Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Homeowners association tells Florida man to take down Blue Lives Matter flag

A 25-year veteran of the Pasco County, Florida Sheriff’s office has found himself in a position where he feels he must break the law. More specifically, a by-law for his community association. His family lives in the Foxwood subdivision in New Port Richey, Florida. It’s a deed-restricted community where lawns are neatly mowed and cars are parked in garages, but his garage flies a blue lives matter flag, the homeowners association recently told him he had to take it down. The flag looks just like an American flag with the exception of black stripes and a blue stripe for law enforcement and a red stripe for firefighters. “People don’t really understand that flag. It’s nothing to do with police,” he said. “It’s police that have been killed. The meaning of the flag is to support police that have been killed. Not police that are active right now working.” He says a number of neighbors have weighed in and support his right to fly the flag. He says he has no intention of removing it. “I’m not taking it down. It’s something I’ve worked for for 25 years and I believe in, so, and it’s definitely not racist, it’s definitely not hatred,” he said. “It’s a tribute to law enforcement officers and firefighters who died.” (WFLA)


China rises, even amid pandemic

Not even a pandemic can keep China’s manufacturing down. It accounts for 28% of global manufacturing, rivaling the output of the U.S., Japan and Germany combined. China has a huge range of factory operations, from low to high-tech. And setting up shop there gives companies better access to its large customer base. Also, China faced the COVID-19 crisis earlier than other nations, giving it a head start on returning to business. It’s not all sunshine, though: Rising labor costs and a desire to avoid U.S.-China tensions is sending some firms elsewhere. (The Economist)


Green sand to fight climate change

Researchers from San Francisco-based Project Vesta are looking to see if a volcanic mineral called olivine could play a key role in fighting climate change. The nonprofit is looking to spread these minerals off of a Caribbean shoreline to see if olivine sucks emissions out of the air as waves break it down. This kind of rock-based carbon capture could remove hundreds of trillions of tons of CO2, according to MIT Technology Review. It’s early days, though: As of now, some researchers say the energy spent to grind these minerals down doesn’t cancel out whatever environmental benefits the process yields. (Technology Review)


Iran issues arrest warrant for President Trump over killing of top general

Iran has issued an arrest warrant and asked Interpol for help in detaining President Donald Trump and dozens of others it believes carried out the U.S. drone strike that killed a top Iranian general in Baghdad, an Iranian prosecutor said. While Trump faces no danger of arrest, the charges underscore the heightened tensions between Iran and the United States since Trump unilaterally withdrew America from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers. The Tehran prosecutor said President Trump and more than 30 others whom Iran accuses of involvement in the January 3rd strike that killed General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad face “murder and terrorism charges”. Although the prosecutor did not identify anyone else sought other than President Trump, but stressed that Iran would continue to pursue his prosecution even after his presidency ends. (Reuters)


Postal worker caught on camera dumping Sheriff campaign fliers

Fort Bend County, Texas Sheriff says an unidentified postal worker threw away a bundle of his campaign mailers fliers. The Sheriff says he learned of the incident from a business owner who called him. The business owner showed the Sheriff the video footage in which a postal worker can be seen throwing an object in the dumpster behind a building. The owner said when he went to go retrieve what was thrown away, he found the reelection campaign fliers. In the video, the driver is seen pulling up to the dumpster, getting out and throwing something in the trash. The person attempted to hide the mailers before discarding them. Within minutes, the Sheriff said he visited the business to retrieve the mailers. He expressed disappointment about the incident and believes the person infringed on his first amendment rights. He said he filed a report with the Fort Bend County Sheriffs’ Office. He is also said he will speak with a U.S. Postal inspector about opening an investigation. (Click 2 Houston)


Montana man arrested after toppling religious monument

Police in northwestern Montana say a man was arrested on a felony criminal mischief charge after he pulled down a Ten Commandments monument using a chain and pickup truck. The 30-year-old Columbia Falls, Montana man reportedly wrapped a chain around the religious monument on the Flathead County courthouse grounds recently. He then attached the chain to his truck and pulled the monument into the street, the Kalispell Police Department announced. The man then reportedly removed the chain, got back into the truck and left the scene. A suspect was later arrested after police located the truck allegedly used in the act. Police say they do not know why the suspect allegedly took down the monument. (ABC News)


Supreme Court hands down major decision reaffirming abortion rights

The Supreme Court announced a major ruling on abortion, deciding that the Louisiana law is unconstitutional and should not stand. The case, June Medical Services v. Russo, was a challenge to a Louisiana law that required abortion providers have admitting privileges with a nearby hospital, an agreement between a doctor and a hospital that allows a patient to go that hospital if they need urgent care. Abortion providers argued this was an unnecessary requirement unrelated to health outcomes that only served to prevent them from being able to provide abortion care. Admitting privileges can be difficult for abortion providers to obtain as hospitals do not want to be associated with them due to the stigma and as abortion is a statistically safe procedure, requiring extremely limited numbers of patients to have to go to hospitals for care. (Yahoo News)


Facebook ad boycott campaign to go global

Organizers of a Facebook advertising boycott campaign that has drawn support from a rapidly expanding list of major companies are now preparing to take the battle global to increase pressure on the social media company to remove hate speech. The “Stop Hate for Profit” campaign will begin calling on major companies in Europe to join the boycott. Since the campaign launched earlier this month, more than 160 companies, including Verizon Communications and Unilever, have signed on to stop buying ads on the world’s largest social media platform for the month of July. The global campaign will proceed as organizers continue to urge more U.S. companies to participate. Responding to demands for more action, Facebook acknowledged it has more work to do and is teaming up with civil rights groups and experts to develop more tools to fight hate speech. Facebook said its investments in artificial intelligence have allowed it to find 90% of hate speech before users report it. Expanding the campaign outside the United States will take a bigger slice off of Facebook’s advertising revenue but is not likely have major financial impact. (Reuters)


A bear in Italy has been sentenced to death after attacking hikers

Animal rights groups in Italy are calling on authorities to lift a death sentence on a brown bear that attacked a father and son last week on a hiking trail in the northern region of Trentino. A 59-year-old man and his 28-year-old son were hiking on a path on Mount Peller when they say the bear leaped into their path. The bear bit the son’s leg before his father jumped on the animal’s back so he could escape. The bear then bit and swiped at the older man, breaking his leg in three places. The son jumped up and down and clapped his hands to distract the bear from his father before the animal ran off into the woods. Italy’s National Institute for Environmental Protection and Research regulations call for bears that attack humans to be euthanized. After the attack, Trentino governor signed a cull order allowing for the capture and kill of the bear, which authorities are trying to identify through DNA garnered from saliva and fur left in the claw and bite wounds and on the father’s and son’s clothing. There have been a number of bear attacks in the region in recent years, and local authorities have a database of bear DNA collected from feces, fur and saliva. Surveillance cameras are used to match the DNA to the animals. (CNN)


Bishop arrested for raping women to ‘cast out demons’ offered $2m bail

A 56-year- old bishop and businessman from St Catherine who has been charged with rape following allegations that he tricked two female visitors to his church to have sex with him, claiming that the act was necessary to cast demons out of the women has been granted bail. The police said the clergyman he was charged with rape and obtaining money by false pretense after he allegedly also tricked the females into paying him to cover costs associated with the arrangements for the act. The allegations are that the bishop, between 2014 and 2018 had sex with two of the women in his congregation on the basis that they were possessed of demons and needed healing of a special kind. The bishop was offered bail in the amount of $2 million and ordered to suspend all preaching activities until the determination of the matter. He is set to return to court on July 15, 2020. (Loop Jamaica)


CDC readying guidance on elevators

Employers, office building managers and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are all drafting new guidance to keep elevator rides from becoming a breeding ground for coronavirus infections. Some companies are hiring “elevator consultants” to figure how to get thousands of high-rise workers to their desks safely. One member of the group developing the CDC’s guidance says the recommendations will include masks, urging people to “not talk unless you have to” and limiting the number of riders, though it won’t specify a number. (The New York Times)


Activists have removed 103 tons of fishing nets and consumer plastics from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Ocean Voyages uses GPS to identify areas where plastic debris, including fishing nets, gather. Discarded fishing nets are a major threat to ocean life because they often entangle animals including whales, dolphins, turtles, and seals. The company said it will send all the debris it has collected to recyclers so that it is turned into insulation material or used to produce energy. Halfway between Hawaii and California, the GPGP covers an area twice the size of Texas and contains the largest accumulation of plastic waste in the world’s oceans. (Good News Network)


A new model found that about 14.6 million homes and other structures face a 1% annual risk of flooding in the United States

The analysis includes 40% more structures than those estimated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The latest analysis by First Street – a collaboration with dozens of engineers and scientists  – indicates that due to climate change, a further 1.6 million properties will face a 1% annual risk of flooding by 2050. The 1% is the federal government threshold to determine which homeowners are required to purchase flood insurance. Local and county planners also use the threshold to determine which areas are safe to develop. Experts say that number equates to a 1-in-4 chance of flooding over the course of a 30-year mortgage. Based on FEMA estimates, local authorities have implemented flood-readiness programs that have avoided $100b in losses over the past 40 years, a FEMA official said. First Street’s analysis indicates that Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York are the cities with the most properties at risk of flooding. (USA Today)


Wednesday Blows Up With:

  • Canada Day
  • Creative Ice Cream Flavors Day
  • Estee Lauder Day
  • Gingersnap Day
  • Medicare’s Birthday
  • National Deep Fried Clams Day
  • National GSA Employee Day
  • National Postal Workers Day
  • Resolution Renewal Day
  • U.S. Postage Stamp Day
  • Zip Code Day

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