Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Target, CVS temporarily close stores due to protest dangers

Target and CVS said that they are temporarily closing certain locations, including some that were damaged during protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Target said it has closed six stores for an extended period. It hopes to reopen one of its stores in Minneapolis by the end of this year. The store was near the place where Floyd was killed and it was heavily damaged during protests. Another store in Minneapolis remains closed, along with stores in Oakland, California; Atlanta; Philadelphia and Chicago. Target said it temporarily closed or adjusted hours at more than 200 stores over the weekend, but most were scheduled to reopen during normal business hours. CVS didn’t say how many stores it closed, but it said the shuttered locations are in more than 20 states and the District of Columbia. A spokeswoman for the company said pharmacies at closed stores will reroute customers to a nearby CVS so they can get prescriptions filled. “Employee and customer safety is our top priority, so we are continually monitoring protests as they occur in the communities we serve and will close stores, if needed, to help ensure the safety of employees and customers,” CVS said in a statement. (ABC News)


Mining firm Rio Tinto sorry for destroying Aboriginal caves

The Juukan Gorge caves, in the Pilbara region, were destroyed recently as Rio Tinto expanded an iron ore project agreed with the authorities. Many prehistoric artefacts have been found at the remote heritage site. “We are sorry for the distress we have caused,” said the firm’s iron ore chief executive. “We pay our respects to the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura People (PKKP),” he said. The PKKP are the traditional owners of the site. “We will continue to work with the PKKP to learn from what has taken place and strengthen our partnership. As a matter of urgency, we are reviewing the plans of all other sites in the Juukan Gorge area.” Australian Minister for Indigenous Affairs, who is Aboriginal, said it was “incomprehensible” that the blast had gone ahead, but added that it appeared to be a “genuine mistake”. State laws had failed in this instance, he said. (BBC)


A suspected rioter in Baltimore got the smackdown of his life Monday by his mom on television

The mother saw her son on television throwing rocks at police. That’s when she’d had enough, dishing up a dose of discipline. The pair was identified as Toya Graham, a single mother of six, and her 16-year-old son. In the video, she chases the adolescent around, slapping him and giving him a profanity-laced lecture that rioting is not OK. The city’s police commissioner even applauded the mother’s actions. It wasn’t just the police praising this parenting style. (ABC 7)


US facing ‘avalanche of evictions’

The U.S. is staring down an “avalanche of evictions,” as low-income or out-of-work Americans dealing with the pandemic’s economic fallout try to make rent and mortgage payments. A housing expert and Columbia Law professor’s research is showing that once cities’ eviction freezes start expiring, displacements will rise sharply unless there’s a new round of government intervention. So far, rent collections have been strong during the crisis, aided by the $2 trillion CARES Act, along with rent reductions and overdue payment relief. (The New York Times)


Protests and rioting continue to grow across US

Protests have erupted in at least 140 cities across the U.S. over the death of an unarmed black man, George Floyd, while in Minneapolis police custody. The demonstrations have at times turned into violent clashes. Derek Chauvin, the police officer caught on camera kneeling on Floyd’s neck, was arrested last week and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. The U.S. Justice Department will also investigate whether the incident violated federal civil rights laws. At least 40 cities have imposed curfews. The National Guard has now been activated in at least 26 states and Washington, D.C. California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in LA county. Demonstrators in London, Berlin and Toronto joined the protests, some in defiance of rules against large gatherings. Retailers including Target, Walmart and CVS are temporarily changing store hours and closing select locations for safety reasons. Amazon is adjusting routes and scaling back deliveries in a handful of cities where protests have broken out. (The Wall Street Journal)


Health experts warn that the Atlantic hurricane season could prompt evacuations that lead to an increase in coronavirus infections

Former FEMA chief says storms could force people into crowded displacement centers where the virus would easily spread. He said the ongoing pandemic could also encourage people to stay home in dangerous weather conditions. Cities along the Gulf Coast are preparing additional shelters to facilitate social distancing among potential evacuees. The NOAA says there’s a 60% chance of a more active than normal hurricane season, which runs officially from June 1 to November 30. The NOAA predicts between 3 and 6 major hurricanes over the next six months. Two named tropical storms formed in May – Arthur and Bertha. A storm currently developing near southern Mexico has an 80% chance of becoming a named tropical storm (Cristobal) in the next few days. (NPR)


There’s a steady stream of evidence suggesting that SARS-CoV-2 is a “vasculotropic virus,” largely impacting the body’s blood vessels

There’s growing research into how the virus impacts endothelial cells and facilitates vascular disease in the heart, lungs, kidneys, and other organs. Medical experts say that the blood vessel impacts seen in COVID-19 are “virtually unheard of” for a respiratory illness. An April study found that COVID-19 can damage endothelial cells in multiple organ systems, not just the lungs. Researchers believe SARS-CoV-2’s ability to affect blood vessels is why those with comorbidities unrelated to the lungs see poor health outcomes. Those who’ve died from COVID-19 had nine times as many blood clots as those who died from H1N1 (Swine Flu). Statins and ACE inhibitors, drugs used to prevent and treat blood clots, may be helpful as COVID-19 treatments, new research shows. (New England Journal of Medicine)


EPA limits states and tribes’ ability to protest pipelines and other energy projects

The Environmental Protection Agency finalized a rule curtailing the rights of states, tribes and the public to object to federal permits for energy projects and other activities that could pollute waterways across the country. The move upends how the United States applied a section of the Clean Water Act for nearly a half century. The energy industry hailed the change as a way to speed up pipelines and other projects, while environmentalists warned it could undercut state and tribal efforts to safeguard rivers and drinking water. The new rule would set a one-year deadline for states and tribes to certify or reject proposed projects, including pipelines, hydroelectric dams and industrial plants, that could discharge pollution into area waterways. (The Washington Post)


University of Alabama professor instructs rioters on how to tear down monuments

A professor at the University of Alabama Birmingham is receiving backlash on Twitter after she launched a series of tweets instructing protesters about how to successfully pull down monuments, as rioters torched the nation’s capital over the past weekend. The Egyptologist, who specializes in ancient architecture, says she is an expert on obelisks, the shape of the Washington Monument. She noted obelisks “might be masquerading as a racist monument.” She went on to fire off more than a dozen tweets demonstrating how protesters could topple obelisks, such as the Washington Monument on the National Mall. “Just keep pulling till there’s good rocking, there will be more and more and more tilting, you have to wait more for the obelisk to rock back and time it to pull when it’s coming to you. Don’t worry you’re close!” she said in one tweet. (Washington Times)


Judge gives control of Joe Exotic’s zoo to Carole Baskin

A federal judge in Oklahoma has awarded ownership of the zoo made famous in Netflix’s “Tiger King” docuseries to Joe Exotic’s chief rival. In a ruling, U.S. District Judge Scott Palk granted control of the Oklahoma zoo that was previously run by Joseph Maldonado-Passage (a.k.a. Joe Exotic) to Big Cat Rescue Corp. The Florida group was founded by Carole Baskin, who also featured prominently in the hit Netflix series. Joe Exotic is currently serving a 22-year federal prison term for killing five tigers and plotting to have Carol Baskin killed. She sued Joe for trademark and copyright infringements and won a $1 million civil judgment against him. The judge’s ruling found that ownership of the zoo was fraudulently transferred to Joe Exotic’s mother in an attempt to avoid paying the judgment. The decision said the zoo animals must be removed from the property within 120 days but it does not detail what should happen to them. Joe Exotic remains incarcerated in Fort Worth, Texas. In a handwritten letter posted earlier this week on Twitter, he repeated his plea for a presidential pardon. (Oklahoman)


Virus costs may linger for a decade

The coronavirus pandemic will deliver a roughly $8 trillion blow to the U.S. economy over the next 10 years, equivalent to a 3% drop in gross domestic product, the Congressional Budget Office said in new projections. The hit is expected to come as consumers spend less and many businesses close, while lower oil prices mean less investment in the energy sector, it said. Surveys have already shown steep declines in U.S. and global factory activity and employment, though the pace of declines has started to slow. (Washington Post)


Israeli scientists dig up cannabis traces in ancient temple

Israeli archaeologists say they’ve found cannabis residue on artifacts from an ancient temple in southern Israel, providing the first evidence of the use of hallucinogenics in the ancient Jewish religion. In a research paper, the authors say the discovery from an 8th-century B.C. shrine at Tel Arad offers the first proof for “the use of mind-altering substances as part of cultic rituals in Judah,” including the first Jewish Temple that stood in Jerusalem at the same time. Archaeological excavations at Tel Arad, located around 35 miles south of Jerusalem, in the 1960s discovered a stronghold belonging to the ancient kingdom of Judah, and at its core a small shrine bearing striking similarities to the biblical Temple in Jerusalem. But for decades, attempts to determine the composition of black deposits found on two limestone altars from the shrine’s inner sanctum were inconclusive. Chemical analysis of the samples conducted at Israel’s Hebrew University and Technion Institute found that one altar contained the psychoactive compounds found in marijuana, and the other had traces of frankincense — one of the ingredients mentioned in the Bible for the incense sacrifice in the ancient Jewish Temples, the authors wrote. The researchers published their findings Friday in the academic journal, “Tel Aviv: Journal of the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University.” (ABC News)


Tropical Storm Cristobal forms, becomes earliest C-name storm in history

Tropical Storm Cristobal has formed in the Gulf of Meixco, setting a record for the earliest C-name storm ever. Cristobal formed three days earlier than Colin formed in 2016. According to the National Hurricane Center, Tropical Storm Cristobal has maximum sustained winds at 40 miles per hour. The storm is located in the south of the Gulf of Mexico, in the Bay of Campeche. It continues to move very slowly but is expected to eventually push out into the Gulf of Mexico before heading to the U.S. mainland. From there, its path is still quite unknown. Some models push it into Louisiana; others send it into Texas. All of them don’t have the storm arriving in the USA until next week, and none of them send the storm toward North Carolina. (WTVD)


Wednesday Makes Up With:

  • Chimborazo Day
  • Global Running Day (First Wednesday)
  • National Stuffed Shrimp Scholars Day
  • Wonder Woman Day
  • World Bicycle Day
  • World Clubfoot Day

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