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Warmer temperatures free tropical soils from carbon dioxide

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Warmer temperatures free tropical soils from carbon dioxide

The input and output of CO2 into the soil were largely balanced before humanity began to increase emissions. Deadwood and decaying leaves released gasses were balanced by microorganisms that feed on them.

But climate change is changing this balance now, scientists are warning.

“Carbon retained in tropical soils is more vulnerable than historically understood to warming,” Lead Author Andrew Nottingham, an Edinburgh University academic, told AFP. “A modest rise in breathing in tropical forest soils may have a huge effect on atmospheric CO2 concentrations with global warming implications.”

Previous studies have shown that higher temperatures that release locked carbon into colder or frozen soils, such as the Arctic tundra. A 2016 study predicted that the soils could emit as much CO2 as the United States by 2050, but the report also did not look at tropical soils.

Carbon was thought to be less vulnerable to climate change losses in tropical soils than soil carbon in higher latitudes, however experimental evidence was lacking. In the current research, Nottingham and his team have reported evidence that tropical-forest soils could be more fragile than originally expected to rise, particularly if they tend to increase in temperatures.

The authors put heat rods around the perimeter of barren land on Barro Colorado Island, Panama, in a tropical climate, and for two years raised the soil profile temperature by 4oC. They measured the CO2 efflux regularly with a set of chambers on the ground. Their results showed an unexpected 55% increase in CO2 emissions from soil. In an effort to understand growth, they excluded the roots of the soil below the chambers, and realized that most extra CO2 was due to a greater than expected increase in soil microbes’ respiration.

Extrapolating the results , the researchers estimated that the emission in the atmosphere of 65 billion tons of carbon, equivalent to approximately 240 billion tons of CO2, if all the world’s tropical soils were warmed up by 4o C for two years prior to 2100.

“The current annual emissions from human sources are more than six times higher. This could be an underestimation because we could see substantial continuing declines over two years in our trial, “Nottingham said, noting that the analysis takes no account of deeper carbon stocks under two meters.

The world’s average temperature is just over one degree Celsius higher than pre-industrial. This was sufficient to increase the frequency of droughts, heat waves and superstorms, and other climatic phenomena. The temperature on the land alone rose by 2oC, doubling the world average.

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A nick to Apple’s profits could be a windfall for app developers

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A nick to Apple’s profits could be a windfall for app developers

By Jack Nicas and Kellen Browning, The New York Times Company

Apple has taken to calling its iPhone App Store an “economic miracle,” and it has pointed to developers like Zach Shakked as proof.

Shakked created an iPhone app that helps companies find trending hashtags on social media. Over the past 12 months, his sales have topped $5 million.

But one of Shakked’s largest expenses is paying a cut to the world’s richest company. In his case, Apple took nearly $1.5 million — its fee for letting him run his app on its devices.

Now, Shakked has hope that he could soon keep at least some of that money. On Friday, a federal judge ordered Apple to allow developers to steer their customers off their iPhone apps to pay for their goods or services, which Apple had banned. That is big news for developers like Shakked, because sales completed outside Apple’s payment systems are not subject to its commission of up to 30%.

“It finally feels like the small guys got a win,” Shakked, 25, said. “There’s a sense of justice.”

The ruling in Apple’s yearlong legal fight with Epic Games, maker of the popular video game Fortnite, set off celebrations among app developers. From one-person startups to Fortune 500 companies, they have long complained about paying hefty cuts of their businesses to Apple.

The impact of the decision will be most felt by the smallest developers like Shakked. He said the change could save him hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, which would allow him to hire more employees.

“It’s a very big deal,” said Denys Zhadanov, a board member at Readdle, which makes five productivity apps for tasks like email that together have been downloaded roughly 175 million times. The change could save his company millions of dollars each year, he said.

The court fight has often been framed as a battle between industry heavyweights: Apple, which is worth $2.5 trillion, versus Epic, a far smaller company but still one of the few app makers capable of taking on the Silicon Valley titan.

Friday’s verdict is not expected to be a big hit to Apple’s bottom line. In fact, the company declared victory, since Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, of U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, ruled that Epic had failed to prove that Apple had a monopoly in the mobile gaming market — which would have had a much more serious consequence.

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King: Cash is disappearing and the unbanked are stranded

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King: Cash is disappearing and the unbanked are stranded

An assuring legend is printed on U.S. bills: “This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private.” I have always been glad to know that Uncle Sam is there for me.

But for 14.1 million American adults, that statement is a lie because bills are being pushed aside by bank cards, credit cards and online payment systems like PayPal. The stranded are the unbanked, the unplasticized.

The unbanked aren’t axiomatically the homeless, the undocumented immigrants or those who have fallen through the cracks. They are also people with jobs who pay their taxes, and many of whom live exemplary lives but don’t have bank accounts.

That may be because they don’t trust banks or — and this is a big factor for the working poor who are unbanked — they feel having a bank account is too expensive. They have been charged disproportionate fees for bouncing a check, for late payments or for any of the other ways banks go after fees to enhance their earnings, like the high ones for using an ATM.

However, if you choose to keep your money under the mattress, you elect to be the financial equivalent of undocumented. Essentially, you are immobilized.

All this came to mind while I was checking in online for a recent United Airlines flight. I learned that I would need to save a form of payment for boxed meals and snacks before I boarded because I wouldn’t be able to use credit cards while in flight. United maintains, “We are working to make your trip more enjoyable while maintaining a safer and more touchless travel experience.” In the time of COVID-19, that’s fine with me. But the corollary is they don’t take cash — no credit card, no snack.

Most airport eateries are going to ordering by computer — again, no credit card, no food. I went to one of those wired restaurants at Newark Liberty International and wondered about the unbanked: How would they feed a child if they didn’t know cash wasn’t accepted?

For the unbanked, travel is nearly impossible. First, you would have to go to the airport and buy your ticket with cash. But would they take it? Airline offices are no longer scattered about, and most travel agencies are now virtual. To get to and from the airport, you may have to take an expensive taxi — if one can be found, as you won’t be riding with Uber or Lyft.

Want to stay in a hotel when you arrive at your destination? You won’t have a reservation because you can’t make one without a credit card. Then you must beg the hotel to let you stay.

Once in San Francisco, I had to pay cash for a hotel room because I had lost my wallet. They gave me a room (I was in their guest file because I had stayed there on a previous trip); took a cash deposit for the room, which my office had sent through Western Union; and instructed me not to charge any items to it, not a drink, a meal or a phone call.

Who would have thought that your freedom was linked to a small, plastic card?

The road from being unbanked to being banked is littered with obstacles and it takes years to build credit for, say, a new car or a mortgage. The person who has no bank account has no credit history — and that means has little official existence.

There are hidden costs for being unbanked. Your paycheck will have to be cashed somewhere and check-cashing services, like payday lenders, charge fees that can be as high as 3% of the check.

The burden of being unbanked is limitless.


Llewellyn King is executive producer and host of “White House Chronicle” on PBS. This column provided by InsideSources.

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Governor Hochul signs of on “Less Is More” legislation

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Governor Hochul signs of on “Less Is More” legislation

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Governor Kathy Hochul signed off on the “Less Is More” Act in New York City this morning. The legislation aims to reduce the number of people who are behind bars due to “technical” parole violations. 

“Today we’re taking on an aspect of our criminal justice system that’s too often overlooked. The antiquated system of the parole system,” Hochul said.

Supporters say too many New Yorkers are incarcerated for “technical” parole violations like consuming alcohol or missing a curfew, and that this will change that. It will also reward those who don’t violate conditions of supervision with “earned time credits.”

“It’s a bill that now incentivizes success and what we’ve done for I think far too long in our state is work with a punishment model,” said All of Us Community Action Group Co-Founder Shawn Johnson.

The bill was carried in the Senate by now Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin. “When you look at how we incarcerate in New York State, I believe we incarcerate way beyond the need for public safety and a lot of it is fear-driven and based in old models and tactics,” Benjamin said.

Meanwhile, in a statement, Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt who voted against the bill said, “Under One-Party Rule, violent crime has been on the rise across the state. It began with Democrats’ so-called “bail reform” in 2019 – and it will undoubtedly become worse with this new law signed today.”

The bill takes effect in March of 2022. The Governor also announced today that almost 200 people serving time at Rikers Island for “technical” parole violations will be released. 

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Recovery loans available to small businesses hurt by Glenwood Canyon disaster

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Recovery loans available to small businesses hurt by Glenwood Canyon disaster

Businesses hurt by natural disasters and the subsequent closures of Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon are eligible to apply for disaster relief loans.

Gov. Jared Polis, the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, and the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness announced the loans Friday in a news release.

The governor’s Aug. 3 disaster declaration for the area prompted availability of the loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program.

“The closure resulted in loss (of) revenues between 50% and 75% for hundreds of small-town businesses; and reduced outdoor recreation business due to the closure of Glenwood Canyon and resultant loss of access to portions of the Colorado River,” Polis said in a Sept. 10 letter to the SBA.

The loans are for businesses in Garfield, Eagle, Mesa, Pitkin, Rio Blanco and Routt counties that have suffered because of flooding, mudslides, rockslides and the summer traffic closures through Glenwood Canyon.

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Dear Abby: Couple’s communication lines are crossed

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Dear Abby: Social skills are ‘rusty’ after pandemic lockdown

Dear Abby: I love my wife very much, but we are, unfortunately, having a communication/interpretation issue. She is inquisitive and asks a lot of questions. I become defensive when I’m questioned. Sometimes I feel it shows a lack of confidence or trust in me. My wife says I am being too sensitive.

There are times when I infer a negative tone where there is none, and others when I believe my perception is spot-on. Sometimes, I suspect she’s unwilling to accept any answer that does not match her own thinking. She comes from a family where correcting each other, even over the smallest thing, is common. She’s an educator, so in some ways, it’s part of her job.

My wife seems unable to use alternative phrasing that is less likely to trigger a defensive response. When we have conflict over this, it seems I am always the one who has to give ground. When I try to explain my feelings, it only makes things worse. When I choose to be more assertive, it results in more escalation. I am blessed with a spouse who is independent, strong-minded and outspoken. How can I develop a thicker skin so I won’t feel like I am second-guessed at every turn? When should I speak up?

— Misunderstood in Texas

Dear Misunderstood: NOW would be a good time to speak up. When you do, tell your wife — the educator — that you feel second-guessed at every turn, and it’s time to enlist the help of a licensed marriage and family therapist so you two can improve your communication skills. If she’s willing, it could be helpful for your marriage. If she isn’t, then go without her to help you figure out whether you really are “too sensitive.”

Dear Abby: My best friend, whom I’ve known most of my life, has a 7-year-old grandson. The boy, “Cody,” is spoiled, rude and makes obnoxious comments to adults. They’ll make plans to visit us on a weekend evening when my wife and I want to chill out. While they are here, Cody gets loaded up on sugar, snoops through rooms and picks up breakable objects while watching us to see our reaction. He also does calisthenics and runs around while he’s here. He makes snotty comments to us that my friend encourages and thinks are funny. As much as I love my friend, how do I tell him that his grandson is no longer welcome?

— In a Conundrum

Dear In a Conundrum: Has it occurred to you that Cody may have problems more serious than a sugar buzz? The behavior you describe can be symptoms of ADHD and/or learning disabilities. If Cody hasn’t been evaluated by a medical professional, he should be. If you truly love this friend, suggest it and tell him why. If he ends your relationship because of it, you will no longer be subjected to Cody’s unfortunate behavior. On the other hand, if my concern is on target, you could change that boy’s life for the better, because he doesn’t act out only at your house.


Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at DearAbby.com.

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Upstate class disruption caused by social media threat during rally over masking

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Upstate class disruption caused by social media threat during rally over masking

GRANADA, N.Y. (WROC) — The Gananda Central School District sent students home early during a protest or rally outside one of its schools on Wednesday. On Thursday, district officials said a digital threat was to blame.

The school says that someone planning to attend the rally made a social media threat that was intercepted by law enforcement. The district reportedly was not planning an early dismissal, said Superintendent Dr. Shawn Van Scoy, but was forced to take the threat seriously due to “the ever-changing circumstances we continually find ourselves in.”

The protest was organized by the Wayne County Chapter of Moms For Liberty, after a parent, Laine Mulye, was accused of fighting with the district employee. According to Macedon Police, Mulye assaulted a bus monitor during an intense argument over her son trying to get on the bus without a mask, despite district policy. Mulye allegedly encouraged her son to punch the bus monitor during the altercation.

Mulye has been charged with harassment in the second degree and endangering the welfare of a child.

Check out the full statement from the district:

Yesterday, on Wednesday, September 15, 2021, the school day was disrupted when a social media threat was intercepted by law enforcement from an individual that was planning to attend a rally in the community for the support of Autism Awareness. Law Enforcement and the District received this information midday which led to a complete change in plans. In an effort to maintain our student and staff safety, we made the decision to release all students early ahead of the protest.

“As I have stated in the past, the safety of our students and staff is our number one priority,” states Superintendent Dr. Shawn Van Scoy. “I want to thank the quick actions of our local law enforcement, our staff, and our parents yesterday. We were not planning an early dismissal, however, it was the best option we had under the ever changing circumstances we continually find ourselves in. Threats are not tolerated in any way, shape, or form.”

Students returned to classes at all schools as usual on Thursday, September 16, 2021.

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Smart glasses made Google look dumb. Now Facebook is giving them a try.

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Smart glasses made Google look dumb. Now Facebook is giving them a try.

By Mike Isaac, The New York Times Company

SAN FRANCISCO — On Saturday, after a 3-mile hike through the Presidio, I stood in a throng of tourists looking at the Golden Gate Bridge. As the crowd snapped photos of the landmark, I decided to join in.

But instead of reaching into my pocket for my iPhone, I tapped the side of my Ray-Ban sunglasses until I heard the click of a shutter. Later, I downloaded the photos that my sunglasses had just taken to my phone.

The process was instant, simple, unobtrusive — and it was powered by Facebook, which has teamed up with Ray-Ban. Their new line of eyewear, called Ray-Ban Stories and unveiled Thursday, can take photos, record video, answer phone calls and play music and podcasts.

It all made me feel that I was being dragged into some inevitable future dreamed up by people much more techie than me, one in which the seams between the real world and the technology that supports it had all but vanished.

For years, Silicon Valley has chased a vision similar to that of a William Gibson novel, where sensors and cameras are woven into the everyday lives and clothes of billions of people. Yet the tech companies that have pursued these ideas have often failed to achieve them, as people have shunned wearable computers — especially on their faces.

Remember Google Glass, the smart glasses that Google co-founder Sergey Brin introduced while jumping out of an airplane? That project foundered, with bars in San Francisco at one point barring Glass-wearers — also pejoratively known as “Glassholes” — from entry. Later came Snap’s Spectacles, smart glasses that focused more on fashion and the novelty of recording 10-second video clips. That product, too, never really broke through.

Now Facebook is aiming to usher in an era when people grow more comfortable sharing their lives digitally, beginning with what is in front of their faces.

“We asked ourselves, how do we build a product that helps people actually be in the moment they’re in?” Andrew Bosworth, head of Facebook Reality Labs, said in an interview. “Isn’t that better than having to take out your phone and hold it in front of your face every time you want to capture a moment?”

Bosworth rejected claims that Facebook was picking up where others had left off. “This product has not been tried before because we’ve never had a design like this before,” he said, adding that Facebook and Ray-Ban were focused more on the fashion of eyewear than the tech inside the frames.

“Eyewear is a very specific category that changes the way you look,” said Rocco Basilico, chief wearables officer at Luxottica, which owns Ray-Ban and wants to expand into the wearables market. “We started this product from the design, and we refused to compromise on that design.”

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Grasso’s Garage: Jeep Wrangler plugs it in with the 4XE

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Grasso’s Garage: Jeep Wrangler plugs it in with the 4XE

In the world of rapidly changing vehicles, consumers continue to explore all options, but when it comes to a hybrid or electric vehicle, ears start to perk as interest grows. In Grasso’s Garage, we recognize this change and look forward to the idea of an American engineered plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. Well, that time has come and Jeep takes the most recognized vehicle in America and plugs it in.

Just in case you were unsure what model we were talking about, it’s the Wrangler of course, but this time, the Wrangler 4XE. Loaded in Sahara trim and a black sunrider soft top, we had to enjoy the fall-like weather and throw the doors off and cruise around town like a real owner would. Painted in Firecracker Red, this 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo PHEV engine was a real delight to drive. Coming in with 25 miles of pure electric power, the Wrangler 4XE really hits the fuel mileage category nicely increasing our weekly tester to 27.2 mpge.

Black leather seats, UConnect infotainment, regenerative charging, what more could you ask for? With the 4XE stripped, I folded the roof back and off a group of friends and I went to an off-road haven in upstate New York. With over 16 miles of trails and total seclusion with no cell phone service or GPS mapping, there was no worry in my mind that the Jeep 4XE wouldn’t live up to the task and it did it so well. With the electric system taking over in most places as speeds were slow and the terrain was rough at best, the animal sightings were in full force. This allowed us to see bears, deer and various birds as we explored their environment. Similar to our recently tested diesel version, we really appreciate the quietness of the engine and increased fuel/electric mileage but on top of that, the ability to not scare the environment was really special.

Riding on 20-inch black painted aluminum wheels, the ride was similar to other Wranglers and useability. It can tow, store, carry and most importantly in my opinion, look awesome in any weather condition or environment. We enjoyed the heated seats, SiriusXM radio, easy-to-use navigation, and best in automotive, UConnect infotainment system.

Warranty for the 4XE includes the standard 5 year / 60,000 mile powertrain warranty and an impressive 10 year / 100,000 mile hybrid system and battery warranty. This confirms that Jeep is serious and confident about their semi-transition to electric.

I know I say this a lot, but we love the Wrangler and in any model, trim or PHEV. And to confirm, there will always be a space in Grasso’s Garage for one.

Jeep Wrangler 4XE

MSRP: $47,995

As tested: $54,030

MPG: 49 MPGe / 20 gasoline only / 26.2 as tested

 

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Niskayuna town board will appoint Chief of Police

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Niskayuna town board will appoint Chief of Police

NISKAYUNA, N.Y. (NEWS10) – On Friday, September 17, the Town of Niskayuna will appoint a Chief of Police during the Livestream official ceremony of the Boards special meeting.

“I look forward to building stronger the relationship with our Police Department and supporting them in their duty to protect and to serve our residents,” said Supervisor Yasmine Syed. “I have every confidence that our newly appointed Chief of Police has the right mission and vision to lead the department amidst the unique challenges faced by nearly all Police Departments but particularly ours.”

The Town of Niskayuna was restricted to promoting from a mandatory “Certification of Eligibles” list provided by the County Civil Service Commission.

“I want to thank everyone who interviewed for the position of Chief and I look forward to working collaboratively with the Supervisor, the new Chief, and the entire Department to move our community forward,” said Councilwoman Denise Murphy McGraw.

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Your batteries are due for disruption

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Your batteries are due for disruption

By Cade Metz, The New York Times Company

ALAMEDA, Calif. — The new Whoop fitness tracker straps around the wrist a lot like any other health monitor or smartwatch. But you can also buy a sports bra or leggings equipped with this tiny device, which can be a sliver of electronics stitched into the fabric of clothes.

Squeezing a fitness tracker into such a svelte package was no small feat, said John Capodilupo, Whoop’s chief technology officer. It required a whole new kind of battery. The battery, built by a California startup, Sila, provided the tiny fitness tracker with more power than older batteries while maintaining the same battery life.

While that may not sound earth-shattering, Sila’s battery is part of a wave of new battery technologies that could lead to novel designs in consumer electronics and help accelerate the electrification of cars and airplanes. They may even help store electricity on the power grid, lending a hand to efforts to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

New kinds of batteries may not dazzle consumers like new apps or gadgets. But like tiny transistors, they are at the heart of technology advancement. If batteries don’t improve very much, neither do the devices they power.

Companies like Enovix, QuantumScape, Solid Power and Sila have been developing these batteries for more than a decade, and some hope to move into mass production around 2025.

Sila’s CEO and co-founder, Gene Berdichevsky, was an early Tesla employee who oversaw battery technology as the company built its first electric car. Introduced in 2008, the Tesla Roadster used a battery based on lithium-ion technology, the same battery technology that powers laptops, smartphones and other consumer devices.

The popularity of Tesla, coupled with the rapid growth of the consumer electronics market, sparked a new wave of battery companies. Berdichevsky left Tesla in 2008 to work on what eventually became Sila. Another entrepreneur, Jagdeep Singh, founded QuantumScape after buying one of the first Tesla Roadsters.

Both saw how lithium-ion batteries could change the car market. They saw an even greater opportunity if they could build a more powerful type of battery.

“Lithium-ion batteries had just gotten good enough, but they plateaued,” Berdichevsky said. “We wanted to push the technology further.”

Around the same time, Congress created ARPA-E, for Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, to promote research and development in new energy technologies. The agency nurtured the new battery companies with funding and other support. A decade later, those efforts are beginning to bear fruit.

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