Wednesday, September 23, 2020

After a farmer suffered a heart attack, his neighbors banded together to harvest his crops

A farmer was in the middle of harvesting his wheat and canola farm near Crosby, North Dakota when his combine caught fire. In the stress of the event, he went into cardiac arrest and was rushed to the hospital. But neighbors, friends and family wasted no time stepping up to help finish the job to complete his harvest. Around 60 farmers put their harvesting on hold to help the man and his family, using all their own equipment. “I talked to a couple of farmers, got their equipment, and then other people just started calling and we had equipment offered from all over the place in the county, and their workers to go with it,” family a friend. The group used 11 combines, six grain carts and 15 tractor-trailers to finish harvesting the family’s Durum wheat and canola. Using the power of community, they harvested 1,000 acres in seven hours. Those who assisted say letting the family’s crops go unharvested would’ve been a big loss for the family and helping out was just common sense. (KFYR)


Twitter apologizes for racial bias in image cropping algorithm

Twitter has apologized for its image cropping algorithm after users found it favored White faces over Black faces. The issue came up when several Twitter users found that posts with a Black person’s face and a White person’s face would show the White person’s face in photo preview more often. Colin Madland, a PhD student, who is White, first brought the issue to light after noticing on a Zoom call its algorithm didn’t pick up his Black colleague’s face. After that, he posted an image of himself and a Black colleague on Twitter, which Twitter automatically cropped to only show Madland. Other Twitter users conducted experiments and found similar outcomes for fictional characters and dogs. A Twitter spokesperson said the algorithm was tested for bias, but clearly there was more work to do. (The Guardian)


Sony apologies for PS5 pre-order disaster that created shortages within minutes and promises more consoles will be available ‘through the end of the year’

Sony issued an apology on Twitter for PlayStation 5 pre-orders turning into a disaster. The Japanese company announced pricing and release dates for the gaming system and minutes after the event, nearly every major retailer was ‘out of stock.’ Retailers including Amazon, GameStop and Walmart jumped the gun with opening pre-orders a day early that started a buying frenzy in the gaming community. Gamers around the world ran to their computers, smartphones and tablets to reserve a console, but many were met with broken links, page time outs and the dreaded ‘out of stock’ message. Sony shared in the tweet that it is set to release more consoles over the next few days and promises ‘more PS5s will be available through the end of the year.’ However, it seems those who beat the rush and pre-ordered a PS5 are already trying to ‘flip them on Amazon and Ebay’ for a higher cost. (Daily Mail)


A surfer lost his board in Hawaii. It reappeared in the Philippines, more than 5,000 miles away

A photographer and surfer who lives in Hawaii, lost his board in Waimea Bay, Oahu, in February 2018, according to an account posted on his Facebook page. He had hoped a local fisherman might find the board, or that it might wash up in Kauai, which he’d heard was a possible landing spot for lost boards, but he never thought it would turn up in the Philippines. “This is 5,200 miles away!” he wrote on his facebook, explaining that the new owner had bought it from a local fisherman to learn how to surf, then contacted the owner on Facebook. “As bummed as I was when I lost it, now I am happy to know my board fell into the hands of someone wanting to learn the sport,” he said. The board’s new guardian is a primary school teacher in the southern Philippines. The man bought the board for $40 from a local fisherman, who had found it in August 2018, six months after it had escaped from the owner. The board had turned from pale blue to a yellowish color during its voyage across the Pacific, but the name of the owner was still visible. The owner wrote on Facebook that he would have gone to visit the man if it weren’t for coronavirus travel restrictions, but he is now raising money to send the aspiring surfer some gear and some reading material to help his students learn English. The pair are in contact online and the owner plans to visit when he can to retrieve his board and give the man a beginner’s one to learn on. (CNN)


Amazon will launch a new location-tracking mesh network system later this year

Amazon is preparing to launch an ambitious networking and location system later this year under the name “Amazon Sidewalk”. Sidewalk will link smart home devices and other Amazon products using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), connecting beyond the range of a standard Wi-Fi network. Sidewalk would turn devices like smart floodlights and home assistants into network bridges, passing along security updates and commands from a central Wi-Fi hub. In addition to transmitting software, the signals allow Sidewalk to triangulate a device’s approximate location based on its contacts with other Sidewalk-enabled devices. The system will be built into the Echo, and Tile has also joined the project as the first third-party platform to support the system. Amazon plans to add Ring cameras to the network later, notifying device owners directly when Sidewalk is available to use. (Amazon)


Man arrested, accused of leaving fake bomb outside courthouse

A man in Omaha, Nebraska was arrested for placing a false bomb and obstruction of government operations after he left a suspicious package outside the Douglas County Courthouse, according to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. The man drove to the intersection of 18th and Harney Streets, took the boxes out of the car and left them before driving away. “The packages had been placed in a way that would draw attention and that a reasonable person would construe as suspicious and threatening due to their proximity to a public facility entrance,” the police report stated. The area was evacuated and Omaha Police Department’s bomb squad arrived to safely detonated the packages, which were found to contain no explosives. Investigators learned he had been in court that day to resolve a traffic ticket and were able to identify him, his vehicle, and learned his address. The 25-year-old man is also accused of four counts of possession of a controlled substance, two counts of possession of money used in connection to controlled substances, manufacture of marijuana with intent to deliver and two counts of possession of a controlled substance without a tax stamp, which are all felonies. He was being held at Douglas County Corrections on $5,000 or 10 percent bond. (WOWT)


Venus is hell but it’s ours, say Russians, after scientists say they have found signs of life there

Just days after scientists said they discovered the presence of phosphine in the clouds of Venus, the head of Russia’s space agency declared it as a “Russian planet.” The director general of Russian space agency Roscosmos, said the second planet from the sun is a “Russian planet” as the former Soviet Union landed a probe on Venus decades ago. “The Soviet Union was the first and only one to successfully land on Venus,” he said. “The spacecraft gathered information about the planet — it is like hell over there.” The Soviet-era Venera program was designed to learn more about the planet Venus, which some researchers believe was habitable in its distant past. The Venera program, which ran from 1961 until 1984, saw a number of achievements, including a soft landing on the planet on December 15, 1970 (Venera 7), the first of its kind. The comments from Rogozin come just days after NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said the planet is “one stop in our search for life.” (The Times UK)


Sea levels could rise by more than a foot by 2100 as ice sheets continue to melt

A newly published study says that global sea levels could rise more than one foot by 2100, should greenhouse gas emissions continue at their current pace. The research, led by more than 60 ice, ocean, and atmosphere scientists from three dozen institutions around the world and backed by NASA, notes that sea levels could rise at least 15 inches between 2015 and 2100 if gases such as carbon dioxide continue to heat up the ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica, resulting in their melting. The study is part of the Ice Sheet Model Intercomparison Project (ISMIP6). That is being led by NASA Goddard. (The Cryosphere)


CDC deletes coronavirus airborne transmission guidance, says update was ‘draft version’

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a correction on its website, saying a draft of proposed changes, including guidance on airborne transmission of coronavirus, was posted in error. “A draft version of proposed changes to these recommendations was posted in error to the agency’s official website. CDC is currently updating its recommendations regarding airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). Once this process has been completed, the updated language will be posted,” as written on the website. All of the previously published language in the “draft version” last Friday (9/18) regarding airborne transmission was removed from the webpage before noon on Monday (9/21). The updated page now says the virus is “thought to spread mainly from person-to-person” from close contact and “respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks.” “These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs,” the agency wrote. Both the corrected and “draft version” of the guidance says the virus can be spread by those not showing symptoms. “The virus that causes COVID-19 is spreading very easily and sustainably between people,” per the site. (Fox News)


National Weather Service radar picks up huge bat colony in skies over Phoenix

Forecasters at the National Weather Service in Arizona recently spotted a sight in the sky more fit for Halloween. The National Weather Service forecast office in Phoenix last Sunday spotted something strange over the city. “What might be causing all the radar returns around Phoenix between 6-7 PM this evening?” the NWS tweeted. “Is it rain or something else? Any guesses?” Many replied on Twitter, speculating the radar returns were bugs, birds, or even a gender reveal party. The NWS later revealed that it was bats–and lots of them. “Specifically they are probably thousands of Mexican free-tail bats that migrate here for the summer,” the NWS tweeted. The radar echoes show the bats coming out of a cave, tunnel, or bridge and then dispersing throughout the area to find food. Forecasters said they were able to differentiate between birds and bats on radar due to the pattern of movement and the timing. Arizona Game and Fish Department biologist said she was “really excited” by the radar because she thought it was a new bat colony she was previously unaware of. “Mexican free-tail bats would probably be going to Mexico to spend the winter,” she said. “Some of them stay over winter here in Phoenix.” The beginning of fall, when cooler temperatures arrive, is when bats are likely to migrate. (AZ Family)


Global banks moved at least $2 trillion in potentially illicit funds between 1999 and 2017

According to an investigation by BuzzFeed and other media outlets, the banks flagged the transactions in reports filed with the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCen). Buzzfeed obtained 2,100 suspicious activity reports (SARs) and shared them with other media outlets through the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). Among the banks that filed the most SARs are Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan Chase, Standard Chartered, Bank of New York Mellon, and Barclays. In statements published by Reuters, some of the banks said many of the claims are historical and that they have invested heavily to tackle money laundering in recent years. Banks file SARs when they suspect that a given transaction may be linked to money laundering or some other kind of illegal activity but the reports themselves are not proof of wrongdoing. JPMorgan moved funds that were looted from Venezuela, Ukraine, and Malaysia. HSBC transferred funds linked to suspected Russian money launderers and a Ponzi scheme under investigation in several countries. Several banks moved funds for a Russian billionaire named Oleg Deripaskat, a powerful oligarch whose companies were once under U.S. sanctions for “malign activity.” (International Consortium of Investigative Journalist)


Japenese woman, 117, becomes country’s oldest living person

The Japanese woman who is considered by the Guinness World Records to be the oldest person in the world has just reached another milestone in Japan, where she set a record as the country’s longest living person. This past Saturday, Kane Tanaka marked 117 years and 261 days alive, surpassing the age of Nabi Tajima, who had died in 2018 at 117 years and 260 days old. She received congratulatory gifts from her prefecture and received messages of respect from several local officials. She was photographed with a bottle of Coca-Cola, which is reportedly her favorite soft drink, and was wearing a t-shirt with a photo of herself taken during her official Guinness World Records celebration last year. Tanaka was born on January 2, 1903. She currently lives in a senior home in Fukuoka, where she enjoys studying math, the game Othello and chocolate. (Japan Times)


A federal judge has thrown out a defamation case against Tesla and Elon Musk by former Nevada Gigafactory employee

After Tesla sued Tripp for $167m in damages for illegally exporting data and leaking it out to reporters in June 2018, Martin Tripp filed a defamation lawsuit against the automaker. However, the Judge found that Tripp failed to prove that Tesla acted out of malice. The Judge dismissed a claim from Tesla that the former employee’s leak caused a $167 Million Dollar decline in the company’s market value, but he said that Tesla’s claim that the former employee violated Nevada’s computer crimes law can proceed.However the former employee maintains that in his case against Tesla, he acted as a “whistleblower.” Tesla claims that the former employee wrote software that hacked into the automaker’s manufacturing OS and shared stolen data with news reporters. The former employee is representing himself. He fired his lawyers after it was revealed that his legal team was being paid by a short seller. (Reuters)


Wednesday Cranks Up With:

  • Checkers Day or Dogs in Politics Day
  • Innergize Day (Day after the Autumn Equinox)
  • International Day of Sign Languages
  • Great American Pot Pie Day
  • Snack Stick Day
  • Restless Legs Awareness Day
  • Teal Talk Day
  • Za’atar Day

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