Friday, September 25, 2020

2020’s Happiest States in America

According to a study conducted by WalletHub, the compared all 50 states and the District of Columbia across 32 different metrics to determine which states are the happiest. The data ranged from states’ depression rates and the positive coronavirus testing rate to income growth and the unemployment rate.

The least happiest states in the county, according to the study are:

  1. Hawaii
  2. Utah
  3. Minnesota
  4. New Jersey
  5. Maryland

The happiest states in the United States are:

46. Kentuck
47. Louisiana
48. Oklahoma
49. Arkansas
50. West Virginia



A more affordable Tesla is coming

A $25,000 Tesla could be on the market in about three years, after CEO Elon Musk announced new innovations in battery technology could halve the cost of batteries. The electric car giant has long been working to produce a more affordable car, with the Model 3 priced at $35,000 but on average selling for more than $50,000. Tesla shares fell after the announcement, as many had hoped for more of a “blockbuster leap forward.” (The Wall Street Journal)


Wildfires intensify housing pain

As wildfires continue to devastate the West Coast, impacted residents are facing another challenge: choosing a new place to live. Sky-high rents in cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles have already pushed working-class residents farther away from urban centers into increasingly rural areas more prone to wildfires. Now, dozens of blazes are threatening to drive up housing costs in such communities as impacted residents compete for nearby homes. With all this going on, it could set off a wave of out-migration impacting many lower-income residents. (MarketWatch)


Moviegoers still shunning theaters

American movie lovers are continuing to stay away from theaters, even as about three quarters of movie houses have reopened their doors nationally. Although theaters say they are adopting “enhanced safety measures,” and studios have been releasing new films for a month, they failed to gain any traction. The film “Infidel” was the latest flop, collecting just $1.5 million from 1,700 theaters last weekend. The tepid response is leading studios to consider shelving the next round of much-anticipated and highly expensive blockbuster films due by the end of the year. (Associated Press)


Michigan city decriminalizes magic mushrooms, other psychedelic plants

The Ann Arbor, Mich., City Council unanimously voted this week to essentially decriminalize a wide range of psychedelic drugs, including psilocybin mushrooms, mescaline, and ayahuasca. “The Mayor and City Council hereby declare that it shall be the policy of the City of Ann Arbor that the investigation and arrest of persons for planting, cultivating, purchasing, transporting, distributing, engaging in practices with, or possessing Entheogenic Plants or plant compounds which are on the Federal Schedule 1 list shall be the lowest law enforcement priority for the City of Ann Arbor,” the resolution says. The resolution applies to “plants, fungi, and natural materials … that can benefit psychological and physical wellness.” Much of the resolution is framed around the potential for psychedelic plants to treat disorders such as “substance abuse, addiction, recidivism, trauma, post-traumatic stress symptoms, chronic depression, severe anxiety, end-of-life anxiety, grief, cluster headaches, and other debilitating conditions.” (Fox News)


Student says he was kicked off zoom class for displaying Trump flag

A student at Southridge High School in Kennewick, Washington claimed to get kicked off a Zoom online class by a teacher because of a Trump flag that was displayed on a bedroom wall. The flag reads “Trump 2020 No More Bulls—.” According to the parents, their student was attending an English sports and literature class when the incident occurred. The parents said they understand that there is profanity on the flag; however, they believe their child should be allowed to hang the flag in a bedroom. The parents said the teacher allegedly warned the student through the chat function of the Zoom meeting but the child did not see the message from the instructor. The student’s parents said their child was then removed from class without further warning. The teacher allegedly asked the student if the messages were seen prior to removal from the class and the student said they were not. Parents of the student also say that their child has been told to remove a Trump hat during a different Zoom class. The parents worried about their student’s future in the class. A spokesperson for the Kennewick School District responded with the statement: “We are aware of the alleged situation. The school administrators are in the process of doing their due diligence by conducting an investigation with staff and students to get all the facts.” (KEPR)


Justice Department sends its “Section 230” rewrite to Congress

The Department of Justice sent a proposed “recalibration” of one of the most important laws governing the US Internet into Congress’s lap and urged legislators to act to remove a liability protection on which nearly every website and app currently relies. Attorney General Bill Barr sent the proposed legislation to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence. “For too long Section 230 has provided a shield for online platforms to operate with impunity,” Attorney General Bill Barr said in a written statement. “Ensuring that the internet is a safe, but also vibrant, open, and competitive environment is vitally important to America,” he added. “We therefore urge Congress to make these necessary reforms to Section 230 and begin to hold online platforms accountable both when they unlawfully censor speech and when they knowingly facilitate criminal activity online.” “Section 230” is the nickname for a very short part of the law under which Internet companies have been regulated since 1996. The key part of § 230 of the Communications Decency Act currently reads: “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” Those 26 words are included under the subheading, “Protection for ‘Good Samaritan’ blocking and screening of offensive material,” which allows Internet platforms to moderate user content shared on those platforms more or less however they wish—heavily, moderately, or not at all. Broadly speaking, it means that if you use an Internet service to say something obscene or unlawful, then you, not the Internet service, are the one responsible for having said the thing, and the Internet service has legal immunity from whatever you said. (United States Department of Justice)


Conjoined Michigan twins separated in 11-hour surgery

A pair of formerly conjoined twins have spent the last several weeks getting to know their new normal after surgeons in Michigan successfully separated the pair in an 11-hour operation. The now two separate bodies were born connected from the chest to the belly button and shared one liver, but each had their own arms, legs, hearts and digestive tracts. The parents of Petersburg, Michigan said they didn’t know something was amiss with their twins until the 20-week ultrasound, which they assumed was to discover the gender of their older daughter’s new siblings. However, the ultrasound showed the twins were conjoined, and the obstetrician explained that they couldn’t help them and that “we had an unfortunate decision to make.” At 34 weeks, the girls were delivered via caesarian section and placed on their mother’s chest before being taken to Mott Newborn Intensive Care Unit for 85 days. For the next 13 months, the girls underwent physical and occupational therapy at C. S. Mott Children’s Hospital, while the separation surgery was scheduled and a plan was formulated. More than two dozen doctors, nurses and specialists were on hand for the surgery, which is believed to be the first in the state. Once the surgery was deemed a success, the girls’ parents began imagining a series of firsts they would get to experience with their separated twins, like rocking each girl to sleep separately and watching them crawl and walk on their own. (Michigan Health)


Seattle hires former pimp as ‘street czar’ for $150,000 after CHOP fiasco

Seattle is paying an ex-pimp $150,000 a year to act as the city’s “street czar” and offer “alternatives to policing” after protests morphed into the no-police-allowed Capitol Hill Occupied Protest. The Activist is open about his past as a pimp (he appeared in the documentary “American Pimp”) and is working with the city of Seattle through his nonprofit, “Not This Time“. The man says he started “Not This Time” after his brother Che Taylor was killed by Seattle police in 2016. However, he also encouraged CHOP protesters to ask the city for money before agreeing to leave the occupied zone. “A street czar is a person who has a particular genius in a particular area,” he said. He claims to have devised the title by following a practice by former President Barack Obama of designating “czars” to handle a variety of areas of interest while he was in the White House. (KOMO)


Pregnant woman pulls husband to safety after Florida shark attack

When a shark attacked her 30-year-old husband during a snorkeling trip in the Florida Keys, his pregnant wife didn’t think twice, jumping out of a boat to pull him to safety, a sheriff’s deputy said. They were on a private boat together with her family at the time of the shark attack at Sombrero Reef, according to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office. The husband had just slid into the water when a large shark latched onto his shoulder. The wife saw the shark’s dorsal fin and then blood filling the water. That’s when she dove into the water and pulled her husband to the safety of the boat,” a Deputy wrote in his report. The rest of the family managed to avoid injury during the rescue, but deputies described the shark bite wound as severe. Medics were waiting for them when they reached the beach in Marathon. The man was then flown to Ryder Trauma Center at Miami’s Jackson Memorial Hospital. Several other snorkelers from other boats were already in the water when the attack happened, the deputy wrote. He said other boaters told deputies they had seen a bull shark in the area that morning, which they estimated to be as much as 9 feet long. (Miami Herald)


The first-ever image of a black hole is now a movie

The historic first image of a black hole unveiled last year has now been turned into a movie. The short sequence of frames shows how the appearance of the black hole’s surroundings changes over years as its gravity stirs the material around it into a constant maelstrom. The images show a lopsided blob of light swirling around the supermassive black hole at the centre of the galaxy M87. To create them, the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) collaboration that uses a planet-wide network of observatories exhumed old data on the black hole and combined these with a mathematical model based on the image released in April 2019, to show how the surroundings have evolved over eight years. The black-hole image that the EHT collaboration unveiled last year made the front pages of newspapers around the world. It portrayed M87*, the supermassive black hole at the centre of the M87 galaxy, some 17 megaparsecs (55 million light years) away. The researchers constructed the picture by combining radio-frequency signals they had collected from observatories across Earth over two nights in April 2017. (Nature)


North Texas Mom Gives Birth To Quadruplets After Brain Surgery While Pregnant’

For two parents, welcoming four new babies was supposed to be enough of a challenge, but two weeks later, the 26-year-old mother found out that she had a brain tumor. The couple turned to experts at UT Southwestern for care, and doctors immediately began making a series of incredulous phone calls. “A pregnant patient admitted to the neurosurgical unit because she had a seizure, and she was coincidentally pregnant with quadruplets, which is never two things you want to hear in the same sentence, right?” said a high-risk pregnancy specialist. The neurosurgeon said he thought he was getting pranked. He said, “it was sort of hard to believe.” Initially, had been to monitor the tumor and perhaps delay treatment until after the mother delivered, but the medical staff said “the tumor had other plans.” A second seizure forced them to reconsider their approach. She underwent brain surgery before her boys were delivered and doctors have called her ability to handle both the high risk pregnancy and tumor, “amazing.” The says her faith was critical. “At that point, I had to turn it over to God and I guess he wouldn’t give me quadruplets if he didn’t want me to be around for them,” she said. When the boys arrived at 32 weeks in July, the months of planning paid off. “They all came out crying,” said doctors. “Very smooth and really went off without a hitch.” After a few weeks in the NICU, the four boys have joined big brother at home. Not a bad haul for a woman who was told as a teen that a medical condition would prevent her from having biological children. “These babies are a lot to handle, but they are a blessing,” said the mother. The family don’t plan on picking any winning lotto numbers, but it’s clear that they’ve hit the jackpot, many times over. According to the high-risk pregnancy specialist, the odds of quadruplets without fertility assistance is roughly 1 in 700,000. (CBS DFW)


Four former employees are expected to plead guilty next month for their role in the intimidation scheme

Four former eBay employees have agreed to plead guilty for their roles in an intimidation campaign that included sending live spiders and cockroaches to a Massachusetts couple who ran an online newsletter that was highly critical of the auction site. “Four former employees of eBay are scheduled to plead guilty on October 8th at 2pm via Zoom in federal court in Boston,” according to a tweet from the U.S. attorney’s office in Massachusetts. The defendants are charged with participating in a cyberstalking campaign that targeted a Massachusetts couple. They are among seven former eBay employees charged in the case, including eBay’s former senior director of safety and security, and the company’s former director of global resiliency. The Massachusetts couple had other disturbing items sent to their home, including a funeral wreath and a bloody pig Halloween mask. According to court documents, eBay executives became upset with negative coverage of the company on an e-commerce blog operated out of Natick, Massachusetts, and in anonymous comments that appeared under the blog’s stories. They became convinced that some of the anonymous commenters, which included parody accounts, were colluding with the husband-and-wife team who published the blog and texted about the need to “take her down” and “burn her to the ground.” The ex-employees allegedly created a Twitter account and used it to send harassing messages to the blog’s publishers before publicly posting their home address. The employees also sent pornographic magazines with the husband’s name on them to their neighbor’s house and planned to break into the couple’s garage to install a GPS device on their car, officials said. (CBS News)


Friday Keeps It Classy With:

  • Brave Day (Fourth Friday in September)
  • Comic Book Day
  • Doodle Day
  • Hug A Vegetarian Day (Last Friday)
  • Lobster Day
  • Math Story Telling Day
  • Native American Day (4th Friday)
  • One-Hit Wonder Day
  • Psychotherapy Day
  • Quesadilla Day
  • Research Administrators Day
  • Save The Koala Day (Last Friday)
  • Support Purple for Platelets Day (Last Friday)
  • Tune-up Day
  • Vegan Baking Day (Last Friday)
  • (World) Ataxia Awareness Day
  • World Lung Day
  • World Pharmacists Day

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