Thursday, June 25, 2020

Angry woman coughed on 1-year-old’s face at California restaurant, mother says

Police in California are searching for a woman accused of coughing on a 1-year-old boy at a frozen yogurt shop because she believed his mother was not properly socially distancing. The mother took her 1-year-old son in a stroller to a Yogurtland location in San Jose, California. She says while they were standing in a line, a female customer in front of her got mad, saying they was too close to her. Mora says her son had a slight fever following the incident but is feeling better. She is hopeful he won’t catch COVID-19. Police released surveillance video of the incident, asking for the public’s help to identify the suspect in the assault case. They say she coughed near the 1-year-old’s face at least twice. The suspect is described as a white female in her 60s with a medium build. She was wearing a gray bandana, glasses, long sleeve shirt with gray vertical lines, white dress pants and patterned tennis shoes at the time of the incident. Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Dan Bowman of the San Jose Police Department’s Assaults Unit. (KSWO)


New Research Suggests We’re Living in Historically Unhappy Times

If months of living through the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent endless cycle of news regarding police brutality has you feeling low, you’re not alone, researchers say. Two pieces of research released this week suggest that Americans are experiencing a historic period of unhappiness. Researchers described the two weeks following May 26 as the “saddest” ever on Twitter. Mathematicians at the University of Vermont in Burlington tracked the relative happiness or sadness of Twitter in multiple different languages using a tool called the “Hedonometer”. The tool analyzes a randomly sampled 10% of tweets in a given language each day. It compares the words in the tweets to a database of more than 10,000 words that a group of 50 people rated on a scale of happy (9) to sad (1), according to the tool’s website. The researchers noted a large, sustained drop in happiness on English-language Twitter in mid-March, as the COVID-19 pandemic started to intensify in United States. Then, on May 25, Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd, sparking protests against police brutality in every state and triggering a flood of activism and anger online. In the following days, the Hedonometer recorded its most negative reading ever—the “saddest day in the history of Twitter”. (Smithsonian Magazine)


Square watermelons ready to be shipped across Japan

This year’s ornamental square watermelon shipments began Wednesday from the western Japan city of Zentsuji, with the approximately $94 fruits ripe and ready for buyers across the country. Seven growers in the Kagawa Prefecture city plan to ship about 400 cubic watermelons, with sides about 18 centimeters in length, to wholesalers mainly in the Tokyo metropolitan area, Osaka and its surrounding cities by mid-July. The inedible watermelons were placed in cube-shaped plastic containers for around 10 days while still unripe. The growers said about 80 percent of the total grown are an ideal shape for sale. A group of farmers in the city began production of the watermelons about 50 years ago in an attempt to raise their community’s profile. (Kyodo News)


N.J. couple charged in $6M dating site scam that bilked at least 33 victims

A South Jersey couple was charged in an international romance scam that used bogus profiles on dating websites to woo unsuspecting victims into giving up more than $6 million, federal authorities said. The 31-year-old man and his 24-year-old wife from Maple Shade, New Jersey face charges of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, according to the New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s Office. Authorities arrested the husband while the wife remained at large. Authorities alleged the scammers reached their victims through dating websites and social media, and pretended to strike up a romantic relationship with their targets. Agents found profiles allegedly used in the scam on sites including,, and Plenty of Fish, documents show. The conspirators bilked their supposed online romantic interests out of money using false emergencies, according to investigators. Some of the claims included customs fees, taxes, medical and travel expenses. Court documents show the victims wired the money or mailed checks to the scammers, who used the fake online personas. (


Pluto likely has an ocean buried beneath its frozen exterior, study reveals

There may be a dispute in the scientific community about whether Pluto deserves to be a planet, but researchers have found evidence that the dwarf planet may have had an ocean billions of years ago. The study suggests that Pluto may have been hot enough when it was forming to allow for liquid water to exist on its surface. The researchers used thermal model simulations and photographic evidence of extensional faults taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, to come up with their findings. “For a long time people have thought about the thermal evolution of Pluto and the ability of an ocean to survive to the present day,” said study co-author and UC Santa Cruz Professor in a statement. “Now that we have images of Pluto’s surface from NASA’s New Horizons mission, we can compare what we see with the predictions of different thermal evolution models.” If Pluto formed in less than 30,000 years, it would have “started out hot,” which means the liquid ocean would have developed early in the celestial object’s existence. If it took a few million years, “a hot start would only be possible if large asteroids buried their energy deep beneath the surface,” the researchers added in the statement. Pluto is widely believed in the scientific community to have formed 4.5 billion years ago. By analyzing the faults, ridges and other possible features, the researchers also noted that other planets and objects in the Kuiper Belt, including dwarf planets such as Eris and Makemake, may have also once had oceans as well. (Nature Geoscience)


Bagged salads linked to parasite outbreak in Midwest

More than 100 people in the Midwest have been sickened by a parasite infection linked to bagged salad mixes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. A total of 122 people had confirmed cases of Cyclospora infections, an intestinal parasite that can cause diarrhea, according to the CDC. Cases have been reported in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Nebraska and Wisconsin, in which 19 people have been hospitalized. Bagged salads containing carrots, red cabbage and iceberg lettuce from supermarket chains ALDI, Hy-Vee and Jewel-Osco have been linked to the outbreak, though it’s possible that there are other sources of infection as well, the CDC said. While cases have been reported in just seven states, the CDC is advising residents of Arkansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin to check their homes for the recalled salad blends and throw them out. The parasite Cyclospora cayetanensis causes an intestinal infection called cyclosporiasis that can be treated with antibiotics. The CDC noted that there are several Cyclospora outbreaks each summer. (Center For Disease Countrol And Prevention)


For the third time in three weeks, SpaceX is preparing to launch a batch of satellites for the company’s Starlink Internet network from Florida’s Space Coast

Liftoff of a Falcon 9 rocket is set for this afternoon (6/25) at 4:39pm EDT from pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, weather permitting. In addition, two commercial Earth-imaging microsatellites owned by BlackSky will accompany the Starlink payloads into orbit. The launch will be SpaceX’s fourth Falcon 9 mission in less than four weeks, continuing a whirlwind cadence of launches that began May 30 with the liftoff of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft carrying NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken into orbit. They launched another Falcon 9 rocket on June 3rd with 60 Starlink satellites, and most recently delivered another 58 Starlink payloads into orbit with a Falcon 9 rocket on June 13th in a flight that also carried three commercial SkySat Earth-imaging satellites to space for Planet. Today’s mission will be SpaceX’s 11th launch of 2020, and will be followed by another Falcon 9 launch scheduled June 30th from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station with the U.S. Space Force’s next GPS navigation satellite and scheduled for a 15-minute window opening at 3:55 pm EDT. (Space Flight Now)


Florida man in stolen ambulance leads law enforcement on multi-county chase

A Flagler County, Florida man is behind bars after the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office said he stole an ambulance that was idling outside of a hospital and led law enforcement on a multi-county chase. The Daytona Beach Police Department received a call in reference to a stolen vehicle at AdventHealth. An EMT at the hospital told police she and her other crew members were inside the hospital working on a patient when a man entered the ambulance that was sitting empty outside, a report showed. She told officers that the front doors of the ambulance were locked, but the back doors were left unlocked as they wheeled a patient into the hospital. Another crew member told police that prior to the theft, a man later asked him for a ride in the ambulance, but told him no because they were in the middle of treating a patient. Both the Volusia along with Flagler County Sheriff’s Offices were notified of the theft and were eventually able to catch up with the ambulance, which was traveling at a high rate of speed, along State Road 11 in Bunnell, Florida where they pulled the man over as a felony traffic stop. The man was eventually secured into handcuffs and taken to the Flagler County Jail where he is facing charges of grand theft of a motor vehicle while being held on $2,500 bond. (Click Orlando)


Indiana Supreme Court says woman did not have to unlock smartphone for police

A Carmel, Indiana woman who was held in contempt when she refused to unlock her smartphone for police during a criminal investigation is protected by the U.S. Constitution, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled earlier this week in a decision that could affect how law enforcement uses technology to gather evidence. The court reversed the contempt order against the woman, finding that forcing her to unlock her iPhone for police would violate her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. “By unlocking her smartphone, she would provide law enforcement with information it does not already know, which the State could then use in its prosecution against her,” the court said. “The Fifth Amendment’s protection from compelled self-incrimination prohibits this result.” In a statement Tuesday, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill said his office respectfully disagrees with some aspects of the court’s decision and is reviewing it to determine “how it will impact future criminal investigations involving electronic devices.” The case underscores larger issues of privacy and technology, according to an Indiana University law expert on constitutional law and data governance. (Indy Star)


The Fourth of July is still over a week away, but in many cities, it’s already arrived

From New York to San Francisco, the skies light up every night and early morning for hours, and with no apparent reason. Now, officials have had enough. Firework complaints are soaring, and they come after months of pandemic-induced isolation followed by weeks of tense protests against police brutality and racism. Why the fireworks are going off so frequently is anyone’s guess. And city officials say they don’t yet know where the big ones are coming from. Conspiracies abound over who’s responsible, but it’s clear that the incessant fireworks displays are an inconvenient and dangerous phenomenon in an already surreal American moment. There seems to be no geographic pattern behind which cities are shooting off the most. Leaders in the fireworks industry expect the run-up to July 4 to end the lull in sales throughout the winter and early spring. But even they’ve never seen sales soar quite as early as they did this year. And those are just the legal ones as backyard firework use is expected to hit an all-time high this Independence Day, according to the American Pyrotechnics Association. (CNN)


County Judge in Texas Assaulted At Store By Customer Over Mask Dispute

Bexar County, Texas Judge got assaulted by a customer at a Lowe’s store after coming to the aid of a cashier in a dispute over the mask requirement. The man reportedly berated the employee. The Judge intervened and tried to explain the reason for the face covering requirement, but the man kept arguing. The Judge tried to hand him a card and asked the customer to call him, but the man smacked the Judge’s hand and knocked the card down before the man ran out of the store. The Judge followed him and got a license plate number. (KTSA)


Colleges forced to make cuts

After thousands of students were forced to leave university in the middle of the school year due to lockdowns, the pandemic’s effect on higher education continues. With a drop in enrollment due to coronavirus, many institutions are facing budget shortfalls and having to cut programs and departments. The University of Alaska says it will cut 39 academic departments, while Elmira College in New York says it’s eliminating several academic programs, as well as reducing staff by 20%. Universities have had to furlough thousands of employees and announce revenue losses in the hundreds of millions. (CNBC)


Boycott builds against Facebook ads

More companies are answering the call to boycott advertising on Facebook. Ben & Jerry’s, Eddie Bauer and Patagonia are among firms pausing ads on Instagram and Facebook in July as U.S. civil rights groups rally to “Stop Hate for Profit.” The campaign argues the social media giant does too little to stop hate speech on its platforms, effectively putting “profit over safety.” Facebook faced a backlash after refusing to fact-check or remove some of President Trump’s recent posts on the protests against racism and police brutality. (The New York Times)


Thursday Jumps Out With:

  • Bomb Pop Day (Last Thursday)
  • Catfish Day
  • Color TV Day
  • Day of The Seafarer
  • Global Beatles Day
  • Global Smurfs Day
  • Hand Shake Day (Last Thursday)
  • Leon Day
  • Police Community Cooperative Day
  • School Prayer Banned Anniversary
  • Strawberry Parfait Day

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