Monday, November 2, 2020

Netflix binges will cost you more

Binging Netflix movies and shows just got more expensive. The streaming giant has raised the price of its standard and premium plans to $13.99 and $17.99 a month, respectively, for new subscribers. Its basic plan stays unchanged at $8.99 a month. Current users will see the new fees over the next few weeks. Netflix last increased fees in January 2019, and the latest jump comes as streaming competition increases and subscription growth slowed following a pandemic boom earlier this year. Netflix says the increase will allow it to invest more heavily in the quality and quantity of its content. (The Verge)


Dunkin’ shuts stores amid sale talks

Coffee chain Dunkin’ says it will close 800 stores by the end of the year, even as it’s in talks with private equity-backed prospective buyer Inspire Foods for an $8.8 billion takeover. The pandemic has hammered breakfast chains, with 15 Denny’s locations closing this spring and 100 IHOP locations expected to close in the next six months. Starbucks has also suffered, but the company credits its large footprint in big cities, its digital presence and its loyalty program for helping it weather the crisis. (Restaurant Dive)


Exxon to cut 1,900 US jobs

The oil industry continues to struggle amid the coronavirus pandemic. Exxon Mobil announced it is laying off up to 15% of its global workforce over the next year, including around 1,900 employees in the U.S., mainly from its management offices in Houston. The oil giant posted its third consecutive quarterly loss for the first time on record Friday, as gasoline usage has dipped drastically due to pandemic-induced lockdowns and people limiting their travel. (The Wall Street Journal)


Study: High Rates of COVID-19 Among Grocery Workers

A new study suggests grocery store workers might be super spreaders. The analysis of 104 employees at a store in Boston found about a fifth of workers had COVID-19, but about 75% of those sick did not have any symptoms. Workers in customer-facing roles were five times more likely to test positive than those in other roles. The study is the first to look at the risk of the pandemic to grocery workers. Ninety-nine employees filled in the mental health questionnaires: 24 workers reported at least mild anxiety. Only half (46%) of them said they were able to practice social distancing consistently at work, whereas most (76%) of those who weren’t anxious were able to do so. Eight employees were deemed to be mildly depressed from their questionnaire answers. They were less likely to practice social distancing consistently at work and more likely to travel to and from work on public transport or shared rides compared with those who weren’t depressed. (Medical Xpress)


Walmart reverses decision to remove guns and ammo from store shelves

Walmart on Friday (10/30) reversed its decision to take guns and ammunition from store displays in response to concerns about “isolated civil unrest.” The country’s largest retailer had asked all of its stores to move firearms and ammunition to a secure backroom area of the store out of “an abundance of caution” on Thursday (10/29), Walmart spokesperson said in a statement. But, “as the current incidents have remained geographically isolated, we have made the decision to begin returning these products to the sales floor today,” he said Friday. The move cames before the presidential election. (NBC News)


College student horrified after submitting paper with profane title as placeholder

A college student got schooled when she accidentally submitted a paper with a profane title expressing her disdain for the assignment, a wildly viral video shows. The student’s friend and roommate, couldn’t help but giggle when she found the young woman wailing on the ground about the mistake, in a quick clip explaining that her pal submitted a mid-term paper with a profanity laced heading. Footage of the woman’s must-see meltdown has since been viewed 6.7 million times since hitting the platform this week. “What am I supposed to do?!” the distraught student, who presumably attends Michigan State University, cried from the floor. “This is not funny, I’m so sad,” she added as the camera zoomed into a laptop showing her assignment, which she accidentally sent with a title reading “Stupid f—ing paper that has no meaning.” The crying collegian continued bawling away while her friend stifled laughter. “Don’t worry I gave her a hug after and her professor let her resubmit,” the caring roomie captioned the clip. In a follow-up video, the sorry student shared what happened next. “Alright, so, this is what I wrote to her, with tears in my eyes,” she joked, sharing an image from an email exchange with her professor. In the messages, she apologized for the unfortunately named essay, and the teacher gives her the OK to send it in again. Now, as the student noted, she’s just “waiting for the grade.” (Mirror)


MIT researchers developed an AI model that can detect asymptomatic COVID-19 patients by analyzing their coughs

The model is based on four algorithms, which accurately identified 98.5% of coughs from confirmed COVID patients. Of that group, it detected 100% of asymptomatic coughers. MIT trained the model on tens of thousands of forced-cough recordings, which people submitted through smartphones and web browsers. Researchers want to incorporate the model into an app, which would require FDA approval. The free app would be used as a prescreening tool to identify asymptomatic patients. Such an app could lower the virus’ spread “if everyone uses it before going to a classroom, a factory, or a restaurant,” says co-author and research scientist in MIT’s Auto-ID Laboratory. They also plan to amass a larger and more diverse dataset of cough recordings collected from hospitals, which could strengthen the AI’s accuracy. (IEEE Journal of Engineering in Medicine and Biology)


A Georgia mom was caught with a loaded gun outside Disney’s Magic Kingdom and blamed her 6-year-old son for hiding the weapon

A 27-year-old mom of Lithonia, Georgia was arrested and charged with carrying a concealed loaded silver and teal 9mm on October 8th after a hospital employee checking visitors’ temperatures at Magic Kingdom’s Ticket and Transportation Center saw her drop a pink purse behind a planter, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. The woman then walked through a security checkpoint as the health worker alerted Disney authorities, who contacted a nearby Orange County deputy, authorities said. The mom confessed to the deputy, but when the deputy asked why she would bring a loaded gun to Disney World, she responded that she had “told her son to hold it for me” as she went to get her brother. “He put it down and messed with the plants and I put them back, but I didn’t know he put it down and I didn’t know he left it over here,” she told the deputy. The firearm, which the mother did not have concealed weapons permit for in Georgia or Florida, had 10 rounds in it, including one in the chamber, sheriff officials said. The mother was arrested at the scene and was permanently banned from returning to all Walt Disney World properties. (Orlando Sentinel)


McRib returning to McDonald’s and it will be available nationwide

The McRib is coming back to McDonald’s on December 2nd and it’s returning to restaurants nationwide this year. The fast-food chain announced that the return of its McRib will be the first time the elusive sandwich will be sold across the country since 2012. As in years past, the item will only be around in the U.S. for a limited time. However, customers in Germany can enjoy the sandwich year-round. The McRib made its national debut at McDonald’s in 1982. Over the years, it has become a fan favorite. The sandwich features seasoned boneless pork slathered in barbecue sauce, topped with onions and pickles. (McDonalds Twitter)


Study finds brain abnormalities ‘common’ in COVID-19 patients

A new study is shedding light on how COVID-19 is disrupting normal brain function in infected patients. Researchers at the Baylor College of Medicine reviewed 84 studies involving more than 600 patients who had been diagnosed with COVID-19. The median age was 61, and two-thirds of the patients were men, while one-third were women. The study’s authors examined the results of patients’ electroencephalograms, known as EEGs, the tests detect abnormalities in brain waves, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, and found that brain abnormalities in COVID-19 patients were “common.” “Diffuse slowing of the brainwaves was the most common finding, which suggests that the brain is not working as good as it usually does,” said the co-author of the study and an assistant professor of neurology and neurophysiology at Baylor College of Medicine. In addition, older males seem more susceptible to brainwave changes. This dovetails with recent research that reveals the virus is more deadly in older populations and in men. (Seizure Journal)


Tupperware has seen its revenue soar this year because people have been cooking more at home and buying containers for their leftovers

The company had been posting negative sales growth for five of the past six years but its fortune improved thanks to the pandemic. In the third quarter, the company made $34.4 million in profit, four times as much as in the same period last year. It  reported quarterly adjusted earnings of $1.20 per share, triple what analysts had forecast. The company’s shares closed at $28.80 on Wednesday, up from around $1 in March. Netflix, Amazon, and Peloton have seen strong sales this year, but companies that don’t rely on technology platforms, such as Tupperware and toymakers Hasbro, Mattel, and Lego, have also enjoyed strong demand for their products. (Associated Press)


A common autumn and Halloween decoration was used as a weapon in Largo, Florida

According to a police report from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, deputies responded to a domestic disturbance call. The 26-year-old man was heavily intoxicated while engaged in a verbal argument with his 29-year-old girlfriend, the victim. The victim told deputies she repeatedly asked the man to leave the home, but was ignored. During their argument, the defendant picked up a pumpkin and threw it at her, its “insides,” including pulp and seeds, splattering all over her. Despite the mess, there were no further injuries to the victim, deputies said. The man admitted to throwing the pumpkin, but said he directed it toward the sliding doors, not toward his girlfriend.The man was arrested on domestic battery charges and the victim was granted a restraining order. He was released on a $1,000 bond and ordered to wear an alcohol monitor. (Yahoo News)


Florida parents sue school board over mandate that requires students to wear masks

A group of parents in Florida is suing the Sarasota County school board for requiring students to wear face masks, which are recommended by federal health officials to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The suit was filed last week in a Sarasota County, Florida court by parents after the school board approved an emergency 90-day mask mandate that extends its policy through to the end of the year. The policy requires students attending in-person class to wear masks, with a few exceptions, for most of the school day. The parents argue in the suit that forcing children to wear masks at school denies them their right to an equal education. The 59-page complaint cites the Florida constitution as its reasoning as to why students shouldn’t be forced to wear masks. It also goes on to say that parents should be the ones making decisions for their children, not the school board. In sworn affidavits that they have three children enrolled in the school district who have “severe” allergies and said that wearing a mask worsens their conditions. The complain also says the school board’s policy interferes with their parental rights and decision-making ability. (Sarasota Herald-Tribune)


Monday Shows Up With:

  • All Souls Day
  • Color the World Orange Day (First Monday in November)
  • Cookie Monster Birthday
  • Deviled Egg Day
  • International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists
  • Job Action Day (First Monday in November)
  • Ohio Day
  • Traffic Professionals Day

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