Thursday, May 21, 2020

Australia Study Finds “Sign Of Human Intervention” In COVID-19

The study was led by Nikolai Petrovsky, a vaccine researcher at Flinders University. The scientists in his team discovered that the coronavirus is optimized for penetration into human cells, rather than animal cells, which means that the theory that it emerged from an animal market and jumped to humans naturally is unlikely. Scientists “used a version of the novel coronavirus collected in the earliest days of the outbreak and applied computer models to test its capacity to bind to certain cell receptor enzymes, called “ACE2,” that allow the virus to infect human and animal cells to varying degrees of efficacy. They found that “the novel coronavirus most powerfully binds with human ACE2, and with variously lesser degrees of effectiveness with animal versions of the receptor.” The authors believe this means that the virus “became specialized for human cell penetration by living previously in human cells, quite possibly in a laboratory.” The Study notes that  “a virus would be expected to have highest affinity for the receptor in its original host species, e.g. bat, with a lower initial binding affinity for the receptor of any new host, e.g. humans. However, in this case, the affinity of SARS-CoV-2 is higher for humans than for the putative original host species, bats, or for any potential intermediary host species.” It continues, noting that a “possibility which still cannot be excluded is that SARSCoV-2 was created by a recombination event that occurred inadvertently or consciously in a laboratory handling coronaviruses, with the new virus then accidentally released into the local human population.” (Zero Hedge)



National Survey Lays Bare the Sex Lives of Chinese Students

Female students are less satisfied in relationships. Men are more comfortable with live-in partners. A majority of women at Chinese universities have never masturbated, and one-third have never experienced an orgasm or don’t know what one is. These are some of the findings from a national survey on the sex lives of university students, including undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral students, released recently. Conducted by the China Family Planning Association, Tsinghua University’s Research Center for Public Health, and China Youth Network, the survey involved 54,580 students from 1,764 universities nationwide.

  • When it comes to love and relationships – A majority of the students in the survey identified as heterosexual, while 4.5% and 9% said they were gay and bisexual, respectively. More than 6% said they were unsure of their sexual orientation. More female students said they were unsatisfied in their relationships compared with their male counterparts. However, the report suggested that male students were more likely to suffer emotionally after breakups. Some 73% of the student respondents said they would only marry “the right one,” suggesting a reluctance to wed compared with previous generations, and shedding light on the country’s declining marriage rate.
  • On Sex Education – Only half of the surveyed students said they received sex education in school, and less than 15% said they felt “very satisfied” with what they were taught. Inadequate sex education in Chinese schools has led to a limited understanding of reproduction and sexual health, often prompting parents to send children to special classes to learn about the birds and the bees. The report suggested students didn’t have a healthy understanding of sex-related issues, including contraception, sexually transmitted infections, and abortion: On these topics, students answered just four out of the nine questions correctly, on average. More than half of the respondents also said they had searched for pornography online, despite such content being illegal in China.
  • Sexual Experience – The survey reveals that attitudes toward sex are gendered: 83.8% of male students said they would “have sex in a hotel room or live with their partner,” compared with 60.9% of women. In addition, only 55% of female students said they were willing to have sex before marriage, while 75% of men were okay with it. Over 31% of university students said they experienced penetrative sex, with their first such experience occurring at age 18 or 19. On average, female students said they had had 2.3 sexual partners, while men reported 3.7. Among those who had had sex in the past year, less than 20% said they were sexually active every week. Over 56% of female students said they had never masturbated, compared with 13% of men. More than 30% of women said they had never experienced an orgasm, or didn’t know what one was. A majority of women opposed one-night stands and casual hookups. According to the survey, 3.6% of respondents said they had had sex with a teacher.
  • Contraception – More than half of the surveyed students said they used contraception during sex every time, while 3% never used protection. Nearly one-quarter of respondents did not believe contraception was necessary, and 16% of female respondents said their partner typically decided whether they used contraception. According to the survey, 5% of university students had experienced unintended pregnancy — a decline from the 11% reported in the last survey, published in 2016. Of these people, 94% sought an abortion, 17% more than once. A majority of those who sought abortions opted for surgical procedures, while less than 20% went with medical abortions.
  • Consent – The survey also highlighted the prevalence of sexual harassment at Chinese universities. Nearly 15% of women said their private parts had been touched without consent, while 2% said they had been raped. Nearly 4% of female students said their teachers had harassed or assaulted them, the survey revealed. More than half of the sexual violence survivors said they were reluctant to seek help or report the incident. Over 80% said they would tell or seek help from their classmates, friends, or partners, while fewer than 4% said they would report the case to police. (Sixth Tone)


Reporter keeps her cool while huge cat fight erupts behind her during live Philippines TV interview

A Filipino reporter just about managed to keep her cool when a huge cat fight erupted behind her during a live TV interview. She was caught off guard when her cats started trading blows during a live interview. The journalist kept glancing to the left while her pets got into a vicious scrap behind her. After the footage went viral on social media, she shared the interview on her Twitter page saying: “Children!!! There is a law in the studio!” Many have shared the video online and expressed their amazement at how the reporter managed to end the interview without getting too distracted by the cat fight. It comes as reporters around the world are having to conduct more interviews from home due to travel restrictions put in place during the coronavirus pandemic. (Evening Standard)


Face-Mask Selfies Are Being Scanned to Update Facial Recognition Databases

Face-mask selfies have become somewhat popular during the coronavirus pandemic, but as a new report points out, those selfies could also be helping facial recognition algorithms. Thousands of face-mask selfies posted publicly on Instagram have been compiled in public data sets that researchers are using to train facial recognition algorithms. With masks covering a large portion of parts of the face that are normally scanned with the technology, algorithms would need to be fed images of people wearing the masks to update and learn new scans. A “COVID19 Mask Image Dataset” was posted on Github in April which contained more than 1,000 public images from Instagram, according to the report. The database was then analyzed by AI startup Workaround to help algorithms label them depending on whether they were wearing masks. Social media photos being used as part of facial recognition software drew a significant amount of attention earlier this year after it was revealed Clearview AI, a facial recognition startup, scraped images from major sites and put them in a database without people’s knowledge. The app drew a heap of scrutiny as digital rights and privacy groups have come out against the use of facial recognition technology, particularly among government and law enforcement. (CNET)


Melon-headed and malicious: Two suspects rob Sheetz with watermelons on their heads

The Louisa, Virgina Police Department said they have made an arrest after initially asking for the public’s help identifying two people suspected of stealing from a Sheetz while wearing hollowed-out watermelons on their heads. Police said two people arrived wearing hollowed-out watermelons with holes cut out for the eyes into the convenience store where they committed larceny. Only one of the suspects have been arrested so far, a 20-year-old man, was charged with wearing a mask in public while committing larceny, underage possession of alcohol, and petit larceny of alcohol. Louisa Police are still trying to identify the second suspect. (WAVY)


Florida woman who tried to kiss strangers calls 911 about lack of social distancing

A woman who kept trying to randomly kiss strangers at a local bar repeatedly called 911 to complain about the business not practicing coronavirus social distancing guidelines, according to the Melbourne, Florida Police Department. Police said the 32-year-old woman called 911 a total of five times from a bar. During the fourth time she called, officers were already at the business and on the fifth time, officers were speaking to her, records show. The owner of the bar said she was inside trying to kiss random customers and after multiple people complained, he asked her to leave but she initially argued and refused until she eventually made her way out the front door, according to the affidavit. Police said that she left the bar but refused to leave the parking lot even after she was told about the trespassing warning, telling officers, “I’ll sit in the parking lot all night.” When asked about why she called 911 so many times, she said the bar was not following health guidelines intended to stop the spread of coronavirus, records show. Police said she repeatedly tried to pull away as she was being escorted to the patrol vehicle. She was arrested on charges of trespassing after warning, disorderly conduct, resisting an officer without violence and misuse of a 911 system. (Click Orlando)


A woman lost her stimulus check and other benefits after a federal agency listed her as dead

The mistake by the Social Security Administration even threatened her good credit. The woman and her husband followed all the pandemic guidelines to stay healthy, but that failed to protect them from the Social Security Administration. Three weeks ago, she discovered the agency had listed her as deceased in March. She discovered that proving she is alive would be difficult and painful. Her monthly social security payment disappeared. Then, pandemic stimulus checks for the couple were rejected because the bank closed her account after it was notified she had died. According to the Social Security Administration, about 6,000 people a year are mistakenly declared dead. Basically, a death certificate is issued with a social security number that has one wrong digit. In normal times, restoring your online life can take weeks. Now, with a pandemic, the aggravation can be overwhelming. She was told the Social Security Administration had reduced hours and staffing, and that caused new delays. For anyone facing identity issues now, there is special relief to keep track of your credit. For the next year, credit bureaus will offer a free credit report every week so you can protect your finances. (WFTV)


Doctor threatens police officers in Georgia

A Fort Myers, Florida doctor threatened police officers in Georgia for pulling him over, according to Roswell, Georgia police. Police say it happened when a Roswell Police Officer conducted speed enforcement on Georgia State Highway. Authorities say the doctor as going over the speed limit by 23 mph. Police say he stated he was trying to get to a “tee time” and was running late. The Roswell Officer gave the doctor a ticket for speeding. The officer stated that the doctor made in a very sarcastic comment by saying “I hope you get to see me in my operating room so I can take great care of you”. Police say the doctor proceeded to call a neighboring jurisdiction, the Sandy Springs Police Department and spoke to an officer there about the ticket. Police say he stated, “I hope one of your Officer’s ends up in my hospital, I will make sure they get overly medicated.” Officers at Sandy Springs Police Department immediately notified the hospital he was working at, and hospital officials stated they terminated the doctors employment after learning about the incident. A judge was contacted in regards to the statements made to see if a criminal charge could be pursued. The Judge advised officers that although disturbing and unprofessional, what he told the Officer in Sandy Springs was protected by the 1st amendment. Roswell police say the doctor is only charged with speeding. (Fox 4)


Raging Hollywood Hills house party amid coronavirus ends when man shoots himself in the groin

Larger gatherings are still prohibited under strict coronavirus stay-at-home orders, but that didn’t stop a raging house party recently in the Hollywood Hills that ended when, police say, a man accidentally shot himself in the groin. Officers received a complaint of a loud party and when they responded, they found that more than 100 people were gathered at a short-term-rental property that appeared to have been reserved for the occasion. The officers heard a single gunshot and called for backup units. An investigation revealed that a man had been shot in his groin area. The wound is believed to have been accidentally self-inflicted. The man was taken to a hospital. His injuries were not life-threatening. Police were continuing to investigate the incident. Gatherings of any size are prohibited under stay-at-home orders issued by both Los Angeles County and the state, rules intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus. But despite those restrictions, Los Angeles police have been receiving complaints about gatherings that appear to violate the order. (LA Times)


South Korean football team apologizes for using sex dolls to fill stands

A professional football team in South Korea has apologized after “mannequins” it used as substitute fans during a match at the weekend turned out to be sex dolls. The K-League club FC Seoul said the dolls, which had been dotted around stands currently off-limits to supporters due to the coronavirus outbreak, had been ordered inadvertently after a “misunderstanding” with the supplier. Earlier this month the K-League became the first major football league to hold matches since the start of the pandemic, with the season’s opening game watched by a worldwide audience of fans starved of live football. But FC Seoul’s attempt to bring a touch of realism to the match backfired after social media users noticed that the mannequins looked more like sex dolls. The club said it had been the victim of a mix-up, insisting it had checked with the supplier and received assurances that the dolls were not intended for sexual use. Photographs taken at the largely empty stadium showed about 10 dolls spaced out among seats in front of life-size cardboard cutouts of the team’s players. The Sports Seoul website said that with so many football fans overseas now following K-League matches, “There are concerns this will bring international disgrace.” (The Guardian)


Dad uses his face mask to tie off newborn’s umbilical cord after wife gives birth outside hospital

The cotton face masks a Kentucky couple wore to the hospital came in handy when they used them to bind their baby’s umbilical cord after welcoming their new infant in the middle of the street. When the couple arrived at Baptist Health Louisville to give birth after 2 a.m. on May 9, the couple attempted to enter the labor and delivery facility only to find the doors locked. When the couple failed to find a different open entrance, they determined they would have to drive over to the emergency room. But when the contractions began to come on more frequently and aggressively, it became clear they wouldn’t make it. The father pulled out his cell phone and called 911, and asked the dispatcher to send someone out from labor and delivery immediately. The dispatcher started giving instructions after the baby’s head was starting to emerge. Next, the dispatcher told the father to find something to bind the umbilical cord. Without anything on hand, he rifled through their hospital bag. Realizing that they were wearing hand-sewn COVID-19 masks, his wife takes hers off and says and said to use it. He rolled it up real tight like a tortilla, and did the best he could to tie a knot on the umbilical cord six inches from the baby’s navel. Soon an ambulance arrived, and nurses and doctors emerged from the labor and delivery entrance to wheel the mother upstairs to complete her delivery. The couple named their son Navi, a nod to the Hebrew word for “prophet,” but also drawing from the fairy Navi in the popular Legend of Zelda video game franchise. His middle name is Bond. (Yahoo News)


Some nursing homes are taking residents’ stimulus checks, FTC warns

Nursing homes have no claim to their residents’ stimulus checks. That hasn’t stopped some facilities from trying to take them anyway. The Federal Trade Commission reported that that nursing homes in several states are requesting residents sign over their stimulus checks. The facilities may say they get to keep the payment if a patient is on Medicaid, which isn’t true because the stimulus checks are considered tax credits per the CARES Act, which is providing economic relief to people and businesses. Those tax credits don’t count as “resources” for federal benefit programs like Medicaid, so the government cannot claim them, and neither can the nursing homes. Residents and their family members should contact their state attorney general’s office. And if you’re not sure whether you’re being swindled, the FTC has a resource to identify common coronavirus scams. Stimulus check scams appeared before the first check was even issued. Since March, phony websites, texts, emails and robocalls asked people for their personal or financial information to receive their checks, claiming to work for the federal government. Some links may contain malware that can steal the user’s private information so scammers could claim their checks. (AZ Family)


Homeowner awakened by barking dogs finds naked man in kitchen

A man Clearwater, Florida awoke to his dogs barking on a recent morning to find a naked man in his kitchen. The homeowner told the intruder to get out of his house, at which point the naked man grabbed two knives and ran away. Police said three people were in the house at the time of the intrusion, including a 3-month-old baby. Police, with the help of a K-9, found the man nearby in an enclosed screen porch hiding under a swing. Officers arrested him on two charges of armed burglary. Police identified the intruder and arrest reports indicate he appeared to be under the influence of drugs when he was arrested. He was booked at the Pinellas County jail with bail initially set at $100,000. Records show the man has an arrest history that includes charges of strong-arm robbery, aggravated battery, domestic battery, drug possession and drunken driving. He was sentenced to seven years in prison on strong-arm robbery charges in 2010. He was sentenced to 20 months in prison on drug charges last year, but was released early on May 8th. (Tampa Bay Times)


Thursday Reminds Us All To Stay Thirsty For:

  • American Red Cross Founder’s Day
  • Eat More Fruits & Vegetables Day
  • EMSC (Emergency Medical Services)
  • End of the World or Rapture Party Day
  • I Need A Patch For That Day
  • National Wait Staff Day
  • Sister Maria Hummel Day
  • Stop The Bleed Day
  • World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue & Development

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