Monday, August 3, 2020

Quarter of native UK mammals at imminent risk of extinction

A quarter of Britain’s native mammals are “at imminent risk of extinction”, according to the scientists who have compiled the nation’s first official Red List of endangered species. The 11 mammals include creatures of the mountains, woodlands and rivers, such as the wildcat, red squirrel, water vole, hazel dormouse and hedgehog. The list has been approved by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), using the same robust and internationally agreed rules behind the global Red Lists of threatened species such as elephants and tigers. It has been produced for the official nature agencies of England, Scotland and Wales. The destruction of natural habitat, alien invasive species and historic persecution are the main causes of the wildlife declines. There is not enough data on four other mammals, including the wild boar and whiskered bat, to make an assessment. (The Guardian)


With 5G Rollout Lagging, Research Looks Ahead to 6G

Amid a 5G rollout that has faced its fair share of challenges, it might seem somewhat premature to start looking ahead at 6G, the next generation of mobile communications. But 6G development is happening now, and it’s being pursued in earnest by both industry and academia. The foundational difference between 5G and 6G networks will be the increased role that intelligence will play in 6G networks. It will go beyond merely classification and prediction tasks as is the case in legacy and/or 5G systems. While machine-learning-driven networks are now still in their infancy, they will likely represent a fundamental component of the 6G ecosystem, which will shift towards a fully-user-centric architecture where end terminals will be able to make autonomous network decisions without supervision from centralized controllers. This decentralization of control will enable sub-millisecond latency as required by several 6G services (which is below the already challenging 1-millisecond requirement of emerging 5G systems). This is expected to yield more responsive network management. To achieve this new kind of performance, the underlying technologies of 6G will be fundamentally different from 5G. According to a researcher at the University of Padua, even though 5G networks have been designed to operate at extremely high frequencies in the millimeter-wave bands, 6G will exploit even higher-spectrum technologies—terahertz and optical communications being two examples. 6G will have a new cell-less network architecture that is a clear departure from current mobile network designs. The cell-less paradigm can promote seamless mobility support, targeting interruption-free communication during handovers, and can provide quality of service (QoS) guarantees that are in line with the most challenging mobility requirements envisioned for 6G. (IEEE Spectrum)


McDonald’s worker refused to let pregnant customer use bathroom because she paid with coupon

A mother-to-be in England claims that a McDonald’s employee wouldn’t let her use the bathroom, despite the fact that she was a customer. The worker apparently had a problem with the way which she paid. The woman said that she used a loyalty card to pay for her cup of coffee that day. In order to earn the free cup of coffee, she had to purchase 12 cups of coffee prior to that day. When she asked to use the restaurant’s bathroom, however, she was denied because the McDonald’s worker said she hadn’t paid for her drink with “real money.” According to her, this is the first time something like this has happened to her while pregnant. Fortunately, she was able to make it to a nearby café and use their bathroom. A spokesperson for McDonald’s said, “We sincerely apologize to the customer in question for their experience, and are disappointed that our customer services fell below the standards we would expect on this occasion. Incorrect guidance was unintentionally provided, and the restaurant team have been reminded of our policies to help prevent this happening in the future.” (The Sun)


Sarsen stones origin mystery solved

A test of the meter-long core was matched with a geochemical study of the standing megaliths. Archaeologists pinpointed the source of the stones to an area 15 miles north of the site near Marlborough. The seven-meter tall sarsens, which weigh about 20 tons, form all fifteen stones of Stonehenge’s central horseshoe, the uprights and lintels of the outer circle, as well as outlying stones. The monument’s smaller bluestones have been traced to the Preseli Hills in Wales, but the sarsens had been impossible to identify until now. The return of the core, which was removed during archaeological excavations in 1958, enabled archaeologists to analyse its chemical composition. No-one knew where it was until the person who was involved in those works, decided to return part of it last year. Researchers first carried out x-ray fluorescence testing of all the remaining sarsens at Stonehenge which revealed most shared a similar chemistry and came from the same area. They then analysed sarsen outcrops from Norfolk to Devon and compared their chemical composition with the chemistry of a piece of the returned core. (BBC)


Harvard researchers figure out why coronavirus causes loss of smell

Researchers at Harvard Medical School say they’ve discovered why some people infected with the coronavirus lose their sense of smell. The symptom, called “anosmia” by doctors, is one of the earliest and most commonly reported indicators of the virus. Some studies suggest it could actually be a better way to predict whether has the disease than other well-known symptoms like fever and cough. But, until now, scientists had been baffled by exactly how some patients were being robbed of their senses. The researchers set out to better understand how smell is altered in coronavirus patients by pinpointing the cell types most vulnerable to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Through their analysis of various datasets, they found that it attacks cells that support the olfactory sensory neurons, which detect and transmit the sense of smell to the brain. “Our findings indicate that the novel coronavirus changes the sense of smell in patients not by directly infecting neurons but by affecting the function of supporting cells,” said Sandeep Robert Datta, a neurobiology professor at Harvard Medical School and co-author on the paper. That means the virus is unlikely to cause permanent damage to olfactory neural circuits, meaning patients can recover their sense of smell, the scientists said. (The New York Post)


Google wants Samsung to kill Bixby, Galaxy App Store

Google is pushing Samsung to back away from its duplicate Android ecosystem and promote Google apps instead. A “correspondence” between the two companies was seen by both sites, which saw Google push Samsung to promote the Play Store and Google Assistant over the Galaxy App Store and Samsung’s Bixby assistant. Google was apparently willing to open its wallet and pay Samsung to make it happen. the deal “would promote Google’s digital assistant and Play Store for apps on [Samsung] devices.” Samsung is “considering dropping its Bixby virtual assistant and Galaxy Apps Store from its mobile devices.” Reuters goes on to say that “Google is dangling more lucrative terms for Samsung than in previous deals if it retreats from its app strategy.” Part of Google’s immense web of Android protection is sharing ad revenue and Play Store app revenue with phone manufacturers, and offering Samsung a higher share is an easy way to bribe the South Korean company into submission. (Arstechnica)


New York Man Fakes Death To Avoid Jail But Typo Gives Him Away

A 25-year-old Long Island, New York criminal defendant tried faking his death to avoid a jail sentence, but the phony death certificate his lawyer submitted had a glaring spelling error that made it a dead giveaway for a fraud, prosecutors said. The man now faces up to four years in prison if convicted in the alleged scheme. That’s in addition to pending sentences for earlier guilty pleas to charges of possession of a stolen Lexus and attempted grand larceny of a truck, which is punishment prosecutors say he was looking to avoid. Arraigned by video recently because of the coronavirus pandemic, the man pleaded not guilty to a single count of offering a false instrument for filing. A judge set bail at $1 but ordered the man back to jail because of his underlying cases. A public defender took over the man’s case after the lawyer who submitted the suspicious death certificate claimed he’d been used as a pawn and had nothing to do with the alleged shenanigans. At first glance, the man’s purported death certificate looked like an official document issued by the New Jersey Department of Health, Vital Statistics and Registry, but the problem: the word, Registry, was spelled “Regsitry,” prosecutors said. There were also inconsistencies in the font type and size that raised suspicions, they said. The real New Jersey Department of Health, Vital Statistics and Registry confirmed that the man’s death certificate was a fake, prosecutors said. While supposedly dead, he’d been arrested in suburban Philadelphia on charges including allegations he provided a false identity to law enforcement and stole from a Catholic college. He was sentenced in January to up to a year in jail, according to Pennsylvania court records. (The Huffington Post)


Man gets six months for AFA threats

A Florida man will spend six months in a federal prison for threatening to kill anyone associated with the American Family Association last summer. On May 22, 2019, a 21-year-old man, of Pompano Beach, Florida, posted a pair of threatening messages on the AFA Facebook page. According to court documents, the posts said “i am coming to tupelo unexpected with a group of people and we are going to kill every single person who runs your group,” and “you are the most disgusting people in america. i have put together a group to have you pieces of [expletive] obliterated into dust. yes, i literally mean killing all of you. you people are nothing but disgusting, worn out, and old excuses of human life.” A federal grand jury in the Northern District of Mississippi indicted the man last summer for the criminal threats. Instead of coming to Northeast Mississippi to face the charge, the man was allowed to plead guilty to those charges in a Florida District Court, under a rule that allows a defendant to plead guilty to charges in the district where they reside, if all parties agree. He pleaded guilty on November 27, 2019 but sentencing was delayed. U.S. District Judge in the Middle District of Florida sentenced the man to six months incarceration on July 20th. He was ordered to report to prison to begin serving his sentence, which will be followed by three years probation. He was also ordered to pay $1,440 in restitution for costs the American Family Association incurred to protect its employees after the threat. As a part of the sentence, he must also participate in drug and mental health treatment and perform 400 hours of community service in lieu of a fine. (Daily Journal)


A Florida man faces felony charges after he pulled a gun from his waistband and leveled it at a fellow Walmart shopper during an argument over face masks

A 28-year-old man was charged with aggravated assault with a firearm and improper exhibition of a firearm and arrested recently after turning himself in, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office officials report. A widely circulated video showed the man on July 12 arguing with another man in the electronics department of the Walmart. In the video, he is seen pulling a gun from his waistband and waving it at the other man. Prompted by reports that the argument was mask-related, the story quickly went viral after Sheriff’s officials shared surveillance images of the man and asked for help to identify him. (USA Today)


Man Walks Around In Giant Plastic Bubble Amid Pandemic

A video, filmed in the suburb of Belgrave, Australia, near Melbourne, shows a man walking around in a giant plastic bubble amid the coronavirus pandemic. This bubble is only the latest in the long line of weird things that people have been using to minimize human contact and maintain social distancing amid the pandemic. The video was shared on Facebook by an onlooker, who thanked the man for spreading a bit of cheer in difficult times. It shows the man wandering the streets in his bizarre protective gear and singing “I’m the man in the bubble!” Some commenters were saying that they would be doing this if they could too. (NDTV)


Man claims to be health inspector, demands drink or will shut down bar

Officers were dispatched to Earl’s Hideaway Lounge in Sebastian, Florida recently about a 27-year-old man causing a disturbance after the bar was closed. When the manager advised the business was closed, “the subject began arguing with [the manager] and stated he was a health inspector and that he would shut the business down if he didn’t receive a drink,” the officer said. When the manager gave another command for the subject to leave the business, the man continued to argue and stated his father was the Chief of Police at Palm Bay Police Department. “At one point, the subject dared [the manager] to hit him so he could close the business down,” the affidavit said. The manager then called the Sebastian Police Department for assistance. When officers arrived, they found the subject standing in the parking lot and yelling something towards a business employee. The officers also said there was a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage emitting whenever the man spoke. Police repeatedly asked the man to leave, but he continued to argue. “The defendant stated his father also owned Earl’s Hideaway and that he was allowed to be on the property. The defendant began raising his voice and getting louder. The defendant was given a last warning to leave the premises by finding a ride home but the defendant again stated he was calling the Palm Bay Police Chief,” police said. While being detained, a struggle between two officers and subject ensued. The man yelled, “you are not taking me to jail!” Finally, the man was arrested for trespassing and resisting arrest without violence. He was transported to the Indian River County Jail, where his bond was set at $1,000. (Sebastian Daily)


Economy contracts at record pace

The U.S. economy shrank at an unprecedented annualized rate of 32.9% in the second quarter, as businesses shut down amid the pandemic and then began to reopen. The Commerce Department said that, from April through June, gross domestic product contracted 9.5%, a rate extrapolated to almost 33% for the year, the fastest pace on record and comparable only to events such as the demobilization following World War II in its severity. (Morning Star)


An ‘impossible situation’ for colleges

Colleges are still scrambling to figure out what to do this fall. Despite a hodgepodge of announced strategies for the upcoming term, more schools are going back to the drawing board as the virus re-surges. A recent survey revealed at least 6,300 virus cases linked to colleges so far, and that’s likely an under-count. It’s an “impossible situation” for decision-makers as the virus threatens the well-being of millions of students, faculty and staff in addition to billions of dollars in revenue. (The New York Times)


Monday Blows In Like The Wind With:

  • Friendship Day
  • Georgia Day
  • Grab Some Nuts Day
  • Watermelon Day

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