Wednesday, November 11, 2020


Combative woman dressed in T-shirt, underwear, prompted authorities to divert plane

A scantily clad passenger on a United Airlines flight was so belligerent that authorities diverted the Houston, Texas-bound flight to Mobile, Alabama, police said. According to the Mobile Airport Authority Police Department, the 25-year-old woman caused the disturbance. Police said the Universal City, Texas, woman got into an altercation with another passenger. A flight attendant intervened to try to calm the woman down, and then the attendant and another passenger detained her until the plane made an unscheduled landing in Mobile. Police said the woman, once on the ground, got off the plane wearing nothing but a T-shirt and underwear. She appeared intoxicated and was yelling obscenities and refusing to obey the officer’s commands, according to police. She faces charges of disorderly conduct and public intoxicated. The flight continued to Houston without incident. (WALA)


Chili pepper consumption could help people live longer

Chili peppers might just be the spice of life, according to a new study.  The American Heart Association released a statement teasing its findings. Preliminary research has suggested that regular chili pepper consumers could have longer lifespans due to the fruit’s anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anticancer and blood-glucose regulating properties. These factors play a role in reducing a person’s risk of dying from a cardiovascular disease or cancer, according to the AHA. Researchers who have come to this determination analyzed 4,728 studies related to chili peppers and the aforementioned illnesses. More than 570,000 health records were included in these studies, which included people from the U.S., Italy, China and Iran. The candidates who ate chili peppers regularly had “a 26% relative reduction in cardiovascular mortality; a 23% relative reduction in cancer mortality; and a 25% relative reduction in all-cause mortality.” (Professional Heart Daily)


Newly Discovered Fossil Shows Evolutionary Changes in an Extinct Human Species

Males of the extinct human species Paranthropus robustus were thought to be substantially larger than females — much like the size differences seen in modern-day primates such as gorillas, orangutans and baboons. But a new fossil discovery in South Africa instead suggests that “P. robustus” evolved rapidly during a turbulent period of local climate change about 2 million years ago, resulting in anatomical changes that previously were attributed to sex. An international research team including anthropologists at Washington University in St. Louis reported their discovery from the fossil-rich Drimolen cave system northwest of Johannesburg. The remarkably well-preserved fossil described in the paper was discovered by a student who participated in the Drimolen Cave Field School. Researchers already knew that the appearance of “P. robustus” in South Africa roughly coincided with the disappearance of Australopithecus, a somewhat more primitive early human, and the emergence in the region of early representatives of Homo, the genus to which modern people belong. This transition took place very rapidly, perhaps within only a few tens of thousands of years. (SciTech Daily)


Alphabet delivers wireless Internet over light beams from 20km away

Alphabet will soon deliver wireless Internet over light beams in Kenya using a technology that can cover distances of up to 20km. Alphabet’s Project Taara conducted a series of pilots in Kenya last year and is now partnering with a telecom company to deliver Internet access in remote parts of Africa. Kenya will get the technology first, with other countries in sub-Saharan Africa to follow. The technology requires line-of-sight connections, so Alphabet deploys the terminals high up on towers, poles, or rooftops. They say it will help provide high-speed connectivity in places where it’s challenging to lay fiber cables, or where deploying fiber might be too costly or dangerous—for example over rivers, across national parks, or in post-conflict zones. (Ars Technica)


Taco Bell fans hold tiny protest over removal of potatoes from menu

Earlier this year, Taco Bell announced several changes to its menu, which included removing several popular items. As all of the potato-based items were removed from the menu, apparently now some vegans don’t feel as welcome to eat unhealthy fast-food as they used to. A TikTok user from San Diego posted a video to his account that shows at least two men protesting outside a Taco Bell. One of the participants can be seen holding a sign that says “Taco Bell hates vegans.” The TikTok post is captioned, “finally some peaceful protesters trying to strike real change in the community.” Since being posted, it has been viewed over 771,000 times. Taco Bell still provides vegan options on its menu, however, so it appears that the issue is mostly related to potatoes. The video drew a variety of responses across multiple platforms. The following items were removed from the menu: the Grilled Steak Soft Taco, the 7-Layer Burrito, Nachos Supreme, Beefy Fritos Burrito, Spicy Tostada, Triple Layer Nachos, Spicy Potato Soft Taco, Cheesy Fiesta Potatoes, Loaded Grillers, Chips and Dips and lastly, the Mini Skillet Bowl from the breakfast menu. A spokesperson for Taco Bell announced this past Summer that the fast-food chain was simplifying the menu in an effort to make ordering “faster, safer and easier” for workers and customers. The changes were implemented due to the company shifting priorities to digital and drive-thru orders in response to the coronavirus pandemic. (Fox News)


Florida county school board fires principal over Holocaust comments

The Palm Beach County, Florida School Board officially fired a former high school principal over his comments on the Holocaust that provoked national outrage.The Principal was fired from Boca Raton’s Spanish River High School last year after telling a parent via email that he couldn’t “say the Holocaust is a factual, historical event because I am not in a position to do so as a school district employee.” An Administrative Law Judge ruled in August that the Principal “did not commit incompetence, misconduct, or gross insubordination.” On October 7, the school board voted 4-3 to rehire the Principal and give him $152,000 in back pay, based on the judge’s decision. But a wave of backlash and angry phone calls from across the country forced the board to rescind its decision to hire him. Despite the Principal apologizing and denying that he had ever been a Holocaust denier, the school board rejected the Administrative Law Judge’s recommendations and ruled that his actions rose “to the level of gross insubordination.”  The Principal can appeal the board’s ruling to the 4th District Court of Appeal. (Sun-Sentinel)


Texas social worker charged with 134 counts of election fraud, officials say

A social worker in Texas has been charged with 134 counts in an election fraud investigation, officials with the Texas Attorney General’s Office said. Attorney General announced that his Election Fraud Unit and other officials charged the social worker in the Mexia State Supported Living Center (SSLC), with 134 felony counts of “purportedly acting as an agent and of election fraud.” The Social Worker allegedly submitted voter registration applications for 67 residents without their signature or effective consent, while purporting to act as their agent. He faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted. Under Texas law, only a parent, spouse or child who is a qualified voter of the county may act as an agent in registering a person to vote, after being appointed to do so by that person. Officials say none of the SSLC patients gave effective consent to be registered, and a number of them have been declared totally mentally incapacitated by a court, thereby making them ineligible to vote in Texas. (Attorney General Ken Paxton Twitter)


Fries with your McPlant?

Move over, Big Mac, there’s a new burger in town. McDonald’s announced it plans to offer the “McPlant,” a plant-based burger it co-created with Beyond Meat, in key markets next year. With this new offering, it follows in the footsteps of Burger King and Dunkin’ in moving toward meat-free offerings. The chain told investors on Monday that it was also focusing on more automated order-taking, drive-through lanes for online orders and a dining room-less restaurant design amid the pandemic. (CNN)


Beware the risks of a gap year

Thousands of undergraduate students in the U.S. have paused or delayed college due to the pandemic. Many cite financial reasons and frustration with online learning, while some have even pursued opportunities to start their own businesses — and they’re not sure when or if they’ll go back. But taking a gap year is a risky move, economists tell Bloomberg. Research has found time off can lead some students to drop out altogether, hurting their long-term interests by curbing earning power in the absence of a bachelor’s degree. (Bloomberg)


A couple in France have found a handwritten message sent by a carrier pigeon in the early 1900s

The note, which was inside an aluminum capsule, was sent by a German officer to another. Experts say that it probably dates back to either 1910 or 1916. It describes military exercises in Ingersheim, an area that was then controlled by Germany. Germany seized control of Ingersheim following the 1871 Franco-German War but France retook control of the territory after World War I. The message will be displayed at a local museum. (CNN)


Pizza Hut adds Beyond Meat to its menu

Pizza Hut, in a partnership with Beyond Meat, became the first national pizza chain to introduce plant-based meat pizzas across the United States. These new pizzas are now available at all American Pizza Hut locations and in select locations in London. As part of the partnership, the fast-food chain will offer two new pizza options with a plant-based Italian sausage substitute: a “Beyond Italian Sausage” pizza (a cheese pizza topped with Beyond sausage crumble) and a “Great Beyond” pizza (a veggie pizza also topped with the sausage crumble). Beyond Meat and Pizza Hut co-created the new plant-based meat option using a blend of garlic, paprika, and fennel seeds to mimic the taste of sausage. (CNBC)


Microsoft engineer gets nine years for stealing $10M from Microsoft

A former Microsoft software engineer from Ukraine has been sentenced to nine years in prison for stealing more than $10 million in store credit from Microsoft’s online store. From 2016 to 2018, the 26-year-old worked for Microsoft as a tester, placing mock online orders to make sure everything was working smoothly. The software automatically prevented shipment of physical products to testers, but in a crucial oversight, it didn’t block the purchase of virtual gift cards. So the he discovered that he could use his test account to buy real store credit, then use the credit to buy real products. At first, he bought an Office subscription and a couple of graphics cards. But when no one objected to those small purchases, he grew much bolder. In late 2017 and early 2018, he stole millions of dollars worth of Microsoft store credit and resold it online for bitcoin, which he then cashed out using Coinbase. Prosecutors say he netted at least $2.8 million, which he used to buy a $160,000 Tesla and a $1.6 million waterfront home. He made little effort to cover his tracks for his earliest purchases, but as his thefts got bigger, he took more precautions. The thief has been ordered to pay $8.3 million in restitution, though it seems unlikely he’ll ever be able to do that. The government says he may be deported after serving his time in prison. (United States Department Of Justice)


The first Black woman to assume the top role leading fellow students at the U.S. Naval Academy will take up that position next semester as brigade commander

Midshipman 1st Class Sydney Barber will be the commander for the spring semester, according to the news release. Brigade commander is the highest leadership position within the student body. The semester-long position is selected through an application and interview process by senior leadership and the commandant’s staff. She is a mechanical engineering major and aspires to commission as a Marine Corps ground officer, according to the release. She will be the 16th woman selected for brigade commander in the 44 years women have been attending the academy. The first female brigade commander was then-Midshipman Juliane Gallina, who served in the position in 1991. (United States Naval Academy)



Veterans Day is a well-known American holiday, but there are also a few misconceptions about it, such as how it’s spelled or whom exactly it celebrates. To clear some of that up, here are the important facts you should know:

  1. Veterans Day does NOT have an apostrophe – A lot of people think it’s “Veteran’s Day” or “Veterans’ Day,” but they’re wrong. The holiday is not a day that “belongs” to one veteran or multiple veterans, which is what an apostrophe implies. It’s a day for honoring all veterans — so no apostrophe needed.
  2. Veterans Day is NOT the Same as Memorial Day – A lot of Americans get this confused, and we’ll be honest — it can be a little annoying to all of the living veterans out there. Memorial Day is a time to remember those who gave their lives for our country, particularly in battle or from wounds they suffered in battle. Veterans Day honors all of those who have served the country in war or peace — dead or alive — although it’s largely intended to thank living veterans for their sacrifices. 
  3. It was originally called Armistice Day, commemorating the end of World War I – World War I officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919. However, the fighting ended about seven months before that when the Allies and Germany put into effect an armistice on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, Nov. 11, 1918, was largely considered the end of “the war to end all wars” and dubbed Armistice Day. In 1926, Congress officially recognized it as the end of the war, and in 1938, it became an official holiday, primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I. But then World War II and the Korean War happened, so on June 1, 1954, at the urging of veterans service organizations, Congress amended the commemoration yet again by changing the word “armistice” to “veterans” so the day would honor American veterans of all wars. For a while, Veterans Day’s date was changed, too, and it confused everybody. Congress signed the Uniform Holiday Bill in 1968 to ensure that a few federal holidays (Veterans Day included) would be celebrated on a Monday. Officials hoped it would spur travel and other family activities over a long weekend, which would stimulate the economy.
  4. For some inexplicable reason, the bill set Veterans Day commemorations for the fourth Monday of every October – On Oct. 25, 1971, the first Veterans Day under this new bill was held. We’re not sure why it took three years to implement, but not surprisingly, there was a lot of confusion about the change, and many states were unhappy, choosing to continue to recognize the day as they previously had — in November. Within a few years, it became pretty apparent that most U.S. citizens wanted to celebrate Veterans Day on Nov. 11, since it was a matter of historic and patriotic significance. So on Sept. 20, 1975, President Gerald Ford signed another law (Public Law 94-97), which returned the annual observance to its original date starting in 1978. 
  5. Other countries celebrate it, too, in their own ways – World War I was a multinational effort, so it makes sense that our allies also wanted to celebrate their veterans on November 11. The name of the day and the types of commemorations differ, however. Canada and Australia both call November 11 “Remembrance Day.” Canada’s observance is pretty similar to our own, except many of its citizens wear red poppy flowers to honor their war dead. In Australia, the day is more akin to our Memorial Day. Great Britain calls it “Remembrance Day,” too, but observes it on the Sunday closest to Nov. 11 with parades, services and two minutes of silence in London to honor those who lost their lives in war. (United States Department of Defense)


Wednesday Slaps Back With:

  • Armistice Day
  • Death/Duty Day
  • Forget-Me-Not Day
  • National Homunculus Awareness Day
  • Origami Day
  • Red Lipstick Day
  • Sundae Day
  • Veteran’s Day

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