Friday, April 10, 2020

65,000 flee Wuhan within hours as lockdown ends

Within hours of China lifting an 11-week lockdown on the central city of Wuhan early Wednesday (4/8), roughly 65,000 people had left the city by train and plane alone, according to local media reports. Highways, bridges and tunnels were also opened, allowing thousands of more to exit by car and bus, as long as they were able to show a mandatory smartphone application powered by a mix of data-tracking and government surveillance shows they are healthy and have not been in recent contact with anyone confirmed to have the virus. Despite the new freedom, many prevention measures remain in force in the city and those leaving Wuhan – the epicenter of the global pandemic – face numerous hurdles when arriving at their destinations elsewhere. That includes being required to undergo 14-day quarantines and submit to nucleic acid tests. On the same day, China reported 62 new virus cases, 59 of them brought from outside the country, and two additional deaths. (Washington Times)


Porn use is up, thanks to the pandemic

Across the globe, the coronavirus pandemic is affecting almost all aspects of daily life. Economy has slowed down and small businesses are struggling, but not all businesses are experiencing a downturn. The world’s largest pornography website, Pornhub, has reported large increases in traffic, seeing an 18% jump over normal numbers after making its premium content free for 30 days for people who agree to stay home and wash their hands frequently. In many regions, these spikes in use have occurred immediately after social distancing measures have been implemented. In short, people often turn to pornography when they are feeling bad, because pornography likely offer a temporary relief from those feelings. Psychology researchers also know that people use porn more when they are bored. It’s not just that more boredom predicts greater pornography use, extreme boredom predicts even higher levels of use. The more bored someone is, the more likely they are to report wanting to view pornography. (The Conversation)


By A 10-to-1 Margin, Americans Support Orders To Stay At Home

By a roughly 10-to-1 margin, Americans say states with stay-at-home orders are making the right call, according to a new survey. An 81% majority of the public says it’s currently the right decision for states to tell residents to stay at home unless they have an essential reason for going out. Just 8% say it’s the wrong decision. An even broader 89% say they are personally trying to stay home as much as possible, with only 6% saying they’re not making any such effort. (Huffington Posts)


A 2-1 ruling by an appeals court could eventually allow the federal government to execute prisoners on death row for the first time since 2003

The three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court overturned a ruling by a district judge that effectively prevented federal prisons from executing death row inmates using a single drug. The district judge in question had ruled that the federal government committed an overreach by dictating what execution method should be used in federal prisons because the Federal Death Penalty Act (FDPA) gives each individual state the power to choose the method of execution. Although the ruling theoretically allows federal prisons to resume executions, other legal issues pertaining to the case have not yet been litigated. The case will return to the district court to address unresolved legal issues. (The Hill)


Twitter and Square founder Jack Dorsey vowed to donate $1 billion to organizations dealing with the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic

The donation, in the form of Square shares, represents 28 percent of Dorsey’s fortune, the tech entrepreneur said. A company called Start Small will distribute the funds among organizations dealing with coronavirus relief efforts. He said that all grants would be recorded in a Google Document so that the general public can see where the money is going. The first donation, of $100,000, is going to America’s Food Fund. He tweeted, “I hope this inspires others to do something similar.” Other tech billionaires, including Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Michael Dell, have announced plans to donate large sums to organizations fighting the pandemic. (Vox)


Producers are working on a follow-up to Netflix’s hit docuseries “Tiger King”

Investigation Discovery’s “Investigating the Strange World of Joe Exotic” will look into the enigmatic roadside zoo owner’s allegations that his rival Carole Baskin orchestrated the disappearance of her first husband, Don Lewis. According to ID, Exotic (aka Joseph Maldonado-Passage) has additional information on the crime that did not appear in “Tiger King,” along with exclusive unaired footage. The show will also look at Exotic’s own conviction for his role in a murder-for-hire plot targeting Baskin, along with separate allegations against his former colleague Jeff Lowe and his mentor, Doc Antle. According to Netflix, “Tiger King” has been the most popular title on the platform for the past 15 days straight. (Forbes)


UFC president Dana White plans to rent an island to host private fights during the coronavirus pandemic

Social distancing restrictions prevent the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) from hosting a martial arts event in New York, on April 18. The headline fight that night was supposed to be between lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, of Russia, and American Tony Ferguson. But in late March, Nurmagomedov said he would not be able to attend due to travel restrictions in Russia. The UFC has replaced Nurmagomedov with another fighter named Justin Gaethje, of the U.S., and plans to host the event in a different location. “I’m going to continue to pump fights out. I also secured an island. I’ve got an island. The infrastructure is being built right now. We’re going to do all of our international fights on this island,” White said. (ESPN)


Americans are hoarding cash

New data reveals that the amount of benjamins in physical circulation are up, with the growth at a level not seen since the Y2K frenzy. Balances in checking and savings accounts are also up by double digits, as fears of a recession mount. As coronavirus concerns grow, the amount of physical cash in circulation has risen, jumping 1.8% during the week that ended March 25, increasing to $1.86 trillion in absolute terms. It was the biggest weekly rise since December 1999, that was during the Y2K bug frenzy when people were worried that computer systems would malfunction when dates rolled over in the new millennium. Demand account balances (includes things like checking and saving accounts) jumped 16%, the most in nine years, to a record $1.922 trillion in the week that ended March 23, according to Federal Reserve data. It was the biggest weekly increase since Aug. 1, 2011, a few days before the US was stripped of its AAA credit rating by Standard & Poor’s. (Quartz)


Federal Judge Curbs Emergency Order Limiting Abortions in Oklahoma During Pandemic

A federal judge ruled Monday that Oklahoma’s governor exceeded his public health emergency authority and ran afoul of the U.S. Constitution by trying to use the COVID-19 crisis to ban abortions in the state. The U.S. District Judge issued a temporary restraining order against the Oklahoma Governor’s March 27 executive order, which banned all but medically necessary abortions in Oklahoma. The judges order effectively allows abortions to continue until April 20 — or beyond that if extended by the court. “The case raises an issue that has long been a source of struggle for the courts: the proper use of the judicial power in reviewing laws and executive orders or actions taken in response to a public health emergency,” the judge wrote in his 14-page ruling. He said the state has broad powers during the COVID-19 pandemic and may temporarily impose requirements that intrude upon the liberty of its citizens. “Further the Court concludes that the benefit to public health of the ban on medication abortions is minor and outweighed by the intrusion on Fourteenth Amendment rights caused by that ban,” the judge wrote. The Oklahoma Attorney General said he was “very disappointed” by the ruling and intends to immediately appeal. (The Norman Transcript)


Route recalculating

The public routines that governed our lives have literally flattened out. Rush hour has withered to a bump. People still use mass transit, particularly workers ranging from bringing folks food from restaurants and online shops, and those working in grocery stores and pharmacies. Transit demand has fallen 70% below pre-pandemic levels across the U.S., with some major agencies reporting even larger declines. Services have been cut by 10% to 40%, and with the exception of a handful of packed subway cars, many trains and buses are running almost empty.  (Transit App)


Those who live in areas with a high level of air pollution are at increased risk of death from COVID-19

According to a new study from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, a “1 gram per cubic meter” increase in air pollution, known as fine particulate matter, was associated with a 15 percent higher death rate among coronavirus patients. Though the air quality in most cities has significantly improved in recent weeks amid social distancing measures and decreased car and plane traffic, the impacts will be seen among patients who’ve lived in areas with poor air quality for years. Air pollution has long been correlated with higher rates of respiratory and cardiovascular disease. The study’s authors believe their findings could help officials determine where to allocate resources given the expectation of new cases. (The Guardian)


107-year-old woman officially recovered from Covid-19

There have been some recent reports about people over the age of 100 years old recovering from COVID-19, but it looks like Cornelia Ras from Goeree-Overflakkee in The Netherlands, has set a new record. At 107, Ras started feeling a little sick on March 17. Her symptoms remained mild for weeks – with a cough and a fever of about 38°C (100.4°F). Though her test came back positive, she “remained very calm about it,” according to her niece. On April 6, Ras received news from her doctor that she was in the clear and no longer tested positive for the virus. According to her niece, Ras was “perfectly healthy” when she contracted the virus. (NL Times)


Happy Birthday – Police Style

The Denison, Texas Police Department is going above and beyond the call of duty by making sure you child can still have a special time on their birthday during the COVID-19 pandemic. They are offering to have a patrol car by the birthday boy or girls house with lights and sirens while singing “Happy Birthday” over the PA system. The made the announcement on their Facebook page: “Do you have a child stuck at home for their birthday? We will drive a patrol car by your house, light it up with a few siren bumps and do a happy birthday over the PA. Your Denison Police Department would really like to make these stay at home birthdays a little more special! Call Officer Mills 903-465-2422 ext. 2324 to get it scheduled. We can only do this inside our jurisdiction, the city limits of Denison. We will schedule these from 9a-7p Monday- Saturday!” (Denison, Texas Police Department Facebook)


Finally Feelgood Friday…. yeah:

  • ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) Day
  • Good Friday
  • National Farm Animals Day
  • National Siblings Day
  • Salvation Army Founder’s Day
  • Safety Pin Day
  • World Marbles Day

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