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New House bill takes aim at Chinese EV makers and their connected vehicles

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Chinese EV manufacturers are encountering a fresh obstacle as they strive to attract U.S. customers. Recently, a House bill was proposed that might limit or even forbid the introduction of connected cars into the market.

Rep. Elissa Slotkin of the United States has introduced a new bill in response to the growing trade tensions between the United States and China. This follows the Biden administration’s recent decision to raise import taxes on Chinese electric cars to 100%.

Chinese electric vehicle manufacturers have not made substantial progress in the United States, unlike their success in Europe. The bill seems to aim at preventing manufacturers from inundating the American market with affordable smart cars.

Slotkin, a former CIA analyst and Pentagon official, has consistently alerted Congress to the potential dangers of Chinese-built connected vehicles. In a recent speech on the House floor, Slotkin highlighted the significant subsidies provided by the Chinese government to its auto industry. These subsidies have enabled the production of advanced, affordable electric vehicles (EVs) equipped with cutting-edge sensors such as lidar, radar, and cameras. These sensors have the capability to collect and transmit data to Chinese authorities.

According to Slotkin, the entry of Chinese connected vehicles into our markets could provide the Chinese government with a wealth of valuable intelligence on the United States. This includes the ability to gather information on our military bases, critical infrastructure such as the power grid and traffic systems, and even track the whereabouts of specific U.S. leaders if they wish to do so. Slotkin made this statement on Wednesday. It is crucial to strengthen our defenses before these vehicles from China enter the U.S. market, considering their significant presence in the connected auto market in Europe and Mexico.

Last week, provisions that Slotkin supported—ssuch as a ban on Chinese connected vehicles at U.S. military bases and a prohibition on procuring Chinese-made lidar by the Department of Defense—wwere included in the U.S. government’s annual defense spending bill.

If Slotkin’s bill, known as the Connected Vehicle National Security Review Act, is approved, it would not only assess electric vehicles but also self-driving cars. Several AV companies with connections to China, such as WeRide and Pony.ai, currently hold permits to conduct testing in California. Waymo, a subsidiary of Alphabet, has partnered with Chinese startup Zeekr to manufacture specialized robotaxes.

 

How this bill will impact Chinese electric vehicles
When it comes to EVs, Volvo and Polestar have established themselves in the United States, both being under the ownership of China’s Geely Automotive. Most Volvo vehicles are manufactured in Sweden, while the upcoming generation of Volvo vehicles for the North American market will be produced at a newly established facility in Ridgeville, South Carolina.

A spokesperson from Polestar reassured that personal data from customers in North America and Europe is not shared with China. They emphasized that, as a Swedish automaker, Polestar is obligated to adhere to GDPR laws.

However, this bill does not exempt cars manufactured in friendly nations or domestically from scrutiny. If approved, the bill would grant the Department of Commerce the power to examine any sale, importation, or other transaction involving a connected vehicle that is associated with a company connected to China or a country of concern.

The bill goes beyond traditional trade-restriction tools such as tariffs by considering the possibility of prohibiting connected vehicles manufactured by Chinese companies in countries like Mexico from entering the U.S. That could be targeted at carmakers such as BYD, whose CEO Stella Li mentioned in February that the automaker was exploring options for a plant in Mexico.

The bill would additionally grant explicit legal authority to the Department of Commerce and other federal agencies to enhance national security safeguards and prevent future administrations from reversing these safeguards, according to Slotkin, who emphasized that this is not a hypothetical scenario.

Slotkin emphasized the directive that then-President Donald Trump made in an effort to address security issues with the Chinese-owned social media platform TikTok. In April, President Joe Biden signed a bill that would require ByteDance to sell TikTok in order to comply with the new regulations. Trump, who is seeking re-election this November, has since changed his stance and now opposes the efforts to mandate a sale.

The United States has expressed growing concerns about China’s increasing capabilities in handling data, coinciding with Beijing’s recent relaxation of regulations on cross-border data transfers. It has been reported that Tesla is making efforts to capitalize on this opportunity in order to obtain permission to transmit its own connected car data back to the U.S. for the purpose of training Tesla’s “full self-driving” algorithms.

Slotkin’s bill coincides with the Department of Commerce’s commitment to make a decision on Chinese-connected vehicles by the end of this year. This decision follows the Biden administration’s investigation into the potential national security threats posed by these vehicles, which was initiated in February.

Slotkin intends to introduce the bill after June 3, once Congress resumes session following the Memorial Day recess.

As Editor here at GeekReply, I'm a big fan of all things Geeky. Most of my contributions to the site are technology related, but I'm also a big fan of video games. My genres of choice include RPGs, MMOs, Grand Strategy, and Simulation. If I'm not chasing after the latest gear on my MMO of choice, I'm here at GeekReply reporting on the latest in Geek culture.

Medicine and Health

A new immune pathway discovery points to a “possible cure” for lupus in the future

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Finding a pathway in the immune system that seems to be a main cause of lupus could lead to the creation of more targeted treatments for this autoimmune disease. This new study is good news for a lot of people who have been living with this long-term condition. In the US alone, 1.5 million people are affected.

People with systemic lupus erythematosus, or SLE, or just “lupus,” have a long-term autoimmune disease that shows up in many ways. Some of the most common are joint and muscle pain, extreme tiredness, and a rash that looks like a sunburn on the face. Other symptoms include headaches, fevers, hair loss, and swollen glands.

It may take some time to figure out if someone has lupus because their symptoms are so different and can look like other health problems. If you catch the disease early, you may be able to get better. Moderate to severe forms of the disease can damage organs like the heart and kidneys and, in some cases, even kill you.

Lupus affects millions of people around the world, mostly women and people who were assigned female at birth, but no one knows what causes it.

There is some evidence that it results from issues between the T cells and B cells, two different types of immune cells. Patients usually have a lot of T follicular helper cells and T peripheral helper cells. These cells make CXCL13, an inflammatory molecule that attracts B cells. It’s less clear why this happens, though.

The main goal of treatment is to weaken the immune system so that it doesn’t attack the body’s own tissues. However, this method doesn’t always work and can cause a number of side effects. “Ever since the beginning, all lupus treatment has been rough.” “It’s a broad immunosuppression,” dermatologist and co-corresponding author of the new study, Dr. Jaehyuk Choi, said in a statement.

Choi and his colleagues have now found a pathway in the immune system that seems to be responsible for the disease process in lupus. More importantly, they think they know how to fix it.

Co-corresponding author Dr. Deepak Rao said, “We’ve found a fundamental imbalance in the immune responses that people with lupus make, and we’ve identified specific mediators that can correct this imbalance to dampen the pathologic autoimmune response.”

The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) controls the pathway in question. Its main job is to help cells deal with things that stress them out, like bacteria and pollution. If the AHR pathway isn’t activated enough, too many T peripheral helper cells are made. This leads to more autoantibodies, which are what make people with lupus have so many problems.

They put their theory to the test by adding AHR activators to blood samples from people with lupus. The researchers saw that the T cells changed into the Th22 subtype, which might help the body heal itself instead of making it inflamed and sick.

We learned that we can lower the number of these disease-causing cells by either using small-molecule activators to turn on the AHR pathway or limiting the amount of interferon that is too high in the blood. It might be possible to cure this if the effects last, Choi said.

People who have an autoimmune disease would love to hear those two words: “potential cure.” However, more research needs to be done before these results can be turned into clinical therapies that could help patients. The writers have already started this project and are looking into how AHR activators can be used in a treatment in a safe and effective way.

Still, these results are a big step toward finding better ways to treat a disease whose causes are still not well understood.

The study was written up in Nature.

 

 

 

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Space Exploration

Uranus’s radiation belt isn’t weak; it’s just crooked

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Voyager 2 visited Uranus almost forty years ago, leaving behind some very interesting mysteries. Three planetary scientists believe they have shown that two of these problems—why its proton radiation belts are so weak and why its magnetic field isn’t centered—are linked, which could help solve one.

Magnetic fields have an impact on charged particles. For example, high-energy particles from space circle the Earth when the field is strong. The Van Allen Belts are made when particles from the solar wind interact with Earth’s magnetic field. People who don’t believe in the moon landing say that living things can’t cross these belts, which protect the atmosphere.

The belts around other planets with magnetic fields look like Uranus and Neptune’s, but their magnetic fields are different. It is tilted almost 60 degrees away from Uranus’s axis of rotation. The ones on Earth, Jupiter, and Saturn, on the other hand, are much more aligned. Also, its center is not in the middle of the Earth; it’s about a third of the way to the south pole. Voyager 2 said that the radiation belt is not very strong, but the magnetic field is. Matthew Acevski, a PhD student at Imperial College London, and his coworkers say that’s partly because the field isn’t focused.

Acevski and his co-authors used the Boris algorithm, a way to figure out how charged particles move, to test how the asymmetrical magnetic field should change the behavior of protons that get caught in it. They learned that the uneven field makes the particles move at various speeds while they circle. Where protons move slowly, they gather together, and where they move quickly, they spread out.

“This is like how traffic jams happen on a ring road.” “When cars go slower, there is more traffic, and when they go faster, there is less traffic,” Acevski told Space.com.

Because Voyager 2 didn’t go around Uranus but just looked at it as it went by, the authors thought that it might not be that the radiation belt is weak, but that our only visitor just happened to measure an area that wasn’t full.

The team did math to figure out where the protons would move faster and slower and came to the conclusion that Voyager 2 went through an area of depletion.

It’s important to note that the effect only works on protons. The asymmetry doesn’t change the paths of electrons very much because their masses are so much lower, which fits with Voyager 2’s report of a strong electron radiation belt.

The authors concur that their work does not adequately explain measurements as low as those from Voyager 2. They write, “It’s possible that this effect will become a bigger part of this deficiency if more complex system dynamics are added.”

If the planned Uranus orbiter is built, the part of the weakness that can’t be explained might be one of the easier mysteries to solve. But it’s not clear if this will happen while the Mars Sample Return takes up most of NASA’s exploration budget.

Neptune’s magnetic field is almost as crooked as Uranus’s, but Voyager found that its proton radiation belt was strong. It’s still not clear if this difference is real or just a result of the places Voyager 2 went.

The study is in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, which is open access.

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Space Exploration

We now know how much faster time moves on the moon

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A new study has precisely figured out how fast time moves on the Moon compared to Earth and found the center of the solar system.

Different observers see time pass at different rates, depending on how fast they are moving compared to each other and how strong the gravitational fields are nearby. Most of the time, this doesn’t come up in your calculations. If you want to meet up with someone next Tuesday, it doesn’t matter if your clocks are a little off. That is, unless one of you spends the days in between flying around at relativistic speeds or on a planet or moon with very different gravity.

But this is a problem for NASA and other space agencies because people want to build bases on the Moon and Mars. At the moment, there is no agreed-upon time zone on the moon. For unmanned missions, the time is based on the country where the craft came from. For crewed Apollo missions, however, Ground Elapsed Time (GET) was used, starting from the moment of launch. As the moon fills up with more robots and then, fingers crossed, people, it could cause problems. The US hopes to solve these issues by setting up a coordinated lunar time.

As explained in the new paper posted to the pre-print server arXiv, “the establishment of a standardized lunar time is essential for synchronizing activities and operations on the Moon.” Other scientists have not yet reviewed the paper.

“When missions involve many landers, rovers, and orbiters, having a common time reference makes sure that all units can work together well, preventing problems and making it easier for people to work together.” Timing is very important for communication between missions on Earth and the moon because it allows for reliable data transmission and reception and makes sure that autonomous systems can work without any problems.

In the new paper, the team figured out how fast time moves on Earth, the Moon, and at the solar system’s barycenter, which is the center of mass for the whole system.

“Although relativistic time transformations between the Solar System Barycentric (SSB) coordinate reference frame and the surface of the Earth are familiar, an analogous transformation for the surface of the Moon has not been established,” the team says. “In particular, the constants that describe the behavior of the two time scales as time progresses are needed.”

According to what the team found, time moves 0.0000575 seconds faster on the moon’s surface than on Earth’s surface each day. For ease of math, it would take about 274 years, or 100,000 days, for someone on the Moon to age 5.75 seconds faster than someone on Earth.

That might not seem like a big deal, but if the difference isn’t taken into account, it could make it hard to do things on the moon.

Arati Prabhakar, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy, told NASA and other agencies to work together to make the new Moon time system. “Failing to account for the discrepancy between a transmitter clock on Earth and how it is perceived by a receiver on the Moon will result in a ranging error,” he wrote. “Precision applications such as spacecraft docking or landing will require greater accuracy than current methods allow.”

Before coordinated lunar time is set up, there will be more talk and math, and we will have to wait to see what system NASA and the other space agencies come up with. NASA is already sure of one thing, though: the Moon will not have to deal with daylight savings time because its days are 29.5 Earth days long.

The paper has been put on the arXiv pre-print server.

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