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On an interstellar trip would you rather be

  • generational ship, 1st gen
  • generational ship, middle gen
  • generational ship, arrival
  • sleep the entire trip
  • birthed and raised by robots
  • Other (please specify in comments)

[ Results | Polls ]
Comments:51 | Votes:74

posted by janrinok on Thursday May 25, @10:41PM   Printer-friendly

Eric Schmidt wants to prevent potential abuse of AI:

Add Eric Schmidt to the list of tech luminaries concerned about the dangers of AI. The former Google chief tells guests at The Wall Street Journal's CEO Council Summit that AI represents an "existential risk" that could get many people "harmed or killed." He doesn't feel that threat is serious at the moment, but he sees a near future where AI could help find software security flaws or new biology types. It's important to ensure these systems aren't "misused by evil people," the veteran executive says.

Schmidt doesn't have a firm solution for regulating AI, but he believes there won't be an AI-specific regulator in the US. He participated in a National Security Commission on AI that reviewed the technology and published a 2021 report determining that the US wasn't ready for the tech's impact.

Schmidt doesn't have direct influence over AI. However, he joins a growing number of well-known moguls who have argued for a careful approach. Current Google CEO Sundar Pichai has cautioned that society needs to adapt to AI, while OpenAI leader Sam Altman has expressed concern that authoritarians might abuse these algorithms. In March, numerous industry leaders and researchers (including Elon Musk and Steve Wozniak) signed an open letter calling on companies to pause AI experiments for six months while they rethought the safety and ethical implications of their work.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Thursday May 25, @07:56PM   Printer-friendly

With increasing demand on terrestrial launch pads, some companies are venturing out into the open sea:

With increasing demand on terrestrial launch pads, some companies are venturing out into the open sea, with this Virginia startup leading the way.

The Spaceport Company recently pulled off a series of rocket launches from a floating launch pad in the Gulf of Mexico, in its effort to create more options for rocket companies needing to reach space.

On Monday, the Virginia-based startup announced its successful demonstration, marking the first set of rocket launches from U.S. territorial waters using a prototype mobile floating spaceport.

"This demonstration provided numerous lessons which will be incorporated into our next project: building a sea-based spaceport capable of orbital operations," Tom Marotta, founder and CEO of The Spaceport Company, said in the company statement. "We are working towards offering the U.S.'s first truly commercial spaceport, which can best support the rapidly growing commercial launch industry and alleviate the burdens on government ranges."

In partnership with Evolution Space, which is providing the required propulsion systems, The Spaceport Company launched four small sounding rockets from a modified ship floating in the Gulf of Mexico. The demonstration paves the way for orbital launches hosted on offshore platforms—an effort to decrease demand on terrestrial launch sites as the cadence of rocket launches continues to increase. The launch pace and resulting traffic at Cape Canaveral, Florida, is now so intense, for example, that U.S. Space Force is looking for alternatives, as SpaceNews reported earlier this month.

[...] The idea of launching far from shore could resolve some environmental concerns on land, but it's not yet clear whether rocket launches at sea could also cause damage to marine life, or if offshore platforms are resilient enough to launch megarockets the likes of Starship. As for smaller rockets, that seems more feasible, as these recent tests suggest.

Future tests will have to determine if bigger rockets, especially those capable of reaching orbit, can launch from The Spaceport Company's facilities. Importantly, the company recently announced a partnership with Vaya Space to launch small rockets from its sea-based platforms staring in 2025.

As a concept, launching rockets from mobile sea platforms is nothing new. In 2019, China became the third country after the U.S. and Russia to do so.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Thursday May 25, @05:10PM   Printer-friendly

NYT Link:

Archive Link:

In the movies, you can tell the best hackers by how they type. The faster they punch the keys, the more dangerous they are. Hacking is portrayed as a highly technical feat, a quintessentially technological phenomenon.

This impression of high-tech wizardry pervades not just our popular culture but also our real-world attempts to combat cybercrime. If cybercrime is a sophisticated high-tech feat, we assume, the solution must be too. Cybersecurity companies hype proprietary tools like "next generation" firewalls, anti-malware software and intrusion-detection systems. Policy experts like John Ratcliffe, a former director of national intelligence, urge us to invest public resources in a hugely expensive "cyber Manhattan Project" that will supercharge our digital capabilities.

But this whole concept is misguided. The principles of computer science dictate that there are hard, inherent limits to how much technology can help. Yes, it can make hacking harder, but it cannot possibly, even in theory, stop it. What's more, the history of hacking shows that the vulnerabilities hackers exploit are as often human as technical — not only the cognitive quirks discovered by behavioral economists but also old-fashioned vices like greed and sloth.

To be sure, you should enable two-factor authentication and install those software updates that you've been putting off. But many of the threats we face are rooted in the nature of human and group behavior. The solutions will need to be social too — job creation programs, software liability reform, cryptocurrency regulation and the like.

For the past four years, I have taught a cybersecurity class at Yale Law School in which I show my students how to break into computers. Having grown up with a user-friendly web, my students generally have no real idea how the internet or computers work. They are surprised to find how easily they learn to hack and how much they enjoy it. (I do, too, and I didn't hack a computer until I was 52.) By the end of the semester, they are cracking passwords, cloning websites and crashing servers.

Why do I teach idealistic young people how to lead a life of cybercrime? Many of my students will pursue careers in government or with law firms whose clients include major technology companies. I want these budding lawyers to understand their clients' issues. But my larger aim is to put technical expertise in its place: I want my students to realize that technology alone is not enough to solve the problems we face.

I start my class by explaining the fundamental principle of modern computing: the distinction between code and data. Code is a set of instructions: "add," "print my résumé," "shut the door." Data is information. Data is usually represented by numbers (the temperature is 80 degrees), code by words ("add"). But in 1936, the British mathematician Alan Turing figured out that code could be represented by numbers as well. Indeed, Turing was able to show how to represent both code and data using only ones and zeros — so-called binary strings.

This groundbreaking insight makes modern computers possible. We don't need to rebuild our computers for every new program. We can feed our devices whatever code we like as binary strings and run that program. That zeros and ones can represent both code and data is, however, a blessing and a curse, because it enables hackers to trick computers that are expecting data into accepting and running malicious code instead.

[...] Diversion programs in Britain and the Netherlands run hacking competitions where teams of coders compete to hack a target network; these programs also seek to match up coders with older security personnel to act as mentors and direct their charges into the legitimate cybersecurity industry. At the moment, with an estimated 3.5 million jobs unfilled worldwide, one fewer attacker is one more desperately needed defender.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Thursday May 25, @02:26PM   Printer-friendly

Our favorite SBC makes waves in the world of science:

The Raspberry Pi is a flexible system with use cases ranging from retro gaming platforms to industrial use cases for factories and more. Today we're sharing one research team's foray into science with the help of our favorite SBC and looking at how well it compares to modern, more expensive tools. Liam Taylor, Duncan Quincy, and Mark Smith recently deployed a set of Raspberry Pis to help monitor glacier calving in both Iceland and Peru.

According to the team, monitoring calving fronts is critical as extreme changes can result in environmental impacts for local residents. For example, things like tsunamis, floods, and the collapse of icebergs can cause serious damage, and monitoring these changes can help those living nearby respond before the problems worsen. Part of their research was to test the performance of a Raspberry Pi in monitoring these changes against more conventional tools they usually use, in this case, an unoccupied aerial vehicle (UAV).

To test the Pi against the UAV monitoring system, the team traveled to Fjallsjökull, Iceland. Here they could survey glaciers both from the shore and from a boat. The area also had a great variety of calving margin heights that made it easier to test the accuracy of the Raspberry Pi.

The Raspberry Pis were tested using both a Camera Module V2 and an HQ Camera Module using a 16mm telephoto lens. The Camera Module V2 proved too inadequate for their measurements, so the team opted to stick with the HQ Camera Module. The UAV chosen to compare against the Pi was a DJI Mavic 2 Pro UAV. The Raspberry Pis were then attached to a tripod with critical components like batteries stored inside a weatherproofed box.

The team mounted some of the Pis to a boat as they passed by while the UAV moved overhead. Recording the glaciers simultaneously allowed the team to get an accurate comparison of the charting ability of both devices. Using the pictures taken by the Pi, the team created a 3D render of the glaciers using photogrammetry.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Thursday May 25, @11:42AM   Printer-friendly

Weed killers of the future could soon be based on failed antibiotics:

A molecule that was initially developed to treat tuberculosis but failed to progress out of the lab as an antibiotic is now showing promise as a powerful foe for weeds that invade our gardens and cost farmers billions of dollars each year.

While the failed antibiotic wasn't fit for its original purpose, scientists at the University of Adelaide discovered that by tweaking its structure, the molecule became effective at killing two of the most problematic weeds in Australia, annual ryegrass and wild radish, without harming bacterial and human cells. This research has been published in the journal Communications Biology.

"This discovery is a potential game changer for the agricultural industry. Many weeds are now resistant to the existing herbicides on the market, costing farmers billions of dollars each year," said lead researcher Dr. Tatiana Soares da Costa from the University of Adelaide's Waite Research Institute.

"Using failed antibiotics as herbicides provides a short-cut for faster development of new, more effective weed killers that target damaging and invasive weeds that farmers find hard to control."

Researchers at the University's Herbicide and Antibiotic Innovation Lab discovered there were similarities between bacterial superbugs and weeds at a molecular level.

They exploited these similarities, and by chemically modifying the structure of a failed antibiotic, they were able to block the production of amino acid lysine, which is essential for weed growth.

"There are no commercially available herbicides on the market that work in this way. In fact, in the past 40 years, there have been hardly any new herbicides with new mechanisms of action that have entered the market," said Dr. Andrew Barrow, a postdoctoral researcher in Dr. Soares da Costa's team at the University of Adelaide's Waite Research Institute.

[...] It's not just farmers who could reap the benefits of this discovery. Researchers say it could also lead to the development of new weed killers to target pesky weeds growing in our backyards and driveways.

"Our re-purposing approach has the potential to discover herbicides with broad applications that can kill a variety of weeds," said Dr. Barrow.

Journal Reference:
Mackie, Emily R. R., Barrow, Andrew S., Giel, Marie-Claire, et al. Repurposed inhibitor of bacterial dihydrodipicolinate reductase exhibits effective herbicidal activity [open], Communications Biology (DOI: 10.1038/s42003-023-04895-y)

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Thursday May 25, @08:54AM   Printer-friendly

Memristors Were Going to Replace RAM and SSDs. What Happened?:

Memristors promised to revolutionize how we store and access data. However, despite hype surrounding memristors, they haven't quite replaced traditional storage technologies like RAM and SSDs. In this article, we'll explore the journey of memristors and where they stand today.

Memristors, or memory resistors, are a type of electrical component that can change their resistance based on the flow of electrical current. This unique property allows them to store information in a fast and energy-efficient way. Memristors were first theorized by Professor Leon Chua in 1971, but it wasn't until 2008 that researchers at HP Labs created a working prototype.

The primary advantage of memristors over traditional storage like RAM and SSDs is their non-volatile nature. This means memristors can retain data even when the power is turned off. In contrast, RAM (Random Access Memory) is volatile, which means it loses all data when the system is powered down. SSDs (Solid State Drives) are non-volatile but have limited read/write cycles, which can lead to wear and eventual failure. On the other hand, memristors have been touted to offer virtually unlimited read/write cycles, leading to a longer lifespan.

In other words, memristors promise to be the perfect combination of RAM and SSD storage if we can get them to work commercially.

When working memristor technology was first announced, it generated a lot of excitement within the tech industry. This was mainly because memristors promised faster, more energy-efficient, and longer-lasting storage solutions than traditional RAM and SSDs. This led to high expectations and a flurry of investments in research and development. However, the hype surrounding memristors has significantly waned in recent years, with the technology yet to impact the market.

Despite their potential advantages, several challenges have hindered the widespread adoption of memristor technology. Manufacturing memristors at a large scale has proven difficult and expensive. This has limited the number of companies willing to invest in developing and producing memristor-based devices. Also, while memristors have shown promise in laboratory settings, their real-world application performance has not always met expectations. Factors such as temperature fluctuations and material inconsistencies have led to variable performance and stability issues. To quote Wikipedia "Experimentally, the ideal memristor has yet to be demonstrated." So those diligently working on the problem are looking for a tantalizingly close breakthrough.

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Thursday May 25, @06:11AM   Printer-friendly
from the cut-the-other-cord dept.

Starting now, anyone borrowing a Netflix login in the U.S. will have to get their own account or pay $7.99 a month:

After nearly a year of warnings and testing, Netflix has finally launched its password-sharing crackdown in the United States.

Anyone sharing their Netflix account login with family members or friends who don't live at the same address will be asked to pay an extra $7.99 a month for each additional person. The company started sending out emails Tuesday to people it determined are breaking the rules, and will continue to roll them out to primary account holders in the coming days. The people borrowing the login will get an update when they try to log in that tells them how to start their own account.

People who are using an account on the go will need to login from the primarily address once every 31 days to avoid being flagged.

[...] Netflix has said that 100 million people around the world use its subscription streaming service without paying for their own accounts. It started testing this crackdown on password sharing last year in other countries, but has long said it would eventually come to the U.S., where the company was founded in 1997.

[...] While the company policies have always said accounts were meant to be shared by households, it publicly embraced the practice in the past. In 2017, the official Netflix account tweeted "Love is sharing a password." And at CES in 2016, Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings said the company "loved" that people share Netflix accounts and described it as "a positive thing, not a negative thing," according to CNET.

Streaming companies have been tweaking their businesses over the past year as they struggle with increasing competition and the reality that people can only afford so many monthly subscription fees. Many have raised prices, including Prime Video, Netflix and Apple TV Plus, but no other company has gone after account sharing in the same way.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Thursday May 25, @05:20AM   Printer-friendly
from the simply-the-best dept.

"Look what I have done in this lifetime, with this body," said Tina Turner, in a documentary released about her life in 2021. "I'm a girl from a cotton field, that pulled myself above what was not taught to me."

Tina Turner's life was a story of trauma and triumph - she was the star known for her energetic stage performances and her incomparable soulful, husky voice, who overcame several personal and professional struggles to become the Queen of Rock 'n' Roll.

Following her death at the age of 83, tributes have been paid to a "legend", an "icon" and a "remarkable force of nature," from fellow music stars to the White House, with clips of her biggest hits - including Proud Mary, Nutbush City Limits, The Best, We Don't Need Another Hero, and What's Love Got To Do With It - flooding social media.

Widely reported elsewhere.

posted by hubie on Thursday May 25, @03:26AM   Printer-friendly

Last year's drought severely affected crops in Europe

Extreme weather caused by climate change has damaged food production across Europe.

Confronted with a deteriorating situation, divided European Union decision-makers are debating new rules for genetically modified crops.

Last year's drought ravaged the continent's farms, starving everything from Spanish olive harvests to Hungary's maize and sunflower crops, Italian and Romanian corn fields to France's dairy production.

Some argue the answer to Europe's problems is deregulating gene modification techniques to produce better crops. Others claim this would be a "smokescreen" to avoid having to radically change the way the bloc farms.

Supporters say seeds produced using gene editing techniques are less vulnerable to drought and disease—and require less water.

[...] The powerful European farming lobby group Copa-Cogeca supports the new rules.

"If we need to supply society with food in Europe, and if we want to be self-sufficient, then we need to adapt rules," said Thor Gunnar Kofoed, chair of the seed working group at Copa-Cogeca.

A majority of EU lawmakers support relaxing the rules.

[...] The Greens want a full risk assessment to avoid unintended effects and force producers to ensure detection and traceability methods, and make labeling compulsory.

Labeling would put off consumers who prefer GMO-free food, said Mute Schimpf, a campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe, who criticized the reform.

"This proposal is a smokescreen to avoid the debate we should have on shifting to a truly sustainable farming system," she told AFP.

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Thursday May 25, @12:39AM   Printer-friendly

Facebook parent company Meta received a record-breaking $1.3 billion fine in Europe (€1.2 billion) following a privacy violation that regulators have been investigating for a decade. It involves the transfer of Facebook data belonging to European Union users to the US. The EU started looking into the company's data transfer practices in 2013, following the Edward Snowden revelations.

The EU action comes just months ahead of a new planned data transfer deal between the US and the EU. Unsurprisingly, Meta is contesting the fine.

[...] The EU worries that the Facebook data transfers in question expose its citizens to privacy violations and violate GDPR. The data transfers were protected by a US-EU pact called the Privacy Shield. But the EU's top courts found that the pact did not actually shield EU citizens. US surveillance programs could still collect data.

According to the new ruling, Meta also has to stop transferring EU data to the US.

[...] Schrems also said he expects Meta to appeal the decision but that a win for the company in the case is unlikely. "Past violations cannot be overcome by a new EU-US deal. Meta can at best delay the payment of the fine for a bit."

Meta, of course, is in a position where it can afford to pay such hefty privacy fines. "A billion-euro parking ticket is of no consequence to a company that earns many more billions by parking illegally," Johnny Ryan told The Guardian. Ryan is a senior fellow at the Irish Council for Civil Liberties.

[...] Fine and restrictions aside, Meta will soon be able to transfer user data to the US without having to worry about fines like this. The EU and the US are working on a new deal to cover such data transfers. That deal could be in place by October. Still, the new agreement can't protect the company from past offenses.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday May 24, @09:51PM   Printer-friendly

Aspiring Photographer's $3K Camera Accidentally Donated to Goodwill and Sold for $70:

An aspiring wedding photographer suffered a "huge setback" after her mom accidentally donated her brand new $3,000 camera to Goodwill — sparking a huge campaign to get the camera back.

Kelsie Lee had spent "several years" saving up for her Canon R6 Mark II with dreams of using it to be a wedding, engagement, and elopement photographer.

After purchasing the camera, Lee was been enthusiastically taking photos of her friends and family. But this all came to a crashing halt after her mom unintentionally donated the R6 to a Goodwill store where it was purchased for just $70.

"I was using it to take some photos of my family and me before we went out to dinner," Lee tells PetaPixel.

"I didn't want to bring the camera inside of the restaurant at the risk of damaging it and I also was hesitant to leave it in the car because of possible theft.

"My dad and I thought it would be a good idea to hide the camera in a cardboard box in the back of my mom's car — who was not at the dinner."

Later, when Lee went to retrieve her camera from her mom's car the "worst possible thing had happened" — the box and camera were gone.

"My mom had absolutely no idea my camera was in there and I had absolutely no idea that box was headed for Goodwill," Lee explains.

"We went to Goodwill immediately after we realized what happened. Turns out we missed the camera by ONE hour!"

[...] After losing her camera, Lee took to TikTok and in a heartbreaking post detailed what had just happened — she offered a $500 reward for the return of the R6.

After some people had falsely claimed they had her camera, Lee received a message on Instagram from a couple who said that they had it.

"I was initially hesitant," says Lee. "They sent me photos of the camera and I knew right away it was mine — I definitely blacked out for a second. I couldn't believe it."

The kind-hearted couple drove two hours to return the camera and did not want the reward money, but Lee insisted that they were compensated plus gas money.

[...] The one caveat was that after the couple bought the camera they had cleared the SD card. But, Lee is working with an expert to restore her photos.

OK, it is not a 'techie' or a STEM story - but how many of us have lost something absolutely vital to our work? A laptop maybe, or probably a cell/mobile phone with all the data that it contains. What measures do you take now to prevent a similar loss in the future?

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday May 24, @07:05PM   Printer-friendly
from the oops dept.

On Wednesday, Asus router users around the world took to the Internet to report that their devices suddenly froze up for no apparent reason and then, upon rebooting repeatedly, stopped working every few minutes as device memory became exhausted.

Two days later, the Taiwan-based hardware maker has finally answered the calls for help. The mass outage, the company said, was the result of "an error in the configuration of our server settings file." After fixing the glitch, most users needed to only reboot their devices. In the event that didn't fix the problem, the company's support team advised users to save their current configuration settings and perform a factory reset. The company also apologized.
"On the 16th, Asus pushed a corrupted definition file for ASD, a built-in security daemon present in a wide range of their routers," one person wrote. "As routers automatically updated and fetched the corrupted definition file, they started running out of filesystem space and memory and crashing."

The explanation answered the question of what was causing routers to crash, but it raised a new one: Why were routers affected even when they had been configured to not automatically update and no manual update had been performed? Asus has yet to address this, but the likely answer is that the definitions file for ASD, which resides in memory and scans devices for security threats, gets updated whether or not automatic updates are enabled.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday May 24, @04:19PM   Printer-friendly

Someone who looks a lot like you could also unlock it, says Which?

Samsung, Oppo and Nokia are among a range of Android phone makers with facial recognition scanning tech that can be "easily duped" by a printed 2D photo, according to tests undertaken by campaign group Which?

Resident techies that put a range of phones and brands through their paces (see box below) said the findings were of concern as biometric tech is often billed as one of the most secure ways to unlock a handset.

Of the 48 phones Which? sent to labs for testing, 19 could be spoofed with photos and "worryingly" these were "not even particularly high resolution and were printed on a standard office printer on normal, rather than photo, paper."

The vast majority of the phones that failed the simple biometric test were, unsurprisingly, low to mid-range in price, though Which? claimed there were exceptions, including the Xiaomi 13 and the Motorola Razr.

Of the phones that Which? reckons could be fooled, seven were made by Xiaomi, four came from Motorola, while two came from each of Nokia, Oppo and Samsung. One model made by Honor and another by Vivo was also found to be exploitable.

Under Android's requirements, phone makers must ensure devices and software are "Android compatible," which includes how often device security can be spoofed. Class 3 systems must not be duped more than 7 percent of the time, and Class 1 system are least secure, with a spot rate of 20 percent of the time to more.

Which? voiced worries that scammers could exploit the weakness to – for example – access Google Wallet to make payments to a limited value (£45 in the UK, about $56) without needing to unlock their phone. For larger transactions, Google asks users to use a Class 3 biometric lock, Which? said.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday May 24, @01:33PM   Printer-friendly

Miura 1, the First Spanish Suborbital Rocket, Is Ready for Launch:

Should it succeed, PLD Space will become the first private micro launcher to launch a rocket in Europe's emerging space race.

Spanish manufacturer PLD Space successfully carried out the final ignition test of its reusable Miura 1 rocket on Wednesday, setting the stage for its imminent launch from southern Europe.

In the next few days, PLD Space aims to become the first private micro launcher company to actually launch a rocket in the European space race. The Miura 1 is a one-stage suborbital rocket that stands 41 feet (12.5 meters) long, or about the height of four-story building. The rocket serves as a proof-of-concept for PLD's larger Miura 5 rocket, which aims to launch satellites into orbit beginning in 2025.

PLD Space developed the Miura 1's TEPREL-B motor in-house, which can achieve a thrust of 30 kN with a simple pressure-fed cycle using jet fuel. The rocket can reach an altitude of 93 miles (150 kilometers) with a cargo of 220 pounds (100 kilograms) and is meant to be reusable for at least three trips.

[...] The Miura 1 will be launched towards the Atlantic Ocean from a cliff on the coast of Huelva in southwestern Spain, specifically a military test zone known as "Médano del Loro." The launch is scheduled to take place on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, when the area will be free of fishermen, at 7:30 a.m. local time. On the day of the launch, the air space will be closed, and officials will establish an exclusion area in the ocean. The Spanish Institute of Aerospace Technology has already approved several launch windows through May 31.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday May 24, @10:47AM   Printer-friendly

Congress wants to force AM into every new car for emergency alerts.

The fight over the future of AM radio got a little more heated this week as organizations representing the auto and technology industries told Congress that its plan to mandate this mode of radio wave reception is poorly conceived and will hinder progress.

AM radio has seen almost every other in-car entertainment option come and go—vinyl, 8-tracks, cassettes, CDs—and it might predate just about everything other than playing "I Spy," but time is catching up with this old broadcast technology. It is starting to get left behind as new models—many of which are electric vehicles—drive off into the sunset, streaming their audio instead of modulating its amplitude.

[...] "As more and more Americans adopt electric vehicles, we must ensure that they are equipped with AM radio. AM radio is—and will remain—an essential communications channel for emergency alerts and for disseminating news and other important information to residents of our district and communities across our country. I am proud to co-lead this bipartisan legislation which would ensure that EVs continue to be equipped with this basic but critical capability," said Rep. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), another co-sponsor.

Original Submission

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