TOKYO, JAPAN - DECEMBER 23: Emperor Akihito Of Japan greets the public at the Imperial Palace on December 23, 2014 in Tokyo, Japan. Emperor Akihito of Japan turned 81 on December 23, 2014. (Photo by Jun Sato/Getty Images)

Japan is facing a potential Y2K meltdown in 2019.

Software can’t be written with every contingency in mind. The culprit isn’t a malicious bug or poorly written code. The problem is that Emperor Akihito will be relinquishing the Chrysanthemum Throne in 2019, and Japanese computers aren’t ready.

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If the rest of the world weren’t on fire, 2018 might be remembered as the year of reckoning for social media. Every week there’s a new report of a company gathering and selling data without users’ permission. The latest installment comes from the Amazon Echo.

In Oregon, a user’s Echo device recorded a conversation between the owner and her husband, then sent the audio to an acquaintance of the owner without her knowledge or permission. The acquaintance contacted the owner upon receiving the message, worried that the device might have been hacked.

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John Oliver performed a segment on his HBO show which resulted in his show––and HBO––being banned in China. (Screenshot via YouTube)

Comedian John Oliver — host of HBO’s Last Week Tonight — is public enemy number one in China due to how he skewers the political elite of this communist country. Not only is his show banned in the world’s most populous country, but he is, too.

(Oliver was banned for the following segment, by the way.)

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Photograph via Wikimedia Commons.

New research into the tools carried by the 5,300-year-old Italian mummy called Otzi offer compelling new details into his life and final days.

Otzi was discovered in 1991 by tourists hiking in the Italian Alps. Initially, he was treated as a suspicious death because no other mummy so well-preserved had ever been discovered in the region. Since he was carbon dated to between 3100 and 3370 BCE, Otzi has been yielding new discoveries regularly.

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Lucy Butler,15, getting ready to have her measles jab at All Saints School in Ingleby Barwick, Teesside as a national vaccination catch-up campaign has been launched to curb a rise in measles cases in England. (Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images)

A new study has identified many metropolitan and rural areas across the United States that are now in greater danger of preventable disease outbreaks due to low vaccination rates in children.

Eighteen states allow parents to opt out of vaccines and immunizations for “religious or philosophical” reasons (non-medical exemptions, or NMEs), and every state allows exemptions for children who have compromised immune systems. The new study confirms that large segments of parents are exercising their exemptions, resulting in a growing population of citizens unprotected from childhood diseases that were once virtually eradicated.

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Any public health official interested in resolving North America’s opioid crisis should be looking towards national legalization of medical marijuana. That’s the conclusion of two new studies recently published in JAMA Internal Medicine, an American Medical Association journal.

“In this time when we are so concerned — rightly so — about opiate misuse and abuse and the mortality that’s occurring, we need to be clear-eyed and use evidence to drive our policies,” said W. David Bradford, an economist at the University of Georgia and an author of one of the studies. “If you’re interested in giving people options for pain management that don’t bring the particular risks that opiates do, states should contemplate turning on dispensary-based cannabis policies.”

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SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - 2015/02/02: Sao Paulo cityscape showing air pollution and skyline of the city during sunset, Brazil. (Photo by Ricardo Beliel/Brazil Photos/LightRocket via Getty Images)

With climate change causing chaos across the world, and the US Environmental Protection Agency’s never-ending parade of public malfeasance, it’s probably been some time since the public considered the ozone layer. After all, virtually every country stopped producing ozone-depleting coolants by 2010. How could the ozone still be shrinking?

According to a study produced by scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, production of trichlorofluoromethane (CFC-11) has increased. CFCs were once widely used in the manufacture of aerosol sprays, as blowing agents for foams and packing materials, as solvents, and as refrigerants. Older appliances and products may still contain CFCs, but worldwide production of these chemicals halted in 2010.

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