United States

The U.S. may soon have the world’s oldest nuclear power plants

Bonnie Rippingille looked out at the wisps of steam curling from the Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant across Biscayne Bay with a sense of dread. In December federal regulators approved Florida Power & Light Co.’s request to let the facility’s twin nuclear reactions remain in operation for another 20 years beyond the end of their current licenses. By that point they’ll be 80, making them the oldest reactors in operation anywhere in the world. “That’s too old,” said Rippingille, a lawyer and retired Miami-Dade County judge who was wearing a blue print shirt with white sea turtles on it. “They weren’t designed for this purpose.” With backing from the Trump administration, utilities across the nation are preparing to follow suit, seeking permission to extend the life of reactors ...

The $95 billion centerpiece of the trade deal is already in doubt

China has pledged to buy almost $95 billion worth of additional U.S. commodities as part of a phase one trade deal. The market is not so sure. Prices fell for most raw materials that are part of the agreement. The Bloomberg Commodity Index added 0.1% after dropping 0.4% on Wednesday as the agreement was announced. Oil and gas rallied Thursday, but soybeans, cotton and corn kept falling. Traders said evidence of increases in shipments is needed for market gains. The pessimism was in contrast to comments at the White House by President Donald Trump, who said U.S. energy producers and farmers would benefit. As Trump faces re-election later this year, he’s under pressure to appeal to voters in the American farm belt, where the economy has been roiled by the long-running trade war. But whi...

Alphabet-backed primary care startup One Medical files to go public

One Medical, a San Francisco-based primary care startup with tech-infused, concierge services filed for an IPO with the Securities and Exchange Commission today. Internal medicine doctor Tom Lee founded the startup, now valued at well-over $1 billion dollars, in 2007. Lee exited his company in 2017, leaving it in the hands of former UnitedHealth group executive Amir Rubin. The startup currently operates 72 health clinics in nine major cities throughout the U.S., with three more markets expected to open in 2020 and has raised just over $500 in venture capital from it’s biggest investor, the Carlyle Group (which owns just over a quarter of shares), Alphabet’s GV, J.P. Morgan and others. Google also incorporates One Medical into its campuses and accounts for about 10% of the compa...

Pachama launches to support global reforestation through carbon markets

The world’s forests are ablaze, under threat from illegal logging and disappearing due to the less dramatic environmental degradation wrought by drought and other signs of climate change. It’s part of the negative feedback loop that seems to be accelerating climate change as greenhouse gases accumulate in the atmosphere, but one startup company is trying to facilitate reforestation by supporting carbon offsets that specifically target the world’s flora. Pachama has raised $4.1 million to create a marketplace where companies can support carbon offset projects. The company is backed by some big names in tech investment, like former Uber executive Ryan Graves, through his private investment firm, Saltwater, and Chris Sacca, a prominent early investor in Uber, through his Low...

Made in China: Tesla Model 3 deliveries to Chinese customers to begin January 7

The first deliveries of Tesla Model 3 sedans made in China will begin January 7, one year after the U.S. automaker began construction on its first factory outside the United States. The deliveries to customers — which Reuters was first to report based on confirmation from a Tesla representative — is a milestone for Tesla as it tries to carve out market share in the world’s biggest auto market, as well as lessen the financial pain caused by tariffs. Deliveries to customers will occur at the Shanghai factory. Earlier this week, more than a dozen Tesla employees took delivery of the Model 3. “We believe China could become the biggest market for Model 3,” the company said in its third-quarter earnings report. Producing vehicles in China for Chinese customers allows Tesla to bypass tariff...

Ex-Google policy chief dumps on the tech giant for dodging human rights

Google’s ex-head of international relations, Ross LaJeunesse — who clocked up more than a decade working government and policy-related roles for the tech giant before departing last year — has become the latest (former) Googler to lay into the company for falling short of its erstwhile “don’t be evil” corporate motto. Worth noting right off the bat: LaJeunesse is making his own pitch to be elected as a U.S. senator for the Democrats in Maine, where he’s pitting himself against the sitting Republican, Susan Collins. So this lengthy blog post, in which he sets out reasons for joining (“making the world better and more equal”) and — at long last — exiting Google does look like an exercise in New Year reputation “exfoliati...

China nears completion of its GPS competitor, increasing the potential for Internet balkanization

On Friday, China announced that it would complete its competitor to the U.S.-operated global positioning system network by the first half of next year, increasing the pace of its decoupling from U.S. technologies. China’s Beidou network of satellites — named after the “Big Dipper” constellation — will be the first service to compete with the U.S. Air Force’s global positioning system and already has a potentially massive user base since over 70% of Chinese smartphones are now ready to use its positioning services, according to a report in the Nikkei Asian Review. The Beidou network is integral to China’s longterm plans to dominate the next generation of telecommunications services and — coupled with China’s advances in fifth-generation ...

Max Q: Launches from SpaceX, Boeing and the ESA

Max Q is a new weekly newsletter all about space. Sign up here to receive it weekly on Sundays in your inbox. Typically, the holiday season is a slow one in the tech industry — but space tech is different, and this past week saw a flurry of activity, including one of the most important rocket launches of the year. Just about every significant new space company got in on the action during the past seven days, either with actual spacecraft launches, or with big announcements. And everything that went down sets up 2020 to be even crazier. Boeing’s big year-end mission doesn’t go as planned Boeing managed to get a crucial test launch in for its commercial crew program — which is NASA’s effort to get U.S. astronauts launching from U.S. soil once again. Boeing launc...

Boeing’s Starliner crew spacecraft nails desert landing, a first for a U.S.-made, human-rated capsule

The Boeing Starliner CST-100 spacecraft, which will be one of the first new human-rated spacecraft to carry astronauts from the U.S. to space, has successfully returned from orbit and landed at its target landing site in White Sands, New Mexico. The capsule touched down at 7:58 AM EST, right on time for the mission’s planned schedule as detailed at a news conference on Saturday. Starliner didn’t have anyone on board, but was instead on its first test flight intended to launch, dock with the International Space Station and then return to Earth. The uncrewed flight didn’t go exactly as planned, however – that docking with the ISS never happened because of an error with the mission timer on board the spacecraft, which caused the Starliner to burn too much fuel during an earl...

Healthcare startup Lyfebin exposed medical images

Healthcare startup Lyfebin exposed thousands of medical imaging files, such as X-rays, MRI scans and ultrasounds. The Los Angeles-based healthcare startup allows doctors and medical staff to store medical images in its “secure environment,” per its website, allowing patients and doctors access from anywhere. But the files were found stored in an unprotected Amazon Web Services (AWS) storage bucket, without a password, allowing anyone who knew the easy-to-guess web address access to the data. The files were dated between September 2018 to October 2019. After we reached out to warn of the security lapse, Lyfebin secured the data. The storage bucket contained more than 93,000 files — many appeared to be duplicates — containing medical scans. The files were stored in the DICOM form...

Snagging Pearson’s AR assets and $1 million in cash, GIGXR is ready for its close up

Meet GIGXR, the new owner of all of the assets of Pearson Immersive Learning Group, a subsidiary of the education and media publishing giant, Pearson. Formed specifically to roll up Pearson’s virtual and augmented reality assets, GIGXR is helmed by David King Lassman, the founder of streaming media company Vyclone and the Southern Californian venture capital firm White Hart Ventures. The serial entrepreneur had been in discussions with Pearson for the better part of a year to acquire the company’s VR and AR assets. Initially established as part of a collaboration with Microsoft back in 2014 when the company first began work on its Hololens, the media giant is spinning out the team as it explores the broader sale of certain assets. The group has intellectual property for virtual...

Nigeria’s Rensource raises $20M to power African markets by solar

Nigerian startup Rensource Energy has raised a $20 million Series A round co-led by CRE Venture Capital and the Omidyar network. The renewable energy company builds and operates solar powered micro-utilities that provide electricity to commercial community structures, such as open-air trading bazaars. Launched in 2016, the startup has shifted its operating strategy. “We’ve pivoted away from a residential focus…and we’re building much larger systems to become essentially the utility for these large urban markets we have a lot of in Nigeria,” Rensource co-founder Ademola Adesina told TechCrunch. The company has a partnership with German manufacturer BOS AG, with whom its designs specialized panels for it use case. Rensource also has developer teams in Nigeria an...

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