Thursday, January 23, 2020

Woman says she was scammed out of thousands by someone on Facebook Messenger posing as her friends

A Beaver County, Pennsylvania woman says she was scammed by a stranger on Facebook Messenger posing as two of her friends. She got messages from a scammer who used her friends’ photos to make fake accounts. The scammer allegedly told her she was eligible for a $200,000 grant and all she had to do was pay the taxes on it. She said the crime gutted her savings by $5,400. The Better Business Bureau issued a scam alert in November about such scammers who are using Facebook Messenger. “No matter who is sending the message or how it’s worded, eventually you’ll be asked to supply personal information and a payment for processing fees,” the BBB said in the alert. “Un-friend and block these users immediately.” (WTAE)


Using salt to battle cancer

Researchers from the University of Georgia have developed a treatment that uses sodium chloride (salt) nanoparticles to kill cancer cells. Cancer cells are particularly sensitive to sodium, more so than healthy cells. The nanoparticles can infiltrate the cancer cells undetected. Once inside, the sodium and chloride ions can destroy the cell’s defenses and ultimately kill the cancer cells altogether. And because we’re essentially dealing with salt, side effects for such a treatment would be minimal compared to other cancer therapies. (New Atlas)


Frogs power the first living robots

Researchers from the University of Vermont and Tufts University have used the cells of African clawed frogs to develop tiny living robots. The researchers used an evolutionary algorithm to test out several different kinds of combinations of frog skin and heart cells in a virtual environment, before building prototypes in the lab. The robots, which are less than 1 millimeter in length, could one day be used to help clean polluted bodies of water, administer medicine to patients or assist with surgical procedures. (The Guardian)


China’s birthrate fell to the lowest since the founding of the People’s Republic 70 years ago

As government efforts to reverse the impact of its one-child policy sputtered, the world’s most populous nation and its second-biggest economy last year recorded 10.48 births for every 1,000 citizens. At that rate, a third of its population will be 60 or older by 2030, slowing economic growth and stressing resources to care for the elderly. Beijing also reported the smallest GDP expansion in 30 years amid a trade war with the U.S. (NPR)


Proposed Medical Marijuana Billboard Ban Unconstitutional

A bill by an Oklahoma lawmaker would ban medical marijuana billboards. However, the ACLU says if passed, it would likely be found unconstitutional. “A billboard is speech,” according to the ACLU Executive Director. “Using a billboard, whether that’s to communicate a political message or to communicate a commercial message is speech, and the constitution says you can regulate that in very narrow circumstances.” SB1257 by Mark Allen (Spiro, OK) says “medical marijuana shall not be advertised on any billboard” in the state. It defines a billboard as “a freestanding outdoor advertising sign located on industrial, commercial or residential property.”  Most Medical Marijuana dispensary owners say Federal regulations have kept them off most advertising platforms. The bill would not ban signage at dispensaries, only on properties not owned by dispensaries. (News On 6)


WHO Reveals The World’s Biggest Health Crises

The World Health Organization has released its list of the most urgent health priorities this decade. The 13 health challenges include: addressing climate change, ensuring the safety of health care workers in conflict-stricken regions, eliminating the health equity gap between the rich and poor, and stopping the spread of infectious disease. The WHO also singled out earning the public’s trust, particularly around vaccinations and other medicines; reducing the shortage of health care workers; and promoting healthier food and smoking cessation. (World Health Organization)


Some hospitals are ditching lead aprons during X-rays

There’s some new thinking among radiologists and medical physicists causing some hospitals to stop the ritual of covering reproductive organs and fetuses during imaging exams after prominent medical and scientific groups have said it’s a feel-good measure that can impair the quality of diagnostic tests and sometimes inadvertently increase a patient’s radiation exposure. The about-face is intended to improve care, but it will require a major effort to reassure regulators, health care workers and the public that it’s better not to shield. Fear of radiation is entrenched in the collective psyche, and many people are surprised to learn that shielding can cause problems. The movement also has yet to gain much traction among dentists, whose offices perform more than half of all X-rays. Covering testicles and ovaries during X-rays has been recommended since the 1950s, when studies in fruit flies prompted concern that radiation might damage human DNA and cause birth defects. Only in the past decade did radiology professionals start to reassess the practice, based on changes in imaging technology and a better understanding of radiation’s effects. Lead shields are difficult to position accurately, so they often miss the target area they are supposed to protect. Even when in the right place, they can inadvertently obscure areas of the body a doctor needs to see — the location of a swallowed object, resulting in a need to repeat the imaging process, according to the American Association of Physicists in Medicine, which represents physicists who work in hospitals. Shields can also cause automatic exposure controls on an X-ray machine to increase radiation to all parts of the body being examined in an effort to “see through” the lead. Moreover, shielding doesn’t protect against the greatest radiation effect: “scatter,” which occurs when radiation ricochets inside the body, including under the shield, and eventually deposits its energy in tissues. (ABC News)


Woman injures 2 after allegedly driving into traffic as a test of faith

A woman in Pennsylvania allegedly drove her car into oncoming traffic as a test of her faith in God and showed no remorse for her actions, according to authorities. The incident occurred near Weatherly, Pennsylvania when the 31-year-old female from Drums, Pennsylvania, drove into oncoming traffic on Route 93. An investigator said that she had been driving around for several hours waiting for a calling from God when she decided to take action into her own hands and drive into an oncoming vehicle. She had her $50,000 bail revoked and was charged with aggravated assault and other offenses over allegations that she purposely caused the accident that injured two people in the vehicle that she collided with. The two people in the car that she collided with were taken to hospital and treated for their injuries. (WTAE)


Failed: Hover Boarding Dentistry

A dentist in Anchorage, Alaska, has been convicted on dozens of charges after he was filmed extracting a patient’s tooth as he stood on a hoverboard, according to the Alaska Department of Law. He was convicted on 46 felony and misdemeanor counts in Anchorage Superior Court. A lawsuit filed by the state in 2017 charged him with “unlawful dental acts,” saying his patient care did not meet professional standards. The lawsuit said he “performed a dental extraction procedure on a sedated patient while riding a hoverboard,” filmed the procedure and then sent it to several people. In at least one conversation, he joked that performing oral surgery on a hoverboard was a “new standard of care,” the lawsuit said, citing phone records. He was also charged with medical assistance fraud for billing Medicaid for procedures that were either unnecessary or not properly justified and theft of $25,000 or more by diverting funds from Alaska Dental Arts, among dozens of others. His attorney had pleaded not guilty on all counts. He’s expected to be sentenced on April 30th. (KTUU)


Millennials aren’t killing plants

Millennials have been blamed for the death of a number things, but the houseplant industry isn’t one of them. The industry has been growing over 50% in the last few years by some estimates. Unable to afford a large home, millennial renters have doubled down on making their apartments as cosy as possible and houseplants have been the unlikely beneficiary, argues the report. Like any beloved product targeted at the digital generation, a number of online stores have sprung up to serve the growing demand. (Money)


‘Joe Exotic’ sentenced to 22 years in federal prison on murder-for-hire, wildlife charges

A man known as “Joe Exotic,” (a.k.a. Joseph Maldonado-Passage) who was found guilty of murder-for-hire and wildlife charges, has been formally sentenced to serve 22 years in federal prison yesterday (1/22). He was convicted in April 2019 of conspiring to kill animal rights activist Carole Baskin in Florida, and killing five tigers and selling and offering to sell tiger cubs. Along with being a big cat enthusiast and running an exotic animal park in Wynnewood, Oklahoma, he was a self-proclaimed country music star and ran for president in 2016 and then governor of Oklahoma in 2018. In September 2018, he was federally charged with conspiring to kill Baskin and several wildlife crimes. He was accused of hiring someone in November 2017 to murder Baskin in Florida and then hiring a person, who turned out to be an undercover FBI agent, to commit the murder. He also was accused of killing five tigers in October 2017 to make room for other big cats. He also sold and offered to sell tiger cubs. In a phone call to a local TV station, he admitted that he killed tigers but said he did it for humane reasons. In that interview during November 2018 he admitted, “I put five tigers to sleep because they were in pain. They were in pain. They had toenails coming out of their ankles. They had no teeth. They had exposed root canals.” In April 2019, a jury found him guilty on all charges in his federal murder-for-hire trial. He decided to testify in his own defense despite a judge telling him that he had the right to an attorney and instructing the jurors not to hold that against him. (KOCO)


Thursday Splashes Us With:

  • National Handwriting Day
  • National Pie Day (Not to be confused with Pi Day on March 14)
  • Paul Pitcher Day
  • Snowplow Mailbox Hockey Day

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