Monday, June 29, 2020

Walmart gets backlash over T-shirts with ‘All Lives Matter’ and ‘Irish Lives Matter’ slogans

Walmart is facing heat for selling T-shirts that feature variations of the “Black Lives Matter” slogan, including “All Lives Matter,” “Blue Lives Matter,” “Irish Lives Matter” and “Homeless Lives Matter.” The backlash erupted on social media, where users criticized the world’s largest retailer for allegedly “mocking” the Black Lives Matter movement, which has come to symbolize a call to action against racism and police killings of Black people in America. The slogan was born after the controversial killing of Trayvon Martin in Florida in 2012. (CNN)


Female genital mutilation: Report shows 68,000 victims in Germany

A report estimates that the number of victims of female genital mutilation in Germany has increased by 44% since 2017, and nearly 15,000 girls may be at risk. The minister responsible linked the increase to migration. The amount of women and girls in Germany who have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM) has increased to 68,000, the families minister announced. The increase, up 44% from the last estimated total calculated in 2017, was attributed to greater immigration from countries where FGM is more common. Up to 15,000 girls in Germany may also be under threat of undergoing the procedure. (DW)


Trump executive order directs feds to prioritize skills over college degrees in hiring

President Trump signed an executive order to redirect federal employers to weigh applicants’ skills over college degrees. President Trump said during a meeting with the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board, “The federal government will no longer be narrowly focused on where you went to school but the skills and the talents that you bring to the job.” President Trump added that his administration had valued merit for a long time. Adviser to the president Ivanka Trump, who co-chairs the board, said the order will allow the government to “better recognize the talents and competencies of all Americans” it hires. (Fox News)


American Airlines will book flights to full capacity

American Airlines will start booking flights to full capacity, ending any effort to promote social distancing on its planes while the United States sets records for new reported cases of the coronavirus. American’s move matches the policy of United Airlines but contrasts sharply with rivals that limit bookings to create space between passengers to minimize contagion. American said that it will continue to notify customers if their flight is likely to be full, and let them change flights at no extra cost. The airline said it will also let passengers change seats on the plane if there is room and if they stay in the same cabin. (ABC News)


US officials change virus risk groups, add pregnant women

The nation’s top public health agency revamped its list of which Americans are at higher risk for severe COVID-19 illness, adding pregnant women and removing age alone as a factor. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also changed the list of underlying conditions that make someone more susceptible to suffering and death. Sickle cell disease joined the list, for example, and the threshold for risky levels of obesity was lowered. Agency officials said the update was prompted by medical studies published since CDC first started listing high-risk groups. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)


The CDC estimates that for every confirmed coronavirus case in the U.S. there are approximately 10 more infections

That means that upwards of 20 million people may have been infected by the virus. Officials came up with that estimate after analyzing blood donations collected nationwide. Although a dozen states have reported spikes of coronavirus cases recently, the CDC director pointed out that many of the new cases are among young people who are less likely to develop serious symptoms. Officials believe 50% of new cases in Florida and Texas are among people aged 35 or younger. Mortality and hospitalizations have largely declined since the peak of the pandemic in April – even though some states are now reporting an uptick in hospitalizations. A higher percentage of tests are now returning positive results. Seven states have seen more than 10% of tests come back positive. The U.S. is currently testing approximately 500,000 people a day but experts say that to prevent flareups, it should be testing 1 million to 3 million people daily. The U.S. is carrying out 56 tests per 100,000 people, a rate that falls behind several other countries, including Spain, Australia, Russia, and Iceland. (John Hopkins University of Medicine)


Infant mortality rates in decline in the US as teen pregnancy decreases

Infant mortality rates across the United States declined from 2000 to 2017, a trend attributed to fewer women giving birth in their teens, according to a study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, Black and Hispanic women experienced infant mortality at double the rate of white women. The U.S. infant mortality rate declined from 6.89 deaths per 1,000 births in 2000 to 5.79 in 2017, according to the study, which looked at all infant deaths in the country where the death certificate could be matched to the infant’s birth certificate. The age at which a woman gives birth “impacts the overall infant mortality rate because the risk of an infant death varies by maternal age,” the study noted. Infants born to women under age 20 and at 40 and over have the highest mortality rates, according to the study. Preterm births and low birthweight, both associated with mortality, are more common for infants born to the youngest and oldest mothers. The decline in women giving birth earlier was true for women of the three races that were examined: Black, white and Hispanic. 19.8% of Black Women who gave birth in 2000 were under the age of 20 — this decreased to 7.5% in 2017. That number was still double the rate of white women. (ABC News)


Google announced a new program to pay publications for high-quality content in some countries

The publishing partners in this program will also be paid for allowing free access to their pay-walled content. The program will roll out in a few months and, as of now, Google has signed publishing partners in Australia, Germany, and Brazil. The company is also in talks with publishers in about half a dozen other countries. In April, France ordered Google to negotiate payment terms with publishers to reuse their content. That same month, Australia filed antitrust actions against Google for not paying publishers despite using their articles and photos. In 2014, Google shut down its news services in Spain after the country mandated sites to pay publishers for using snippets from their content. (Axios)


Microsoft plans to close all its 80 retail sites worldwide

Except for four flagship stores in London, New York, Sydney, and Redmond, Washington. Most of the stores have been closed since March due to the pandemic. Since then, the company built additional sales, training, and support teams that have been working remotely. The stores that will continue operating will be turned into “Microsoft Experience Centers,” the company said. Microsoft said its sales efforts will focus on, and stores on Xbox and Windows. The company’s online support and sales teams will provide new services including 1 on 1 video chat support, online tutorial videos, and virtual workshops. (CNBC)


When two black holes collide, they can emit a blaze of light a trillion times brighter than the sun, scientists say

Previously, researchers thought that the merger of two black holes was a dark event because black holes emit no light. But the gravitational wave observatory, Ligo, has picked up a flare of light that researchers say is the result of a black hole merger. According to a new study, the merger created a bright flare because it stirred up the accretion disk of a third, larger black hole in the background. The authors are 99.9% sure that the flare of light they have detected was produced by a black hole merger but they are waiting for a second study that they say may confirm their findings. (The Guardian)


Lightning strikes have killed at least 120 people in northern and eastern India, officials said

Lightning strikes are common in India during the monsoon season. Lightning strikes killed nearly 120 people recently as powerful thunderstorms lashed northern India during the annual monsoon rains. Bihar, one of India’s poorest states, was the worst hit, with 95 people killed, according to a senior disaster management official in the state. The dead included several children and farmers who were tending to their fields. Many of the victims had gone to feed livestock or plant fresh crops. Lightning kills more than 2,000 people a year in India, but the single-day toll was the deadliest in recent memory. Lightning strikes in northern India tend to take place between April and July, a period that straddles the arrival of the monsoon rains. (The Washington Post)


More brands rename amid protests

As demonstrations around the world call for reform, influential companies and groups are finding they have things to fix. In the face of a cultural reckoning on racism, more brands are reevaluating their iconic and controversial names. Unilever said it will rebrand its top-selling Fair & Lovely products, Nestle will rename Red Skins and Chicos sweets, and Dreyer’s is dropping the Eskimo Pie name. Meanwhile, The Dixie Chicks are now just The Chicks and NASA is renaming its headquarters to recognize Mary W. Jackson, the agency’s first Black female engineer. Disney is redesigning its Splash Mountain rides and ditching the “Song of the South” theme in favor of “The Princess and the Frog.” (Bloomberg News)


A Russian spy unit secretly offered bounties to militants in Afghanistan for killing American troops, U.S. intelligence officials found

The U.S. concluded months ago that a Russian military-intelligence unit, which has been linked to assassination attempts and other secret operations, had covertly offered rewards for successful attacks last year, amid the talks to end the long-running war there. Twenty Americans were killed in combat in Afghanistan in 2019, but it was not clear which killings are under suspicion. The Trump administration has been deliberating since late March about what, if anything, to do about the explosive intelligence assessment. (The New York Times)


Monday Is Maniacal With:

  • Almond Buttercrunch Day
  • Camera Day
  • International Day Of The Tropics
  • Mud Day
  • Please Take My Children To Work Day (Last Monday)
  • Scleroderma Day
  • Waffle Iron Day

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