The Hard-Luck Texas Town That Bet on Bitcoinand Lost

In 1952, The Saturday Evening Post christened Rockdale, Texas, “The Town Where It Rains Money.” An estimated 100 million tons of lignite coal lay buried a few miles south of the city limits, and Alcoa had just swooped in to build a $100 million smelter that would use the cheap energy source to produce aluminum for fighter planes, skyscrapers, auto­mobiles, and more. “At the mere mention of somebody blowing into town with $100,000,000 to spend, many citi­zens were seized by attacks of vertigo,” wrote local author George Sessions-Perry. “Others merely went off and lay down in an effort to regain their composure. Then things began to happen.” Seemingly overnight, Rockdale’s population doubled to 5,000. A photo accompanying the Post story …

Wellness Startup’s Generic Viagra Ads Flout Facebook Rules

On television and radio, the ads are fairly innocuous: “Hey guy,” a female narrator says playfully in one TV spot for Hims, a men’s wellness brand that sells prescription drugs to treat erectile dysfunction, oral herpes, social anxiety, hair loss, and other conditions. “Hi there. Welcome to Hims.” The ad invites viewers to “get ED treatment started for only $5,” next to a close-up of a young man pressing a white pill seductively to his lips. What appear to be customer reviews are superimposed over the image: “Should have done it years ago and I feel like the young stud that I always imagined I was," says one. "Outstanding product, works above and beyond our expectations," reads another. Much like …

The One Free Press Coalition Spotlights Journalists Under Attack

In May 2019, WIRED joined the One Free Press Coalition, a united group of preeminent editors and publishers using their global reach and social platforms to spotlight journalists under attack worldwide. Today, the coalition is issuing its fifth monthly “10 Most Urgent” list of journalists whose press freedoms are being suppressed or whose cases demand justice. Jamal Khashoggi, the murdered columnist for The Wash­ington Post, remains atop the list following a UN report that blames Saudi Arabia for his murder. Norma Sarabia is on the list now too. So far in 2019, Mexico is the deadliest country for journalists: At least three journalists have been confirmed killed in connection with their work, and the Committee to Protect Journalists is investigating …

A Device to Detect ‘Aggression’ in Schools Often Misfires

This story was co-published with ProPublica. Ariella Russcol specializes in drama at the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Queens, New York, and the senior’s performance on this April afternoon didn’t disappoint. While the library is normally the quietest room in the school, her ear-piercing screams sounded more like a horror movie than study hall. But they weren’t enough to set off a small microphone in the ceiling that was supposed to detect aggression. A few days later, at the Staples Pathways Academy in Westport, Connecticut, junior Sami D’Anna inadvertently triggered the same device with a less spooky sound—a coughing fit from a lingering chest cold. As she hacked and rasped, a message popped up on its web interface: …

San Francisco’s E-Cigarette Ban Aims to Goose the FDA

San Francisco city officials voted unanimously on Tuesday to suspend the sale and delivery of electronic cigarettes until the products are approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The legislation, which still requires a second vote from SF's Board of Supervisors and the mayor’s signature, would go into effect seven months after being passed—giving e-cigarette makers until early next year to win approval from the FDA. The measure is intended to help stem the explosive popularity of e-cigarettes among young people, which the US Surgeon General has described as an epidemic. But it’s not clear that making e-cigarettes illegal will stop teenagers from vaping. “We’ll see if it changes behavior,” says Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, a professor at Stanford who studies how …

Are Rare Earths the Next Pawn in the US-China Trade War?

Since the Trump administration blocked sales by US companies to Chinese telecom giant Huawei last month, the world has waited for Beijing to retaliate. Previously, the trade conflict between the US and China centered on escalating tariffs. While tariffs make things more expensive; they don't cut off supplies entirely. But when the US Department of Commerce effectively forbade US companies from providing US-made technologies, including chips and crucial software like the Google Play app store, to Huawei, it was a major blow to one of China's highest-profile companies. One possible arena for retaliation, in the minds of analysts: rare earth elements. China is the leading producer and processor of rare earths, with about 37 percent of the world's reserves, according …

Choosing the Wrong Lane in the Race to 5G

The chatter about 5G is everywhere. It’s a worldwide race. It’s a security challenge. It’s a geopolitical battle between the United States and China. By some accounts, 5G is already here; by others, true 5G is still years away. There is more than a kernel of truth in this rhetorical excess. That’s because the next generation of essential infrastructure in this country will be built using wireless technology. As a result, the next iteration of wireless service—5G—is truly important for our future civic and commercial life. With as much as 100 times the speed as current generation wireless networks and reduced latency, we can use wireless data to enhance our interactions with the world around us and create new opportunities …

Poland Spring water will be sold in recycled bottles

New York (CNN Business)Poland Spring water that is still and under one gallon will be sold in recycled plastic bottles by 2022, Nestl Waters North America shared on Monday. But the commitments aren’t easy to pull off. Recycling infrastructure is more built up in some US cities than others, and rules for what can be recycled differ from place to place. And in order for recyclers to get the materials they need, people have to dispose of their waste correctly. With so many moving parts, companies have to do a lot to make sure they can keep those promises. Nestlé is one company, like several others, that has poured money into the Closed Loop Fund, which invests in recycling technologies. …

Jamba Juice is dropping ‘juice’ from its name

New York (CNN Business)Jamba Juice is squeezing out part of its name. It’s now simply now known as “Jamba.” “Food and beverage category lines are blurring so fast, especially in the premium functional segment, that it no longer makes sense to limit a brand’s identity,” said Duane Stanford, executive editor of Beverage Digest, a trade publication. “Smart brands are creating platforms that have meaning and meet consumers wherever they are.” Jamba changed its name as “juice” has become a dirty word in recent years. People are trying to reduce the number of empty calories and sugar they consume, so they aren’t drinking as much as sugar-laden juice as they used to. In 2012, American shoppers bought about 4 billion gallons …

MacKenzie Bezos and the Pitfalls of Tech Philanthropy

Nearly two months after her divorce from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was finalized, MacKenzie Bezos has made a plan to be far more generous than she and her former husband were as a couple. When the pair split, she became one of the richest women in the world, with a fortune estimated to be worth more than $36 billion. Now she wants to start giving it away. “I have a disproportionate amount of money to share,” MacKenzie, a novelist, wrote bluntly in an otherwise literary letter announcing her decision to join the Giving Pledge Tuesday. “My approach to philanthropy will continue to be thoughtful. It will take time and effort and care. But I won’t wait. And I will keep …

5G Is Coming, and Its Fortified With Fiber

The next generation of wireless tech, 5G, promises a frictionless future: We'll be able to do whatever we do on our phones much, much faster, and more devices can come online without slowing down the works. Self-driving cars, smart meters that track electricity usage, and health-monitoring devices may all take a big leap from childhood to adolescence. 5G will happen in the airy realm of radio waves. To get there, big telecoms have to harness underused parts of the spectrum. But there's another crucial part underlying this system: lowly cable. Huge numbers of new transmitters will be needed to relay all that data to your phone, and many of those transmitters will still connect to the internet through fiber-optic cable—glass …

Why Amazon Is Giving Employees $10,000 to Quit

The so-called last mile of delivery—getting an order to the customer’s door—has long been an obsession for ecommerce companies. To make the journey as efficient as they can, some have engaged in extreme experiments. Take Walmart: Two years ago, it tried asking its employees to deliver online orders before and after work, in their own cars. That idea was later abandoned, but the problem of the last mile remains, even for the biggest retailers. Now, Amazon is offering to pay its employees thousands of dollars to deliver packages—they just have to quit their current jobs first. Last June, Amazon created the Delivery Service Partner program to allow entrepreneurs to create their own businesses delivering packages for Amazon. The idea was …

The EPA is meant to protect us. The Monsanto trials proves it isn’t | Nathan Donley and Carey Gillam

Three public trials involving Monsanto have raised troubling questions about lax oversight of all pesticides by the Environmental Protection Agency Ever since Monsanto introduced its line of Roundup weedkillers to the world in 1974, the products have been touted by the company and regulators as extremely safe. The corporate secrets in three public trials has revealed a covert campaign to cover-up the pesticides risks and raised troubling questions about lax oversight of all pesticides by the Environmental Protection Agency and other regulatory agencies that are supposed to be protecting public health. Two recently concluded Roundup product liability never conducted epidemiology studies for Roundup and its other formulations made with the active ingredient glyphosate, to see if the products could lead …

Here’s one tax that restaurant owners just might approve of | Gene Marks

Anthony Myint is promoting an optional 1% tax on dinner bills to help support California farmers tackle climate change Ask any restaurant owner today and theyll tell you that running their business is not easy. Costs are creeping up, margins are tight and the competition is tough. So the last thing a restaurateur would want is another tax, right? Maybe not. Thats what Anthony Myint is hoping. Myint is the co-owner of Mission Chinese, a popular restaurant with locations in the Bay Area and New York. Hes concerned with the environment and particularly global warming. So he has decided to do something about it. And because of his efforts, the state of California will have a new tax this fall …

The Existential Crisis Plaguing Online Extremism Researchers

A couple of hours after the Christchurch massacre, I was on the phone with Whitney Phillips, a Syracuse professor whose research focuses on online extremists and media manipulators. Toward the end of the call, our conversation took an unexpected turn. Phillips said she was exhausted and distressed, and that she felt overwhelmed by the nature of her work. She described a “soul sucking” feeling stemming in part from an ethical conundrum tied to researching the ills of online extremism and amplification. In a connected, searchable world, it’s hard to share information about extremists and their tactics without also sharing their toxic views. Too often, actions intended to stem the spread of false and dangerous ideologies only make things worse. The …

Huawei Still Has Friends in Europe, Despite US Warnings

US Secretary of state Mike Pompeo warned US allies in February against using technology built by Chinese telecom giant Huawei, going so far as to suggest the US might stop sharing intelligence with countries whose communications infrastructures rely on Huawei’s equipment. Pompeo's remarks during a European speaking tour echoed years of concerns from the US government over the possibility that Huawei might use its products to help China spy on US citizens. Huawei has repeatedly denied that it has spied or would spy on US citizens on behalf of China, and it sued the US government over a law banning government agencies from doing business with companies that buy gear from Huawei and its fellow Chinese telecom giant ZTE. But …