At a new playground in central Warsaw, algae feast on pollutants and carbon dioxide to provide a bubble of clean oxygen in a city ranked as one of the most polluted capitals in the EU.
"There is untapped value in bringing the bio-intelligence of natural systems into cities," said Marco Poletto, co-founder of the ecoLogicStudio urban design firm behind the project.
He suggests "turning buildings into living machines that produce energy, store CO2 and clean the air," according to a statement.
The Polish capital was selected for the inaugural edition of the AirBubble as the city is in particular need of clean air.
According to data released by the European Environment Agency (EEA) last month, Warsaw ranks 269th for air quality on a list of 323 European cities.
The list was created based on the average level over the past two years of fine particulate matter (PM2.5), the air pollutant with the highest impact on health.
The EEA blames air pollution -- caused in large part by the burning of coal -- for an estimated 50,000 premature deaths per year in the country of 38 million people.
The bubble is outfitted with dozens of glass cylinders containing algae immersed in water that feast on air being pumped in from below.
The green organisms consume polluting molecules and carbon dioxide before releasing clean oxygen out the top of the bioreactors.
The small circular playground is located next to the riverside Copernicus Science Centre, which stations an employee there to answer any questions and make sure no one gets hurt.
On a recent warm afternoon, children of various ages monkeyed around in the bubble: shrieking, laughing, they hopped on rubber bubbles and swung from rope.
"This is fun," shouted eight-year-old Ania, while jumping.
Her mother, Malgorzata Wrona, also applauded the eco-friendly concept.
"It's pretty cool. Especially in a big city right? Because you know: pollution and smog and everything," the 42-year-old English teacher told AFP.
"This gives the kids, at least, a chance to breathe some fresh air."
She said that where they live, in the western city of Wroclaw, many people still heat their homes with coal, so the air quality is "terrible".
The AirBubble will be in place until November for now, but could possibly become a permanent fixture. There are plans to install bubbles in other cities too.
© 2021 AFP
The twin 5-4 decisions in favor of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and two Orthodox Jewish congregations were two of 10 decisions in the past year backing religious groups chafing under pandemic-related measures that forced them to close their doors or otherwise limit usual activities.
All 10 requests were granted via the court's "shadow docket https://www.reuters.com/article/legal-us-usa-court-shadow-video/the-shadow-docket-how-the-u-s-supreme-court-quietly-dispatches-key-rulings-idUSKBN2BF16Q" in which emergency applications are decided hurriedly and sometimes late at night in a process that critics have said lacks transparency.
A Reuters analysis of emergency applications over the past 12 months offers a glimpse into the full range of parties seeking urgent relief from the top U.S. judicial body through the shadow docket. The justices have increasingly relied upon this process to make rulings in a wide array of cases without the normal deliberative process involving public oral arguments and extensive written decisions.
The analysis found that the court repeatedly favored not just religious groups - another example of the expansive view it has taken in recent years toward religious rights - but also former President Donald Trump's administration, while denying almost 100 applications by other private individuals or groups.
Emergency applications were a key part of the court's docket during this one-year period that spanned a deadly pandemic and the contentious 2020 presidential election that Trump lost to now-President Joe Biden.
Pandemic-related restrictions and changes to voting procedures intended to help Americans cast ballots amid a public health crisis both became deeply partisan issues as Trump and his conservative supporters challenged them.
The court, which has six conservative justices and three liberals, received 150 emergency applications during this period seeking substantive relief and granted 29 such requests at least in part, a review of court records found.
(GRAPHIC - U.S. Supreme Court's 'shadow docket' in action: https://graphics.reuters.com/USA-COURT/SHADOW/gdvzyrdkapw/chart.png)
Like the religious entities, Trump's administration prevailed on 10 occasions, mainly over its successful efforts to execute 13 death row inmates as it resumed capital punishment on the federal level for the first time since 2003.
The other nine requests granted by the justices were brought by states and other governmental entities, including two by Republican officials in South Carolina and Alabama that curbed efforts to facilitate voting during the pandemic.
Private petitioners that were not religious entities - including immigrants fighting deportation and 33 people who filed without the assistance of lawyers - were out of luck. None of their requests were granted.
Of the 150 cases, 42 involved disputes over the legality of public health measures related to COVID-19 and 22 concerned fights over voting, many of which also were pandemic-related.
David Gans, civil rights director at the Constitutional Accountability Center liberal legal group, said the data indicates the court has a "serious legitimacy problem" in part because of the lack of transparency and the impression that certain litigants have favored status.
"The biggest losers are the American people. By engaging in rushed decision-making and issuing rulings with little to no reasoning available to the public, the Supreme Court is acting without the sustained consideration, reflection, transparency and accountability Americans expect from the Supreme Court," Gans added.
'FAST AND FLEXIBLE'
Unlike the 56 rulings the court issued after the traditional process of hearing oral arguments, the shadow docket decisions often do not reveal how the justices voted. While the New York religious challenge decided late on Nov. 25 came with a seven-page written decision, the court often provides little or no explanation in shadow docket actions.
Any litigant can file an emergency request to a single justice, who subsequently decides whether to forward it to the full nine-member court. Five votes are needed to grant a request.
Of the 150 shadow docket cases, 73 were referred to the full court. The vote breakdown is known in only 14 of them. At least one justice publicly dissented in 41 cases. The liberal minority in 18 cases noted disagreement when the court granted a request.
Possible changes to how the justices manage the shadow docket are being considered by a commission formed by President Joe Biden to study Supreme Court reforms.
Experienced Supreme Court lawyers, both liberal and conservative, are not sure major changes are needed regarding the shadow docket.
A group of them submitted a report this month saying the justices should consider modest changes, including hearing oral arguments by telephone in some cases and issuing more written opinions explaining their reasoning. The lawyers opposed other proposals including changing the legal standard for when a request should be granted, saying that when handling emergency applications the court "must be fast and flexible."
Melissa Sherry, who has argued cases before the justices and is not a commission member, said the court does not always have time to explain itself. Sherry suggested that cases in which it overturns a lower court ruling "are the ones that call out the most for transparency and thorough written and reasoned decisions."
(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley and Andrew Chung; Editing by Will Dunham and Scott Malone)
'Stomach-churning behavior': MSNBC's Heilemann demolishes 'morally depraved' conservatives 'openly mocking' Capitol cops
MSNBC's John Heilemann called out conservative media outlets shielding their viewers from the horrors of the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Four police officers testified Tuesday in the first House select committee hearing on the U.S. Capitol riot where they battled Donald Trump supporters attempting to violently overturn the election results, but the "Morning Joe" contributor said their emotionally devastating accounts won't break through to a significant portion of the electorate.
"It's not just that there's this cult of personality," Heilemann said. "What we do not grasp fully yet, we have only a vague sense of it, there is this parallel universe, this parallel media infrastructure, this parallel media universe in which Donald Trump is the king, the godhead, but it just means that there are tens of millions of Americans now, the reason that this is not going to change their minds is it's not going to get through to them at all. They are absorbing a totally different version of reality of what's going on in America."
Conservative media outlets might show some of their testimony, he said, but right-wing commentators are already busily smearing their reputations and sowing doubt in their viewers' minds.
"The extent that this stuff got covered, as moved as I was by the testimony, I was just enraged to see people on, you know, all of these right-wing networks getting on and saying they're crisis actors, saying these people made this up," Heilemann said. "There's prime-time hosts on other networks, giving out awards for who's the best actor in this category, and that category. The most disgusting, appalling, morally depraved, just, I mean, stomach-churning behavior on people who are not worthy, you know, not even worthy to coexist on the same planet, in some ways, with these people, the people who made the sacrifice, are sitting in there fully vaccinated, air-conditioned studios mocking these men -- mocking them."
"Not diminishing their importance," he added, "I'm talking about openly mocking their sacrifice and their service, calling them crisis actors, saying they fabricated all of this, apparently, made it all up and others, as you know, some people who used to have some respect in this business, coming on and saying it's much adieu about nothing, it was a largely peaceful protest, we're back to the same trope that has been trotted out by nutty right-wing members of Congress and the former president that, 'Hey, there's nothing to see here, it's just another day at the park,' even in the face of all the video evidence and the face of the powerful testimony."
The hearings won't change any minds, Heilemann said, because conservative media serves up an alternate reality.
"No, it's not going to break through, I'm afraid, because they are fully in the grip of this delusion," he said, "and the delusion is supported by this alternative parallel media infrastructure that is never going to allow anything close to the truth to pierce the consciousness of the people who are in its thrall."
07 28 2021 06 11 42 www.youtube.com
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