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Worth Reading

Vaccines, Bitcoins, and Catalytic Converters

Vaccine Update

Instagram banned Robert F. Kennedy Jr. for spreading vaccine misinformation (NPR) and then, in an op-ed for Politico, several of his relatives expressed their love but unequivocally said “he is part of a misinformation campaign that’s having heartbreaking—and deadly—consequences.” However, experts say vaccine misinformation crackdown is coming too late. (Axios)

Meanwhile, about 10 percent of Americans have been vaccinated. (Axios) And scientists like Dr. Kayvon Modjarrad, of the Emerging Infectious Diseases Branch at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, and Dr. Eric Topol of the Scripps Research Institute, are asking a powerful question: Could a Single Vaccine Work Against All Coronaviruses? (NYT) (Topol just agreed to speak at Techonomy’s Digitally United virtual conference in March.)

The Many Impacts of the Digital Divide

Reporting in WIRED confirms that nothing is sacred when it comes to the digital divide. “Churches with less of a digital presence tend to be located in rural areas. Their congregations are more likely to be older, lower-income, and Black. Those demographic groups are also less likely to have access to broadband, and they have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, both in health and economic outcomes.”

And no reliable internet often means no vaccines for many underserved populations. Fast Company reports on how a lack of internet has limited vaccine access for racial minorities. It also outlines some solutions and policy recommendations, including government subsidies, training programs, and partnerships with trusted community leaders and organizations like Meals on Wheels.  

Plus, an estimated–and shocking–12 million American students still lack the connection or devices needed for virtual learning. One step in the right direction – Democrats plan $7.6B for remote learning in big new COVID package. (Axios)

Twitter and Free Speech in India

“Twitter…suspended hundreds of Twitter accounts, several with links to farmers’ protests on agricultural reforms, at the request of New Delhi early last week, but then reversed its decision within hours citing users’ freedom of speech,” reports Manish Singh for TechCrunch. Then it reversed the reversal. Buzzfeed has more on the evolving story. And Quartz gives a primer on Koo, the homegrown alternative the Indian government is backing because Twitter won’t bend to its will.

Bitcoin Bonanza

Twitter is also making headlines since its CFO told CNBC the company is considering adding bitcoin to its balance sheet. (Business Insider) Elon Musk is of course already in on the action. Tesla announced this week that it bought $1.5 billion in bitcoin and plans to accept it as payment. (CNBC)

Also worth noting – Bitcoin consumes ‘more electricity than Argentina’. Yowza. (BBC)

Personal Gripes

A pandemic-induced relocation to Los Angeles left me driving my mom’s old Prius. One morning I started the car and heard a Harley Davidson motorcycle gang pull up behind me. “How rude,” I thought. But NO – I was the cause of the cacophony! My catalytic converter had been stolen overnight. Stricter emissions rules (yay!) have sent the price of the precious metals found in “cats” soaring, and now my own experience underscores this NY Times piece: Thieves Nationwide Are Slithering Under Cars, Swiping Catalytic Converters (boo!). The replacement cost me $3k. You’ve been warned.

I’m also one of those Epstein-Barr ‘80s babies who is allergic to everything. So, in addition to the existential crisis I have to deal with, a new study shows Climate Change Lengthening Pollen Season in U.S. (NYT)

And in case you missed it, a hacker tried to poison Florida city’s water supply. [Gulp…spit]. (Vice)

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