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Government

Draft Proposal Would Create Agency To Tax Cars By the Mile 932

theodp writes "The Hill reports that the Obama administration has floated a transportation authorization bill that would require the study and implementation of a plan to tax automobile drivers based on how many miles they drive. The plan is a part of the administration's 'Transportation Opportunities Act,' and calls for spending $200 million to implement a new Surface Transportation Revenue Alternatives Office tasked with creating a 'study framework that defines the functionality of a mileage-based user fee system and other systems.' The office would be required to consider four factors — the capability of states to enforce payment, the reliability of technology, administrative costs, and 'user acceptance' — in field trials slated to begin within four years at unspecified sites. Forbes suggests the so-called vehicle miles traveled (VMT) tax should be called the Rube Goldberg Gas Tax, because while its objective is the same as the gas tax, the way it collects revenue is extremely complex, costly and cumbersome." The disclaimers are thick on the ground, though; note, this is an "early draft," not pending legislation.
Input Devices

Razer Hydra Brings Motion Control To PC Gamers 111

Zothecula writes "While motion controllers are becoming a staple for console gamers with the release of the Wii, PlayStation Move and Microsoft Kinect, PC gamers have been left wanting. Razer is looking to change that with its Hydra motion controller which has been developed specifically for PC gamers. Unlike console-based motion control systems, the Hydra uses magnetic tracking technology by way of a base station that emits a magnetic field that Razer says allows the exact location and orientation of the handheld controllers to be detected with millimeter accuracy."
Mars

Scientist Says NASA Must Study Space Sex 389

Velcroman1 writes "NASA has always been tight lipped on the subject of sex in space — which makes people all the more curious. How would it work? Has anyone done it before? Can a child be conceived in zero-G? With few animal tests (and virtually no human testing), there's been next to no scientific analysis of the issue. Until now. The Journal of Cosmology has published a special issue detailing the mission to Mars, which touches all the bases. In a chapter titled Sex on Mars, Dr. Rhawn Joseph from the Brain Research Laboratory in California discusses everything from the social conditions that would push astronauts to have sex to the possibility of the first child being born on another planet. Such an infant would be the first real Martian — at least by nationality, the researcher pointed out. 'On Mars, the light's going to be different, the gravity will be different, it's a completely different atmosphere,' he said. 'So if you put an infant on Mars, they would adapt to varying degrees of the new environment. And after several generations, you'd have a new species,' he said."
Businesses

Paying With the Wave of a Cellphone 137

holy_calamity writes "Tech Review discusses how it will soon be possible to pay in stores by waving your cellphone over a contactless reader, thanks to new handsets due next year, and RFID stickers and cases offered today by firms including Visa. It's convenient for shoppers, but a major driver of the technology is the opportunity for retailers to gain access to their customers' cellphones and social networks for marketing purposes."
Businesses

China To Build Its Own Large Jetliner 332

Hugh Pickens writes "China's domestic airlines will need to buy an estimated 4,330 new aircraft valued at $480 billion over the next two decades to meet demand in commercial aviation. Now the LA Times reports that the Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China expects to begin producing its 156-seat C919 by 2016, competing with the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320. China has staked billions of dollars and national pride on the effort but what may surprise some Americans worried about slipping US competitiveness is that some well-known US companies are aiding China, putting US and European suppliers in a tough spot: Be willing to hand over advanced technology to Chinese firms that could one day be rivals or miss out on what's likely to be the biggest aviation bonanza of the next half a century. 'If they launch a commercial aviation industry, you've got to be part of it,' says Roger Seager, GE Aviation's vice president and general manager for China, whose company has garnered contracts worth about $6 billion for the C919. 'You can't take a pass and come back in 10 years.'"

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