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The Lede: Govt Closed So Flying Bathtubs, At Least Today, Are Unregulated 

The Lede, Monday Jan. 22, 2018
By David Royse

Good morning.

SONG I’M LISTENING TO TODAY

THE LEDE STORY: 

Today started with many federal government employees taking an unwanted (and unpaid) holiday. The shutdown may halt some work on the CDC’s seasonal flu program during a worse-than-average year. As Popular Mechanics noted in this roundup of shutdown effects on science and tech, “If the CDC loses the ability to properly manage the outbreak, this year’s flu is likely to get even worse.”

I tried to go to the CDC website first thing this morning to see if there was a statement assuring me that they’d still be working on managing the flu outbreak, but I got a message telling me, essentially, the web guys aren’t working today. “During the government shutdown, only web sites supporting excepted functions will be updated,” it said.

The CBS affiliate in Dallas-Fort Worth, however, did check with the CDC, and reported the agency will continue to track the flu, but will be on limited staffing. 

Motherboard also notes that government shutdowns are particularly tough on science and disease trackers,

The other Lede story: THE FUTURE IS COMING

How we’ll live soon may be on display in Seattle today as Amazon opens its new cashless, debit card-less, checkout line-less store.

NEW YORK TIMES: INSIDE AMAZON GO, THE STORE OF THE FUTURE
The technology inside Amazon’s new convenience store, opening Monday in downtown Seattle, enables a shopping experience like no other — including no checkout lines.

ONE THING YOU PROBABLY HAVEN’T SEEN
I’ve reported here at LedeTree about the effort by Uber and Bell Helicopters and others to create flying cars – including the stunning news that Uber plans to be testing them in Texas within two years.

But is it possible that a couple of DIYer brothers in Germany will beat them to it by, essentially, attaching a bathtub to a heavy-duty drone. YOU HAVE TO SEE THIS – DUDE FLIES FROM HIS HOUSE TO PICK UP SOME BAKED GOODS IN HIS BATHTUB!

POLICY: THE RAMIFICATIONS OF WHAT’S NEW

DANGER DRONES?

Congress and other policy makers in Washington are increasingly worried about the proliferation of privately-operated drones in America’s skies.

“It’s only a matter of time till some jerk operating one of these things illegally brings down an airplane,” U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio told The Hill in an interview.

And, presumably he hasn’t even heard yet about guys flying around in their bathtubs.

People who are operating drones for commercial purposes must be licensed – though there’s concerned that it’s pretty easy to get licensed. And recreational drone users aren’t regulated.

READ The story from The Hill

HEALTH

ULTRASOUND. NOW, NOT JUST FOR OBSTETRICIANS AND SUB HUNTERS

The most interesting health and medical break through story this morning might be in Wired, which reports on several new uses for ultrasound technology, which most of us know only as a device for seeing babies in the womb, or finding submarines a hundred years ago.

“Researchers are fitting people’s heads with ultrasound-emitting helmets to treat tremors and Alzheimer’s. They’re using it to remotely activate cancer-fighting immune cells. Startups are designing swallowable capsules and ultrasonically vibrating enemas to shoot drugs into the bloodstream. One company is even using the shockwaves to heal wounds…..

READ The Wired story

WHAT ELSE IS NEW?

Other Interesting Technology News:

Tallahassee Wants to do a better Job Marketing Itself as a Magnetic Tech Cluster

China is on the Verge of Becoming a Scientific and Technical Superpower

Study: The More Time Teens Spent Online, the Less Happy They Were

LEARNING: NEWS FROM THE SCHOOLS

UNIVERSITY FUNDING FROM STATES GROWING ONLY SLIGHTLY

States’ financial support for higher education grew only slightly between the 2017 and 2018 fiscal years, with more than a third of states decreasing their funding and another dozen increasing it only slightly, according to an annual survey released today. THE STORY FROM INSIDER HIGHER ED

CHANGING THE WAY COLLEGES IDENTIFY POTENTIAL STUDENTS

Inside Higher Ed also has an interesting story this morning about the beginnings of a chance in the way colleges identify students who are qualified to be admitted. It’s a move in some places to a broader “performance assessment” that “frequently are based on synthesis of skills, rather than showing some level of competency in particular academic subjects. And these assessments typically mix individual performance with group work.” THE STORY FROM INSIDE HIGHER ED

MICROSOFT ROLLS OUT NEW LOW-COST PCS AIMED AT SCHOOLS

These babies are priced to move to schools looking to provide students with the key tools of modern life. And of the most interest in households with kids around six to 10: “Microsoft also is adding chemistry curriculum to its popular Minecraft: Education Edition. The new track adds chemical compounds and other chemistry-based learning to the educational game.” THE STORY AT TECHCRUNCH

VIRGINIA SENATE KILLS BILL ON IN-STATE TUITION FOR DACA STUDENTS

A Virginia Senate committee last week “defeated a bill that would have given in-state tuition rates to beneficiaries of an Obama-era program that shields the children of undocumented immigrants from deportation.” RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH

What’s New In the Business World: 

Orlando, Snubbed by Amazon, Wants Apple Expansion

Orlando Skyline and Lake EolaThe Orlando Economic Partnership will pursue the consumer tech icon, which has plans to expand in the U.S. and add a new corporate campus. Orlando Sentinel

Meanwhile, also in the Orlando Sentinel: The year will be marked by the Florida coming-out party of Jeff Bezos’ rocket company Blue Origin, which recently completed a massive 750,000-square-foot manufacturing plant near Kennedy Space Center. That facility is expected to employ 300 workers during its first few years of operation. Read the Sentinel story

But that’s only if the government shutdown is. Because of the shutdown, the Falcon Rocket is stuck on the launchpad. The Verge

An electric vehicle investment fund heats up. Benzinga

What’s New in the Cannabis World?

WITH NO BUDGET BILL IN PLACE, DOJ COULD AGAIN SPEND MONEY TO PROSECUTE MED MARIJUANA USERS

With Congress unable to pass an appropriations bill Friday, a key protection for medical marijuana patients expired. The Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment was part of the budget law that expired Friday night, leading the government to shut down until a new bill can be passed. The amendment, added to the annual appropriations bill in 2014, specifically prohibits the U.S. Department of Justice from spending federal money on going after cannabis users who are in legal medical marijuana programs in the 29 states that now allow it.

CATCH THIS

Have you ever heard the joke about the lady with a glass eye who was in a restaurant and had a sneezing fit? When she sneezed, her artificial eye came out and flew across the room. A guy at the next table caught it in mid-air and returned it to her. Embarrassed, the lady thanked him and then invited him to join her for dinner, her treat, to further thank him. Him: “Do you often buy dinner for strangers?” Her: “No, you just happened to catch my eye.”

Here’s stories that caught my eye in the last couple days:

NYT: Fed up with drug companies, hospitals start their own

NYT: Bitcoin Mining Uses an Incredible Amount of Electricity

And finally, today in eye-catching news: if you think fake news is all political, you’re wrong. There’s a particularly awful brand of fake news practiced by some British newspapers – drumming up fear over asteroids that we know won’t hit us – including one that will be passing by soon. NASA says it’s been tracking this particular rock for more than a decade and there’s no chance it hits Earth.

Washington Post: The Big Scary Asteroid that’s NOT Going to Hit Earth

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About David Royse

David Royse
David Royse is the Editor-in-Chief of Ledetree.com. He has been a professional journalist for more than 20 years, including stints with The Associated Press and The News Service of Florida. He enjoys writing about health and medical science, and hopeful stories about scientific breakthroughs and new technology.

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