Numlock News: August 30, 2023 • VinFast, WiiConnect24, Manganese
By Walt Hickey
The third largest automaker in the world as of Monday is VinFast, a Vietnamese electric vehicle manufacturer that was founded in 2017 and listed on the Nasdaq this month. As of this week, the market cap hit $191.2 billion, which would put the upstart automaker behind only Tesla ($760 billion) and Toyota ($270 billion), and well ahead of Chinese car maker BYD ($90 billion) and Volkswagen ($70 billion). VinFast, which entered the electric vehicle market last year, is planning to build a factory in North Carolina.
At many shops, drug stores and groceries, consumers are extended the opportunity at the point of sale to make a donation, or perhaps round up to the nearest dollar with the balance going to charity. This has become an utterly massive payload: In 2022, $749.48 million was raised through point-of-sale fundraising, up 24 percent from the level seen in 2020. That said, some in the charity scene are getting worried that fatigue is becoming an issue. One survey found that the percentage of consumers that feel neutral or positive about the donation prompts has fallen from 85 percent in 2021 to 73 percent in 2023.
Overseas buyers of large parcels of land in the U.S. West have become a point of concern, as several states consider legislation that would restrict foreign ownership of land, particularly agricultural land. This comes amid high prices for land that has locals ticked off that they are struggling to survive in their local real estate market, as well as issues related to water usage where agricultural interests abroad are exacerbating droughts for people who live there. The countries with residents that own the most U.S. land in the West are led by none other than Canada, with 1.66 million acres mostly in oil, gas and timber. That’s followed by the United Kingdom, which has 908,615 acres; then the Netherlands, which owns 100,000 acres in Washington; and then Japan, which has 436,907 acres.
American Airlines has been hit with a $4.1 million fine related to multiple incidents where passengers were delayed on the tarmac for over three hours. In what’s already the largest-ever fine assessed by the Department of Transportation for airline delays, American has left 43 domestic flights on the tarmac full of passengers for over three hours from 2018 to 2021. Half the fine goes to the government, while half the fine is credited to American after compensating the 5,821 passengers who were screwed over.
The EPA is weighing tighter controls over how much manganese can end up in drinking water, but the iron and steel industry is trying to stymie that. As it stands, the United States already has one of the least strict safety limits for manganese concentration in water — 300 µg/L — which is considerably higher than the 120 µg/L limit for manganese in Canada, the 80 µg/L that the World Health Organization maintains is the recommended maximum, and the 50 µg/L that the European Union holds as its limit. A survey in 2021 tested 5,034 public water systems, and found manganese above even the EPA’s advisory level in 106 of them, with some areas having six times the safe level of manganese.
New York City expanded its speed camera program last year to function 24 hours a day, and it’s a smashing success for road safety. Up through August 2022, the 2,000 or so cameras previously operated only on weekdays during daylight hours, but following a legislative tweak the cameras were greenlit to dispense $50 speeding tickets at all hours of the day. Advocates wanted the expansion because 59 percent of traffic deaths in New York happened at a time when the cameras weren’t allowed to operate. It’s working: Road deaths in areas covered by speed cameras dropped 25 percent during the hours they were previously off, and it’s making drivers slow down, as the number of tickets issued by those cameras is down an average of 30 percent.
In June 2013, Nintendo shut down the WiiConnect24 service, which piped in news, weather and messaging into the Nintendo Wii, including the Nintendo Wii News Channel. That said, Nintendo did not in fact succeed in killing WiiConnect, thanks to a group of hackers who developed RiiConnect24, a service that allows Wii owners to continue to engage with the service and use their 2006 console to consume the latest news of 2023, if that’s your thing. There are over 70,000 Wii consoles registered to use the RiiConnect24 Wii Mail service, and roughly 3,000 people connect to the network daily. It’s currently run by a guy who was 11 when WiiConnect24 shut down.
Thanks to the paid subscribers to Numlock News who make this possible. Subscribers guarantee this stays ad-free, and get a special Sunday edition. Consider becoming a full subscriber today.