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Record Amount of Seaweed Chokes Caribbean Beaches and Shoreline

Thu, 2022-08-04 14:42
Bruce66423 writes: A record amount of seaweed is smothering Caribbean coasts from Puerto Rico to Barbados as tons of brown algae kill wildlife, choke the tourism industry and release toxic gases. More than 24 million tons of sargassum blanketed the Atlantic in June, up from 18.8 million tons in May, according to a monthly report published by the University of South Florida's Optical Oceanography Lab, which noted it as "a new historical record." July saw no decrease of algae in the Caribbean Sea, said Chuanmin Hu, an optical oceanography professor who helps produce the reports. "I was scared," he recalled feeling when he saw the historic number for June. He noted that it was 20% higher than the previous record set in May 2018. Hu compiled additional data for the Associated Press that showed sargassum levels for the eastern Caribbean at a near record high this year, second only to those reported in July 2018. Levels in the northern Caribbean are at their third-highest, following July 2018 and July 2021, he said.

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Solana Hack Blamed on Slope Mobile Wallet Exploit

Thu, 2022-08-04 14:03
Thousands of Solana users collectively lost about $4.5 million worth of SOL and other tokens from Tuesday night into early Wednesday, and now there's a likely explanation for why: it's being blamed on a private key exploit tied to mobile software wallet Slope. From a report: On Wednesday afternoon, the official Solana Status Twitter account shared preliminary findings through collaboration between developers and security auditors, and said that "it appears affected addresses were at one point created, imported, or used in Slope mobile wallet applications." "This exploit was isolated to one wallet on Solana, and hardware wallets used by Slope remain secure," the thread continues. "While the details of exactly how this occurred are still under investigation, but private key information was inadvertently transmitted to an application monitoring service." "There is no evidence the Solana protocol or its cryptography was compromised," the account added. Some Phantom wallets were also drained of their SOL and tokens in the attack, however it appears that those wallets' holders had previously interacted with a Slope wallet. "Phantom has reason to believe that the reported exploits are due to complications related to importing accounts to and from Slope," the Phantom team tweeted today.

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Starbucks To Unveil Its Web3-Based Rewards Program Next Month

Thu, 2022-08-04 13:22
Starbucks will unveil its web3 initiative, which includes coffee-themed NFTs, at next month's Investor Day event. From a report: The company earlier this year announced its plans to enter the web3 space, noting its NFTs wouldn't just serve as digital collectibles, but would provide their owners with access to exclusive content and other perks. At the time, Starbucks was light on details as to what its debut set of NFTs would look like, specific features they'd provide or even what blockchain it was building on. It said the plan was likely to be multichain or chain-agnostic, hinting at plans that weren't yet finalized. Overall, the coffee retailer kept its web3 news fairly high level, explaining simply that it believed digital collectibles could create an accretive business adjust to its stores and that more would be revealed later in 2022.

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Meta is Expanding NFT Support on Instagram To 100 Countries

Thu, 2022-08-04 12:41
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced today that the company is beginning its international expansion of NFT support on Instagram. The expansion follows the social network's initial NFT test launch in May. With this expansion, users and businesses in more than 100 countries in Africa, Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and the Americas will now be able to share their NFTs on Instagram. Prior to the expansion, the support was only available to select creators in the United States. From a report: The company also announced today that Coinbase Wallet and Dapper Wallet are now accepted as a third-party wallet compatible for use. Instagram is also expanding its supported blockchains to include Flow. Instagram's NFT functionality allows users to connect a digital wallet, share NFTs and automatically tag both a creator and collector for attribution. You can share NFTs in your main Instagram Feed, Stories or in messages. Once you post a digital collectible, it will have a shimmer effect and can display public information, such as a description of the NFT. In order to post a digital collectible on Instagram, you need to connect your digital wallet to Instagram. As of today, Instagram supports connections with third-party wallets including Rainbow, MetaMask, Trust Wallet and Coinbase Wallet, with Dapper Wallet coming soon. Supported blockchains include Ethereum, Polygon and Flow. The social network notes that there are no fees associated with posting or sharing a digital collectible on Instagram.

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At Long Last, Mathematical Proof That Black Holes Are Stable

Thu, 2022-08-04 12:00
Steve Nadis, reporting for Quanta Magazine: In 1963, the mathematician Roy Kerr found a solution to Einstein's equations that precisely described the space-time outside what we now call a rotating black hole. (The term wouldn't be coined for a few more years.) In the nearly six decades since his achievement, researchers have tried to show that these so-called Kerr black holes are stable. What that means, explained Jeremie Szeftel, a mathematician at Sorbonne University, "is that if I start with something that looks like a Kerr black hole and give it a little bump" -- by throwing some gravitational waves at it, for instance -- "what you expect, far into the future, is that everything will settle down, and it will once again look exactly like a Kerr solution." The opposite situation -- a mathematical instability -- "would have posed a deep conundrum to theoretical physicists and would have suggested the need to modify, at some fundamental level, Einstein's theory of gravitation," said Thibault Damour, a physicist at the Institute of Advanced Scientific Studies in France. In a 912-page paper posted online on May 30, Szeftel, Elena Giorgi of Columbia University and Sergiu Klainerman of Princeton University have proved that slowly rotating Kerr black holes are indeed stable. The work is the product of a multiyear effort. The entire proof -- consisting of the new work, an 800-page paper by Klainerman and Szeftel from 2021, plus three background papers that established various mathematical tools -- totals roughly 2,100 pages in all. The new result "does indeed constitute a milestone in the mathematical development of general relativity," said Demetrios Christodoulou, a mathematician at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich. Shing-Tung Yau, an emeritus professor at Harvard University who recently moved to Tsinghua University, was similarly laudatory, calling the proof "the first major breakthrough" in this area of general relativity since the early 1990s. "It is a very tough problem," he said. He did stress, however, that the new paper has not yet undergone peer review. But he called the 2021 paper, which has been approved for publication, both "complete and exciting."

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Samsung Workers in Vietnam Bear Brunt of Slowdown in Global Demand for Electronics

Thu, 2022-08-04 11:22
Samsung has scaled back production at its massive smartphone plant in Vietnam, employees say, as retailers and warehouses grapple with rising inventory amid a global fall in consumer spending. From a report: America's largest warehouse market is full and major U.S. retailers such as Best Buy and Target warn of slowing sales as shoppers tighten their belts after early COVID-era spending binges. The effect is acutely felt in Vietnam's northern province of Thai Nguyen, one of Samsung's two mobile manufacturing bases in the country where the world's largest smartphone vendor churns out half of its phone output, according to the Vietnam government. Samsung, which shipped around 270 million smartphones in 2021, says the campus has the capacity to make around 100 million devices a year, according to its website. "We are going to work just three days per week, some lines are adjusting to a four-day workweek instead of six before, and of course no overtime is needed," Pham Thi Thuong, a 28-year-old worker at the plant told Reuters. "Business activities were even more robust during this time last year when the COVID-19 outbreak was at its peak. It's so tepid now."

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Tencent Seeks Bigger Stake in 'Assassin's Creed' Maker Ubisoft

Thu, 2022-08-04 10:42
Tencent plans to raise its stake in French video game group Ubisoft Entertainment as the Chinese gaming giant pivots to the global gaming market, Reuters reported Thursday, citing four sources with direct knowledge of the matter. From the report: China's largest social network and gaming firm, which bought a 5% stake in Ubisoft in 2018, has reached out to the French firm's founding Guillemot family and expressed interest in increasing its stake in the firm, the sources said. It is not clear how much more Tencent wants to own in Ubisoft, valued at $5.3 billion, but Tencent aims to become the single largest shareholder of the French company with an additional stake purchase, two of the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Tencent is hoping to buy a part of the additional stake in Ubisoft, the maker of the blockbuster "Assassin's Creed" video game franchise, from the Guillemot family, which owns 15% of the firm, three of the sources said. Tencent could offer up to 100 euros ($101.84) per share to acquire the additional stake, two of the sources with knowledge of the internal discussions, said. It paid 66 euros per share for the 5% stake in 2018.

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Microsoft Justifies Activision Blizzard's $69 Billion Acquisition By Telling Regulator Call of Duty Publisher Doesn't Release 'Unique' Games

Thu, 2022-08-04 10:09
Microsoft has recently tried to justify its $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard by telling regulators that the deal with the Call of Duty publisher will not negatively impact the market and other platforms because it does not release "unique" or "must have" games. From a report: In a document presented to the New Zealand Business Acquisitions and Authorisations Commerce Commission, Microsoft claimed that no Activision Blizzard game has "unique" characteristics, so its rivals would do well without Activision Blizzard titles and would be able to compete in the gaming market. "With respect to Activision Blizzard video games, there is nothing unique about the video games developed and published by Activision Blizzard that is a "must have" for rival PC and console video game distributors that could give rise to a foreclosure concern," the company said.

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GM Is Doubling the Size of Its Super Cruise Network In the US, Canada

Thu, 2022-08-04 06:00
General Motors' Super Cruise advanced driver assistance network will soon double in size to 400,000 miles across the U.S. and Canada by the end of the year. Engadget reports: The Super Cruise system -- and its successor, Ultra Cruise -- relies on a mix of high-fidelity LiDAR maps, GPS, and onboard visual and radar sensors to know where the vehicle is on the road. So far, those maps, which dictate where features like Hands-Free Driving can operate, have only included major, divided highways like interstates with the big median barriers. Smaller, undivided public highways -- aka State Routes -- were not included, in part because of the added ADAS challenges presented by oncoming traffic, until now. "This expansion will enable Super Cruise to work on some additional divided highways, but the big news is this the bulk of the expansion will allow Super Cruise to operate on non-divided highways," David Craig, GM's Chief of Maps, said during Tuesday's call. "These non-divided highways are typically the state and federal highways... that connect the smaller cities and townships across the US and Canada." These will include Route 66, the Pacific Coast Highway (aka CA Route 1), the Overseas Highway (aka US Route 1) and the Trans-Canada Highway. "if you look at I-35 which is the interstate that runs North and South up the middle of the United States, and look to the West, you will see that the Super Cruise coverage currently is just the major interstates, which is fairly sparse," Craig continued. "But in the expansion, you can see that it's just a spiderweb of roads covering the entire area. All the little townships are going to be connected now." The company said that every new Super Cruise-enabled GM vehicle will be equipped with the full 400,000-mile capabilities, as will 2021 and 2022 GM vehicles outfitted with the VIP (Vehicle Intelligence Platform) architecture. Vehicles with Super Cruise but without VIP will receive a smaller update.

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'CSS Crimes' Turn Social Media Posts Into Games

Thu, 2022-08-04 03:00
Alexis Ong writes via The Verge: It is a truth universally acknowledged that if you build something on the internet, people will find ways to creatively break it. This is exactly what happened with cohost, a new social media platform that allows posts with CSS. Digging through the #interactables hashtag on cohost reveals a bounty of clickable, CSS-enabled experiments that go far beyond GIFs -- there's a WarioWare mug-catching game, an interactive Habbo tribute, magnetic fridge poetry, this absolutely bananas cog machine, and even a "playable" Game Boy Color (which was, at one point, used for a "GIF plays Pokemon" event). Yes, there's also Doom. The cohost team embraced the madness. It was the beginning of a creative avalanche that simply isn't possible on other social media sites -- a phenomenon that the cohost community has since dubbed "CSS crimes."

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SpaceX and Viasat Fight Over Whether Starlink Can Meet FCC Speed Obligations

Wed, 2022-08-03 23:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Over a year and a half after tentatively winning $886 million in broadband funding from the government's Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF), SpaceX is still trying to get paid by the Federal Communications Commission. One problem for Starlink -- though not the only problem -- is a series of objections from satellite company Viasat, which says Starlink lacks the capacity and speed to meet FCC obligations. In a new FCC filing, SpaceX denounced Viasat's "misguided campaign" against the Starlink funding. "Viasat is transparently attempting to have the Commission impede competition at all costs to protect its legacy technology," SpaceX told the FCC. The new SpaceX filing was submitted on Friday and posted to the FCC's website Monday, as pointed out by Light Reading. Viasat submitted an analysis (PDF) to the FCC in April 2021 claiming that Starlink won't be able to meet the speed obligations attached to the RDOF funding due to capacity limitations. SpaceX bid in the "Above Baseline" tier that requires at least 100Mbps download speeds and 20Mbps upload speeds, and committed to latency of 100 ms or less. Viasat, which primarily uses geostationary satellites with worse latency than Starlink's low Earth satellites, didn't bid in the auction. Viasat's most recent filing last month said, "Starlink still does not support the 100/20Mbps speeds that SpaceX is obligated to provide to all households covered by its provisionally winning RDOF bids" and that "Starlink is unable to do so because of its own system design limitations that cannot be overcome by launching more satellites." Viasat cited Ookla speed tests in its July 2022 filing [...]. In its July 29 response, SpaceX said the "filing adds to Viasat's ongoing campaign to oppose every one of SpaceX's applications, regardless of the proceeding... Viasat is perhaps reinvigorated by recent Ookla data showing Starlink has been able to provide high-speed, low-latency broadband service vastly exceeding Viasat's performance." SpaceX also previously denounced Viasat's objections in FCC filings in July 2021 (PDF) and December 2021 (PDF). The old and new SpaceX filings said the company is cooperating with FCC staff on the Starlink funding review. "Viasat continues to ignore that the Commission specifically directed the Commission staff -- not competitors -- to review the merits of RDOF applications," SpaceX's new filing said. "Starlink has welcomed that staff review and has fully engaged within that Commission-mandated process to demonstrate its ability to meet all of its RDOF obligations and provide high-quality broadband service to consumers that for too long have gone unserved."

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Judge Orders Waterloo Business To Name Customers Who Doxxed, Threatened Bungie Employees

Wed, 2022-08-03 22:02
An innocent tweet about a wildly popular online multiplayer game led to a terrifying real-life campaign of doxxing and death threats against employees of game company Bungie. The Record reports: Two employees of Bungie, the American company behind "Destiny 2" -- a first-person shooter with 40 million users -- recently convinced an Ontario judge to order Waterloo-based TextNow to name its customers who made "racist and serious physical threats" against them. TextNow offers users anonymous phone service. [...] The two employees sought an "urgent and confidential" court order requiring TextNow to name the customers who made the threats. The judge agreed on June 15 but waited a month before releasing his reasons due to "the serious nature of the allegations of danger." TextNow collects information about each user, including email address, phone number, IP address, credit card number and logs of calls and texts. The judge said the employees don't plan to sue the users in Ontario. "Whether they sue in the U.S. or just give the name to the police, I am satisfied that the exceptional equitable remedy ought to be available to identify people who harass others, with base racism, who dox, abuse personal information, and make overt threats of physical harm and death," he said. "Our mission is to provide everyone with an affordable way to communicate, and we place a high value on the safety and privacy of our users," a TextNow spokesperson said in an email to The Record. "From time to time, we receive lawful requests for information. We comply with all valid requests as required by law."

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Robinhood Is Firing Nearly a Quarter of Its Staff

Wed, 2022-08-03 21:25
Robinhood is letting go of nearly a quarter of its staff, CEO Vlad Tenev said in a message posted to the company's blog. The Verge reports: "As part of a broader company reorganization into a General Manager (GM) structure, I just announced that we are reducing our headcount by approximately 23%," Tenev wrote. "While employees from all functions will be impacted, the changes are particularly concentrated in our operations, marketing, and program management functions." Robinhood's chief product officer Aparna Chennapragada is also stepping down from her post as part of the restructuring, according to a filing (PDF) with the Securities and Exchange Commission, though she'll "remain employed in an advisory role to the CEO or his designee through January 2, 2023." Chennapragada joined the company from Google in March 2021. The announcements came as Robinhood released its Q2 2022 earnings information a day earlier than scheduled, reporting total revenue of $318 million over the three months, which is 44 percent lower than the same period in 2021. In April, Robinhood said it planned to cut 9 percent of its full-time staff, but "this did not go far enough," Tenev said. The company had staffed up assuming that the increased trading after things like the GameStonk phenomenon and bullish crypto markets would carry into 2022 but has run into the headwinds of inflation and the so-called "crypto winter" that are affecting other companies. Those who are affected by the cuts will be able to stay at Robinhood through October 1st at their regular pay and benefits alongside a severance package, Tenev says.

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Linux May Soon Lose Support For the DECnet Protocol

Wed, 2022-08-03 20:45
Microsoft software engineer Stephen Hemminger has proposed removing the DECnet protocol handling code from the Linux kernel. The Register reports: The timing is ironic, as this comes just two weeks after VMS Software Inc announced that OpenVMS 9.2 was really ready this time... That announcement, of course, came some months after the first time it announced [PDF] version 9.2 [...]. The last maintainer of the DECnet code was Red Hat's Christine Caulfield, who flagged the code as orphaned in 2010. The change is unlikely to vastly inconvenience many people: VMS is the last even slightly mainstream OS that used DECnet, and VMS has supported TCP/IP for a long time. Indeed, for decades, the oldest email in this reporter's "sent" folder was a 1993 enquiry about the freeware CMUIP stack for VMS. One of the easier ways to bootstrap VMS on an elderly VAX these days is to install it on the SimH VAX hardware simulator, and then net-boot the real VAX from the simulated one. Anyone keen enough to do that will be competent to run an older version of Linux just for the purpose. Although their existence is rapidly being forgotten today, TCP/IP is not the only network protocol around, and as late as the mid-1990s it wasn't even the dominant one. The Linux kernel used to support multiple network protocols, but they are disappearing fast. [...] For a long time, DECnet was a significant network protocol. DEC supplied a client stack called PathWorks to let DOS, Windows and Mac clients connect to VAX servers, not only for file and print, but also terminal connections and X.11. Whole worldwide WANs ran over DECnet, and as a teenage student, your correspondent enjoyed exploring them.

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Over 3,200 Apps Leak Twitter API Keys, Some Allowing Account Hijacks

Wed, 2022-08-03 20:02
An anonymous reader quotes a report from BleepingComputer: Cybersecurity researchers have uncovered a set of 3,207 mobile apps that are exposing Twitter API keys to the public, potentially enabling a threat actor to take over users' Twitter accounts that are associated with the app. The discovery belongs to cybersecurity firm CloudSEKE, which scrutinized large app sets for potential data leaks and found 3,207 leaking a valid Consumer Key and Consumer Secret for the Twitter API. When integrating mobile apps with Twitter, developers will be given special authentication keys, or tokens, that allow their mobile apps to interact with the Twitter API. When a user associates their Twitter account with this mobile app, the keys also will enable the app to act on behalf of the user, such as logging them in via Twitter, creating tweets, sending DMs, etc. As having access to these authentication keys could allow anyone to perform actions as associated Twitter users, it is never recommended to store keys directly in a mobile app where threat actors can find them. CloudSEK explains that the leak of API keys is commonly the result of mistakes by app developers who embed their authentication keys in the Twitter API but forget to remove them when the mobile is released. [...] One of the most prominent scenarios of abuse of this access, according to CloudSEK, would be for a threat actor to use these exposed tokens to create a Twitter army of verified (trustworthy) accounts with large numbers of followers to promote fake news, malware campaigns, cryptocurrency scams, etc. "CloudSEK shared a list of impacted applications [...] with apps between 50,000 and 5,000,000 downloads," reports BleepingComputer. They are not disclosing the list because they are still vulnerable to exploitation and Twitter account takeover.

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Google Play Store Removes Version Numbers From Android App Listings

Wed, 2022-08-03 19:20
In response to user criticism, Google Play is bringing back the list of app permissions, but another curious Store change sees version numbers removed from the App info section. 9to5Google reports: Historically, you've been able to find the version number by opening a listings's "About this app" section and scrolling down to "App info" where it was the first line item. As of today, "Version" no longer appears there (or in the phone section of "Compatibility for your active devices") and "Updated on" is at the top. This information is only gone for the phone version of applications. It curiously remains for Wear OS and Android/Google TV apps. Meanwhile, version numbers still appear on the Google Play website. This issue does not appear related to (or just impact) apps that only note "Varies with device."

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Tinder Steps Back From Metaverse Dating Plans As Business Falters

Wed, 2022-08-03 18:40
Amidst a disappointing set of earnings for the last quarter, Match Group has announced it's scaling back Tinder's metaverse dating ambitions and scrapping plans to offer an in-app Tinder Coins currency. The Verge reports: Tinder CEO Renate Nyborg, who became the dating app's first female CEO just last September, is also leaving the position, parent company Match Group's CEO Bernard Kim announced. Kim himself was named as CEO just two months ago. Nyborg previously set out ambitious plans for Tinder's take on the metaverse (or "Tinderverse" as she called it). Tinder acquired a company called Hyperconnect last year, which focuses on video, AI, and augmented reality technology, and Nyborg later cited its avatar-based "Single Town" experience as a way Tinder's users might one day be able to meet and interact with one another in virtual spaces, TechCrunch reported at the time. Now, however, Kim says he's instructed Hyperconnect to scale back. "Given uncertainty about the ultimate contours of the metaverse and what will or won't work, as well as the more challenging operating environment, I've instructed the Hyperconnect team to iterate but not invest heavily in metaverse at this time," Kim said. "We'll continue to evaluate this space carefully, and we will consider moving forward at the appropriate time when we have more clarity on the overall opportunity and feel we have a service that is well-positioned to succeed." Match Group cited the acquisition of Hyperconnect as contributing to a $10 million operating loss in the second quarter of 2022, down from operating income of $210 million in the same quarter last year.

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How the US Gave Away a Breakthrough Battery Technology To China

Wed, 2022-08-03 18:00
An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from a report via NPR: When a group of engineers and researchers gathered in a warehouse in Mukilteo, Wash., 10 years ago, they knew they were onto something big. They scrounged up tables and chairs, cleared out space in the parking lot for experiments and got to work. They were building a battery -- a vanadium redox flow battery -- based on a design created by two dozen U.S. scientists at a government lab. The batteries were about the size of a refrigerator, held enough energy to power a house, and could be used for decades. The engineers pictured people plunking them down next to their air conditioners, attaching solar panels to them, and everyone living happily ever after off the grid. "It was beyond promise," said Chris Howard, one of the engineers who worked there for a U.S. company called UniEnergy. "We were seeing it functioning as designed, as expected." But that's not what happened. Instead of the batteries becoming the next great American success story, the warehouse is now shuttered and empty. All the employees who worked there were laid off. And more than 5,200 miles away, a Chinese company is hard at work making the batteries in Dalian, China. The Chinese company didn't steal this technology. It was given to them -- by the U.S. Department of Energy. First in 2017, as part of a sublicense, and later, in 2021, as part of a license transfer. An investigation by NPR and the Northwest News Network found the federal agency allowed the technology and jobs to move overseas, violating its own licensing rules while failing to intervene on behalf of U.S. workers in multiple instances. Now, China has forged ahead, investing millions into the cutting-edge green technology that was supposed to help keep the U.S. and its economy out front. Department of Energy officials declined NPR's request for an interview to explain how the technology that cost U.S. taxpayers millions of dollars ended up in China. After NPR sent department officials written questions outlining the timeline of events, the federal agency terminated the license with the Chinese company, Dalian Rongke Power Co. Ltd. "DOE takes America's manufacturing obligations within its contracts extremely seriously," the department said in a written statement. "If DOE determines that a contractor who owns a DOE-funded patent or downstream licensee is in violation of its U.S. manufacturing obligations, DOE will explore all legal remedies." The department is now conducting an internal review of the licensing of vanadium battery technology and whether this license -- and others -- have violated U.S. manufacturing requirements, the statement said.

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A 'Reversible' Form of Death? Scientists Revive Cells in Dead Pigs' Organs.

Wed, 2022-08-03 17:21
The pigs had been lying dead in the lab for an hour -- no blood was circulating in their bodies, their hearts were still, their brain waves flat. Then a group of Yale scientists pumped a custom-made solution into the dead pigs' bodies with a device similar to a heart-lung machine. From a report: What happened next adds questions to what science considers the wall between life and death. Although the pigs were not considered conscious in any way, their seemingly dead cells revived. Their hearts began to beat as the solution, which the scientists called OrganEx, circulated in veins and arteries. Cells in their organs, including the heart, liver, kidneys and brain, were functioning again, and the animals never got stiff like a typical dead pig. Other pigs, dead for an hour, were treated with ECMO, a machine that pumped blood through their bodies. They became stiff, their organs swelled and became damaged, their blood vessels collapsed, and they had purple spots on their backs where blood pooled. The group reported its results Wednesday in Nature. The researchers say their goals are to one day increase the supply of human organs for transplant by allowing doctors to obtain viable organs long after death. And, they say, they hope their technology might also be used to prevent severe damage to hearts after a devastating heart attack or brains after a major stroke.

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Data Brokers Resist Pressure To Stop Collecting Info on Pregnant People

Wed, 2022-08-03 16:45
Democratic lawmakers are piling pressure on data brokers to stop collecting information on pregnant people in order to protect those seeking abortions. They're not having much luck. From a report: For years, brokers have sold datasets on millions of expectant parents from their trimester status to their preferred birth methods. Now that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, that same data is becoming a political issue, with abortion-rights groups warning that states with abortion bans are likely to weaponize it. In the three months since POLITICO reported the draft opinion against Roe, numerous congressional Democrats have sent letters to data brokers urging them to stop the practice, promised to interrogate the companies about their collections and introduced bills to restrict reproductive health data from being collected and sold. But in the absence of federal data privacy legislation or any likely chance of it getting the support needed to pass, many brokers aren't taking heed. POLITICO found more than 30 listings from data brokers offering information on expecting parents or selling access to those people through mass email blasts. Twenty-five of them were updated after the Supreme Court's ruling on Roe v. Wade on June 24. Exact Data, a data broker that offers names, emails and mailing addresses of more than 23,000 expecting parents, updated its inventory as recently as August 1. PK List Marketing also updated its "She's Having a Baby - PRENATAL Mailing List" on August 1, according to its listing on NextMark, a directory of marketing email lists.

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