Thursday, December 17, 2020

A man who crossed the Irish Sea from Scotland to the Isle of Man “on a jet ski” to visit his girlfriend has been jailed for breaching Covid-19 laws

A judge heard from a 28-year-old man who took four-and-a-half hours to travel from the Isle of Whithorn to Ramsey last Friday (12/11). The man made the crossing despite having never driven a water scooter before. He admitted arriving unlawfully on the island and was jailed for four weeks. Under the island’s current laws, only non-residents given special permission are allowed to enter the Isle of Man. The man was previously given permission to work as a roofer on the island for four weeks in September and, after isolating for 14 days, met his girlfriend on a night out. The court heard his subsequent applications to return had been rejected. Prosecutors said the 28-year-old bought the vehicle and set off on the journey of about 25 miles (40km), which he had expected to take 40 minutes. In mitigation, the 28-year-old man’s defense advocate said he suffered from depression and was not coping with being unable to see his partner. (BBC)


FTC orders Amazon, Facebook and others to explain how they collect and use personal data

The Federal Trade Commission is requiring nine tech companies to share information about how they collect and use data from their users, the agency announced. Amazon, TikTok owner ByteDance, Discord, Facebook and its subsidiary WhatsApp, Reddit, Snap, Twitter and Google-owned YouTube were each sent orders to hand over information about their data practices. The companies have 45 days to respond from the date they received the orders. Along with details about how the services collect and use data, the agency is seeking information about how how they determine which ads to show their users, whether algorithms or data analytics are used on personal information, how they “measure promote, and research” engagement from users and how their data practices impact children and teens. The FTC is using its authority under Section 6(b) of the FTC Act, which allows it to pursue broad studies separate from law enforcement. The agency launched a separate 6(b) study earlier this year to examine past acquisitions by Google parent Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft that would not have been subject to pre-reporting rules for mergers. Chairman Joe Simons said at the time that while a 6(b) study is not connected to an enforcement action, the merger review could “definitely could inform enforcement.” (United States Federal Trade Commission)


One in custody after child abandoned at Goodwill store with note, bag of clothes

Police in Southaven, Mississippi are seeking the public’s help after a two-year-old boy was abandoned at a Goodwill store. According to police, a man walked the child to the Goodwill earlier this week and took off. A woman was seen with him. The child had a plastic bag containing a change of clothes, some food, and a note. Authorities said he is so young he cannot provide officers with his name or the name of his parents. The man was not located by police during a subsequent sweep of the area. Later in the afternoon, Southaven Police said the child had been identified and was in the custody of Mississippi Child Protective Services. Police said a suspect was taken into custody by the end of the day. An employee at the Goodwill who took the child said the man walked up to him and said “the child’s mother couldn’t care for him” before walking away.  The note was written on a paper towel and said “child abandoned…no phone number for mom.” The child wasn’t dressed properly for how cold it was, but he was in good spirits. He was laughing, playing with toys and eating food until police arrived on the scene. He was also able to hold up two fingers when asked how old he was. (WREG)


Study: Male Athletes Transitioning to Female Retain Massive Strength Advantage Despite Hormone Therapy

A study published in Sports Medicine found that testosterone blockers taken by biological men who want to live as women do not significantly diminish their strength and gives them an advantage when competing against biological women in sports. The study found that elite male athletes are around 10 to 13 percent faster than female athletes and the difference in sports like bowling cricket balls, hitting long drives, and weightlifting is even greater — 29 percent to 52 percent. “Performance differences larger than 20 percent are generally present when considering sports and activities that involve extensive upper body contributions,” the study said. “The gap between fastest recorded tennis serve is 20 percent, while the gaps between fastest recorded baseball pitches and field hockey drag flicks exceed 50 percent.” (The Guardian)


The U.K. government has released new proposals to force tech companies into proactively regulating illegal and harmful content on their sites

Companies who fail to comply will be charged ~ $24M or 10% of their global revenues (depending on which is higher). The government will also have the power to ban non-compliant services from being accessed in the United Kingdom. Part of the bill allows executives to be held personally liable if they don’t meet a duty of care in complying with the regulations. Even sites that host user-generated content like Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit will be required to remove or limit illegal and harmful posts. There is also a more open-ended requirement that obligates firms to explain how they will avoid the spread of content that can cause physical or psychological harm. An example given was misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine’s safety. Less than 3% of U.K. businesses meet the requirements to be regulated under the proposed bill. The real impact will be on foreign companies. (CNBC)


Misguided home invaders apologize after getting wrong house

The police in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada say two suspects apologized and offered to pay for damages after breaking into the wrong home. Police said the homeowners were watching TV downstairs when they heard a loud bang from a door being smashed open. The residents were confronted by two men, one holding a hammer who demanded money that was supposedly owed to him. Police said the intruders realized they were in the wrong home, and left without further incident. At short time later, two 27-year-old men were arrested. They’re each charged with break and enter, mischief under $5,000, and possession of a dangerous weapon. (Blackburn News)


Belgian bar owner founds religion to bypass lockdown rules

A Belgian bar owner has made headlines across the country after announcing that he would start his own religion in order to take advantage of current coronavirus rules allowing allows religious ceremonies, but forces bars to stay shut. The owner announced his revelations on facebook, which will in principle allow him to see 15 clients every Sunday. “Followers, worshippers and other fans! Those who believe in Crayonism are now welcome to attend the service every Sunday at 11:00 AM,” the owner wrote in the purely satirical post. Despite growing interest in his claim, He made it clear he had no intention of actually going through with the plan. “For the sake of clarity, I certainly do not intend to start my own religious community,” he told clients. “It was more an accumulation of frustrations expressed in a pseudo-joking post.” Each Sunday, religious services can now take place with a maximum of 15 attendees again, but similar relaxations for other sectors do not seem to be an option. (Brussels Times)


City Of Paris Is Fined 90,000 Euros For Naming Too Many Women To Senior Positions

The city of Paris has been fined 90,000 euros ($109,411.20) for an unusual infraction: It appointed too many women to senior positions in the government. In 2018, 11 women and five men became senior officials. That meant 69% of the appointments were women in violation of a rule that dictated at least 40% of government positions should go to people of each gender. In remarks to the capital’s governing body, the city’s Mayor said she would deliver the check to the Ministry of Public Service herself along with the women in her government. Since 2019, French law provides a waiver to the 40% rule if the new hires do not lead to an overall gender imbalance. Women still make up just 47% of senior executives on its government. And female city officials are paid 6% less than their male counterparts. But the rule change comes too late to avoid the fine. (Euro News)


Peru: Police conduct drugs raid dressed as Santa Claus and elf

A police drugs-squad in Peru have raided a house dressed as Santa Claus and an elf, detaining a suspected drug dealer. A police spokesman said the man was accused of selling drugs outside his house, near a school. Officers, wearing flak jackets under their costumes, arrived in an undercover van before breaking into the house where they discovered a bag that appeared to contain drugs, balaclavas, and a gun. The country’s police have used disguises during raids for some time and say the method is an effective tactic. They have been known to dress up as homeless people and street sweepers in the past. (BBC)


Woman threatens man with her parrot

A woman from Boca Raton, Florida is facing burglary and battery charges for threatening a neighbor with her parrot, police say. A man told police his neighbor was screaming obscenities at him while they were in an elevator. He said she then followed him to his apartment and tried to kick her way in. The neighbor told police he recorded video of her outrage and multiple attempts to get into his apartment. A police officer who watched the video said she was telling her Macaw parrot to get him. The man told police he hit the woman’s lip “with his arm only to prevent her from attacking him further.” The woman told police she went to the man’s apartment to use his bathroom. She is being held at the Palm Beach County Jail on a $15,000 bond. (WPEC)


A man got arrested after allegedly revving chainsaw behind counter in a McDonald’s

A 26-year-old Portland, Maine man was arrested after police say he entered McDonald’s with a chainsaw, went behind the counter and revved the chainsaw several times, stole a drink and some food, chased the manager in the parking lot, and damaged several vehicles. The man ran from police and was caught and arrested in the adjacent parking lot of a hotel. Police charged the man with robbery, criminal mischief, refusing to submit to arrest, and violation of conditions of release. (News Center Maine)


Researchers discover 20 species not previously known to science

A scientific expedition high in the Bolivian Andes revealed 20 species new to science, including the “lilliputian frog” plus four rediscovered species including the “devil-eyed frog” previously thought to be extinct, Conservation International said. The expedition was led by the environmental group and the government of capital city La Paz. It included 17 scientists who went to the Chawi Grande, a locality belonging to the Huaylipaya indigenous community near La Paz. The lilliputian frog measures only about 10 millimetres in length, making it one of the smallest amphibians in the world. “Due to their tiny size and habit of living in tunnels beneath the thick layers of moss in the cloud forest, they were difficult to find even by tracking their frequent calls,” the environmental group said. Four new butterfly species were also discovered, including two species of “metalmark butterflies,” which feed on flower nectar in open areas and forest clearings. The “devil-eyed frog, which was previously known only from a single individual observed more than 20 years ago, was found to be relatively abundant in the cloud forest,” the group said. Also rediscovered was the “Alzatea verticillata,” a small flowering tree that was previously known only from a single record in Bolivia and was found on this expedition after 127 years. (CBC)


Record number of journalists jailed because of their work

A record 274 journalists were in jail at the beginning of the month because of their work, nearly three dozen of them on charges of “false news,” the Committee to Protect Journalists said. It has been five straight years where at least 250 journalists were in custody, which the committee says illustrates a crackdown by repressive governments. China is the top jailer, followed by Turkey and Egypt. Political unrest in Belarus and Ethiopia have led to big increases of reporters in custody there, the committee said. So far this year, 29 journalists have been killed, the committee said. That’s up from 26 last year, but represents a decrease from earlier in the last decade, where 74 journalists were killed in both 2012 and 2013. No journalists in the United States were killed and none were imprisoned at the beginning of the month. But 110 journalists in the U.S. were arrested and criminally charged in 2020, and around 300 were assaulted, many while covering protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death, according to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker. (Associated Press)



Thursday Is Happy To Be’er With:

  • A Christmas Carol Day (Story)
  • Clean Air Day
  • Free Shipping Day (3rd Thursday at Participating Retailers)
  • Maple Syrup Day
  • Re-gifting Day
  • Wright Brothers Day

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