Friday, December 4, 2020

The U.N. has taken cannabis off its list of most dangerous drugs

The members of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs voted 27-25 to remove cannabis from the U.N.’s Schedule IV list, which includes highly addictive substances such as heroin. The vote comes two years after the World Health Organization said that although cannabis can have adverse effects and cause dependence, it can also be used to ease symptoms associated with conditions such as anorexia, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis. The U.S. voted in favor but Russia, which voted against, called cannabis “the most abused drug globally.” In the months ahead of the vote, the Commission on Narcotic Drugs held virtual meetings that were attended by around 600 experts from more than 100 countries. The move could pave the way for the legalization of cannabis by some countries and jurisdictions, as well as increased research on the drug’s medical benefits, advocates said. (United Nations)


San Francisco bans smoking inside apartments; pot smoking OK

City officials in San Francisco have banned all tobacco smoking inside apartments, citing concerns about secondhand smoke. But lighting up a joint inside? That’s still allowed. The Board of Supervisors voted 10-1 Tuesday to approve the ordinance making San Francisco the largest city in the country to ban tobacco smoking inside apartments. The original proposal sought to ban residents from smoking marijuana in their apartments, but supervisors voted to exclude marijuana after cannabis activists said the law would take away their only legal place to smoke. It’s illegal under state law to smoke cannabis in public places. “Unlike tobacco smokers who could still leave their apartments to step out to the curb or smoke in other permitted outdoor smoking areas, cannabis users would have no such legal alternatives,” said the City Supervisor, who wrote the amendment to exempt cannabis. San Francisco now joins 63 California cities and counties with such a ban. Those against the ban argued that it infringed on their rights inside their homes. Supporters said it’s important to protect the health of nonsmokers, particularly low-income residents who live in dense apartment buildings. (San Francisco Chronicle)


New mysterious monolith appears on top of mountain in California

Another mysterious metal monolith has appeared in the US, this time at the top of Pine Mountain in California, a week after a similar structure was discovered in the deserts of Utah. The structure was spotted on Wednesday (12/2) outside the small town of Atascadero, San Luis Obispo County, in central California. The structure appeared to be made of stainless steel, 10-feet tall and 18 inches wide and weighing about 200 pounds. As with other monoliths sighted in recent weeks, there is no information about who installed the structure or why. The object appeared welded together at each corner, with rivets attaching the side panels to a likely steel frame inside. Unlike its Utah sibling, the monolith in California wasn’t strongly attached to the ground and looked like it could be easily knocked over. This is the third sighting of a monolith in less than 20 days after the first metal structure was spotted in Utah on November 18th, leading to speculations about why it was installed and by whom. Almost as mysteriously as it appeared, the structure was removed on November 27th by five men who told witnesses to “leave no trace”. (Conner Allen Twitter)


The top US cities for entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurial spirit is running strong in a wide mix of cities across the United States. While the San Francisco Bay Area remains the national hub for start-ups, cities ranging from Salt Lake City to Miami have cracked the top 10, too, with many defining themselves as entrepreneurial hubs for particular industries. In Los Angeles, 13% of founders are building entertainment companies. Health care is big in Boston (18%). And in New York, it’s media (13%) and finance (12%) that stand out. (LinkedIn)


Ripple effects of empty office space

The pandemic’s resurgence is dealing another blow to commercial real estate, with wider ripple effects hurting businesses that depend on office workers and hampering major cities’ recoveries. According to a firm that tracks access-card swipes in 2,500 buildings across 10 cities, the number of workers returning to the office peaked at 27% in mid-October before starting to slip. And as more companies extend work-from-home policies, numbers aren’t expected to improve. Apartment rents are also falling, and transportation systems in New York City, San Francisco and other cities have lost billions in revenue. (Kastle)


Hiring slows in November: ADP

Payrolls rose in November by the smallest amount in four months as a resurgent pandemic prompted new restrictions on businesses. The data, representing almost 26 million workers in the U.S., show companies added 307,000 jobs last month, following a revised 404,000 in October. Shutdowns beginning in March had largely eased by summer, allowing hiring to recover. Meanwhile, Congress has failed to enact a second round of fiscal stimulus aimed at shoring up payrolls and putting money in consumers’ pockets. (Bloomberg)


UPS puts limit on big retailers

United Parcel Service told drivers across the U.S. not to pick up parcels from six major retailers, including Gap and Nike, on Cyber Monday. UPS placed the restrictions to hold sellers accountable for the volume they sent, as online shopping jumped 44% over retail’s biggest five-day weekend, due to the pandemic. The move demonstrates that this year’s online shopping surge “is stretching delivery networks to their limits”. UPS and rival FedEx have both recently increased their shipping prices. (The Wall Street Journal)


A juvenile bobcat that was badly burned in a wildfire has been released back to the wild

The feline suffered major burns during the El Dorado wildfire in San Bernardino County, California. The blaze, which was sparked by a pyrotechnic device used in a gender reveal party, killed one firefighter and destroyed several homes before firefighters put it out last month. After being rescued from the flames, the bobcat was brought to the San Diego Humane Society’s Ramona Wildlife Center, where vets used antibiotics and pain medication to nurse it back to health. After a month, the feline, which is female, had recovered from her wounds and doubled in weight. (The Coast News)


The United States Transportation Department said that dogs will be the only “emotional-support” animals allowed in the passenger cabins of commercial planes

Regulators have therefore ended a rule that allowed air passengers to travel with unusual animals if they had a doctor’s note saying that they needed emotional support from their pets. Airlines have long complained that some passengers were abusing the rule by bringing farm and exotic animals on flights, including miniature horses, turtles, and pigs. The new rule means that passengers will have to pay additional fees to send their pets in the cargo haul, which will allow airlines to earn some $60M a year in pet fees. In 2018, a passenger was barred from taking her emotional support peacock on a cross-country flight. That same year, a woman was told she could not fly with her emotional support squirrel. After being told she could not travel with a dwarf hamster, a college student flushed the rodent down an airport toilet. (Associated Press)


Another staggering blow to movie theaters still struggling amidst a raging pandemic that shows no sign of slowing down

Warner Bros.’ 2021 slate of films will be available to HBO Max subscribers for 31 days, after which they will only be playing in theaters. Once the traditional time has elapsed between theater and home release, the films will be available to rent via the usual online platforms (Amazon, iTunes, or Fandango). The current slate includes The Little Things, Judas and the Black Messiah, Tom & Jerry, Godzilla vs. Kong, Mortal Kombat, Those Who Wish Me Dead, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, In The Heights, Space Jam: A New Legacy, The Suicide Squad, Reminiscence, Malignant, Dune, The Many Saints of Newark, King Richard, Cry Macho, and Matrix 4. “After considering all available options and the projected state of moviegoing throughout 2021, we came to the conclusion that this was the best way for WarnerMedia’s motion picture business to navigate the next 12 months,” said the CEO in a statement. “Our content is extremely valuable, unless it’s sitting on a shelf not being seen by anyone. We believe this approach serves our fans, supports exhibitors and filmmakers, and enhances the HBO Max experience, creating value for all.” (Variety)


Walmart and Sam’s Club are selling a series of at-home COVID-19 test collection kits online

The retailer announced on its corporate blog they will be ranging in price from $99 to $135. The options available at and include the most basic at-home nasal swab kit shipped standard to an express-shipped COVID-19 + flu test. The company is also offering a saliva sample testing option. To get the test kit, customers must purchase a code that will provide access to a health survey. Once the survey is complete, a physicians’ order will be generated if it’s deemed appropriate, and the purchase is complete. The kit is then mailed to the customer, who are to self-collect their sample and mail it to the lab for results. Results can be expected within 24 to 48 hours after the test collection kit is received at the lab, according to Walmart. Some kits will come with a telehealth call if a positive result is received. (Walmart)


Twitter turns off threaded replies because they made conversations hard to read

Twitter has been experimenting with threaded replies for some time as a way to potentially make replies easier to read and follow. But the company has decided to end those experiments because of user feedback. “We asked and you let us know this reply layout wasn’t it, as it was harder to read and join conversations,” the company wrote in a tweet published. “So we’ve turned off this format to work on other ways to improve conversations on Twitter.”the company said threaded replies made conversations harder to read and join and that people wanted more context about who they were talking to”. Twitter is also shutting down its beta app, which the company called twttr, designed for experiments like threaded replies. “For now we’re turning [twttr] off so we can work on new tests to improve the conversation experience on Twitter,” the company said in another tweet. People currently using twttr will lose access for now, according to the company, but Twitter is exploring potential next steps for the app as it develops future plans to test new products. (The Verge)


Facebook will begin removing false claims about COVID-19 vaccines

The update comes as one COVID-19 vaccine has been authorized in the UK and other authorizations are expected to happen soon in the US and around the world. But some experts say these kinds of policies are coming too late to stop the flow of vaccine misinformation. The policy previously involved removing posts with false information about the virus that could lead to “imminent physical harm.” Facebook is now expanding the policy to include any posts about vaccines that feature claims which have been “debunked by public health experts.” This includes conspiracy theories, like vaccines containing microchips, and false claims about the safety, efficacy, ingredients, or side effects of vaccines. (Facebook)


Friday Explodes With:

  • Bartender Day (First Friday)
  • Faux Fur Friday (First Friday)
  • Cookie Day
  • Dice Day
  • Dystychiphobia Awareness Day
  • Salesperson Day (First Friday)
  • Sock Day
  • World Wildlife Conservation Day

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