Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The region beyond Australia’s Great Barrier Reef was mostly unexplored until now

A recent expedition into the inky depths of the Coral Sea revealed an unknown world of creatures and geological features. They included a thriving population of chambered nautili, a living fossil whose ancestors go back a half-billion years. The expedition mapped more than 13,000 square miles of seabed and discovered submarine canyons, dune fields, submerged reefs and massive landslides. And in an apparent global first, the expedition was conducted remotely because of the coronavirus pandemic. (The New York Times)


Nigerian kids ‘Ikorodu Bois’ get Hollywood invite after recreating movie trailer

A group of Nigerian brothers got an invite to the (eventual) Hollywood premiere of “Extraction 2” after they faithfully recreated an extremely low-budget version of the first film’s trailer. The Ikorodu Bois publish regular re-enactments of their favorite music videos and action movie trailers. They’ve done “Bad Boys,” Justin Bieber’s “Yummy,” and most recently, the trailer for Netflix’s “Extraction” starring Chris Hemsworth. Both Netflix and Hemsworth saw the recreation after being tagged by the Ikorodu Bois, and the film’s producers, Joe and Anthony Russo, said they’ll make sure the brothers can be at the premiere of “Extraction 2,” though the film currently has no release date. (CNN)


Dolphins are smarter than we thought and can teach others to hunt and use tools, according to a new study

The research suggests dolphins are better at dealing with environmental changes than we thought, which could help them fare better during global warming. The research out of Australia reveals that dolphins have a strong social structure and learn skills such as hunting from their peers, not just their elders. Scientists say this type of learning is rare in nature, and previously only found in humans and great apes. The discovery shows that dolphins learn to trap prey, often using conch shells, primarily through their peers. There are 36 known dolphin species, and they are found in every ocean, along with several species that live in rivers and freshwater streams. (National Geographic)


As NASA prepares to launch astronauts to the moon by 2024, it is faced with a rather tough problem in the form of space toilets and it needs your help figuring it out

NASA rolled a challenge for the public, seeking concepts for a toilet design that could be used by astronauts on the Moon. For the competition, NASA has partnered with HeroX, the social network for innovation and crowdsourced solutions. Called the Lunar Loo challenge, this competition is offering up $35,000 in prizes for teams who propose effective designs for toilets that can operate in both microgravity and lunar gravity environments. Although space toilets are already in use, they are designed for microgravity only. The concept that NASA is seeking should be functional in lunar gravity too, thereby letting astronauts use it while they’re on the Moon. ”While astronauts are in the cabin and out of their spacesuits, they will need a toilet that has all the same capabilities as ones here on Earth. NASA is calling on the global community for their novel design concepts for compact toilets that can operate in both microgravity and lunar gravity. These designs may be adapted for use in the Artemis lunar landers that take us back to the Moon”, NASA wrote on it’s website announcement. ”NASA’s Human Landing System Program is looking for a next-generation device that is smaller, more efficient, and capable of working in both microgravity and lunar gravity. This challenge includes a Technical category and Junior category”. Submissions to both categories are due no later than 5 pm Eastern on August 17th, 2020. For the first place, you can be rewarded $20,000, $10,000 for second place, and $5,000 for third. (NASA)


California shakes up auto industry, says all vans and trucks must be electric by 2024

California regulators have approved new rules that would see a massive shift from conventional gas and diesel trucks and vans to ones powered by batteries and zero-emission hydrogen fuel cells. The first-of-their-kind guidelines, which take effect in 2024, cover a broad range of truck segments, from medium-duty models up to the “big rigs” that move vast amount of goods throughout California and across the country. Current guidelines from the California Air Resources Board already press manufacturers to add electric and hydrogen trucks to light-duty segments. California’s push to reduce truck emissions could lead to some major changes in a traditionally staid automotive industry. Among other things, it could encourage the emergence of new competitors such as Nikola Motors, which is producing an array of hydrogen-powered heavy-duty trucks, and Detroit-based start-up Rivian, which has a contract to produce around 100,000 all-electric delivery vans for Amazon. Under guidelines approved, at least 40 percent of the tractor trailers sold in California would have to be powered by some form of zero-emissions technology by 2024. Medium-duty trucks, such as the Ford F-250 or Chevrolet Silverado HD, would be required to switch over 55 percent of their sales by 2035; and 75 percent of delivery trucks and vans would have to use zero-emissions powertrain technology by 2035, a point by which fully 100 percent of government fleets and last-mile delivery trucks would have to meet the target. (Yahoo)


Miami to fine people up to $500 if they don’t wear masks

Walking outside your home without a mask could become expensive in Miami, which ushered in a new ordinance that can fine people up to $500 for failing to cover their mouth and nose while in public. People without masks in public will first be issued a verbal warning, while a city worker will provide them with a free mask, the city said on its website. The next offense carries a $50 fine, while a third offense costs $150. A fourth offense will carry a fine of $500 and a promise to appear in court, however the city won’t send unpaid fines to collection agencies. The fines are necessary because only a “heavy hand” can ensure compliance with the law, the Miami city manager said. (Miami Herald)


Stimulus checks lead to rash of overdoses in New Hampshire, Vermont

Vermont saw the number of non-fatal overdoses nearly double in March of this year, compared with March of last year, according to data from the Vermont Department of Health. The number of fatal overdoses also more than doubled, going up to nine and 17 for March and April of this year, from four and eight in March and April of 2019. New Hampshire saw an increase of roughly 30% in drug overdose deaths in April and May compared to the same months last year, according to preliminary data released by the New Hampshire chief medical examiner. There were 42 deaths in April and 45 in May, up from 32 in April and 35 in May of 2019. Those counts, which include both confirmed deaths and those pending toxicology, are also above the numbers for those months in 2018. While health officials are still digging through the data to identify trends, they are fairly certain the increases are a result of the impact of the pandemic and efforts to mitigate it, according to the director of the Vermont Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program at the state Department of Health. She pointed to fear, anxiety and depression tied to COVID-19 itself, but also to related job losses and financial challenges. It appears that some of the deaths were right after the person received a stimulus check. (Concord Monitor)


Japan awards first-ever ninja studies degree

A Japanese university has awarded the first-ever degree in ninja studies. A 45-year-old Masters student spent two years examining historical documents on the true nature of the stealth fighters while perfecting his martial arts skills. He also bought a wooden two-story house in Iga province, the birthplace of the ninja, and cultivated rice and vegetables on the land. “I read that ninjas worked as farmers in the morning and trained in martial arts in the afternoon. With this combination, I thought I could learn about the real ninja,” he said. The man was one of three students to enroll in the masters degree at Mie University’s International Ninja Research Center in spring 2018. He attended the graduate school three times a week and wrote a thesis on how ninja managed mountain forests in Iga between the 17th and 19th centuries. After completing his course in March, he moved on to a Phd program and hopes to connect visitors to the area with the local community. His professor described him as “a real role model for graduate students who study ninja” because of the way he blended in with the local community. The Professor also warned any prospective students that the course was aimed at learning about the ninja “not to become one”. Ninjas are believed to have originated in the early 14th century when feudal lords hired mercenary spies to infiltrate castles to obtain information. (The Independent)


Florida man melts down in crazed anti-mask town hall appearance: ‘I will not be muzzled like a mad dog’

Emotions ran high as a Florida county discussed mandating masks as COVID-19 surges in the state. One man blasted St. Lucie County commissioners for considering the rule. “We are being lied to, our freedoms are being taken forever and I will not be muzzled like a mad dog,” he shouted. “This is sick and you ought to be ashamed of yourself for being a part of this.“It’s time for us to stand up for our freedoms because if we stand back and let these pieces of crap handle our freedoms we’ll have nothing left — in fact, we’ll end up being dead,” the man predicted. Commissioners did not take action on the proposed rule and will continue the meeting next month. (CBS 12 News)


Topless hero saves family from drowning in Cornwall, England

A woman from Cornwall is being hailed a hero after saving a family from drowning while topless. The 28-year-old actress and singer from Penzance, United Kingdom was sunbathing on naturist beach Pedn Vounder, near Porthcurno when the drama happened. She said “It was just after 3pm and the tide was coming in. I decided to go for a final dip before going home. I was topless in the sea when I saw two young women struggling to swim near rocks. Another member of the family ran in to help them and she started struggling too. I swam towards them and thought ‘oh s**t’ as I realized how strong the rip current was. I was struggling myself and they were panicking, which wasn’t ideal in a situation like that.” The incident involved two sisters and a cousin. The actor and singer is a regular on the nudist beach and says people watching her rescue may have seen a lot more. “Fortunately, I’d just put my bikini bottoms on before it happened. It’s a classic – of course I was going to be topless when something like this happens!” She said the family were really grateful for her heroic actions and asked if she was a lifeguard. (Cornwall Live)


Facebook to label all rule-breaking posts – even the president’s

Facebook said that it will flag all “newsworthy” posts from politicians that break its rules, including those from President Donald Trump. Separately, Facebook’s stock dropped more than 8%, erasing roughly $50 billion from its market valuation, after the European company behind brands such as Ben & Jerry’s and Dove announced it would boycott Facebook ads through the end of the year over the amount of hate speech and divisive rhetoric on its platform. Coca-Cola also announced it joined the boycott for at least 30 days. CEO Mark Zuckerberg had previously refused to take action against Trump posts suggesting that mail-in ballots will lead to voter fraud, saying that people deserved to hear unfiltered statements from political leaders. Twitter, by contrast, slapped a “get the facts” label on them. (PBS)


Portland strippers march for equal scheduling of Black dancers

About 100 people gathered for the event, which marched along Southeast Stark Avenue in the Montavilla neighborhood past two strip clubs, Club 205 and The Venue Gentlemen’s Club. At least two of the protesters walked a mile and a half in platform stiletto heels. The lead coordinator with the Haymarket Pole Collective, which works to implement anti-discrimination policies in the adult industry, delivered letters of demands to both clubs. The protesters want all Portland clubs to provide cultural sensitivity training for employees and offer more equitable scheduling for dancers of color. Strippers are generally classified as independent contractors, which means they don’t qualify for the benefits and federal protections offered to employees. Laws that prevent “discrimination by a place of public accommodation” would apply even when there isn’t an employee/employer relationship. To date, 27 local clubs have agreed to the collective’s demands. Another 17 have not yet responded. (Oregon Live)


Las Vegas police plan $280 an hour fee for body cam footage

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department will soon charge the public $280 for every hour of body-worn camera footage. The increase from $192 per hour of video to $280, a fee hike of almost $100, goes live July 1st. The hefty public records price tag is tied to the raised salary of the department’s forensic multimedia analyst, the person who redacts, blurs and processes requested body-worn camera footage, according to a Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department spokesperson. The department is facing blowback from open-government advocates who say the fees are unreasonably high, undermine transparency and conflict with public records law.“This was an administrative decision,” the spokesperson said. (Reno Gazette Journal)


Tuesday Tips Over With:

  • Asteroid Day
  • California Avocado Day
  • Disabled Veterans Day
  • Leap Second Time Adjustment Day
  • Meteor Watch Day
  • NOW (National Organization For Women) Day
  • Outfit Of The Day Day
  • Social Media Day

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