Scientists Report Earliest Known Coronavirus Cases in Five US States

Blood drawn from nine people in the earliest days of the pandemic tested positive for the infection. But some experts questioned the results.

#antibodies, #blood-donation, #china, #clinical-infectious-diseases-journal, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #disease-rates, #illinois, #massachusetts, #mississippi, #national-institutes-of-health, #pennsylvania, #states-us, #united-states, #wisconsin, #your-feed-science


Scientists Report Earliest Known Coronavirus Infections in Five U.S. States

Blood drawn from nine people in the earliest days of the pandemic tested positive for the infection. But some experts questioned the results.

#antibodies, #blood-donation, #china, #clinical-infectious-diseases-journal, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #disease-rates, #illinois, #massachusetts, #mississippi, #national-institutes-of-health, #pennsylvania, #states-us, #united-states, #wisconsin, #your-feed-science


Welcome to Barn-Quilt Country

Take a road trip in the Midwest to see a homegrown art form that creatively combines aspects of Americana.

#agriculture-and-farming, #art, #barns, #bowling-green-ky, #iowa, #ohio, #quilts, #road-trips, #travel-and-vacations, #wisconsin


Biden Must Stop the Line 3 Pipeline in Minnesota

The fight over the pipeline will be, at least for now, where Biden’s climate commitment will be judged.

#alberta-canada, #army-corps-of-engineers, #boston-mass, #canada, #customs-and-border-protection-us, #demonstrations-protests-and-riots, #enbridge-inc, #global-warming, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #indigenous-people, #keystone-pipeline-system, #minnesota, #mississippi-river, #oil-petroleum-and-gasoline, #oregon, #pipelines, #superior-wis, #united-nations-framework-convention-on-climate-change, #united-states-politics-and-government, #wisconsin


Wisconsin Pharmacist Who Tampered With Vaccine Gets 3-Year Sentence

The pharmacist, Steven R. Brandenburg, believed in conspiracy theories and thought vaccines were dangerous, the authorities said.

#brandenburg-steven-1974, #conspiracy-theories, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #drugs-pharmaceuticals, #federal-bureau-of-investigation, #food-and-drug-administration, #grafton-wis, #united-states, #vaccination-and-immunization, #wisconsin


Rescuing Artists of Vision

The unrivaled Art Preserve in Sheboygan, Wis., opening soon, is collecting and showing artist-built environments found along rural byways, in city lofts — and even at Manhattan’s Chelsea Hotel.

#art, #art-preserve-john-michael-kohler-arts-center, #artist-built-environments, #bickford-laura, #deyoung-kohler-ruth-ii-1941-2020, #kohler-john-michael-arts-center, #museums, #sheboygan-wis, #smith-charles-1940, #wisconsin


Gunman Kills 2 at Wisconsin Casino

Police said officers killed the assailant in the shooting outside a casino and hotel complex in Green Bay.

#green-bay-wis, #murders-attempted-murders-and-homicides, #wisconsin


In new deal, Wisconsin slashes controversial Foxconn subsidies 30-fold

A man in a open-collar suit speaks into a microphone.

Enlarge / Foxconn chairman Young Liu speaks in Taipei on March 16, 2021. (credit: -Hwa Cheng/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The state of Wisconsin has negotiated a dramatically scaled-back deal with Taiwanese contract manufacturer Foxconn. The move, announced Tuesday by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, is a repudiation of a deal negotiated four years earlier by Evers’ Republican predecessor Scott Walker.

The original deal envisioned Foxconn spending as much as $10 billion to manufacture a state-of-the-art factory for manufacturing large liquid-crystal display panels. The deal was announced in 2017, and then-President Donald Trump traveled to Wisconsin for the 2018 groundbreaking, describing the new factory as “the eighth wonder of the world.” Foxconn was supposed to get $2.85 billion in state and local incentives under that original deal.

The deal may have been savvy politics for Foxconn in 2017. The company uses factories in other countries to assemble consumer electronics products for Apple and other American companies—products that are often then sent back to the United States for sale. So Trump’s protectionist inclinations seemed like a serious threat. Announcing plans to create of thousands of jobs in a key battleground state gave Trump something to boast about, and that may have helped Foxconn curry favor with the new administration.

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#donald-trump, #foxconn, #policy, #tony-evers, #wisconsin


Foxconn’s Wisconsin factory plans scaled back dramatically

It was “the eighth wonder of the world,” Donald Trump said, driving a golden shovel into the ground. The then-president touted Foxconn’s planned Wisconsin factory as a major win for his economic goals.

A year and a half later, the future of the manufacturing deal is far less certain. Earlier this week, the state announced a dramatic scaling back of a plan it had hoped would return blue-collar jobs back to the hard hit state. The Taiwanese manufacturing giant is scaling back its investment from $10 billion to $672 million.

The new plans also call for a massive cut to potential headcount — to 1,454, down from 13,000. Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers framed the reduction as a tax-saving deal in a press release issued this week.

“When I ran to be governor, I made a promise to work with Foxconn to cut a better deal for our state—the last deal didn’t work for Wisconsin, and that doesn’t work for me,” Evers said. “Today I’m delivering on that promise with an agreement that treats Foxconn like any other business and will save taxpayers $2.77 billion, protect the hundreds of millions of dollars in infrastructure investments the state and local communities have already made, and ensure there’s accountability for creating the jobs promised.”

Evers stepped into the role of Governor in 2019, following Scott Walker, who played a key role in negotiating the deal under Trump. The package included in the neighborhood of $4 billion in incentives for Foxconn, a record-breaking deal for the firm.

Plans for the TV factory shifted considerably since it was announced nearly four years ago, and in early 2019, it appeared that Foxconn had abandoned it altogether, before a phone call from Trump apparently put plans back on track.

As Reuters notes, the state has already spent in excess of $200 million on infrastructure, training and other aspects ahead of the planned factory opening.


#foxconn, #labor, #manufacturing, #policy, #trump, #wisconsin


These Rocks Made a 1,000-Mile Trek. Did Dinosaurs Carry Them?

Researchers suggest a collection of prehistoric stones found in Wyoming journeyed from Wisconsin in the bellies of very large beasts.

#dinosaurs, #geology, #paleontology, #research, #rock-and-stone, #terra-nova-journal, #wisconsin, #wyoming, #your-feed-animals, #your-feed-science


Biden infrastructure plan proposes spending $174B to boost America’s EV market

President Joe Biden has earmarked $174 billion from his ambitious infrastructure plan to build out domestic supply chains for electric vehicles, noting the imperative for United States automakers to “compete globally” to win a larger share of the EV market.

The funds are just one part of Biden’s plan, which calls for an ambitious $2 trillion infrastructure investment across multiple sectors. The Fact Sheet for the plan includes six references to China – one of these in reference to the size of the Chinese EV market, which is two-thirds larger than the domestic U.S. market. Chinese manufacturer Foxconn, Apple’s main supplier, said in February it was considering producing EVs at its Wisconsin plants – just weeks after tentatively agreeing to manufacture an EV for startup-turned-SPAC Fisker.

To ensure Americans actually purchase these domestically manufactured EVs, Biden also plans to establish sales rebates and tax incentives for the purchase of American-made EVs, though the size of the credit has not been released. Customers can already cash in a $7,500 federal tax credit for EVs, but it is not available to automakers that have sold more than 200,000 electric cars – people looking to purchase a Tesla, for instance, would not qualify for the credit. It’s unclear whether the new tax credit would raise or abolish the sales limit for automakers.

The plan also proposes using some of the funds to build a national EV charging network of 500,000 stations by 2030. A recent survey from Consumer Reports found that the availability of public charging stations was a major concern deterring people from looking into an EV for their next vehicle purchase.

On the transit side, Biden’s administration said the funds will also go towards replacing 50,000 diesel transit vehicles and electrifying at least 20 percent of school busses, through a new program administered by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The plan places a huge emphasis on providing good-paying jobs to American workers, but it still has a long way to go. It must be approved by Congress before becoming law.

#automotive, #battery-electric-vehicles, #charging-station, #china, #congress, #consumer-reports, #electric-car, #electric-vehicle, #electric-vehicles, #environmental-protection-agency, #foxconn, #green-vehicles, #joe-biden, #president, #transport, #transportation, #united-states, #wisconsin


How Senator Ron Johnson Helps Erode Confidence in Government

Pushing false theories on the virus, the vaccine and the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, Mr. Johnson, the Republican senator from Wisconsin, has absorbed his party’s transformation under Donald Trump.

#biden-joseph-r-jr, #johnson-ron-1955, #mccarthy-joseph-r, #mckenna-vicki, #presidential-election-of-2020, #republican-party, #rumors-and-misinformation, #senate, #sensenbrenner-f-james-jr, #storming-of-the-us-capitol-jan-2021, #sykes-charlie-1954, #trump-ukraine-whistle-blower-complaint-and-impeachment-inquiry, #united-states-politics-and-government, #voter-fraud-election-fraud, #wisconsin


Wisconsin Hunters Kill Over 200 Wolves in Less Than 3 Days

The gray wolf lost Endangered Species Act protections last year, prompting a recent hunt that killed at least 216 wolves — far exceeding a quota set by state wildlife officials.

#endangered-and-extinct-species, #humane-society-of-the-united-states, #wisconsin, #wolves


Has a startup finally found one of food science’s holy grails with its healthy sugar substitute?

A little less than three years ago at the Computer Science Museum in Mountain View, Calif. the founders of a young company hailing from Cambridge, England addressed a crowd of celebrities, investors and entrepreneurs at Y Combinator’s August Demo Day promising a revolution in food science.

Over the years, the event has become a relatively low-tech, low-budget showcase for a group of tech investors and billionaire industry insiders to take a look at early stage businesses that could be their next billion-dollar opportunity.

Sharing the stage with other innovation-minded budding entrepreneurs the Cambridge scientists boasted of a technology could produce a sweetener that would mimic not just the taste of sugar, but the caramelization and stickiness that makes sugar the go-to additive for the bulk of roughly 74% of packaged foods that are made with some form of sweetener. Their company, Cambridge Glycoscience  could claim a huge slice of a market worth at least a $100 billion market, they said.

Now, the company has a new name, Supplant, and $24 million in venture capital financing to start commercializing its low-cost sugar substitute made from the waste materials of other plants.


The bitter history of the sweetest ingredient

Sugar came into the human diet roughly 10,000 years ago as sugarcane, which is native to New Guinea and parts of Taiwan and China. Over the next 2,000 years the crop spread from those regions to Madagascar and eventually took root in India, where it was first refined in about 500 BC.

From there, the sweetener spread across the known world. By the first century AD Greek and Roman scholars were referencing its medicinal properties and, after the Crusades, sugar consumption traveled across Europe through the Middle Ages.

It was a welcome replacement from Europe’s mainstay, honey, and the early artificial sweeteners used by the Romans, which contained near-lethal doses of lead.

The cold climates of Northern Europe proved mostly inhospitable to sugarcane cultivation so the root took root in the more temperate South and the islands off of Europe’s southern coast.

Those regions also became home to the first European experiments with agricultural slavery — a byproduct of the sugar trade, and one that would plant the seeds for the international exploitation of indigenous American and African labor for centuries as the industrial growth of sugar production spread to the New World.

First, European indentured servants and enslaved indigenous people’s powered the production of sugar in the Americas. But as native populations died off due to the introduction of European diseases, genocidal attacks, and back-breaking labor, African slaves were brought to the new colonies to work the fields and mills to make refined sugar.

Sugar hangover

The horrors of slavery may be the most damning legacy of industrial sugar, but it’s far from the only problem caused by the human craving for sweeteners.

As climate change becomes more of a threat, fears of increasing deforestation to meet the world’s demand — or to provide cover for other industrialization of virgin forests — have arisen thanks to new policies in Brazil.

“Conventional cane sugar is heavily heavily water intensive,” said Supplant co-founder Tom Simmons in an interview. That’s another problem for the environment as water becomes the next resource to be stressed by the currents of climate change. And species extinction presents another huge problem too.

“The WWF number one source for biodiversity lost globally is cane sugar plantations,” Simmons said. “Sugar is a massive consumer of water and in contrast, there’s big sustainability pitch for what we do.. the raw materials are products of the current agricultural industry.”

And the quest for sugar substitutes in the U.S. has come with related health costs as high fructose corn syrup has made its way into tons of American products. Invented in 1957, corn syrup is one of the most common sweeteners used to replace sugar — and one that’s thought to have incredibly disastrous effects on the health of consumers worldwide.

The use of corn syrup has been linked to an increasing prevalence of diabetes, obesity, and fatty liver disease, in the world’s population.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – APRIL 08: In this photo illustration, products containing high sugar levels are on display at a supermarket on April 8, 2016 in Melbourne , Australia. The World Health Organisation’s first global report on diabetes found that 422 million adults live with diabetes, mainly in developing countries. Australian diabetes experts are urging the Federal Government to consider imposing a sugar tax to tackle the growing problem. (Photo by Luis Ascui/Getty Images)

Looking For A Healthier Substitute

As Supplant and its investors look to take the crown as the reigning replacement for sugar, they join a long line of would-be occupants to sugar’s throne.

The first viable, non-toxic chemically derived sugar substitute was discovered in the late 18th century by a German chemist. Called saccharine it was popularized initially during sugar shortages caused by the first World War and gained traction during the health crazes of the sixties and seventies.

Saccharin, still available in pink Sweet n’ Low packets and a host of products, was succeeded by aspartame (known commercially as Equal and present as the sugar substitute in beverages like Diet Coke), which was supplanted by sucralose (known as Splenda).

These chemically derived sweeteners have been the standard on the market for decades now, but with a growing push for natural — rather than chemical — substitutes for sugar and their failures to act as a replacement for all of the things that sugar can do as a food ingredient, the demand for a better sugar has never been higher.

Supplanting the competition 

“Not everything that we back is going to change the world. This, at scale, does that.” said Aydin Senkut, the founder and managing partner of Felicis Ventures, the venture firm that’s one of Supplant’s biggest backers. 

Part of what convinced Senkut is the fact that Supplant’s sweetener has already received preliminary approvals in the European Union by the region’s regulatory equivalent of the Food and Drug Administration. That approval not only covers the sale of Supplant’s product as a sweetener, but also as a probiotic with tangible health benefits he said.

So not only is the Supplant product arguably a better and more direct sugar replacement, as the founders claim, it also has health benefits through providing increased fiber in consumers who use it regularly, Senkut said.

“The European FDA is even stricter than the U.S. FDA,” Senkut said. “[And] they got pre-approval for this.”

Senkut and Felicis invested in Cambridge Glycosciences almost immediately after seeing the company’s presentation at Y Combinator.

“We became the largest investors at seed,” Senkut said.

Its selling points were the products extremely low glycemic index and its ability to be manufactured from waste plant fibers, which means that it ultimately can be produced at a lower cost, according to Senkut.

What’s the difference? 

Supplant differs from its competition in a number of other key ways, according to company co-founder Tom Simmons.

While companies like the Israeli startup DouxMatok or Colorado’s MycoTechnology and Wisconsin’s Sensient work on developing additives from fungus or tree roots or bark that can enhance the sweetness of sugars, Supplant uses alternative sugars to create its sweetener, Simmons said. 

“The core difference is they’re working with cane sugar,” according to Simmons. “Our pitch is we make sugars from fiber so you don’t need to use cane sugar.”

Simmons said that these other startups have been approaching the problem from the wrong direction. “The problem that their technology addresses isn’t the problem the industry has,” Simmons said. “It’s about texture, bulking, caramelization and crystallization… We have a technology that’s going to give you the same sweetness gram for gram.”

There are six different types of calorific sugar, Simmons explained. There’s lactose, which is the sugar in milk; sucrose, which comes from sugarcane and sugar beets; maltose, found in grains like wheat and barley; fructose, the sugar in fruits and honey; glucose, which is in nearly everything, but especially carbohydrate-laden vegetables, fruits, and grains; and galactose, a simple sugar that derives from the breakdown of lactose.

Simmons said that his company’s sugar substitute isn’t based on one compound, but is derived from a range of things that come from fiber. The use of fibers means that the body recognizes the compounds as fibrous and treats them the same way in the digestive tract, but the products taste and act like sugar in food, he said. “Fiber derived sugars are in the category of sugars, but are not the calorific sugars,” said Simmons.

NEW YORK – DECEMBER 6: Packets of the popular sugar substitute Splenda are seen December 6, 2004 in New York City. The manufacturer of sucralose, the key ingredient in the no-calorie sweetener, says demand is so high for the product that it will not be able to take on new U.S. customers until it doubles production in 2006. Splenda has been boosted by the popularity of the low-sugar Atkins diet. (Photo Illustration by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Trust the process? 

Supplant’s technology uses enzymes to break down and fragment various fibers. “As you start breaking it down, it starts looking molecularly like sucrose — like cane sugar — so it starts behaving in a similar way,” said Simmons.

This is all the result of years of research that Simmons began at Cambridge University, he said. “I arrived at Cambridge intending to be a professor. I did not arrive in Cambridge intending to start a business. I was interested in doing science, making inventions and stuff that would reach the wider world. I always imagined the right way for me to do that was to be a professor.”

In time, after receiving his doctorate and beginning his post-doctoral work into the research that would eventually turn into Supplant, Simmons realized that he had to start a company. “To try and do something impactful I was going to have leave the university,” he said. 

In some ways, Supplant operates at the intersection of all of Simmons’ interests in health, nutrition, and sustainability. And he said the company has plans to apply the processing technology across a range of consumer products eventually, but for now the company remains focused on the $100 billion sugar substitute market.

“There’s a handful of different core underlying scientific approaches in different spaces,” he said. The sort of things that go into personal care and homecare. Those chemicals. A big drive in the industry is for both less harsh and harsh chemicals in shampoos but also to do so in a way that’s sustainable. That’s made form a sustainable source but also biodegradable.”

Next steps 

With the money that the company has now raised from investors including Bonfire Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Felicis, Soma Capital, and Y Combinator, Supplant is now going to prove its products in a few very targeted test runs.* The first is a big launch with a celebrity chef, which Simmons teased, but did not elaborate on.

Senkut said that the company’s roll out would be similar to the ways in which Impossible Foods went to market. Beginning with a few trial runs in higher end restaurants and foodstuffs before trying to make a run at a mass consumer market.

The feedstocks for Supplant’s sugar substitute come from sugar cane bagasse, wheat and rice husks, and the processing equipment comes from the brewing industry. That’s going to be a benefit as the company looks to build out an office in the U.S. as it establishes a foothold for a larger manufacturing presence down the line.

“We’re taking known science and applying it in the food industry where we know that it has value,” Simmons said. “We’re not inventing any brand new enzymes and each part of the process — none of it on their own are new. The discovery that these sugars work well and can replace cane sugar. That’s someone that no one has done before. Most sugars don’t behave like cane sugar in food. They’re too dry, they’re too wet, they’re too hard, they’re too soft.”

Ultimately the consumer products mission resonates highly for Simmons and his twenty person team. “We’re going to use these hugely abundant renewable resources produced all around the world,” he said. 

*This story was updated to include Bonfire Ventures and Khosla Ventures as investors in Supplant.

#aydin-senkut, #brazil, #california, #cambridge-university, #chef, #chemicals, #china, #co-founder, #colorado, #consumer-products, #douxmatok, #europe, #european-union, #felicis-ventures, #food, #food-and-drink, #food-and-drug-administration, #food-ingredient, #impossible-foods, #india, #managing-partner, #soma-capital, #sugar, #taiwan, #tc, #united-kingdom, #united-states, #venture-capital-financing, #wisconsin, #y-combinator


In Milwaukee, Biden Offers Reassurance, and Tries to Avoid Mention of ‘the Former Guy’

It was President Biden’s first extended encounter with voters since Inauguration Day and was a rare opportunity for him to practice his signature brand of personal politics.

#biden-joseph-r-jr, #cnn, #cooper-anderson, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #democratic-national-convention, #milwaukee-wis, #presidents-and-presidency-us, #psaki-jennifer-r, #trump-donald-j, #united-states-economy, #united-states-politics-and-government, #vaccination-and-immunization, #wisconsin


Wisconsin Official Traded Sturgeon Research Eggs for Caviar, Prosecutors Say

Ryan Koenigs, a biologist who oversees the state’s sturgeon spearing season in Lake Winnebago, is accused of accepting $20,000 worth of caviar in an illegal bartering scheme.

#biology-and-biochemistry, #caviar, #endangered-and-extinct-species, #fish-and-other-marine-life, #fish-and-wildlife-service, #fish-farming, #lakes, #sturgeon-fish, #wildlife-trade-and-poaching, #winnebago-county-wis, #wisconsin


With Indoor Rinks Closed, Players Turn to ‘Speakeasy Hockey’

In barns and backyards, outdoor rinks built with kits or from scratch are filling a void for hockey players amid pandemic-related closures.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #hockey-ice, #new-york-state, #shutdowns-institutional, #wisconsin


Ice Floe Rescues and Highway Crashes Cap a Bad Week of Winter Weather

A cold front swept through parts of the Midwest this week, wreaking havoc on highways in Iowa. Bitter cold is in the forecast.

#cedar-rapids-iowa, #great-lakes, #lake-michigan, #national-weather-service, #snow-and-snowstorms, #weather, #wind, #wisconsin


A Conservative Justice in Wisconsin Says He Followed the Law, Not the Politics

Like officials in Arizona and Georgia, Justice Brian Hagedorn is a longtime Republican who is now under fire for ruling against President Trump’s challenges to the election.

#conservatism-us-politics, #courts-and-the-judiciary, #federalist-society, #hagedorn-brian-k, #presidential-election-of-2020, #republican-party, #voter-fraud-election-fraud, #wisconsin


8 Catholic Sisters Die of Covid-19 Within a Week at a Wisconsin Home

They were educators, music teachers and liturgists, living out their remaining years in a retirement residence after lifetimes of service.

#borman-cynthia-d-2020, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #deaths-fatalities, #disease-rates, #elderly, #feess-rose-m-d-2020, #felician-sisters-of-north-america, #kaul-joan-emily-d-2020, #langreck-lillia-d-2020, #laux-michael-marie-d-2020, #macintyre-dorothy-d-2020, #nuns, #our-lady-of-the-angels-convent-greenfield-wis, #portz-mary-alexius-d-2020, #roman-catholic-church, #school-sisters-of-notre-dame-central-pacific-province, #waukesha-county-wis, #wiesner-mary-elva-d-2020, #wisconsin


Wisconsin’s Top Court Rejects Trump Lawsuit as His Election Push Fades

The Supreme Court in the state narrowed yet another legal path for the Trump campaign as it tries to overturn his loss to Joe Biden.

#absentee-voting, #biden-joseph-r-jr, #electoral-college, #georgia, #presidential-election-of-2020, #republican-party, #rumors-and-misinformation, #suits-and-litigation-civil, #trump-donald-j, #voter-fraud-election-fraud, #wisconsin


Arizona and Wisconsin Certify Biden’s Wins: ‘The System Is Strong’

President Trump’s push to reverse the election results in key swing states fell short again as two states carried narrowly by Joe Biden formally signed off on their results.

#accreditation, #arizona, #biden-joseph-r-jr, #presidential-election-of-2020, #trump-donald-j, #united-states-politics-and-government, #voting-and-voters, #wisconsin


Recycling robotics company AMP Robotics could raise up to $70M

AMP Robotics, the recycling robotics technology developer backed by investors including Sequoia Capital and Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners, is close to closing on as much as $70 million in new financing, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the company’s plans.

The new financing speaks to AMP Robotics’ continued success in pilot projects and with new partnerships that are exponentially expanding the company’s deployments.

Earlier this month the company announced a new deal that represented its largest purchase order for its trash sorting and recycling robots.

That order, for 24 machine learning-enabled robotic recycling systems with the waste handling company Waste Connections, was a showcase for the efficacy of the company’s recycling technology.

That comes on the back of a pilot program earlier in the year with one Toronto apartment complex, where the complex’s tenants were able to opt into a program that would share recycling habits monitored by AMP Robotics with the building’s renters in an effort to improve their recycling behavior.

The potential benefits of AMP Robotic’s machine learning enabled robots are undeniable. The company’s technology can sort waste streams in ways that traditional systems never could and at a cost that’s far lower than most waste handling facilities.

As TechCrunch reported earlier the tech can tell the difference between high-density polyethylene and polyethylene terephthalate, low-density polyethylene, polypropylene and polystyrene. The robots can also sort for color, clarity, opacity and shapes like lids, tubs, clamshells and cups — the robots can even identify the brands on packaging.

AMP’s robots already have been deployed in North America, Asia and Europe, with recent installations in Spain and across the U.S. in California, Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, Michigan, New York, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.

At the beginning of the year, AMP Robotics  worked with its investor, Sidewalk Labs on a pilot program that provided residents of a single apartment building representing 250 units in Toronto with detailed information about their recycling habits. Sidewalk Labs is transporting the waste to a Canada Fibers material recovery facility where trash is sorted by both Canada Fibers employees and AMP Robotics.

Once the waste is categorized, sorted and recorded, Sidewalk communicates with residents of the building about how they’re doing in their recycling efforts.

It was only last November that the Denver-based AMP Robotics raised a $16 million round from Sequoia Capital and others to finance the early commercialization of its technology.


As TechCrunch reported at the time, recycling businesses used to be able to rely on China to buy up any waste stream (no matter the quality of the material). However, about two years ago, China decided it would no longer serve as the world’s garbage dump and put strict standards in place for the kinds of raw materials it would be willing to receive from other countries.

The result has been higher costs at recycling facilities, which actually are now required to sort their garbage more effectively. At the time, unemployment rates put the squeeze on labor availability at facilities where trash was sorted. Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has put even more pressure on those recycling and waste handling facilities, despite their identification as “essential workers”.

Given the economic reality, recyclers are turning to AMP’s technology — a combination of computer vision, machine learning and robotic automation to improve efficiencies at their facilities.

And, the power of AMP’s technology to identify waste products in a stream has other benefits, according to chief executive Matanya Horowitz.

“We can identify… whether it’s a Coke or Pepsi can or a Starbucks cup,” Horowitz told TechCrunch last year. “So that people can help design their product for circularity… we’re building out our reporting capabilities and that, to them, is something that is of high interest.”

AMP Robotics declined to comment for this article.


#amp, #amps, #articles, #asia, #california, #china, #colorado, #denver, #europe, #florida, #machine-learning, #materials, #matter, #michigan, #minnesota, #new-york, #north-america, #pepsi, #recycling, #robot, #robotics, #sequoia-capital, #sidewalk-infrastructure-partners, #sidewalk-labs, #spain, #starbucks, #tc, #texas, #toronto, #united-states, #virginia, #water-conservation, #wisconsin


Georgia and Michigan Deliver Blows to Trump’s Efforts to Undo the Election

Joseph R. Biden Jr. was certified as the winner in Georgia, and Michigan Republicans said they had no information that would change the tally in a state Mr. Biden also won.

#georgia, #michigan, #raffensperger-brad, #republican-party, #rumors-and-misinformation, #states-us, #suits-and-litigation-civil, #trump-donald-j, #united-states-politics-and-government, #voter-fraud-election-fraud, #wisconsin


A Medical Examiner Fought to Prepare Her County for the Virus. Then It Struck.

Patty Schachtner took masks to funeral homes and installed showers for sheriff’s deputies. No amount of preparation could ready her for what followed.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #deaths-fatalities, #disease-rates, #schachtner-patty-r, #st-croix-county-wis, #wisconsin


Wisconsin Officer Who Fatally Shot Three Men in Five Years Resigns

Joseph Mensah, a Black officer, most recently killed an armed Black teenager, Alvin Cole, setting off protests in the Milwaukee area.

#alvin-cole, #chisholm-john-t, #demonstrations-protests-and-riots, #joseph-mensah, #police-brutality-misconduct-and-shootings, #wauwatosa-wis, #wisconsin


Sequoia-backed recycling robot maker AMP Robotics gets its largest purchase order

AMP Robotics, the manufacturer of robotic recycling systems, has received its largest purchase order from the publicly traded North American waste handling company, Waste Connections.

The order, for 24 machine learning enabled robotic recycling systems, will be used on container, fiber and residue lines across numerous materials recovery facilities, the company said.

The AMP technology can be used to recover plastics, cardboard, paper, cans, cartons and many other containers and packaging types reclaimed for raw material processing.

The tech can tell the difference between high-density polyethylene and polyethylene terephthalate, low-density polyethylene, polypropylene, and polystyrene. The robots can also sort for color, clarity, opacity and shapes like lids, tubs, clamshells, and cups — the robots can even identify the brands on packaging.

So far, AMP’s robots have been deployed in North America, Asia, and Europe with recent installations in Spain, and across the US in California, Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, Michigan, New York, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.

In January, before the pandemic began, AMP Robotics worked with its investor, Sidewalk Labs on a pilot program that would provide residents of a single apartment building representing 250 units in Toronto with detailed information about their recycling habits.

Working with the building and a waste hauler, Sidewalk Labs  would transport the waste to a Canada Fibers material recovery facility where trash will be sorted by both Canada Fibers employees and AMP Robotics. Once the waste is categorized, sorted, and recorded Sidewalk will communicate with residents of the building about how they’re doing in their recycling efforts.

Sidewalk says that the tips will be communicated through email, an online portal, and signage throughout the building every two weeks over a three-month period.

For residents, it was an opportunity to have a better handle on what they can and can’t recycle and Sidewalk Labs is betting that the information will help residents improve their habits. And for folks who don’t want their trash to be monitored and sorted, they could opt out of the program.

Recyclers like Waste Connections should welcome the commercialization of robots tackling industry problems. Their once-stable business has been turned on its head by trade wars and low unemployment. About two years ago, China decided it would no longer serve as the world’s garbage dump and put strict standards in place for the kinds of raw materials it would be willing to receive from other countries. The result has been higher costs at recycling facilities, which actually are now required to sort their garbage more effectively.

At the same time, low unemployment rates are putting the squeeze on labor availability at facilities where humans are basically required to hand-sort garbage into recyclable materials and trash.

AMP Robotics is backed by Sequoia Capital,  BV, Closed Loop Partners, Congruent Ventures  and Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners, a spin-out from Alphabet that invests in technologies and new infrastructure projects.

#alphabet, #amp-robotics, #amps, #articles, #asia, #california, #china, #colorado, #congruent-ventures, #energy-conservation, #europe, #florida, #machine-learning, #materials, #matter, #michigan, #minnesota, #new-york, #north-america, #plastics, #recycling, #robot, #robotics, #sequoia-capital, #sidewalk-infrastructure-partners, #spain, #tc, #texas, #toronto, #united-states, #virginia, #water-conservation, #wisconsin


Behind Trump’s Yearslong Effort to Turn Losing Into Winning

Even before he was elected in 2016, Donald J. Trump was building a conspiracy theory about voter fraud that took on new energy this year, as his political fortunes ebbed during the coronavirus pandemic.

#absentee-voting, #conspiracy-theories, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #detroit-mich, #pennsylvania, #presidential-election-of-2016, #presidential-election-of-2020, #republican-party, #state-legislatures, #states-us, #stone-roger-j-jr, #suits-and-litigation-civil, #trump-donald-j, #united-states-politics-and-government, #voter-fraud-election-fraud, #voter-registration-and-requirements, #wisconsin


What Places Are Hardest Hit by the Coronavirus? It Depends on the Measure

By different metrics, all sorts of locations in the United States are deeply troubling, from Minot, N.D., to New York City.

#avenal-state-prison, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #deaths-fatalities, #disease-rates, #los-angeles-county-calif, #minot-nd, #navajo-indians, #new-york-city, #norton-county-kan, #sioux-city-iowa, #south-dakota, #texas, #wisconsin


‘I Don’t Have a Happy Ending’: A Pollster on What Went Wrong

Charles Franklin runs one of the most respected polls of Wisconsin. Here’s his assessment of why his survey and others missed the mark.

#biden-joseph-r-jr, #franklin-charles-pollster, #polls-and-public-opinion, #presidential-election-of-2020, #trump-donald-j, #united-states-politics-and-government, #voting-and-voters, #wisconsin


Here’s Where All the Cracks in the ‘Blue Wall’ Were for Biden

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. took back Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin by surging in the suburbs. He held his own in big cities, but there were signs of weakness in Black and Latino neighborhoods.

#biden-joseph-r-jr, #michigan, #pennsylvania, #presidential-election-of-2020, #trump-donald-j, #wisconsin


‘It’s Such a Relief’: Biden Voters Rebuild a Wall That Trump Smashed

Joe Biden’s victory was particularly sweet for supporters in three states he had to win: Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan.

#biden-joseph-r-jr, #michigan, #pennsylvania, #presidential-election-of-2020, #trump-donald-j, #voting-and-voters, #wisconsin


Trump’s Election Fraud Claims Make No Headway on Legal Cases

The president appeared to have little path through the courts to shift the outcome of the election, leaving him reliant on long shots like recounts or pressure on state legislatures.

#absentee-voting, #arizona, #barr-william-p, #biden-joseph-r-jr, #bossie-david, #courts-and-the-judiciary, #democratic-party, #electoral-college, #georgia, #justice-department, #michigan, #nevada, #pennsylvania, #politics-and-government, #presidential-election-of-2020, #republican-national-committee, #republican-party, #shapiro-josh-1973, #state-legislatures, #supreme-court-us, #true-the-vote, #trump-donald-j, #trump-eric-f-1984, #vos-robin-j, #voter-fraud-election-fraud, #wisconsin, #wolf-thomas-w


With No Evidence of Fraud, Trump Fails to Make Headway on Legal Cases

The president appeared to have little path through the courts to shift the outcome of the election, leaving him reliant on long shots like recounts or pressure on state legislatures.

#absentee-voting, #arizona, #barr-william-p, #biden-joseph-r-jr, #bossie-david, #courts-and-the-judiciary, #democratic-party, #electoral-college, #georgia, #justice-department, #michigan, #nevada, #pennsylvania, #politics-and-government, #presidential-election-of-2020, #republican-national-committee, #republican-party, #shapiro-josh-1973, #state-legislatures, #supreme-court-us, #true-the-vote, #trump-donald-j, #trump-eric-f-1984, #vos-robin-j, #voter-fraud-election-fraud, #wisconsin, #wolf-thomas-w


Prosecutors in Kenosha Drop Sexual Assault Charge Against Jacob Blake

Mr. Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, was partly paralyzed after a white police officer shot him seven times in the back in Kenosha, Wis., in August, setting off protests.

#blake-jacob-august-23-2020-shooting, #justice-department, #police-brutality-misconduct-and-shootings, #sheskey-rusten-kenosha-wis-police-officer, #wisconsin


Trump Can Try, but the Courts Won’t Decide the Election

Judges, like most Americans, will surely see that the winner should be chosen by no one other than voters.

#absentee-voting, #biden-joseph-r-jr, #courts-and-the-judiciary, #democratic-party, #georgia, #michigan, #pennsylvania, #presidential-election-of-2020, #suits-and-litigation-civil, #supreme-court-us, #trump-donald-j, #wisconsin


With His Path to Re-election Narrowing, Trump Turns to the Courts

The president pursued lawsuits in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia, and his campaign said it would demand a recount in Wisconsin.

#absentee-voting, #biden-joseph-r-jr, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #courts-and-the-judiciary, #democratic-party, #michigan, #nevada, #pennsylvania, #presidential-election-of-2020, #republican-party, #suits-and-litigation-civil, #supreme-court-us, #trump-donald-j, #united-states-politics-and-government, #voter-registration-and-requirements, #wisconsin


Unclear Result a Recipe for Disinformation, Researchers Say

There remains a huge information gap that is ripe for exploitation.

#biden-joseph-r-jr, #computers-and-the-internet, #presidential-election-of-2020, #rumors-and-misinformation, #social-media, #trump-donald-j, #united-states-politics-and-government, #voter-fraud-election-fraud, #wisconsin


These Are The States That Will Decide the 2020 Election

Though they’re still too close to call, they’re tilting in Biden’s direction for now.

#absentee-voting, #georgia, #michigan, #nevada, #north-carolina, #pennsylvania, #presidential-election-of-2020, #states-us, #wisconsin


Here Are The 7 Election States That Are Too Close to Call

Though they’re still too close to call, there are some indications of which way things might go.

#absentee-voting, #georgia, #michigan, #nevada, #north-carolina, #pennsylvania, #presidential-election-of-2020, #states-us, #wisconsin


Will “Blue Wall” Battleground States Win Biden the Election?

From the beginning of his campaign until the end, Joseph R. Biden Jr. concentrated on winning back Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. It is not clear that he did.

#arizona, #biden-joseph-r-jr, #michigan, #pennsylvania, #politics-and-government, #presidential-election-of-2016, #presidential-election-of-2020, #wisconsin


When Will We Know Who Won? A Guide to Day Two.

It was a long night. Here’s your guide to Day 2.

#arizona, #biden-joseph-r-jr, #detroit-mich, #philadelphia-pa, #presidential-election-of-2020, #trump-donald-j, #wisconsin


How Biden and Trump Can Each Still Win the Presidency

The president was able to close off several avenues to an early Biden win, but the former vice president still has a number of options.

#biden-joseph-r-jr, #georgia, #michigan, #pennsylvania, #presidential-election-of-2020, #trump-donald-j, #wisconsin


Despite Temptations, Biden Stayed Focused on the ‘Blue Wall’

From the beginning of his campaign until the end, Joseph R. Biden Jr. concentrated on winning back Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. It is not clear that he did.

#arizona, #biden-joseph-r-jr, #michigan, #pennsylvania, #politics-and-government, #presidential-election-of-2016, #presidential-election-of-2020, #wisconsin


After 2016 Shock, Wisconsin Democrats Picked Themselves Off the Floor

Hillary Clinton’s narrow loss refocused the party’s efforts to reclaim support and power after years of Republican statehouse dominance.

#biden-joseph-r-jr, #democratic-national-committee, #democratic-party, #green-bay-wis, #karofsky-jill, #milwaukee-wis, #presidential-election-of-2016, #presidential-election-of-2020, #trump-donald-j, #united-states-politics-and-government, #walker-scott-k, #wisconsin


Wisconsin Faces a Challenge: Getting Out the Vote When Most People Have Already Voted

Early voting has soared in Wisconsin, as have coronavirus cases, moving most campaigning online. But volunteers are working hard to reach the dwindling number of voters who have yet to cast ballots.

#biden-joseph-r-jr, #madison-wis, #milwaukee-wis, #presidential-election-of-2020, #trump-donald-j, #wisconsin


Has the Court Learned Nothing From Bush v. Gore?

Apparently not.

#alito-samuel-a-jr, #barrett-amy-coney, #bush-george-w, #constitution-us, #florida, #fourteenth-amendment-us-constitution, #kavanaugh-brett-m, #oconnor-sandra-day, #pennsylvania, #presidential-election-of-2000, #presidential-election-of-2020, #republican-party, #roberts-john-g-jr, #scalia-antonin, #souter-david-h, #supreme-court-us, #united-states, #united-states-politics-and-government, #voter-registration-and-requirements, #wisconsin


This Is an Election Story That Mentions Neither Biden Nor Trump

Here are the (other) races and issues our national correspondents are watching.

#brunswick-ga, #california, #constitutional-amendments, #democratic-party, #elections, #elections-district-attorneys, #elections-house-of-representatives, #elections-mayors, #flags-emblems-and-insignia, #henderson-county-nc, #houston-tex, #los-angeles-county-calif, #miami-dade-county-fla, #michigan, #mississippi, #oklahoma, #politics-and-government, #portland-ore, #prisons-and-prisoners, #republican-party, #state-legislatures, #vermont, #wisconsin


Election at Hand, Biden Leads Trump in Four Key States, Poll Shows

Joseph R. Biden Jr. leads President Trump in Pennsylvania, Florida, Arizona and, by a wide margin, in Wisconsin, according to a Times/Siena College poll.

#arizona, #biden-joseph-r-jr, #clinton-hillary-rodham, #florida, #pennsylvania, #polls-and-public-opinion, #presidential-election-of-2016, #presidential-election-of-2020, #trump-donald-j, #united-states-politics-and-government, #wisconsin


Can Trump Woo Enough Black Men to Hurt Biden in Battleground States?

On the ground and in TV ads, the candidates are in an intense and surprising battle for Black male voters, who are crucial for Democrats trying to win back Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

#biden-joseph-r-jr, #black-people, #michigan, #pennsylvania, #presidential-election-of-2016, #presidential-election-of-2020, #trump-donald-j, #wisconsin