Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Florida governor proposes college ‘bill of rights’ to party

Governor Ron DeSantis thinks students who attend Florida’s 12 state universities should be able to socialize without worrying about getting thrown out of school. He’s willing to consider a college students’ “bill of rights” that would preclude state universities from taking actions against students who are enjoying themselves. After shutting down campuses in March as the pandemic hit the state, universities spent months working on plans to reopen for the fall semester and to try to prevent the spread of the virus. But schools such as Florida State have drawn attention as pictures of crowds of students at places such as pools and a football game have become public. In what was described as an “urgent call to action,” Florida State University President warned  warned that “students who endanger the community with actions such as hosting or attending a large party or gathering will be subject to suspension.” Additionally, his message warned students they could face suspension if they test positive for COVID-19 and don’t isolate. “Socializing outside of your residence, working out at the Leach Center (gym) or engaging in activities such as going to parties may result in your suspension from Florida State University for a minimum of one academic semester,” the message said. Governor DeSantis’ remarks came at a news conference about health issues in Tallahassee during an event that included a meeting with three scientists: Stanford University professors Michael Levitt and Jayanta Bhattacharya and Harvard University Professor Martin Kulldorff. (WESH)


Military leaders say active-duty suicides up 20% during COVID-19 pandemic

Suicides among active-duty U.S. military service members have increased by as much as 20% during the coronavirus pandemic, according to reports. While the data is incomplete, Army and Air Force officials said they believe the isolation and uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic is adding stress to an already strained force. Senior Army leaders have seen a roughly 30% jump in active duty suicides this year, or 114 suicides this year compared to 88 at the same time last year. The first three months of 2020 actually saw a decrease in self-inflicted violent behavior and murders. The Pentagon has yet to provide 2020 data, but Army officials said discussions in Defense Department briefings indicate that there has been up to a 20% jump in overall military suicides. Civilian suicide rates have risen in recent years, but 2020 data isn’t available, so it’s difficult to compare with the military. Veterans and military leaders urged troops to watch out for fellow service members, particularly wounded warriors who may be less inclined to reach out for medical or mental health help due to infection concerns. (Newsweek)



Police in Vietnam said they found about 320,000 recycled used condoms that were being repackaged as new

Market inspectors in the Binh Duong province raided a factory near Ho Chi Minh City, where they discovered used condoms being repackaged to be sold at the market. An inspector said the factory’s 34-year-old owner, a woman, confessed they purchased the condoms from someone else. After buying the condoms from a man, they were washed and reshaped, then packed in plastic bags, according to the newspaper. Video taken by Vietnam’s state broadcaster VTV shows sacks filled with condoms. It also shows tools apparently used to wash and reshape the condoms in the factory. It was unclear how many used condoms were already resold. A health official said the condoms were an extreme health risk to users. (CBS News)


89-year-old pizza delivery driver gets $12,000 tip surprise from ‘TikTok Family’

The tables quickly turned for an 89-year-old pizza delivery driver who received a surprise delivery of his own from “regulars” on his route: a $12,000 tip! The man was in disbelief when the family knocked on the door of his Utah home. The man delivers pizzas for Papa John’s about 30 hours a week. He said that he started the job after realizing he couldn’t live solely on social security. In addition to being a delivery driver, man is also a rising TikTok star thanks to some loyal customers inspired by his kindness. The family said they always ask for him when ordering pizza and started recording his deliveries as TikTok videos on their channel @vendingheads. “It’s insane. Everybody loves him,” one family member said. The family claims his signature phrase with each delivery is, “Hello, are you looking for some pizza?” With more than 53,000 followers, they often got comments asking why he was delivering pizzas at his age. The family agreed that he shouldn’t have to work so much and decided to use their platform for some good. They asked their followers to make a donation to help the man, and the money started rolling in. They were quickly able to raise $12,000. They presented a signed check to him as from his “TikTok Family.” (KSL TV)


A Maryland man has been sentenced to a year behind bars after being found guilty of multiple counts of failure to comply with an emergency order

The Charles County, Maryland Sheriff’s Office says 42-year-old man hosted a gathering of between 50 and 60 people on March 22 at his home, in violation of the Governor’s prohibition on large gatherings of people that was in effect at the time. “He was argumentative with officers but eventually agreed to disband his party,” according to the county State’s Attorney. Less than a week later, though, on March 27, officers responded to his home again for another report of a party exceeding 50 people. This time, he was arrested. On Friday, after a bench trial before a District Court Judge when he was convicted of two counts of Failure to Comply with an Emergency Order and sentenced to a year of active incarceration to be served at the Charles County Detention Center. Upon release, he will be on unsupervised probation for a period of three years. (WJLA)


“It’s not Christmas yet, but the Grinch has come to town”

Polk County, Florida Sheriff’s Office announced the arrest of a 32-year-old woman who claimed she was raising money for murder victims. Instead she went shopping, cops say. According to the police report, she solicited funds on behalf of three Frostproof, Florida men who were killed on a fishing trip in July. “She used my name, used my son’s picture to gather money that these people thought they were giving to my family,” said the mother of one of the victims. The mother along with other friends and family members notified authorities of the now-defunct page called “Polk County Triple Homicide, Family Expenses” when they received no money from it. An investigation determined the woman had deposited all the contributors’ money raised into her own accounts. The sheriff’s office said the woman admitted to creating the account soon after the tragedy and initially did it to help. When the money started rolling in, she began “spending it for personal use” such as paying off a water bill and shopping at Walmart. She was charged with five counts of criminal use of personal ID, one count grand theft, one count misrepresentation of proceeds and one count fraud. (Polk County, Florida Sheriff’s Office)


Florida woman stabs boyfriend, hit by truck and dies

Florida authorities say a woman stabbed her boyfriend on an interstate highway, and then was killed when she ran in front of a tractor-trailer truck. The death happened early last Saturday (9/29). The Orange County, Florida Sheriff’s Office reports the 30-year-old woman and her 27-year-old boyfriend got into an argument and pulled over along Interstate 4. The woman broke a bottle and struck the man as they were on the shoulder of the highway. The Florida Highway Patrol said the woman then ran into the path of a truck. (WEAR)


Three off-duty Florida police officers became sick and two were hospitalized during a night out and officials are investigating whether they were intentionally poisoned with a date rape drug

Three officers with the Orlando, Florida Police Department went out on September 16th in downtown Sanford, Florida where they had dinner at a restaurant, went to out for drinks at a few different places. At the last bar one of them started to feel ill, “visibly sweating and vomited”, according to the report by the Sanford Police Department. They called an ambulance and that officer was treated by a paramedic with an IV. The two other officers later went home and also became sick. One officer officer developed severe symptoms later in the night and was later placed on a ventilator and the third was also hospitalized. According to the report one of the officer’s mixed drinks ‘didn’t taste good/right’ and they only took a couple sips and the other officers split the drink. A doctor who treated one of the officers at Seminole County hospital said they ‘might be experiencing the effect of being drugged or poisoned.’ Medical staffers reportedly told the Sanford Police investigators that one officer ‘may have been drugged with a narcotic commonly known as Rohypnol (GHB)’, which is known as a ‘date rape’ drug. One reported that the symptoms hit ‘all at once out of nowhere’ including ‘vomiting, profuse sweating and muscle pain.’ The FBI is assisting Sanford police with the investigation. All officers have since recovered and are out of the hospital. (Orlando Sentinel)


Big chains stockpiling as cases rise

Supermarket chains and food companies, buffeted by the unpredictable swings in demand that have marked the pandemic era, are bracing for a similarly volatile fall and winter. Alarm is growing around swelling virus case numbers and with it predictions of more panic buying. Food companies are ramping up production of previous pandemic favorites and big box chains are “stockpiling groceries”. At the same time, stores are building “pandemic pallets,” comprising deeply popular cleaning and sanitizing products that consumers aggressively hoarded last spring. (The Wall Street Journal)


Time travel ‘theoretically possible,’ study says: ‘The math checks out’

The research suggests that if time travel were possible and a person changed events in the past, the future would eventually correct itself so the paradox does not exist. “The maths checks out – and the results are the stuff of science fiction,” the study’s co-author and University of Queensland professor said. “Say you traveled in time, in an attempt to stop COVID-19’s patient zero from being exposed to the virus. However if you stopped that individual from becoming infected – that would eliminate the motivation for you to go back and stop the pandemic in the first place. This is a paradox – an inconsistency that often leads people to think that time travel cannot occur in our universe. Some physicists say it is possible, but logically it’s hard to accept because that would affect our freedom to make any arbitrary action. It would mean you can time travel, but you cannot do anything that would cause a paradox to occur,” according to researchers. Due in part to Einstein’s theory of general relativity, which predicts the existence of closed time-like curves (CTCs), CTCs are possible, which would allow a person to interact with a past version of themselves and not cause harm to them in the future. “In the coronavirus patient zero example, you might try and stop patient zero from becoming infected, but in doing so you would catch the virus and become patient zero, or someone else would,” University of Queensland student and study lead author said. “No matter what you did, the salient events would just recalibrate around you.” They added “This would mean that – no matter your actions – the pandemic would occur, giving your younger self the motivation to go back and stop it. Try as you might to create a paradox, the events will always adjust themselves, to avoid any inconsistency. The range of mathematical processes we discovered show that time travel with free will is logically possible in our universe without any paradox.” (Classical and Quantum Gravity)


Tomatoes come in a dizzying array of shapes, sizes and flavors and a new study uses state-of-the-art DNA-sequencing technology to finally trace the genetic underpinnings of these differences

The comparison of 100 tomato varieties’ genetic sequences reveals more than 230,000 variations within their DNA. Understanding how these mutations modify tomatoes will give breeders and scientists new tools to refine this crop and others, said a plant biologist at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and a senior author on the study. The scientists sequenced and compared the genomes of a wide range of tomatoes, including wild and vintage heirloom varieties as well as more modern ones. They used a technique called long-read sequencing to track down large stretches of tomato DNA that had been copied, deleted or moved. These structural variations were impossible to pinpoint using previous technologies that allowed scientists to read only small snippets at a time. They examined how these variations influence tomato characteristics, focusing on three particular traits—flavor, size and ease of harvesting. In one test, the team identified a gene that infuses a smoky flavor, presenting breeders with a target attribute to enhance or eliminate at will. In another experiment, the scientists used the gene-editing tool CRISPR to modify the DNA structure and changed fruit size by making more copies of a particular gene. Finally, they investigated how variations influence a trait that makes tomatoes grow in an easier-to-harvest formation but results in lowered fruit production. The researchers showed how four structural variations together can tune relevant genes that maintain the trait without reducing fruit productivity, establishing a protocol to breed for that balance. The study “reveals thousands of other gene-associated structural variations that may explain many important tomato traits—disease response, stress tolerance, yield, performance and quality—that can now be accessed,” researchers say. Knowing which gene to mutate for tuning a particular trait is a “holy grail” for agricultural plant breeders and geneticists, they added. “Studies like these can set the stage to improve crops using predictable, accurate breeding.” (Scientific American)


NASA launching new space toilet and more to space station

A private cargo spacecraft will lift off from Virginia on today (9/29), carrying tons of fresh supplies to the International Space Station, including scientific experiments, skincare from Estée Lauder and a brand-new space toilet. The mission, known as Cygnus NG-14, will be deliver 7,624 lbs of cargo on the 14th flight for Northrop Grumman’s robotic Cygnus spacecraft and the resupply craft’s 13th mission to the International Space Station. Cygnus will launch atop an Antares rocket at 10:27 p.m. EDT (0227 a.m. GMT Sept. 30) from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The nearly 8,000 lbs. of cargo carried to space by Cygnus will include crew supplies like food alongside scientific experiments and even a newly updated space toilet, officially called the Universal Waste Management System. The $23 million space toilet, which was created with astronaut input, will be among the important experiments and equipment sent with this launch. This toilet is 65% smaller and 40% lighter than the toilet currently on the space station, NASA officials said. It was designed to optimize “the use of the toilet for the female crew, and NASA spent a lot of time working with crewmembers … to improve the use of the commode,” according to the NASA Advanced Exploration Systems Logistics Reduction project manager. The cargo will also include a radish-growing experiment known as Plant Habitat-02; the Onco Selectors investigation, which will focus on cancer therapies; a novel water recovery system experiment; a specialized camera that will capture what it’s like to be aboard the space station in 360-degree virtual reality; bottles of skincare serum from Estée Lauder; and much more. The cargo will be delivered to support the Expedition 64 crew aboard the space station, though pretty soon SpaceX’s Crew 1 astronauts may make use of some of this cargo, as they are set to launch on October 23rd. FYI: You can watch the launch live here at Space.com, courtesy of NASA TV, directly at NASA TV beginning at 10 p.m. EDT (0200 GMT Sept. 30) or at NASA Wallops’ Ustream site beginning at approximately 5:30 p.m. EDT. (Space)


ICU nurse transforms school bus into after-shift oasis

An ICU nurse from Eldersburg, Maryland, came up with a creative solution to exhaustion after working long hours at a hospital during the coronavirus pandemic: She’s taking her own bed on the road with a project that has become her passion. She has remodeled a short school bus into a vintage travel vehicle that she calls “Schooly”. The wife and mom of college freshmen twins said she always wanted a vintage travel trailer, now making a 30-year dream come true. She wanted to create an oasis where she could sleep in between shifts at the hospital. She has spent the last eight weeks renovating the bus. Most everything inside is from thrift stores. She has a bed, a makeshift toilet and a kitchen. All the decorations are sealed in tight. With no coronavirus vaccine, she knows long hours are ahead, but said her little bus will make life a little easier. (WBAL)


Tuesday Skips Around With:

  • Attend Your Grandchild’s Birth Day
  • International Coffee Day
  • MAGS Day
  • Michaelmas
  • Mutation Day (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
  • National Biscotti Day
  • VFW Day
  • World Heart Day

Add a Comment