Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Mysterious seeds sent from China to Utah

Over the past few weeks, people in Utah have been reporting mysterious packages they’ve been receiving in the mail from China. A woman who lives in Tooele, Utah said she was excited to find two small packages in her mailbox recently. Although most of the writing on the outside was in Chinese, the label indicated there would be earrings inside. “I opened them up and they were seeds,” she said. “Obviously they’re not jewelry!” She couldn’t understand why she would be receiving mislabeled seeds from China in the mail, but at first she didn’t think much of it. She posted about the strange incident on Facebook, where some of her friends reminded her plants and seeds are strictly regulated in Utah. An employee with the Utah Department of Agriculture picked up the seeds within a few hours of learning about the incident. The woman was surprised to learn the same thing has happened to “at least 40 people” who either publicly commented or privately responded to her post. Most of them live in Tooele. Now Culley wonders how many people might have been so curious about the seeds that they decided to plant them. There was an article that I found in the UK saying this has been happening over there, and they are bad seeds, they are invasive. Employees with the Utah Department of Agriculture encouraged anyone who received mysterious seeds in the mail to please give them a call so they can pick up the mail for further investigation. (Fox 13)


Groups push to remove proposed funding for nuclear testing

Deep within a multibillion-dollar defense spending measure pending in Congress is an apology to New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and other states affected by radiation from nuclear testing over the decades. But communities downwind from the first atomic test in the New Mexico desert on July 16, 1945, are still holding out for compensation for health effects that they say have been ongoing for generations due to fallout from the historic blast. The program currently covers workers who became sick as a result of the radiation hazards of their jobs and those who lived downwind of the Nevada Test Site. Those excluded from the program include residents downwind of the Trinity Site in New Mexico, additional downwinders in Nevada, veterans who cleaned up radioactive waste in the Marshall Islands and others. The discussions come as the New START treaty between the U.S. and Russia nears expiration in 2021. Russia has offered to extend the nuclear arms control agreement while the Trump administration has pushed for a new pact that would also include China. While the U.S. House has adopted language that would prohibit spending to conduct or make preparations for any live nuclear weapons tests, a group of senators has included $10 million for such an effort in that chamber’s version of the bill. The Union of Concerned Scientists, nuclear watchdogs and environmentalists all are pushing for the funding to be eliminated. They sent letters this week in opposition and plan to lobby lawmakers. (Star Tribune)


A thinking style that breeds success

Just about any recipe for success someone might offer usually includes a healthy dose of perseverance, and for good reason. But research from the National University of Singapore’s researchers suggests that grit, on its own, is not enough. We are more likely to achieve success when we adopt what some call a strategic mindset, the willingness to continually assess and reassess how we are pursuing our goals. When we think about how we are thinking, we are giving ourselves an opportunity to work more intelligently, not just harder. (BBC)


The key to office-free brainstorming

With employees working from home amid the pandemic, it’s time to rethink how we generate ideas as a group. With a few tweaks, a remote work setup may help us come up with better ideas than we would in person, according to researchers at the University of Texas at Austin. With everyone remote, you are free to include participants in other regions and time zones, increasing the potential for diverse thought. And you can use the distance as an advantage by encouraging participants to first develop ideas on their own or in small groups. That may help prevent the kind of group think that affects typical brainstorming efforts. (Harvard Business Review)


Keeping the urge to please in check

The pandemic has made clear how each of us approaches and responds to risk differently. While some may be up for in-person gatherings, for others it may simply be too soon. Those who need more time will need to resist the powerful urge to please, according to researchers. People pleasing may sound like a noble attribute, but it can have a dark side. Repeatedly saying yes to things we don’t want to do can build resentment and contribute to depression. To break the cycle, pay attention to how you feel when someone asks you to do something, and honor those feelings. It’s okay to disappoint others sometimes, and practice saying no with kindness when it makes sense. (The New York Times)


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the first COVID-19 test confirmed to detect asymptomatic cases and cases in those who don’t believe they’re infected

The move gets rid of the need for providers to weigh in risk factors like exposure when prescribing the test, and allows professionals to test pooled samples of up to five individual swabs at a time. The agency says the new broad screening could be a potential “gamechanger” in reopening schools and businesses, while also making it possible to receive results faster and conserving important testing supplies. The FDA reissued the emergency use authorization for the LabCorp Covid-19 RT-PCR test after it provided scientific proof the test could detect the virus in those without symptoms. A vaccine being developed by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and biotechnology company Moderna is expected to enter Phase 3 testing this week. (CNN)


President Trump signed four executive orders reducing the price of prescription drugs

The new measures allow for the import of some drugs from Canada. One order also mandates Medicare pay the same price for certain drugs given to patients in the hospital as part of Medicare Part B that other countries pay. Trump may not implement this last measure, however. The president is giving the pharmaceutical industry until August 24 to make a deal with him. The president will meet with pharmaceutical bosses this week. (CNBC)


The Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund and its partners report receiving an overwhelming number of donations from the public

“The response has been like nothing I’ve ever seen before,” said a communications director from Air Serv, a nonprofit charity working with the relief fund to move cargo and personnel by air. “We’re literally getting deliveries every day at all hours of the day from people sending supplies.” The initiative has raised over $5.6m in donations since March, including many from the Irish, who donated as a gesture of appreciation for the generosity showed by the Choctaw Nation during Ireland’s Great Famine in 1847. The relief fund aims to send Navajo and Hopi families in isolated and remote communities supplies such as water, sanitizers, portable hand washing stations, masks, face shields, diapers, and more they’d not have access to otherwise during the pandemic. (Navajo Times)


Walmart and others will still serve customers who refuse to wear masks, despite new rules

Walmart, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Walgreens, CVS and others say they still won’t prohibit customers who refuse to wear a mask from shopping in stores. The issue is they want to avoid confrontations between angry customers and employees. Retailers and their employees are finding themselves playing the uncomfortable role of mask police. The increase in coronavirus cases is prompting concern over how to protect both customers and workers in crowded stores from infecting each other. There is no federal mandate to wear a mask, and many state and local governments have not required wearing one. This has forced retailers to navigate a patchwork system and left them in the position of having to create their own policies. Labor advocates and retailers agree that store employees should not be the ones enforcing mask wearing. But it’s not clear who will fill the void. (CNN)


Zero Major League Soccer players have tested positive for COVID-19 within the league’s “bubble” since July 10

The last confirmed COVID-19 case found at the league’s Orlando tournament was a player for Sporting Kansas City, announced on that date. The league’s “MLS is Back Tournament” features 24 MLS teams and excludes FC Dallas and Nashville SC, which both experienced small COVID-19 breakouts amongst its players. The tournament is being played at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando. People living within the MLS bubble in Orlando are tested for COVID-19 every other day and are also mandated to follow certain preventive measures. MLS maintains the testing of athletes is not diverting from COVID-19 testing of essential workers, including health care personnel. (MLS Soccer)


KFC has expanded tests of its plant-based fried chicken, as other fast food chains explore more meatless offerings.

“Beyond Fried Chicken,” made with plant-based chicken from Beyond Meat, is now available in 50 Southern California KFC locations after tests in Atlanta, Charlotte, and Nashville. Just don’t expect the bone. KFC is selling Beyond Fried Chicken in fried nuggets. A six-piece nugget set will cost about $6.99. Other fast food chains, including Burger King and Carl’s Jr., have expanded plant-based offerings from Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat. KFC is working on launching a new chicken sandwich that will be 20% bigger than the fast food chain’s current offering. Fried chicken is a hot seller for fast food chains. Wendy’s invested $30 million dollars into its chicken supply chain, while restaurants look for supplies of the right chicken breasts for their boneless sandwiches and strips. (Yum.com)


Remote work’s downsides emerge

Downsides are starting to creep up as working from home starts losing its novelty four months into the pandemic. Various executives in IT, tech, and other industries who say logistical challenges are making projects take longer, hiring and onboarding new hires is tougher and some employers say workers are starting to seem less connected. One also warned that as remote work continues and unemployment stays high, “fear-driven productivity is not sustainable.” They also fear innovation will suffer without the potential for spontaneous, face-to-face interactions. (The Wall Street Journal)


Pandemic exposes holes in US internet

Workers and students across the U.S. have been forced to go remote during the pandemic, but millions lack broadband access due to a combination of affordability concerns and a lack of infrastructure. Meanwhile, U.S. internet customers are paying more for worse connections compared to Europe and Asia, according to a recent report from the institute. What could help fill this gap? It’s believed that setting up municipal networks, internet access offered by local government, and strengthening federal programs to make broadband access more affordable could go a long way. (New America)


Tuesday Comes With:

  • Buffalo Soldiers Day
  • Milk Chocolate Day
  • Parents’ Day (4th Sunday)
  • Waterpark Day
  • World Hepatitis Day

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