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New law in California seeks to ban gas-powered car production by 2040

An ambitious act to drastically reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions is set to be in place due to the efforts of Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), as he proposed the AB 1745 CLEAN CARS 2040 ACT last week. The new law will help combat human reliance in fossil fuels and other nonrenewable resources for automotive vehicles.

The Clean Cars 2040 Act 1745 essentially says that any new car you purchase in the Golden State after 2040 must be a zero-emissions vehicle, otherwise you will not be able to have it legally registered. Although this may look like it will lead to consumers being forced to purchase a more expensive car they will have to finance, government officials believe this is the next progressive step California must take.

“If we want to seriously combat climate change, protect our clean air and water, and ensure a just transition to clean energy, we need to invest in clean, zero emission transportation,” NextGen America President Tom Steyer commented. “Dirty vehicles are the largest source of carbon emissions in California –polluting the air and water for millions across the state– so we must take action to accelerate the transition to 100 percent clean vehicles.”

Fossil fuel emissions have been a convenient source of energy for humans, but the nonrenewable means of fuel poses dangers to our climate, as many scientists have identified as climate change.

“Over-reliance on fossil fuels in transportation damages the air, our health, the environment, our society and our economy,” Phil Ting mentioned. “The transition to zero emission vehicles is underway, promising myriad health, environmental and economic benefits. Clean Cars 2040 is a powerful policy initiative that’ll set us on the correct course for achieving clean air and climate targets that prioritize public health.”

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Litterati app makes strides in ending global litter problem with NSF grant

 

It’s endearing to see mobile apps make strides to make the world better. Jeff Kirschner, founder of Litterati, made it his goal to create an app that helped end the global litter problem, and so far he’s seen success.

After a successful round of funding through a Kickstarter campaign, the National Science Foundation happily announced it would be making a substantial contribution of its own, promising this will be the next big step in making the earth a cleaner place to live.

“[Litter] is a massive problem,” Kirschner told Business Insider. “It impacts the economy, the environment, it degrades community pride, it decreases property value, it kills wildlife, and now with the plastic pollution in the ocean situation, it is literally poisoning our food system.”

The $225,000 grant will go towards developing an improved app allowing for more communities to come together in the fight against litter. Rather than tracking progress on a solo level, Litterati will allow users to keep track of how their own communities, schools, and other larger organizations are impacting global sustainability.

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Why net neutrality isn’t as necessary as many people claim

The argument that we are given Internet access by only a few companies who cooperate and divide up the land among themselves is totally valid. But there may be a silver lining we’re not seeing that is staring us right in the face. The potential of the free market. Specifically, Google Fiber.

Google entered the scene in the 90s solely as a search engine and its assets and capital at the time were no where near what they have today. Google is a brand people trust and depend on and they decided to start introducing fiber optic Internet access simply because it grew to a size where it could afford to begin laying down its framework.

Google did this on its own, seeing potential in drawing/stealing consumers in from other ISPs (and the other ISPs definitely took notice). Granted, Google Fiber is only in a select number of cities right now, but it literally had zero cities at the time of its inception. Google is just one example of a powerhouse that started small and then entered new markets we never saw coming.

Amazon started off as an Internet retailer for books. It now has its own streaming service, 2-day delivery for the things we want, potential drone delivery, and Alexa. Walmart also had its humble start as a retailer. It now offers banking, cell phone plans, 2-day delivery, and sell groceries.

These services were not within the companies’ visions at inception. Netflix used to only sell physical media and competed with Blockbuster, eventually eliminating them from the picture altogether. Now Netflix’s capital is through the roof. These companies and potentially more (Apple, Microsoft, Cricket Wireless, T-Mobile, Uber, Disney) have the potential and the capital to enter the ISP market and undercut what the current big guys are offering.

Google Fiber is already doing this, and no one told them to. It saw an open market and decided to act because it wanted to make more money. That is just how the free market works and we are better off if we let that dictate who wins and loses.

We cannot predict how the Internet will evolve and prosper. We probably could never have imagined that a ton of people could be walking around with Internet connected devices in their pockets back in the day. The free market created these innovations without government intrusion. So why are people so adamant about using the government to stop the big guys from doing what they know how to do when they can just fight among themselves and offer lower prices and better services to undercut their competition or raise its profits?

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Marijuana producers in Canada fined up to $1 million for using banned pesticides

An investigation by The Globe and Mail found compelling evidence of federally regulated marijuana companies in Canada using banned pesticides for weed production. According to Health Canada, illegal use of unapproved chemicals can be dangerous to people who consume marijuana, so federal legislation must crack down on growers, dispensaries, and companies.

In order to enforce compliance to the regulations, Health Canada regularly conducts inspections of licensed producers of cannabis, ensuring cooperative action to keep users safe. Producers caught using unauthorized could get fined up to $1 million per violation.

“I think it’s a positive step forward,” said Scott Wood, a former military policeman and user of medical marijuana for ailing injuries while serving. “You would think the companies are all going to think twice before they use anything they’re not supposed to.”

Perhaps cannabis producers in California should take heed to Canada’s federal legislation, as similar sanctions could potentially be put in place if the U.S. government deems it necessary.

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New York City-based apartment to accept bitcoin as rental payments

In an effort to modernize and become a bigger player in the real estate market, New York City-based Brookliv has begun to accept bitcoin as a form of payment.

Brookliv’s owner, Ari Weber, has stated that he hopes bitcoin will help them attract more young clients. The ability to predict new trends in an ever-changing market is another reason they decided to make that move.

“The market is changing, whether we like it or not. We foresee the norm will be cryptocurrencies being used for rental market and beyond in the near future,” Weber says.

Allowing tenants to pay for rent in bitcoin is a calculated risk, as there is still a chance that bitcoin could crash at any moment. Weber states that this is a negligible risk, as bitcoin has largely stabilized around $13,500. He believes that attracting new tenants that want to pay in bitcoin is worth the small losses he’ll take if bitcoin dips slightly.

“We can take a little bit of a hit if it does dip, but it’s worth it,” Weber added.

This is no doubt a big step forward for owners of the cryptocurrency, as many mainstream vendors still do not take it as payment, but this is proof that it is becoming more widely accepted.

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Google machine learning helps predict voting patterns in U.S.

From the digital assistants like Siri in our phones to the algorithms that recommend us things to buy on Amazon, artificial intelligence is truly ingrained in the function of our technological society. Some of the most innovative forms of media exist because machine learning has exponentially become more prominent, and it is no surprise researchers at Stanford University use it to learn more about humans and their political patterns.

These researchers identified a unique association among U.S. voters and the type of cars they own. If a city has a higher percent of sedans than pickup trucks, then there is an 88% chance the city will vote Democrat in the 2020 presidential election. And vice versa, if a city has a higher percent of pickup trucks than sedans, then there is an 82% it will vote Republican.

Ultimately, the power of tracking data has proven to be of the utmost value for marketing, so it shouldn’t be too surprising to see machine learning applied in academic contexts. The researchers simply want to push the technology and explore the depths of what deep learning can be.

“For the first time in history, we have the technology to extract insights from very large amounts of visual data,” Harvard’s Nikhil Naik said on the New York Times. “But while the technology is exciting, computer scientists need to work closely with social scientists and others to make sure it’s useful.”

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Blockstack’s virtualchain technology helps accelerate blockchain development

Blockchain technology was a hot topic in 2017, as the ledger system saw exponential innovations added to its mainframe. Blockstack, founded in 2013, has put forth effort to creating a decentralized system for users to consume media content.

“We’re living in a time period where the new incumbents like Amazon, Google, and Facebook have firmly established themselves, and are near monopolists in their markets,” venture capitalist Albert Wenger told MIT Technology Review. “If we want a long-term, open playing field for innovation, we’re going to need new, decentralized infrastructure.”

This is why Blockstack is designing its decentralized architecture around user control, implementing virtualchain technology to help achieve this goal, at least according to the white paper.

“We’re trying to turn the existing model on its head,” added Ryan Shea, CEO and cofounder of Blockstack. “You can try to work with the existing model from within, but sometimes it’s easier to step outside of it and build something new from a clean slate.”

Blockstack introduces new decentralized apps that you access through the Blockstack Browser. With Blockstack, users can own their data to better maintain privacy, security and freedom.

Mess around with the browser and jump on the blockchain bandwagon in 2018. This could be the first big player in media entertainment becoming a key component of blockchain’s infrastructure. With apps like Ongaku Ryoho‘s music player and Guild‘s journalism services, the sky is the limit for new innovations on this decentralized network.

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Switzerland head of Foreign Affairs deletes a slew of his old tweets

Ignazio Cassis, an Italian born citizen, was recently chosen to hold the position of Switzerland’s newest cabinet minister, serving as the head of Foreign Affairs. With this new title, Cassis has taken the time to scrub his Twitter feed clean of any tweets that may make him seem unfit to be Switzerland’s foreign affairs minister.

Politwoops, a tweet archiving website designed to track politician’s deleted tweets, accounted for over 500 tweets that were meant to never be seen again. Luckily, data on the web will always be available for archiving, as it is very clear Cassis removed over 90% of his posts almost two weeks ago.

“I will take my political values as a Radical Party member to the cabinet, but I’m prepared to listen to other opinions and reserve the right to change my mind if need be,” Cassis said at a news conference a few months ago.

According to a report from Tages-Anzeiger, Cassis is focused on using his social media platforms to promote business operations within his department.

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Facebook provides tool to check if you interacted with Russian propaganda

The social media landscape was in a frenzy during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, with alleged misinformation and fake news distributed in large quantities to many different users. Facebook, arguably the most popular social media website in our human history, was a huge platform for this propaganda to spread, making its way into people’s news feeds and advertisements.

Facebook became aware of this disinformation, most notably data from the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a Russian distribution channel infamous for spreading fake news in its reporting.

To help users alleviate any worries on whether or not they were subject to fake news, Facebook created an online tool in the Help Center to let people login and check if they ever liked or followed any pages or accounts from the IRA.

According to CBS News, Facebook shut down 5.8 million fake accounts in the United States alone. Hopefully this is the onset of the social media giant cracking down on illegitimate news and information being shared on its network.

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Quebec to help citizens in poverty with basic income aid

Citizens of Quebec below the poverty line will be happy to hear the recent news from Premier Philippe Couillard. Starting in 2018, Quebecers who make less than $18,000 annually will receive government help as part of a $3 billion action plan to fight poverty and promote “economic inclusion,” according to CBC News.

Premier Philippe Couillard

This plan has many moving pieces, and it has received plentiful criticisms from anti-poverty groups, noting how the plan only focuses on a single sector of citizens below the poverty line in Canada.

Serge Petitclerc, spokesperson for the Collectif pour un Québec sans pauvreté, notes how “limiting [the plan] to a single category of people in Quebec, [is] missing the point. Because one of the primary characteristics of guaranteed minimum income is that it should be unconditional and it should apply to the entire population.”

Although statistics and metrics can hardly quantify the true experience of being below the poverty line, corrective actions must occur in segments if we want gradual change. What constitutes as fair in situations like these is heartbreaking, as someone’s experience dealing with poverty should never be seen as conditional when considering who receives aid.