GaS news — what happened next: July 2013

Continuing our look back at later developments to stories we brought you on Geeks Are Sexy this year, we turn our attention to July. Tesla encouraged the public to sign a White House petition calling for an end to laws in several states that prevent manufacturers from selling direct (in person) to the public, something that’s a big problem as Tesla doesn’t use dealerships.

Although the petition reached the 100,000 signatures required to trigger a mandatory response from the White House, no response has yet appeared online. The battle continues locally however. In Ohio, proposed legislation that would expressly have limited Tesla selling directly to the public was rejected by state senators in December.

In Massachusetts, the state legislature is considering two rival bills, one expressly banning direct Tesla sales and one expressly legalizing them. Meanwhile Tesla has opened a store in the state, prompting a case under the more ambiguous existing laws, which will go to the state Supreme Court in February.

Ouya, which manufactures an open source games console, offered a total of one million dollars to match money that game developers raised on Kickstarter. The offer originally applied to any Ouya game that raised at least $50,000, with a per-title limit of $250,000, but the company later lowered the minimum threshold to $10,000. So far seven titles have received a total of just under $350,000, the biggest being “psychological horror game” Neverending Nightmares which raised over $100,000. Developers have until August 2014 to claim a share of the remaining money.

The debate continued about a possible pardon for British computer pioneer Alan Turing, convicted in 1952 for homosexual activity.  Officials had maintained that a pardon was legally impossible as Turing knowingly and rationally decided to carry out what was then a criminal act.

A member of the House of Lords (the UK’s upper, unelected house of parliament) proposed creating a law specifically to pardon Turing. In an extremely rare change of usual procedure for a non-governmental bill, the government agreed to make legislative time for the bill as long as nobody proposed any amendments (which would prompt a lengthy scrutiny process.) The bill was passed without change in the House of Lords and next had to make its way through the House of Commons (the lower, elected house) before it can become law. Its progress there was halted in December by a member objecting to the bill. It therefore had to go to a full debate, currently scheduled for February 28 next year.

However, just before Christmas, the government’s Justice Minister formally requested that the Queen issue an immediate pardon, which happened with effect from December 24. It wasn’t immediately clear why the government changed its stance, though it may have wanted to avoid a potentially embarrassing political dispute as the bill went to debate.

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