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How the Pandemic Will End?

Fri, 2020-03-27 20:04
Ed Yong, writing for The Atlantic: The world is experienced at making flu vaccines and does so every year. But there are no existing vaccines for coronaviruses -- until now, these viruses seemed to cause diseases that were mild or rare -- so researchers must start from scratch. The first steps have been impressively quick. Last Monday, a possible vaccine created by Moderna and the National Institutes of Health went into early clinical testing. That marks a 63-day gap between scientists sequencing the virus's genes for the first time and doctors injecting a vaccine candidate into a person's arm. "It's overwhelmingly the world record," Fauci said. But it's also the fastest step among many subsequent slow ones. The initial trial will simply tell researchers if the vaccine seems safe, and if it can actually mobilize the immune system. Researchers will then need to check that it actually prevents infection from SARS-CoV-2. They'll need to do animal tests and large-scale trials to ensure that the vaccine doesn't cause severe side effects. They'll need to work out what dose is required, how many shots people need, if the vaccine works in elderly people, and if it requires other chemicals to boost its effectiveness. "Even if it works, they don't have an easy way to manufacture it at a massive scale," said Seth Berkley of Gavi. That's because Moderna is using a new approach to vaccination. Existing vaccines work by providing the body with inactivated or fragmented viruses, allowing the immune system to prep its defenses ahead of time. By contrast, Moderna's vaccine comprises a sliver of SARS-CoV-2's genetic material -- its RNA. The idea is that the body can use this sliver to build its own viral fragments, which would then form the basis of the immune system's preparations. This approach works in animals, but is unproven in humans. By contrast, French scientists are trying to modify the existing measles vaccine using fragments of the new coronavirus. "The advantage of that is that if we needed hundreds of doses tomorrow, a lot of plants in the world know how to do it," Berkley said. No matter which strategy is faster, Berkley and others estimate that it will take 12 to 18 months to develop a proven vaccine, and then longer still to make it, ship it, and inject it into people's arms.

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Not Everyone is Laying Off Workers Because of Coronavirus. These Are the Most in-demand Jobs Right Now.

Fri, 2020-03-27 19:22
A record 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, according to Thursday's Labor Department report, compared with around 280,000 a week earlier. That said, it hasn't all been bad news for those in search of work, as the pandemic places increased demand on industries like health care and delivery services. 10 most in-demand jobs in the US: Store associate System operator Certified public accountant Health care specialist Construction worker Warehouse manager Psychologist Vehicle mechanic Academic adviser Delivery driver Companies with the most open jobs in the US: 7-Eleven Army National Guard KPMG Amazon Genentech Lowe's HCA Healthcare Intuit Nepris Whole Foods

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How Elon Musk Wants To Transform Homes With 'No Wasted Energy'

Fri, 2020-03-27 18:42
During a Twitter discussion this week about the company's new vehicle, the all-electric Model Y SUV, CEO Elon Musk suggested the company could take its experience building the car to develop an HVAC system. From a report The acronym stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. Musk suggested that the idea could build on the work done to develop a heat pump for the Model Y. "Sure would love to do home hvac that's quiet and efficient, with humidity control & HEPA filter," Musk wrote on his Twitter page. When asked whether it would do cooling or heating, Musk replied "both." The idea could expand on some of Tesla's existing wins, taking its existing product portfolio and expanding it in a logical way. While Tesla is known to most as a car company, Musk's "house of the future" presentation in October 2016 painted a more holistic picture: a Model 3 sedan charging in a garage, powered by a Tesla Powerwall battery. That battery is topped up with power from a Tesla Solar Roof, creating a zero-emissions energy system for both home and travel. It's easy to see how an HVAC, a high-energy product that draws on systems built into Tesla vehicles, could fit into this strategy. Musk suggested a number of ideas for this new product. He suggested the system could work with the vehicle to reach the perfect temperatures: "House could talk to car & know when you're expected home, so temp and humidity would be perfect just as you arrive. No wasted energy."

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Google Donates $800 Million in Cash and Ads To Fight Coronavirus

Fri, 2020-03-27 17:59
Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet, announcing in a blog post: As the coronavirus outbreak continues to worsen around the world, it's taking a devastating toll on lives and communities. To help address some of these challenges, today we're announcing a new $800+ million commitment to support small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), health organizations and governments, and health workers on the frontline of this global pandemic. Our commitment includes: $250 million in ad grants to help the World Health Organization (WHO) and more than 100 government agencies globally provide critical information on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other measures to help local communities. This is an increase from our initial $25 million announced last month. In addition, we're providing $20 million in ad grants to community financial institutions and NGOs specifically to run public service announcements on relief funds and other resources for SMBs. A $200 million investment fund that will support NGOs and financial institutions around the world to help provide small businesses with access to capital. As one example, we're working with the Opportunity Finance Network in the U.S. to help fill gaps in financing for people and communities underserved by mainstream financial institutions. This is in addition to the $15 million in cash grants Google.org is already providing to nonprofits to help bridge these gaps for SMBs. $340 million in Google Ads credits available to all SMBs with active accounts over the past year. Credit notifications will appear in their Google Ads accounts and can be used at any point until the end of 2020 across our advertising platforms. We hope it will help to alleviate some of the cost of staying in touch with their customers. A pool of $20 million in Google Cloud credits for academic institutions and researchers to leverage our computing capabilities and infrastructure as they study potential therapies and vaccines, track critical data, and identify new ways to combat COVID-19. Learn how to apply for credits on the Google for Education site. Direct financial support and expertise to help increase the production capacity for personal protective equipment (PPE) and lifesaving medical devices. We're working with our longtime supplier and partner Magid Glove & Safety, with the goal of ramping up production of 2-3 million face masks in the coming weeks that will be provided to the CDC Foundation. Additionally, employees from across Alphabet, including Google, Verily and X, are bringing engineering, supply chain and healthcare expertise to facilitate increased production of ventilators, working with equipment manufacturers, distributors and the government in this effort.

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Boris Johnson, UK Prime Minister, Has the Coronavirus

Fri, 2020-03-27 17:20
For weeks, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was a defiant holdout among Western leaders in refusing to lock down his country against the spread of the coronavirus. On Friday, he became the first of those leaders known to have contracted the disease. From a report: Mr. Johnson's diagnosis, confirmed in a test on Thursday, threatened to throw an already rattled British government into turmoil. Fears of a wider contagion grew, as another senior official disclosed he was also infected. Britain faced the alarming prospect of having to confront its greatest crisis since World War II with much of its leadership in quarantine. Mr. Johnson, 55, insisted he would not relinquish his duties. In a remarkable two-minute video posted on Twitter, he used his own case as a sort of teachable moment for the country, appealing to people to work from home and comply with the more drastic social distancing measures he put in place last Monday.

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How Much More Power Does 5G Consume Over 4G? Redmi Has Answer

Fri, 2020-03-27 16:40
Most 5G phones offer big batteries owing to the increased power consumption of early 5G modems and connectivity. But just how much more power does a 5G phone need over a 4G device? From a report: Redmi general manager Lu Weibing has taken to Weibo to answer this question, claiming that 5G phones consume ~20% more power than a 4G phone. This suggests that a 20% increase in battery size is needed for a 5G phone to achieve the same endurance as a 4G variant (assuming everything else is equal). The Redmi executive adds that Qualcomm's flagship 800-series processors consume 20% more juice than an upper mid-range Snapdragon 700-series chipset. So when taken together, this means a 5G flagship will consume significantly more power compared to a mid-range 4G phone, which means battery capacity and optimizations are key for high-end 5G phones.

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China Shuts Down All Cinemas, Again

Fri, 2020-03-27 16:01
China's film regulators have slammed the breaks on their plans to gradually reopen the country's cinemas. From a report: Over 600 movie theaters across China were given the green light to reopen their doors over the past week, but Beijing's Film Bureau put out a notice late Friday ordering all theaters to go back into shutdown. No official explanation for the sudden reversal was provided. Industry insiders instantly began speculating that the government was worried about a potential second wave of coronavirus infections. The decision comes as a shock given the signals authorities had been sending as recently as a day ago. On Thursday, Shanghai's municipal government announced that 205 of the city's movie theaters had received permission to resume business on Saturday.

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The New York Times Releases Its Dataset of US Confirmed Coronavirus Cases

Fri, 2020-03-27 15:21
The New York Times has made one of the most comprehensive datasets of coronavirus cases in the United States publicly available in response to requests from researchers, scientists, government officials and businesses who would like access to the data to better understand the virus and model what may come next. From a report: The Times initially began tracking cases in late January after it became clear that no federal government agency was providing the public with an accurate, up-to-date record of cases, tracked to the county level, of people in the U.S. who had tested positive for the virus. The Times led effort has grown from a handful of correspondents to a team of several dozen journalists, including data scientists and student journalists from Northwestern University, the University of Missouri and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, working around the clock to record details about every case. The Times is committed to collecting as much data as possible in connection with the outbreak and is collaborating with the University of California, Berkeley, on an effort in California. By Friday, March 27, The Times had tracked more than 85,000 cases in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and three U.S. territories, over the past eight weeks. More than 1,200 people in the U.S. have died so far.

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Sony Spins Off Camera Business Into Separate Company

Fri, 2020-03-27 14:41
Sony has announced that it would be spinning off its entire "Electronics Products & Solutions" (EP&S) segment -- including its imaging and mobile businesses -- into an intermediate holding company called "Sony Electronics Corporation." From a report: The change will take place effective April 1st, and no, it doesn't seem to be an early April Fools joke. In a press release announcing the change, the Sony parent company outlined the plan in broad strokes, explaining that its Imaging Products & Solutions, Home Entertainment & Sound, and Mobile Communications businesses would all now be run under a new name. "Through the establishment of Sony Electronics Corporation, Sony will not only accelerate the integrated operation of the EP&S businesses," reads the release, "but also aim to optimize its organizational structure, talent and business portfolio, while further enhancing competitiveness and creating new business."

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'These People Are Evil': Drivers Speak Out Against Uber's New Coronavirus Sick Leave Fund

Fri, 2020-03-27 14:01
Countless Uber drivers are now being pushed to the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, transporting humans, food, supplies, and maybe soon Covid-19 testing kits as shelter-in-place rules cause demand for delivery services to spike. Yet despite their exposure to infection, gig workers lack paid sick leave, health benefits, or unemployment insurance because of their status as independent contractors. From a report: Earlier this month, Uber, Lyft, and Amazon drivers protested the exclusion of gig workers from Silicon Valley's monumental heave to protect itself from the coronavirus. As technology employees go remote, contractors are burdened with extra demands and no additional support. Uber, Lyft, and Amazon eventually agreed to compensate gig workers through ad hoc funds, but OneZero spoke to Uber drivers who say this is hardly a safety net. "I think I'm going to fall through the cracks," said Kimberly James, a 46-year-old driver for Uber Eats in Atlanta, Georgia. After a series of devastating hardships, including losing her house in a fire, James has come to rely on food delivery platforms like Uber Eats and DoorDash to survive. In 2012, James was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder, and her weekly income of $400 means she cannot afford to get sick. Health officials have warned that the coronavirus is especially dangerous for immunocompromised people, so today James has no choice but to isolate indoors. One-time payouts are based on a person's average daily earnings for the past six months. Someone making $28.57 per day is eligible for a payment of $400, the equivalent of 14 days of average pay, while someone earning $121.42 per day can receive $1,700, Uber says on its website. To qualify, drivers must have completed one trip in the 30 days before March 6, 2020, when the global program was first announced.

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Virginia Is the First Southern State With a 100 Percent Carbon-Free Electricity Goal

Fri, 2020-03-27 13:00
An anonymous reader shares a report: Virginia has become the first among the Southern US states to take on a goal for 100 percent carbon-free electricity. State governor Ralph Northam, an Army veteran and pediatric neurologist, issued Executive Order 43. The executive order detailed the state's plans to reach a zero CO2 energy goal by 2050. In September 2019, Northam also brought Virginia into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which is a carbon trading network that spans nine states. Before then, Northam's efforts to take these initiatives and to join the RGGI were thwarted. However, following the 2019 election, voters in the state changed the political climate in the state. This opened the opportunity to move forward with renewable energy-based efforts. Earlier this month, the state General Assembly passed the Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA), which brought Northam's previously failed efforts into law. The House voted in favor 51 to 45 and the Senate voted 22 to 17. Among the VCEA goals are to gradually reduce the use of fossil fuels until they are no longer a part of the state's electricity production. Instead, it will use 100 percent clean energy to power the state. In order to achieve this goal, Virginia has a four-part plan: 1. Join the RGGI and develop a cap-and-trade system. The states that are already using similar strategies and that are a part of the RGGI have experienced healthy economic effects overall. Moreover, the hope is that the addition of Virginia to a heavily supplied market will only boost competition. This is meant to drive the clean energy transition forward even faster. 2. Achieve 100 percent clean energy by 2050. 3. Keep power costs low and protect vulnerable and low-income communities. 4. Build rooftop solar, offshore wind, and power storage.

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Coronavirus: Radio Listening Booms While Music Streaming Stalls

Fri, 2020-03-27 10:00
People staying at home due to the coronavirus pandemic appear to be listening to more radio rather than music apps, figures suggest. The BBC reports: Global, which owns Capital FM and talk station LBC, said online radio listening had risen by 15%. The BBC said streaming of its radio stations had risen 18% since last week. Meanwhile, data from two US analytics companies suggested use of music-streaming apps such as Spotify had dipped by about 8%. According to trusted music industry monitor BuzzAngle, US music streaming between 13-19 March fell by 8.8% compared with the previous week. Rolling Stone magazine, which uses a different data provider, Alpha Data, said streams were down 7.8%. But not all services are equally affected. Classical music site Primephonic said streaming had gone up by about 20% since isolation measures had been introduced in Europe. "There are likely to be multiple causes," said BBC News music reporter Mark Savage. "Fewer people are commuting to work or going to the gym and shops that use Spotify for their in-store music are closing their doors. People who stream music in the office also seem to be turning off and watching Netflix instead and there's a big rise in radio listening - suggesting we're seeking companionship alongside our music."

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US Space Force Successfully Launches First Mission

Fri, 2020-03-27 07:00
schwit1 shares a report from UPI: The first official mission for the new U.S. Space Force lifted off from Florida at 4:18 p.m. EDT on Thursday into a virtually cloudless sky with a military communications satellite aboard. A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket emblazoned with the Space Force chevron logo carried the satellite toward orbit from Cape Canaveral Air Force Stations Complex 41. The payload on board is the sixth in a constellation of next-generation satellites known as Advanced Extremely High Frequency or AEHF. The satellite system, developed by Lockheed Martin, has upgraded anti-jamming capability. Northrop Grumman is the manufacturer. The new network provides global coverage for national leaders and tactical warfighters operating on the ground, at sea or in the air, Lockheed said. The anti-jam system also serves international allies such as Canada, the Netherlands, United Kingdom and Australia.

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88 Out of Top 200 US Cities Have Seen Internet Speeds Decline This Past Week

Fri, 2020-03-27 03:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: The impacts of telecommuting, shelter-in-place laws and home quarantines resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak are starting to impact broadband speeds across a number of U.S. cities, a new report has found. According to broadband analysis site BroadbandNow, 88 out of the top 200 most populous U.S. cities analyzed have now experienced some form of network degradation over the past week, compared with the 10 weeks prior, as more people are going online to work from home, video chat and stream movies and TV to keep themselves entertained. In a small handful of cities over the past week, there have even been significant degradations with download speeds dropping more than 40%, compared with the 10 weeks prior. It's not necessarily the areas hit hardest by the spread of the novel coronavirus that are experiencing the worst problems. Cities including LA, Chicago, Brooklyn and San Francisco have seen little or no disruption in download speeds, the report claims. Seattle is also holding up well. But New York City, now considered the epicenter of the virus in the U.S., saw download speeds drop by 24% last week, compared to the previous 10-week range. That said, NYC home network connections, which have a median speed of nearly 52 Mbps, are managing. The good news is that in the majority of markets, network speeds are holding up. But of the 88 out of 200 cities that saw declines, more than two dozen saw dips of either 20% below range or more, the data indicates. The three cities seeing network degradations over 40% include: Austin, TX (-44%), Winston Salem, NC (-41%), and Oxnard, CA (-42%). San Jose, CA was nearing this range, with a drop of 38%.

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Instead of Hazard Pay, Spectrum Offered a $25 Gift Card To Technicians Who Enter Homes Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic

Fri, 2020-03-27 01:25
Amber Jamieson writes via BuzzFeed News: Spectrum technicians connecting cable and internet for customers during the coronavirus outbreak will receive a $25 gift card for a local restaurant as a "token of our appreciation" from management, after staff called for hazard pay and protective equipment. "These gift cards never expire, so if you choose a restaurant that is currently not open, the card will remain valid for future use," read the Monday night internal staff email from Tom Adams, the executive vice president of field operations. "Please take some time out of your busy day to enjoy a meal and recharge." Field technicians told BuzzFeed News on Monday night they feared going into people's homes during the pandemic to fix their internet and cable without gloves, a mask, or hand sanitizer in case they got sick or carried the virus to other customers or loved ones. On Monday night, the company announced it was offering a $25 weekly gift card as a thank you -- an initiative that left many workers who spoke with BuzzFeed News unsatisfied. "Would you do it for $25?" asked a field technician from Irwindale, California, who asked to remain anonymous, along with the other technicians quoted in this story, to protect his employment. He called Spectrum management "vultures."

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Engineers Test a Powered 'Ankle Exoskeleton' To Make Running Easier

Fri, 2020-03-27 00:45
Engineers from Stanford University developed a motorized exoskeleton rig that attaches around the ankle and foot and found that it made running 15 percent easier. "They explained that when the exoskeleton's motor is switched on, it reduces the energy cost of running and allows the user to run longer than they're usually capable of," reports Engadget. "The device can also boost a runner's speed by as much as 10 percent." From the report: Here's how the exoskeleton works: Its motors tug a cable running through the back of the rig from the heel to the calf. That pulls the foot upward during the toe-off, extending the ankle at the end of every step. Team member and Stanford grad student Delaney Miller said: "Powered assistance took off a lot of the energy burden of the calf muscles. It was very springy and very bouncy compared to normal running. Speaking from experience, that feels really good. When the device is providing that assistance, you feel like you could run forever."

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Unpatched iOS Bug Blocks VPNs From Encrypting All Traffic

Fri, 2020-03-27 00:02
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bleeping Computer: A currently unpatched security vulnerability affecting iOS 13.3.1 or later prevents virtual private network (VPNs) from encrypting all traffic and can lead to some Internet connections bypassing VPN encryption to expose users' data or leak their IP addresses. While connections made after connecting to a VPN on your iOS device are not affected by this bug, all previously established connections will remain outside the VPN's secure tunnel as ProtonVPN disclosed. The bug is due to Apple's iOS not terminating all existing Internet connections when the user connects to a VPN and having them automatically reconnect to the destination servers after the VPN tunnel is established. "Most connections are short-lived and will eventually be re-established through the VPN tunnel on their own," ProtonVPN explains. "However, some are long-lasting and can remain open for minutes to hours outside the VPN tunnel." During the time the connections are outside of the VPN secure communication channels, this issue can lead to serious consequences. For instance, user data could be exposed to third parties if the connections are not encrypted themselves, and IP address leaks could potentially reveal the users' location or expose them and destination servers to attacks. Until Apple provides a fix, the company recommends using Always-on VPN to mitigate this problem. "However, since this workaround uses device management, it cannot be used to mitigate the vulnerability for third-party VPN apps such as ProtonVPN," the report adds.

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'League' of Cybersecurity Professionals Band Together To Help Hospitals Fight Off Hackers

Thu, 2020-03-26 23:20
pgmrdlm shares a report from NBC News: A growing group of cybersecurity professionals is volunteering their expertise to help hospitals fight off hackers while doctors and nurses fight the coronavirus. Calling themselves the CTI League -- Countering Threat Intelligence, and a nod to the superhero team the Justice League -- the group has swelled from a handful of professionals to 450 members worldwide in less than two weeks. "If some hospital gets attacked by some ransomware and wouldn't be able to pay, people will die because they wouldn't be able to get the medical services needed," said the group's founder, Ohad Zaidenberg. Coordinating over Slack, the CTI League identifies what types of vulnerabilities active hackers are using, then searches for hospitals and other medical facilities that might be vulnerable to them so that they can fix them first. "The first thing we want to do is neutralize attacks before they happen. The second is to help any medical organization after they are attacked," Zaidenberg said.

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Elon Musk Says Tesla's New York Factory Will Make Ventilators 'As Soon As Humanly Possible'

Thu, 2020-03-26 22:40
140Mandak262Jamuna writes: Elon Musk announced that the Gigafactory in Buffalo, New York, making solar roof tiles and battery packs for home energy storage is switching to making ventilators in collaboration with Medtronic. "Days after offering 1,255 free ventilators to help deal with the coronavirus outbreak, Tesla boss Elon Musk said the company's New York factory will restart to make more," reports CNET. "Giga New York will reopen for ventilator production as soon as humanly possible. We will do anything in our power to help the citizens of New York," he tweeted on Wednesday. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state needs 30,000 ventilators at the peak and they have 400 at hand.

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The US Now Leads the World In Confirmed Coronavirus Cases

Thu, 2020-03-26 22:03
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The New York Times: Scientists warned that the United States someday would become the country hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. That moment arrived on Thursday. In the United States, at least 81,321 people are known to have been infected with the coronavirus, including more than 1,000 deaths -- more cases than China, Italy or any other country has seen, according to data gathered by The New York Times. With 330 million residents, the United States is the world's third most populous nation, meaning it provides a vast pool of people who can potentially get Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus. And it is a sprawling, cacophonous democracy, where states set their own policies and President Trump has sent mixed messages about the scale of the danger and how to fight it, ensuring there was no coherent, unified response to a grave public health threat. A series of missteps and lost opportunities dogged the nation's response. Among them: a failure to take the pandemic seriously even as it engulfed China, a deeply flawed effort to provide broad testing for the virus that left the country blind to the extent of the crisis, and a dire shortage of masks and protective gear to protect doctors and nurses on the front lines, as well as ventilators to keep the critically ill alive. "The world will be a different place when the pandemic is over," the report concludes. It suggests India may become the next global hotspot for virus cases as "it, too, is a vast democracy with deep internal divisions. But its population, 1.3 billion, is far larger, and its people are crowded even more tightly into megacities."

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