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The FTC Votes Unanimously to Enforce Right to Repair

During an open commission meeting Wednesday, the Federal Trade Commission voted unanimously to enforce laws around the Right to Repair, thereby ensuring that US consumers will be able to repair their own electronic and automotive devices.

The FTC’s endorsement of the rules is not a surprise outcome; the issue of Right to Repair has been a remarkably bipartisan one, and the FTC itself issued a lengthy report in May that blasted manufacturers for restricting repairs. But the 5 to 0 vote signals the commission’s commitment to enforce both federal antitrust laws and a key law around consumer warranties—the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act—when it comes to personal device repairs.

The vote, which was led by new FTC chair and known tech critic Lina Khan, also comes 12 days after President Joe Biden signed a broad executive order aimed at promoting competition in the US economy. The order addressed a wide range of industries, from banks to airlines to tech companies. But a portion of it encouraged the FTC, which operates as an independent agency, to create new rules that would prevent companies from restricting repair options for consumers.

“When you buy an expensive product, whether it's a half-a-million-dollar tractor or a thousand-dollar phone, you are in a very real sense under the power of the manufacturer,” says Tim Wu, special assistant to the president for technology and competition policy within the National Economic Council. “And when they have repair specifications that are unreasonable, there's not a lot you can do."

Wu added that Right to Repair has become a "visceral example" of the enormous imbalance between workers, consumers, small businesses, and larger entities.


Read more here. (Wired)

Xerces blue butterfly is the first U.S. insect known to go extinct because of people

It’s been roughly 80 years since the Xerces blue butterfly was last spotted flitting about on pastel wings across coastal California sand dunes. But scientists are still learning about the insect.

New research on DNA from a nearly century-old museum specimen shows that the butterfly was a distinct species. What’s more, that finding means that the Xerces blue butterfly (Glaucopsyche xerces) is the first U.S. insect species known to go extinct because of humans, researchers report July 21 in Biology Letters.

The butterfly used to live only on the San Francisco Peninsula. But by the early 1940s, less than a century after its formal scientific description in the 1850s, the gossamer-winged butterfly had vanished. Its rapid disappearance is attributed to the loss of habitat and native plant food as a result of urban development and, possibly, an influx of invasive ants likely spread though the shipment of goods.

But it’s long been unclear if the Xerces blue butterfly was its own species, or simply an isolated population of another, more widespread species of blue butterfly, says Corrie Moreau, an entomologist at Cornell University.

To find out, Moreau and colleagues turned to a 93-year-old Xerces specimen housed at Chicago’s Field Museum, extracting DNA from a tiny bit of the insect’s tissue. Despite the DNA being degraded from age, the team could compare selected Xerces genes with those of other closely related blue butterflies. The researchers also compared the genomes, or genetic instruction books, of the insects’ mitochondria — cellular structures involved in energy production that have their own set of DNA.


Read more here. (Science News)

The Northern Hemisphere has a punishing heat wave infestation

As viewed on a weather map of the globe, no fewer than five powerful heat domes are swelling over the landmasses of the Northern Hemisphere. These zones of high pressure in the atmosphere, intensified by climate change, are generating unforgiving blasts of heat in North America, Europe and Asia simultaneously.

The heat domes, in a number of instances, are the source of record high temperatures and are contributing to swarms of wildfires in western North America and in Siberia. In recent days, all-time record highs have been set in Turkey, northern Japan and Northern Ireland.

Lined up like a parade, the heat domes are also part of a traffic jam of weather systems that instigated the flood disaster in Europe last week.

Heat domes like this are normal at this time of year, the hottest point of summer, but it’s unusual to have this many this intense. Every one of these heat domes is generating exceptional weather.

Starting in the western United States, temperatures in Montana climbed more than 20 degrees above normal on Monday. Glasgow, Mont., spiked to 110 degrees, matching its third-highest temperature on record since 1893. Billings hit 107 degrees, tying its second-highest temperature recorded since 1934. The heat is worsening exceptional drought conditions in both the western United States and Canada, creating tinderbox conditions for wildfires that are spreading smoke all over North America.

Across the Atlantic, the heat dome lodged over the British Isles brought Northern Ireland its hottest day on record Sunday, which was then broken four days later.


Read more here. (Washington Post)

Queensland man escapes hotel quarantine in Perth using bed sheets tied from fourth-floor window, police allege



Police have charged a 39-year-old Queensland man after he allegedly fled hotel quarantine in Perth by escaping through a window.

Police allege Travis Jay Myles made a makeshift rope by tying together bed sheets, and then exited via the window.

Mr Myles arrived in WA on a flight from Brisbane on Monday afternoon without completing a G2G pass.

He completed an application upon arrival at Perth airport, but it was refused because he did not meet the entry requirements.

Read more about it here: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-07-20/man-escapes-hotel-quarantine-by-climbing-out-window/100308950
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He almost made it....

Great Salt Lake is shrinking fast. Scientists demand action before it becomes a toxic dustbin

Great Salt Lake, Utah (CNN) - Great Salt Lake is also known as America's Dead Sea -- owing to a likeness to its much smaller Middle Eastern counterpart -- but scientists worry the moniker could soon take new meaning.

Human water consumption and diversion have long depleted the Utah lake. Its level today is inches away from a 58-year low, state officials say, and Western drought conditions fueled by the climate crisis have exacerbated conditions.

The worst part? It's only July, and the lake historically doesn't reach its annual low until October.

"I have never seen it this bad -- not in my lifetime," said Andy Wallace, soaring over the body of water in a prop plane, as he's done for years as a commercial pilot.

Simply put, the largest salt lake in the Western Hemisphere is shrinking rapidly. Left alone, the lake's footprint would span 2,100 square miles -- more than three times the area of Houston. An analysis published last year showed that water siphoned off the rivers that feed the natural wonder had reduced its level by 11 feet, depleting the lake area by more than half.

"Twenty years ago, this was under about 10 feet of water," said Kevin Perry, chairman of the department of atmospheric sciences at the University of Utah, as he rode a bike in July across the desiccated lake bed.


Read more here. (CNN)

Museum obtains rare demo of id Software’s Super Mario Bros. 3 PC port

The Strong National Museum of Play has obtained a rare demo of Super Mario Bros. 3 that a pre-Doom id Software coded for MS-DOS PCs back in 1990. The acquisition will ensure that the historical curiosity will be preserved and accessible to researchers well into the future.

Students of video game history have long been aware of the existence of the demo, which was described in detail in David Kushner's excellent 2003 book Masters of Doom. id Software—then known as Ideas from the Deep (IFD)—coded the game in under a week and sent a copy to Nintendo in the hopes of getting a contract to develop an official PC port of the NES classic, which had launched in the US earlier in 1990.

Part of what made the demo special was a John Carmack-coded scrolling algorithm that went way beyond the stuttering background movements and full-screen wipes you'd usually see in late '80s DOS games. "When looking at PC games of the era, there really weren't titles with the smooth scrolling seen in Nintendo’s hits," Museum of Play Digital Games Curator Andrew Borman told Ars via email. And though Nintendo would never entertain the idea of a PC port for SMB3, id Software was "not deterred by the rejection, [and] the technology was reused for Commander Keen, which is still one of my favorite series of that era," Borman said.


Read more here. (Ars Technica)

NASA predicts a "wobble" in the moon's orbit may lead to record flooding on Earth

Every coast in the U.S. is facing rapidly increasing high tide floods thanks to a "wobble" in the moon's orbit working in tandem with climate change-fueled rising sea levels.

A new study from NASA and the University of Hawaii, published recently in the journal Nature Climate Change, warns that upcoming changes in the moon's orbit could lead to record flooding on Earth in the next decade.

Through mapping the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) sea-level rise scenarios, flooding thresholds and astronomical cycles, researchers found flooding in American coastal cities could be several multiples worse in the 2030s, when the next moon "wobble" is expected to begin. They expect the flooding to significantly damage infrastructure and displace communities.

While the study highlights the dire situation facing coastal cities, the lunar wobble is actually a natural occurrence, first reported in 1728. The moon's orbit is responsible for periods of both higher and lower tides about every 18.6 years, and they aren't dangerous in their own right.

"In half of the Moon's 18.6-year cycle, Earth's regular daily tides are suppressed: High tides are lower than normal, and low tides are higher than normal," NASA explains. "In the other half of the cycle, tides are amplified: High tides get higher, and low tides get lower. Global sea-level rise pushes high tides in only one direction – higher. So half of the 18.6-year lunar cycle counteracts the effect of sea-level rise on high tides, and the other half increases the effect."

But this time around, scientists are more concerned. With sea-level rise due to climate change, the next high tide floods are expected to be more intense and more frequent than ever before, exacerbating already grim predictions.


Read more here. (CBS News)
General chit-chat
Help Users
  • No one is chatting at the moment.
  • The Helper The Helper:
    I think I killed the chat
  • The Helper The Helper:
    I am going to save the last NUON controller for a good time
  • The Helper The Helper:
    now is not that time for the NUON
  • Ghan Ghan:
    Maybe summertime killed the chat.
  • tom_mai78101 tom_mai78101:
    More like the never-ending rain.
  • midnight8 midnight8:
    everything is dead right now, people starting to do all the stuff they could not do for the lat year and a half. My youtube channel, and all of my facebook astronomy groups also dyiing out right now
  • midnight8 midnight8:
    i may have some time, pretty sure I brought covid home from vegas, got tested today, will know for sure tomorrow or next day
  • The Helper The Helper:
    that sucks
  • jonas jonas:
    @midnight8 how is it looking
  • midnight8 midnight8:
    meh, me, wife and her friend thaty traveled with us all have covid, seems to be winding down some for me at least. Felt like complete shit, been sleeping a lot, just bieng lazy as hell. I feel like that today has probably been like 11 or 12 days since exposure. Have not had any fever today, and have not taken any meds, so hopefully by monday or tuesday I will be good to go, sadly have passed it on to our teen son, I guess that was pretty much unavoidable
  • The Helper The Helper:
    hope you get to feeling better and get vaccinated my friend
  • midnight8 midnight8:
    I will at some point, but so many vaccinated people still getting it. One of the bands we watch in vegas, all 4 had been vaccinated and are now positive.
  • Ghan Ghan:
    Symptoms?
  • Ghan Ghan:
    I think the symptoms are typically less severe if previously vaccinated.
  • midnight8 midnight8:
    I have had all of the symptoms, taste is slightly starting to come back, but smell, no. Honestly, just been a little miserable, have never felt in any danger from it. Being trapped at home sucks. lol
  • midnight8 midnight8:
    meh, got a little fever again this morning, guess gonna be a few more days
  • The Helper The Helper:
    I went to Comicon this last weekend I hope I dont get it I feel fine and I am not vaccinated and did not wear a mask
  • The Helper The Helper:
    Comicon really was not packed though like it was in the past. I am not really worried though it was the most people I have been around in a year.
  • tom_mai78101 tom_mai78101:
    Still, getting vaccinated is a good idea. We're getting Delta variant spikes here in Boston.
  • The Helper The Helper:
    I am not against vaccination at all I just have a serious procrastination problem I plan on getting vaccinated soon
  • midnight8 midnight8:
    was kinda same with me, I was gonna do it, and life got in the way.
  • midnight8 midnight8:
    we wore mask in some places, but at 118 degrees outside, little rough. :)
  • The Helper The Helper:
    yeah i had another friend in Vegas talking about that heat damn
  • The Helper The Helper:
    Well I do not think I got Covid from the Comicon

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