Thursday, March 12, 2020

Researchers believe they have solved the mystery surrounding dogs’ noses and why they are so cold

A study revealed the phenomenon is down to their sniffers serving as ultra-sensitive heat detectors – and not anything to do with body temperature regulation. Scientists in Sweden and Hungary found that when the ambient temperature was 86F degrees, a dog’s rhinarium (the bare end point of the nose) was 41F degrees cooler. And when the outside temperature was 32F, a dog’s nose would be about 46F. The two factors equal out at 59F. Such differences suggest the tip of the nose serves as a sensory function, according to the study published in the Scientific Reports journal. It showed a dog’s nose can detect very faint heat sources, such as small animals from 5 feet away. (Sky News)


Virginia legislators voted to decriminalize marijuana to prevent employers and schools from inquiring about past convictions

The bill passed the Virginia House and Senate with bipartisan support and is expected to be signed by Governor Ralph Northam. Marijuana will remain illegal under the legislation, but those caught in possession of an ounce or less of the drug will only be fined $25. Under current law, those convicted of possession of small amounts of cannabis are subject to a $500 fine and 30 days in jail. Virginia is set to become the 26th state “to either decriminalize the drug or legalize recreational adult use.” Lawmakers are hoping the law change will help reduce the tens of thousands of marijuana-related arrests that take place in the state every year. (Virginia Mercury)


A Soviet spy radio has been discovered in Germany by archaeologists searching for Roman remains

The Soviet radio “testifies to agent activity in the Cold War,” according to a statement by the Rhineland Regional Association (LVR). The radio was discovered in August 2019 in the Hambach forest area near Cologne, in what was formerly West Germany. Officials say that the original short-wave radio, which was manufactured in 1987, had a range of 746 miles. Although built in Russia, the radio is labeled in English, not Cyrillic, in an attempt to disguise its origins. Additionally, Western radio operators in espionage operations for the Warsaw Pact countries often did not speak Russian. The area where the radio was found offers an important clue to its intended use during the Cold War. “The location, which is remote from today’s perspective, is explained by its proximity to a U.S. nuclear weapons base in Nörvenich,” explained LVR, in its statement. Citing German Military Counterintelligence, LVR reports that the radio may have been deployed by Soviet Military Intelligence (GRU) or East German agents, possibly working for the infamous Ministry for State Security or Stasi. The area where the radio was found has been earmarked for the site of an opencast mine and reportedly cleared of trees. Discoveries from the Cold War era continue to be a source of fascination. Experts, for example, have been uncovering new details of Soviet bunkers that once housed nuclear warheads hidden deep in Poland’s forests. (Fox News)


Coronavirus cannot be cured by drinking bleach or snorting cocaine, despite social media rumors

Facebook and Twitter have been forced to respond to the proliferation of fake news on their platforms. And while many probably assume the bulk of that misinformation is political in focus, trolls and bots on social media have actually been linked to the marketing of vaping products, the anti-vaccination movement and now, fake cures for coronavirus. A quick glance at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or TikTok will provide a slew of these fake cures: garlic, masturbation, bleach, even cocaine. Prominent QAnon YouTuber Jordan Sather, for example, tweeted to his more than 121,000 followers that a “miracle mineral solution,” which effectively involves drinking bleach, can wipe out COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. “Not only is chlorine dioxide (aka ‘MMS’) an effective cancer cell killer, it can wipe out coronavirus too,” he wrote. “Big Pharma wants you ignorant.” The FDA has long warned that drinking chlorine dioxide products can lead to “severe vomiting, severe diarrhea, life-threatening low blood pressure caused by dehydration, and acute liver failure.” On Facebook, many of these posts now have false information warnings that serve both to warn users of the content’s unreliability and to deprioritize them in the platform’s algorithm. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company is working with national ministries of health and organizations “to help them get out timely, accurate information on the coronavirus.” (CBS News)


Gainsville, Florida, police treated an innocent bicyclist as a prime burglary suspect after misinterpreting Google location data

After using a “geofence warrant,” a police surveillance tool that gathers data around crime scenes, authorities wrongly pursued a male bicyclist. He was using cycling tracker RunKeeper with Google’s location services turned on when he cycled past the victim’s house three times in an hour. As a result, the cyclist received a location data request from authorities and Google would have handed over his data if he and his family did not end up hiring a lawyer to fight his case. Eventually, police said they found information that led them to believe the man was not a suspect after he filed a motion, and they withdrew their warrant. (NBC News)


A new study describes how hunter-gatherers from at least 33,000 years ago used decorative beads made from ostrich eggshells to exchange gifts and form a social safety network

The beads were recently recovered from rock-shelters in Lesotho, a country in southern Africa, though researchers say they made it there from locations hundreds of miles away. The theory is that hunter-gatherers during that time exchanged them as gifts – perhaps as a way to breed cooperation – and continued to do so for tens of thousands of years longer than previously thought. Researchers believed that Ostrich eggshell beads and the jewelry made from them basically acted like Stone Age versions of Facebook or Twitter ‘likes,’ simultaneously affirming connections to exchange partners while alerting others to the status of those relationships. (Smithsonian)


A Growing Number Of U.S. Colleges Cancel Classes Amid Coronavirus Fears

A growing number of U.S. colleges have canceled in-person classes because of the coronavirus. The closures began in Washington state, and now include Harvard University, Columbia University, Princeton University, Rice University, Stanford University, Hofstra University, University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Washington, among others. It is expected that more than half a million students are affected by the cancellations. Many of the colleges announced that they were pausing in-person classes after students or staff members tested positive for the virus. Others, such as Midland University in Nebraska, announced only that they were canceling “out of an abundance of caution.” In some cases, events for prospective students are also being canceled. But many campuses are following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and are staying open when possible to offer housing and meals to students. Research labs, including those investigating the coronavirus itself, will in most cases remain open. (NPR)


U.S. Warns Companies Not To Make False Virus Claims

U.S. regulators warned seven companies to stop selling products with false claims that they can treat the new coronavirus. Those warned included The Jim Bakker Show. Last month, the disgraced former televangelist’s program aired an episode in which a guest promoted silver particles in liquid, claiming it had been eliminated previous coronavirus strains in hours. U.S. regulators warned seven companies to stop selling soaps, sprays and other concoctions with false claims that they can treat the new coronavirus or keep people from catching it. The warnings were emailed to companies based in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom. The letters, sent jointly by the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission, warned the companies their products for treating COVID-19 were fraudulent, “pose significant risks to patient health and violate federal law.” (Huffington Post)


Treasury Considers Delaying Tax Day Over Coronavirus

The Treasury Department is considering delaying the April 15 filing deadline, according to a person familiar with the plans, as part of the Trump administration’s effort to reduce the financial fallout from the coronavirus outbreak. Treasury and White House officials have been discussing the idea of extending the tax deadline over the past week as the administration considers measures to relieve financial pressure on individuals and businesses struggling with fallout from a virus that has closed schools, kept workers at home and disrupted supply chains. The I.R.S. could extend the tax payment deadline or waive penalties and interest for late payments. The lawmakers also asked that the I.R.S. consider “the need for relief” from certain filing and payment fees and penalties for people affected by the coronavirus. (The New York Times)


A Representative from Florida Quatantines Himself in A Walmart Parking Lot

He was aboard Air Force One with Trump on Monday (3/10), but he  picked an interesting place to quarantine himself during a coronavirus scare: a Walmart parking lot. The right-winger announced he was voluntarily isolating himself after learning that he’d come in contact at last month’s Conservative Political Action Conference with someone who later tested positive for the coronavirus. (Huffington Post)


More quick tidbits about Coronavirus updates:

  • At least 1,015 people in the U.S. have tested positive for the virus, and at least 31 have died. There are cases in 38 states and Washington, D.C.
  • The Washington Governor could soon ban gatherings of 250 or more people in the Seattle area.
  • The nursing home industry recommended curtailing all but essential visits.
  • Harvard joined a growing number of colleges and universities that are canceling in-person classes and offering remote learning instead.
  • The Coachella music festival was postponed until October, as the outbreak affected plans for cultural and sporting events worldwide.
  • Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel has predicted that as much as 70 percent of her country’s population (an estimated 58 million people) will contract the coronavirus. “It’s about winning time,” Merkel said.


Colorado Governor Declares State of Emergency Over Virus Concerns

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis declared a state of emergency yesterday (3/10) to help in the state’s efforts to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus. The disaster declaration gives the state access to additional resources and more flexibility to coordinate efforts to fight the spread of the illness. The state is working to expand testing capacity in Colorado so anyone who shows symptoms of the virus can be tested quickly. The governor said the state’s Department of Insurance directed insurance companies across the state to waive costs associated with the testing. So far, at least 15 Colorado residents had been diagnosed with COVID-19. At least eight Colorado counties have at least one confirmed case of COVID-19, a respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The disease has caused 26 deaths in the U.S. COVID-19 symptoms appear within two to 14 days after exposure and include fever, cough, runny nose and difficulty breathing. (Washington Examiner)


The World Health Organization declared the outbreak a global pandemic

The number of coronavirus cases around the world totaled more than 100,000, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. In the U.S. alone, more than 1,000 cases have been confirmed. This increase in cases added to fears of a global economic slowdown and have increased calls for government intervention. Cases in China and South Korea have significantly declined, he said, adding that 81 countries don’t have any confirmed cases and 57 countries have 10 or fewer cases. Declaring a pandemic is charged with major political and economic ramifications, global health experts say. It can further rattle already fragile world markets and lead to more stringent travel and trade restrictions. WHO officials had been reluctant to declare a global pandemic, which is generally defined as an illness that spreads far and wide throughout the world. (CNBC)


Thursday Stays Thirsty For:

  • Girl Scout Birthday Day
  • World Kidney Day

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