Friday, June 12, 2020

Illustrator sets Guinness record for largest online art lesson

45,611 people took part in an online drawing lesson on May 21, making it the largest ever art class, according to the Guinness Book of Records. The class was hosted by Rob Biddulph, the author of popular children’s books including “Odd Dog Out.” Biddulph, who has been hosting online drawing lessons for people locked at home during the coronavirus pandemic, taught his students how to draw a blue whale. The class helped him raise funds for charities working on coronavirus relief. His final whale drawing was auctioned for $1,236, which he donated to charity. (UPI)


Russia said it is willing to negotiate a new nuclear disarmament treaty with the U.S. but only if Washington agrees not to invite China to join the deal

The New START treaty, which limits the number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads and bombs that Russia and the U.S. can have to 1,550 each, is set to expire in February 2021. Washington wants China to join the agreement, even though China only has about 300 deployed nuclear weapons. Russian deputy foreign minister said that it categorically rejects the proposal. The Russian deputy foreign minister said that if the U.S. insists on bringing China to the negotiating table, Britain, and France, which have much smaller arsenals, should also join the talks. The U.S. says that China’s nuclear arms development is shrouded in secrecy. The U.S. and Russia are set to start negotiating a new START treaty on June 22. The Chinese government said it has “no intention in participating.” (AFP)


Nearly 90% of US Independent Venues Face Permanent Shutdown Following COVID-19

According to a newly published survey from the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), 90 percent of independent venues may be forced to permanently close their doors in the next few months, owing to the fiscal strain of ongoing coronavirus lockdown measures. At its start, the analysis of independent venues’ status reiterated that the businesses were among the first to close because of the novel coronavirus pandemic and will likely be among the last to reopen. Similarly, the report emphasized that these live entertainment establishments are unable to draw revenue presently, but must still find a way to cover bills, insurance costs, and other expenses. In terms of the study itself, NIVA conducted a survey of its nearly 2,000 member venues and promoters, 90 percent of whom indicated that “they will close permanently in a few months without federal funding.” It was specifically noted that “current PPP [Paycheck Protection Program] funding will not solve the crisis.” (Digital Music News)


New Zealand suburb terrorized by feral chickens

It has been described by one resident on social media as “like something out of a Stephen King movie”. A New Zealand suburb has emerged from the country’s coronavirus lockdown to find it has been invaded by feral chickens. Around 30 of the animals have made a home of Titirangi, a suburb of Auckland, while its 4,000 residents were staying in during the Covid-19 crisis. Now, locals are demanding action against the birds – which they say are damaging the area and leaving their human neighbours sleep deprived with their early morning chorus. A population of some 250 feral chickens had developed in Titirangi up to 2019 after a pair of domestic birds are said to have been released and “gone rogue” a decade earlier. But after local authorities managed to round all but two of the creatures and send them to nearby farms before the Covid-19 outbreak, residents assumed the problem had been sorted. (The Independent)


Florida man lets 12-year-old drive Jeep 85 mph

A Jupiter, Florida man is facing felony charges after police said he let a 12-year-old girl drive his SUV and told her to speed because he wanted to be a “cool father” — even though he is not her dad. The 41-year-old man told the arresting officer he is friends with the girl’s mother and that the girl and her friend were staying with him for a few days, according to court records. He said the girl had asked earlier in the day if she could drive his Jeep, so he thought “it would be cool” and that he was trying to be a “cool father,” the police report said. The man also told officers he had been drinking. Jupiter Officer said in his arrest report that he spotted the Jeep make an illegal U-turn and then speed away at about 12:10am this past Monday (6/8). He followed and the Jeep reached speeds of 85 mph in a 45 mph zone before he was able to pull it over. He said that when he asked the 12-year-old why she was driving so fast, she said he told her to. The man is charged with child neglect, allowing an unauthorized person to drive and causing a minor to become a delinquent for buying the girls vape pens, according to authorities. He was being held without bond the next day at the Palm Beach County Jail. (KOLO)


North Korea might be making millions and breaking sanctions by selling sand

Center for Advanced Defense Studies (C4ADS), a nonprofit that analyzes and investigates security issues using big data, has been watching the traffic in North Korean waters and further afield in Northeast Asia. They do this because Pyongyang has been accused of selling coal and other valuable goods, sometimes in very big quantities, on the high seas to get around the prying eyes of customs officers, who must enforce United Nations sanctions on North Korea. Instead of moving goods into a port before trading, North Koreans supposedly just move them from one ship to another at sea and lie about their origins. These “ship-to-ship transfers” can rake in tens of millions of dollars for Kim Jong Un’s cash-strapped regime, depending on what’s sold. They are meant to be fast and discreet, and usually involve a few ships at most. But analyzers kept seeing dozens of ships mysteriously sailing to North Korea. The went on to discover was a massive operation allegedly worth millions of dollars involving 279 ships which appeared to be skirting international sanctions on North Korea. They were being used to dredge and transport sand. North Korea raked in at least $22 million last year using “a substantial sand-export operation,” UN investigators said. (CNN)


A New Investigation Alleges That Some Of Mexico’s Largest Tequila Brands Are Laundering Money For Drug Cartels

There have long been alleged links between Mexico’s drug cartels and legitimate businesses. However, a new investigation has revealed just how far the cartels have gone to ensure a steady stream of cash directly to their pockets. And in the process, they’ve revealed that some of Mexico’s most iconic brands may be tied to some of its most dangerous cartels. Mexican financial regulators unveiled details about companies they believe to be linked to movements totaling more than $1.1 billion related to the hyper-violent Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG). They also froze the bank accounts of nearly 2,000 people they allege are involved in the money laundering scheme. The country’s anti-money laundering agency said it worked with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to identify the 167 companies caught up in the financial dragnet, dubbed “Operation Blue Agave.” Blue agave is the plant used to make tequila, which is the signature drink of Jalisco, the cartel’s home state. (Mitu)


Christopher Columbus statue torn down, thrown in lake by protesters

The Christopher Columbus statue was torn down by protesters in downtown Richmond Tuesday night. It happened around 9 p.m. at Byrd Park, following a peaceful demonstration outside of the statue in honor of indigenous people. Shortly afterward, the statue was ripped from its foundation, spray painted, then set on fire. After that, the statue ended up in the lake. At the height of the destruction, agitators attacked an TV photographer, demanding he leave the scene. A small crowd of people waved boards in the photographer’s face, grabbed him and attacked his camera. He was able to return to work after the incident. (NBC 12)


Mississippi spent at least $94 million in welfare money on NFL players, lobbyists, and pro wrestlers instead of its poorest citizens, audit says

The Mississippi state auditor released a searing 104-page report that said the state misspent at least $94 million in federal welfare funds in ways that did virtually nothing to aid its poorest citizens over the course of three years. The money from the program, known as the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), flowed into the state. The auditor called it “the most egregious misspending my staff have seen in their careers” in a press release. “If there was a way to misspend money, it seems DHS leadership or their grantees thought of it and tried it,” he said, referring to the state’s Department of Human Services, which is in charge of managing the federal welfare money from TANF. State officials marked $94 million as “questionable,” indicating the federal funds were likely misspent or unable to be verified as used properly. Some of that spending included $1.1 million that went to speeches that were never given by Brett Favre, a famed NFL quarterback who lives in Mississippi, for three appearances he never attended, the report said. About $3.1 million also went to companies managed by the family of Ted DiBiase, a former wrestler, for services that didn’t end up helping the poor or were never completed. Neither of them are accused of wrongdoing in the report. There were also at least two instances in which federal funds were used to buy tickets for college football games, according to the audit. (Business Insider)


AMC plans to reopen its theaters in July

After three months of near total blackout of cinemas nationwide, movie theaters are preparing to reopen, even if it means only a few titles on the marquee and showings limited to as little as 25% capacity. The larger issue may be whether moviegoers feel safe to return to theaters amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. AMC Theaters, the world’s largest theater operator, said that it expects to have 97-98% of its theaters worldwide reopened by mid-July. The National Association of Theater Owners, the trade group that represents exhibitors, expects some 90-95% of cinemas around the world will be opened by mid-July. (CBS News)


Outcry as some nursing homes try to grab stimulus checks

Compounding the hardships of the coronavirus, some nursing homes have demanded that low-income residents turn over their $1,200 economic stimulus checks, a cash grab lawmakers want to halt. In a Bipartisan bill, Senators Chuck Grassley (Iowa) and Ron Wyden (Oregon) called on the Health and Human Services inspector general’s office to issue a warning to nursing homes and assisted living facilities that such practices are “improper and unlawful.” In the House of Representatives, Richard Neal (Massachusetts) and Frank Pallone (New Jersey) asked the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to spell out to nursing homes that the relief money from Congress is not considered income that facilities can legally claim to defray the cost of care. The attempt to claw back stimulus checks from residents on Medicaid was flagged last month by the Federal Trade Commission’s elder justice office, which said it had received reports from Iowa and other states. Oregon’s attorney general has issued a “scam alert,” calling the practice unlawful. Some nursing homes were claiming that if a resident was on Medicaid, the facility would get to keep the $1,200 stimulus payment. (Associated Press)


Apollo Bay Distillery recalls gin bottles that are actually filled with hand sanitizer

A Victorian distillery has been forced to recall some of its gin bottles after it was revealed they were actually filled with hand sanitizer. The Apollo Bay Distillery sold nine bottles of its SS Casino Gin before realizing they had been incorrectly labelled. The gin bottles were actually filled with hand sanitizer containing 1.45 per cent glycerol and 0.125 per cent hydrogen peroxide. The bottles were all sold through the Great Ocean Road Brewhouse bottleshop. A spokesman for the Apollo Bay Distillery said one woman had reported feeling nauseous after consuming the hand sanitizer, but had since recovered. (Australian Broadcasting System)


Rare letter detailing Van Gogh and Gauguin’s brothel visits could sell for $282K at auction

The only known letter to have been jointly written by Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin, in which the former details the pair’s visits to French brothels, is headed to auction. The item is expected to sell for $203,000-$282,000 when it goes under the hammer in Paris next week. Addressed to fellow painter Émile Bernard, another key figure in the Post-Impressionist movement, the letter was handwritten by the two artists across four pages. It was composed in November 1888, shortly after Van Gogh produced some of his best-known works, including “Bedroom in Arles,” “Van Gogh’s Chair” and much of his celebrated “Sunflowers” series. (CNN)


Friday Makes Life Beautiful With:

  • Crowded Nest Awareness Day
  • Jerky Day
  • Loving Day
  • Peanut Butter Cookie Day
  • Poultry Days (2nd full weekend)
  • Red Rose Day
  • Superman Day
  • Victims of Orlando, Florida Attack Day
  • World Day Against Child Labor

Add a Comment