Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Obesity can increase coronavirus-related death risk by almost 50%

Obesity may increase the risk of coronavirus-related deaths by 50%, according to a recently published report. Researchers at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, analyzed published literature on patients with novel coronavirus and found individuals with obesity, defined as a BMI over 30, were more likely to be hospitalized and admitted to the ICU. The team of researchers also stated obese individuals had a higher risk of death by 48%, according to a news release on the UNC website. The report looked at data and examined the pathways that linked obesity with severe complications from COVID-19. The authors stated that underlying risk factors for novel coronavirus, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, chronic kidney, liver disease and hypertension are often also associated with obesity. Individuals with obesity can have metabolic changes that result in inflammation, issues with insulin, and the immune system which can hamper the person’s ability to fight COVID-19. (Obesity Reviews)


AT&T is reportedly trying to sell DirecTV to private-equity investors just five years after buying the satellite provider

The negotiations with potential buyers come after millions of customers ditched DirecTV over the past two years, and could value DirecTV at much less than the $49 billion AT&T paid for it. “AT&T is seeking private-equity investors to buy the majority of its DirecTV satellite-television business, helping it cope with a major drag on its operations, according to people familiar with the situation,” according to a report. AT&T and its advisers at Goldman Sachs “have been in talks with private-equity suitors about the satellite TV unit,” with potential bidders including Apollo Global Management and Platinum Equity. AT&T could end up selling DirecTV for far less than it paid five years ago. It is rumored that any deal for the satellite TV service would be sizable but likely a far cry from the 20 billion, especially since it lost around seven million subscribers since mid-2018. (Ars Technica)


Busch Beer Introduces ‘Dog Brew,’ a Non-Alcoholic Drink for Pups

Busch Beer is making a special brew for dogs called “Dog Brew.” The non-alcoholic beer has nutrients and a dog-friendly favor, according to the company. The beer is also safe for humans to drink, for those curious about its taste. Busch says that Dog Brew is made with bone-in pork butt, whole corn, celery, basil, mint, turmeric and ginger, according to Busch. Dog Brew is not a meal replacement, but it can be served on its own or over food, and can be used to soften hard food. “After a long day there’s nothing quite like having a Busch with a friend, and with so many new pet owners across America this year, we wanted to create a brew to give our fans a chance to share a Busch brew with their ‘best friend,’” according to Anheuser-Busch’s Vice President of value brands in a statement. It is not available in stores, but can be bought as a four-pack on their website. The beer makers noted that real beer should not be given to dogs under any circumstances because it is toxic to the animals. (Busch Beer)


More Than 100 Nudists at French Resort Contract Coronavirus

More than 100 revelers, including dozens of nudists at a French colony, have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Naturalist revelers at the popular Cap d’Agde resort in the Herault region have tested positive so far, according to French Regional Health Authorities. The health authorities called the outbreak “very worrying.” Officials are saying they are in an alarming situation, therefore are asking that all the people of the village be tested before leaving the place and going elsewhere. They also ask all the people who wish to come to this naturist village to postpone their arrival. (Sun)


How to disagree during an interview

You don’t have to act like a yes-man during an interview to land a job. In fact, disagreeing with a potential employer can lead to a more engaged discussion. Challenging your interviewer in the right way can show good character and self-belief, says jobs experts. At the same time, it’s an opportunity for potential employees to test how receptive the company is to change and new ideas. (CNBC)


Positive thinking has limits

Dreaming of wonderful outcomes, such as landing a coveted promotion, reaching a long sought professional milestone, can feel great. But those good feelings can easily lull us into not doing the tough work to achieve our goals, warns some experts. Instead, we are better off using a technique called mental contrasting, where we imaging our great outcomes, step back and reflect on the obstacles in our way and then plan for ways to overcome those impediments. Our fantasies can help inspire and motivate us, but we often need a dose of reality to get moving. (BBC)


US buys out new rapid virus test

The federal government is going all in on a new rapid COVID-19 test from Abbott Laboratories. Officials are buying nearly all of the rapid antigen tests Abbott plans to produce this year, paying $750 million for 150 million units that will expand the country’s testing capacity. The compact $5 tests can be run in 15 minutes without laboratory equipment and received FDA approval recently. While they’re cheaper and faster to run, some experts say they’re also less accurate than “gold standard” lab-based virus tests. (Bloomberg)


Soldier’s remains returned home 70 years after missing in action

Recently, the remains of Corporal Billie Joe Hash were escorted home, 70 years after being declared missing in action. Family and friends came together for a military honor service to recognize his sacrifice to the United States. Billie Hash, born and raised in Corbin, Kentucky, was just 17 years old when he joined the Army. On December 6, 1950, he was reported missing in action when his unit was attacked by enemy forces near the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea. That battle was a two-week-long bloodbath that pitted 30,000 U.S., South Korean and British troops against 120,000 Chinese soldiers. On December 31, 1953, the Army presumed Hash dead. Family says Hash’s mother never gave up on him, and always said he would return. Nearly 70 years passed with no new information, but hope came in 2018. During a summit between President Trump and North Korean Leader Kim Jung-Un, Korea turned over 55 boxes containing remains of U.S. soldiers. In May, the family was notified they had identified Hash’s body and would return him home. The family said during all these years, the memory of Hash was kept alive in stories. Hash was buried next to his mother this past Saturday at Worley Cemetery in Corbin, Kentucky. (WYMT)


When an algorithm is your boss

Companies are increasingly turning their management reins over to AI, allowing algorithms to dole out work assignments, evaluate an employee’s performance and screen job applicants. This is especially prevalent in the gig economy. The challenge? Workers are often left in the dark on how these systems make decisions, say researchers. That makes it extremely difficult for workers to contest decisions or change their behavior so they can improve. Some groups, like Oxford’s Fairwork initiative, are now calling for new work standards that would require transparency in how such algorithmic management tools work. (The Conversation)


Texas salon owner, jailed for defying coronavirus shutdown, running for state Senate

The Texas salon owner jailed for defying coronavirus lockdown orders is running for a state Senate seat. Shelley Luther, owner of Salon a La Mode in Dallas, opposes Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s statewide mask mandate, calling it “ridiculous.” Her salon, which requires clients to wear masks because of the face-to-face nature of the business, but she believes it should be the right of a business owner to make that decision. She was jailed for less than 48 hours for opening her business during the lockdown in May. She admitted that she would have supported a temporary shutdown, 30 days at most, and afterward determine “what is safe enough to go out or in.” After the temporary shutdown, she said, “If people want to take the chance to go somewhere [without a mask], that is absolutely their right to do so.” She defended her actions in May, noting that other businesses around her were open and thriving while her salon had to remain closed. Her punishment became a rallying cry for some Republican lawmakers and conservative activists who railed against lockdown measures in Texas, even as the state reopened more quickly than many others. She received praise and donations from several people and appreciated recognition from President Trump, and Senator Ted Cruz, of Texas, who visited Luther’s salon to show support. She is running for a vacant seat in the state’s 30th Senate District that has drawn a number of candidates. (Fox News)


The coming pandemic baby bust

The pandemic is poised to leave a lasting impact in more ways than one. Signs point to a pandemic-induced U.S. baby bust, with researchers estimating we may welcome 300,000 to 500,000 fewer babies in 2021. Birth declines could have longstanding economic effects, warns researchers. Fewer young people may ultimately translate to fewer workers, the kind we’ll need to prop up social safety nets as the overall population ages. To fill the gap, some researchers argue considering boosting immigration, creating incentives for workers to delay retirement and perhaps even offering would-be parents financial incentives. (Brookings Institute)


Americans have embraced the drive-thru during the pandemic

About 74% of Americans saying they visited a drive-thru the same-amount or even more often than usual in 2020. This comes as fast-casual restaurant chains, including Shake Shack, Chipotle and Starbucks, look to expand the number of drive-thru units they offer as Americans continue to move from dine-in to take-out. However, the recent survey on restaurant trends during the pandemic shows COVID-19 has not made Americans more patient while waiting in the drive-thru. 81% of respondents indicated that waiting more than 10 minutes in the drive-thru is too long. Restaurant chains have taken steps to reduce wait times, including streamlining menus and embracing online ordering. For instance, Chipotle’s drive-thru lanes are solely for mobile orders. Shake Shack has proposed a dedicated drive-thru for mobile orders in their future drive-thru units. (Blue Dot)


New Zealand Is About to Test Long-Range Wireless Power Transmission

The famous inventor Nikola Tesla once planned to power the world without wires. Unortunately, funding got canceled, the tower was demolished, and later scientists were skeptical Tesla’s plans would have worked. Now New Zealand startup, Emrod, is building a system to wirelessly beam power over long distances. Recently, Emrod received funding from Powerco, New Zealand’s second biggest utility, to conduct a test of its system at a grid-connected commercial power station. The company hopes to bring energy to communities far from the grid or transmit power from remote renewable sources, like offshore wind farms. The system consists of four components: A power source, a transmitting antenna, several (or more) transmitting relays, and a rectenna. With safety in mind, Emrod is using energy in the industrial, scientific, and medical (ISM) band, and keeping the power density low. But if it works as intended, the beam won’t ever contact anything but empty air. The system uses a net of lasers surrounding the beam to detect obstructions, like a bird or person, and it automatically shuts off transmission until the obstruction has moved on. The company’s prototype can currently send a few watts of energy over a distance of about 130 feet. For the Powerco project, they’re working on a larger version capable of beaming a few kilowatts. The plan is to deliver the new system to Powerco in October, test it in the lab for a few months, and then, if all goes to plan, try it in out in the field. The tests will aim to validate how much power the system can transmit over what distance. Ultimately, the technology may help power rural areas or transmit energy from offshore wind farms, both cases where it’s expensive to build physical infrastructure to tap or feed the grid. In other cases, say in national parks, a mode of wireless transmission could have less impact on the environment and require less maintenance. Or it might be used to provide power after natural disasters in which physical infrastructure has been damaged. (Singularity Hub)


Tuesday Takes Over With:

  • Building and Code Staff Appreciation Day
  • Calendar Adjustment Day
  • Chicken Boy’s Day
  • Emma M. Nutt Day
  • International Day of Awareness for the Dolphins of Taiji
  • International Toy Testing Day
  • No Rhyme (Nor Reason) Day
  • Random Acts of Kindness Day or Be Kind Day
  • Save Japan’s Dolphins Day
  • World Letter Writing Day

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