Thursday, July 16, 2020

1st COVID-19 vaccine in US boosted immune systems; headed to final test stage

The first COVID-19 vaccine tested in the U.S. revved up people’s immune systems just the way scientists had hoped, researchers reported as the shots are poised to begin key final testing. The experimental vaccine, which is being developed by Dr. Fauci’s colleagues at the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., will start a 30,000-person study to prove if the shots really are strong enough to protect against the coronavirus around July 27th. There’s no guarantee but the government hopes to have results around the end of the year — record-setting speed for developing a vaccine. The vaccine requires two doses, a month apart. There were no serious side effects. But more than half the study participants reported flu-like reactions to the shots that aren’t uncommon with other vaccines — fatigue, headache, chills, fever and pain at the injection site. For three participants given the highest dose, those reactions were more severe; that dose isn’t being pursued. (WFAA)



Man charged after used condoms tied to 9 parked cars

A 74-year-old man in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada is facing more than a dozen charges relating to women discovering used condoms tied to their cars in parking lots in that city over the past two years. Peel Regional Police say that starting in July 2018, women began reporting finding used condoms tied to their vehicles in various shopping centers. To date, nine women have come forward. After an investigation, police said a suspect was arrested and charged with 11 counts of mischief, two counts of criminal harassment, one count of committing an indecent act and one count of voyeurism. Investigators say they believe there are other incidents that have occurred in other cities. (CP 24)


Walmart announced that it will require face masks at all of its stores to limit the spread of the coronavirus

The rule takes effect Monday, July 20th, the Arkansas-based company said in a news release. Masks will also be required at Sam’s Club stores. Complimentary masks will be provided or shoppers can purchase them. “While we’re certainly not the first business to require face coverings, we know this is a simple step everyone can take for their safety and the safety of others in our facilities,” the release says. Stores will post signs informing shoppers about the rule and station a “health ambassador” near the entrance to remind shoppers about the requirement. All stores will have a single entrance. The company said there will be exceptions for shoppers who are unable to wear a mask. (KTUL)


Minimum wage workers cannot afford rent in any U.S. state

Full-time minimum wage workers cannot afford a two-bedroom rental anywhere in the U.S. and cannot afford a one-bedroom rental in 95% of U.S. counties, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s annual “Out of Reach” report. The average minimum wage worker in the U.S. would need to work almost 97 hours per week to afford a fair market rate two-bedroom and 79 hours per week to afford a one-bedroom, NLIHC calculates. That’s well over two full-time jobs just to be able to afford a two-bedroom rental. The report defines “affordable” as spending no more than 30% of monthly income on rent, in line with what most budgeting experts recommend. Nationally, NLIHC puts the “housing wage” for 2020 or what a full-time worker must make in order to afford a fair market rental without spending more than 30% of his or her income at $23.96 per hour for a two-bedroom rental and $19.56 per hour for a one-bedroom. That means even the average hourly worker who earns $18.22 per hour cannot afford rent, the report says. (CNBC)


Man arrested after squabble over TV remote

A 51-year-old man in Ocala, Florida was arrested recently after he reportedly struck a woman twice during an argument over the TV remote control. The victim told a Marion County sheriff’s deputy she was walking away from the man when he struck her on the right side of her head. She couldn’t say for sure whether he hit her with a closed fist or an open hand. The victim said she tried to strike him in self-defense when he struck her again on the right side of her torso, according to the sheriff’s office report. The victim had a visible injury on the right side of her head. Marion County Fire Rescue responded to the incident location and evaluated the injury. The victim refused to go to the hospital and was cleared by medics, the report said. The man was charged with domestic battery and taken to the Marion County Jail, where he was being held on $1,000 bond. He is scheduled to appear in Marion County Court on August 5th. (Ocala News)


Video shows man trying to break into 55 vehicles

A 29-year-old man in Winter Haven, Florida is facing felony burglary charges after he attempted to gain entry to 55 vehicles parked outside an apartment complex, according to the Winter Haven Police Department. The suspect was arrested after a manager at an apartment building reported seeing a suspect rummaging through vehicles in the parking lot of the complex, WHPD spokeswoman said. Officers arrived and located a suspect walking near the complex’s pool. As they approached him, he tried to hide in the shadows while he dropped a large black bag and attempted to remove his gloves. Officers said they heard a thud and the sound of rattling change as the bag dropped. The manager confirmed the clothing matched what she had seen the suspect wearing, and video footage showed him try to enter 55 vehicles, she said. He successfully entered nine of those, she added. In the video, he was wearing a mask and gloves in order to conceal his identity, which allowed for the charges to be enhanced from third-degree felonies to second-degree felonies, a police spokesperson said. Inside the dropped bag, officers found property that had been taken from the burglarized vehicles and the items were returned to their rightful owners, police said. The suspect was arrested on three felony charges of burglary of an unoccupied conveyance and two misdemeanor charges of petit theft. (The Ledger)


A squirrel in Colorado has tested positive for the bubonic plague

The squirrel tested positive on July 11 in the town of Morrison, Colorado marking the first case of plague in the county this year, according to a news release from the Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) department. The disease has been around for centuries and is responsible for the deadliest pandemic in human history. An estimated 50 million people in Europe died during the Black Death pandemic of the Middle Ages. JCPH warns the public that it can infect both humans and animals if proper precautions are not taken. The disease can be transmitted from flea bites and infected animals. While modern antibiotics can prevent complications and death if treated quickly enough, it’s still a major threat to both humans and animals. The disease can cause painful, swollen lymph nodes. Fever, chills and coughing are also symptoms humans can experience. (Jefferson County Public Health Department)


‘Jaw-dropping’ global crash in children being born

Falling fertility rates mean nearly every country could have shrinking populations by the end of the century. And 23 nations, including Spain and Japan, are expected to see their populations halve by 2100. Countries will also age dramatically, with as many people turning 80 as there are being born. The fertility rate is the average number of children a woman gives birth to and research shows it is falling. If the number falls below approximately 2.1, then the size of the population starts to fall. To put it in perspective, in 1950, women were having an average of 4.7 children in their lifetime. Researchers at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation showed the global fertility rate nearly halved to 2.4 in 2017 and their study projects it will fall below 1.7 by 2100. It has nothing to do with sperm counts or the usual things that come to mind when discussing fertility. Instead it is being driven by more women in education and work, as well as greater access to contraception, leading to women choosing to have fewer children. Countries that are expected to be most affected include:

  • Japan’s population is projected to fall from a peak of 128 million in 2017 to less than 53 million by the end of the century.
  • Italy is expected to see an equally dramatic population crash from 61 million to 28 million over the same time frame.
  • Spain, Portugal, Thailand and South Korea are expected to see their population more than halve.
  • China, currently the most populous nation in the world, is expected to peak at 1.4 billion in four years time before nearly halving to 732 million by 2100. India will take its place.
  • The UK is predicted to peak at 75 million in 2063, and fall to 71 million by 2100.



Kanye West reportedly drops out of 2020 US presidential race

Kanye West has reportedly dropped out of the 2020 US presidential race almost as suddenly as his announcement that he was making a bid for the White House. According to a report by a member of the celebrity rapper’s campaign team, has confirmed “he’s out” of the 2020 race. Kanye West, a conservative Republican and vocal Trump supporter, made headlines on July 4th Independence Day by announcing he was throwing his hat in the ring. On the morning of July 9, it was reported that his family was concerned that the billionaire rapper was suffering a bipolar episode based on his presidential aspirations. His campaign had been serious and about 180 staff working for the rapper in Florida would now have to be laid off. According to a recent presidential poll, Kanye West had support from just two per cent of American voters. (Intelligencer)


Floyd family to announce lawsuit against Minneapolis

George Floyd’s family filed a lawsuit against the city of Minneapolis and the four police officers charged in his death, alleging the officers violated Floyd’s rights when they restrained him and that the city allowed a culture of excessive force, racism and impunity to flourish in its police force. The civil rights lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Minnesota, was announced by lawyers representing Floyd’s family members. “This complaint shows what we have said all along, that Mr. Floyd died because the weight of the entire Minneapolis Police Department was on his neck,” they said in a statement. “The City of Minneapolis has a history of policies, procedures and deliberate indifference that violates the rights of arrestees, particularly Black men, and highlights the need for officer training and discipline.” George Floyd, a Black man who was handcuffed, died May 25 after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes as Floyd said he couldn’t breathe. Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter. Three other officers at the scene, Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Kueng, are charged with aiding and abetting both second-degree murder and manslaughter. They family lawyers said the lawsuit seeks to set a precedent “that makes it financially prohibitive for police to wrongfully kill marginalized people — especially Black people — in the future.” (Associated Press)


Travel bans hit global business

To the detriment of not just the tourism industry but other businesses as well several countries, including the United States have blocked travelers from visiting in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus. Because of this, about $5.5 trillion of the global economy and nearly 200 million jobs related to travel are at risk. Executives are unable to meet with potential clients, while some companies struggle without the foreign expertise they usually rely on. Businesses that depend on travel say they need a clearer timetable for reopening borders. (The Wall Street Journal)


NBCUniversal starts streaming

NBCUniversal’s new streaming platform, Peacock, launches across the United States as it looks to compete with Netflix, Disney+ and HBO Max. The new Comcast-owned offering, which joins the streaming wars long after its rivals, “looks a whole lot like broadcast TV.” The free version of Peacock includes commercials and the ability to channel-surf, and is designed to mostly generate revenue from advertising, rather than subscriptions. That may help it compete with pricier rivals, though premium versions are also available. That may help it compete with pricier rivals, though premium versions are also available. However, it is not available on Roku or Amazon. (CNET)


US backs down on foreign student ban

The Trump administration has dropped its plan to strip visas from international students if their coursework takes place entirely online this fall. The policy, announced July 6, sparked a flurry of litigation including a lawsuit filed by Harvard and MIT. More than 200 schools backed suits to stop implementation of new guidelines, which threatened to impact tens of thousands of international students. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia also sued the Trump administration, and major tech companies including Google and Facebook threw support behind Harvard and MIT. (CNBC)


Thursday Slurps In With:

  • Corn Fritters Day
  • Get to Know Your Customers Day (Third Thursday of Each Quarter)
  • Guinea Pig Day
  • Personal Chef’s Day
  • World Snake Day

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