Science & Technology

Utah Utility Wants to Triple Monthly Charges for Solar Customers

by Mark Hand – Nevada is still recovering from rooftop solar policy similar to Utah utility’s plan. Utah’s largest electric utility company wants to place new charges on rooftop solar customers, a proposal that critics say would unfairly penalize the customers; in addition, they fear it could lead to a scenario similar to the one that recently played out in Nevada, with rooftop solar companies abandoning the state after policymakers weakened the net metering system. Rocky Mountain Power’s plan would nearly triple monthly customer charges and peak-time usage charges for rooftop solar customers, although the company says the new charges are necessary to create an equitable system between solar and non-solar customers. The Utah Public Service Commission is holding a hearing on Wednesday to get public input on the company’s controversial proposal. Next week, the commission plans to hold a multi-day hearing where Rocky Mountain Power, solar companies, and other official intervenors in...

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Fearing Censorship, Govt. Scientists Leak Alarming Climate Report

by Julia Conley – Scientists at 13 federal agencies released a draft of a report showing that the U.S. is currently being impacted by climate change. A leaked draft of an extensive federal climate change report is causing alarm on Tuesday—both because of its findings, which make clear that the U.S. is currently experiencing the effects of climate change, and because of statements by the report’s authors, who say they’re concerned President Donald Trump will try to suppress the paper. The 543-page report by scientists from 13 federal agencies details rapidly rising temperatures in the United States since 1980 and cites global events including an extreme heat wave in Europe in 2003 and in Australia in 2013, as concrete examples of climate change, saying that both examples offer “relatively strong evidence” that humans are contributing to global warming. The authors write that they have “a medium degree of confidence” that rising temperatures throughout...

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Disaster For Big Pharma As 50% Of People Report Quitting Pills For CBD

by Carey Wedler/ANTIMEDIA – According to a recent survey conducted by cannabis market research firm the Brightfield Group and HelloMD, nearly half of CBD (cannabidiol) users give up prescription drugs and over the counter medications in favor of the non-psychoactive substance. According to a recent survey conducted by cannabis market research firm the Brightfield Group and HelloMD, an online medical cannabis community, nearly half of CBD (cannabidiol) users give up prescription drugs and over the counter medications in favor of the non-psychoactive substance. The survey of over 2,400 respondents found forty-two percent of CBD users — whether they used marijuana-derived CBD or hemp-derived CBD — “have left their traditional medications behind altogether and now use cannabis instead.” The survey summarized that roughly “66% of CBD users indicated that CBD products are either ‘more effective’ or ‘much more effective’ in relieving their medical conditions than are over-the-counter (OTC) products.” Further, “pproximately 52% of this consumer group indicated that their CBD products are either ‘more effective’...

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NFL Ends Concussion Research Partnership $16 Million Short of $30 Million Commitment

by Lindsay Gibbs – The “unrestricted gift” came with too many strings for the National Institute of Health. Back in 2012, the NFL made a heavily publicized $30 million commitment to the National Institute of Health to fund concussion research, which the league wanted the public to see as a commitment it was taking head safety in football seriously. But as ESPN’S Outside the Lines reported this week, that partnership is set to expire next month even though the NFL — which is projected to reach $14 billion in revenue this year — failed to give the NIH $16 million of the promised funds. In other words, the league fulfilled less than half of its obligations to the NIH. “The NFL’s agreement with ends August 31, 2017, and there are no current research plans for the funds remaining from the original $30 million NFL commitment,” the NIH said in a statement. The relationship between the...

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Three Things to Know About North Korea’s Missile Tests (VIDEOS)

by Alex Gatopoulos – With advances in its long-range missile programme, here are three technical milestones and why they matter. Since Kim Jung-un’s ascendancy in December 2011, North Korea has accelerated its missile development programme, the tempo of tests increasing considerably from those under his father Kim Jung Il. After failures in 2016, North Korea has this year made bold advances in its missile programme. Kim Jong-un moved closer to make good on his threats to reduce the US “to ashes” with the July 28 launch of long-range intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), claiming that this flight test demonstrates the capability of the missiles to reach the US mainland. This test comes just weeks after Pyongyang tested what it claimed to be the country’s first ICBM. Immediately following the launch, US and South Korean forces conducted live-fire exercises and the US flew two supersonic B-1B jets over the Korean peninsula in a show of force. US ambassador to the UN stated that the US...

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On Electric Cars, the U.S. Is Stuck in the Slow Lane

by Oscar Reyes – While Europe races toward electric vehicles, U.S. automakers are actually trying to make cars less efficient. The French government recently announced a plan to ban sales of new gas-powered cars by 2040. Not to be outdone, the UK government is now rolling out a similar plan of its own. These plans sound shockingly radical, but in fact many analysts think those transitions will happen anyway. For instance, the Dutch bank ING recently predicted that all the cars sold in Europe will be electric by 2030. More conservative estimates put it at 2050. Either way, most experts now see this change on the horizon. Electric vehicles — or EVs — are already more efficient than their gas-powered counterparts, and could soon become cheaper too. High-end models already outperform conventional engines for speed and acceleration. Yet potential buyers will continue to be wary as long as the range of batteries remains small, and the network of...

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Researchers: Trump Tweets Reveal ‘Neurotic’ and ‘Unstable’ Leader

by Andrea Germanos – Newly published study looks at how language of Trump’s tweets compares with that of over 100 CEOs and entrepreneurs. What do the frequent tweets from Donald Trump say about his online personality? According to a team of international researchers, they indicate he’s an “emotionally unstable motivator.” The study was conducted before Trump took office, analyzing 3,200 tweets he issued by October 2016, and was led by Martin Obschonka from the Australian Center for Entrepreneurship Research at Queensland University of Technology in Australia, and Christian Fisch from Trier University in Germany. They also compared Trump’s tweets with those of over 100 CEOs and entrepreneurs including Google’s Eric Schmidt, HP’s Meg Whitman, Tesla’s Elon Musk, and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. “We looked at Twitter tweets and employed a new method that uses machine learning and other computer science methods to analyze characteristic language styles, contents, and patterns that together can...

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Scary Dairy: You Scream, I Scream… Monsanto Roundup Ice Cream

by Jessica Corbett – Traces of “probable human carcinogen” found in samples from ten Ben & Jerry’s flavors. Ten out of 11 samples of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream tested positive for glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, the nonprofit Organic Consumers Association revealed on Tuesday. Although the amount of glyphosate detected was below the safety limit set by the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as stricter European regulators, the discovery stands out from a slew of other food producers with Roundup-ridden products—from honey and baby food to Cheerios and Ritz Crackers—in part because of the ice cream maker’s branding. Ben & Jerry’s stated mission is to produce “the finest quality all natural ice cream…with a continued commitment to incorporating wholesome, natural ingredients, and promoting business practices that respect the Earth and the environment.” OCA’s international director Ronnie Cummins accused the company of “rampant greenwashing,” writing Tuesday: The proliferation of $90 billion worth of fraudulently labeled or advertised...

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A New Study Looked at the Brains of Former Football Players and Found CTE in Almost All of Them

by Adam Peck – Among NFL players, 99 percent of them were diagnosed with the disease. On Tuesday, the American Medical Association published its findings of the largest study of its kind into the link between football and CTE, the degenerative brain disease thought to be responsible for memory loss, bouts of uncontrollable anger and violence, and severe depression or suicide. CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, can only be diagnosed posthumously. More than 200 brains from deceased football players were donated for the study, including 111 from former NFL players. Of the 202 brains examined, 177 of them—or 88 percent—were diagnosed with CTE. Among the 111 NFL players examined, all but one of them exhibited the disease. Because the study relies on self-selecting donors rather than a random sample, the results are likely somewhat skewed. A family might be more willing to donate a relative’s brain to the study if he displayed symptoms, for instance. The...

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Prince Charles is Opening a ‘Holistic’ Clinic Where Patients Can Receive Care for Free

by Amanda Froelich – The Health & Wellbeing Centre will offer complementary medicine to patients for free. Prince Charles is giving back in a big way. According to the Daily Mail, Charles is creating a state-of-the-art clinic which will offer free ‘holistic’ care to patients who are referred by NHS doctors. Individuals battling everything from diabetes to cancer to obesity will be welcomed at the clinic, which is backed by the NHS and local authorities from the Health and Wellbeing Centre. The holistic health care center will be built on the grounds of Dumfries House, described as a “stately” home in Ayrshire. Through the Prince’s Charities Foundation, Dumfries House was “rescued” by Charles in 2007 when it was put on the market for £45 million by the 7th Marquess of Bute. His intention was to save it for the nation. In addition to offering complementary therapies, the center will offer fitness and education programs. At present, it is unknown...

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Leaked Draft of Rick Perry Grid Study Debunks His Attack on Renewable Energy

by Joe Romm – But will the Trump administration erase those findings from the final Energy Dept. study? Back in April, Energy Secretary Rick Perry ordered a study to back up his claims that solar and wind power were undermining the U.S. electric grid’s reliability. That’s why it was a surprise when Bloomberg reported Friday that a July draft leaked to them concluded essentially the opposite: “The power system is more reliable today due to better planning, market discipline, and better operating rules and standards.” The leaked draft was completed by Department of Energy (DOE) career staff, however, and thus subject to change by Perry and his team of Trump appointees. So the big question is whether the Trump administration will erase those findings in the final draft, the way they appear to be erasing so many other inconvenient truths. Indeed, a DOE spokeswoman told Bloomberg that “those statements as written are not in the current draft.”...

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Tesla Is Building The World’s Biggest Lithium-Ion Battery For Australia

by JULIE FIDLER – The battery system will use energy from a local wind farm. Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced July 7, 2017 that his company will use its giant battery, the Powerpack, to build a 100 megawatt (MW) lithium-ion battery system in South Australia. When it is completed, it will be the largest battery storage product in the world. The batteries will store energy produced by a local wind farm in Jamestown, South Australia. The battery system will have the ability to power tens of thousands of homes. Tesla wrote in a statement: “The Tesla Powerpack system will further transform the state’s movement towards renewable energy and see an advancement of a resilient and modern grid. Upon completion by December 2017, this system will be the largest lithium-ion storage project in the world and will provide enough power for more than 30,000 homes, approximately equal to the amount of...

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Three Things to Know About North Korea’s Missile Tests

by Alex Gatopoulos – With advances in its missile program and the July 4 test, here are three technical milestones and why they matter. Since Kim Jong-un’s ascendancy in December 2011, North Korea has accelerated its missile development programme, the tempo of tests increasing considerably from those under his father Kim Jong Il. After failures in 2016, North Korea has this year made genuine advances in its missile programme. On Tuesday, July 4, Independence Day in the United States, Pyongyang tested what it claimed was the country’s first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which Kim Jong-un called a “gift” to the US. This test is significant as the projected range of the missile puts North Korea firmly in the select group of countries that have produced an ICBM. With Kim Jong-un threatening to reduce the US “to ashes”, North Korea now has expanded the missile’s range to potentially hit targets in the US. Aside from the gradual improvements, here are three of North Korea’s recent technical milestones which stand out and...

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Melania Trump’s Anti-cyberbullying Initiative Looks Like a Bust

by Jack Jenkins – Plus, experts say any action from the White House would likely lack credibility. Less than a week before Donald Trump was elected president in last November, his wife Melania declared before a Pennsylvania crowd that one of her core projects as First Lady would be combating the scourge of cyberbullying. “We must find better ways to honor and support the basic goodness of our children, especially in social media,” she said, to raucous applause. “It will be one of the main focuses of my work if I’m privileged enough to become your First Lady.” But eight months later, cyberbullying experts say she has virtually nothing to show for it — and few believe she will be able to make good on her promise. As the Boston Globe’s Annie Linskey reported on Friday, anti-bullying advocates say they have yet to be contacted by the Trump administration, much less hear of any cohesive...

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U.S. Rejects Travel Visa for Afghan Teenage Girl Robotics Team

by Adrienne Mahsa Varkiani – “We want to show the world we can do it, we just need a chance.” The United States denied travel visas for six teenage girls from Afghanistan looking to attend an international robotics competition in Washington, D.C this month. The all-girl team from Herat, a city in western Afghanistan, applied for a one-week travel visa to attend the FIRST Global Challenge in mid-July. To interview for their visas, they had to travel about 500 miles to the U.S. embassy in Kabul. They made that trek a second time after their first application was rejected, but they were rejected yet again. Roya Mahboob, who founded the Citadel software company in Afghanistan and organized the team of girls, told Forbes that when the team heard their visa applications were rejected again, they cried all day. “It’s a very important message for our people,” she said. “Robotics is very, very new in Afghanistan.” The...

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Teens With No Engineering Experience Invent Solar Tent For Homeless, Win Grant From MIT

by Amanda Froelich – A group of twelve girls with no prior engineering experience developed a solar-powered tent for the homeless. Along the way, they learned the ins-and-outs of sewing, coding and 3D printing. Due to a flailing economy, homelessness is on the rise in cities such as Los Angeles. Fortunately, a new innovation developed by students at San Fernando High School may help those who are stranded on the streets — at least until a more permanent solution is presented. Bored Panda reports that with absolutely no experience, a group of young females invented a solar-powered tent that rolls up into a backpack. Together, the 12 females were recruited by DIY Girls, a non-profit organization that empowers young women from low-income families in LA to pursue fields in technology and engineering. Overseeing the project was executive director of DIY Girls, Evelyn Gomez. The girls primarily used YouTube videos and information found via Google searches to produce a...

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Energy Department Turns Off the Lights at Overseas Climate Office

The Office of International Climate and Technology worked on clean energy with other countries. As if withdrawing from the Paris Accords wasn’t enough, the Trump administration just went one better and closed an office dedicated to international cooperation on climate change and clean energy tech. The Office of International Climate and Clean Energy might have been small — all of its 11 employees have been given pink slips — but it had an important function. According to its still extant website, the office was “the focal point for international climate change and clean energy activities.” The site goes on to say that the office “also develops and implements international climate and clean energy initiatives consistent with administration policy objectives.” Secretary of Energy Rick Perry was at a premiere event, The Clean Energy Ministerial, when the president announced the decision to drop the Paris agreement. Brad Plumer has the full...

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How Conservative Propaganda Works in America: The Signal and the Noise

by David Akadjian – We’ve heard a lot about Russian meddling recently. What we don’t hear about is how more than 50 years of corporate special interest group propaganda fattened the U.S. up, priming our country for Russian influence on the 2016 election. Let’s think about conservative propaganda using a communications concept: signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). Signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) is a measurement used in communications to compare the level of desired signal to the level of background noise. In analog communications, such as AM/FM radio or analog television broadcasts, a high SNR ratio means that you will receive a signal with little static or interference. To enable effective communication, you want to maximize your SNR ratio—more signal, less noise. Signal-to-noise ratio (w/ apologies for my drawing skills) The conservative signal We often refer to Fox News as “Fox Noise” or “Faux Noise.” From a communications standpoint, this is a flawed analogy. Fox News is the signal, along with the other corporate...

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Earth to Trump: You Are On Your Own

by Lauren McCauley –  ‘We move on and we move forward, together’. The overwhelming global response to President Donald Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement was essentially, “Go jump in a lake”—or as one Germany tabloid succinctly phrased it in a widely circulated headline: J.K. Rowling  ✔@jk_rowling Very much enjoying the German press at the moment. “Earth to Trump…” 2:49 AM – 2 Jun 2017 Following Trump’s Thursday announcement, world leaders from China to Germany to the Marshall Islands and beyond promised to uphold the climate accord while citizens and civil society from across the globe vowed to “harness public outrage into meaningful on-the-ground action” to combat the crisis of climate change. German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters on Friday that European leaders “will band together to take more decisive action than ever to confront and successfully surmount major challenges to humanity such as climate...

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US Declares Success in Key Test of Missile Defence

But since $40bn system was declared ready for combat in 2004, only four of nine intercept attempts have been successful. The US military scored an important success in a test of its oft-criticised missile-defence programme, destroying a mock warhead over the Pacific Ocean with an interceptor that is key to protecting US territory from a North Korean attack. Vice Admiral Jim Syring, director of the Pentagon agency in charge of developing the missile-defence system, called the test result “an incredible accomplishment” and a critical milestone for a programme hampered by setbacks over the years. “This system is vitally important to the defence of our homeland, and this test demonstrates that we have a capable, credible deterrent against a very real threat,” Syring said in a statement announcing the test result. Despite the success, the $244m test didn’t confirm that under wartime conditions the US could intercept an intercontinental-range missile...

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