Thursday, December 3, 2020

UK approves Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine

The U.K. has granted emergency approval to Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine, marking the first Western country to authorize mass vaccination against the disease. The shots will start being available to select groups in Britain from next week, with the first 800,000 doses expected to arrive in the U.K. in the coming days. The two-shot vaccine is also being reviewed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and medical authorities in the European Union, after results showed it was 95% effective in a late-stage trial. (CNN)


1st vaccines to health care workers, nursing homes

Health care workers and nursing home residents should be at the front of the line when the first coronavirus vaccine shots become available, an influential government advisory panel said. The panel voted 13-1 to recommend those groups get priority in the first days of any coming vaccination program, when doses are expected to be very limited. The two groups encompass about 24 million people out of a U.S. population of about 330 million. Later this month, the Food and Drug Administration will consider authorizing emergency use of two vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna. Current estimates project that no more than 20 million doses of each vaccine will be available by the end of 2020 and each product requires two doses. As a result, the shots will be rationed in the early stages. (ABC News)


British bride allegedly fakes cancer for wedding donations, sympathy

A 29-year-old woman reportedly pretended to have terminal cancer and received more than $11,000 from friends and family. The generous donations were raised after she wanted to have her cancer-stricken father walk her down the aisle before either of them passed away. “It’s gone to my brain, my bones – it’s everywhere,” she told multiple news outlets while she kept up the ruse for three years. The woman even went on to shave her head for a time. However, she drew suspicion at her 150-person wedding when guests noticed she had a lot of energy and appeared to not be moved by the video left by her 57-year-old father who died before the big day. She went on her honeymoon in Turkey without issue. At the start of 2020, she claimed she had two months to live. And by February, a post shared to her Facebook account said she had died, but she later walked that back by saying hackers put up the false update. A month later, she traveled to five European countries. In April, she claimed she had contracted the coronavirus. She pleaded guilty to fraud and false representation at the Chester Magistrates’ Court in late November. The District judge has ordered the woman to repay her donors. (Mirror)


Scrap car company will let you shoot, destroy cars to let out 2020 rage

A select group of people will be able to destroy scrap cars in the U.K. as a form of “destruction therapy” all thanks to a new contest. Scrap Car Comparison, an online service that helps people find the best cash offerings for their scrap or salvage vehicle, is launching a Rage Yard experience that will help contestants release their anger. The event is set to take place in the fields of Northamptonshire and will be partnered with tank-driving experience company Tanks-alot. “The year 2020 has been one of the absolute worst in living memory, and we wanted to be able to offer customers a way to release all the stress that this year has brought into their lives. We thought as the year draws to a close, what better way to unleash all your 2020 angst than by taking it out on scrap cars,” said Scrap Car Comparison’s Managing Director in a statement. At the Rage Yard experience, participants will be allowed to shoot, set off explosives and drive a 61.7-ton armored tank over scrap cars that have the year 2020 spray-painted on. (Scrap Car Comparison)


A Colorado photographer said he watched the now-famous monolith in southeast Utah fall to the ground

The mysterious monolith discovered last week in a Utah desert just disappeared — but it wasn’t taken by aliens or government conspiracies. It was moved by another phenomenon: TikTokers. A Colorado adventure and outdoor lifestyle photographer said he saw the monolith being removed by a group of four last Friday night. He set out to capture photos of the world-famous monolith with a group of friends last Friday (11/27) after determining its location earlier in the week. After he and his friends had reached the location of the monolith and had been taking photos for over an hour, they heard the voices of a new group rounding the corner toward the location. He assumed the group of four was there to take photos as well, but that was not the case. “They immediately started really pushing on it, like throwing their whole-body weight into it,” he said. “It took them maybe three big pushes to get that thing to pop up a little bit and start turning on its side.” As soon as they were able pry the entire monolith loose, it fell straight on the ground and made a loud bang. It sounded as if someone threw their largest stew pot off a ladder as hard as they could, he said. “Once that happened, one of them said this is why you don’t leave trash in the desert,” he said. The group of four took the big pieces of the monolith and placed them in a wheelbarrow and said “leave no trace” as they rolled it away. The phrase “Leave No Trace,” is a known principle in the outdoor community that encourages people who visit the outdoors to protect the environment by minimizing their impact. He did not stop the group from removing the monolith since it needed to be removed because the area is not set up for the type of attention it was receiving and could cause damage that would negatively impact the land. One of the individuals who helped remove the monolith announced in a post on social media Tuesday that he and a team were responsible for removing the monolith on the night of November 27 at around 8:30 p.m. (Sylvan Slacks Instagram)


Kentucky AG, Christian school file emergency request with Supreme Court to keep schools open

A private Christian school and the Kentucky Attorney General filed an emergency request with the Supreme Court this week, asking justices to rule on a recent executive order halting in-person classes at schools. “In Kentucky, one can catch a matinee at the movie theater, tour a distillery, work out at the gym, bet at a gambling parlor, shop, go to work, cheer on the Wildcats or the Cardinals, and attend a wedding,” the lawsuit reads. “A parent can send his or her child to daycare or preschool. And college students can attend classes. But all of Kentucky’s religious schools are shuttered.” The U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Sunday that Beshear’s order to close schools can stand. “While we all want to get our kids back to in-person instruction, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit recognized that doing so now would endanger the health and lives of Kentucky children, educators, and families,” he said in a statement. Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who will consider the filing, asked Governor to file a response too. The Kentucky Attorney General and Danville Christian School argued that private religious schools should be allowed to open because the “governor’s orders prohibit gathering for religious education while also failing to prohibit gathering for other secular activities.” The Attorney General argues that the governor’s orders infringe on parents’ constitutional rights. Justice Kavanaugh can now act alone or refer the case to the full Supreme Court. (Fox News)


Bride with coronavirus marries groom through second-story window

Even a positive coronavirus test couldn’t stop this couple from getting married,  albeit from a safe, Rapunzel-style distance. Couple were married last month at the bride’s family home in Ontario, California, while she was quarantining in a second-floor bedroom. During the ceremony, the bride sat by an open window while the groom stood below her outside. The newlyweds said that they had rescheduled their ceremony three times because of the pandemic, they also had to significantly downsize their guest list and changed venues. Finally, they scheduled the ceremony for November 20, with only 10 guests. That was the day their marriage license expired and with the county clerk’s office closed during the pandemic, they weren’t sure when they’d be able to apply for another one. However, just three days before the ceremony, the bride tested positive for COVID-19. Despite the bride’s diagnosis, the couple decided to make a few more changes and go forward with the wedding. As they said their vows, they both held onto two ends of a rope instead of holding hands. The couple saw each other as a married couple for the first time after the bride had spent 10 days in isolation. They’re still planning to have a big celebration, if the coronavirus is under control, on their one-year anniversary. (Jesscaste Photography Facebook)


CDC shortens coronavirus exposure quarantine period

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday announced shorter coronavirus-related quarantine periods ahead of anticipated holiday travel. The CDC announced two acceptable quarantine periods, though noted that the previously-established 14 days of quarantine is the best way to reduce risk of virus spread. Officials said quarantine can now end after 10 days without a COVID-19 test, if the person reports no symptoms, or after seven days with a negative test result if the person reports no symptoms. The agency advised people should still watch for symptoms for COVID-19 14 days after exposure. The announcement arises from analysis of new research and modeling data. The shorter length of quarantine is hoped to reduce economic hardship and lessen the stress on the public health system amid a rising number of infections. (Associated Press)



41 attendees of last month’s swingers convention in New Orleans test positive for COVID-19

The owner of a company that hosted a swingers convention in New Orleans last month said 41 of the roughly 300 attendees were diagnosed with COVID-19 following the event. Naughty Events owner said all city and state protocols were “met or exceeded” during the four-day convention that started in the downtown area, the day Phase 3.3 began. Phase 3.3 included the laxest COVID-19 restrictions in the city of New Orleans since the pandemic reached the city. City of New Orleans Communications Director that the event last month did not require a permit but that the city has discouraged all large gatherings since the pandemic began. The owner said if he had a “magic time machine” then “maybe we probably wouldn’t have done it.” He doesn’t regret hosting the event, however, because he thought he made the best choices based on the information he had at the time. A group of eight attendees who tested positive did not engage in sexual activity of the partners they came with, he said, but may have been exposed at a bar. About half of the attendees wore wristbands to indicate either they had already been infected with COVID-19, or that they showed paperwork to prove they had tested negative within three days of the convention. Attendees kept logs of people they had close contact with, and the company is facilitating contact tracing to curb spread of the virus in attendees’ respective communities. Most of the 41 attendees had mild or no symptoms. One attendee was hospitalized but has since returned home. The owner said he thinks a swingers convention makes for an “easy target” for criticism because it involves sex. The bars where attendees patronized, he said, thanked the organizers for the business, explaining how much they had been struggling. The next swingers convention in the city is scheduled for August. (WDSU)


TikTok is reportedly testing longer videos

Longer videos are coming to some users on TikTok. The company is reportedly letting some users create videos up to three minutes long. The previous limit was 60 seconds. Currently, TikTok allows all creators to upload videos up to a minute in length. It’s proven to be a successful length, longer than a Vine, but shorter than most YouTube videos. The constraint of finding ways to make something funny within 60 short, sweet seconds is part of what makes TikTok work. Not having to focus more than a minute of attention on one video and being able to easily flip to the next right after is a welcome feature in a world dominated by longer content. (The Verge)


The company that literally started Silicon Valley is moving to Texas

Hewlett-Packard traces its origins to 1938, when Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard rented a garage in Palo Alto, California. Now, HP Enterprises, a descendant of the pioneering company, is moving to Texas. Houston is currently Hewlett-Packard Enterprises’ largest US employment hub, and the company is constructing a new campus in the city. HPE will also consolidate a number of its Bay Area sites to its San Jose campus. The move won’t result in any layoffs. HPE’s move to Texas is hardly a new concept in the tech world. It’s the largest and just the latest tech company to make the trip south: SignEasy, QuestionPro and DZS (formerly known as Dasan Zhone Solutions) also moved from California to Texas. Tesla CEO Elon Musk threatened in May to move the company’s headquarters from Fremont, California, which is just across the bay from Palo Alto, to Texas or Nevada, because of his displeasure with California’s stay-at-home orders. (CNN)


SpaceX has taken a key step toward getting a green light to fly its Starship vehicle to an altitude 100 times higher than the spaceship prototype has previously flown

The Federal Aviation Administration issued a temporary flight restriction for SpaceX to conduct a Starship launch from its facility near Boca Chica Beach in South Texas. The notification allows the company to attempt a Starship hop on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, between the hours of 9am EST (14:00 UTC) and 6pm EST (23:00 UTC) daily. SpaceX must still obtain a launch license from the FAA for this flight. The company’s founder and chief engineer, Elon Musk, has said SpaceX will attempt to fly Starship to an altitude of 15km to demonstrate the performance of three Raptor engines over the course of several minutes. The company’s previous flights to about 150 meters, in August and September, used a single Raptor engine. (Ars Technica)


A Texas waitress says she was thrilled to receive a $2,000 tip on a bill only to find out from the restaurant that she won’t take home a single cent

The waitress had only been a server for about two weeks when she was scheduled for a busy Sunday shift at Red Hook Seafood and Bar in San Antonio, Texas. While working all the tables, she kept apologizing to a man seated in her section for “being slow.” “He was just like, ‘I understand.’ He also mentioned he owned restaurants, so he knew how hard it was to be a server,” she said. “He was like, ‘Just cancel everything. Cancel everything and give me the ticket.’ So, I said okay. I gave him the ticket.” She didn’t notice until he left that he had given her a $2,000 tip and wrote a note that said, “Merry Christmas! Keep working hard!” “I was like, wait. I just opened it and started crying. I was like, ‘Oh my God! My kids! I’m going to spend it all on my kids,’” said the waitress, who has two sons, a 2-year-old and a 5-month-old. But she said her excitement was quickly dashed when the restaurant told her it can’t process a tip larger than $500. Other servers suggested that the restaurant give her four separate tips of $500, but the seafood joint refused. The waitress said her manager told her the man who left the tip called the restaurant and was disappointed that she couldn’t take it. She wants to contact the man, but her manager didn’t take down the man’s information. She has already posted the ticket on her Facebook and hopes the generous tipper will hear her words of gratitude. (KVUE)


Thursday Sloshes With:

  • Be A Blessing Day
  • E-Discovery Day
  • International Baboon Day
  • International Day of Persons With Disabilities
  • Roof Over Your Head Day

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