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This is today’s edition of The Download our weekday newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s going on in the world of technology.

Why China is still obsessed with disinfecting everything

In a one-minute video that went viral in China in early May, three government workers in hazmat suits spray disinfectant all over someone’s home: inside the fridge, under the television, over the couch. On social media, Chinese people worried about whether their home would experience the same treatment if they were unlucky enough to catch the virus.

Outside China, people have mostly moved on from worrying about catching covid from surfaces, as study after study has found that the risk is relatively low. But China seems to be stuck in an early-2020 time warp.

Its policy of prioritizing disinfection is part of a wider state-controlled narrative that’s politicizing the health crisis, while also playing into the country’s favored narrative about covid’s origins: that it could have been imported into Wuhan through frozen food. Read the full story.

—Zeyi Yang

The must-reads

I’ve combed the internet to find you today’s most fun/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.

1 The US anti-disinformation board has fallen victim to disinformation
In a way that underlines both the depth and scale of the problem. (WP $)
The board was criticized for failing to shed light on its goals. (Protocol)

2  Russian state TV wasn’t prepared for the war in Ukraine
Now it’s racing to fill schedules with Kremlin-approved propaganda. (New Yorker $)
Ukraine’s data servers are vital battlegrounds. (FT $)
+ Google’s Russian arm is filing for bankruptcy after local authorities seized its bank account. (FT $)

3 Enjoying the crypto crash? You’re not alone.
The ‘joy of missing out’ is very real right now. (The Atlantic $)
+ It’s okay to opt out of the crypto revolution. (TR)
+ The crash is unlikely to reduce its effects on climate change. (The Guardian)
The downfall of Luna is a cautionary tale for the crypto curious. (NYT $) 
Panama’s president wants tougher anti-money laundering measures. (Bloomberg $)

4 China’s new censorship tactic is to reveal users’ locations
This is a deeply chilling development. (NYT $)
Defiant posts criticizing China’s government are being immortalized on the blockchain. (FT $)
Beijing is imposing a lockdown on its residents by stealth. (Foreign Policy)

5 Texas’ chaotic social media law will have disastrous consequences 
Unmoderated social media might sound appealing in theory, but it’s horrific in practice. (Ars Technica)
The Buffalo shooting video demonstrates why content moderation matters. (WP $)  

6 We may finally have the perfect use for graphene
Adding it to concrete could make stronger, greener buildings. (Economist $)

7 It’s actually pretty hard to spot a Twitter bot 
But ironically, Elon Musk’s account is a giant magnet for them. (Wired $)
Here’s what would happen if Musk chose to walk away from buying Twitter. (WSJ $)

8 Electric cars need better batteries
Shorter charging times and fewer fire risks are high on the wishlist for carmakers. (WP $)
Car dealerships are getting smaller and moving online. (Wired $) 

9 Robots probably aren’t going to take the jobs you think they will
Despite what Hollywood has told you. (New Yorker $)

10 Meet the YouTube thrillseekers riding roller coasters for a living

Letting us live vicariously through them. (Input)

Quote of the day

“We need doctors. Be a doctor!”

—YouTuber Logan Paul says he doesn’t think young people should aim to follow in his footsteps and become influencers, according to the Wall Street Journal.

We can still have nice things

A place for comfort, fun and distraction in these weird times. (Got any ideas? Drop me a line or tweet ’em at me.)

+ This list of songs that sound suspiciously similar to other songs will get you wondering which you heard first.
+ If you’ve been worrying you’re cheugy, don’t worry—cheugy is cool again!
+ Are these the most stylish coffee shops in the world?
+ Love it or hate it, the indie sleaze rebirth has been documented in a new book.
+ Seeing magic tricks from an alternative angle answers a lot of questions, even if it destroys the mystique.
+ That’s one funny looking sea chicken.
+ All hail dad rock! Send this piece to the prog rock appreciator in your life.

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By: Rhiannon Williams
Title: The Download: China’s disinfection obsession, and US anti-disinformation board woes
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Published Date: Thu, 19 May 2022 12:00:00 +0000

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LATAM crypto exchange Bitso and FMF launch NFT of Mexico’s National Team jerseys



Bitso, a leading cryptocurrency platform operating in Latin America, and the Mexican Football Federation (FMF), today announced the joint launch of the first collectible NFT of the Mexico National Team’s jerseys that was acquired in cryptocurrencies.

This morning through their social media platforms, the FMF and Bitso announced the opportunity to acquire the new official National Team fan jerseys ahead of the team’s participation in the 2022 World Cup. In just 20 minutes, the entire collection sold out.

The NFTs of the jerseys have an exclusive design for the metaverse – each is unique on the blockchain and can be resold by its owner in subsequent transactions.

The collection consisted of 100 official physical jerseys, each with a corresponding NFT version of the jersey that fans’ avatars can wear within the Decentraland metaverse. Each physical and NFT jersey set sold for the equivalent of $1,800 MXN in ethers.

“Our mission is to make cryptocurrency useful in the everyday life of Mexicans; we are committed to spreading the technology through innovative opportunities that help people throughout the country familiarize themselves with this new world. We are very excited to offer the incredible, historic opportunity for the fans of our National Team so that through their Bitso account, they can wear the colors of the National Team on and ‘off’ the field in the metaverse.”
– Bárbara González Briseño, General Director of Bitso México

Jersey NFTs

Created by Bitso, the virtual jersey sports the official colors of Mexico and the new National Team shield, characteristics that will make it stand out when users wear it in the virtual world of Decentraland.

The post LATAM crypto exchange Bitso and FMF launch NFT of Mexico’s National Team jerseys appeared first on CryptoNinjas.

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Title: LATAM crypto exchange Bitso and FMF launch NFT of Mexico’s National Team jerseys
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Published Date: Fri, 29 Jul 2022 15:19:02 +0000

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Long-running crypto exchange EXMO unveils “lively” rebrand amidst growth



EXMO, a crypto exchange platform operating since 2014, announced this week a rebranded visual identity with includes a new logo, brand colors, and design features. This new branding comes as EXMO continues to grow its crypto platform while also seeking to expand its presence in other jurisdictions.

Some new developments underway at EXMO:

Soon, users will be able to earn passive income from EXMO’s new staking platform.Plans to launch an EXMO crypto debit card.Expansion of its services in international markets with the opening of offices in Poland and Lithuania.

EXMO’s new logo

The rationale for the re-brand:

“At EXMO, we have a vision of a world where crypto is in every wallet. Hassle-free. We want to achieve this by making crypto as simple and accessible to everyone as possible. And we know that you already appreciate EXMO for offering user-friendly services and helpful support. Also for the opportunity to trade anywhere and anytime, closing deals in just a few taps. Such important changes required a rethinking of our corporate style, which has long needed a massive upgrade. So today we are introducing a new brand identity for EXMO with a completely new visual concept. We are launching a new logo, brand colors, and design elements. Our key design principles are simplicity, boldness, and a pinch of fun. But most importantly, we have changed our logo. Simple and easily recognizable, it represents the humanity of our brand. The logo stands out due to the wavy letter ‘m’ which symbolizes exchange rate charts and also resembles a spring that will launch you into the crypto world.”
– The EXMO Team regarding the re-branding

The post Long-running crypto exchange EXMO unveils “lively” rebrand amidst growth appeared first on CryptoNinjas.

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Title: Long-running crypto exchange EXMO unveils “lively” rebrand amidst growth
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Published Date: Tue, 26 Jul 2022 08:10:38 +0000

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Stitching together the grid will save lives as extreme weather worsens



The blistering heat waves that set temperature records across much of the US in recent days have strained electricity systems, threatening to knock out power in vulnerable regions of the country. 

The electricity has largely stayed online so far this summer, but there have been scattered problems and close calls already. 

Heavy use of energy-sucking air-conditioners is the biggest problem. But intense heat can also reduce the output of power plants, blow transformers, and force power lines to sag. Severe droughts across large parts of the country have also significantly reduced the availability of hydroelectric power, according to the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC). 

It’s unlikely to get better soon. A number of grid operators may struggle to meet peak summer demand, creating the risk of rolling blackouts, the NERC report notes.

The nation’s isolated and antiquated grids are in desperate need of upgrades to keep the lights, heat, and air-conditioning on in the midst of extreme weather events that climate change is making more common, severe, and dangerous. One clear way to ease many of these issues is to more tightly integrate the country’s regional grids, stitching them together with more long-range transmission lines. 

If electricity generated in one area can be more easily shared across much wider regions, power can simply flow to where it’s needed at those moments when customers crank up air-conditioners en masse, or when power plants or fuel supply lines fail amid soaring temperatures, wildfires, hurricanes, or other events, says Liza Reed, a research manager focused on transmission at the Niskanen Center, a Washington, DC, think tank.  

The problem is it’s proved difficult to build more long-range transmission and grid interconnections for a variety of reasons, including the permitting challenges of erecting wires through private and public lands across cities, counties, and states and the reluctance of local authorities to forfeit control or submit to greater federal oversight.

The case of Texas

The unreliability of the US grid is not a new problem. Severe heat and winter storms have repeatedly exposed the frailty of electricity systems in recent years, leaving thousands to millions of people without power as temperatures spiked or plunged.

One of the fundamental challenges is that the grids today are highly fragmented. There are three main electricity networks within the US: the Eastern Grid, the Western Grid, and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). But there are numerous regional transmission organizations within those first two systems, including the California Independent System Operator, Southwest Power Pool, PJM Interconnection, New York ISO, and more. 

These grids form a complex web of networks operating under different regulators, rules and market structures, and often with limited connections between them.

Map USA grid
A variety of regional transmission organizations oversee different parts of the nation’s aging and fragmented grids, which operate under different rules and with often limited connections between them.

ERCOT is especially isolated, in part because of the desire among local politicians, citizens, and power companies to avoid added competition, the hassle of following other states’ rules, and oversight from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). But the state offers a case study in why that can be a serious problem amid increasingly harsh climate conditions, Reed says.

The Texas grid operator pleaded with customers several times earlier this month to cut electricity use as blistering summer temperatures created  demand surges that threatened to outstrip supply and require rolling blackouts.  Low wind conditions, cloud cover, and outages at fossil-fuel power plants added to the strains.

Shutting off the electricity needed to run air-conditioning in triple-digit temperatures

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By: James Temple
Title: Stitching together the grid will save lives as extreme weather worsens
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Published Date: Thu, 28 Jul 2022 08:00:00 +0000

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