Friday, May 8, 2020

With Crispr, a Possible Quick Test for the Coronavirus

A team of scientists has developed an experimental prototype for a fairly quick, cheap test to diagnose the coronavirus that gives results as simply as a pregnancy test does. The test is based on a gene-editing technology known as Crispr, and the researchers estimated that the materials for each test would cost about $6. “Were excited that this could be a solution that people won’t have to rely on a sophisticated and expensive laboratory to run,” said a researcher at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and one of the pioneers of Crispr technology. The researchers posted a description of their device on a website dedicated to their project, but their method has not yet been tested by other scientists, nor have their findings been published by a scientific journal that subjected them to scrutiny by independent experts. Two other teams of researchers, one in Buenos Aires and the other in San Francisco, are also working to devise new tests to detect the virus using gene-editing technology. (The New York Times)


Police looking for ‘aggressive chicken’ terrorizing bank customers in Louisiana

Police in Walker, Louisiana urged residents to be on the lookout for a suspect that has been terrorizing bank customers. They warned that the suspect is ignoring social distancing rules and the orders of Governor John Bel Edwards by harassing customers at the ATM and drive-thru, chasing people and trying to get into vehicles. The suspect is an “aggressive chicken”, described as reddish-tan, 18 inches tall and between 6 to 8 pounds, the Walker Police Department said in a playful post to Facebook. Officers responded to a bank after receiving a call around regarding the suspect who “apparently anticipated the imminent arrival of law enforcement and fled on foot from the scene,” Walker police said in the post. Officials said the chicken is “wanted on charges of assault, attempted battery, attempted burglary, terrorizing and ignoring an order of the Governor.” The bird remains on the loose. While police asked for the public’s help locating the fowl, they said people should avoid confronting it because of its history of “aggressive behavior.” (Walker, Louisianna Police Department Facebook)


City Government Gone Too Far?

A Dallas, Texas salon owner was given seven days in jail after she refused to apologize for defying coronavirus related restrictions by remaining open for business. The business owner was given a choice: She could offer an apology for selfishness, pay a fine and shutdown until today, or serve jail time. “I have to disagree with you, sir, when you say that I’m selfish because feeding my kids is not selfish,” she told the judge. “I have hairstylists that are going hungry because they would rather feed their kids. So sir, if you think the law is more important than kids getting fed, then please go ahead with your decision. But I am not going to shut the salon.” After her refusal to show contrition, bailiffs led her away to be booked. Her sentence reportedly symbolized the seven-days she stayed open, despite county regulations. She had been cited by city officials but chose to ignore the warnings. She must also now pay a $7,000 fine. However, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has called for the “immediate release” of a Dallas salon owner. He believes the judge is abusing his authority and that her arrest seems like a “political stunt.” In a full statement, the Attorney General said: “I find it outrageous and out of touch that during this national pandemic, a judge, in a county that actually released hardened criminals for fear of contracting COVID-19, would jail a mother for operating her hair salon in an attempt to put food on her family’s table,” said Attorney General Paxton. “The trial judge did not need to lock up Shelley Luther. His order is a shameful abuse of judicial discretion, which seems like another political stunt in Dallas. He should release her immediately.” The attorney general sent a letter to the Dallas Judge, saying her sentencing was “significantly overbroad.” He mentioned that the Governors new executive order will allow her to operate business starting today. (DFW CBS)


Coronavirus researcher on verge of ‘significant findings’ killed in murder-suicide: reports

The biology department at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine is in mourning after the shooting death of a scientist who it says was studying the biological makeup of the coronavirus and was on the “verge of making very significant findings toward understanding” the disease. A 37-year-old man who was a research assistant professor, was shot dead recently in his suburban Pittsburgh home. He allegedly knew his killer, a man who walked to his car after the shooting and killed himself, according to reports. His research centers on computational systems biology, and apparently his coronavirus research was leading to breakthroughs. He was from China and lived with his wife, but they had no children. (Pittsburgh Post Gazette)


107-year-old celebrates birthday after beating COVID-19

He might be one of the oldest survivors of COVID-19, having just recovered from the virus days ago, ut that doesn’t even begin to tell the story of Rudolph “Rudi” Heider. The man has been through more than most, if not all, of us have our entire lives. And after beating COVID-19 recently, he turned 107 years old. Even after all this time, he has never lost his sense of humor or his love for his family. Graduating high school in 1931, he has achieved a lot in his life. Born before any of the world wars, even survived the Spanish flu, and a challenging last seven years. He had a stroke at 100, then he breaks his C3 and C4 vertebrae trying to learn ballroom dancing for his girlfriend, then he gets COVID-19. “Yes, he has lived quite a life out here and that’s just retirement,” family members say. Wednesday (5/6), one final birthday gift, his granddaughter who lives in Seattle, Washington sang a song, “You Are My Sunshine”. It’s one she sings every time she comes to see him. (WUSA)


Wendy’s asks ‘where’s the beef?’

Wendy’s and Shake Shack are feeling the impact of the nation’s meat supply issues. Plants in a handful of states are slowing production or temporarily shuttering as the coronavirus pandemic impacts its workforce. Some 1,043 Wendy’s restaurants list beef items as “out of stock.” Pork production in the U.S. has also slipped by 50%, according to industry heavyweight Tyson Foods. Costco has temporarily limited the purchase of poultry, beef and pork to three items per member. (CNBC)


Nature is regaling beachgoers in Southern California with an otherworldly spectacle: bioluminescent waves

These waves occur when there is a high concentration of phytoplankton in the water. These microorganisms turn the water red during the day, but due to the movement of the waves, they sometimes glow at nighttime. According to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, this particular type of plankton uses bioluminescence “as a predator avoidance behavior.” These red tides have been recorded in Southern California for decades, but not all of them are bioluminescence. Locals say this year’s light show is especially vibrant. (The Guardian)


Tom Cruise is collaborating with NASA in a film that will be shot aboard the International Space Station

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine made the announcement on Twitter but gave no details, so it is not known if Cruise will act on the film. Elon Musk’s space company, SpaceX, will also be involved in the film. If SpaceX is involved in the project, that could mean that the cast may travel to the ISS aboard the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, which is set to take astronauts to space for the first time on May 27. In June 2019, NASA said it planned to open the ISS to “commercial activity.” Until now, the ISS has been mainly a science laboratory that has hosted approximately 240 people from 19 countries. (Deadline)


Supreme Court To Hear Oral Arguments By Phone In Health Law Contraception Case

The case stems from a health law provision that requires most employers to cover birth control as a preventive service, at no charge to women in their health insurance plans. The Trump administration changed the rule in 2017 to allow organizations with religious or moral objections to opt out of coverage without having to provide an alternative avenue for their employees. (Kaiser Health News)


Doctors have named a mysterious COVID-19-related illness affecting some young children: “pediatric multi-system inflammatory failure”

No children have died so far from the illness, which causes enlarged coronary arteries, rashes, and reddened eyes and tongues. Though some hospitals in New York have reported up to two dozen cases, there’s no reliable data thus far as to how widespread the issue is in the U.S. Reports of the illness started in Europe in April, with many (though not all) affected children testing positive for COVID-19. Some researchers believe SARS-CoV-2 is causing some children to develop Kawasaki disease, a rare inflammatory illness seen most commonly in infants and children. According to a study in The Lancet, eight children with the condition in the U.K. tested positive for COVID-19 but were previously asymptomatic. (The New York Times)


Irish Return an Old Favor, Helping Native Americans Battling the Virus

Hundreds of Irish people are donating to a GoFundMe for Navajo and Hopi families impacted by COVID-19, citing the generosity of the Choctaw Nation during the Irish potato famine. In 1847, Choctaw families sent $170 (more than $5,000 in today’s currency) to Irish families suffering through a famine that was responsible for the deaths of more than one million people. The chief of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma said Irish and Native Americans had become “kindred spirits” in the years since the famine. There’s even an art installation in Ireland to commemorate the $170 donation. As of this writing, the GoFundMe has raised $2.7 million. (Go Fund Me)


3.17 million new jobless claims

Another 3.17 million Americans filed jobless claims in the week ending May 2nd. The new claims add to the 30 million people who have already applied for unemployment benefits since the new coronavirus began significantly affecting U.S. business operations in March. The number foreshadows what is expected to be a record-breaking jobs report on Friday. Analysts estimate that the April unemployment rate will jump to 15% or higher, whereas it hit a 50-year low of 3.5% just two months ago. (Department of Labor)


A bright spot amid hiring’s plunge

Driven by severe slowdowns in pandemic-hit industries such as travel, real estate, energy and retail, U.S. hiring slumped by 23.9% in April from the previous month’s already depressed level of activity. Amid the declines, however, were some bright spots. The Hiring Rate rose 2.3% for the hardware and networking industry, which includes semiconductor makers, internet service providers, wireless companies and producers of computer and networking equipment. Other sectors that fared better than the US overall included public safety, agriculture and health care. Geographically, Boston fared best among big U.S. cities, thanks in part to its exposure to resilient industries such as health care, education and technology. (LinkedIn)


Finally Feel Good Friday Is Back With:

  • Child Care Provider Day (Friday before Mother’s Day)
  • Fintastic Friday: Giving Sharks A Voice (2nd Friday)
  • Free Trade Day
  • International Space Day (First Friday)
  • Military Spouse Appreciation Day (Friday before Mother’s Day)
  • National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day
  • National Day to Prevent Teen & Unplanned Pregnancy
  • National Public Gardens Day (Friday Before Mother’s Day)
  • National Provider Appreciation Day (Friday before Mother’s Day)
  • No Socks Day
  • Second World War
  • Student Nurse Day
  • Time of Remembrance & Reconciliation for Those Who Lost Their Lives During The Second World War
  • V E Day
  • World Ovarian Cancer Day
  • World Red Cross / Red Crescent Day

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