Numlock News: June 11, 2020 • Honda, Panda, Canada

By Walt Hickey

Panda

A 7-year-old panda named Xing Er successfully broke out of a brand new $24.2 million panda house at the Copenhagen Zoo, roaming the park until staff sedated it and returned it to its pen. In what is like 80 percent probably not a viral advertisement for a heretofore unannounced sequel in the Kung Fu Panda cinematic universe, the panda was caught on surveillance footage climbing a metal pole, crawling along rows of electrical wires and absconding to the garden.

The Associated Press

Canada

The government of Canada, a country responsible for many of your favorite actors, actresses, writers, comedians and stand-in backdrops for U.S. cities, will pony up $100 million CAD (about $75 million USD) as an insurance backstop to get film productions resuming again. Producers of films will have to pay a premium in order to get COVID-19 insurance, which will be organized by the government in order to guarantee productions stay safe and people can be compensated in the event of the spread of diseases. Film production is a colossal business in Canada, with British Columbia alone generating $2.2 billion in economic growth from film and TV spending.

Manori Ravindran, Variety

Seeds

Last year, Ethiopia planted a record 353 million seedlings on a single day and a cumulative total of 4 billion trees over the course of last year. The country is working on a more ambitious goal even still: 20 billion seedlings by 2024, in an attempt to build climate resilience in the nation. It’ll cost 4 billion Birr ($117 million) conservatively, and previous plantings have been a success: 84 percent of seedlings planted last year survived. One issue faced is, despite the good intentions, if the wrong trees are planted in an area they could do more harm than good.

Samuel Getachew, Quartz

Bodycams

Though police bodycams were supposed to bring an extra level of accountability to the work of policing, in reality they have come up short in the very places they were most needed. An analysis of 105 police killings captured by bodycams in 2017 found that 40 of them never saw the light of day, not being released to the public to undergo scrutiny. The policies about bodycams are written by the police departments themselves, and large randomized trials have found that there’s no statistical difference in behavior between cops who have a camera and cops who don’t.

Karen Hao, MIT Technology Review

Factories

The old joke is that the factories of the future will be staffed by one person and a dog, the dog to prevent the person from touching anything and the person to feed the dog. Well, better hope the dog has expertise in cybersecurity because Honda Motor was hit with a staggering ransomware attack that halted its global production unless its creators are paid off. Most of the sites are back online, but there’s still two plants — in Ohio and Brazil — idle as of Wednesday. Financial losses due to data breaches were up 270 percent in the period of January to March, some $8.4 billion. Fully 26 percent of companies don’t have a division overseeing security of those factory management systems, and Japan may be particularly vulnerable because 60 percent of its manufacturing equipment is over 10 years old and may not be protected with state-of-the-art digital security.

Eiki Hayashi, Nikkei Asian Review

Wind

The United States lags behind Europe when capitalizing on the potential of offshore wind farms, with the European continent home to some 4,000 offshore wind turbines generating a collective 15.8 gigawatts of electricity, about 15 cities. By comparison, the U.S. got started in 2016 with a five-turbine offshore wind farm off the coast of Rhode Island that produces 30 megawatts, enough for 19,000 homes. The offshore turbines — at a diameter of 495 feet — are much larger than their land-based counterparts, which commonly have a 144-foot diameter on a 212-foot tower, and generate about five megawatts of electricity. The Department of Energy is working on creating a model that would produce 15 megawatts of power.

John Fialka, E&E News

Italy

Italy is largely dependent on tourism — an industry that accounted for 13.2 percent of the country’s GDP in 2018 — and will have to try to ride out what’s anticipated to be a precipitous decline in visitors that could jeopardize the 232 billion euros it earned from the 63 million foreigners traveling in the nation in 2019. The forecasts are brutal: a 72.9 percent drop from May to October in tourists from the U.S., and right now airplane reservations to Italy for August are down 76.4 percent. Currently, just 40 percent of Italy’s hotels are even operating, and in April the nation’s hoteliers association observed a 99.1 percent drop in foreign clients. The logistical math looks abysmal: the Pantheon could welcome 30,000 visitors per day, but now it’s only 80 allowed at a time.

Elisabetta Povoledo, The New York Times

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