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US FCC Bans Sales, Import of Chinese Tech From Huawei, ZTE (Maria)

The author writes, “The US is banning the sale of communications equipment made by Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE and restricting the use of some China-made video surveillance systems, citing an ‘unacceptable risk’ to national security. The five-member Federal Communications Commission said Friday it has voted unanimously to adopt new rules that will block the importation or sale of certain technology products that pose security risks to US critical infrastructure. It’s the latest in a years-long escalation of US restrictions of Chinese technology that began with President Donald Trump and has continued under President Joe Biden’s administration.”

DOJ Opens Investigation Into Real Estate Tech Company Accused of Collusion With Landlords (DonkeyHotey)

The author writes, “The Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division has opened an investigation into whether rent-setting software made by a Texas-based real estate tech company is facilitating collusion among landlords, according to a source with knowledge of the matter. The inquiry is being launched as questions have arisen about a 2017 merger between RealPage and its largest pricing competitor.”

How Banks and Private Equity Cash in When Patients Can’t Pay Their Medical Bills (Reader Pat)

From Kaiser Health News: “As Americans are overwhelmed with medical bills, patient financing is now a multibillion-dollar business, with private equity and big banks lined up to cash in when patients and their families can’t pay for care. By one estimate from research firm IBISWorld, profit margins top 29% in the patient financing industry, seven times what is considered a solid hospital margin. Hospitals and other providers, which historically put their patients in interest-free payment plans, have welcomed the financing, signing contracts with lenders and enrolling patients in financing plans with rosy promises about convenient bills and easy payments. For patients, the payment plans often mean something more ominous: yet more debt.”

Teen Suicides Jump 29 Percent Over the Past Decade, Report Finds (Mili)

The author writes, “Suicides jumped 29 percent among adolescents ages 15 to 19 over the previous decade, according to a report released [in October]. Adolescent suicides rose from 8.4 per 100,000 during the 2012-2014 timeframe to 10.8 deaths per 100,000 in 2018-2020, according to the new edition of America’s Health Rankings Health of Women and Children Report from the United Health Foundation. Adolescent suicides also rose significantly in 10 states. The report captures 121 health measures based on the most recently available public health data from 30 different sources.”

An Engineering Marvel Just Saved Venice From a Flood. What About When Seas Rise? (Russ)

From The Washington Post: “Three years ago, a historic rush of water surged into this city, inundating restaurants and churches, tossing boats onto streets, and leaving Venetians distressed about a future with ever more extreme events. But this past week, one of those events arrived — a tide nearly as large as 2019’s — and residents barely noticed, aside from some wind and rain. The city was spared from disaster. That’s because of a $6 billion engineering project designed to protect Venice from mass flooding and the exhausting cycle of cleanup and recovery. The lagoon city’s inlets are now guarded by 78 rectangular metal barriers, each the height of a five-story building, that are pumped with air and raised from the sea floor any time high waters threaten it.”

Will This Rare Butterfly Found Only on San Juan Island Go Extinct? (Reader Steve)

From The Seattle Times: “The chrysalises are delicately perched on twigs, safeguarded by little more than plastic food containers stacked on shelves inside the captive rearing lab. Barely more than a hundred of the dormant insects are the latest generation of a dwindling kind. Next spring they will emerge and sprout wings as island marble butterflies, an endangered species found in critically low numbers and only at the national park here. For the past decade, park researchers have used the rearing lab, in an unassuming cabin near the island’s southern tip, to raise and release on average hundreds of the butterflies.”

Render Yourself Invisible to AI With This Adversarial Sweater of Doom (Sean)

The author writes, “Ugly sweater season is rapidly approaching, at least here in the Northern Hemisphere. We’ve always been a bit baffled by the tradition of paying top dollar for a loud, obnoxious sweater that gets worn to exactly one social event a year. We don’t judge, of course, but that’s not to say we wouldn’t look a little more favorably on someone’s fashion choice if it were more like this AI-defeating adversarial ugly sweater. The idea behind this research from the University of Maryland is not, of course, to inform fashion trends, nor is it to create a practical invisibility cloak. It’s really to probe machine learning systems for vulnerabilities by making small changes to the input while watching for changes in the output.”

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