Monthly Archives: May 2018

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EPA boots reporters from meeting on chemicals called a PR disaster

Enlarge / US EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. (credit: Gage Skidmore / Flickr)

Scott Pruitt’s tenure as head of the US’ Environmental Protection Agency has often been bogged down in scandals involving questionable spending and the unjustifiable rollback of regulations.

But the latest controversy is one the agency’s own making. This morning, Pruitt was speaking at a workshop convened to discuss the handling of specific chemical contaminants that have been found in water supplies. The EPA was already under fire for what appeared to be an attempt to stall a report that suggests these chemicals were more toxic than previously thought, so the workshop provided an opportunity to show that the agency took the risks seriously. Instead, the EPA started a brand-new controversy by specifically excluding CNN and the AP from Pruitt’s speech and by having security physically escort a reporter out of the building.

Contamination

The controversy focuses on a large class of chemicals that are variations of perfluorooctanoic acid. This is a chain of eight carbon atoms, seven of which have fluorine atoms attached to them; the eighth is linked to two oxygen atoms, typical of an organic acid. There are many variations of perfluorooctanoic acid that can be made by substituting for various fluorines, and many of these variants have found uses in the production of everything from non-stick cooking to fire-fighting foams.

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Comment Of The Day: Ford People Flinger Edition

I must go, my people need me.

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MIT teaches self-driving cars to change lanes like real drivers

Autonomous vehicles really don't know how to switch lanes as well as people do. They tend to rely on either relatively static data models that are difficult to study in the thick of traffic, or are basic enough that the car might only change lanes wh…

Bear Rips Car Apart Because That’s What Bears Do When People Don’t Lock Their Cars

People who live near bears also have a bad habit of not locking cars, somehow managing to forget that bears can open door handles, get stuck inside of cars, then, angry and confused, destroy said cars. Perhaps this is not surprising for people who choose to live near confused bears that can open car doors.

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Netflix and other online video are killing cable in customer satisfaction

(credit: Getty Images | amesy)

TV watchers are far more satisfied with streaming video services than cable or satellite TV systems, a new survey has found. That isn’t much of an accomplishment, as cable and satellite TV providers were already among the most-hated companies in the US and saw their customer-satisfaction scores sink even lower in the latest survey.

The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) included video streaming in its annual telecom report for the first time. Streaming video services averaged a score of 75 on the ACSI’s 100-point scale, better than all other telecom sectors and well ahead of the broadband and pay-TV industry scores of 62.

“Customer satisfaction with subscription television service falls 3.1 percent to an ACSI score of 62, an 11-year low as the industry faces a seismic shift of subscribers defecting to lower-cost online video streaming services,” the report said. “In response, many cable and telecom companies are offering new Internet TV streaming in addition to legacy pay TV, but cord cutting continues.”

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Special Olympics and Microsoft will host a ‘Forza 7’ tournament

This summer's Special Olympics USA Games will host a competition that has nothing to do with sprinting around a track, stretching to touch the wall of a pool or bowling a turkey. For the first time, there's an eSports event at the Games, with eight t…

“Like slavery”: Rehab patients forced into unpaid labor to cover “treatment”

Enlarge / A heroin addict at a rehab house. (credit: Getty | AFP)

If you caught John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight this past Sunday, you saw a lengthy segment detailing the atrocities of the rehabilitation industry. As Oliver pointed out, it’s largely an unregulated, unstandardized market rife with bad actors, scams, and bunkum that offers little help to patients desperate to recover from deadly addictions. With some charging tens of thousands of dollars for a month of treatment, rehab facilities often rely on therapies with little evidence of efficacy—such as petting horses—and report largely made-up percentages for their success rates.

Even experts in the field find themselves at a loss for how to identify effective, quality facilities. The result is that many patients pay large sums only to go on to struggle with or die from their condition. And these devastating consequences are only heightened by the country’s current epidemic of opioid addiction.

While Oliver gave a skillful overview of some of the rampant problems, an ongoing investigation by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting picked out a particularly egregious case this week—Recovery Connections Community, a rehabilitation program outside of Ashville, North Carolina.

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We Are So Mad The 2018 Ford Fiesta ST Has Launch Control

Hey, so, you know how the 2018 Ford Fiesta ST (THAT WE WON’T GET HERE) has launch control? Do you know how freaking awesome that is? Do you know how mad I am?

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Consumer Reports will give Tesla’s Model 3 another shot after brake fix

After Consumer Reports once again slammed a Tesla vehicle — this time, the automaker's eagerly-anticipated Model 3 — the publication said it will retest the car following a software update. The car company's CEO Elon Musk promised a firmware revisi…

Here Are Five Wonderful Cars At The Carlisle Import And Performance Car Nationals

I have a new appreciation for the Carlisle Import and Performance Car Nationals, a combo show for vintage import cars and modern tuner cars all sharing the same fairground in Pennsylvania. Expect to see a V8-swapped Mazda RX-7 with a rear wing as big as a tea table next to a classic Land Rover and an actual tea table.…

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