Friday, October 16, 2020

Anchorage mayor admits to relationship with news anchor after bizarre allegations

The mayor of Anchorage, Alaska, earlier this week admitted to an “inappropriate messaging relationship” with a local TV news anchor who lodged bizarre and unsubstantiated allegations against him. “I apologize to the people of Anchorage for a major lapse in judgement I made several years ago when I had a consensual, inappropriate messaging relationship with reporter Maria Athens,” Mayor Ethan Berkowitz said in a statement. Athens, an anchor for the local Fox and ABC affiliated news stations, posted a video to her professional Facebook page last Friday (10/9) alleging the mayor posted an illicit photo of himself to “an underage girls website.” The anchor claimed the accusations were coming from “reliable sources” and said the story would be airing later that night. An investigation by Anchorage police and the FBI into the allegations found no criminal conduct. The mayor blasted the initial claims as “slanderous” and “categorically false” in a Friday statement. Later Friday, the reporter posted to her Facebook page a nude image claiming to be that of the mayor, along with the mayor’s initial statement. The anchor was also arrested at work later that day for punching the station manager, whom she was also romantically involved with, according to court documents. The next day, the reporter acted out at her arraignment, interrupting the court with frequent outbursts. “I have pancreatitis!” the news anchor said. She also said she needed to get back to work by Monday. It’s unclear if she is still employed by the news stations. She was charged with misdemeanor assault, criminal mischief, and disorderly conduct for her alleged fight at the news station. (Anchorage Daily News)


If you’re happiest when the weather calls for a denim jacket and a warm beverage, you’re not alone

A recent survey conducted by Stuffed Puffs and commissioned by OnePoll revealed that more than half of Americans polled said they are most content during the fall season. The survey asked 2,000 Americans about their thoughts on the season as well as which particular autumn activities they look forward to the most. Despite the current pandemic, 56% respondents voted they were the happiest during the fall when compared to the other seasons. In terms of what aspects of fall excited survey participants the most, watching the leaves change color came in first, feeling the chill in the air came in second and drinking hot chocolate came in third. Getting ready for the holidays and making homemade soup came in fourth and fifth respectively. The survey also shed light on how the pandemic has affected the season, with 31% of respondents noting the pandemic has not allowed them to participate in all the fall activities they normally do. The survey also noted that 53 degrees is the perfect fall temperature according to voters, and that the first two weeks of October are the best time of the season. (House Beautiful)


Severe morning sickness increases the risk of depression

Many women experience morning sickness (nausea) during pregnancy. This condition is known as hyperemesis gravidarum (HG). Far more serious than ‘normal’ morning sickness, it is one of the most common reasons for hospitalization during pregnancy and can continue right up until birth. Women are often advised to bed-rest for weeks, suffer dehydration and weight loss, and are often unable to work or care for other children they have. The condition’s psychological effect isn’t paid attention to enough by both healthcare professionals and the wider public. Nearly half of women with HG suffered antenatal depression, and almost 30 percent had postnatal depression, suggests a new study by the Imperial College London and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. In women without the condition, just six percent experienced antenatal depression, and seven percent suffered postnatal depression. The women were assessed for their psychological wellbeing in the first trimester of pregnancy and six weeks after birth. Of the women with HG, 49 percent experienced depression during pregnancy than just six percent in the control group. Just seven percent of the control group had postnatal depression, compared to 29 percent in the HG group. Half of the women with HG were forced to take four or more weeks off work during or after pregnancy. However, the study did not discover any association between HG and maternal-infant bonding, other research has shown that depression can have a negative effect on this bond. (Tech Explorist)


A lasting blow to the oil industry

Oil demand may take years to recover from the pandemic, according to the International Energy Agency. Even in the most optimistic scenario for oil, where COVID-19 can be contained next year, global consumption of the commodity is not expected to return to pre-crisis levels until 2023. That’s bad news for an industry that has been laying off workers at the fastest rate in history, with 107,000 jobs disappearing from the U.S. oil, gas and chemicals industry alone between March and August. (Bloomberg)


Closing the gender gap in migraine research

Women are two to three times more likely than men to have migraines. The condition typically hits women hardest in their thirties, when the consequences of days lost to debilitating pain can be tremendous. For more than half of women aged between 18 and 60, the onset and timing of migraines is connected with the hormonal flux of their menstrual cycle. This relationship is well-documented in the literature, according to a clinician specializing in headache and women’s health at Barts Health NHS Trust in London. “There’s been an understanding of this link for centuries,” she says. And yet little research has been done to explore the nature of sex-related differences in migraine or their clinical consequences. Much of this knowledge gap is attributable to gender bias — a pervasive problem in clinical research. Young boys and girls are about equally likely to develop migraine. But at puberty, the prevalence in females rapidly escalates. Through adulthood, migraine risk increases in everyone, but it continues to climb more steeply in women. Their risk peaks at around age 35, then gradually tapers off until it declines steeply at menopause. In all, the prevalence of migraine in women is estimated to be around twice that of men. (Nature)


Godwit breaks world record for non-stop bird flight

A bar-tailed godwit traveled the 7,500 miles that separate Alaska from New Zealand in 11 days, establishing a new record for the longest non-stop flight by a bird. Bar-tailed godwits can double in size before long flights and shrink their organs while flying to lighten the load. The bird carried a satellite tag that allowed scientists to track its movements. The previous record-holder was another bar-tailed godwit that flew 7,260 miles in 2007. “They seem to have some capability of knowing where they are on the globe. We can’t really explain it but they seem to have an onboard map,” said a spokesperson from the Global Flyway Network, a group that studies migratory birds. (The Guardian)


Accused Kenosha protest shooter won’t face charges in Illinois

Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old accused of killing two protesters days after Jacob Blake was shot by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, will not face charges in his home state of Illinois, prosecutors said. An investigation revealed the gun used in the Kenosha shooting was purchased, stored and used in Wisconsin, according to a statement by the Lake County, Illinois State’s Attorney’s Office. There is no evidence the gun was ever physically possessed by Kyle Rittenhouse in Illinois, who remains held in a juvenile detention center in Lake County, Illinois without bond because pending criminal charges in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He is due back in Lake County court on October 30th for an extradition hearing. His arrest has become a rallying point for different people, with a legal defense fund that has attracted millions of dollars in donations. Some see him as a domestic terrorist whose presence with a rifle incited the protesters while his defense attorneys have portrayed him as a courageous patriot who was exercising his right to bear arms during unrest over the shooting of Blake. (Chicago Sun Times)


94-Year-Old Travels 300 Miles To Vote After Her Primary Ballot Was Late

Nothing, not even hundreds of miles could stop 94-year-old from voting this year. The Michigan woman is currently living in the Chicago area to care for her sister. She usually votes absentee, but when her primary ballot was late coming in, she didn’t want to take any chances. Her children drove her 300 miles to Detroit earlier this week. “I wasn’t going to miss this at all,” she said. “It was most important, no matter what I had to do. Vote because your life depends on it, not only for you but for you children and their children.” This is the 72nd year the woman has voted. After handing in her ballot, she and her family got back in their car and drove another 300 miles back to Chicago. (CBS 2 Chicago)


FCC Chairman Says Agency Will Move on Social Media Companies, End ‘Special Immunity Denied to Other Media Outlets’

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai said that he plans to begin a rulemaking process to clarify the legal immunities social media companies are permitted to claim under federal law, writing that in his estimation, they do not have a right to “special immunity” denied to traditional media. “Members of all three branches of the federal government have expressed serious concerns about the prevailing interpretation of the immunity set forth in Section 230 of the Communications Act,” the FCC Chairman said in his statement. “Many advance an overly broad interpretation that in some cases shields social media companies from consumer protection laws in a way that has no basis in the text of Section 230.” The 1996 law, which enabled young internet companies to avoid liability for comments made by third-party users, hinges on the concept of technology companies acting as “distributors” of content rather than as “publishers” similar to traditional media, such as newspapers or television broadcasters. It has faced scrutiny from conservatives over the last several years, who have argued that platforms including Facebook and Twitter are acting as traditional publishers when they selectively censor or remove content. (Mediaite)


Now you can hum to search Google for songs you can’t remember

Google unveiled a new search feature Thursday that lets users search for songs by humming a few bars, in an attempt to help you identify music. The feature is now part of Google’s mobile app and Google Assistant, where you can say “what’s this song?” (add a “Hey Google” first on Google Assistant) and then hum, whistle, or sing for 10 to 15 seconds. The results will include several probable songs, along with the search engine’s estimation of how likely it is that each is the one you’re looking for. Google said the feature, which was announced along with several other new search-related functions during an online event held by the company, will be available first in English on Apple’s iOS and in over 20 languages on Google’s Android mobile platform. Users don’t need to have perfect pitch in order to get the feature to work, according to Google. (CNN)


DEA Announces Biggest Meth Bust in US History With 10-Foot-High Pile of Drugs

Federal authorities showed off results of Southern California raids recently that led to the biggest domestic seizure of methamphetamine in U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration history. The 2,224 pounds of methamphetamine was seized October 2nd during an investigation of a drug-trafficking organization with ties to the Sinaloa cartel, the DEA said in a statement. The investigation led to search warrants being served at narcotics stash houses in the Riverside County cities of Moreno Valley and Perris, east of Los Angeles. Also seized were 893 pounds of cocaine and 13 pounds of heroin. The DEA’s big bust came just a week before another huge meth seizure. On October 9th, U.S. Customs and Border Protection stopped a truck crossing from Mexico into the United States at San Diego’s Otay Mesa and found 3,014 pounds of methamphetamine, the agency said. The truck also contained 64 pounds of heroin, 29 pounds of fentanyl powder and almost 37 pounds of fentanyl pills, the agency said. (NBC Los Angeles)


Anthropophobia, the fear of people, now the most-Googled fear in the US

A new survey published by security company ADT has found that anthropophobia, or the fear of people, has so far been America’s most searched-for phobia this year. Anthropophobia accounted for 22% of all phobias that people searched for online, a five-fold increase over 2019. Searches for this term peaked between April 19–25, in parallel with the expanding COVID-19 pandemic. Another coronavirus-related change versus 2019 was the number of searches for the “fear of being alone,” which increased three-fold compared to 2019. Last year, it was the most searched-for fear in the state of Tennessee, but this year it took first place in three states, namely Indiana, Minnesota, and Missouri, whereas Tennesseans seem to be more scared of blood this year. Likewise, in Florida, which has had a disproportionate amount of coronavirus cases, the most searched-for fear in 2020 has been the fear of germs. Other state-wide results affirm common stereotypes. New York’s most-searched phobia in 2020, for example, has been “philophobia.” That’s a big word for the fear of intimacy. And in California, a hub for influencers, the leading fear people looked for online was the fear of social media. This new-sounding fear also implies its opposite, namely nomophobia, or the fear of having no mobile phone. (Your Social Security)


Scott Peterson murder convictions ordered re-examined

The California Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered a second look at Scott Peterson’s conviction for killing his pregnant wife and unborn son, less than two months after it overturned his death penalty. The court sent the case back to San Mateo County Superior Court to determine whether Peterson should receive a new trial. The court said a juror committed “prejudicial misconduct” by failing to disclose that she had been involved with other legal proceedings. The juror had filed a lawsuit in 2000 to obtain a restraining order after her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend harassed her while she was pregnant. The juror said she feared for her unborn child. Yet when asked as a potential juror whether she had ever been a crime victim or involved in a lawsuit, she answered no, Peterson’s attorneys said. In August, the state Supreme Court overturned Peterson’s death sentence. The justices cited “significant errors” in jury selection. The court said potential jurors were improperly dismissed after saying they personally disagreed with the death penalty but would be willing to follow the law and impose it. (The Los Angeles Times)


Finally Friday Screams In With:

  • Boss’s Day
  • Department Store Day
  • Dictionary Day
  • Feral Cat Day
  • Global Cat Day
  • Global Champagne Day (Third Friday)
  • Liqueur Day
  • Mammography Day (Third Friday) 
  • Sports Day
  • World Food Day
  • World Spine Day

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