Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Man uses stimulus check to feed neighborhood

A man in Killeen, Texas used his stimulus check to feed his north Killeen neighborhood recently, claiming it was the right thing to do. From free hamburgers to drinks, he said using his stimulus check to help out his neighbors was all about giving back. In all, about 160 people were fed. (KWTX)


NASA will provide almost $1b in funding to three companies developing landers to take astronauts to the moon

The companies are Blue Origin, Dynetics, and SpaceX. In about 10 months, NASA plans to conduct a “continuation review” to see which of the three firms has made the most progress. That company will be selected to build a lander that will take a man and a woman to the lunar surface in 2024. NASA said that it may decide to retain the other two companies to build more landers going forward. As part of a $579m contract, Blue Origin will develop an integrated lunar lander – complete with ascent, descent, and transfer modules. The lander will be based on the Blue Moon craft unveiled by Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos last year. Dynetics will receive $253m to develop a craft that will be able to land on the lunar surface and dock itself with a bigger spacecraft in lunar orbit. SpaceX will receive $135m to continue developing the Starship, a reusable rocket designed to travel to the moon and Mars. (Space)


A Swedish city spread chicken manure to dissuade people from gathering in its central park during the coronavirus pandemic

Every April 30th, Swedes celebrate Walpurgis Night, which marks the end of the winter, with parties, bonfires, and picnics. In Lund, a college town, tens of thousands of people typically gather at the main park to mark the occasion. But fearing that such a gathering could be a focus of coronavirus contagion, the town ordered workers to dump 2,204 pounds of chicken droppings over the park. “It will stink of chicken manure and won’t be pleasant for people to be around,” Lund mayor said. (BBC)


Parents hire Zoom babysitters so they can shelter in peace

Babysitting has evolved into something that happens over a Zoom or FaceTime call during the day, usually for an hour or less, a few feet from those same parents. But instead of downing margaritas and laughing, they’re taking conference calls, catching up on emails, helping their other kids with home schooling, or just locking themselves in the bathroom for a quick cry. Over the past two months, millions of Americans have discovered the impossibilities of simultaneously working, parenting, and teaching full time from home. To help ease the strain, they’ve had to get creative with more screen time of all kinds. Now some parents are paying people to spend time with their children virtually. They’re asking their usual sitters whether they can hire them to keep kids busy over video. There are companies that acts like a marketplace for caregivers from nannies to health aids where a handful of workers are updating their profiles to say “virtual only.” Existing babysitting services are training their child-care workers on techniques to keep kids engaged over screens, and new companies are popping up to offer virtual-only sitters. Families have been radically rewriting their screen-time rules during the pandemic to get through the day, allowing far more Netflix and YouTube than they did before. Childhood development experts agree that it’s fine to be less stringent about how long kids are in front of screens now and that parents should give themselves a break. But they’re also pointing out that not all screen time is the same. Something like a video call can be much better for a child than passively watching television or playing a game. (Washington Post)


Passenger arrested after broadcasting being chased by DPS troopers on Facebook Live

A high speed chase led to the arrest of three teenagers and it was broadcast on Facebook Live from inside the vehicle being chased. It started in Edroy, TX, when DPS troopers spotted a vehicle that was speeding. When they tried to stop it, the driver led troopers on a chase that ended on I-37 near Up River Road. Road spikes were used to blow out the vehicle’s tires. 3 teenagers were arrested – two young women, 17 and 19 years old and a 16 year old boy. 19-year-old woman is facing charges of possession of marijuana and another unknown controlled substance. The most serious charge is hindering apprehension of a felony. Her bond has been set at $11,500. (KENS)


Judge Orders FCC to Hand Over IP Addresses Linked to Fake Net Neutrality Comments

A Manhattan federal judge has ruled the Federal Communications Commission must provide two reporters access to server logs that may provide new insight into the allegations of fraud stemming from agency’s 2017 net neutrality rollback. A pair of New York Times reporters sued the FCC under the Freedom of Information Act after it refused their request to view copies of the logs. The logs will show, among other details, the originating IP addresses behind the millions of public comments sent to the agency ahead of the December 2017 net neutrality vote. The FCC attempted to quash the paper’s request but failed to persuade District Judge, who wrote that releasing the logs may help clarify whether fraudulent activity interfered with the comment period, as well as whether the agency’s decision-making process is “vulnerable to corruption.” The lawsuit follows a report that exposed multiple attempts by the FCC to manufacture stories about hackers attacking its comment system. In reality, the Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) crashed, both in 2015 and 2017. (Gizmodo)


Man arrested after mistakenly depositing two bags of cocaine at a bank

A 34-year-old man was arrested after he mistakenly deposited two bags of cocaine with his cash to a teller at a Colorado bank. The man was at a drive-thru bank in Jefferson County when he attempted to deposit cash through a tube, according to the sheriff’s department. Included with the cash was allegedly two bags of cocaine. The teller immediately called the authorities about the suspected drugs were deposited. According to the sheriff’s office, he did not intend to deposit the cocaine, only the cash. “Additional drugs were located in his car and he was booked through on the pending charges and released,” the sheriff’s office said. It is unclear what charges he will face after being released from police custody, but officials did warn residents against drug use. “Moral of the story: Don’t do drugs. Also, the bank cannot store your drugs for you,” the sheriff’s office said on its Facebook page. (Jefferson County Colorado Sheriffs Office Facebook)


U-Haul hands down lifetime ban to Brooklyn funeral home that stored bodies in trucks

Rental company U-Haul has reportedly cut ties with a funeral home caught storing dozens of bodies inside their unrefrigerated trucks. Andrew T. Cleckley Funeral Services in Brooklyn, New York is no longer welcome to rent from the company. The U-Haul trucks used by the funeral home to hold corpses are also being decommissioned so they can be deep cleaned, according to the report. “This is a wrongful, egregious and inhumane use of our equipment,” company bigs told the outlet. “Our trucks are designed for household moves,” the sources said. “Properly caring for the remains of people’s loved ones requires vehicles suited specifically for that purpose. Our trucks absolutely cannot be rented for this reason.” The ghastly use of the trucks was uncovered when workers at the Dollar General store next door alerted police of a foul smell coming from the truck, sources have said. “Disgusting,” a neighbor had said while watching a worker sweep a clear liquid out the rear doors of a U-Haul truck. The state’s health commissioner said the funeral home faced possible “fines and suspensions,” and vowed that “we’ll enforce this as much as possible.” (The New York Post)


FCC gets even tougher on robocallers

The US Federal Communications Commission is getting even tougher on illegal robocallers. The agency issued an order ending the practice of warning most robocallers initiating unwanted calls. Before the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act was passed in December 2019, the FCC was required by law to warn illegal robocallers or face fines. But the passage of the TRACED Act into law lifted that requirement. The FCC is now free to make rules for enforcing the law. The FCC also said that it will increase the maximum fines against individuals or companies initiating robocalls. And the agency has extended the statute of limitations during which robocallers can be fined for violating the law by spoofing calls. Spoofing is when a caller mimics a local phone number to trick someone into answering the call. Robocalls have been a growing problem in the US. The number of calls have also surged amid the coronavirus pandemic, as illegal callers look to take advantage of Americans by offering nonexistent medical equipment or fake testing kits for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. The FCC has already launched a COVID-19 Consumer Warnings and Safety Tips webpage to alert consumers to the proliferation of these phone and text scams related to the pandemic. And the FTC recommends that people hang up on or block robocallers. (Federal Communications Commission)


Why time now feels faster and slower

For many working their way through the COVID-19 crisis, time may feel like it’s moving differently,  both faster and slower, than usual. One possible explanation as to why we’re experiencing time differently in part is because the tasks and details of our days have changed and, in some cases, multiplied. Routine tasks like going to the store or getting the mail suddenly require more care and consideration. We also may need to get familiar with new tools at work. All of this new material affects how we perceive the passage of time. (Quartz)


Eggs costing more than a month’s wages in Venezuela

Venezuela published a list of new price controls for 27 basic food items, fixing the price of eggs, some cuts of meat, and sausage above the monthly minimum wage President Nicolas Maduro set for the inflation-stricken country. The move marked the return of strict state economic controls, after more than a year of relaxation in the face of U.S. sanctions. The socialist government is now seeking to calm inflation in the face of a collapse in crude prices, fuel shortages and a national lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Products including butter and powdered milk will cost more than 400,000 bolivares, which is the new minimum wage the government set. That is equivalent to just $2 at the official exchange rate. The document listed the prices both in bolivares and in Petros, a state-run cryptocurrency. (Reuters)


A customer bought thousands of dollars of groceries for surprised shoppers at a grocery store in Massachusetts

The person, who wants to remain anonymous, bought $3,000 worth of Hannaford gift cards to pay customers’ grocery bills during the store’s special shopping hours set aside for senior citizens. The anonymous donor approached a store employee a little over a week ago wanting to help. Customers were shocked by the person’s generosity. Some customers who received free groceries then purchased gift cards for the store to give to other shoppers. (WCVB)


A large ozone hole that opened up above the Arctic in March has closed

Scientists at the Copernicus Atmospheric Monitoring Service attributed the hearling to a strong polar vortex that has now ended. The hole, about three times the area of Greenland, was the largest ever recorded over the Arctic. CAMS said coronavirus lockdowns and the resulting decrease in carbon emissions probably weren’t a contributor to the closure. The last time such strong ozone depletion was recorded was in spring 2011, though that hole was not as large as March’s. Experts don’t believe that the same phenomenon will occur again next year. The Arctic stratosphere still remains “vulnerable to ozone-depleting substances,” which are linked to human activity, World Metereological Organization Secretary-General Petteri Taalas warned. (Deutsche Welle)



Tuesday Vroom’s In With:

  • Cartoonists Day
  • Childhood Depression Awareness Day (First Tuesday)
  • Childhood Stroke Awareness Day
  • Cinco de Mayo
  • Foster Care Day (First Tuesday)
  • International Day of The Midwife
  • International Roller Derby Day
  • National Astronaut Day
  • National Teacher Day (First Tuesday of the First Full Week)
  • Revenge of the Fifth (Star Wars Sith)
  • Silence The Shame Day
  • Totally Chipotle Day
  • World Asthma Day (First Tuesday)

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