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By Laszlo Lovaszy member of the UNs Committee on

first_imgBy Laszlo Lovaszy, member of the UN’s Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; lecturer at the University of Pecs, Hungary; and adviser to the European ParliamentAs a member of the CRPD committee, I am responsible for scrutinizing the implementation of the convention in those states that have ratified it, but it is not our job to extend or modify it.Ten years after the convention was introduced, we are beginning to see new issues that no-one could have predicted and that are not currently covered by the convention.This article is about one of those issues, and it is one that, as a member of the committee, I am deeply concerned about.Even though we do not all speak the same language, music can touch all of us (my mother tongue is Hungarian, a very different language to English), even those with a serious hearing impairment like me. Why is that, and what is its relevance to evolution?No-one can be sure, even though issues such as robotics, biotechnology and DNA-related scientific breakthroughs are becoming increasingly high-profile, as can be seen by the increasing frequency with which they are covered by magazines like the Economist, Newsweek and Scientific American.I am almost profoundly deaf, I can enjoy listening to music, although I also sense that the music I can hear must be more beautiful to those without a hearing impairment. It is something I regret never possessing, and something I know I will never enjoy as much as hearing people enjoy.But what if that is not true? After all, our brain can learn and understand any kind of information, as long as it is given the time to learn and adapt to it. Soon, thanks to new biotechnological innovations, we may be able to process new types of information that are currently only available to other members of the animal kingdom. We might be able to possess the navigation skills of a bat, or the eyesight of an owl.If this happens, then the degree to which we are disabled by our own impairments could soon depend on our access to modern biotechnological innovations. Humanity could soon be able to re-design itself.We will soon be developing new generations of smart software and solutions with the brain capacity of hundreds or even thousands of people, which will be able to learn from and teach each other.The field of 3D printing technology – another rapidly-growing area – is interesting. Producing missing body parts for a disabled person through such technology may soon become commonplace, and the replacement parts might even be better than the original.If this happens, people equipped with artificial body parts – or extra sensory abilities – could be in a stronger position to secure a well-paid job than those who have no such access to expensive technology. This could happen. Look at the case of Paralympic and Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius. After he was fitted with state-of-the-art artificial limbs for sprinting, he had to be tested by scientists to ensure that he was not gaining an advantage over non-disabled athletes.Mankind is on the brink of being able to modify its own DNA; the British parliament has recently passed legislation to govern the procedure for modifying human DNA to create three-parent embryos, in order to “weed out” serious impairments and create “healthier” offspring.Apart from the serious ethical question of creating embryos that might be terminated because they do not prove useful, an even more serious question is this: will we soon be able to upgrade our own children’s skills, improving their sensory skills, their learning ability or their physical condition? If this is so, will we become a society in which such attributes can be purchased for the right price, and so only available to those with the necessary income? This could exclude any pretence at fair competition and social mobility within society.Of course, the cost of developing innovations and inventions must also be taken into consideration, to maintain the interest of scientists and inventors and ensure fruitful competition within these industries. We therefore need a fine-tuned, twin-track approach.But without such an approach, there is a risk that children born “healthy” but in a traditional way could find themselves disabled in comparison with children of the well-off. Will this leave the less-privileged members of society without any hope of ensuring a decent future for their own children?I hope that this world does not come to pass, but it is a risk.As a member of the CRPD committee, coming from the eastern, emergent part of Europe, I want to work for a world in which disability will not be a sign of poverty and a lack of access to innovation and inventions.The UN convention is not about preserving a right to remain disabled, but about providing choices and opportunities. How would the convention, and the committee, adapt to a world in which those who were rich enough could buy their way out of disability, while those who were poor became ever more disabled?That is why we need to consider this subject very seriously, and the sooner the better.For more information about the author, visit: www.lovaszy.webnode.hulast_img read more

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A note from the editor Please consider making a v

first_imgA note from the editor:Please consider making a voluntary financial contribution to support the work of DNS and allow it to continue producing independent, carefully-researched news stories that focus on the lives and rights of disabled people and their user-led organisations. Please do not contribute if you cannot afford to do so, and please note that DNS is not a charity. It is run and owned by disabled journalist John Pring and has been from its launch in April 2009. Thank you for anything you can do to support the work of DNS… Campaigners have welcomed the decision to install what is believed to be the country’s first accessible parking bay for disabled people who need to recharge their electric vehicles.Only holders of blue parking badges who also need to recharge their electric vehicles will be allowed to use the space in the new NCP car park in Stanley Street, Salford.The idea came following a suggestion from disabled campaigner Helen Dolphin (pictured, right, with the new bay), and Libbie Bilyard (left), co-founders of the People’s Parking scheme.Dolphin, an independent mobility consultant and herself a disabled driver, came up with the idea when looking at how to make improvements to their car park accreditation scheme, which already judges services on their provision of electric charging points.She said: “I am only too aware of the increasing growth of electric vehicles and although I don’t have an electric vehicle myself, I knew that as a disabled person I would struggle to get out of my car in a standard sized bay.“I therefore wanted to encourage car park operators to consider the needs of electric vehicle owners who are disabled and I’m absolutely delighted that NCP have installed a dual bay in their new car park.”The scheme aims to improve car parks by highlighting those with facilities for disabled people, parents, commuters, cyclists and motorcyclists, and for electric and wheelchair-accessible vehicles, and those that can show they have good signage and pedestrian routes, are well-lit, clean and well-managed. Sean Fenney, NCP’s head of operations for Manchester, said: “Normally we have to work within the limitations of the estate that we currently have, so when we have a new-build car park it’s always a great opportunity to be able to make the space really work for all our customers. “We were really pleased to be able to add our first dual electric charging bay for our disabled customers, as we expect that to be a very real need in the near future.”The Department for Transport (DfT) welcomed the move by NCP.A DfT spokesperson said: “We welcome measures that support the use of electric vehicles and are committed to ensuring that everyone in our society enjoys the same opportunities to travel.“Our Road to Zero strategy, combined with £1.5 billion of investment in ultra-low emission vehicles, sets out a clear path for Britain to be a world leader in the zero emission revolution.”Motability currently offers three electric models to lease through the disabled people’s vehicle scheme, with 202 customers with electric vehicles at the end of December.A Motability spokesperson said: “The Motability scheme is currently in discussions with a number of other manufacturers to be able to supply full battery electric vehicles on the scheme in the future.“Motability supports initiatives, such as People’s Parking, in helping to improve facilities for disabled people.”last_img read more

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40th Annual ArtSpan Open Studios Is This Weekend in SF Mission

first_img“Bluebird” by DK Haas.ArtSpan grew out of an event organized by a group of artists in 1975 who saw the need for bringing art to the community. The annual event grew into a month-long celebration that now boasts 800 artists and over 50,000 participants. This year’s event kicked off in Hunters Point Shipyard on October 17, where attendance was up from the previous by at least 1,000 people, according to Madonna, who anticipates a large turnout in the Mission District this weekend.“Because of this discourse that’s happening in our public spaces about how art is threatened right now, I think that people are getting the memo,” she said. “You gotta go out and you gotta support what’s going on. It’s disheartening to know that people from our communities can’t live here – we are trying to make people aware that they can’t take things for granted.”Claudio Talavera-Ballón, who paints portraits of working-class immigrants and works out of a studio in his home, says he sees those faces starting to disappear from the neighborhood and is lucky to be able to stay himself. He will open up his home studio for visitors during open studios.“They are being forced out of the Mission, as well as some artists… Not only immigrants are disappearing but middle income folks like teachers, nurses,  journalists, etc are disappearing, too.” he wrote in an email. “We are lucky to have rent control and a conscientious landlord. Otherwise we couldn’t afford to live here.”Photographer Christopher Turner is one of the artists who will be turning his studio space at 1890 Bryant St. into an open house.At his Mission studio, Turner is proud to share a “work-in-progress” with open studio participants this weekend – a series of portraits and video interviews documenting the city’s “LGBT community over 60.”“So many younger people, whether they are part of the LGBT community or not, don’t really understand or know about …what’s been going on in the last 40 years,” said Turner. “Its fascinating talking to people and getting their stories of what it was like growing in the 30s, 40s, and 50s and to hear about their struggles.”Photo by Chris TurnerOnce a Mission resident, Turner attests to the displacement in his community. “I think its immensely important to give the space to the artists that have managed to stay in the city. Many have left because its so expensive. Over the years, Open Studios has been a time when people come out and support local art– I think its fascinating that this tradition continues.”Still, the arts scene in the neighborhood refuses to stop growing and developing. The Pacific Felt Factory, an arts complex on 20th Street between Bryant and York streets, is joining ArtSpan’s open studios for the first time this year.Brian Singer, a graphic designer and multimedia artist, just recently secured a studio space at the Pacific Felt Factory, marking his first time ever having a space dedicated solely to his artwork. Singer’s work, however, has appeared in the Mission before, but mostly in the form of mystifying public art. In May, he caused a bit of a hubbub by creating metallic silver door hangers that said “Anything you say can and will be used against you” and depositing them on door handles around the neighborhood. He wanted to draw attention to the “mob justice” citizens inflict on each other by spotlighting each other’s behavior on social media. Known online as “Some Guy,” this will be Singer’s first chance to discuss his work with an audience face to face.“I’ve attended open studios before, but just as a spectator,” he said. “It’s nice to actually be in a physical space with other human beings and be able to discuss the work and have people see it in person.”“Choices” by Brian SingerSomething similar is happening at the bar and grill Dear Mom on 16th Street and Treat Avenue, where four painters will be exhibiting their work during open studios. Abigail Drapkin, Megan Posas, Rafe Mischel and Chamisa Kellogg have no studios of their own to open to the world, which means they, like Singer, will use the event as an opportunity to meet art lovers in person.“Normally Open Studios take place in the artist’s own studios, but since all four of us currently work out of our homes, we’ve joined together to take part in Artspan’s 40th year promoting local artists in San Francisco,” Drapkin wrote. “Dear Mom’s owners have been kind enough to host us this month and take no commission so all proceeds from artwork sales go directly to the artists.”Sample of works by the artists exhibiting at Dear MomOpen studios festivities begin tonight, with receptions at the Pacific Felt Factory from 6 to 9 p.m., Dear Mom from 6 to 9 p.m., Secession Art & Design from 6 to 8 p.m., and 1890 Bryant Street from 6 to 9 p.m.Here’s a map of all the open studios on the menu tomorrow and Sunday: Despite an exodus of artists and art spaces in San Francisco, Joen Madonna continues to push the art community to the forefront of local cultural happenings as the executive director of ArtSpan. This weekend, ArtSpan’s 40th annual citywide Open Studios will arrive in the Mission, with artists around the neighborhood opening up their workspaces to thousands of members of the public.“In a time where we as a city are losing our art community, we need to support the artists more than ever,” said Madonna. “I’ve been working really hard with local arts groups and City Hall to help stem the tides of this crazy displacement that’s been happening. But really, the best way to support the arts is to go out, meet the artists, and buy their work.”DK Haas, who has her studio at 1890 Bryant Street, praised ArtSpan’s work in bringing attention to local artists and creating community, and is cautiously hopeful for good turnout this year.“I have heard from other artists doing open studios in the city that it’s been an incredible year, that they had a lot of visitors, and it’s been really busy,” Haas said. “I try to keep my hopes measured, because you don’t know what’s gonna happen, so the kind of things that I hope for is that I have meaningful conversations with people about my work.” Tags: open studios • things to do Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0%center_img 0%last_img read more

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Tenants Rights Group Priced Out of SF Mission

first_img Tags: housing • tenants Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0% The Housing Rights Committee is leaving its location at 417 South Van Ness Ave. after facing a prohibitive rent increase with the expiration of its five-year lease. The organization is the third tenants rights group, after the Eviction Defense Collaborative and Tenants Together, to be displaced due to rent increases in the last few weeks.“It was just not economically feasible for us to pay that kind of rent,” said Tommi Avicolli Mecca, an organizer with the group for 15 years. “We had a five-year lease at our location and it got up and then the rent got jacked up.”Avicolli Mecca was not sure of the specific rent increase, and the executive director of the group, Sara Shortt, was not immediately available for comment. The move comes on the heels of Shortt’s departure from the organization for Los Angeles.The incoming director, Fred Sherburn-Zimmer, said the housing group was unable to secure a long-term lease for their growing organization. “It was more than we were able to absorb, and we’re also growing in size,” she said. “We would have considered staying in the building if we could’ve gotten a long-term lease there, but my understanding is we neither got a long-term lease nor at terms we were able to afford.”The group learned that the landlord planned a rent increase late this summer, said Avicolli Mecca, and spent a few weeks scouting new locations before settling for a fifth-floor office at 1663 Mission St. The seven-story SoMa building is just a few blocks from their old offices at 15th and South Van Ness, but advocates worry clients may find it more difficult to find their new location.“Right now we’re in a storefront in a neighborhood where it’s convenient for people to get to us,” Sherburn-Zimmer said. “We’re hoping that folks will still be able to find us efficiently despite the move.”“I’m not really too concerned,” said Avicolli Mecca, while acknowledging that he “always liked being on the ground level.” The group has been letting clients know of the move so they are not caught unawares. “We’ve been handing out flyers to all the people that come in, alerting them through our webpage.”Moving costs have also taken their toll. “We have to ask the city to help finance our move,” said Sherburn-Zimmer, saying the group would apply for a grant. She declined to comment on the grant amount, saying only, “it definitely is no small cost, the actual moving.”The landlord could not be reached for comment. Avicolli Mecca said the group had a “good relationship” with the property owner and that the displacement was inevitable.“It’s just that the reality is property prices have gone up. That’s what happens when you build condos in the neighborhood,” Avicolli Mecca said, pointing to the five-story condo complex across the street. “It’s going to be pricing everybody out of the neighborhood, that’s how gentrification works. We keep saying that. When you bring condos to working class neighborhoods, rents go up.” The group will be offering services to tenants at its new location starting on January 4. Though Avicolli Mecca said the group was lucky to have found a new location, he saw the displacement as part of a larger trend for housing groups and non-profits.“It’s really tragic because we’re the folks that provide vital services to the city,” he said. “The city can’t afford to lose organizations like the Housing Rights Committee. This has got to be another wake up call for city hall.” center_img 0%last_img read more

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Candidates Lay Out Housing Plans for SF Mission

first_imgDo you believe the Mission District must build much more housing — both affordable and market-rate — during your tenure as supervisor? If so, where specifically will that housing go in the neighborhood and how tall/dense should it be? If not, how will we address the affordability and displacement crisis?Respuestas en español aquí.Iswari España, Training Officer with the Human Services AgencyYes. There is no question that here in the Mission District we must build more housing — both affordable and market-rate, but the problem goes beyond the question. The question is why don’t we have a fair process to build for everyone that lives in the community. As a supervisor, I will create a fair bidding system in which developers and contractors must showcase their proposals to the community prior to sending them to the planning commission. In these proposals it will be mandatory to highlight the benefits to the community. The density will be determined by the area’s height and environmental studies. We have to respect our community. I am not a fan of high density structures but in areas where there is no environmental harm I would compromise, if guidelines are met. Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0% 0%center_img The city needs to do its part as well; we can not let private developers build only. The city needs to invest in their citizens and it’s not fair that only those developers that are close with Hillary Ronen get a free pass to play here.Since my campaign does not have ties with any lobbyists, developers, or evicting Landlords, I feel like I am the most suited candidate to execute this plan since I only have to answer to the community. I would suggest building on 2755 16th Street, at the Flynn Muni Yard. We should relocate the bus yard to Pier 80 or nearby ports. In addition, I would suggest the 2733 16th St. parking lot.These sites will be in addition to the “soft sites” identified by the Planning Department.Hillary Ronen, Chief of Staff to Supervisor David CamposI believe that if our children our going to be San Franciscans then our only choice is to build housing. And that means building tall, building dense, and building affordable.Campos’ office has negotiated over 850 units of affordable housing in the last 4 years, one of the highest amounts of any supervisorial district. I want to take that success and build even more. And that’s why I’ve set the ambitious but achievable goal of building 5000 units of affordable housing in the next 10 years.My number one priority will be building affordable units in the Mission to offset displacement. There are dozens of sites in the Mission where large scale affordable projects can be built and I am currently in talks with non-profit developers, and state and city leaders to begin that work.It’s all about fiercely negotiating and making sure we get the resources we deserve. And that exactly what I plan to do.Joshua Arce, Civil Rights AttorneyWe need to prioritize all housing. Under our current supervisor, it’s been very difficult for anyone to create more housing in District 9. Having said that, affordability is the top priority, and I’m the only candidate with hands-on experience building affordable housing.Our District 9 representatives’ failure to build any affordable housing for ten years has led to skyrocketing rents, increasing evictions, and a homelessness epidemic. The next District 9 Supervisor must be independent and push to maximize the number of affordable units that get built. That is why my campaign has not taken money from developers and lobbyists, while Hillary Ronen has taken thousands and thousands of dollars from lobbyists for projects that she supported when she ran the District 9 office.I put forth a plan that would create a new BART Station at 30th and Mission Streets and build up to 1900 new units of housing by building on the many underutilized parking lots in the neighborhood. We are going to build thousands more units affordable for all of us on similar parcels in the Mission.Given the limited resources for 100 percent affordable housing, we also need to encourage private sector investment that maximizes on-site affordable housing, including moderate and middle income affordability as well. That way, we get more affordable housing at no cost to San Francisco taxpayers.With regard to height and density, I believe that denser, taller buildings should be located along busier, transit corridors to help balance the neighborhood character of other areas of our district.Melissa San Miguel, Education AdvocateI grew up in the Mission and saw the neighborhood change in my lifetime. I saw my friends and their families pushed out of the neighborhood because of the expensive rents and lack of affordable housing. The lack of a plan and the lack of leadership in building affordable housing in the district and citywide has contributed to our crisis. We must develop housing people who are low-income, lower-middle income and fixed income can afford. Our city’s work must be twofold – we must develop fully affordable housing sites in the Mission and fight for as much affordable housing units in market-rate development projects in the district. There are lots, some vacant, in the Mission we can develop for housing, especially in our former industrial sector. Our city has nearly a million residents and we need to build up to accommodate everyone. This doesn’t mean that we will or should have towering skyscrapers like downtown, but we do need buildings that are taller than the two-to-three story buildings that make up most of the Mission. Our city – and its people – are in a housing crisis, and we must tackle this challenge with energy and a willingness for change.43 Questions is a weekly series — started 43 weeks before Election Day — to question the candidates running for District 9 supervisor. Send us questions to info@missionlocal.com and let us know in comments or in an email if you think candidates have answered as asked. last_img read more

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YOUR Saints are Forty20 magazines team of the mo

first_imgYOUR Saints are Forty-20 magazine’s team of the month for June – the fifth different club to win the accolade this season.A last-gasp draw in Hull at the start of a month in which unbeaten Saints notched three wins and a draw was followed by the devastating ten-try demolition of crisis-hit Bradford Bulls at Langtree Park.Saints were then pushed all the way by rising play-off contenders Salford City Reds, before Mike Rush’s side pulled away late on with tries by Jonny Lomax, Michael Shenton and Paul Wellens.And St Helens ended June as they began it, with another titanic struggle this time at home to Hull Kingston Rovers. After falling behind 26-0 in the opening half-hour, the visitors led 28-26 with just eight minutes remaining. But late tries from Anthony Laffranchi and Tony Puletua spared Saints’ blushes and staved off Super League’s biggest ever blown lead.“After a relatively quiet season so far, Saints suddenly find themselves third in the Stobart Super League table,” said Forty-20’s editor-at-large Tony Hannan. “If they can come through July in that position or better, they will seriously fancy their chances of reaching Old Trafford for the seventh year running.”June also saw the emergence of Saints’ latest rising star – Josh Jones. In the four games played, the young centre scored six tries.At the other end of the age spectrum, Paul Wellens weighed in with five.last_img read more

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First Team Match SAINTS TV

first_imgSwift first went over in the corner after excellent handling from Paulo and Lomax, before Naiqama fed the ball out wide to Swift and the winger finished spectacularly in the corner for his second.He then grabbed his hat-trick on the hour mark after a diving finish in the corner with Naiqama, who grabbed four tries himself, again putting the winger away.And the winger was delighted to be back in the first team fold after injury and is now hoping he can cement a place back in the team on a regular basis.last_img

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Spotted in Marsalforn New jellyfish or harmless creature

first_imgA strange, gelatinous sea creature was spotted in Marsalforn, with many thinking it to be a jellyfish, but it has been identified to have no stinging properties.According to Professor Alan Deidun, Malta’s Ocean Ambassador, the creature is a pryosome colony, a species of pelagic tunicate, thus a relative of salps. He tentatively identifies the creature in question as a pryosoma atlanticum. From Facebook Group Jellyfish in Gozo <a href=’http://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/ck.php?n=ab2c8853&amp;cb={random}’ target=’_blank’><img src=’https://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=97&amp;cb={random}&amp;n=ab2c8853&amp;ct0={clickurl_enc}’ border=’0′ alt=” /></a> 1 of 2 SharePrint From Facebook Group Jellyfish in Gozo Mostly importantly, Deidun notes that this is a harmless sea creature that has no stinging nematocysts, unlike the jellyfish.Pyrosomes are normally encountered within tropical waters. They can reach the lengths of up to 4m, and their body forms a distinctive rigid tube that may be colorless, pink, grayish or blue-green. Unlike salps that use the pulsing of the body wall to pump water, pyrosomes depend on cilia (tiny hairlike projections) to move water through the body. This enables planktonic food (a cluster of small organisms) to be collected by the creatures, and also provides the force required for the colony’s movement. More information on jellyfish and gelatinous organisms may be found here.Professor Deidun also coordinates the Spot the Jellyfish campaign, together with Aldo Drago, where one can fill in a form to report a jellyfish sighting.WhatsApplast_img read more

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ISIS Hacks US Military Command Accounts

first_imgAdvertisement As Obama delivered remarks at the FTC about cybersecurity, the United States Central Command‘s Twitter and YouTube accounts were taken over by hackers going by the moniker of ‘CyberCaliphate’, claiming to be affiliated with ISIS.“ISIS is already here, we are in your PCs, in each military base,” read one of the tweets. A US Official has confirmed the hack, according to NBC News.Meanwhile, the Central Command’s YouTube page was set to display propaganda videos in support of ISIS. – Advertisement – The Twitter messages implied ISIS had infiltrated deeper into the Central Command’s networks, and included images depicting what appear to be spreadsheets listing names and addresses of US Army members.An anonymous Pastebin post reads:Pentagon networks hackedAMERICAN SOLDIERS, WE ARE COMING, WATCH YOUR BACK. ISIS. #CyberCaliphateIn the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful, the CyberCaliphate under the auspices of ISIS continues its CyberJihad. While the US and its satellites kill our brothers in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan we broke into your networks and personal devices and know everything about you.You’ll see no mercy infidels. ISIS is already here, we are in your PCs, in each military base. With Allah’s permission we are in CENTCOM now.We won’t stop! We know everything about you, your wives and children.U.S. soldiers! We’re watching you!It thereafter provides a link to a .zip file labeled ‘US Army Files’, which includes what appears to be lists of names, addresses and contact information for army officers, as well as budget documents from last year.Although ISIS purpot the attack to be a large breach, none of the information appears to be terribly sensitive. A Pentagon official told the Wall Street Journalnone of the released data was highly classified. Some of it is readily available on public websites.Central Command says it is “taking appropriate measures to address the matter.”UPDATE: CENTCOM’s Twitter and YouTube accounts have now both been suspended.last_img read more

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56 NASA patents released into the public domain

first_imgAdvertisement This week, NASA released 56 of its patented technologies to the public domain for unrestricted commercial use.This means that they are completely free to use and one doesn’t require any licensing agreements like the case before.NASA’s Gina Anderson said the technologies were developed to advance NASA missions but may have non-aerospace applications and be used by commercial space ventures and other companies free of charge. – Advertisement – The free usage eliminates the time, expense and paperwork often associated with licensing intellectual property.“This patents release is the latest in NASA’s long tradition of extending the benefits of its research and development into the public sector.”The released patents which you can find in the searchable database of the NASA public domain cover a wide array of NASA tech, including manufacturing processes and rocket designs.last_img read more

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