Thursday, August 20, 2020

300 Pizza Huts, mostly dine-in locations, to close

Pizza sales have exploded during the pandemic. Domino’s last month reported a 30% spike in quarterly profits. It said that it was hiring more than 20,000 people to handle surging orders. Franchisee NPC International, who owns 1,225 Pizza Huts and 385 Wendy’s restaurants in 27 states, said in documents filed in bankruptcy court that it had come to an agreement with Pizza Hut to close hundreds of locations after filing for bankruptcy protection last month. In its filing, NPC said that closing stores not designed for pick-up or delivery will allow it to invest in smaller stores that can better handle online orders. In May, Pizza Hut’s U.S. carryout and delivery sales reached an eight-year high, according to Yum Brands Inc., the Louisville, Kentucky, company that also owns KFC and Taco Bell. Pizza Hut’s U.S. system-wide sales grew just 1% in the April-June period; rival Domino’s Pizza, which has smaller, carryout-focused stores, posted a 20% jump in U.S. sales. There are currently 7,000 Pizza Hut restaurants in the United States. (WLBT)


The WHO said that younger adults are increasingly to blame for the spread of coronavirus

The organization said that many people between the ages of 20 and 40 do not show symptoms when infected, and are therefore more likely to spread the virus to vulnerable populations. A surge in new cases has prompted many countries to reimpose social restrictions. Worldwide, more than 22 million people have been infected with the virus, and approximately 770,000 have died. U.S. drug company Novavax has started a mid-stage human trial for a potential coronavirus vaccine. Novavax, which plans to carry out more trials in Australia and the U.S., said that the vaccine could potentially be ready by December. Last weekend, thousands of people gathered for a music festival in Wuhan, the Chinese city where coronavirus first emerged. (Reuters)


A Welsh police dog tracked down a missing mother and baby on his very first shift

After receiving a call reporting a missing woman and child, Welsh police launched a search mission and found the woman’s car on a remote mountain road. It was then that Max, a two-year-old mixed German Shepherd, began leading a search party in an area that included woodlands and a reservoir. Within 90 minutes, Max led officers to a steep ravine where the missing woman was waving for help. The woman and her child were found safe but cold. (Good News Network)


California faces power shortages amid a severe heatwave that is boosting demand for energy to cool homes

The state’s power grid operator warned that it may have to leave millions of customers without power for up to two hours at a time due to a surge in demand for energy. California customers have been asked to reduce energy use, especially during peak hours. Temperatures reached over 100°F in many parts of California. Governor Gavin Newsom has ordered state agencies to investigate the blackouts and signed an order allowing utilities to use backup generation sources. (Associated Press)


Amazon plans to create 3,500 new jobs in six U.S. cities

The company will invest $1.4b to expand operations in Dallas, Detroit, Denver, New York, Phoenix, and San Diego. It plans to hire software engineers, data scientists, product managers, and user experience designers. The new hires will work in different business units, including Alexa, Amazon Advertising, Amazon Fashion, OpsTech, and Amazon Fresh. Amazon said that it plans to open a new 630,000 square foot office in Manhattan. About 60% of all the new jobs will be based in New York. In addition, the tech giant said it is currently hiring for 20,000 positions in the United States. Amazon expects to make between $87b and $93b in net sales in the third quarter, representing a 24% to 33% increase versus the same period last year. It made nearly $89b in revenue in the second quarter, a 40% year-on-year increase. (CNET)


A phone number with five 8s in a row sold for $325,000 at auction in China

The 8 is considered a lucky number in China and is associated with wealth and fortune. Owning a phone number with a string of 8s is a status symbol and the reason why the auction attracted some 5,000 bids. Many numbers are considered auspicious in China. The number 9 has the same pronunciation as the word for “forever,” which prompted tens of thousands of couples to get married on September 9, 2009. The number 5 is associated with emperors and 7 means “life’s spirit.” A phone number with five 5s fetched $52,000 at auction last year and a number with eight 7s sold for $560,000 in 2017. (The New York Times)


North Koreans ‘forced to give up pet dogs for restaurant meat amid food shortages’

The move by the leader Kim Jong Un is thought to be aimed at appeasing rising discontent among the public amid a dire economic situation in the secretive country, including food shortages. Pet dogs are thought to be owned mostly by the elite and wealthy in the capital Pyongyang and are seen by authorities a symbol of capitalist “decadence”, while ordinary people have pigs and other livestock. The North Korean government issued a ban on pet ownership in July, denouncing it as “a tainted trend by bourgeois ideology. Authorities have identified households with pet dogs and are forcing them to give them up or forcefully confiscating them and putting them down.” Some of the dogs are being sent to state-run zoos or sold to dog meat restaurants. Dog meat is traditionally popular in China and on the Korean Peninsula, although consumption is on the decline in South Korea. (Sky News)


Man angry over dinner arrangements threw wife in Provo River, police say

A 61-year-old man from Pleasant Grove, Utah was charged earlier this week with throwing his wife into the Provo River and threatening bystanders who tried to help her. The couple were at Provo River Resort when employees told police that he had thrown his wife into the Provo River, according to a police affidavit. The husband said he threw her into the river “after she refused to do what he asked”. The victim claimed they were arguing over dinner arrangements. He reportedly became angry and threatened to drown her in the river, the affidavit states. He dragged his wife to the riverbank “and forced her in,” according to the affidavit. Others who saw what was happening attempted to help the woman, “but he yelled at them to stay away. When Wasatch County sheriff’s deputies were called to investigate, they found the woman had bruises on both arms where she was grabbed, the report says. The husband was arrested and booked into the Wasatch County Jail and is charged with aggravated kidnapping in the course of committing unlawful detention, a third-degree felony; and assault, a class B misdemeanor. (The Salt Lake Tribune)


State senator charged with ‘injury’ to Confederate monument

A Virginia state senator has been charged with damaging a Confederate monument in Portsmouth, Virginia during protests that also led to a demonstrator being critically injured when a statue was torn down during a protest this past June, authorities said. Senator Louise Lucas faces charges of conspiracy to commit a felony and injury to a monument in excess of $1,000, Portsmouth Police Chief Angela Greene said during a news conference. The charges were filed the same week Virginia lawmakers are taking up dozens of criminal justice reforms during a special legislative session. (Associated Press)


Why Tokyo’s New Transparent Public Restrooms Are A Stroke Of Genius

Around the world, public toilets get a foul rap. Even in Japan, where restrooms have a higher standard of hygiene than in much of the rest of the world, residents harbor a fear that public toilets are dark, dirty, smelly and scary. To cure the public’s phobia, the non-profit Nippon Foundation launched “The Tokyo Toilet Project,” tasking 16 well-known architects to renovate 17 public toilets located in the public parks of Shibuya, one of the busiest commercial areas of Tokyo. The mission was to apply innovative design to make public bathrooms accessible for everyone regardless of gender, age or disability, with a goal “that people will feel comfortable using these public toilets and to foster a spirit of hospitality for the next person,” according to a statement from The Nippon Foundation. So far, the most talked-about design comes from Pritzker Prize-winning architect Shigeru Ban, whose transparent restrooms popped up this month in Haru-no-Ogawa Community Park and the Yoyogi Fukamachi Mini Park. The two units each have three cubicles, which are surrounded by transparent tinted glass in cyan, lime green, blue, yellow, pink or purple. The see-through design has a practical reason, which is to allow a person to easily check inside before entering. The design relies on a new smartglass technology that turns the walls opaque when the door is locked. At night, they light up the parks like a beautiful lantern. (Forbes)


Postmaster General Louis DeJoy halts operational changes in the USPS until after the presidential election to avoid the appearance of impacting election mail

He added that significant reforms are essential for the sustainability of the postal service and will continue after the election. Last week, President Trump said that additional funding for the USPS would not be accepted, and reasserted baseless claims that more access to in-mail voting will lead to more voter fraud. In his statement: “I want to assure all Americans of the following:

  • Retail hours at Post Offices will not change.
  • Mail processing equipment and blue collection boxes will remain where they are.
  • No mail processing facilities will be closed.
  • And we reassert that overtime has, and will continue to be, approved as needed.”

(Phil Mattingly Twitter)


A 14,000-year-old puppy, whose perfectly preserved body was found in Russia, munched on a woolly rhino for its last meal

Scientists studying the body of a perfectly preserved Ice Age puppy have made an unexpected discovery that turned out to be a piece of what could be one of the last woolly rhinos inside its stomach. Russian researchers first excavated the preserved, furry body of the canine from a site in Tumat, Siberia, in 2011. Inside the 14,000-year-old puppy’s stomach was a hairy piece of tissue. At first, scientists assumed the fragment belonged to a cave lion, because of its fine yellow fur. But tests by experts at Stockholm’s Natural History Museum say they used there reference database and mitochondrial DNA from all mammals and checked the sequence data against that. The results showed it was an almost perfect match for woolly rhinoceros. After radiocarbon dating the sample, experts determined that the rhino skin was around 14,400 years old. Scientists don’t know how the puppy came to have a piece of rhino in its stomach. The researchers also found it curious that the puppy died shortly after eating the rhino. (CNN)


Goodyear employee says new zero-tolerance policy is discriminatory

A Goodyear employee says the company has put out a new policy that has some calling it not equal for all. A photo seen circulating on social media shows a slide that was presented during a diversity training showing what’s acceptable and what isn’t acceptable as part of Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company’s zero-tolerance policy. Under acceptable:

  • Black Lives Matter (BLM),
  • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride.

Listed as unacceptable:

  • Blue Lives Matter,
  • All Lives Matter,
  • MAGA Attire,
  • Political Affiliated Slogans or Material.

According to the employee who took the photo of the slide, it was presented at the Topeka plant by an area manager and says the slide came from their corporate office out of Akron, Ohio. “If someone wants to wear a BLM shirt in here, then cool. I’m not going to get offended about it. But at the same time, if someone’s not going to be able to wear something that is politically based, even in the farthest stretch of the imagination, that’s discriminatory,” said the employee under the agreement of anonymity due to fears they could lose their job. “If we’re talking about equality, then it needs to be equality. If not, it’s discrimination.” (WIBW)


Thursday Contains:

  • Chocolate Pecan Pie Day 
  • Islamic New Year
  • Radio Day
  • World Mosquito Day

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