Monday, April 20, 2020

US judge cancels permit for Keystone XL pipeline from Canada

A U.S. judge canceled a key permit recently for the Keystone XL oil pipeline that’s expected to stretch from Canada to Nebraska, another setback for the disputed project that got underway less than two weeks ago following years of delays. Judge Brian Morris said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed to adequately consider effects on endangered species such as pallid sturgeon, a massive, dinosaur-like fish that lives in rivers the pipeline would cross. The ruling, however, does not shut down work that has begun at the U.S.-Canada border crossing in Montana, according to attorneys in the case. Pipeline sponsor TC Energy will need the permit for future construction across hundreds of rivers and streams along Keystone’s 1,200-mile route. The pipeline was proposed in 2008 and would carry up to 830,000 barrels (35 million gallons) of crude daily to Nebraska, where it would be transferred to another TC Energy pipeline for shipment to refineries and export terminals on the Gulf of Mexico. (ABC News)


German zoo may have to feed animals to each other

A zoo director in northern Germany has even admitted that some animals might soon have to be fed to others, if the zoo is to survive. Zoos that should have been crowded in the sunny Easter holidays are now hard-up and asking for donations, as the coronavirus lockdown bites. Officials at Neumünster Zoo said killing some animals so that others could live would be a last resort, and “unpleasant”, but even that would not solve the financial problem. The zoo belongs to an association, which is not covered by the state emergency fund for small businesses. Officials estimate the zoo’s loss of income this spring will be about $190,845.95. Besides direct appeals for public donations, Germany’s zoos are jointly requesting government aid. Germany’s national zoo association argues that zoos, unlike many other businesses, cannot go into hibernation and run down costs. Animals still have to be fed daily and looked after, while a tropical enclosure has to be heated above 20C. (BBC)


Naked cyclist bringing cheer to Somerset amid lockdown – on his 70th birthday

Many people would have cracked a smile catching a glimpse of this naked cyclist taking essential exercise in lockdown Somerset, South West England. One woman couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw a naked 70-year-old man man riding a bike. The man is apparently well-known in the area with some identifying him as Dave who was celebrating his 70th birthday. She had to be quick to take a picture but managed to capture the cyclists from the rear as they passed by. “It made my day in the present circumstances,” she said in caption after posting it on social media. The UK has been placed in lockdown since March 24 when strict new curbs on life were announced. The current lockdown measures and social distancing rules mean people can only leave their homes for exercise once a day and to buy essential food or medical supplies. (Somerset Live)


** — WARNING: Some people may find this story offensive — **

Indonesian actor who said ex-wife’s genitalia smelled like ‘salted fish’ sentenced to 2 years and 4 months in prison

Galih Ginanjar is an Indonesian soap opera actor who said in a vlog that his ex-wife’s genitalia smelled like salted fish. After a nine-month long legal process, the case has finally come to an end with the people involved being found guilty for airing the extremely dirty and extremely private figurative laundry. In a trial held via teleconference, the presiding judge read the verdict laying out different sentences against the man and other two defendants, who owned the Youtube channel in which Galih made his now-infamous remarks. The YouTube channel owners  were sentenced to at least one year in prison while Galih received the heaviest sentence with two years and four months in prison after being charged with three alternative articles on immorality, humiliation, and defamation ⁠— all of which are included under Indonesia’s Information and Electronic Transactions Act (UU ITE). The defendants’ attorneys said they might consider appealing the sentences. The video has long been taken down, but it has since been reuploaded to Youtube with one copy reaching 3.6 million views.  (Coconuts)


Woman fined for taking turtle for a walk in Rome

An Italian woman who took her pizza-sized turtle out for a walk has been fined $440 by the Roman police for breaking strict coronavirus confinement rules. Italians need a justifiable reason to be out on the street in the middle of a pandemic that has officially claimed more than 20,000 lives in the Mediterranean country since February. Taking your dog out for a walk is viewed as a good enough reason to leave your home, but it seems taking your turtle out for one is not. The Roman police said “the 60-year-old woman was caught outside her home without a justifiable reason” and fined. “The woman was walking with a turtle,” the police statement said. Italian authorities reported issuing a record 16,545 fines on Easter Monday (4/13), a national holiday in the largely Catholic country. Another 13,756 fines were issue on Easter Sunday (4/12). Italians have been joking on social media about renting out their dogs to anyone who was going stir crazy and needed a good excuse to go out. (Yahoo News)


Two Headed Goat Born At Wisconsin

In a bizarre, yet heart warming incident, a 2-headed goat was born at a Wisconsin goat farm this month. The family named the goat kid ‘Janus’ after the Roman god with 2 heads. The owners of Nueske Farms LLC said they have 1000 goats born every year and in her lifetime, this is the first goat with 2 head she has seen. The goat has 2 mouths, 4 eyes and 4 ears. They feed it through both mouths. “He’s a normal goat. We just have to help him. We try to help him as much as we can, and give him a break when he gets tired,” they said. The Nueske family hopes that he gets stronger and walks in a month. They have stated they will keep him as a pet. Janus has had a visit to the vet and is stated to be in good health. (The Wise Herb)


Farmers are struggling to keep their heads above water as commodity prices dwindle, but help could be on the way soon from the federal government

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says he is close to finalizing a massive aid package for farmers hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak. With business closed, demand slashed and commodity prices tanking, the Agriculture Secretary says he’s rushing to get aid out the door to stop the bleeding. He says the direct payments will be available to nearly all agriculture producers, including specialty crop farmers who sell to farmers markets. Another $2 billion will go towards purchasing products farmers can’t sell and getting them to food banks. Perdue says the direct payments are just part one of his plan. He says thanks to the CARES Act — the USDA will have another $14 billion available to assist farmers in July. Perdue also says he is working with the White House to reduce migrant farm worker pay. He says it’s become so high, some farmers are forced to reduce production. So far, the proposal has received backlash from immigration advocates who say that would only harm those who are essential workers putting their lives on the line during the pandemic. (Iowa Media)


Coronavirus outbreak causes dairy farmers to dump milk supply

Thousands of gallons of milk are being dumped onto grasslands in Florida, because dairy farmers cannot get their milk supply to the markets to sell. A big chunk of the industry’s demand comes from schools and hospitality. Business is also being hurt by stores limiting how much milk customers can buy and those restrictions on milk aren’t needed. There’s more than enough milk to go around, they say. Not having a place to send our extra milk is adding up and officials call it surplus milk. That’s been a big driver in the reason of having to dump milk, because there’s simply no home for it. It’s not just milk. A recent report details farmers destroying eggs, onions, and other produce because they simply can’t get it to customers. Some family farms are in good shape, so far, and they’ve been donating what they can to food banks. (KJRH)


The world wants a lot less oil

Global demand for oil is projected to fall by a record amount this year, wiping out 9.3 million barrels a day — a decade worth of demand growth, according to the International Energy Agency. Oil prices have meanwhile fallen over 60% this year due to a price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia and a halt in economic activity to contain the pandemic. Lower oil prices can help consumers and some businesses, but can also push producers to bankruptcy, and threaten the industry’s efforts to cut pollution, warns the IEA. (Associated Press)


Busch offering year of free beer to couples whose weddings were postponed due to COVID-19

Has your wedding been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic? If so, Busch Beer wants to give you the gift of a lifetime: free beer for an entire year! 250 winners will be selected in a random drawing on May 2nd. The beer company says those who aren’t looking to get married can tag a friend for a chance to win Busch merchandise. Those 50 winners will also be selected on May 2nd. (Busch)


Students Are Suing Colleges To Demand Their Tuition And Fees Back

Liberty University (a private evangelical university in Lynchburg, Virginia) should return room and board payments to students because most no longer live on campus or participate in student activities, a lawsuit filed this week argues. Like many schools nationwide, Liberty switched to online-only instruction soon after the coronavirus pandemic reached campuses. While many colleges required students to vacate dorms to prevent the virus from spreading, Liberty allowed its students to stay. Most students chose to leave anyway, lawyers wrote in court documents. “After moving off campus, the students also no longer received or could not otherwise obtain the services and activities from Liberty for which their fees for the semester paid,” the lawsuit states. Liberty has taken other measures to contain the virus, including banning school gatherings of 10 or more people, converting its meal plans to take-out only, ending all student organization activities, closing fitness centers and postponing graduation. The class action accuses the school of breach of contract, but does not specify the restitution students are seeking. Liberty officials said the lawsuit has no merit because the university’s changes were required by government officials. The university will give a $1,000 credit to students who opted to leave campus, Liberty added. Parents in Arizona filed suit on behalf of their children against the University of Arizona, Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University. Parents argued that any student who paid for room and board, as well as campus fees, should have that money returned. The colleges have since announced partial credits for students. (Scribd)


Oklahoma woman works on bringing joy to nursing home residents during pandemic

A woman, who works for a hospice care center in Wagoner, Oklahoma, says it’s in her heart to reach out to a large group in Oklahoma during this pandemic. She says there are several people living in nursing homes that haven’t seen family or friends in quite some time. She says this pandemic has brought fear, isolation and depression to many of these residents. It’s why she recently visited nursing home facilities in Wagoner and Muskogee. During her visit to Pleasant Valley Health Care, an assisted living facility in Muskogee, she brought some of her farm animals to to help cheer up a few residents with some animal therapy. She said some of the residents put on their masks and came out to pet the horses while keeping social distance in mind. She said in that moment, she could see their emotions change. She says it was a similar experience when she visited residents in nursing homes in Wagoner the week before. She couldn’t help but smile herself seeing some of the residents from the other side of a window hold up their arms and smile. She says, for many of these residents in the rural community, it brings back memories of having farm animals of their own. She even spent time making puzzles and coloring books for some of these residents because she knows what it’s like to see someone struggle with depression. She watched her own grandmother battle depression. Her goal is to bring a little happiness during these challenging times. She says it’s important to remember these nursing homes need a little bit of love. (Fox 23)


FCC to approve 5G network despite military saying it will harm GPS

The Federal Communications Commission is set to approve a new 5G cellular network despite claims from the Department of Defense that it will interfere with Global Positioning System (GPS) services. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai asked fellow commissioners to approve an “application to deploy a low-power terrestrial nationwide network in the L-Band that would primarily support 5G and Internet of Things services.” The application is from Ligado, formerly known as LightSquared, which for nearly a decade has sought permission to build a wireless network using frequencies near those used for GPS. A previous failure to obtain FCC approval helped push LightSquared into bankruptcy. The FCC said its draft order would “ensure that adjacent band operations, including GPS, are protected from harmful interference.” Pai said the FCC has “compiled an extensive record, which confirms that it is in the public interest to grant Ligado’s application while imposing stringent conditions to prevent harmful interference.” Ligado plans to use a mix of satellite and terrestrial communications for its network. Instead of competing directly against Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile for smartphone customers, Ligado plans to deliver custom private networks for industrial firms, service for Internet of Things devices and unmanned systems, and connectivity for other business and government use cases. Ligado could also supply capacity to the major wireless carriers. (Ars Technica)


Monday Rocks With:

  • 4/20 Day
  • Boston Marathon (3rd Monday)
  • Chinese Language Day
  • Dictionary Day
  • International Cli-Fi Day
  • National Cheddar Fries Day
  • National Pot Smokers Day or National Weed Day

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