Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the U.K. will ban the sale of new gas and diesel-powered vehicles, starting in 2030, as part of its goal to become carbon neutral by 2050

It is the second time this year Johnson has accelerated the deadline. In February he moved it forward from 2040 to 2035. The British Prime Minister unveiled a 10 point plan for a “green industrial revolution,” which includes a $1.7B investment in public and private charging stations. The government will offer $774M in grants to consumers who purchase zero-emission and low-emission vehicles. As part of its plan, the U.K. will invest in public transportation to reduce carbon emissions and increase carbon-free energy, such as offshore wind, hydrogen, and nuclear energy. Despite the plan, a transport think tank called New Automotive said the U.K. would need to implement a ban by 2026 to ensure it meets its climate change targets. The U.K. is among several major governments that have set deadlines to phase out cars that rely on fossil fuels. Norway and France are aiming for 2025 and 2040 respectively, while California pledged to do so by 2035. (Gov.UK)


The coronavirus pandemic has reshuffled the world’s priciest cities

Paris and Zurich are among the three most expensive cities in the world, together with Hong Kong. Last year, Paris tied with Hong Kong and Singapore in first place. Geneva and Copenhagen are the other two European cities in the top 10. Prices of goods and services have shifted around after the US dollar weakened while European and north Asian currencies strengthened against it, the report says. In Singapore, an exodus of expats contributed to the decline in rankings. Across cities, prices of electronics, personal care products, tobacco and alcohol have increased while clothing prices have fallen. Here’s the ranking this year:

  1. Paris
  2. Hong Kong
  3. Zurich
  4. Singapore
  5. Osaka
  6. Tel Aviv
  7. Geneva
  8. New York
  9. Copenhagen
  10. Los Angeles

(The Economist Intelligence Unit)


The case for keeping schools open

As COVID-19 infection rates climb, school systems are going fully remote or dialing back on their reopening plans. Such moves strain working parents and put students with limited access to internet and other tech at a disadvantage. Now, there’s growing evidence that even though the virus might be detected in schools, they aren’t likely super-spreader sites. According to researchers at Brown University, infection rates at schools closely match rates within surrounding communities, so figuring out where the virus was acquired and addressing community spread should be paramount. (Washington Post)


Reversing the aging process gets real

Researchers from Tel Aviv University and Shamir Medical Center in Israel found that high-pressure oxygen therapy in hyperbaric chambers can halt and even reverse the shortening of telomeres, caps on the ends of chromosomes that are key to the aging process. As we get older, telomeres shorten until the cells themselves die. High-pressure oxygen therapy lengthened participants’ telomeres, reversing aging at the cellular level. The findings may lead to treatments that improve our ability to pay attention and process information as we age. (Big Think)


An AI designed virus blocker

University of Washington researchers have designed molecules specifically fit to block COVID-19. Using computational design methods, they modeled how millions of different proteins interacted with the coronavirus and then identified ideal combinations that got in the virus’s way. Such molecular cocktails, called minibinders,  function like antibodies naturally produced in the human body. Even better? They can be designed to transport easily and function at warmer temperatures, two factors that impede other antibody treatments. It’s early days, but such methods could one day lead to an efficient means to block all kinds of viruses. (The New York Times)


California Governor Recall Granted 120 More Days to Collect Signatures

The Recall Gavin 2020 campaign has been given a 120 day extension to collect 1,495,709 signed petitions, which if validated by the Secretary of State, would force Governor Newsom to defend his seat in a special election. The last time there was a recall election, back in October 2003, California’s voters sent Governor Gray Davis into early retirement. Even if the Newsom recall campaign does not ultimately succeed in forcing a recall election, they have already made history. No grassroots ballot initiative campaign in California, ever, has gathered this many signed petitions while relying solely on volunteer signature gatherers. And the grassroots army that has been mobilized is getting stronger. Win or lose, this will not be their last hurrah. (California Globe)


Study shows mindfulness might not work as you expect

Mindfulness is most effective for managing anxiety and perception of anxiety after a stressful event has passed, and is less effective at reducing stress in the moment, according to a new study. Researchers analyzed cardiovascular responses of 1,001 participants during what they call “stressful performance tasks,” and found that mindfulness training did not contribute to positive stress responses during the task. However, participants reported a better perception of the activity after the task had concluded. The researchers concluded that those with a high level of “dispositional mindfulness” were less likely to dwell on past events and would be more likely to perceive that they are better at managing stress in the moment. In the middle of a stressful task, however, the body and mind’s natural disposition seems to take over. The study found that “mindful participants” saw an increase in heart rate, indicating a stronger focus and engagement with the task. (University of Buffalo)


GoDaddy employees accidentally helped hackers mess with cryptocurrency sites

Hackers managed to fool employees at the well-known web hosting company into briefly kneecapping a couple of cryptocurrency trading websites. These included Liquid and NiceHash, which confirmed separate attacks over the span of just a few days earlier in November. Whoever was behind these attacks managed to convince GoDaddy employees to hand over control of Liquid’s and NiceHash’s domains. In NiceHash’s case, email traffic was redirected without authorization from the site’s managers and user funds had to be frozen for 24 hours. It doesn’t seem like any personal info or other compromising data was stolen during these breaches, nor was it confirmed exactly how the hacks took place. One prominent theory is that the attackers used voice phishing, or vishing, a technique in which hackers use phone calls to trick companies into handing over the keys to people with malicious intent. A typical vishing scam begins with a series of phone calls to employees working remotely at a targeted organization. The phishers often will explain that they’re calling from the employer’s IT department to help troubleshoot issues with the company’s email or virtual private networking (VPN) technology. The goal is to convince the target either to divulge their credentials over the phone or to input them manually at a website set up by the attackers that mimics the organization’s corporate email or VPN portal. (Krebs On Security)


New recycling process could cut down millions of tons of plastic waste

Around 100 million tons of multilayer thermoplastics are produced globally every year. 40% of that total is waste from the manufacturing process itself, and because there has been no way to separate the polymers, practically the entirety of that plastic ends up in landfills or incinerators. Now, engineers from the University of Wisconsin–Madison have developed a method for reclaiming the polymers in these materials using solvents. Scientists dubbed this technique as Solvent-Targeted Recovery and Precipitation (STRAP) processing. The method separates the polymers in a commercial plastic composed of common layering materials polyethylene, ethylene vinyl alcohol, and polyethylene terephthalate. And the resulting separated polymers appear chemically similar to those used to make the original film. Scientists hope to use the recovered polymers to create new plastic materials. This demonstrates that the process can help close the recycling loop. It could also allow multilayer-plastic manufacturers to recover the 40 percent of plastic waste produced during the production and packaging processes. (Tech Explorist)


A Florida man says he is ready to turn a trailer park into the location of the Trump presidential library

A real estate broker suggested last year that Briny Breezes, Florida, become Trump Town USA. Afterwards, he received death threats, but said he still thinks the 46-acre waterfront tract would be the perfect setting for the library and a hotel that could host international summits. Briny Breezes is made up entirely of a trailer park and sits between the Atlantic Ocean and Intercoastal Waterway just north of Delray Beach and in what is now President Trump’s home county of Palm Beach. The man stressed that he is not officially representing Briny Breezes, where he still lives. He pegged the potential sale price at $1 billion and said 60% of the trailers’ owners would have to agree to sell. (Fox News)


Brit who caught Covid, malaria & dengue fever in India now fighting to recover from deadly COBRA bite

A British man who contracted malaria, dengue fever and Covid-19 while working for a charity in India is now battling to recover from a venomous cobra bite. After running the gauntlet of the infectious diseases, the man was bitten by the deadly snake in a village in western India. While fortunate to survive the bite, he is now suffering with blindness and leg paralysis. The man’s family say he spent nearly two weeks in intensive care but has now left the hospital because of a shortage of beds and a high number of coronavirus patients. He is “very frightened” by his condition but his doctors are hopeful he can make a full recovery. (Union Journal)


Oregon man sues, alleging he went to doctor for distress over marital woes, only to find the physician was having an affair with his wife

A man in Bend, Oregon was experiencing depression as a result of his failing marriage so he went to his family physician, who counseled him on ways to improve his marriage and prescribed him marijuana and CBD. The patient now claims in a lawsuit that all along, the doctor was having an affair with his wife. In a complaint filed in Deschutes County Circuit Court, the man who is a local musician and financial adviser, seeks $2.9 million from the doctor for professional negligence. (Oregon Live)


Canadian officials warn drivers not to let moose lick their cars

Officials in Jasper, an alpine town in Canada’s Alberta province, have put up signs asking motorists to avoid allowing moose to lick the salt, a treat moose find hard to resist, off their cars. “They’re obsessed with salt, it’s one of the things they need for the minerals in their body,” a Jasper National Park spokesman said. “They usually get it from salt lakes in the park, but now they realized they can also get road salt that splashes onto cars.” At the Jasper National Park, where people often park on the side of the road in hopes of catching a glimpse of the moose, letting the animals near your car is actually a serious danger. By allowing moose to lick the salt off your car, they will become habituated with being around cars. That poses a risk to both the animals and the drivers who can accidentally crash into them. Visitors are not allowed to feed, entice or disturb wildlife in national parks and violators could face fines up to $25,000, he added. (CNN)


Tuesday Shows Up With:

  • Celebrate Your Unique Talent Day
  • D.B. Cooper Day
  • Sardines Day

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