Friday, September 18, 2020

A Halloween fright for candy firms

Candy makers are scrambling to find a safe way to restore Halloween this year to avoid losing a critical season for sales, due to COVID-19. As some areas consider bans on trick-or-treating due to virus risks, Hershey, for instance, is changing the types of Halloween candy it makes and has helped develop a Covid-19 risk map, while Mondelez International and Ferrero are moving more online. Halloween is the biggest holiday for candy in the U.S., with sales during last year’s season reaching $4.6 billion, according to the National Confectioners Association. (The Wall Street Journal)


The price of going cashless

The pandemic has pushed us closer to going cashless, prompting more retailers and restaurants to emphasize online and digital transactions to limit interactions amid the crisis. But state and local officials are pushing back on the trend, with New York City becoming the latest to require businesses to accept cash over concerns that limiting payment options effectively discriminates against some consumers. While ditching cash can increase efficiency and reduce the risk of infection, it’s detrimental to low-income individuals and minority groups who face higher barriers to cashless options. (The New York Times)


Is this the end of hoarding?

The pandemic-inspired boom in grocery sales is slowing down. It comes as consumers ease up on the hoarding of household goods as they adapt to the pandemic, as restaurants start to reopen across the country and as stimulus checks and bonus unemployment benefits come to an end. Analysts say the slowdown could see retailers increase promotions and discounts as they move to ramp up sales. In August, retail stores saw an 11.5% year-on-year increase in food and beverage sales, a drop from the 31.2% growth seen in March. (CNN)


Pandemic spurs a freelance boom

Is the gig economy the way forward? More than a third of American workers, or 59 million people, took on some freelance work this year as the pandemic spurred rapid changes in the job market, according to a new report. Independent contract work altogether brought in some $1.2 trillion in annual earnings, reflecting a 22% pickup from last year. The trend is also reflected in U.S. Census Bureau figures, which show a rise in self-employment, as well as in the valuations of businesses tied to freelance work. (CNBC)


Scientists have found a manta ray nursery ground off the coast of South Florida

A Biologist who first noticed the high number of manta rays in the area, said she was shocked to find so many near densely populated coastal towns that are home to six million people. “We have seen manta rays swimming in front of President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago and Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville resort,” she said. She detailed that most of the female manta rays that have been spotted were free of mating scars and the males had small genitalia, a sign that they were juveniles. In a scientific paper published this week, she argues that South Florida is home to the third manta ray nursery ever found, an area where juveniles can thrive because it is food-rich but where predators are scarce. (National Geographic)


Researchers said that the sun entered a new solar cycle in December 2019 and it can take up to 10 months to determine when a new cycle starts

Solar Cycle 25 will be weak, the preceding 11-year cycle was the weakest in 100 years. Researchers predict that the peak of the new solar cycle will occur in 2025. During the solar maximum, the sun will likely be the source of flares and coronal mass ejection events that can impact the power grid, as well as satellites, GPS, airlines, and even astronauts aboard the International Space Station. Solar storms, however, can potentially occur anytime. To predict when a solar storm may occur, researchers study dark spots on the sun, which are the source of solar flares that release radiation into space. Researchers estimate that the sun will have 115 sunspots during Cycle 25. For comparison, an intense solar cycle typically has more than 200 sunspots. The sun’s activity will gradually increase until it reaches its solar maximum in 2025. (CNN)


Minneapolis City Council alarmed by surge in crime months after voting to defund the police

Minneapolis City Council members, who just two months ago moved to eliminate the police department, sounded the alarm during a Wednesday meeting about a surge in crime seen by their constituents. Council members pressed police the Police Chief about the uptick in crimes that included daylight carjackings, robberies, assaults, shootings and street racing. Council President accused police of intentionally not enforcing laws or making arrests. The Minneapolis Police Department’s crime data shows a rise in assaults, robberies and homicides, as well as property crimes and arson. More people have been killed in the city in the first nine months of 2020 than those slain in all of last year. about 100 officers have left the department or have taken a leave of absence since the start of the year, which is more than double the typical number of officers who either step down from the department or are inactive that year. In July, the council took several steps toward dismantling the city’s police department, including approving an amendment to remove $1 million from the police department and reallocate it toward the health department to hire “violence interrupters” who are intended to defuse potentially violent situations. The council had pledged earlier in the summer to dismantle the police department and replace it with a community-based system of public safety. (Fox News)


The Big Ten is back

The Big Ten will kick off its 2020 football season on the weekend of October 24, 2020, bowing to pressure to restore the season after becoming the first Power 5 league to postpone play amid the pandemic. New medical protocols and standards will be put into place including daily coronavirus testing, enhanced cardiac screening and monitoring of infection rates to determine whether teams must stop practice or play. In August, the Big Ten said it would postpone fall sports until 2021, sparking a flurry of criticism from coaches, parents, players and fans. (The Wall Street Journal)


Ruin your day in one easy step

Do you wake in the morning and instantly go to check your emails? Well, that’s a problem. That “seemingly innocent reflexive urge” will divert you from your own priorities, such as getting the kids ready for school, and likely set you up for a chaotic, less productive day. By moving straight into “response mode,” you’re more likely to make mistakes, to run late and to feel flustered. Experts suggest staying in control of the day by starting the morning on your own terms. (Forbes)


Hundreds of drivers shut down San Antonio highways to do donuts

Police in San Antonio, Texas had their hands full the other night when hundreds of drivers teamed up to shut down highways and do donuts in the main lanes. According to the San Antonio Police Department, a large group of cars were seen by the department’s Eagle helicopter driving recklessly in a parking lot. The drivers eventually headed out on highways, shutting down main lanes while other drivers raced each other or drove in circles. There were also reports that some people were popping fireworks or starting fires on the highways. Video footage showed highways clogged with traffic and people running in between cars on the main lanes of Highway 90. Police cited a few drivers. (News 4 San Antonio)


US Marines help save Oregon man’s home from wildfire

A pair of U.S. Marines and their friends heading back from a road trip last week made a pit stop to save an Oregon man’s burning home during the state’s deadly wildfires. The group was driving through what they described as “hell” near Estacada, Oregon, on Labor Day, September 7, when they spotted firefighters battling a fire. A video posted online shows at least one of the group members wearing shorts holding a sprinkler within feet of the blaze. Others lend a hand by supplying buckets of water and at least one person jumps a fence, according to the video. The official Twitter account of the U.S. Marine Corps appeared to get word out about their actions and posting the caption: “Facing Fire.” (United States Marines Twitter)


Facebook teaming up with Ray-Ban maker for first smart glasses in 2021

Facebook announced a partnership with Luxottica, the maker of Ray-Ban, to release its first pair of smart glasses in 2021. Facebook and Luxottica will make the glasses as part of a multiyear partnership. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also announced that the company plans to release Project Aria, a research device that the company will use to learn as it develops its consumer smart glasses. The devices will capture video, audio, eye-tracking and location data that Facebook can use to aid its development of augmented reality smart glasses. Sensitive places like restrooms will be off limits. Before the data collected can be used for research, it will be scrubbed of sensitive identifiable details such as people’s faces or vehicle license plates. (CNBC)


A Florida man walking his dog was attacked by an alligator. He used 2 fingers to escape

A 61-year-old Florida artist was viciously attacked by an alligator behind his Port St. Lucie home recently. He was out walking his dog by a canal near his house when he noticed an alligator at the water’s edge. Then the gator noticed them, and lunged. He yelled for his golden retriever to get on home and he obeyed. As for the man, his shoe (a Croc sandal) got stuck in the mud and the gator grabbed a hold of his leg. He wrestled with the gator on the ground, and was able to poke it in the eye with two index fingers. That’s when it released its ferocious grip and swam away. Poking the large reptile in the eye was the only option, and he’s thankful it worked. He received about 60 stitches in his leg plus another five in the index finger on his left hand. He estimated the beast to be around nine feet long. He contacted the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, but a nuisance trapper was unable to locate the alligator. (Yahoo News)


Friday Comes Crashing In With:

  • Airforce Birthday
  • Brave Day
  • Bright Pink Lipstick Day (3rd Friday)
  • Ceiling Fan Day
  • Cheeseburger Day
  • Chiropractic Founders Day
  • Concussion Awareness Day (Third Friday)
  • Constitution Day/Pledge Across America (Third Friday)
  • HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day
  • Hug Your Boss Day
  • International Grenache Day (Third Friday)
  • POW/MIA Recognition Day (Third Friday in September)
  • Read An Ebook Day
  • Respect Day
  • Rosh Hashanah (at sundown)
  • Tradesmen Day (Third Friday in September)
  • World Water Monitoring Day

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