Monday, December 14, 2020

FDA authorizes Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use

The Food and Drug Administration on Friday authorized Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine for emergency use, kicking off a massive effort to initially deliver nearly 3 million doses of the vaccine to more than 600 sites nationwide. The approval comes just a day after the FDA’s advisory panel voted 17-4 in favor of approving the vaccine. Frontline medical workers and residents of long-term care facilities will be the first to get the vaccine, and could receive it as early as Monday. The vaccine is authorized for people age 16 and older, the FDA said in a statement announcing the decision. “The FDA’s authorization for emergency use of the first COVID-19 vaccine is a significant milestone in battling this devastating pandemic that has affected so many families in the United States and around the world,” FDA Commissioner said in the statement. (CBS News)


Ikea scraps its catalog

Swedish furniture giant Ikea says it’s “turning the page” and ending its iconic catalog’s 70-year run as it continues to shift to digital sales and marketing. At its 2016 peak, Ikea says it sent out 200 million copies of the catalog in 69 different versions, 32 languages and to more than 50 markets. While many retailers have struggled during the pandemic, Ikea’s sales have gotten a major boost, surging 45% in the 12-month period that ended in August as people converted their homes into virtual classrooms and remote workspaces during the crisis. (Ikea)


US child care crisis weakens economy

The pandemic has laid bare parents’ exhaustion as they juggle careers and child care, particularly for mothers increasingly leaving the workforce. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Researchers say that the U.S. spends just 1% of GDP on child care and early education, trailing behind every other industrialized nation except for Ireland and Turkey. And if the U.S. kept pace with Norway, which has government subsidized child care and whose female workforce matched America’s in the 1970s, the U.S. economy would be $1.6 trillion bigger today, according to S&P Global research. (Bloomberg)


Amazon plans to retrain millions

Amazon will reskill 29 million people globally for cloud-computing careers. The company says the programs, which will stem from existing ones as well as newer partnerships with nonprofits and schools, will retrain millions of workers by 2025. The online giant is making the move after the pandemic disrupted millions of careers and is aimed at people not employed with the company, as of yet. While Amazon plans to hire some of these newly trained workers, “the idea is to equip people with the education needed to work in … high-tech positions.” (The Wall Street Journal)


A woman reportedly returned her engagement ring to her partner because it didn’t cost 10% of his salary

The ring, which is made of white gold with diamonds and sapphire, cost the man about $3,000. However, he allegedly makes enough that if he followed the 10% rule, which says he should spend one-tenth of his salary on an engagement ring, he should have spent between $10,000 and $15,000. The man posted about his dilemma on Reddit’s “Am I the A–h—” forum, asking if he had done the wrong thing by spending only $3,000 on the engagement ring for his fiancee. In the post, he explained that while he does make a sizable salary, this year has been somewhat challenging because he’s been financially supporting his parents, sister and nephew who all had COVID-19. He is also still supporting his sister, who lost her job.  To make matters worse, he said his job announced that 150 people will be laid off next year, so he wanted to be smart about his spending, though he doesn’t think he’ll be laid off. Even though the ring he bought was only $3,000, it was designed in a way that his partner wanted, the man said. He even had the sapphire custom cut into a pear shape as she preferred. “Initially she was very happy with it until her mother (a jeweler) called it cheap,” the man wrote. “She has since given it back to me and accused me of undervaluing her and what she does for me.” That includes caring for their 18-month-old and doing most of the cooking and housework, he added. Since she returned the ring, the man’s partner is reportedly “refusing” to talk to him. (Reddit)


Tower of human skulls reveals grisly scale to archaeologists in Mexico City

Archaeologists have unearthed new sections of an Aztec tower of human skulls dating back to the 1400s beneath the center of Mexico City. The team has uncovered the facade and eastern side of the tower, as well as 119 human skulls of men, women and children, adding to hundreds previously found, the National Institute of Anthropology and History announced. The tower, approximately 16.4 feet in diameter, was first discovered in 2017, and the latest discoveries were made in March. It is believed to be part of the Huey Tzompantli, a huge array of skulls that struck fear into the Spanish conquistadores when they captured the city under Hernán Cortés in 1521. The cylindrical structure is near the huge Metropolitan Cathedral built over the Templo Mayor, one of the main temples of the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan, now modern-day Mexico City. Archaeologists have identified three construction phases of the tower, which dates to between 1486 and 1502. (The Guardian)


Clorox disinfectant wipes shortage likely to last until mid-2021

A top Clorox executive says the shortage of disinfectant wipes will likely last until midway through 2021. This is the third time this year that the Oakland-based company has pushed back to the timeline for easing nationwide shortages. In May, Clorox officials said they expected improvement by the Summer. Then in August, Clorox said restocking store shelves would take until the end of the year. The company blames the recent surge in COVID-19 cases for creating a demand that’s impossible to match. Clorox is ramping up production to help produce more supplies. By February 2021, it will make and ship 1.5 million packages of wipes daily. (ABC 7)


Florida man pulls gun during fit of road rage, lies about being police officer

A man was arrested for pointing a gun at a person during a road rage incident and falsely claiming to be a police officer. The Cape Coral, Florida police department’s telephone response unit received a report of a road rage incident at around 9 a.m local time, an hour after the incident happened. A man said he was making a U-turn at the intersection to head south when an SUV tailgated him. The SUV also pulled alongside him and swerved toward him. The man told police the driver of the SUV pointed a black pistol on his hip. The man pulled over to avoid the threat, then saw the SUV pull into the parking lot of Sam’s Club. The police said the victim pulled into a lot to try and read the SUV’s plate, obtained a number, and saw the driver openly carrying a pistol on his hip. The witness approached the man at Sam’s gas pumps to tell him he could not openly carry in Florida, but the man told them that he was a law enforcement officer and gave the witness his name. The Cape Coral police arrested the man for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, improper exhibition of a firearm, false personation of a law enforcement officer, and open carrying a weapon. (NBC 2)


Massachusetts man, who died 6 years ago, left son $10 to buy him first beer

Many people dream of having their first legal drink when they finally turn 21, but the moment was extra special for one young man in Massachusetts. While his father had died several years prior, that didn’t stop him from buying his son his first beer. When a young man was just 15 years old, his father died from cancer. Before passing, however, his father gave his sister a $10 bill. He told her to use the money on the young man’s 21st birthday to buy him his first beer. The mother and sister held on to the bill for six years until his 21st birthday, when it was used to do exactly what it was intended for. He shared photos of the $10 bill and the beer he bought with it (a Bud Light, his father’s favorite), writing, “Almost 6 years ago before my dad passed he gave my sister this $10 bill to give to me on my 21st birthday so he could buy me my first beer, cheers pops having this one for you!” Since posting it, the tweet has gone viral and has been liked over 500,000 times. Budweiser noticed the Tweet and responded, “We’re raising one to your pops. He got your first beer and the next one’s on us.” According to a follow-up post from the young man, the beer company followed through with its promise and sent the young man several cases of beer. While that might seem like enough of a happy ending, he followed up by posting that people were apparently asking for his Venmo so they could also buy him a beer. Instead of accepting the money, however, he asked the donations be sent to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. (Boston 25)


Dad gets huge tattoo identical to son’s birthmark on his chest

A dad in Alberta, Canada went above and beyond to help his son feel more confident by spending 30 hours getting a tattoo replica of his son’s birthmark, which covers a significant part of his chest. The dad decided to get the tattoo when he noticed that his 8-year-old son wouldn’t go swimming without a shirt on. The father got his tattoo done at Juicy Quill Tattoo in Stony Plain, Alberta. The owner said he was glad he got to help the father encourage his son. In total, it took about 30 hours over the course of six to eight weeks to complete the tattoo. The father said that he wasn’t really expecting it to take so long. “It felt good to do it. It was a long process to do it. I thought it was going to be, like, a few hours,” he added. (CBC)


Pennsylvania waitress receives $500 tip hours before indoor dining ban begins

Just before Pennsylvania temporarily closed indoor dining at restaurants across the state, one waitress received a large tip. The server and bartender at Greystone Public House in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, was working Friday night when a group of customers left her a $500 tip. “It just really touched my heart that people realize what we’re going through. They told me ‘Merry Christmas, keep your head up,'” she said. Like many people in the industry across the state, she is devastated Greystone has to close for the next three weeks, per the state Governor Tom Wolf’s ban on indoor dining to slow the spread of the coronavirus in the state. (WHTM)


Researchers have discovered a new superhighway network to travel through the Solar System much faster than was previously possible

Such routes can drive comets and asteroids near Jupiter to Neptune’s distance in under a decade and to 100 astronomical units in less than a century. They could be used to send spacecraft to the far reaches of our planetary system relatively fast, and to monitor and understand near-Earth objects that might collide with our planet. Researchers observed the dynamical structure of these routes, forming a connected series of arches inside what’s known as space manifolds that extend from the asteroid belt to Uranus and beyond. This newly discovered “celestial autobahn,” or celestial highway, acts over several decades, as opposed to the hundreds of thousands or millions of years that usually characterize Solar System dynamics. (Science Magazine)


After decades of exploration in nature’s smallest domains, physicists have finally found evidence that anyons exist

First predicted by theorists in the early 1980s, these particle-like objects only arise in realms confined to two dimensions, and then only under certain circumstances,  like at temperatures near absolute zero and in the presence of a strong magnetic field. Physicists are excited about anyons not only because their discovery confirms decades of theoretical work, but also for practical reasons. For example: Anyons are at the heart of an effort by Microsoft to build a working quantum computer. Researchers say that the new studies are just the beginning and that anyons as a tool for finding exotic states of matter that, for now, remain wild ideas in physicists’ theories. (Discover Magazine)


Monday Slingshots Past The Weekend With:

  • AKC Champtionships
  • Alabama Day
  • Bouillabaisse Day
  • Green Monday (2nd Monday)
  • Monkey Day
  • Yoga Day

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