Monday, October 19, 2020

Woman calls off wedding with ghost after he ‘kept disappearing’

A British woman who claims she got “engaged” to a ghost has now called off the wedding because he “kept disappearing” and started “partying” too much. “We’ve called the wedding off,” said the 32-year-old woman, said on UK TV show “This Morning.” “He just completely changed.” She said she fell in love with a “sexy” spirit named Ray during a trip to Australia in 2018 and even consummated the relationship on the flight back home. The paranormal Casanova later popped the question on their nine-month anniversary, and things were going well until a recent vacation to Thailand, she said. “I think maybe he fell in with a bad crowd when we were on holiday. He just started becoming really inconsiderate,” she said. It was suddenly as if he didn’t know boo about romance, she told the show. “He’d disappear for long periods of time. When he did come back, he’d bring other spirits to the house and they’d just stay around for days,” she said. “I think he started doing drugs and partying a bit much.” Ultimately they both agreed not to tie the knot. Her story sparked some spirited comments on Twitter. (This Morning Twitter)



All Vermont middle and high schoolers will have access to free condoms under new bill

Every high school and middle school in Vermont will now provide free condoms to students under a new bill that was just signed into law. “In order to prevent or reduce unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, each school district shall make condoms available to all students in its secondary schools, free of charge,” the bill reads. “At a minimum, condoms shall be placed in locations that are safe and readily accessible to students, including the school nurse’s office.” The Vermont Agency of Education and Department of Health both expressed support for the legislation, which was signed by Republican Governor Phil Scott on October 5th.  A 2019 survey by the state’s health department found that nearly a third of high school students are sexually active, but of those students, only 32% report regularly using condoms.  Republican Representative Topper McFaun, who introduced the bill said that the aim of this legislation is to allow students to protect themselves and reduce the number of abortions that are happening. Nationally, 7.2% of high schools and 2.3% of middle schools provide condoms to students, according to the CDC. Vermont will be the first state to require that schools provide condoms to students though, the National Coalition of STD Directors told Vermont Public Radio. Vermont’s bill is set to go into effect on July 1st. (Vermont General Assembly)


That Zoom call may cost you

Concerts, bar-hosted happy hours and online conferences may soon have a paywall after Zoom announced it will allow businesses to charge admission for their virtual events. Zoom isn’t taking a cut of ticket sales for now, meaning the product could be a boon for small firms turning to the platform to bring in extra income. Users will need a paid subscription, and be based in the U.S., to use the new feature. A global rollout is expected in 2021. (CNBC)


Freshmen are shunning college

The pandemic is continuing to take a toll on higher education, with U.S. undergraduate enrollment dropping 4%, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. First-year student enrollment is down 16%, as would-be freshmen grapple with concerns over finances, virus risks on campus and the challenges of online learning. The declines are also steep at community colleges, where there was a 9.4% overall drop and a 22.7% fall in first-year students. Graduate enrollment picked up slightly, however. (Forbes)


Crisis can’t stop these industries

Some industries have found that business is booming amid the pandemic, fueling a surge in hiring for select firms even as much of the economy tumbles. Millions of jobs have been lost this year, but many home-mortgage firms, financial service providers and tech companies are hiring hundreds, and even thousands, of workers as Americans spend more time at home, reevaluate their finances and embrace remote work. It’s another sign that the country is entering a two-track recovery, with some industries thriving as others struggle to keep up with pandemic restrictions and altered consumer behavior. The crisis has also sparked a surge in entrepreneurship amid a high jobless rate. Roughly 1.5 million new businesses filed with the IRS in the third quarter, up 82% from the same period last year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. (The Wall Street Journal)


U.S retail expenditure increased in September, up by 1.9% from August. 

This was the fifth straight month where retail sales went up as Americans started to spend more on vehicles, furniture, and clothing. Consumer spending accounts for 70% of the American economy – spending in areas like tourism and sporting events remains down due to the pandemic. September’s gains were the largest since June and occurred despite the additional $600 federal unemployment benefits expiring in July. The unemployment benefits were part of the CARES Act passed in March. Retail sales growth could fall, however, should Congress fail to pass another stimulus package and companies continue to layoff workers. 898,000 Americans filed for unemployment insurance for the first time last week. (Bloomberg)


A Minnesota man has won a competition dubbed the “Super Bowl of Pumpkins” with a 2,350-pound pumpkin

Every Columbus Day, farmers from across the U.S. arrive in Half Moon Bay, California, to take part in the Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off, which is now in its 47th year. The winner this year drove for 35 hours with his pumpkin wrapped in blankets and pool noodles to protect it from scratches. “People were wondering what we were hauling when we stopped at the gas station and we had to throw buckets of water on it. It was kind of funny,” he said. The winner, who named his pumpkin “Tiger King” after the hit Netflix show, will take home $16,450 in prize money. (CNN)


A rapid COVID-19 test from the University of Oxford uses machine learning to identify the coronavirus in throat swabs in less than five minutes

Researchers want to begin product development early next year and roll out an approved device six months later for mass testing at airports, businesses, and elsewhere. The test works by scanning throat swabs for virus particles and using ML software to automatically identify if the actual virus (rather than antibodies) is present using fluorescence labeling. The labeling helps differentiate the virus from others based on its size, physical surface makeup, and chemical composition. Oxford University’s Department of Physics developed the method, which can discern SARS-CoV-2 from the flu and seasonal human coronavirus. Oxford says it plans to create a spinout company for investors to contribute to making the test a fully integrated device. AI has been used to assess the severity of COVID-19 lung damage from CT scans, analyze patient-monitoring data to detect patient problems, and help forecast where new outbreaks are likely to occur. (Tech Crunch)


Sweden plans to increase military spending by 40% amid increased tensions with Russia

The additional funds will be used to expand military personnel to about 90,000 from 60,000 people. The Swedish government said it decided to boost military spending due to increased Russian activity in the Baltic Sea. In September, Sweden complained that two Russian warships entered its territorial waters without permission. “We have a situation where the Russian side is willing to use military means to achieve political goals,” defense minister Peter Hultqvist said. By 2025, Sweden will be drafting 8,000 people a year, twice as many as in 2019. Sweden reintroduced compulsory military service for a limited number of men and women in 2017. The navy will get an extra submarine, increasing the number to five, and will upgrade its fleet of small warships. The Swedish army and air force will also receive new weapons systems. (Reuters)


Japan’s government plans to release 1.2 million tons of contaminated water into the sea

The water has been stored in large tanks since the Fukushima Daiichi plant was badly damaged during a 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The discharge will take at least two years because the irradiated water will need to be filtered and diluted with seawater before it can be released into the ocean. The Japanese government said it plans to make a formal announcement soon. The water comes from the cooling pipes used to keep fuel cores from melting. Tokyo Electric said it will be able to remove all radioactive particles from the water except tritium which is “relatively harmless.” Other plants around the world commonly release water in the ocean that contains traces of tritium. The International Atomic Energy Agency noted that nuclear plants around the world release contaminated water into the ocean. The fishery industry in Fukushima is against the plan. (Carbon Brief)


Tab… Coke discontinuing its first diet drink

After 57 years, the Coca-Cola Company is discontinuing Tab, its first-ever diet drink, the company announced. The drink will be retired by the end of 2020, along with other “underperforming products.” When Tab was introduced in 1963, it was coming on the heels of the the only sugarless soda on the market, Diet Rite. Named so people can “keep tabs” on their weight, Tab’s popularity went plummeting when Coca-Cola introduced Diet Coke in 1982. In 2017, Tab accounted for just 0.03% of Coca-Cola’s sales. Despite that, Tab still has its fans, who panicked when there was a Tab shortage in 2018.

  • Coca-Cola is also discontinuing:
  • Coca-Cola Life
  • Diet Coke Feisty Cherry
  • Odwalla
  • Spite Lymonade
  • ZICO coconut water

(The New York Times)


People call 911 about giant sunfish in Massachusetts, officials ask them to stop

An ocean sunfish swimming off the coast of Massachusetts has gotten a lot of unnecessary attention recently for simply “doing normal sunfish activities.” Last week, local emergency officials received numerous calls about a creature in Broad Cove, near Wareham, Massachusetts. Apparently, people thought it was an injured seal, a shark or a stranded fish, but it was really just an ocean sunfish. Also called Mola, sunfish are the heaviest bony fish, with the largest weighing almost 5,000 pounds. Sunfish are “clumsy swimmers” and often come near the surface to enjoy the sun. However, they have a huge dorsal fin that can get them mistaken for a shark — which is what happened in Wareham. Instead, if people see a sunfish in an inlet or cove, they should call the New England Coastal Wildlife Alliance, so the conservation group can help the fish find its way back to the ocean. (Fox News)


Study Explains the Process That Exacerbates Multiple Sclerosis

Researchers at Karolinska Institute have now shown that recovery from MS-like symptoms in mice depends on the ability of the Central Nervous System’s own immune cells, microglia, to break down the remains of damaged cells, such as myelin. The processes was interrupted when the researchers removed a so-called autophagy gene, Atg7. Autophagy is a process where cells normally break down and recycle their own proteins and other structural components. Without Atg7 the ability of the microglia to clean away tissue residues created by the inflammation was reduced. These residues accumulated over time, which is a possible explanation for the progressiveness of the disease. The study also shows how microglia from aged mice resemble the cells from young mice that lacked Atg7 in terms of deficiencies in this process, which had a negative effect on the course of the disease. MS is a chronic inflammatory disease of the central nervous system (CNS) and one of the main causes of neurological functional impairment. The disease is generally diagnosed between 20 and 30 years of age. It can cause severe neurological symptoms, such as loss of sensation and trembling, difficulties walking and maintaining balance, memory failure and visual impairment. MS is a life-long disease with symptoms that most often gradually worsen over time. (Neuroscience News)


Monday Shakes Down With:

  • Clean Your Virtual Desktop Day (3rd Monday)
  • Evaluate Your Life Day
  • Kentucky Day
  • Lung Health Day (Monday of Respiratory Care Week)
  • Seafood Bisque Day

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