Monday, February 3, 2020

RIP MoviePass

MoviePass filed for bankruptcy liquidation, meaning the movie-ticket subscription service won’t be revived. The service, which shut down last year, said it may owe as much as $1.2 million to 12,000 subscribers, or almost $100 a pop. Its unique proposition of offering unlimited-movie access for $10 a month aroused skepticism and industry opposition alike. The business, which began in 2011, also proved unprofitable. (USA Today)


Health experts fear more stoned drivers are taking the wheel following pot legalization

More Americans are getting high before driving, a new study shows, and public health officials say it’s a worrying trend that could lead to more deadly crashes on the nation’s roads. In Washington state, the number of THC-positive drivers involved in fatal crashes more than doubled, to 18%, in the five years after voters approved recreational marijuana use for adults, according to the report, which was based on state-collected data. The study didn’t examine whether the drivers were at fault for the crashes, but the data confirms long-held fears among public health officials that drivers think it’s OK to get behind the wheel while high. The study found that in the five years before Washington legalized marijuana in 2012, an average of 56 drivers annually tested positive for marijuana after having been involved in a fatal crash. That rose to an average of 130 drivers in the following five years. The federal government lacks equivalent national statistics about fatal crashes involving marijuana. Overall, alcohol-related crashes remain a far larger problem than stoned drivers. According to the federal government, alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities accounted for 29 percent of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities in the United States in 2018. Federal statistics say drivers are four times as likely to get behind the wheel after drinking than they are after consuming marijuana. (USA Today)


Do not travel to China

The U.S. State Department raised its travel alert for China to the highest level possible, declaring a “do not travel” advisory over the coronavirus outbreak. The U.S. also announced a sixth case of the virus, the first of person-to-person transmission. Meanwhile, Delta and American Airlines announced plans to suspend service to China. The World Health Organization declared a global emergency due to the virus, which has killed more than 200 people and infected over 9,000, mostly in China. (CNBC)


Working from home is the future

As the U.S. economy continues its shift into services, full-time employees around the country have become less chained to their offices, often able to work from any location. Research from the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank finds that the number of people working from home is creeping up: Rising from 0.7% of full-time employees in 1980, to 3% in 2017. That number is even bigger for those working in sales and finance. Once solely the domain of self-employed workers, the work from home trend is now spreading to full-time workers at companies. (St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank)


Sexual assault reports at military service academies increased one-third over the past year

Reports of unwanted sexual contact at the military service academies jumped over 30% in the past year, according to a Defense Department report. The numbers, totaling both restricted and unrestricted sexual assault reports filed by midshipmen and cadets at the Air Force Academy, Naval Academy and West Point, are up to 122 in 2019, from 92 in the previous two years. The report also found that the number of cadets and mids experiencing sexual harassment remains high at the academies. In addition to those 122 reports, another 19 involved students who had reported an assault that occurred before they began their assignments, and another eight from non-student service members and civilians assigned to the academies. The most recent statistics, covering 2018, show that prevalence had been rising since 2014. Prevalence increased from 8.2% in 2014 to 12.2% 2016 to 15.8% in 2018 among women. In men, the number rose from 1.1% to 1.7% to 2.4%. (Business Insider)


New Jersey mayor admits passing out drunk and pantsless in employee’s bed

A New Jersey mayor has apologized after getting so sloshed at a work party that he stripped off his trousers and passed out in a female employee’s bed. The Mayor of Mahwah, New Jersey, was exposed after an anonymous letter signed by “concerned employees of the township of Mahwah” began circulating recently, according to reports. He admitted that he had “too much to drink” at the party, which was attended by about two dozen town staffers at the employee’s house on January 10th. He went upstairs to bed, took his pants off before getting into the employee’s bed, and his wife came to pick him up after party-goers woke him, he said. He said he apologized to the employee. It was not immediately clear what, if any, ramifications there would be. With the next mayoral election in November, he blamed his political foes for spreading the news of his boozy behavior. (New York Post)


Social Media giants to remove misinformation about the coronavirus

Facebook will start removing misinformation about the coronavirus outbreak from its platforms. Facebook Head of Health said the firm would “remove content with false claims or conspiracy theories that have been flagged by leading global health organizations and local health authorities that could cause harm to people who believe them. This includes claims related to false cures or prevention methods — like drinking bleach cures the coronavirus — or claims that create confusion about health resources that are available.” He added that Instagram would also ban or restrict hashtags and conduct “proactive sweeps” to remove content spreading misinformation about the virus. The move comes after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global health emergency over the fast-spreading virus, which has infected more than 9,809 people in China, killing 213. It’s not the first tech platform to start taking action over the outbreak however, with Google and Twitter also taking steps to tackle misinformation about it. Google for instance has started displaying information from the WHO about the virus in search results while its video-sharing platform YouTube is promoting videos on it from credible sources. (NBC News)


14 more U.S. troops diagnosed with brain injury following Iranian missile attack

The Pentagon said recently that 14 more U.S. service members have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury following the January 8, 2020 Iranian missile attack targeting American forces at two Iraqi bases, bringing the total number to 64. More than half of those service members, 39, have been returned to duty, and the Defense Department characterized all 64 as being diagnosed with “mild traumatic brain injury.” Traumatic brain injury can include concussions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The new numbers are an increase from last week when the Pentagon said that 50 had been diagnosed. (CNN)


U.S. farm bankruptcies hit an eight-year high

U.S. farm bankruptcy rates jumped 20% in 2019 – to an eight-year high – as financial woes in the U.S. agricultural economy continued in spite of massive federal bail-out funding, according to federal court data. According to data released this week by the United States Courts, family farmers filed 595 Chapter 12 bankruptcies in 2019, up from 498 filings a year earlier. The data also shows that such filings, known as “family farmer” bankruptcies, have steadily increased every year for the past five years. Farmers across the nation also have retired or sold their farms because of the financial strains, changing the face of Midwestern towns and concentrating the business in fewer hands. Chapter 12 is a part of the federal bankruptcy code that is designed for family farmers and fishermen to restructure their debts. It was created during the 1980s farm crisis as a simple court procedure to let family farmers keep operating while working out a plan to repay lenders. The increase in cases had been somewhat expected, bankruptcy experts and agricultural economists said, as farmers face trade battles, ever-mounting farm debt, prolonged low commodity prices, volatile weather patterns and a fatal pig disease that has decimated China’s herd. Even billions of dollars spent over the past two years in government agricultural assistance has not stemmed the bleeding. Nearly one-third of projected U.S. net farm income in 2019 came from government aid and taxpayer-subsidized commodity insurance payments, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. (Reuters)


Dating apps face US inquiry over underage use, sex offenders

A House subcommittee is investigating popular dating services such as Tinder and Bumble for allegedly allowing minors and sex offenders to use their services. Bumble, Grindr, The Meet Group and the Match Group, which owns such popular services as Tinder, and OkCupid, are the current targets of the investigation by the U.S. House Oversight and Reform subcommittee on economic and consumer policy. The subcommittee is seeking information on users’ ages, procedures for verifying ages and any complaints about assaults, rape or the use of the services by minors. It is also asking for the services’ privacy policies and details on what users see when they review and agree to the policies. It also seeks information on what data is collected on people, including sexual orientation, drug use and political views. Although the minimum age for using internet services is typically 13 in the U.S., dating services generally require users to be at least 18 because of concerns about sexual predators. Besides safety issues, the investigation also seeks to address concerns about data the services request to make matches. Such information may include sexual orientation, gender identity, political views, and drug, alcohol and tobacco use. (AP News)


Monday Kicks Up The Dust With:

  • Feed The Birds Day
  • Four Chaplains Memorial Day
  • National Football Hangover Day (Always day after the Super Bowl)
  • National Missing Person’s Day
  • National Women’s Physicians Day
  • The Day The Music Died

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