StackCommerce buys Joyus to focus on video and expand into fashion, shopping and beauty

StackCommerce, which sells articles sponsored by brands and published on websites, has acquired the online video marketing company Joyus in an all cash transaction to expand its advertising footprint in media targeting women and work more with online video.

The media market for fashion, women’s health, and shopping is a new one for StackCommerce which has worked closely with websites like Mashable, Engadget and others. The company’s service is similar to Wirecutter, offering brands a chance to sell their gear on websites with sponsored reviews.

Now, with Joyus, which started life as an online Home Shopping Network and pivoted into providing video reviews for websites like Aol (which is owned by Oath, which also owns me and my words) or Refinery29, StackCommerce can go after publishers that focus on health, fashion, beauty, and design.

While Joyus had raised $67 million in financing from investors including Accel Partners, Marker, Steamboat Ventures, InterWest Partners, and TimeWarner Investments, StackCommerce took a much more capital efficient approach to its growth.

The Los Angeles-based startup had raised a minuscule $800,000 in seed funding back in 2012 (it was the company’s only outside investment). Backers in that round included 500 Startups, Amplify.LA, Draper Associates, EchoVC Partners, Paige Craig, Tim Draper, and Wavemaker Partners.

Terms of the acquisition were undisclosed, but a person familiar with the transaction said it was less than $50 million.

As a result of the acquisition, Joyus’ team is getting cut, according to a person with knowledge of the deal. Select team members will be joining StackCommerce in specific roles that have yet to be determined the person said.

While this is StackCommerce’s first acquisition, it likely won’t be the company’s last. The company, which is working with over 750 publishers today, will likely want to expand its suite of monetization tools to include data targeting and personalization and subscription-based services.

From its humble beginnings in Los Angeles, StackCommerce has grown to employ 65 people form its headquarters in Venice. The company rolled out two new offerings earlier this year including a  Brand Studio product that lets publishers make on-demand advertising copy using the company’s editorial and video resources, and a feature called Momentum which distributes the company’s white-labeled reviews and advertisements across different social media properties.

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Was there ever life on Mars? If there was, it might have been here.

Life on Mars.

Astronomy’s white whale.

Scientists have found yet another clue as to where it may have once existed.

Researchers examining images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have uncovered “massive” hydrothermal deposits in the planet’s southern hemisphere, likely remnants of the same volcanic-activity-plus-water cocktail that provided the ingredients for early life on Earth.

“Even if we never find evidence that there’s been life on Mars, this site can tell us about the type of environment where life may have begun on Earth,” Paul Niles of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston announced in a press release marking the discovery.

The deposits are roughly 3.7 billion years old, according to researcher estimates.

Because Earth’s crust is constantly shifting, it’s virtually impossible to find parts of our planet containing evidence of the early primordial soup party that likely paved the way for the rest of us to evolve.

A visualization of how deep the water most likely was in Mars’ Eridania basin, where the deposits were found. Image via NASA.

Having similar environments to study on another, slightly maroon-er planet just down the cosmic road from us could be a boon for researchers, whether or not they ever dig up Martian skeletons (or, far more likely, bacterial fossils).

Such environments contain ideal conditions for “life that doesn’t need a nice atmosphere or temperate surface, but just rocks, heat and water,” according to Niles.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter launched in 2005 in an effort to determine if water covered Mars’ surface long enough for life to emerge.

Since entering orbit around the planet the following year, the probe has photographed craters full of ice, polar avalanches, and widespread mineral deposits similar to the one just found.

Thanks to the orbiter’s continued good health, the search for evidence that life once walked (swam? slithered? cilia-paddled?) the red planet goes on — with a new signpost on the trail.

Could a breakthrough be imminent?

Perhaps in…

You never know with Mars.

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Facing poverty, academics turn to sex work and sleeping in cars

Adjunct professors in America face low pay and long hours without the security of full-time faculty. Some, on the brink of homelessness, take desperate measures

There is nothing she would rather do than teach. But after supplementing her career with tutoring and proofreading, the university lecturer decided to go to remarkable lengths to make her career financially viable.

She first opted for her side gig during a particularly rough patch, several years ago, when her course load was suddenly cut in half and her income plunged, putting her on the brink of eviction. In my mind I was like, Ive had one-night stands, how bad can it be? she said. And it wasnt that bad.

The wry but weary-sounding middle-aged woman, who lives in a large US city and asked to remain anonymous to protect her reputation, is an adjunct instructor, meaning she is not a full-time faculty member at any one institution and strings together a living by teaching individual courses, in her case at multiple colleges.


I feel committed to being the person whos there to help millennials, the next generation, go on to become critical thinkers, she said. And Im really good at it, and I really like it. And its heartbreaking to me it doesnt pay what I feel it should.

Sex work is one of the more unusual ways that adjuncts have avoided living in poverty, and perhaps even homelessness. A quarter of part-time college academics (many of whom are adjuncts, though its not uncommon for adjuncts to work 40 hours a week or more) are said to be enrolled in public assistance programs such as Medicaid.

They resort to food banks and Goodwill, and there is even an adjuncts cookbook that shows how to turn items like beef scraps, chicken bones and orange peel into meals. And then there are those who are either on the streets or teetering on the edge of losing stable housing. The Guardian has spoken to several such academics, including an adjunct living in a shack north of Miami, and another sleeping in her car in Silicon Valley.

The adjunct who turned to sex work makes several thousand dollars per course, and teaches about six per semester. She estimates that she puts in 60 hours a week. But she struggles to make ends meet after paying $1,500 in monthly rent and with student loans that, including interest, amount to a few hundred thousand dollars. Her income from teaching comes to $40,000 a year. Thats significantly more than most adjuncts: a 2014 survey found that the median income for adjuncts is only $22,041 a year, whereas for full-time faculty it is $47,500.

We take a kind of vow of poverty

Recent reports have revealed the extent of poverty among professors, but the issue is longstanding. Several years ago, it was thrust into the headlines in dramatic fashion when Mary-Faith Cerasoli, an adjunct professor of Romance languages in her 50s, revealed she was homeless and protested outside the New York state education department.

We take a kind of vow of poverty to continue practicing our profession, Debra Leigh Scott, who is working on a documentary about adjuncts, said in an email. We do it because we are dedicated to scholarship, to learning, to our students and to our disciplines.

Adjuncting has grown as funding for public universities has fallen by more than a quarterbetween 1990 and 2009. Private institutions also recognize the allure of part-time professors: generally they are cheaper than full-time staff, dont receive benefits or support for their personal research, and their hours can be carefully limited so they do not teach enough to qualify for health insurance.

This is why adjuncts have been called the fast-food workers of the academic world: among labor experts adjuncting is defined as precarious employment, a growing category that includes temping and sharing-economy gigs such as driving for Uber. An American Sociological Association taskforce focusing on precarious academic jobs, meanwhile, has suggested that faculty employment is no longer a stable middle-class career.

Adjunct English professor Ellen James-Penney and her husband live in a car with their two dogs. They have developed a system. Keep nothing on the dash, nothing on the floor you cant look like youre homeless, you cant dress like youre homeless. Photograph: Talia Herman for the Guardian

The struggle to stay in housing can take many forms, and a second job is one way adjuncts seek to buoy their finances. The professor who turned to sex work said it helps her keep her toehold in the rental market.

This is something I chose to do, she said, adding that for her it is preferable to, say, a six-hour shift at a bar after teaching all day. I dont want it to come across as, Oh, I had no other choice, this is how hard my life is.

Advertising online, she makes about $200 an hour for sex work. She sees clients only a handful of times during the semester, and more often during the summer, when classes end and she receives no income.

Im terrified that a student is going to come walking in, she said. And the financial concerns have not ceased. I constantly have tension in my neck from gritting my teeth all night.

To keep their homes, some adjuncts are forced to compromise on their living space.

Caprice Lawless, 65, a teacher of English composition and a campaigner for better working conditions for adjuncts, resides in an 1100 sq ft brick house near Boulder, Colorado. She bought it following a divorce two decades ago. But because her $18,000 income from teaching almost full time is so meager, she has remortgaged the property several times, and has had to rent her home to three other female housemates.

I live paycheck to paycheck and Im deeply in debt, she said, including from car repairs and a hospitalization for food poisoning.

Like every other adjunct, she says, she opted for the role thinking it would be a path to full-time work. She is so dependent on her job to maintain her living situation that when her mother died this summer, she didnt take time off in part because she has no bereavement leave. She turned up for work at 8am the next day, taught in a blur and, despite the cane she has used since a hip replacement, fell over in the parking lot.

If she were to lose her home her only hope, she says, would be government-subsidized housing.

Most of my colleagues are unjustifiably ashamed, she said. They take this personally, as if theyve failed, and Im always telling them, you havent failed, the system has failed you.

A precarious situation

Even more desperate are those adjuncts in substandard living spaces who cannot afford to fix them. Mindy Percival, 61, a lecturer with a doctorate from Columbia, teaches history at a state college in Florida and, in her words, lives in a shack which is in the woods in middle of nowhere.

Lecturer Mindy Percivals mobile home in Stuart, Florida. Her oven, shower and water heater dont work. Photograph: Courtesy of Mindy Percival

The mobile home she inhabits, located in the town of Stuart, north of Miami, was donated to her about eight years ago. It looks tidyon the outside, but inside there are holes in the floor and the paneling is peeling off the walls. She has no washing machine, and the oven, shower and water heater dont work. Im on the verge of homelessness, constantly on the verge, she said.

Percival once had a tenure-track job but left to care for her elderly mother, not expecting it would be impossible to find a similar position. Now, two weeks after being paid, I might have a can with $5 in change in it. Her 18-year-old car broke down after Hurricane Irma, and she is driven to school by a former student, paying $20 a day for gas.

I am trying to get out so terribly hard, she said.

Homelessness is a genuine prospect for adjuncts. When Ellen Tara James-Penney finishes work, teaching English composition and critical thinking at San Jose State University in Silicon Valley, her husband, Jim, picks her up. They have dinner and drive to a local church, where Jim pitches a tent by the car and sleeps there with one of their rescue dogs. In the car, James-Penney puts the car seats down and sleeps with another dog. She grades papers using a headlamp.

Over the years, she said, they have developed a system. Keep nothing on the dash, nothing on the floor you cant look like youre homeless, you cant dress like youre homeless. Dont park anywhere too long so the cops dont stop you.

James-Penney, 54, has struggled with homelessness since 2007, when she began studying for her bachelors degree. Jim, 64, used to be a trucker but cannot work owing to a herniated disk. Ellen made $28,000 last year, a chunk of which goes to debt repayments. The remainder is not enough to afford Silicon Valley rent.

At night, instead of a toilet they must use cups or plastic bags and baby wipes. To get clean, they find restrooms and we have what we call the sink-shower, James-Penney said. The couple keep their belongings in the back of the car and a roof container. All the while they deal with the consequences of ageing James-Penney has osteoporosis in a space too small to even stand up.

James-Penney does not hide her situation from her class. If her students complain about the homeless people who can sometimes be seen on campus, she will say:Youre looking at someone who is homeless.

That generally stops any kind of sound in the room, she says. I tell them, your parents could very well be one paycheck away, one illness away, from homelessness, so it is not something to be ashamed of.

Ellen James-Penney teaching an English class at San Jose State University in California. She tells her students, youre looking at someone who is homeless. Photograph: Talia Herman for the Guardian

I hung on to the dream

Many adjuncts are seeking to change their lot by unionizing, and have done so at dozens of schools in recent years. They are notching successes; some have seen annual pay increases of about 5% to almost 20%, according to Julie Schmid, executive director of the American Association of University Professors.

Schools are often opposed to such efforts and say unions will result in higher costs for students. And for certain adjuncts, any gains will come too late.

Mary-Faith Cerasoli, 56, the homeless adjunct who captured the publics attention with her protest in New York three years ago, said that in the aftermath little changed in termsof her living situation. Two generous people, a retiree and then a nurse, offered her temporary accommodation, but she subsequently ended up in a tent pitched at a campground and, after that, a broken sailboat docked in the Hudson river.

But there was, however, one shift. All the moving around made it hard for her to make teaching commitments, and in any case the pay remained terrible, so she gave it up. She currently lives in a subsidized room in a shared house in a wealthy county north of New York.

For Rebecca Snow, 51, another adjunct who quit teaching after a succession of appalling living situations, there is a sense of having been freed, even though finances continue to be stressful.

Author Rebecca Snow, now retired from adjuncting, has moved to a small apartment just north of Spokane, Washington. Photograph: Rajah Bose for the Guardian

She began teaching English composition at a community college in the Denver area in 2005, but the poor conditions of the homes she could afford meant she had to move every year or two. She left one place because of bedbugs, another when raw sewage flowed into her bathtub and the landlord failed to properly fix the pipes.

Sometimes her teenage son would have to stay with her ex-husband when she couldnt provide a stable home. Snow even published a poem about adjuncts housing difficulties.

In the end she left the profession when the housing and job insecurity became too much, and her bills too daunting. Today she lives in a quiet apartment above the garage of a friends home, located 15 miles outside Spokane, Washington. She has a view of a lake and forested hills and, with one novel under her belt, is working on a second.

Teaching was the fantasy, she said, but life on the brink of homelessness was the reality.

I realized I hung on to the dream for too long.

  • Do you have an experience of homelessness to share with the Guardian? Get in touch

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McCain Urges Bipartisan Tax Effort, Echoing Health Demands

Senator John McCain of Arizona is laying down the same marker on tax legislation as he did on health care, demanding regular order and support from both parties — a stance that has proved pivotal in thwarting Senate Republican efforts to undo Obamacare.

“We need to do it in a bipartisan fashion,” McCain said Tuesday of planned tax legislation, arguing that the major congressional reforms that have stood the test of time since the 20th century have included buy-in from both parties. “I am committed, as I’ve said before, to a bipartisan approach, such as we’ve been doing in the Armed Services Committee for the last 53 years,” he told reporters in the Capitol.

McCain cast the decisive vote in July to defeat the GOP’s so-called “skinny repeal” of Obamacare, complaining about the rushed process and lack of bipartisanship. His opposition to the Senate’s latest repeal effort, a bill written by Senators Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy, led to its demise this week.

McCain’s tax demands cut against GOP leaders’ plans to use the same fast-track procedure on taxes as they tried to use on health care. That procedure requires 50 Senate votes and allows for bypassing a potential Democratic filibuster. Because the GOP controls only 52 votes in the Senate, every vote is crucial to their agenda. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he doesn’t expect Democratic support for a tax overhaul, as Democrats disagree with many of the GOP’s proposals to rewrite the tax code.

“Where we go from here is tax reform,” McConnell told reporters Tuesday. “We plan to move forward on our next priority.”

Third-ranking Republican Senator John Thune told reporters that any tax bill would need at least 50 votes for passage, which he said likely means that McCain “would have to be satisfied with his process concerns.”

“There’s certainly comfort in margins. And we don’t have margins for error,” Thune, a South Dakota Republican, said. “Each individual senator is very empowered.”

‘Head in a Bag’

President Donald Trump hosted Republican and Democratic members of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee at the White House Tuesday, a day before the expected roll out of the administration and GOP congressional leaders’ tax framework. Trump expressed optimism about his coming tax push, promising to “cut taxes tremendously for the middle class.”

Before the meeting, Trump said it was “time for both parties to come together” on taxes. But Democrats weren’t impressed, complaining after the meeting that the plan was being written by GOP leaders without their input.

“Trump asked for Democrats to jump on the caboose after the tax train has already left the station,” said Representative Lloyd Doggett of Texas, the top Democrat on a tax-policy subcommittee. “I saw no Democrat ready to jump on board.”

Some Republicans believe failure on taxes is not an option.

“Senator McCain has his reasons for saying that. He’s entitled to them. All I can tell you is that this economy is not going to get better until we do tax reform,” Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana said in an interview.

Asked what would happen if Congress fails on taxes like they did on health care, Kennedy responded: “I may go home and put a bag over my head. And hide my head in a bag.”

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    Amber Rose Says Blac Chyna’s Revenge Porn Lawsuit Against Rob Kardashian Is ‘Giving Women A Voice’

    Amber Rose

    is Blac Chyna‘s No. 1 supporter.

    At her third annual SlutWalk on Sunday, the TV personality addressed how important Chyna’s revenge porn lawsuit against Rob Kardashian is for giving women a voice.

    As you know, the KUWTK star posted nude photos of his baby momma online after the two broke up.

    Related: Amber Blasts Donald Trump In Essay About Feminism

    The 33-year-old responded when asked about her friend’s legal battle:

    “You know, it is extremely important. I always say, before Trump was president, can you imagine me and you, regular girls and he comes up and grabs us by the p****, right? Who do you call? Do you call 911? Or the police officer in your district? Or do you try to call the White House and try to figure it out? Who do you talk to? No one is going to believe you, this is Donald Trump. All they are going to do is scrutinize you and tell you that you just want money. Look what they have been doing to Bill Cosby‘s victims! Me, [Chyna’s attorney], Lisa Bloom, Blac Chyna and everyone and every women out here right now is now giving women a voice that they didn’t have before.”

    Amber also answered questions on the carpet about those those rumors she’s engaged to boyfriend 21 Savage (she’s not), telling Bossip:

    Not yet!

    [Image via Sheri Determan/WENN.]

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    Science Says You Can Actually Sleep Your Way To A Better Life

    Unless the first thing your feet touch in the morning is a pile of sharp nails or surprise pet droppings, waking up on the wrong side of the bed is physically impossible. Waking up from a rough night’s sleep, however, can definitely start the day off on a sour note. And if your quality of sleep can alter an entire day, how is sleep important for your health over a lifetime?

    Wu-Tang Clan once said “cash rules everything around me,” but new research suggests it’s less about the money (money, money), and more about how your sleeping patterns control your quality of life overall. A study conducted by the Oxford Economics and National Center for Social Research asked 8,250 UK residents to complete a survey that focused on the eight pillars of well-being. Out of the eight — some of which include sex life, job security, and relationship status — sleep quality was found to have the most influence over whether or not a person considered themselves to be “living well.”

    While I can’t speak for everyone, I personally feel like I’m living my best life when I can clock in anywhere between six and eight hours of uninterrupted snooze time for multiple nights in a row. It helps me feel more alert, energized, and motivated to give my all in my day-to-day tasks. But sleep can affect much more than how awake you feel throughout the day. In fact, it influences almost every aspect of your life.

    For example, those who sleep less than six hours a night are prone to inflammation and disease.

    A 2010 study performed by Emory University School of Medicine’s cardiology fellow Alanna Morris, MD, assessed the sleep duration and quality of 525 middle-aged participants. Results showed that acute sleep deprivation “leads to an increased production of inflammatory hormones,” as well as changes in blood vessel functionality — aka your blood flow, and how it affects your liver.


    Inflammation can potentially lead to a whole slew of health issues, including diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. You might want to think about that the next time you’re considering skipping a few hours of sleep in favor of finishing up that last season of .

    The FDA-recommended sweet spot for sleep is anywhere from six to eight hours a night, which science says will help reduce stress overall.

    In the opening scene of , Tracy Turnblad rises out of bed, singing and dancing until she reaches the front steps of her high school. I’m not suggesting that a full night’s rest will have you serenading your neighbors with Broadway show tunes, but it’ll definitely have you up and ready to conquer whatever the day has in store.

    Raymonde Jean, MD, director of sleep medicine and associate director of critical care at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York City, told ,

    Sleep can definitely reduce levels of stress, and with that people can have better control of their blood pressure.

    It’s also believed that sleep affects cholesterol levels, which plays a significant role in heart disease.

    Circling back to that idea of waking up on the wrong side of the bed, according to the National Sleep Organization, the right amount of sleep regulates the “feel-good brain chemicals” dopamine and serotonin, causing you to wake up feeling recharged, refreshed, and even more confident. The better you feel, the less likely it is that stressful situations can put a damper on your mood.

    However, there is such a thing as getting too much sleep.

    I’ll be the first to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed all those adolescent years of sleeping in, sometimes past noon, only to laze around the house in my pajamas all weekend long. And while, at the time, snoozing into the early afternoon felt fantastic, sleeping in too often isn’t all that great for your health.

    SKelsey Down, a sleep expert and writer for Sleep Train, tells Elite Daily,

    If you’re sleeping too much, it might be a sign that you’re not getting enough rest due to a health issue like sleep apnea, or that you are depressed.

    Too much sleep might lead to anxiety, lethargy, or reduced cognitive functioning.

    Too little or too much of anything is never beneficial to your health, and surprisingly, that goes for how much you’re sleeping, too. The recommended six to eight hours is definitely the target to aim for, so take a look at your schedule and rearrange accordingly.

    Look, it’s not the end of the world if you’re stuck tossing and turning one night and staying in bed past 10 a.m. the next, but getting the correct amount of sleep will ensure a higher quality of life and that, in my opinion, is worth missing an episode or two of .

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    The People In These Photos Seem Happy, But Their Smiles Hide The Painful Truth

    It’s important that we all know the signs that a family member or loved one is going through a hard time, but the fact is that many people who are depressed or suicidal know how to hide their feelings well.

    Whether it’s because they feel pressure to appear a certain way in public or they don’t want to burden others with their inner turmoil, the fact is that we don’t always know what depression looks like.

    That’s why people on social media are raising awareness by sharing photos with the hashtag #facesofdepression. Just a warning: some of these stories are graphic and involve death. If they may upset you, please protect yourself by not reading.

    1. “This was days before my husband took his own life. Suicidal thoughts were there, but you’d never know.”

    2. “This photo was taken just 7 hours before I tried to take my own life for the 3rd time.”

    3. “This is my son right before going to his computer to look up how to properly hang himself. Two days later, he followed through.”

    4. “You can’t tell can you? You can’t tell by the look in my eyes or the sound of my voice even. You’re thinking ‘You’re smiling though!'”

    5. “This is depression in our home. I fight every day. My husband tries his best but can’t break through. I don’t understand it. I don’t know why I can’t get rid of it.”

    6. “My #faceofdepression, and yes it is possible to be depressed with a child. Hearing, ‘You don’t have a reason to be depressed with her around’ doesn’t do shit but make me feel worse about myself.”

    7. “This is my boyfriend two weeks before hanging himself. Will never understand it.”

    8. “Short, intense depressive episodes are real and horrible. Mothers with mental health problems, I see you. I’m here, standing with you, standing against all odds and raising the future one day at a time whilst battling with our minds. You’re not going unnoticed or unappreciated. You are incredible.”

    9. “Currently at the doctor seeking help. Most have no idea what I’m going through and that I cry in the shower or in the car on my way home from work or can’t sleep at night because of panic attacks.”

    10. “I get up, put on a full face of makeup, wear a fun dress, all while struggling with depression, anxiety and sometimes suicidal thoughts.”

    11. “This is what depression looked like not long before we lost our beloved Luke. Depression is a SERIOUS illness. Don’t dismiss people who are hurting.”

    12. “You guys! This is the face of depression and suicidal thoughts. Three years ago antidepressants saved my life and then a year and a half ago they almost claimed it because I just decided I was happy and quit taking them suddenly. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Normalize mental health issues. No more shame in my struggle.”

    13. ” The face of depression. Sometimes it looks optimistic. Sometimes it doesn’t. And having a smart, beautiful child doesn’t mean those feelings don’t exist or that they’re not valid. She loves me on my good days and my bad days.”

    14. “Depression looks different on everyone. On me, it’s dirty hair, bags under my eyes even though I slept all day, and makeup from yesterday because I was too exhausted to take it off before bed. Yesterday was great until one phrase set me off. It can’t be helped sometimes. Just remember. There is no one look for depression.”

    15. “When people think about depression, they tend to have a very specific idea of how it manifests itself. I’m in the middle of a very real depressive episode and here I am at work with my plants and headphones.”

    (via BoredPanda)

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    Responding to a month-long string of disasters, RapidSOS makes its rescue and recovery app free

    The U.S. and its territories have been ravaged by storms in the past month.

    Maria, which destroyed Puerto Rico, has left 1.5 million American citizens without access to drinking water, while in Houston, the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey is still being felt. And Florida residents are breathing a sigh of relief that the damage from Hurricane Irma wasn’t worse.

    Tech companies, quick to respond to Harvey and Irma, have been much slower to announce relief efforts or matching donations for Maria, and that mirrors a broader lack of mobilization in response to what’s looking like a far more catastrophic event.

    However, RapidSOS has launched an offering in response to all three storms. The company is offering its service for free for the next three years for users who sign up using this link.

    “We are acutely aware that today and over the next few days 911 telecommunicators and first responders will be out braving the conditions to respond to millions of emergencies in impacted areas. Meanwhile, over the next weeks, months, and years, millions of people will be rebuilding their lives,” the company said in a statement. “This is a small effort to do what we can to help. We also will be donating revenue from existing subscribers during this period (months of August and September) to the Red Cross and several public safety support agencies.”

    What does RapidSOS’ technology actually do?

    The company offers an updated way to reach outdated emergency response systems. The 9-1-1 infrastructure dates back to the 1970s and limits most emergency calls to voice lines that have 512 bytes of data. That means responders can find it difficult to deploy emergency responders without verbal location information in most cases.

    RapidSOS says it has partnerships with public safety software vendors, including Airbus, GeoComm, GeoConex, Hexagon, INdigital, Motorola Solutions, Pulsiam, Rave, RapidDeploy, Solacom, TriTech and Zetron, to name a few.

    These companies provide call-taking, computer-aided dispatch, and first responder software to most 9-1-1 call centers for free to provide location-based data.

    Where NG911 data is not available, the company’s software service can transmit information like a name, contact number, type of emergency and location of the caller over the existing 512 byte network.

    RapidSOS has been endorsed by 36 nonprofits and has commercial partnerships with mobile devices, wearables, connected cars and insurance carriers, the company said.

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    Scottish government backs fracking ban

    Image copyright Getty Images
    Image caption The decision has drawn praise from environmental groups but criticism from industry

    The Scottish government has announced an “effective ban” on fracking.

    Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse told MSPs that the practice “cannot and will not take place in Scotland”.

    He said an existing moratorium on the technique, which has been in place since 2015, would continue “indefinitely” after a consultation showed “overwhelming” opposition.

    The government will seek Holyrood’s endorsement for the ban in a vote following the October recess.

    But with only the Conservatives now opposed to a ban, the vote is likely to be a formality.

    The move was welcomed by environmental groups but has been slammed by Ineos, operators of the huge Grangemouth petrochemical plant, which holds fracking exploration licences across 700 square miles of the country.

    The Scottish government has previously imposed a similar block on underground coal gasification (UCG) – a separate technique used to extract gas from coal seams deep underground – on environmental grounds.

    It followed the introduction of a moratorium on both fracking and UCG in 2015, which saw a series of expert reports published on the potential health, environmental and economic impact of the controversial techniques, as well as a public consultation being carried out.

    Mr Wheelhouse said the consultation came back with “overwhelming” opposition to fracking, with 99% of the 60,000 respondents supporting a ban. He said this showed that “there is no social licence for unconventional oil and gas to be taken forward at this time”.

    Image caption Paul Wheelhouse said there was overwhelming public opposition to fracking

    The move comes almost exactly a year on from the UK government giving the go-ahead to horizontal fracking in Lancashire.

    Shale gas is currently processed in Scotland at a site in Grangemouth, having been shipped in from abroad, but cannot be extracted from beneath Scottish soil under the current moratorium, which is enforced through planning regulations.

    Mr Wheelhouse said local authorities would be instructed to continue this moratorium “indefinitely” – calling this “action sufficient to effectively ban the development of unconventional oil and gas extraction in Scotland”.

    He said: “The decision I am announcing today means that fracking cannot and will not take place in Scotland.”

    Mr Wheelhouse’s announcement was welcomed by environmental groups, with Friends of the Earth Scotland and WWF Scotland both hailing a victory for campaigners.

    WWF Scotland official Sam Gardner said it was “excellent news”, saying “the climate science is clear” that fossil fuels should be “left in the ground”.

    Mary Church from Friends of the Earth Scotland said it was a “huge win for the anti-fracking movement” which would be “warmly welcomed across the country and around the world”.

    ‘Poor decision’

    However Ineos said the move could see “large numbers of Scottish workers leaving the country to find work”.

    Tom Pickering, operations director of Ineos Shale, said: “It is a sad day for those of us who believe in evidence-led decision making. The Scottish government has turned its back on a potential manufacturing and jobs renaissance and lessened Scottish academia’s place in the world by ignoring its findings.”

    Ken Cronin of UK Onshore Oil and Gas also said it was a “poor decision”, which ignored “extensive independent research” and was “based on dogma not evidence or geopolitical reality”.

    And the GMB Scotland trade union said the move was “mired in dishonesty” and “an abandonment of the national interest”, saying Scotland would now be dependent on gas shipped in from “the likes of Qatar and Russia”.

    Image copyright BBC Sport
    Image caption The first shipment of shale gas from the US arrived at Grangemouth in September 2016

    The Scottish Conservatives also said Scotland would miss out on a “much needed economic boost” and high-skilled jobs as a result of the decision.

    Tory MSP Dean Lockhart said ministers had ignored scientific and economic evidence to take a “short-sighted and economically damaging decision which is nothing more than a bid to appease the green elements of the pro-independence movement”.

    However Labour MSP Claudia Beamish said the move did not go far enough, arguing that ministers were merely extending the existing moratorium which “could be overturned at any point at the whim of a minister”.

    ‘Legally shaky’

    Ms Beamish has a member’s bill tabled at Holyrood calling for a “full legal ban”, but Mr Wheelhouse said this would not be needed until his proposals.

    The Scottish Greens said the announcement was “a step in the right direction”. However, they also wanted a more permanent ban, with MSP Mark Ruskell saying the moratorium was “legally shaky” and open to challenge.

    This was also echoed by Friends of the Earth Scotland, with Ms Church saying ministers should “go further than relying on planning powers” and “instead commit to passing a law to ban the fracking industry for good”.

    Scottish Lib Dem MSP Liam McArthur welcomed the decision, saying that ministers had taken the “scenic route” but had ultimately decided “effectively to ban fracking”.

    MSPs have previously voted to support a ban on fracking, but SNP members abstained from that vote.

    What is fracking and why is it controversial?

    Image copyright Getty Images
    • Fracking is the process of drilling down into the earth before a high-pressure water mixture is directed at the rock to release the gas inside.
    • The extensive use of fracking in the US, where it has revolutionised the energy industry, has prompted environmental concerns.
    • The first is that fracking uses huge amounts of water that must be transported to the fracking site, at significant environmental cost.
    • The second is the worry that potentially carcinogenic chemicals used may escape and contaminate groundwater around the fracking site.
    • But the industry suggests fracking of shale gas could contribute significantly to the UK’s future energy needs

    Find out more….

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