Monday, December 21, 2020



Holiday shopping takes a hit

Retail sales slipped for a second straight month in November, just as the holiday shopping season got underway. U.S. consumers spent 1.1% less than in October, which was also revised to a decline. Even so, spending totaled a seasonally adjusted $546.5 billion, higher than the pre-pandemic level of $527.3 billion in February. The news came on the heels of a survey by the biggest U.S. bank, JPMorgan Chase, showing the median household checking account in free fall after surging 65% in the spring on the strength of a fiscal relief package. (Bloomberg)


A new way of training employees

Reskilling seems to have become a buzzword amid the coronavirus pandemic, with online learning courses booming as the country faces unprecedented job losses. But this crisis, alongside the drastic shift to remote work, has also forced many corporations to re-examine how they train and educate their own employees using new technologies. According to a report by Mursion and Future Workplace, the pandemic is accelerating the adaptation of VR simulation training as a way to close the soft skills gap, projecting that twice as many learning and development leaders will utilize VR for employee training by 2022. (PR Newswire)


The Federal Reserve released its Summary of Economic Projections

The headline number was a forecasted 4.2% growth for GDP in 2021, up from the previous 4% reported in September. The Fed also announced that it would not be changing interest rates after dropping them in March. GDP is expected to fall by 2.4% this year, significantly less than the 3.7% forecast in September. This year’s unemployment rate projection is now down to 6.7% from the 7.6% projection in September. The unemployment rate should fall to 5.0% in 2021 which is better than their previous estimate of 5.5%. Inflation rate estimates for 2020 remained the same at 1.2%, with next year’s projection rising to 1.8%. (Federal Reserve)


Teen Kansas hunter’s 42-point buck confirmed as world record

A 14-year-old girl has set a world record after taking down a buck with 42-scorable points. Now, the teen holds the record for the largest non-typical whitetail shot by a female hunter. The 14-year-old from Cimarron, Kansas shot the impressive buck back in September, only one day after the youth hunting season had begun. Since then, she had to wait for the 60-day drying period to complete before the rack could be officially measured. When the buck was originally shot, it was reportedly given an unofficial green score of 282 6/8 inches and showed 44 points on the antlers. After the drying period, it was given an official score of 271 4/8 inches and 42 points. The buck was harvested on the family’s land and had first been spotted about three years ago. For the young hunter, the experience is seemingly more important than the record alone, though. (Fox 4 Kansas City)


Russia can’t use its name and flag at the next 2 Olympics

Russia will not be able to use its name, flag and anthem at the next two Olympics or at any world championships for the next two years after a ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The court halved the four-year ban proposed last year by the World Anti-Doping Agency in a landmark case that accused Russia of state-ordered tampering of a testing laboratory database in Moscow. The ruling also blocked Russia from bidding to host major sporting events for two years. Russian athletes and teams will still be allowed to compete at next year’s Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, as well as world championships including the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, if they are not banned for or suspected of doping. One win for Russia is the proposed team name at major events. The name “Russia” can be retained on uniforms if the words “Neutral Athlete” or equivalents like “Neutral Team” have equal prominence, the court said. Russian athletes and teams can also retain the national flag colors of red, white and blue in their uniforms at major events. That was not possible for Russians at the past two track world championships. (Associated Press)


Scientists may have detected radio emissions from a planet orbiting a star beyond our sun for the first time

The astronomers behind the new research used a radio telescope in the Netherlands to study three different stars known to host exoplanets. The researchers compared what they saw to observations of Jupiter, diluted as if being seen from a star system dozens of light-years away. And one star system stood out: Tau Boötes, which contains at least one exoplanet. If the detection holds up, it could open the door to better understanding the magnetic fields of exoplanets and therefore the exoplanets themselves, the researchers hope. The new research actually began at Jupiter; the researchers had previously studied that planet’s radio emissions and then tweaked those measurements to reflect the effect they expected closeness to the host star and distance from Earth would have had on their observations of an exoplanet. (


Google hit with another lawsuit

Big Tech’s power keeps being put to the test, with Google hit with its third antitrust lawsuit in two months by bipartisan attorneys general in 38 states. They accuse the tech giant of an illegal monopoly in general search and search advertising. Unlike the Justice Department’s October lawsuit, the latest one focuses on “different mechanisms” that the AGs claim Google used to “illegally maintain its monopoly power.” This comes after last Wednesday (12/16) after Texas led the charge among 10 states suing Google, alleging it overcharged publishers for ads and cut a deal with Facebook to curtail competition. (CNBC)


Happy holidays, but only for some

The K-shaped economic recovery has widened the gap between the haves and the have-nots. Consulting firm Customer Growth Partners points to an extra $1.2 trillion that people have to spend this year compared with last year, as those who’ve been able to maintain steady incomes have also saved money by not traveling or eating out. At the same time, says the Census Bureau, there are 5.7 million people who did not have enough to eat as of late October. (Bloomberg)


New York man rescued after 10 hours in car without heat – under nearly 4 feet of snow

A 58-year-old man was rescued by a New York State Police trooper after he was stranded in his car for 10 hours without any heat. State Police said they responded to 911 calls from a man who had called Tioga County authorities who had run off the road and needed assistance, but law enforcement in the area had not located the driver as more than 40 inches of snow had fallen in the area. Officers continued the search where the reports appeared to be coming from. Eventually, an officer found “what appeared to be a row of mailboxes and waded through the snow to check the addresses,” state police said in a news release. “While digging, he hit the windshield of a car. Inside the car was the driver who had been making 911 call,” the statement read. The man inside the vehicle was suffering from hypothermia and frostbite. He told officers that he had been plowed in by a truck, and the car was covered with close to 4 feet of snow. So he was stranded for more than 10 hours, state police said. And to make matters worse, the car had no heat due to a broken serpentine belt. He was removed from the vehicle and taken to a hospital for treatment. (USA Today)



Sex workers fear targeting under Instagram’s terms of service

Instagram’s newest Terms of Use have caused quite an uproar among sex workers online, more specific is the platform’s Community Guidelines. They require adherence to Facebook’s Sexual Solicitation rules, which is not a new addition to this version of the terms — but it’s continued inclusion is a big concern for sex workers who reach their audience on the platform. Facebook, which owns Instagram, states in its policy that users can’t post sexually explicit and implicit content, including suggestive emojis or references to “wetness” or an erection. This, as you can imagine, makes it difficult for people to promote sex work. Facebook, which owns Instagram, states in its policy that users can’t post sexually explicit and implicit content, including suggestive emojis or references to “wetness” or an erection. This, as you can imagine, makes it difficult for people to promote sex work. Instagram has said that the new terms are focused on clarifying how the app uses data to serve personalized ads; what data advertisers receive; and licensing and IP usage. They did not change any of the language around the posting of sexual or suggestive content. Across social media, sex workers, educators, and others in the sex industry have dealt with this issue for years. Instagram’s spokesperson said they have an ongoing dialogue with sex worker organizations. But they declined to say which organizations, instead linking to Facebook’s community standards page on stakeholder engagement. (Instagram Twitter


State Police trooper pays for hotel room to help homeless woman and her dog stay warm during winter storm

A kind gesture from a Pennsylvania State Police trooper helped a 75-year-old homeless woman and her dog stay warm in Chambersburg during a recent winter storm. The woman and her 16-year-old dog were unable to find room at any shelters, because none would allow pets, the State Police said. That’s when a Trooper paid for a room at a local hotel to make sure the woman and her dog would be safe from the cold. “A warm story for a cold day!” State Police said on Twitter. (Troopers Ammerman, Smith, & Myers Twitter)


A man was sentenced to 496 years in prison on sex offender charges

An Alabama Circuit Court Judge sentenced a man to 99 years for each conviction of the defendant’s four convictions for sodomy in the first degree and 20 years for each of the Defendant’s three convictions for sodomy in the second degree and attempted rape in the first degree, in which makes his prison sentence run through 2516. The judge ordered that the sentences be served consecutively, which gives the defendant a total sentence of 496 years in the Alabama Department of Corrections. The man was convicted on October 27, 2020, at a jury trial in Baldwin County, Alabama Circuit Court. (Fox 10)


FDA planning to remove French dressing rules after 70 years

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it wants to remove the current standard of identity for French dressing. “The standard does not appear necessary to ensure that the product meets consumer expectations, and the FDA has tentatively concluded that it is no longer necessary to promote honesty and fair dealing in the interest of consumers and may limit flexibility for innovation,” the announcement said. The FDA first created the standard of identity for French dressing in 1950 and later amended the standard several times in the 1960s and 1970s, according to the proposal. According to the FDA, French dressing is required to contain oil, vinegar, lemon and/or lime juice and may contain salt, spices, tomato paste or color additives, among other ingredients. The FDA is proposing to remove those standards as part of the department’s Nutrition Innovation Strategy, which is working to “modernize food standards to maintain the basic nature and nutritional integrity of products while allowing industry flexibility for innovation to produce more healthful foods,” the announcement said. The proposal is also in response to a petition from the Association for Dressings and Sauces. (United States Food & Drug Administration)


Monday Welcomes Us Back With:

  • Anne & Samantha Day
  • Celebrate Short Fiction Day
  • Crossword Puzzle Day
  • Flashlight Day
  • Forefathers Day
  • French Fried Shrimp Day
  • Global Orgasm Day
  • Homeless Persons’ Remembrance Day
  • Humbug Day
  • International Dalek Remembrance Day
  • Maine Day
  • Make Music Day in Winter
  • Phileas Fogg Win A Wager Day
  • Short Girl Appreciation Day (Shortest day of the year)
  • Shorts Day (On Winter Solstice)
  • Winter Solstice (Northern Hemisphere will be at 5:02 AM EST)
  • World Peace Day
  • Yalda
  • Yule (Day of Winter Solstice)

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