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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.

Meet the LGBTQ activists fighting to be themselves online in Malaysia

Nur Sajat Kamaruzzaman has been a public figure in Malaysia for well over a decade. Classically beautiful, she has built a following of hundreds of thousands on Instagram. But as a trans woman living in conservative Islamic Malaysia, her online popularity—and the opportunities it afforded her—only grew in parallel with the risks.

Vile online abuse escalated into accusations she was to blame for the outbreak of covid-19 in Malaysia, death threats, and eventually being arrested and charged with “insulting Islam.” Earlier this year, she fled to Australia to escape a court hearing.

Although Nur Sajat’s story is by far the most high-profile, it is just one of many that illustrate how online platforms have evolved into a double-edged sword for Malaysia’s LGBTQ communities. 

Despite creating invaluable opportunities for LGBTQ people to connect, communicate, and advocate for their rights, online participation also leaves them exposed to censorship, surveillance, and attack. Read the full story.

—Megan Tatum

The must-reads

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

1 An AI trained on 4Chan spews out toxic hate speech
Considering the material it was trained on, this outcome was depressingly inevitable. (Motherboard)
AI still sucks at moderating hate speech. (MIT Technology Review)

2 Apple is going to have to change how it charges iPhones
A new deal requires all phones sold in the European Union to use USB-C ports by 2024. (The Verge)
iPhones sold in the UK won’t have to comply with the demand. (BBC)
It’s good news for reducing electronic waste. (Protocol)

3 There’s a fight brewing over crypto mining in New York

And crypto enthusiasts are worrying other states may follow suit. (NYT $)
How Bitcoin mining devastated this New York town. (MIT Technology Review)
The crypto industry is happy about its newly-proposed regulator. (WP $)

4 How the Amazon’s rivers made it a biodiversity haven
Creating lush microenvironments for wildlife to thrive in. (Quanta)
We aren’t terrified enough about losing the Amazon. (MIT Technology Review)

5 These YouTubers are exposing the video games industry’s failings
And they’re facing plenty of backlash along the way. (WP $)

6 Disinformation is running rampant in Kenya ahead of its elections
Including attempts to stoke ethnic tensions. (Rest of World)

7 Neptune is a mystery
And it’s possible it may stay that way until into the 2050s. (The Atlantic $)
On the other hand, we’ll get an indepth look at Venus in 2030. (Inverse)
Space debris is a growing problem. (FT $)

8 How a fake juror in the Depp v Heard trial went viral
And contributed to the slew of cruel anti-Heard content circulating online. (CNN)

9 What the lived experiences of people with schizophrenia can teach us
First-person accounts of delusions help experts understand how they actually work. (Wired $)

10 How TikTok turned Gen Z into bookworms

And gave the publishing industry a vital shot in the arm. (The Guardian)

Quote of the day

“We can do this without the technology, but why would we? We’re using technology in a way that doesn’t conflict with our morals.”

—Ben, an office manager who is Amish, discusses how his company makes millions of dollars selling products online, reports Wired.

The big story

A nonprofit promised to preserve wildlife. Then it made millions claiming it could cut down trees

May 2021

The Massachusetts Audubon Society has long managed its land as a crucial wildlife habitat. But in 2015, the conservation nonprofit presented California’s top climate regulator with a startling proposal: to heavily log 9,700 acres of its preserved forests over the next few years.

The nonprofit received more than 600,000 carbon credits, which allow polluters to emit more CO2 than they’d otherwise be allowed to under state law, in exchange for its promise. The vast majority were sold through intermediaries to oil and gas companies, and the group earned about $6 million from the sales. On paper, the deal was a success. The fossil fuel companies were able to emit more CO2 while abiding by California’s emissions laws. But it didn’t work out as well for the climate. Read the full story.

—Lisa Song and James Temple

We can still have nice things

A place for comfort, fun and distraction in these weird times. (Got any ideas?

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By: Rhiannon Williams
Title: The Download: Malaysia’s LGBTQ activists, and 4Chan’s toxic AI
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Published Date: Wed, 08 Jun 2022 13:39:58 +0000


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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