Thursday, November 19, 2020

Bitcoin makes a quiet comeback

Bitcoin has surged above $17,000 for the first time since January 2018 on the back of announcements from Square and PayPal. The digital currency is in the midst of a notable rally, reminiscent of its record 1,375% surge to nearly $20,000 in 2017 but has not captured the collective imagination as it did during that rally. JPMorgan recently said that it could double or even triple in value as it becomes more established as an alternative currency. (Coin Desk)


Baby industry braces for pandemic hit

Although some had predicted a baby boom after the long months at home, the pandemic may have had the opposite effect. Birthrates in the U.S., which have been steadily declining in the past decades, may see an even steeper drop in the coming months. Some experts expect between 300,000 to 500,000 fewer births next year, compared to an approximate drop of 44,000 in 2019. With the baby industry bracing itself for a hit, companies such as Reckitt, Nestlé and Danone are pivoting instead towards producing pricier items for families with fewer children who may have more to spend. (The Wall Street Journal)


Universal Pictures and exhibitors Cinemark reached a deal to shorten the exclusive theatrical window on new release films

Universal reached a similar deal with theater chain AMC over the summer, marking a trend in what could be the end of the 90-day theatrical window. Moving forward, Universal and Focus films that open to more than $50 million at the domestic box office will get an exclusive 31-day theatrical window, while all other films can move to premium VOD (PVOD) services after 17 days. As the $50 million opening weekend is a high benchmark, most films for the remainder of the lockdown will meet the criteria for a shorter window. The AMC and Universal deal allows new films to stream on video-on-demand within three weeks of their theatrical debuts, instead of the previous industry standard of 90 days.  Once the films move early to PVOD platforms, Cinemark will receive a cut of the U.S. revenue stream. Films that move to PVOD will not necessarily be entirely removed from theaters, allowing Cinemark to potentially profit from both revenue streams.
Cinemark owns both the Cineworld and Regal theater chains. ( Deadline)


Army Secretary Directs Arlington National Cemetery to Go Forward With Wreaths Across America

Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy told Arlington National Cemetery to safely host the annual Wreaths Across America event a day after its cancellation was announced amid concerns as cases of COVID-19 continue to rise throughout the region. “We appreciate the families and visitors who take time to honor and remember those who are laid to rest at our nation’s most hallowed ground,” McCarthy said on Facebook. Hundreds of volunteers lay wreaths at the gravesites of veterans and fallen service members at the cemetery every December 19. The Army secretary said Arlington National Cemetery will provide an updated schedule. Cemetery officials had said they canceled this year’s wreath-laying after determining there was not a way to mitigate the risks of such an event. They consulted with local government and public health officials. Family pass holders and visitors can visit the cemetery and place graveside tributes of privately purchased flowers or wreaths. (NBC Washington)


Woman who sold car two years ago stuck with $5,000 storage bill’

A woman in Toronto, Canada who sold an old car two years ago for $1,000 cash thought she would never hear about the vehicle again. Then she got a letter saying the car had been towed, was in storage and that she would have to pay the bill. Many people sell used cars without any problems, but when you sell a vehicle the buyer is supposed to register the car in their name. If they don’t and the car is abandoned, the previous owner could be on the hook for towing and storage charges. She did everything correctly when she sold the 2002 Honda Civic to someone she met through an online classifieds service. She received a notice a year after the sale saying the car was in storage, but she said she explained to the towing company, the police and the ministry that she sold the car to someone else. However, on the used vehicle information package provided by the Ministry of Transportation needed to sell a used car it says “caution, if the vehicle transfer has not been completed, you may be pursued legally as the vehicle owner in the event of an infraction.” Her family recently bought a home and they couldn’t get a mortgage until they paid a collection agency $5,118 for the towing and storage fees. (CTV News)


New Study Suggests Mouthwash May Quickly Kill the Coronavirus in Human Saliva

A study from Cardiff University suggests that some widely-available mouthwashes could help to kill the virus in saliva. However, this does not mean they would be able to treat the virus within the body, or act as a cure. The preliminary results come ahead of a clinical trial at the University Hospital of Wales that will examine how effective mouthwash is in reducing the amount of coronavirus found in the saliva of Covid-19 patients. Commonly-used mouthwashes are able to kill the coronavirus within 30 seconds of exposure in laboratory conditions, a new study from scientists in the U.K. has found. The researchers, from Cardiff’s Systems Immunity Research Institute, tested how effective a handful of mouthwashes containing ethanol/essential oils, cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC) and povidone-iodine (PVP-I) were at eradicating the virus, finding that three of the mouthwashes they tried eradicated the virus completely. Out of these three products, two contained at least 0.07% CPC and the third contained 23% ethanol with ethyl lauroyl arginate (LAE). (BioRxiv)


Retiree Stole $42,000 From Church To Spend On Porn And Dating Websites

A 67-year-old man from Greater Manchester, Britain was discovered to have stolen more than $42,000 from a local church which he then spent on porn and dating websites. He is said to have forged checks over the period of two years during his time as a bookkeeper to the minister. He admitted everything to the police, telling them that the cash allowed him to “speak to women on adult websites.” He would take the checks to parishioners at to be signed, claiming they were for “legitimate expenses”. He got away with it between March 2017 and October 2019 before his crimes came to light. A female churchgoer revealed that the man had forged her signature and she was left feeling betrayed and “upset” because they had known one another for a while. However, that wasn’t the worst part of the crime as an investigation revealed that a man online posed as a woman named “Jessica” and told him “sob stories” in order to get money out of him. And it seems like it worked, as well. When appearing at court, the official told him, “There is a saying ‘there is no fool like an old fool’ – and you are living proof of that.” Because he admitted everything and seemed to express remorse, the man was given a 16-month prison sentence that’s suspended for two years, meaning he won’t spend any time behind bars. As his lawyer told the court, “My client is a lonely man of modest financial means who has been caught up in an unsavory matter.” Adding that the man had gone through bladder cancer and that he’d made his “ill-judged decision” when suffering from “social isolation and loneliness.” (Bolton News)


If you are planning on heading down to New Orleans for Mardi Gras 2021, you can expect the celebration to look a lot different

No parades will be allowed to roll during carnival due to the coronavirus pandemic, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said. According to the “Mardi Gras 2021 FAQS” posted on the mayor’s office page of the City of New Orleans website: “The City of New Orleans cannot cancel Mardi Gras because it is a religious Holiday, however we will not be able to celebrate the Holiday this year as we have in the past.” As for the traditional parades that cruise down the French Quarter, the facts on the website read: “Parades of any kind will not be permitted this year because large gatherings have proven to be super spreader events of the COVID-19 virus.” The mayor is also asking the community to submit their ideas on how to celebrate the carnival season safely. The first recorded Mardi Gras street parade in New Orleans took place in 1837. (NOLA)


Bear ‘plays basketball’ at San Antonio Zoo

A bear at the San Antonio Zoo was caught on camera enjoying a game of basketball inside his exhibit. The bear, named Jordan, is seen on the video throwing a large rock with his paws as if he were shooting free throws. The video ends with Jordan walking around a corner out of view of the camera still holding the rock. (San Antonio Zoo Facebook)


If bacon and beer are two of your favorite things, you may love reading this

Waffle House is making a product that combines the two. With Christmas right around the corner, the restaurant chain is teaming up with the Oconee Brewing Company to make a bacon-infused red ale. Just in time, the brewer says the beer will be available December 18 in six-packs, draft or growlers. If you’re wondering, the beer is said to actually smell like bacon and the company says it pairs well with breakfast foods. (Oconee)


USPS’s ‘Operation Santa’ goes digital, hoping to reach more children

Elves are going digital this year for the U.S. Postal Service’s annual “Operation Santa”. The 108-year-old program fulfills wish lists for families and children in need. For the first time, gift-givers can adopt families online. The USPS says the new system will let them reach more children across the country. Kids can address their letters and lists to Santa at 123 Elf Road, North Pole, 88888. The helpful “elves” fulfilling the wish lists can pick up a letter from any city in the country. The gifts are also tax deductible. As a reminder, all gifts must be mailed by December 20th. (United States Postal Service)


Brewery celebrates Joe Biden with beer

A brewery has released a beer in celebration of the US President-elect Joe Biden. Wilmington Brew Works have created a pint in honour of the politician although decided against using Biden’s image on the packaging as he is teetotal. The company opted to use a classic train design on the can instead. It is not the only tipple to be created after Biden’s election victory as a Wisconsin brewery has launched a beverage described as “inoffensive and not too bitter” in his honor. (Delaware Online)


Wednesday Gets A Bruising From:

  • Apple Cider Day
  • Educational Support Professionals Day (Wednesday of American Education Week)
  • European Antibiotic Awareness Day
  • Geographic Information Systems Day (3rd Wednesday)
  • Guinness World Record Day
  • Married To A Scorpio Support Day
  • Mickey Mouse Day 
  • Princess Day
  • Push-button Phone Day
  • Vichyssoise Day

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