Thursday, January 14, 2021

Cadillac wants to fly people in electric drones

General Motors shared some futuristic concept vehicles, including a sleek Cadillac passenger drone, on Tuesday in a classic CES move. As part of its Cadillac Halo portfolio, a shiny, silver and black self-driving shuttle, and a matching passenger drone were introduced. Both are just ideas with no production plans, yet. The VTOL flying car (that’s the term used for vertical take-off and landing vehicles or passenger drones) is GM’s first design in aerial mobility. It’s an idea for personal air travel that doesn’t require a trip to the airport. Intended for short flights, Cadillac envisions take-off and landing pads on downtown rooftops for its passenger drone. So you can hop into the drone to catch a meeting across town. The conceptual design for the autonomous electric drone includes four rotors and a 90 kWh motor. In case you are wondering, no pilot necessary. (Sasha Lekach)


Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin will stand trial alone in March while three others will be tried together in August

The four Minneapolis police officers charged in the death of George Floyd will not be tried together. According to court orders, Derek Chauvin – the officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck – will stand trial alone in March. The other three former officers will have a separate trial in late August. The judge split the trial due to the pandemic, saying it’s “impossible to comply with COVID-19 physical restrictions” given the number of lawyers and others who will be present. (Minnesota Fourth Judicial District Court)


Peeking Inside Human “Mini-Brains” to Understand the Brain, Study Disease and Test New Medicines

Revealing details of the internal structure of ‘mini-brains’ could help accelerate drug studies and may offer alternatives to some animal testing. ‘Mini-brains’ are pin-head sized collections of several different types of human brain cell. They are used as a tool, allowing scientists to learn about how the brain develops, study disease and test new medicines. Personalized ‘mini-brains’ can be grown from stem cells generated from a sample of human hair or skin and could shed light on how brain disease progresses in an individual and how this person may respond to drugs. Research has revealed the detailed internal anatomy of ‘mini-brains’, for the first time. Human ‘mini-brains’ have a life span of more than a year and, with our new ability to visualize them in more detail, we can envision benefits such as reducing some animal testing. The new approach could also enable imaging of large numbers of ‘mini-brains’, making it suitable for high-throughput screening for drug discovery or toxicity testing. It is reproducible and cost-effective and could potentially help accelerate personalized medicine studies. (SciTech Daily)


New York would become the 16th state to legalize marijuana

New York could become the 16th state to legalize recreational marijuana. Governor Andrew Cuomo is pushing forward legislation to legalize the drug. He says it could give the state an economic boost. New York Governor Cuomo also said it would bring an end to the disproportionate impact drug charges have on Black and Latino communities. (The Hill)


US cancer deaths hit ‘single-year record drop,’ American Cancer Society says

Cancer death rates in the United States hit a record 2.4% decrease in 2018, marking a record for the second year in a row and contributing to a 31% drop since 1990, the American Cancer Society announced earlier this week. The organization tied the progress, which translates to about 3.2 million fewer deaths, to less smoking and continuing advances in lung cancer treatment, comprising nearly 50% of the total drop in deaths from 2014 to 2018. The overall cancer mortality rate among men and women in 2018 was 149 cases per 100,000 people. “Improved treatment accelerated progress against lung cancer and drove a record drop in overall cancer mortality, despite slowing momentum for other common cancers,” according to the report. Cancer ranks second in the country’s leading causes of death after heart disease, though it still poses the largest threat among Hispanic, Asian American, and Alaska Native people, per the report. Also, the American Cancer Society projected 608,570 cancer deaths in 2021, with nearly 1.9 million new diagnoses, or 5,200 new cases daily. (American Cancer Society Journal)


Florida background checks for guns skyrocket in first days of 2021

Using data from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the agency responsible for running firearm background checks for those purchasing guns, shows that in the first 10 days of 2021, background checks were up 71%. The FBI confirmed that more than 39.5 million firearm background checks were conducted last year, more than any other year since the agency started tracking numbers. Researchers say the the reason for the spike is simple: “They are scared to death. They are scared to death in their own homes”. Industry leaders said the boost is driven by many first-timers: people buying guns for the first time. A lot of people in the firearms business say “2021 is going to make 2020 look like a normal year.” (Click Orlando)


Internet Company Takes a Stand Against Facebook, Twitter After Censorship of Trump

A North Idaho internet provider will be blocking Twitter and Facebook for customers who, irked at the social media sites’ treatment of President Donald Trump, want it to do so. The company called, “Your T1 WIFI”, provides internet services to North Idaho and the Spokane, Washington, area. The company told its customers about the move in an email this past weekend by their customer. “It has come to our attention that Twitter and Facebook are engaged in censorship of our customers and information,” the email reads. “We have the past couple days been fielding calls from customers voicing the concern that they do not want these sites allowed to be displayed on the internet feed to them and they do not want their children to go to these sites.”  Noting that blocking the two social media giants one by one as customers requested might be labor-intensive and costly, the company said it decided to simply block them outright. The email gave customers the option of signing up for a list that would allow the sites. “Our company does not believe a website or social networking site has the authority to censor what you see and post and hide information from you, stop you from seeing what your friends and family are posting,” the email said. “This is why with the amount of concerns, we have made this decision to block these two websites from being accessed from our network.”  The company did amend its initial policy, and said that instead of blocking Facebook and Twitter for everyone, it would only block the sites for customers who asked the company to do so. Company owner Brett Fink emphasized that while the sites will be blocked, they will only be blocked for those who want his company to do so. (KREM-TV)


Twitter, Facebook Lose $51 Billion in Value After Booting Trump

After banning President Donald Trump from their social media platforms, Facebook and Twitter have seen their combined market value plummet by $51.2 billion over the last two trading sessions. Following the Capitol upheaval last week, Facebook and Twitter indefinitely banned Trump’s accounts, claiming there was risk of additional violence. Their decision prompted a major tech sell-off. Twitter’s stock dropped 6.4% at the beginning of the week and plunged another 2.4% as of Tuesday’s close. The dip resulted in Twitter’s market cap falling by $3.5 billion. Facebook stock was also dumped by investors in the wake of its decision to boot Trump. The company saw a decline of 4% on Monday and another 2.2% on Tuesday, leaving its market cap at $47.6 billion below its Friday level. Clearly both platforms underestimated the president’s popularity, and while Twitter’s stock was trying to rally on Wednesday morning it was dropping off in the afternoon session. Facebook did not get any lift and hovered around its previous closing level. As of Wednesday afternoon, Facebook traded at $251.34 per share, while Twitter traded at $47.92 per share. (NewsMax)


Paris plans to transform the city’s most iconic avenue, the Champs-Élysées, into an enormous garden

Around 3,000 vehicles pass through the avenue’s eight-lane highway every hour, generating a lot of noise and pollution. But the $305 Million project will increase the amount of space reserved for pedestrians, build tunnels for cars, and add thousands of trees, turning the avenue into “an extraordinary garden,” said Paris Mayor. The Place de la Concorde, the largest square in the city, will be pedestrianized, and the roundabout that surrounds the Arc de Triomphe will be redesigned to accommodate bike lanes. Part of the project will be completed ahead of the 2024 Summer Olympics, which will take place in the French capital, and the rest by 2030. (Sydney Morning Herald)


Starting January 26th, international visitors will need to show a negative COVID-19 test before flying to the United States

The CDC order also applies to U.S. citizens returning to the country. Airlines are required to bar people from boarding planes unless they produce a negative test taken up to three days before the flight. The order exempts children under two years of age. Under the order, airlines can accept both PCR and rapid antigen tests. It comes as countries around the world have imposed travel restrictions to stop the spread of a more contagious variant of the coronavirus that was first identified in the United Kingdom. U.S. airlines support the CDC order but they also want the government to lift a ban barring people in Europe, the U.K., and Brazil from traveling to the U.S. – the ban does not apply to American citizens. Americans are also banned from visiting these countries. Canada also requires travelers to provide negative COVID-19 tests before boarding planes headed for the country. (The Wall Street Journal)


Google will suspend all political ads

Ads referencing the election results, impeachment process, the upcoming inauguration, and last week’s attack on the U.S. Capitol will be blocked on platforms such as Google Ads and YouTube. The ban will remain in place until at least January 21st, one day after the Presidential inauguration. On Monday (1/11), Google suspended political donations alongside other tech giants such as Microsoft and Facebook. (Axios)


Airbnb will cancel all reservations made in Washington, D.C., for the week of January 18th

The move intends to prevent travelers from going to Washington during the inauguration of President-elect Biden. The company is also blocking any new reservations from being made in Washington for that week. Airbnb will be reimbursing all travelers who currently have bookings. The company will also pay all hosts a sum equivalent to what they would have earned from their guests. This money will come out of the company’s own accounts. The move is part of a new Airbnb safety plan that includes banning individuals involved in the U.S. Capitol riot and people linked to known hate groups from using the service. (AirBNB)


Air travelers will need negative test

Most air passengers coming to the United States from abroad, including children from the age of 2, will be required to present a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of their trip. The new rules, introduced by the Centers for Disease Control, come into effect January 26th. Only certain passengers transiting through the country or coming from places with little testing capacity will be able to enter the country without a negative test. The United States currently bans most visitors from Brazil and Europe. (Reuters)


Thursday Keeps Us Thirsty With:

  • Caesarean Section Day
  • Dress Up Your Pet Day
  • Hot Pastrami Sandwich Day
  • International Kite Day
  • Organize Your Home Day
  • Ratification Day
  • World Logic Day

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