Elon Musk’s Neuralink, a medical device company, is under US federal investigation for possible animal welfare violations amid staff complaints that its animal tests are being sped up, causing unnecessary suffering and death.
Neuralink is developing a brain implant that it hopes will help paralyzed people walk again and cure other neurological ailments.
The previously unreported federal investigation was opened in recent months by the US Department of Agriculture’s Inspector General at the request of a federal prosecutor, according to two sources with knowledge of the investigation.
The investigation, one of the sources said, focuses on violations of the Animal Welfare Act, which governs how researchers treat and test some animals.
The investigation came at a time of growing dissent from employees about Neuralink’s animal testing, including complaints that Musk’s pressure to speed up development resulted in failed experiments, according to a Reuters review of dozens of documents and reports. . Neuralink interviews with more than 20 current and external experts. former employees.
Such failed tests have had to be repeated, increasing the number of animals being tested and killed, employees said.
Musk and other Neuralink executives did not respond to requests for comment.
Reuters could not determine the full scope of the federal investigation or whether it involved the same alleged problems with animal testing identified by employees in Reuters interviews.
A spokesman for the USDA inspector general declined to comment. US regulations do not specify how many animals companies can use for research and give scientists significant leeway in determining when and how to use animals in experiments.
Neuralink has passed all USDA inspections of its facilities, regulatory documents show.
In all, the company has killed some 1,500 animals, including more than 280 sheep, pigs and monkeys, following experiments since 2018, according to records reviewed by Reuters and sources with direct knowledge of the company’s animal testing operations. .
Sources characterized that figure as a rough estimate because the company does not keep accurate records on the number of animals tested and euthanized.
Neuralink has also done research on rats and mice.
The total number of animal deaths does not necessarily indicate that Neuralink is violating standards or standard research practices.
Many companies routinely use animals in experiments to improve human health care, and face financial pressure to get products to market quickly.
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Smoke and Sandstorm, Seen from Space
The scale of the Western crisis is demonstrated by a time-lapse photo of dust from a storm in Colorado and smoke from wildfires in New Mexico.
The video is captivating. A sheet of brown spills down from the north like a swash on a beach as three whitish-gray geysers erupt from the New Mexico highlands in the direction of the east.
What it represents is far more destructive.
Two deadly occurrences are depicted in the time-lapse photo, which was taken by a satellite for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The first is a wildfire outbreak that began in northern New Mexico last month and has grown in size over the last two weeks as a result of an extremely dry climate and strong winds. The second is a dust storm in Colorado brought on by strong winds.
Both serve as illustrations of the kinds of natural disasters that, as a result of climate change, are growing more severe and frequent.
The NASA Earth Observatory reported that as of Tuesday, there were seven sizable fires active in New Mexico. Four of them are visible in the satellite view. The Cerro Pelado fire, which has burned about 27,000 acres close to the Los Alamos National Laboratory, is the most western. The Cooks Peak fire, which has burned around 59,000 acres close to Taos, is the most northern. The Calf Canyon and Hermits Peak fires, which combined into a single massive, 160,000-acre conflagration around April 22; are located immediately south of that.
An area greater than Indianapolis is covered by the 380 square miles of burning land visible in the satellite image. Numerous people have had to leave their homes due to the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon fire, including those in Las Vegas, New Mexico, a community of 13,000 people located approximately an hour east of Santa Fe.
Although wildfires naturally occur in Western ecosystems, human activity has made them more worse. A significant factor is drought. The American Southwest has seen the driest two decades in 12 centuries, partly as a result of climate change, and there are currently no signs that the situation will soon get better.
The wind is another significant aspect that is currently stoking all of the flames in northern New Mexico. In actuality, the Hermits Peak Fire began as a planned burn, which is a fire purposefully started under controlled circumstances to remove dry vegetation and lower the risk of larger, uncontrolled fires, but blustery, uncontrollable winds caused it to spread quickly.
The Colorado dust storm, the second event visible in the NOAA image, was likewise brought on by strong winds.
The National Weather Service in Pueblo, Colorado, warned of highly hazardous driving conditions on Friday: “Visibility is lowering to near nil and winds are gusting to 50-60 m.p.h. within this blowing dust.”
The effects of these catastrophes can be extremely extensive, as shown by the satellite images. Even though the “brownout” conditions during the dust storm were largely confined, winds carried the dust particles hundreds of miles through southeast Colorado, western Kansas, and the Oklahoma and Texas Panhandles.
Air quality is lowered by fine particulate matter, which also poses health risks, especially for those who already have heart or lung conditions. That holds true for all wildfire by products, including smoke, soot, and dust.
The sun turned red as far east as New York City last summer due to wildfires, which caused air quality alerts to be issued over practically the entire nation. Additionally, scientists discovered in January that harmful ozone and smoke levels were rising over most of the Western United States.
University lecturer Adam Brown to plead guilty to wife’s murder in Croydon North, Melbourne
An assistant professor admitted to killing his wife in their own house after being accused of doing so. Adam Brown, a former lecturer at Deakin University, admitted to killing Chen Cheng, the mother of his children, in court on Tuesday. After attempting to escape her murderer, Ms. Cheng, 35, was found dead at the back gate of their garden in Croydon North, northeast of Melbourne. According to Daily Mail Australia, Ms. Cheng was ‘fighting for her life’ just before she was allegedly fatally stabbed by Brown.
Unbelievably startling details, which can only now be published, show that Ms. Cheng begged her neighbors to save her life just before police said her husband killed her by stabbing her. Outside Chen Cheng’s home, where authorities believe her husband killed her, there were floral arrangements.
Around 10 p.m. on the night of the murder, a neighbor of the family who wished to remain anonymous told the Daily Mail Australia that she had rushed to Ms. Cheng’s aid after hearing horrific screams coming from her residence. “I knew someone was in trouble when I heard the screaming.” ,” she said.
The couple walked to the front of the family’s residence to investigate with the assistance of another neighbor who was equally startled by the screaming next door. I pounded on the door when he asked if we should knock. She then uttered the words “Call the police, he wants to kill me.” She yelled but was unable to escape.
The young mother allegedly tried to flee by the rear gate after being unable to do so through the front door, according to the heartbroken neighbor who had become friendly with Ms. Cheng. Ms. Cheng’s bloody body was later discovered behind the gate, which was likewise locked, by paramedics.
A mourner left a message on a bouquet of flowers outside the house where Chen Cheng was stabbed to death
She screamed to be let out as she went across the yard and pounded ferociously on the wooden door. She cried out, “Help me, help me, help me.” The neighbor of Mrs. Cheng said, “And then there was stillness.
“Subsequently, there was total silence. There was silence, and I wondered in my head, “Did she pass out or what?” I’m not sure. Never did she come out.
The toddler son of the couple was then taken by another neighbor and sent to safety to a nearby residence.
I was told that she was battling for her life. She wants to leave that home. The neighbor reported that she was shrieking and fighting for her life.
After that, Brown sat and observed as a neighbor and paramedics struggled to save his wife’s life.
Despite the neighbor’s and paramedics’ best attempts, Ms. Cheng passed away right there and then.
The gate where Chen Cheng was last heard yelling for aid before going silent had no way out.
“(A male neighbor) and I knocked on the door before the ambulance arrived, but I didn’t go inside because there was total silence after all the yelling,” she said.
“So he opened the garage door, then… They immediately raced downstairs to get the nurse after seeing her.
In the frantic minutes before police and paramedics arrived, the off-duty nurse labored assiduously to save Ms. Cheng.
The Melbourne Assessment Prison is where Brown, 40, will reside until his upcoming court appearance later this month. He entered his plea there via video link.
In an odd move, the prosecution requested that the court be closed so that a psychologist who had treated Brown during her interactions with the suspected murderer prior to the tragedy could be heard.
In order to conduct additional investigations in preparation for Brown’s formal plea in the Supreme Court of Victoria, the court was informed that the police were keen to learn what transpired between the couple.
Flowers were left outside the Patrick Avenue home where the young family appeared to be content after Ms. Cheng’s death stunned the country earlier this year.
A note was written on one of the bouquets, “Brought another woman.” At the location of the monument, only one candle was still burning. In a “very horrific” sight, bags of blood-stained evidence were hauled from the two-story estate as detectives searched the grounds for leads, according to forensic officers.
Toys for kids were also taken out of bags. The family appeared to be a typical, content family, according to neighbors who spoke with Daily Mail Australia.
A neighbor remarked, “He always said hello and just did his thing.
Ms. Cheng was praised as a kind neighbor who went above and beyond to assist others.
“She was coming, and I had an accident last year. They were a typical family, according to a different neighbor.
Brown held a Ph.D. in philosophy and was an associate professor of media and communications.
In 2017, he wed Ms. Cheng in China, and the two of them have since had two young children.
On International Women’s Day of the previous year, the social media addict sent a loving homage to his wife.
Brown referred to Ms. Cheng as a “strong, talented, and hilarious woman” in an Instagram post.
On the occasion of #InternationalWomensDay, I’d like to give a special shout-out to the powerful, funny, and creative woman who allows me the honor of being in her presence every day. She keeps me laughing, keeps me healthy, and always makes sure I’ll be ready for the night, he said. at that point.
Less than two weeks prior to his wife’s passing, Brown posted a different video to Twitter in which he captured the two ridings “The Slingshot,” a ride at a theme park.
The teacher’s wife responded simply, “This is fun,” when her husband overheard them laughing and asked whether she felt uncomfortable.
Tiktok Banned on Government Devices Under Spending Bill Passed By Congress
TikTok will no longer be allowed on government-owned smartphones under the bipartisan funding measure that was approved by both chambers of Congress on Friday, reflecting the growing worry about the well-known video-sharing app owned by China’s Byte Dance.
The plan, which still needs to be signed into law by President Joe Biden, also requires businesses considering significant mergers to pay more to file with federal antitrust regulators and requires e-commerce platforms to conduct more due diligence to help prevent the sale of counterfeit goods online.
Many of the most aggressive tech-related proposals that Congress tried to enact fell short, including antitrust legislation that would have required Apple and Google’s app stores to offer developers more payment options and a bill requiring extra safety measures for children online. Additionally, despite the fact that Congress made progress toward a compromise measure on national privacy rules this year compared to previous years, a patchwork of state laws still governs how consumer data is secured.
The absence of many antitrust laws that would have targeted its backers, who include Apple, Amazon, Google, and Meta, was applauded by the center-left IT industry lobby Chamber of Progress.
Following the publication of the package’s contents earlier this week, Chamber of Progress CEO Adam Kovacevich issued a statement saying, “What you don’t see in this year’s omnibus are the more contentious elements that have raised red flags on problems like content regulation.” The American Innovation and Choice Online Act, a well-known antitrust proposal, was formerly a source of concern for the group.
Net Choice, a different business organization, praised Congress for “refusing to include radical and unchecked leftist ideas to reform American antitrust law in this omnibus.”
But the legislation that the legislature passed as part of the spending package will still have an impact on technology in other ways.
TikTok Ban on Government Devices:
TikTok’s removal from government-owned devices may help competing apps like Snap’s Facebook and Instagram and Meta’s Facebook, which compete for the attention of young users. The measure makes an exception for uses related to national security, law enforcement, and research.
Since businesses domiciled in China may be forced by law to hand over user information, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have expressed concern that TikTok’s ownership structure could leave U.S. user data susceptible. Although TikTok has frequently insisted that the data it collects from American users is not stored in China, this guarantee hasn’t done much to allay worries.
Through the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, the business has been negotiating a deal with the administration to allay concerns about national security.
“We’re sorry that Congress has tried to prohibit TikTok on government devices – a political gesture that will do nothing to enhance national security interests,” a TikTok spokeswoman said in a statement after the text of the legislation was made public. “Any security issues that have been brought up at the federal and state levels will be adequately addressed by the agreement that is currently being reviewed by CFIUS. We will continue to advise Congress on these initiatives, which were developed to further safeguard our platform in the United States and are currently being implemented under the supervision of our nation’s top national security authorities.
Deterring Online Counterfeit Sales:
The INFORM Consumers Act, which aims to prevent the online sale of fake, stolen, or hazardous goods, is also part of the expenditure package. The bill mandates that online marketplaces like Amazon quickly gather and verify data from “any high-volume third-party seller,” including bank and contact information.
Amazon initially opposed the bill last year, writing that it was “pushed by some big-box retailers” and asserting that it would penalise small companies that sell online. However, the company ultimately supported a version of the bill, arguing that it was crucial to have a federal standard rather than a patchwork of state laws. eBay and Etsy had previously backed the legislation.
In a statement, Kovacevich stated that passing the bipartisan INFORM Act would be a big triumph for customers who “deserve to know whom they’re buying from when they visit an online marketplace.” Both parties, as well as traditional retailers and online marketplaces, have backed this legislation after years of hearings and markups.
The bill “will achieve our shared goal of protecting consumers from bad actors while avoiding overly broad disclosure requirements that would harm our sellers’ privacy and restrict their ability to run their creative businesses,” according to Jeffrey Zubricki, head of Etsy’s Americas advocacy and public policy.
Higher Fees for Big Mergers:
One provision to boost money for the antitrust authorities that examine mergers was included in the end-of-year legislation, despite more comprehensive antitrust measures targeting digital platforms not being included. The Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act will increase the fee that businesses seeking major mergers must pay in order to register with the antitrust authorities as required by law. Additionally, the bill decreases the price for smaller transactions and permits the fees to be changed annually in accordance with the consumer price index.
The Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice Antitrust Division, who have experienced a significant increase in merger filings over the previous few years without commensurate budget increases, are the intended beneficiaries of the bill.
Even though it didn’t live up to antitrust supporters’ expectations, the merger filing fee bill’s inclusion was praised.
According to Sarah Miller, executive director of the American Economic Liberties Project, which is supported in part by the Omidyar Network, “this is a significant turning point for the anti-monopoly campaign.” For the first time since 1976, antitrust law will be dramatically strengthened, according to Miller.
Miller continued, “Big Tech, Big Ag, and Big Pharma spent huge amounts in an unprecedented campaign to prevent Congress from passing antitrust reform and damage the authority of state and federal enforcers to uphold the law — and they lost.
The inclusion of merger fees “is an essential step to reform merger costs after decades of the status quo so we can provide our antitrust enforcers with the resources they need to perform their jobs,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., the bill’s sponsor, in a statement earlier this week. It is obvious that this is only the beginning of the battle. I’ll keep working across party lines to defend consumers and improve competition.
Empowering State Ags in Antitrust Cases:
A variation of the State Antitrust Enforcement Venue Act was one of the antitrust laws in the package. The law gives state attorneys general the ability to choose the district in which they file their charges and prevent them from being consolidated in another district, giving them the same authority as federal enforcers in antitrust prosecutions. According to the law, businesses defending themselves against accusations of antitrust infractions won’t be able to choose where they think the case would be heard more favorably.
This is what transpired in a case against Google for antitrust violations brought by a number of state attorneys general who claimed the corporation had an unjustified monopoly on the digital advertising market. In order to be heard alongside private antitrust accusations against the corporation in the pretrial processes, the company moved the case from Texas to New York.
Attorneys general from 52 states and territories wrote to Congress last year to support the proposal.
Openness Regarding Ransomware Attacks:
The bipartisan RANSOMWARE Act, which obliges the FTC to inform Congress about the quantity and variety of foreign ransomware or other malware complaints it receives, was also incorporated into the funding package. The FTC is also required to report to Congress any trends it notices in the amount of complaints it receives, including those from citizens, businesses, or governments of countries like China, North Korea, Iran, and Russia. Additionally, it must divulge details about the outcomes of any lawsuit it has taken in connection with these cases. The FTC can offer suggestions for new regulations to make it easier to withstand these attacks as well as for best practises that companies can use to safeguard themselves.
A study on how technology affects children:
The package also contains a version of the Children and Media Research Advancement (CAMRA) Act, which instructs the Department of Health and Human Services to perform or support studies on how media and technology affect young children, adolescents, and babies.
According to the law, these effects could include how technology like social networking, artificial intelligence, video games, or virtual reality affect people’s cognitive, mental, and physical health. Within two years of the law’s passage, the head of the National Institutes of Health is required to provide a report to Congress on its activities.
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