By Walt Hickey
An Argentinian man scooped up the URL for Google in his country on Wednesday night for 270 pesos, or about $3. The acquisition sent those whose jobs it is to ensure that this exact series of events does not happen into a scramble. The government-run NIC is in charge of selling .ar suffixed domain names, and it appears that Google had re-upped back in July, and it was only because of a bug or a bit of maintenance that the man was able to get the drop on an accidentally posted domain. Shortly after the man tweeted about his victorious acquisition, the entire NIC went offline, and when it came live again google.com.ar was back in on Google’s books.
When The Wolf Comes Home
The Idaho Senate voted 26-7 to advance a bill that would remove the kill limit on the number of wolves a hunter is allowed to kill in the state, and add another $190,000 to the $400,000 fund to hire contractors to kill wolves. The current population of wolves in Idaho is 1,556, and the Wolf Conservation and Management plan requires a population of at least 150. Every year about 500 wolves are killed in the state, and if this bill was signed by the governor it would allow up to 90 percent of the wolves in the state to be killed.
In all of the calendar year 2020, police in Newark, New Jersey fired zero shots, and for the first time on record the city did not pay a cent to settle police brutality cases. Over the last five years, serious crime in Newark has declined 40 percent. It’s a success story for a significant swathe of police reforms enacted in the city following a federal consent decree from the Department of Justice in 2014 after the feds found widespread brutality and a lack of de-escalation training within the department. In addition to increasing diversity in hiring and an emphasis on de-escalation, Newark began requiring detailed reports on use of force in any way with a mandatory supervisor review.
A University of Oxford team said that a malaria vaccine in early trials has proven to be 77 percent effective and shown high efficacy after 12 months. The initial trial was on 450 children in Burkina Faso, and soon larger trials with 5,000 kids aged five months to three years will begin across four countries in Africa. If the numbers hold, that’s damn near miraculous; there were 229 million cases worldwide in 2019, and it killed 409,000 people, most of them kids in sub-Saharan Africa. Right now the most effective malaria vaccine to date has shown 55 percent efficacy.
The average American homeowner is expected to pay $1,297 in home insurance this year, up 4 percent from the $1,249 paid in 2018. Florida, a state that flirts with sea-level miles inland, functions as a speed bump for hurricanes and is wildly popular for people to move to and build homes within, is a different story. Florida residents will pay an average $2,380 in home insurance premiums this year, up 21 percent over the $1,960 paid in 2018. The insurance business in Florida has had a rough several years, from Hurricanes Irma and Michael in 2017 and 2018 to a surge in out-of-state buyers moving to places that insurance companies are reluctant to underwrite given a rudimentary understanding of hydrodynamics. In 2020, a large group of Florida homeowner insurers had $1.58 billion in losses, double the $664 million underwriting loss in 2019. Part of this is that Floridians are particularly litigious: while Florida made up 8 percent of homeowner insurance claims in 2019, they accounted for 76 percent of homeowner insurance lawsuits.
Beginning this October, a simple driver’s license will no longer cut it in order to board a domestic flight in the United States. Back in 2005, a law was put into motion that fliers would need a REAL ID issued license in order to board a flight. As with most such legislation, it’s taken the better part of two decades for all 50 states to get around to rolling out the IDs. There’s now fewer than six months until the October 1 deadline, and as it stands, only 43 percent of U.S. driver’s licenses are REAL ID-compliant — 118 million out of 274 million licenses — according to the Department of Homeland Security. That’s also only increasing 0.5 percent every month, compared to increasing 1 percent per month pre-pandemic. It seems like October is going to be an even bigger fiasco than usual in the TSA line.
Friday saw the signing of the FASTER Act, which designated sesame as the ninth major food allergen, requiring foods containing sesame to be clearly labeled by 2023. About 1.6 million Americans have sesame allergies, and the seed will be joining peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, dairy, eggs and wheat on the must-label list, a group of nine that accounts for 90 percent of food allergies. There are 32 million Americans with life-threatening food allergies, increasing about 4 percent annually.
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