Thursday, April 30, 2020

Saudi Arabia ends capital punishment for minors

Saudi Arabia will no longer execute individuals convicted of crimes committed when they were minors, the U.N. Human Rights Commission said. Citing a royal decree signed by King Salman, Human Rights Commission President Awwad Alawwad announced the decision Sunday, saying it will help modernize the Middle Eastern country’s penal code. The decree means that any individuals who received a death sentence for crimes committed while he or she is a minor can no longer face execution. Instead, the individuals will receive a prison sentence of no longer than 10 years in a juvenile detention facility. Such use of capital punishment is against the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Saudi Arabia has ratified. It was unclear when the decree was issued or when it would take effect but it was announced days after Saudi Arabia ended flogging as punishment in disciplinary cases. ( Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Human Rights Division)


Starting next month, UPS and CVS will use drones to deliver prescription medicines to the residents of a retirement community in Florida

The drugs will be transported from one CVS store to a pickup location less than half a mile away and a UPS vehicle will then drop the products to their final destination – two more CVS stores will join the scheme at a later date. Since receiving government approval to use drones last October, UPS has been delivering prescriptions to retirement communities in North Carolina. The technology is still in its testing phase, but UPS said it can reduce the risks associated with patients going to a pharmacy to pick up prescriptions during the pandemic. (The Verge)


Germ-zapping robots at Scottsdale hospital kills coronavirus nearly 100% of the time

As the United States continues to try and prevent anymore coronavirus cases, Honor Health hospitals in the valley have a futuristic way of killing that virus nearly 100% of the time. It’s all because of a zapping robot, named Sadie. She’s one of 32 germ-zapping robots Honor Health hospitals now have to clean patient rooms and the ICU with UV light. “Gets rid of the residual viruses and bacteria and spores,” said infectious disease officer. The robots are so powerful that no one can be in the room during the four-minute cycle, with a caution sign outside the door. But now, the robots can be key to battling the novel coronavirus. A study out of Africa that they did found that it could reduce the germs leftover in the room by well over 99%. (AZ Family)


US to pay $12B to health insurers

The Supreme Court has ruled health insurers have the right to collect the $12 billion they’re owed under the Affordable Care Act — from the federal government. The health care law called for reimbursing insurers that lost money on policies they agreed to sell on newly created exchanges; when the exchanges failed to make enough money to repay the insurers, Congress prohibited the government from doing so. The high court, which has upheld the health law against two challenges, will hear a third in the fall. (The Walls Street Journal)


Snags hit small business loans

The second round of funding for the Paycheck Protection Program got off to a rocky start, with banks reporting that the Small Business Administration portal crashed after being overwhelmed with demand. Following criticism that large banks gave out the majority of the initial funds, the amount each bank can lend is capped at $60 billion. The government is also allowing big corporations that received PPP loans to return the money by May 7 and not be penalized. Loans are given out on a first-come-first-serve basis but are not expected to last long. (NPR)


Woman gets 3 years for posing as FBI agent on dating websites

A 39-year-old woman North Carolina was sentenced to three years in prison for impersonating an FBI agent on an online dating site, and on a date. She identified herself as Agent Alexandria Mancini, posed in a dating profile with a fake FBI badge and a stolen gun, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina said in a news release. The woman had prior convictions on various charges, including identity theft. The day she got arrested in February 2019, she told a date she was working as an undercover agent in a drug case without the awareness of law enforcement. “Her record paints a picture of a person who will not be stopped from stealing people’s identity and using falsehoods to get what she wants,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney. Authorities said the woman was also driving a stolen car when she got arrested. (Justice Department)


Police issue citation after too many shoppers inside Lowe’s

As some businesses are beginning to open their doors to the public, police in Norman, Oklahoma say they are taking the social distancing guidelines seriously. Officials say a Lowe’s in Norman was cited for having too many people inside at one time. The Norman Police Department issued a citation. Right now, Lowe’s is only allowed to be at 20 percent occupancy for the safety of shoppers and associates. Lowe’s said in a statement, saying, “We continue to work with local government officials to promote social distancing within our stores.” (KFOR)


With nearly 67,000 confirmed cases and more than 4,500 deaths, Brazil is emerging as the next coronavirus hotspot

Due to the lack of testing and indications that people are not seeking medical care, the number of deaths and cases is likely much higher, the Associated Press says. President Jair Bolsonaro said that Brazil – the most populous country in Latin America, with 211 million people – does not need strict lockdown measures because the virus is just a “little flu.” However, many Brazilian states have implemented restrictions. (NBC News)


Signs, Signs, Everywhere There’s Signs…

Although billions are locked at home, many people have found a way to communicate with neighbors, celebrate the work of first responders, and send messages of hope: window signs. A Photographer has documented hopeful messages posted in Brooklyn windows. He calls the series, “Words at the Window: Self Isolation and the Coronavirus”. They includes portraits of dozens of people in his neighborhood. He said the project originated because he was looking for a way to connect with his neighbors during the lockdown. (The Guardian)


Researchers have developed technology to engineer plants that glow in the dark

The researchers inserted four genes from bioluminescent fungi into the DNA of tobacco plants. The result is a plant that glows with a greenish hue for as long as it is alive. Scientists have successfully engineered glowing plants in the past but, compared to their predecessors, these plants are brighter for longer. The amount of brightness, the researchers say in a study published in Nature, could be an indication of how the plants are reacting to their external environment. Flowers are more luminescent than leaves and some leaves are less bright when they age. The researchers are now trying to replicate their success with popular flowering plants such as periwinkles, petunias, and roses. Study authors said that the method could be used to better understand how plants respond to environmental stresses such as drought. (Science Alert)


The Pentagon has released three videos showing what appear to be unidentified flying objects

The films were recorded by the Navy using infrared cameras and two of them feature the voices of service members expressing awe. One of them was shot in 2004 and the other two in 2015. The 2004 video shows a 40 feet long object hovering about 50 feet above the water and the other two feature flying objects moving rapidly. They had previously been released by a company co-founded by former Blink-182 musician Tom DeLonge, a UFO researcher. The Navy said it has decided to make the videos public to dispel any misconceptions about their authenticity. (CBS News)


Patients with certain cancers are nearly three times more likely to die of covid-19 than non-cancer patients, study says

Those with blood or lung malignancies, or tumors that have spread throughout the body, were at highest risk of complications and death, according to the study involving 14 hospitals in Hubei province, China, where the coronavirus outbreak began. The study, which involved 14 hospitals in the Hubei province in central China, where the pandemic emerged, included 105 cancer patients and 536 non-cancer patients of the same age — all of whom had covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The co-authors, from China, Singapore and the United States, found that cancer patients who developed covid-19 had nearly a threefold higher death rate from the virus than that estimated for the general population. Cancer patients also were more likely to experience “severe events,” such as being admitted to intensive care units and needing mechanical ventilation, than people without cancer. Risk factors included not just age, but also the kind of cancer, the stage and the treatment. (Washington Post)


There could be at least twice as many COVID-19-related deaths in the U.S. as official data shows, according to a Washington Post/Yale School of Public Health analysis

The study looked at “excess deaths” – the number of deaths over expected for a normal year. These deaths could include those who died of COVID-19 but were never diagnosed with the illness, suicides, domestic homicides, people who had other chronic medical conditions but were afraid to go to a hospital, or people who died of other causes. The analysis found 15,400 excess deaths in the U.S. from March 1 to April 4. 8,128 COVID-19 deaths were reported in that time frame. In New York City in the same time period, there were 6,300 excess deaths, compared to 2,543 COVID-19 deaths. Analysis suggests the number of total deaths worldwide attributable to COVID-19 is 60% higher than official data. In the U.K., England had more excess deaths than Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. (Washington Post)


31 U.S. states are not doing enough testing to safely reopen their economies, according to a study by the Harvard Global Health Institute (HGHI) and STAT

Researchers used data from the COVID Tracking Project to assess current testing capacity and made judgments on the number of tests needed to identify and maintain future outbreaks. California, for example, needs just over 26,000 daily tests in order to start reopening. The state says it will be at 25,000 daily tests by the end of April, and eventually wants to test between 60,000 and 80,000 people every day. The team estimates New York would have to test the most people every day: at least 130,000. (STAT News)


Thirsty Thursday Splashes Us With:

  • Adopt A Shelter Pet Day
  • Animal Advocacy Day
  • Beltane
  • Buddha Day
  • Bugs Bunny Day
  • Díá De Los Niños / Díá De Los Libros Day
  • International Jazz Day
  • National Bubble Tea Day
  • National Honesty Day
  • National Military Brats Day
  • National Prepareathon Day
  • National Raisin Day
  • Poem In Your Pocket Day (Last Thursday)
  • Spank Out Day
  • Walpurgis Night

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