Monday, April 6, 2020

People on Social Security will get COVID-19 Stimulus Check

Social Security beneficiaries who don’t typically file tax returns will automatically receive the $1,200 relief payments authorized by Congress, after the Treasury Department reversed earlier guidance. The Treasury Department said Social Security beneficiaries who did not typically file returns would receive their payments automatically after all. The Treasury said the I.R.S. would use the information on Forms SSA-1099 and RRB-1099 to generate $1,200 payments to Social Security recipients who did not file tax returns in 2018 or 2019. They will get these payments as a direct deposit or by paper check, depending on how they normally get their benefits, Treasury officials said in a statement. That reversal should be a relief to millions of people: The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimated that at least 15 million Social Security recipients would have had to file a return to get their stimulus payments. (The New York Times)


NASA and SpaceX prepare to launch astronauts from the US again

For the first time since the final space shuttle mission in 2011, NASA says astronauts will launch into space aboard an American rocket and spacecraft from American soil. The agency is partnering with SpaceX for a manned SpaceX Demo-2 flight test in May from Kennedy Space Center. This is a big step for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. By facilitating commercial spaceflights, the agency says it’s providing another way for astronauts to get to and from the International Space Station. And it looks like a lot of people are interested in blasting off: More than 12,000 people applied to be part of NASA’s next class of astronauts. (CNN)


A reporter from Florida learned this the hard way while trying to work from home during the coronavirus outbreak

A reporter for Suncoast News Network in Tampa, was filming a report on the coronavirus in her kitchen when things went wrong. She uploaded the footage to Twitter, which starts off fine before things take a turn. As she attempts her segment, something goes wrong behind the camera, prompting her to ask her mom what happened. Then, her father walks into the frame, still putting his shirt on, with his belly fully visible. Based on her reaction, she was not looking to include her father’s stomach in her report. “Work from home they said, it’ll be fine they said,” she captioned the footage, which has been viewed more than 671,000 times. It’s also been retweeted over 1,400 times and has received at least 11,000 reactions. (Fox News)


Democratic National Convention postponed to August due to coronavirus concerns

The Democratic National Convention will be postponed until August due to coronavirus concerns, planners said in a historic and stunning change to the presidential election calendar. The convention committee said the event will be held the week of August 17th, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It was originally slated for July 13-16th. (Fox News)


White House commits to sending stimulus checks within 2 weeks

White House Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin recenty announced that he is committing to releasing the first stimulus checks that Congress approved last week within the next two weeks. The new timeline speeds up the projected payments by roughly a week. The two-week timeline is for those who the IRS has direct deposit information from. The Treasury Department is working with companies to speed up payments, opening the possibility Americans without bank accounts could receive their money digitally or through prepaid debit cards. (KJRH)


Google will start releasing user location data in 131 countries

Governments can use the information to assess the effectiveness of social distancing rules. The tech giant said the data will be “aggregated, anonymized,” but there are concerns about the privacy implications. The reports on users’ movements in 131 countries will be made available on a special website and will “chart movement trends over time by geography,” according to a post on one of the company’s blogs. Trends will be display “a percentage point increase or decrease in visits” to locations like parks, shops, homes and places of work, not “the absolute number of visits,” said the post. This information could help officials understand changes in essential trips that can shape recommendations on business hours or inform delivery service offerings. (France 24)


Newspaper apologizes after April Fools’ prank causes panic

An Oklahoma newspaper has apologized and retracted a story intended as an April Fools’ prank that claimed all students in one Tulsa-area school district must repeat their current grade level. All schools in Oklahoma have been ordered closed until the end of the school year to curb the spread of the new coronavirus. “Sapulpa Schools announces that all students will have to repeat their current grade next year — ‘Sapulpa is dedicated to providing a FULL education, and nothing is going to change that,'” the Sapulpa Times said in the fake story published on Facebook. It has since been removed. Sapulpa School District said it received calls and messages expressing concern. It called the newspaper’s prank “ill-advised and in poor taste”. “To be clear, Sapulpa Public Schools had no prior knowledge of the post and as soon as we were made aware of it, we contacted the publication and asked that the post and article be removed,” the district said on Facebook. In an apology letter, the owner and editor of the Sapulpa Times said the prank was “a poor attempt at an April Fools’ joke that has turned much more sour than we anticipated. We sincerely apologize for any grief or stress the story may have caused.” The closure of schools is just one measure the state has taken to stem the  due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The district said announcements regarding schools are made in statements posted on official social media sites, the district’s website and other communications systems. (Sapulpa Times)


Landlord gives New York pizzeria free rent for donating hundreds of pizzas a day to overwhelmed hospitals

A pizza place in New York City has dedicated itself to feeding health care and hospital workers who are struggling to keep up with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Now the restaurant’s landlord is joining in to make sure that the food keeps coming out of the kitchen and into the hospitals. Sauce Pizzeria owner says his restaurant is making 400 pizzas per day and sending them all to the city’s hospitals. He wanted to make sure that the workers were still able to get something to eat while dealing with the outbreak. Sauce Pizzeria has delivered pizzas to over 40 different hospitals across the city’s five boroughs, all for free. Sauce’s landlord found out about the donations and decided to help out. The real estate company donated $20,000 to the pizzeria and froze rent payments for the next three months. “It made it a lot easier for us to keep doing what we’re doing and to feel really good about that,” the owner said. “Pizza makes people happy. That’s what this started from, that we wanted to give them some reason to smile when it’s kinda hard to smile with what they’re currently doing.” (NBC New York)


Nissan recalls over 250K vehicles to replace Takata air bags

Nissan is recalling more than a quarter-million SUVs, trucks and vans worldwide to replace potentially dangerous Takata air bag inflators. The vehicles have air bags with volatile ammonium nitrate that can explode with too much force and hurl shrapnel, but they have a moisture-absorbing chemical that was supposed to make them safe. The Nissan recall covers certain 2012 to 2017 NV Cargo and Passenger vans, the 2013 to 2015 Titan pickup and Armada large SUV, and the 2011 and 2012 Infiniti QX56 SUV. Nissan will notify owners later this month and dealers will replace the front driver air bag inflator with one made by a different company. (ABC News)


The European Commission has proposed a new $109 billion relief initiative to support the millions of Europeans left without a job because of the coronavirus crisis

The program would encourage employers in member states to reduce employees’ hours instead of laying them off. The EU’s 27 members still need to vote on the measure. EU countries already have contributed billions of dollars to buoy business and workers, and Europe’s central bank has promised hundreds of billions more. (CNN )


President Trump invoked the Defense Production Act (DPA) to help six companies secure parts to make ventilators

Under the Korean War-era law, federal officials will be able to use “any and all authority available” to support the production of ventilators by companies including General Electric, Royal Philips and Medtronic. Suppliers have been asked to make preparations to manufacture up to 200,000 ventilators, but they have yet to produce enough life-saving devices to match the strong demand. Tesla and GM have also pledged to produce ventilators. (Vox)


Paleontologists in Australia have found two mating flies preserved in a piece of amber for 41 million years

The team at Monash University in Melbourne has been excavating sites in Australia and New Zealand since 2011. They have unearthed several insect and plant species encased in pieces of amber, including midges, spiders, liverwort and moss. According to a new study, the creatures range from 230 million to 40 million years old. “Amber is considered to be a ‘holy grail’ in the discipline, as organisms are preserved in a state of suspended animation in perfect 3D space, looking just like they died yesterday,” said the leading paleontologist. “But in fact [they] are many millions of years old, providing us with an enormous amount of information on ancient terrestrial ecosystems.” (Nature)


Monday Wrecks In With:

  • Army Day
  • Charlie the Tuna Day
  • Drowsy Driver Awareness Day
  • Hostess Twinkie Day
  • International Day of Sport for Development and Peace
  • National Student Athlete Day
  • New Beers Eve
  • Tartan Day
  • Tater Day (It’s Sweet Potatoes)
  • Teflon Day
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Day


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