Monday, January 13, 2020

Brazil judge orders Netflix to remove film with gay Jesus

A Brazilian judge has ordered Netflix to stop showing a Christmas special that some called blasphemous for depicting Jesus as a gay man and which prompted a gasoline bomb attack on the satirists behind the program. The ruling by Rio de Janeiro judge responded to a petition by a Brazilian Catholic organization that argued the “honor of millions of Catholics” was hurt by the airing of “The First Temptation of Christ.” The special was produced by the Rio-based film company Porta dos Fundos, whose headquarters was targeted in the Christmas Eve attack. The First Temptation of Christ depicts Jesus returning home on his 30th birthday and insinuates he is gay. Religious groups bristled at the depiction. Creators of the film have defended it as legitimate freedom of expression. Netflix said it would not comment on the ruling. (ABC News)


Girl hit by foul ball at Houston Astros game likely has permanent injuries, lawyer says

A little girl who was struck in the head by a foul ball at a Houston Astros game nearly eight months ago likely suffered long-term damage that will put her at permanent risk of seizures, the family said. The girl, who was then 2½, was injured on May 29 when a line shot hit by Chicago Cubs outfielder Albert Almora Jr. struck her in the back of her head while she was sitting in her grandfather’s lap on the field level just beyond the third base dugout at Minute Maid Park. The family’s attorney said that doctors have likened his client’s injuries to the aftermath of a stroke. She remains subject to seizures and is on medication and will be, perhaps, for the rest of her life. That may or may not be resolved. The Major League Baseball Commissioner has told all major league teams to expand ballpark netting past the dugouts this off-season. (The Houston Chronicle)


US Mint issuing fruit bat quarter for 2020

The first new America the Beautiful National Parks quarter dollar will be released February 3rd. The obverse of the quarter will retain the same side profile of Washington that has graced U.S. quarters since 1932. The reverse design shows a Samoan fruit bat mother hanging in a tree with her pup, according to the U.S. Mint. The design depicts a Samoan fruit bat mother hanging in a tree with her pup. It evokes the remarkable care and energy that this species puts into their offspring. The design promotes awareness to the species’ threatened status. The National Park of American Samoa is the only U.S. park where the Samoan fruit bat is native. In 2010, the U.S. Mint began issuing quarters with five new reverse designs each year. The fruit bat is the 51st issue among the 56 coins in the program, the U.S. Mint said on its website. The other four issues this year are Connecticut’s Weir Farm National Historic site, set for an April 6th, release; U.S. Virgin Islands’ Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Reserve on June 1st; Vermont’s Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park, August 31st; and Kansas’ Tallgrass Prairie National Reserve on November 16th. The final quarter in the series, to be released February 1, 2021, depicts Alabama’s Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site. The coins were made possible by Public Law 110–456 — America’s Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Act of 2008. (CoinWeek)


UFO sightings in North America jumped to nearly 6,000 in 2019

There was a rise in the number of North Americans who looked up into the sky in 2019 and found something that didn’t look like a bird or a plane. The National UFO Reporting Center, which tracks calls and messages from people around the U.S. and Canada about strange sightings in the sky, reported that it received 5,971 sightings in 2019 — a jump from 3,395 in 2018. Peter Davenport, who runs the independent organization that’s based in Davenport, Washington, said he couldn’t explain why more people called about seeing flashing white lights, fireballs, disc-shaped objects or other oddities in 2019. California led the country last year with the most number of UFO observations to the site: 485 in total, an increase of 182 sightings from 2018. Florida came in second with 385 sightings in 2019, which was 156 more reports than in 2018, according to UFO Reporting Center data. Washington came in third with 222 reports last year, which represented an increase of 51 from 2018. (ABC News)


A bill proposed in the Vermont state senate this week would ban anyone under the age of 21 from using or possessing a cellphone

The controversial bill was introduced by Democratic state senator John Rodgers on the first day of Vermont’s 2020 legislative session. The bill would make cellphone possession or use a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of a year behind bars and a $1,000 fine. The bill cites traffic accident concerns and bullying among the reasons for the proposed ban. “The use of cell phones while driving is one of the leading killers of 15 teenagers in the United States,” according to the bill. “Young people frequently use cell phones to bully and threaten other young people, activities that have been linked to many suicides,” the bill states. “In light of the dangerous and life-threatening consequences of cell phone use by young people, it is clear that persons under 21 years of age are not developmentally mature enough to safely possess them,” the bill concludes, placing cellphone use in the same category as the right to possess firearms, smoke cigarettes, or consume alcohol. “I have no delusions that it’s going to pass. I wouldn’t probably vote for it myself,” the State Senator said in a statement. He said he introduced the bill to make a point. Several states have placed a ban on people under 21 years old using their cellphone while driving, but none have introduced an all-encompassing age limit. (Times Argus)


Four juveniles who tried to carjack a woman at gunpoint were foiled by the car’s manual transmission

Four juveniles who tried to carjack a woman in Cleveland, Ohio were foiled, not by police, but by a manual transmission. The victim told police that she parked her vehicle in front of her home, then noticed four juvenile males approaching her, according to a police report from Cleveland police. She started to exit her vehicle when one of the males, who was wearing an all-black ski mask, ran up to her and pulled a handgun. He said, “Give me your keys. I don’t want to shoot anybody,” according to the police report. She told him that her child was in the backseat, and the male told her to grab the child, which she did, the report states. Two of the juveniles jumped in the car and tried to start it. After about a minute, the juveniles were still unable to start the vehicle and exited it, the report states. The victim told police that her vehicle is a stick shift, which is probably why the young men were unable to start it. The two juveniles who exited the car met up with the other two juveniles and ran off. The victim’s husband followed the four and saw them get on a train at the station. Police with Cleveland’s regional transit authority were contacted but could not locate the juveniles. (WEWS)


The Employment Situation

Job growth slowed last month as U.S. employers added just 145,000 jobs. But there was an interesting milestone in Friday’s (1/10) report from the Labor Department: Ninety-five percent of the net jobs added in December went to women. Women now hold just over half of all payroll jobs in America, for only the second time in history. The first was during the Great Recession, when a wave of layoffs hit male workers first, temporarily giving women an edge in the workplace. The period was even dubbed the Mancession. The growing number of women on company payrolls reflects a long-running evolution away from male-dominated industries like manufacturing toward the service side of the economy, where women have an edge. According to the Labor Department, that’s down slightly from the three previous months, when employers added an average of 200,000 jobs. But the unemployment rate held steady at 3.5%, matching its lowest level in 50 years. For all of 2019, the economy added 2.1 million jobs — the slowest pace of annual job growth since 2011. Job gains for October and November were revised down by a total of 14,000. Average wages have increased 2.9% over the last year, outpacing inflation and boosting workers’ buying power. Wage gains are still relatively modest, however, given the rock-bottom jobless rate. (Bureau of Labor Statistics)


Increasing the minimum wage by $1 could reduce US suicide rates, study finds

A new 25-year observational study published this week in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health found that a $1 increase in the minimum wage resulted in an estimated 3.4% to 5.9% decrease in suicide rates among adults ages 18 to 64, and a $2 increase could have prevented an estimated 40,000 suicides alone between 2009 and 2015. In 2017, there were an estimated 1.4 million attempted suicides among American adults and 47,173 suicide-related deaths. An estimated 1.7% of unemployed US adults attempted suicide in 2017 compared with 0.4% of those working full-time and 0.7% of those working part-time, the study said. Researchers wanted to find out if minimum wage policies had an impact on suicides, which can be caused by financial stressors such as job loss, financial hardships or debt. They looked at the differences between state and federal hourly minimum wages in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and compared those numbers with the unemployment and suicide rates every month between 1990 and 2015. Over the past few years, multiple studies have shown a link between economic conditions and health. A survey last month found a link between an automotive assembly plant closing and higher opioid death rates among working-age adults in the county after five years. The study linked economic conditions with so-called “deaths of despair,” including suicide and drug and alcohol deaths. (CNN)


New York teen discovers new planet while interning with NASA

A 17-year-old teen from New York was an intern at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, last July and was tasked with going through data on star brightness from the facility’s ongoing Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite mission or TESS. He was looking at a foreign system located 1,300 light-years from Earth. He said he then observed what appeared to be a slight darkness in one of the system’s suns. It turned out that darkness was a planet 6.9 times larger than Earth that orbited two stars, what scientists call a circumbinary planet. Once he flagged the discovery to his research mentors, he spent weeks with them and other scientists confirming his hypothesis. NASA said the discovery was rare because circumbinary planets are usually difficult to find and scientists can only detect these planets during a transit event, when one of the suns shows a decrease in brightness. The two suns in the solar system in question, TOI 1338, varied in size, with one being about 10% more massive than Earth’s sun and the other 30% of the sun’s mass, NASA said. Because the two suns orbit each other every 15 days, it was harder to distinguish the transit events from the planet, dubbed TOI 1338-b, which take place every 93 to 95 days, according to NASA. His discovery and further research that he did with other NASA scientists marked the first time the TESS program discovered a planet in orbit of two stars. Their work was featured at a panel this week at the 235th American Astronomical Society meeting in Honolulu. The teen and his mentors are looking for a science journal to publish a paper they wrote about the discovery. (ABC News)


Shoplifting suspect tells police the pants he was wearing weren’t his

A shoplifting suspect in Bridgeville, Pennsylvania tried to avoid theft charges by telling police officers that the pants he was wearing were not his. Police say they stopped 30-year-old suspect at a Rite Aid after a loss prevention officer saw him put merchandise in his pocket. Officers say they found several items from the store in his pocket, along with stamp bags of heroin. The thief told police that he planned to pay for the items, despite police saying the items had been removed from their original packaging. He also told police the pants he was wearing were not his. Police did not buy the story, and the man is facing several charges, including drug possession and retail theft. (WTAE)


Monday Staggers In Like A Drunken Monkey With:

  • Korean American Day
  • Make Your Dream Come True Day
  • National Clean Off Your Desk Day (2nd Monday)
  • National Sticker Day
  • Public Radio Broadcasting Day
  • Rubber Ducky Day
  • Stephen Foster Day

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