Japan Faces Record High of Nine Million Vacant Homes Amid Population Decline

The number of vacant houses in Japan has surged to a record high of nine million, surpassing the population of New York City, as the country grapples with a declining population. Known as “akiya,” these abandoned homes are typically found in rural areas but are increasingly appearing in major cities like Tokyo and Kyoto. This trend poses significant challenges for a government already struggling with an aging population and a falling birth rate.

Traditionally, akiya refers to derelict residential homes in rural regions. However, the phenomenon is becoming more prevalent in urban centers, complicating efforts to address Japan’s demographic issues. “This is a symptom of Japan’s population decline,” said Jeffrey Hall, a lecturer at Kanda University of International Studies in Chiba. “It’s not really a problem of building too many houses but a problem of not having enough people.”

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Airlines Shift Focus: From Cramped to Comfort – The Premium Seat Race

For decades, airlines prioritized cramming as many seats as possible into economy class. Now, in a global pursuit of high-spending passengers like Natalie Rasmussen, they are redirecting their efforts toward offering more spacious and luxurious seating options.

Natalie Rasmussen, an application scientist residing near San Jose, California, is among the growing number of travelers who refuse to endure long-haul flights in standard coach seats. “I’m not going to fly to Europe in 36B. 36B is a bra size, not an airline seat,” she declares. Instead, Rasmussen opts for business class or premium economy, a newer cabin class that provides extra legroom, larger seat-back screens, and other amenities, though not the lie-flat seats found in the premium tiers.

The demand for premium seats has become essential for airlines as standard coach fares dwindle and business travel’s post-pandemic recovery levels off. Amid these trends, passengers have demonstrated a willingness to pay for additional onboard space following the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Now you can become an EU e-resident for Rs8,620

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But don’t pack your bags just yet

You can now become an e-resident of Estonia.

You can now work remotely from the Baltic European Union country of Estonia. It just became the first country to offer e-residency to digital nomads, irrespective of where they may be physically based.

As the majority of us suddenly learn that we did not in fact need to waste our lives commuting to get to a common office location to work effectively with colleagues and be productive, gainfully-employed members of society, working remotely might actually be a trend that will stick around, hopefully longer than the virus does. And now for those who operate their own businesses that don’t require physical infrastructure, Estonia is offering an e-residency that allows you to set up operations in the EU country.

Located in northern Europe, with Finland to the north and Latvia to the south, Russia to the east and Sweden to the west, Estonia is opening itself up to people who would like to incorporate and grow their business in the EU. The residency is aimed at those who work online and may not be based in any one country or location for an extended period of time; freelancers; startups looking to set up operations in the EU; and other digital entrepreneurs working in finance, tech and marketing who would like a European presence. The country is expected to issue 1,800 e-residency permits every year.

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Neighborhoods where stores were destroyed become food deserts overnight

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A burned Walgreens in Minneapolis on May 30

In many neighborhoods that have seen looting and vandalism over the past week, residents are now left with few — if any — grocery stores, pharmacies and other essential businesses. Which is made even harder by the fact that lots of stores are also closed because of the pandemic.

There’s a 6-mile long commercial corridor in South Minneapolis called Lake Street, and it has been destroyed.

“We no longer have pharmacies in our community,” said ZoeAna Martinez, who works for the Lake Street Council, a business association. “We no longer have gas stations as well. Our largest grocery stores are also gone,” Martinez said. “Right now, our community, we live in a food desert, which happened overnight.”

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Quantum researchers able to split one photon into three

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Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo report the first occurrence of directly splitting one photon into three.

 The occurrence, the first of its kind, used the spontaneous parametric down-conversion method (SPDC) in quantum optics and created what quantum optics researchers call a non-Gaussian state of light. A non-Gaussian state of light is considered a critical ingredient to gain a quantum advantage.

“It was understood that there were limits to the type of entanglement generated with the two-photon version, but these results form the basis of an exciting new paradigm of three-photon quantum optics,” said Chris Wilson, a principle investigator at IQC faculty member and a professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Waterloo.

“Given that this research brings us past the known ability to split one photon into two entangled daughter photons, we’re optimistic that we’ve opened up a new area of exploration.”

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Kickstarter employees vote to unionize

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It’s the latest bid by tech workers to gain more clout.

More tech company workers are unionizing in an attempt to improve their bargaining power. A group of 85 Kickstarter employees have voted to unionize, aligning themselves with a branch of the Office and Professional Employees International Union in New York. The staffers will use their collective bargaining power to push for equal pay, more inclusive hiring, greater transparency from management and more of a say in decisions.

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This Colorado college will start offering a cannabis major in the fall

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(CNN) Students on Colorado State University’s Pueblo campus will have the option to study cannabis beginning this fall.

 State officials on Friday approved a bachelor’s of science degree program in Cannabis Biology and Chemistry, according to the Colorado Department of Higher Education, which said it was one of the first such programs in the country.

“The new major is a pro-active response to a rapidly changing national scene regarding the cannabis plant,” a proposal for the program by CSU-Pueblo officials says, citing shifting attitudes toward cannabis and its legalization for recreational use in numerous states, including Colorado.

The program will be part of CSU-Pueblo’s department of chemistry and consist mainly of chemistry and biology coursework with some classes in math and physics, the proposal says.

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India mulls incentives to woo 324 firs as trade war simmers

 

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India Plans Incentives to Bring In Foreign Manufacturers From Tesla to Glaxo

Bloomberg) — India is planning to offer 324 companies including Tesla Inc. and GlaxoSmithKline Plc incentives to set up factories in the South Asian nation in a bid to capitalize from the trade war between China and the U.S., according to a document seen Bloomberg.

The government proposes to provide the manufacturers land to set up a factory along with power, water and road access, according to draft of the document prepared by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade and Invest India. Other companies that officials will reach out to include Eli Lilly & Co., South Korea’s Hanwha Chemical Corp., and Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Co.

While the trade war has benefited countries such as Vietnam and Malaysia, rigid land acquisition rules and labor laws have prompted investors to largely ignore India when looking for alternatives to China. The latest proposal may reduce red tape, and set the nation, which expanded at the slowest pace in six years last quarter, on a path to double its gross domestic product to $5 trillion by 2025 – a goal set Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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A floating device created to clean up plastic from the ocean is finally doing its job, organizers say

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The Ocean Cleanup’s System 001/B collects and holds plastic until a ship can collect it.

Could this giant floating pipe clean up 90% of ocean plastic?

(CNN)A huge trash-collecting system designed to clean up plastic floating in the Pacific Ocean is finally picking up plastic, its inventor announced Wednesday.

The Netherlands-based nonprofit the Ocean Cleanup says its latest prototype was able to capture and hold debris ranging in size from huge, abandoned fishing gear, known as “ghost nets,” to tiny microplastics as small as 1 millimeter.

“Today, I am very proud to share with you that we are now catching plastics,” Ocean Cleanup founder and CEO Boyan Slat said at a news conference in Rotterdam.

The Ocean Cleanup system is a U-shaped barrier with a net-like skirt that hangs below the surface of the water. It moves with the current and collects faster moving plastics as they float by. Fish and other animals will be able to swim beneath it.

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Wait, What? The first human-monkey hybrid embryo was just created in China

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Last week, news broke that a prominent stem cell researcher is making human-monkey chimeras in a secretive lab in China.

The story, first reported by the Spanish newspaper El País, has all the ingredients of a bombshell. First, its protagonist is the highly-respected Dr. Juan Carlos Izpisúa Belmonte, a Spanish-born stem cell biologist at the Salk Institute in California known for his breakthroughs in anti-aging research. His other fascination? Human-animal chimeras, in which animal embryos are injected with human cells and further developed inside a surrogate animal’s body. Second, according to El País, Izpisúa Belmonte may have collaborated with monkey researchers in China to circumvent legal issues in the US and Spain, where research with primates is heavily regulated.

The news did not sit well with Chinese scientists, who are still recovering from the CRISPR baby scandal. “It makes you wonder, if their reason for choosing to do this in a Chinese laboratory is because of our high-tech experimental setups, or because of loopholes in our laws?” lamented one anonymous commentator on China’s popular social media app, WeChat.

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Earth’s magnetic north pole has officially moved

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This map shows the new location of the magnetic North Pole (the white star). NOAA NCEI/CIRES

Earth’s magnetic North Pole has drifted so fast that authorities have had to officially redefine the location of the magnetic North Pole. The extreme wandering of the North Pole caused increasing concerns over navigation, especially in high latitudes.

Earth’s magnetic field is known to have wandered and flipped in the geologic past. Earth’s magnetic field is a result of spinning molten iron and nickel 1,800 miles below the surface. As the constant flow of molten metals in the outer core changes over time, it alters the external magnetic field.

What we’ve seen in the past hundred years is that the location of the magnetic North Pole has moved northward. That migration of the magnetic North Pole was switched into overdrive in the past few years, causing the pole to rapidly move. The increased speed with which the magnetic North Pole has moved prompted authorities to officially update its location. The official location of the magnetic poles is specified by the World Magnetic Model, which acts as the basis for navigation, communication, GPS, etc. around the globe.

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Japan just became the first country to deploy rovers on an asteroid

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The Hayabusa 2 mission is visiting an asteroid 200 million miles from Earth to collect samples. The mission profile involves a lot of robots, bullets, and explosives.

In 2014, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched the Hayabusa 2 spacecraft on a four year journey to Ryugu, an asteroid nearly 200 million miles from Earth. The spacecraft has been in orbit around the asteroid since June and early Friday morning dispatched two rovers to the asteroid’s surface.

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