Effective: 2016-June to 2016-December
Updated by: NCommander
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In an effort to remain the center of U.S. automotive development, Michigan has passed the most comprehensive self-driving vehicle regulations in the country:
Michigan, in a race with Silicon Valley for supremacy in autonomous autos, today enacted legislation that it said is the first in the U.S. to establish comprehensive regulations for testing, use and eventual sale of self-driving cars.
Governor Rick Snyder signed a law that defines how self-driving cars can be used on public roads in testing and commercial deployment, the Michigan Economic Development Corp. said in a statement. The law allows public road testing of vehicles without steering wheels, gas or brake pedals or any need for human control. It lets auto and tech companies operate driverless ride-sharing services and also lays out rules for how self-driving cars can be sold to the public once the technology has been tested and certified. "Michigan is the global center for automotive technology and development," Snyder said in the statement. "By establishing guidelines and standards for self-driving vehicles, we're continuing that tradition."
On Friday morning, Bloomberg reported that it had seen a copy of a questionnaire sent by the Trump transition team to the Department of Energy (DOE). The questionnaire includes 75 questions directed at the DOE and the Energy Information Agency (EIA), as well as any labs underneath the DOE's purview. The New York Times then obtained and published a copy of the document.
Although the questions are broad in nature, they seem to set the department up for budget and staffing cuts. They also appear to favor nuclear power and fossil fuel.
Questions that address cuts to the DOE's mission include: "Which Assistant Secretary positions are rooted in statute and which exist at the discretion and delegation of the Secretary?", as well as "If the DOE's topline budget in accounts other than the 050 account were required to be reduced 10% over the next four fiscal years (from the FY17 request and starting in FY18), does the Department have any recommendations as to where those reductions should be made?" A 050 account indicates national defense spending.
With respect to renewables and research, the questionnaire asks the DOE to provide a complete list of the projects shouldered by the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), which funds early-stage energy technology that would otherwise not be funded on the private market. ARPA-E opened its doors in 2009 under President Obama and works on battery research, biofuel production, and wind turbine projects.
Efforts to modernize the US' aging and inefficient grids also seemed to get a critical eye. "What is the goal of the grid modernization effort?" the questionnaire asks. "Is there some terminal point to this effort? Is its genesis statutory or something else?"
The president of the European Patent Office has responded to a formal rebuke of efforts to impose his will on the organization by asking for more power.
The man who last week was called a disgrace to his country in the French National Assembly has been accused of targeting EPO staff who opposed his reforms and of running sham disciplinary hearings as part of a campaign of intimidation.
Some of Benoit Battistelli's reforms have been enacted, whereas others – especially those that grant the president additional powers and effectively place him above the EPO's independent review and appeal processes – have been bitterly fought.
Several staff members, including the staff union's secretary, were placed on administrative leave by Battistelli over a year ago and have been put through what many claim have been a series of illegal and irregular hearings.
[...] In a letter to the EPO's ruling Administrative Council following the ILO decisions, Battistelli painted himself as the victim and argued the only solution is to give him yet more power.
[...] In a formal proposal to the EPO's General Consultative Committee, Battistelli has attempted to reintroduce a change to the EPO's "service regulations" that he previously put forward, but which was rejected.
Russia's telecom operator on Friday said that it had blocked a series of cyber attacks on the country's leading banks this week, the latest to target the country's financial sector.
Rostelecom said in a statement that it "successfully thwarted DDoS (distributed denial of service) on the five biggest banks and financial organisations in Russia" on December 5.
"The most sustained attack lasted more than two hours," it said.
Russia's FSB security service last week said it had uncovered plans by foreign intelligence services to carry out massive cyber attacks targeting the country's financial system from December 5.
Pravda reports on a super-advanced aircraft which could be real or could be propaganda:
This top-secret aircraft, known as the U-71, is part of Project 4202 of the Russian missile program. There is very little information about the aircraft. Supposedly, the aircraft can develop the speeds of up to 11,000 kilometers per hour. This glider aircraft is also said to be super-maneuverable and capable of entering near space.
The tests of the new aircraft still continue, although it is already believed that Russia will take a nuclear advantage of the USA with the help of the new type of weapon by 2025.
[...] The information about the project leaked only in February 2015. Pentagon officials admitted that the new Russian weapon would ruin the plan for a missile defense system around Russia. To make matters worse, the new weapon would make the USA absolutely defenseless.
The U-71 is a hypersonic aircraft equipped with electronic warfare system. It will be able to fly across the USA in minutes and disable all electronic detection stations on the way.
Nothing technical here, folks, the article doesn't make any specific technological claims, or explain how the aircraft works.
The article is interesting, as well as the audio link on the page, in that it makes a pretty plain statement. The only way to negotiate with Washington, is to make Washington fear you.
I'm not convinced the aircraft exists, and certainly not convinced that it is capable of what is claimed. It's going to knock out all of our electronic defenses in one pass? Really?
Amid ongoing malware infections of IoT gadgets and armies of commandeered gizmos attacking server, glaring security holes in web-connected CCTV cameras are going unpatched.
So say researchers with Cybereason, who claim a pair of high-profile vulnerabilities they spotted in surveillance cams two years ago have been completely ignored by vendors – thus leaving the door wide open for miscreants to hijack potentially "hundreds of thousands" of devices and use them for attacks.
Cybereason's Amit Serper says he and fellow researcher Yoav Orot exploited flaws in off-the-shelf internet-connected cameras back in 2014 in an effort to show how poor IoT security was at the time.
Since then, Serper says, the bugs have not only gone unpatched, but the insecure code has popped up in network camera firmware shipped by dozens of manufacturers selling their weak wares on Amazon. The Cybereason pair finger VStarcam as one vendor of vulnerable kit.
One of the great mysteries of the Victorian Age was the disappearance of the Franklin Expedition to discover the Northwest Passage. The belief is that their ships became locked in ice and the crews had to abandon them. In the 1980s, three bodies were found and examination of the bodies showed signs of elevated levels of lead. Because of this, most people believed that the crew was poisoned by the solder used in the tin cans of their provisions and that they fell to delirium and cannibalism as a result of the lead poisoning. When it was later pointed out that the food the expedition carried was not acidic enough to leech the lead out of the solder, attention was turned to the water pipes used to distribute drinking water on their ships.
In 2014 and 2016, two of the expedition ships were found. Despite the passage of time, they found the storerooms to have been well organized and not showing signs of a crew experiencing the hallucinations or delirium symptoms of lead poisoning. The remains of one of the crewmen, John Hartnell, still contained intact finger and toenails, analysis of which is able to reveal the week-by-week changes in his body. These results were reported in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports and they show that Hartnell had a severe zinc deficiency, not lead poisoning. A severe zinc deficiency would have suppressed his immune system and made him vulnerable to other more likely diseases such as pneumonia and tuberculosis. Hartnell did show relatively high levels of lead in his nails, but that was only in his last few weeks of life. They propose that Hartnell's dying body probably broke down and released long-stored lead from his bones into his blood and nails.
"The lead theory is pretty much dismantled by this point," says Ron Martin, an analytical chemist at Western University in London, Canada. In 2013, he analysed bone fragments from several crewmembers including Hartnell, and concluded that they had experienced consistent lead exposure throughout their lives, with no spike during the expedition.
Sweden is so good at recycling that, for several years, it has imported rubbish from other countries to keep its recycling plants going. Less than 1 per cent of Swedish household waste was sent to landfill last year or any year since 2011.
Well, it's not quite so idyllic as that (it sounds as if they're incinerating), but it's far, far ahead of the competition. As reported in The Independent (from a solidly British perspective, naturally) :
Why are we sending waste to Sweden? Their system is so far ahead because of a culture of looking after the environment. Sweden was one of the first countries to implement a heavy tax on fossil fuels in 1991 and now sources almost half its electricity from renewables.
[...] Over time, Sweden has implemented a cohesive national recycling policy so that even though private companies undertake most of the business of importing and burning waste, the energy goes into a national heating network to heat homes through the freezing Swedish winter. “That's a key reason that we have this district network, so we can make use of the heating from the waste plants. [...]”
So they don't actually recycle, but they barely need landfills, and “In the UK, each local authority has its own system, making it difficult for residents to be confident about what they can recycle and where.” Sounds like the U.S., dunnit?
General Motors has announced AeroVironment's EVSE-RS wall unit as the official home charger for the upcoming all-electric Bolt, promising a charge around five times faster than the regular wall plug.
California-based AeroVironment specializes in unmanned aircraft and electric vehicle charging systems, having worked with Nissan on the home charging station for the Leaf EV.
The EVSE-RS will be an official GM part, and buyers will be able to order it through their local Chevrolet dealership. The 32-amp Level 2 unit should be able to charge the Bolt around five times faster than the regular wall plug, which takes approximately 9 hours. The unit can also be used inside or outside, opening it up to EV owners who don't have a fully enclosed garages.
A newly released World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) report has found that the scale of Russian doping at the 2012 London and 2014 Sochi Olympic Games, as well as other events such as the 2013 World Championships in Athletics, was much larger than previously thought:
International sports's antidoping watchdog on Friday laid out mountainous evidence that for years Russian officials orchestrated a doping program at the Olympics and other competitions that involved or benefited 1,000 athletes in 30 sports. The findings intensified pressure on the International Olympic Committee to revisit Russia's standings at the 2014 Winter Games and penalize the nation ahead of the 2018 edition.
The evidence, published by the World Anti-Doping Agency, was the coda to a set of investigations conducted by the Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren, who issued a damning report in July that prompted more than 100 Russian athletes to be barred from the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The follow-up report outlined competitions that had been tainted by years of extraordinary preparations, ensuring Russia's dominance at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, the 2013 track and field world championships in Moscow and the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, the "apex" of Russia's cheating at which it took advantage of controlling drug-testing.
The subterfuge included using table salt and Nescafé instant coffee granules to conceal tainted urine, the report said. Some samples were clearly fraudulent: Urine provided by two female hockey players at the Sochi Games contained male DNA. Yet Mr. McLaren suggested that the full extent of the cheating might never be known. "It is impossible to know just how deep and how far back this conspiracy goes," he said Friday, calling the "immutable facts" of his report clear but far from comprehensive. "For years, international sports competitions have unknowingly been hijacked by the Russians."
The only way to restore integrity to the Olympic movement is with a testing agency that is not beholden to the International Olympic Committee or its sports federations. Require the respective Olympic committees to sign on, agreeing to uninhibited and unannounced out-of-competition testing. Insist that the sports federations cede responsibility for sanctions.
Saturn's moons may be significantly younger than their home planet, favoring a theory that they formed from Saturn's rings:
Freshly harvested data from NASA's Cassini mission reveals that Saturn's bulging core and twisting gravitational forces offer clues to the ages of the planet's moons. Astronomers now believe that the ringed planet's moons are younger than previously thought. [...] The Encelade team – lead by Valéry Lainey of the Paris Observatory – provided two key measurements in the research, "New Constraints on Saturn's Interior From Cassini Astrometric Data" [DOI: 10.1016/j.icarus.2016.07.014] [DX]. The scientists measured Saturn's Love number (the rigidity of a planet) for the first time and confirmed Saturnian moons move away from the planet at a faster rate than expected. (Most moons, including Earth's moon, move away from their parent planet.)
Using photographic images taken from century-old glass negatives and Cassini spacecraft observations, the group measured the Love number – named for Augustus E.H. Love, a famed British mathematician who studied elasticity – that describes the rigidity of the tidal bulge and the dissipation factor, which controls the speed at which moons move away.
While Saturn is mostly a gigantic shroud of liquid hydrogen and liquid helium, it contains a rocky core – about 18 times the size of Earth, which responds to tidal forces from all of Saturn's major moons by bulging. The forces of the bulging core, in turn, push the moons slightly away.
[...] "By monitoring these disturbances, we managed to obtain the first measurement of Saturn's Love number and distinguish it from the planet's dissipation factor," Tajeddine said. "The moons are migrating away much faster than expected." Tajeddine explains that if Saturn moons actually formed 4.5 billion years ago, their current distances from the home planet should be greater. Thus, this new research suggests, the moons are younger than 4.5 billion years, favoring a theory that the moons formed from Saturn's rings.
Facing threats of legal action, the Washington Post has been forced to add an editor's note distancing the paper from a dubious website, PropOrNot, which it had initially endorsed as a group of nonpartisan experts on "Russian propaganda."
The Post came under fire on social media for its provocative hit piece which claimed that "Russia's increasingly sophisticated propaganda campaign" actually influenced the US presidential election.
[...] Jim Moody, an attorney representing the website, stressed in a letter to the Washington Post on Sunday that the newspaper "did not provide even a single example of 'fake news' allegedly distributed or promoted by Naked Capitalism or indeed any of the 200 sites on the PropOrNot blacklist."
That a group of Cold Warrior hacks would publish such a blacklist is not a surprise; that one of the most established names in American news would uncritically parrot it was. Its reporting, writing-up and referencing is a prime example of how fake real news on real fake news spreads without question.
USA Today (11/25/16), Gizmodo (11/25/16), PBS (11/25/16), The Daily Beast (11/25/16), Slate (11/25/16), AP (11/25/16) The Verge (11/25/16) and NPR (11/25/16) all uncritically wrote up the Post's most incendiary claims with little or minimal pushback. Gizmodo was so giddy its original headline had to be changed from "Research Confirms That Russia Played a Major Role in Spreading Fake News" to "Research Suggests That Russia Played a Major Role in Spreading Fake News," presumably after some polite commenters pointed out that the research "confirmed" nothing of the sort.
The American lifespan declined slightly in 2015, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report based primarily on 2015 death certificates:
Life expectancy in the United States has declined for the first time in more than two decades. Data from the National Center for Health Statistics showed a drop for men from 76.5 years in 2014 to 76.3 in 2015, and from 81.3 to 81.2 for women. The preliminary figures show rises in several causes of death, especially heart disease, dementia and accidental infant deaths.
Life expectancy last fell during the peak of the HIV/Aids crisis in 1993. It has improved slightly but steadily in most of the years since World War Two, rising from a little more than 68 years in 1950. It also fell in 1980, after a severe outbreak of flu. Overall life expectancy for men and women is now 78.8 years, a decrease of 0.1 year from 2014.
[...] The death rate for cancer has gone down 1.7%, which is significant as cancer is the second-biggest cause of death, causing almost as many fatalities as heart disease. But it seems that fast-developing research into cancer treatments, as well as campaigns on public education and early detection, are having an impact.
But do they account for the effect of fake deaths?
An anonymous coward sent in an article from The Atlantic covering the same news.
John Deere has released a video of an all-electric concept tractor in the lead-up to the SIMA Agribusiness show in France, pointing the way toward a zero-local-emissions tractor product in the future.
In some ways, tractors seem like an ideal candidate for electrification. Electric motors are great for generating the kinds of huge torque figures tractors require, and tractors are generally fairly short range vehicles that live in the same shed every night, making for convenient recharging. They're also very low-maintenance in comparison with diesel gear.
That's the thinking behind John Deere's SESAM (Sustainable Energy Supply for Agricultural Machinery) tractor, a gutted out JD 6R with a huge battery bank up front and dual electric motors developing up to 130 kilowatts (174 horsepower) of continuous power.
Science News reports on a new and unlikely discovery about bismuth.
At a frigid temperature 5 ten-thousandths of a degree above absolute zero, bismuth becomes a superconductor — a material that conducts electricity without resistance — physicists from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai, India, report online December 1 in Science.
Bismuth, a semimetallic element, conducts electricity less efficiently than an ordinary metal. It is unlike most other known superconductors in that it has very few mobile electrons. Consequently, the prevailing theory of superconductivity doesn't apply.
The result is "quite important," says theoretical physicist Marvin Cohen of the University of California, Berkeley. New ideas — either a different theory or a tweak to the standard one — are needed to explain bismuth's superconductivity. "It might lead us to a better theory of superconductivity with more details," Cohen says.
An improved theoretical understanding might lead scientists to other superconductors, potentially ones that work at more practical temperatures, says Srinivasan Ramakrishnan, a coauthor of the paper. "It opens a new path for discovering new superconducting materials."
Evidence for bulk superconductivity in pure bismuth single crystals at ambient pressure [DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf8227]