Klein, and Dior, and are managed by top modeling agencies like IMG and Lipps. Wilson, 30, who runs the virtual-influencer company The Diigitals, controls the careers of seven robot models who post “sponsored” content on social media. Marketing expert Charlie Buffin estimates that the top bots make $10,000-$15,000 per post, if not more, on par with humans who have similar numbers of followers (New York Post, Jan. 14).


Know When to Fold ‘em

An unlucky gambler is suing a casino in Canada after he lost $260,000, saying the casino shouldn’t have allowed him to place wagers in the first place (Fox News, Dec. 26). Tarwinder Shokar alleges that Caesars Windsor in Ontario should have known about his gambling and alcohol addictions during his two October 2013 visits and that he had been banned from other casinos. Shokar claims the casino over-served him alcohol and encouraged his gambling while he was intoxicated. He is asking for his gambling losses and an additional $500,000 in punitive damages. “He was a compulsive gambler,” said Iain MacKinnon, Shokar’s lawyer, and the casino “did everything they could for him to gamble as much as possible,” including treating him to a steak dinner and paying for hundreds of dollars in taxi rides to and from his home. A Caesars Windsor spokesman said the casino had no way of knowing about Shokar’s gambling problem. “Each time he made a wager, he chose the amount of money he wanted to wager in full knowledge of the risks associated with that wager,” the casino’s lawyers said.


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