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Can the internet be saved?

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Net Neutrality: What is it and why should you care?
In the effort to maintain an open internet, some think we need more government intervention while others trust the free market to keep the big telecoms in check.

The good news is that the House of Representatives passed the Save the Internet Act by a vote of 232-190. The bad news is while Republicans said they too want to to protect net neutrality, only one Republican voted for the bill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Donald Trump have already refused to support the act.

The Act is designed to reverse the decision by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Ajit Pai, a former Verizon attorney, and Michael O’Rielly and Brendan Carr, Republican FCC commissioners, to kill net neutrality.

If turned into law, the Act would once more forbid internet service providers (ISP) from paid prioritization, throttling, and blocking internet services. It’s really quite simple. It would undo the Pai’s FCC 2018 net neutrality repeal. It would also turn the revised rules into laws. This would make net neutrality the law of the land. The FCC would have to enforce the new rules, but it couldn’t change them.

To no surprise, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai immediately denounced the Act: “This legislation is a big-government solution in search of a problem. The Internet is free and open, while faster broadband is being deployed across America. This bill should not and will not become law.”

In Pai’s post-net-neutrality internet, while Pai’s FCC claims only 25 million Americans don’t have broadband internet, Microsoft found 162.8 million people — over half the US’s population — don’t have internet broadband speeds.

We’ve also already seen how when some ISPs claim to offer good deals by making some sites and services’ data access free or cheaper. In reality, we now know this concept, zero rating, actually increases ISP fees.

The vast majority of people and businesses want a return to net neutrality. According to a recent Comparitech poll, eighty percent of Americans say they support net neutrality. And, a rare thing these days, net neutrality has bipartisan support. 87 percent of Democrats and 77 percent of Republicans surveyed support net neutrality,

Some Republicans in government would like to see net neutrality come back too. They just disagree on how it should be done. Be that as it may, President Donald Trump has already indicated he’ll veto the bill should it make it to his desk. That’s unlikely.

True, in 2018, the Senate voted to revive net neutrality. The then Republican-dominated House killed it. This time around  Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already declared the bill “dead on arrival in the Senate.”

You can, of course, contact your Senators and tell them to co-sponsor the Save the Internet Act (S. 682). But, let’s get real. Even while an overwhelming number of citizens want net neutrality, the current Republican regime isn’t paying them any attention. Only by voting out net neutrality enemies in 2020 can it ever be saved.

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Toyota lowers production goals by 15 percent for November

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The global chip shortage is impacting automakers significantly. This week, Toyota announced that it plans to cut its global production output by 15 percent in November. The reduced production is laid directly at the feet of the shortage of microprocessors needed to build modern vehicles.

Despite chopping production in November, Toyota says it is still sticking to its planned production goals for the entirety of 2021. The company has said that it plans to ramp up production in December. Toyota is the largest automaker in Japan and also builds some of its vehicles in the US.

Toyota was also forced to reduce production in September and October due to the chip shortage and other issues caused by the coronavirus pandemic. For the year through March 31, Toyota reduced its production goals to 9 million vehicles representing a reduction of 300,000 units. In addition, the pandemic has significantly impacted components required to build its vehicles sourced from Malaysia and Vietnam.

Toyota says that a decline in COVID-19 infection rates in southeast Asia will allow chip manufacturers to increase output for the remainder of the year. Toyota wasn’t as impacted as some automakers by the chip shortage and pandemic because it had a stockpile of components allowing it to continue manufacturing operations.

The automaker has asked its component suppliers in southeast Asia to boost its allotment of chips and other components in December to allow it to ramp production significantly and meet its goals. Toyota spokesperson has stated that the total loss production for the automaker between September and November will be as high as 910,000 vehicles. In North America specifically, the reduced production in November will mean between 45,000 and 55,000 fewer vehicles produced.

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Porsche deliveries climb significantly despite chip shortage

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The global chip shortage impacts most automakers and has resulted in reduced shipments and production stoppages. While most automakers are seeing their deliveries decline, Porsche has seen deliveries increased by 13 percent in the first three quarters between January and September 2021. Porsche says it has delivered 217,198 vehicles around the globe.

The automaker notes that demand for its vehicles rose across all sales regions, but increased demand was particularly strong in the US. While deliveries have increased for Porsche, the automaker still says the coronavirus situation is dynamic, and it is facing challenges in procuring semiconductors. The most popular model for Porsche is the Cayenne, with deliveries of 62,451 units.

Porsche’s second most popular model was the Macan delivering 61,944 units, working out to a 12 percent increase in deliveries for that model. Its third most popular model may be a surprise to some. The electric Taycan sports car delivered 28,640 units to customers. 2021 is only the second year that model has been available, and it’s already surpassed deliveries of the iconic 911. So far, the 911 has delivered 27,972 units in the first three quarters of the year, which represents a 10 percent increase.

Porsche says the 718 Boxster and the 718 Cayman delivered 15,916 units. The four-door Porsche Panamera remains popular, delivering 20,275 units. In the US, Porsche says it delivered 51,615 vehicles in the first nine months of 2021. Those numbers represent a 30 percent increase compared to deliveries made during 2020. Across the entirety of the American continent, Porsche delivered 63,025 vehicles for a 29 percent increase compared to last year.

Interestingly, the largest single market for Porsche is China, with 69,789 vehicles delivered, representing an 11 percent gain compared to 2020. In addition, Porsche delivered 56,332 vehicles across Europe.

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AAA study finds vehicle safety systems are negatively impacted by rain

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Researchers from AAA have published a new study looking at how moderate to heavy rain affects the ability of modern vehicle safety systems to function. AAA conducted testing in a closed course environment simulating rainfall and discovered that test vehicles equipped with automatic emergency braking they were traveling at 35 mph collided with stopped vehicles 33 percent of the time during rain. Other vehicle safety features were also impacted during rain.

Other tested features include lane keeping assist, which allowed the vehicle to depart their lane 69 percent of the time during grade. AAA says that vehicle safety systems called advanced driver assistance systems are typically tested in ideal conditions. AAA believes testing standards need to be changed to incorporate real-world conditions that drivers would typically encounter.

Safety systems rely on cameras and sensors to visualize markings on the road, cars, pedestrians, and other obstacles. AAA’s Greg Brannon says people don’t always drive around in perfect sunny weather and test methods need to be changed to take real-world conditions into account. AAA says its research found rain had the biggest effect on vehicle safety systems.

However, they also stimulated other environmental conditions, including bug impacts and dirt. The results found that driving in simulated moderate to heavy rain impacted both safety systems. Automatic emergency braking engaged while approaching a stopped vehicle in the lane ahead at 25 mph but resulted in collision 17 percent of the time.

When speeds were increased to 35 mph, collisions occurred 33 percent of the time. Overall, during testing, lane keeping assist veered outside of lane markers 69 percent of the time. Researchers said that when testing systems with a simulated dirty window stamped with a concentration of bugs, dirt, and water, only minor differences in performance were noted. However, cameras can be influenced by a dirty windshield, and AAA says it’s important that drivers keep the windshield clean.

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