Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Man finds $300K worth of heroin in car purchased at government auction in Tennessee

An Alabama man got more than he bargained for after finding $300,000 worth of heroin in a car he bought at a government auction in Tennessee. The man was looking for a first car to give his foster son. He found a Ford Taurus out of Nashville. It was $500. They met officers in Tennessee when they picked up the car. The new owners said  it was full of junk and stuff. They asked if the police had “ran a dog through it” but they replied, ‘Nah, we got it all. Don’t worry about it.’” The car was towed back to Alabama before they ever popped open the trunk. “We started pulling all this stuff out of the trunk, and saw a Walmart bag that had two bundles of something that was taped really, really heavy,” they said. “I was looking at it and I thought, ‘Something don’t look right with this,’” the father said. They called the Madison County Sheriff’s Office and officials said that the bundles were two kilos of heroin worth about $300,000. (WHNT)


ViacomCBS will launch the Paramount+ streaming service on March 4th

The new service will be built atop the company’s CBS All Access platform and will add to that service’s current library of 20,000 TV shows and films. Subscription costs will remain unchanged from CBS All Access; $5.99/month with ads or $9.99/month for an ad-free option. ViacomCBS stock dropped about 1% in premarket trading following the announcement. The platform will launch both in the U.S. and Latin America on March 4; it will launch later on in the month in Scandinavian countries, and by mid-2021 in Australia. (CNBC)


Post Presidential Life

President Donald Trump will land in Florida via Air Force One a few hours before President-elect Biden’s inauguration today (1/20). While he will lose access to the presidential aircraft at noon ET, he will still enjoy several perks of being a former president for the rest of his life. Even though some former presidents earn money through speeches and books after they leave office, taxpayers do provide a stipend.

  • Former presidents receive around $219,000 annually and raises are given to match what current cabinet secretaries receive.
  • Former presidents also get Secret Service protection valued at about $1 million year year, and are able to employ staffers and use office space.
  • For the first 30 months after leaving office, $150,000/year is allocated for staffers. That drops to $96,000 annually after that.
  • In recent years, former presidents have spent around $500,000/year of taxpayer money for office space locations.
  • Former presidents are also entitled access to mail privileges, according to a recently published government report.

(The Denver Channel)


Microsoft and General Motors announced they’ll enter a strategic relationship to expedite the commercialization of autonomous vehicles

Microsoft and Honda have invested more than $2B in GM’s autonomous vehicle subsidiary Cruise, giving it a post-money valuation of $30 Billion. Cruise will integrate Microsoft Azure’s cloud computing service into its self-driving technology and intends to introduce a robotaxi service. Microsoft will help streamline GM’s supply chains and introduce new digital services for its customers. GM has previously said it will invest $27 Billion in autonomous and electric vehicles by 2025. Cruise has been testing its autonomous vehicles in San Francisco and last year revealed its Cruise Origin prototype, which doesn’t have a steering wheel or pedals. GM acquired Cruise for $1 Billion in 2016, and the company’s workforce has grown from 40 employees to almost 2,000. GM’s shares rose by 7% after the announcement, while Microsoft’s shares were up 1%. (Reuters)


The depiction of a wild pig found inside a cave in the Indonesian island of Sulawesi is the oldest figurative painting ever discovered, archaeologists say

The animal, which resembles a warty pig, a species still living on Sulawesi, is thought to be at least 45,500 years old. Archaeologists have found more ancient paintings in other caves on Sulawesi, including a scene featuring human-animal hybrids that is thought to be at least 43,900 years old, and another wild pig. These paintings show that advanced hominids lived in what is now the Indonesian archipelago tens of thousands of years ago, but it is not clear whether they were homo sapiens or members of an extinct species of early humans. The authors of a study about the paintings say that “given the sophistication of this early representational artwork” it is safe to assume they were homo sapiens. However, some researchers argue that Neanderthals were also capable of producing refined paintings. This suggests that other species of hominids may have created the Sulawesi paintings. (The New York Times)


Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin plans to launch its first commercial passengers into orbit as early as April

The aerospace company plans to launch tourists, scientists, and professional astronauts on short trips over West Texas, purportedly for a minimum of $200,000 a seat. Blue Origin completed its fourteenth test flight last week of the New Shepard rocket booster and capsule, which will carry the passengers if a final fifteenth test proves successful. The two “stable configuration” tests mark the final demonstrations before crews can actually launch in the suborbital vehicle, which has a newly-redesigned crew capsule and booster. The second test is scheduled for late February, followed by the first crewed flight in early April. The six-seater crew capsule, known as the RSS First Step, has sound suppression, a crew alert system, and mics for speaking with ground control. (CNBC)


Relocated and regretting it?

When New York became an epicenter of coronavirus cases last year, scores of residents fled in what became a mass exodus of several hundred thousand. As they fanned out across the nation in search of respite, many rushed to purchase homes and pour savings into relocating. Now, however, some say they are remorseful of their haste, grappling with significant cultural, culinary, lifestyle and economic changes in moving away from the city. (The Wall Street Journal)


Samsung boss jailed for bribery

Samsung heir Lee Jae-young has returned to prison for charges related to bribing South Korea’s former president. The development has deep implications for “one of the world’s largest business empires” based in Seoul and leaves Samsung without a leader. Lee has served as the company’s de facto leader since his father’s death in 2020. The new sentence concludes a long-running saga — Lee was first sentenced in 2017, serving a year before being released after the sentence was halved. The case has been fought in courts since. (Associated Press)


City Rejects Damage Claim After Dog Shocked On Public Sidewalk

Last year,  a dog was shocked because of a loose wire on a public sidewalk. After months of fighting to get information and file a claim for damages, the dog’s owners said the city rejected their appeal. The owner said her dog was walking in the area it let out a horrific yelp and began to convulse. She later learned a loose wire managed to electrify a nearby manhole cover on a public sidewalk — shocking her dog. The dog doesn’t show any physical injuries, but the owner does because the pup bit her as an involuntary reaction to the pain. The owner began the process of filing a police report, requesting public documents, including those she she says showed the city identifying the potential hazard, but failing to fix it. The medical bills for the owner and the dog totaled about $1,500. She filed a claim to recoup the costs of treatment. After an investigation, the city denied her payment. The owner is aware of a handful of other dog owners who say they’ve seen or experienced the same shocking pains on their pups. Ultimately, it’s not about the money, the woman said; it’s about safeguarding the streets for those walking on two feet or four paws. (Chicago CBS)


A father builds a backyard ice rink to help his sons achieve their goals

One Northeast Iowa family has a tradition that’s perfect for getting out of the house and having some fun while working towards a goal. The father added an ice rink to their family’s backyard. Using boards, liners, and a lot of water, he was able to build a rink that is 50 feet wide and 100 feet long. “I spent all of Christmas break one year just building all of the brackets and the boards,” he said, “it was a couple of thousand dollars for the materials and about $500 a year for the liner.” Both of his sons are passionate about hockey and practice almost everyday. However, watching them practice with their teams, he notice they don’t get a lot of ice time to themselves. “The more time you practice something, the better you got at it,” he said, “I really wanted to install that work ethic in my kids.” Whether it’s playing three on three with teammates or slapping the puck around, He is building the ice rink was an investment worth making if it means helping his boys reach their goals. (KWWL)


YouTube extends Trump’s suspension for at least another week

YouTube said it’s extending its suspension of President Donald Trump’s channel for another week over “ongoing potential for violence”.  The move lengthens the punishment the Google-owned platform imposed on Trump last week, which prohibited him from uploading new content and disabled comments on his videos indefinitely. YouTube has a three-strikes policy when it comes to policing its platform. Three infractions within a 90-day period results in permanently being kicked off the platform. The first strike comes with a one-week ban from posting content. The second strike comes with a two-week ban. (CNET)


After enduring years of cramped, “widescreen” laptop displays, it looks like we’re finally starting to say goodbye to the 16:9 aspect ratio

An aspect ratio is the ratio of a display’s width to a display’s height (in that order). For example, a screen with a resolution of 500 x 500 would have an aspect ratio of 1:1. Think of it like simplifying a fraction: a 1080p screen has a resolution of 1920 x 1080, which divides down to 16:9. The aspect ratios you’ll typically see on laptops are 16:9, 3:2, 16:10 (which, for whatever reason, is called 16:10 rather than 8:5), and (occasionally) 4:3. 16:9 is the most common option and also the one with the lowest amount of vertical space relative to its horizontal space. (The Verge)


MIT scientists proposed a way to grow certain plant tissues in lab

MIT scientists’ new work offers a possible starting point for novel approaches to biomaterials production that ease the environmental burden of forestry and agriculture. They have developed a new way to grow specific plant tissues, such as wood and fiber, in a lab. Scientists tested their concept by growing structures made of wood-like cells from an initial sample of cells extracted from zinnia leaves. Scientists grew wood-like plant tissue indoors- without soil or sunlight. They began with a zinnia plant, extracting live cells from its leaves. By culturing the cells in a liquid growth medium, they were able to metabolize and proliferate. They then transferred the cells into a gel and “tuned” them. They cozed the cells to grow a rigid, wood-like structure using a mix of two plant hormones called auxin and cytokinin. Variations of the level of these hormones within the gel, scientists were able to control the cells’ production of lignin, an organic polymer that lends wood its firmness. This procedure demonstrated that plant cells could be used in a controlled production process, resulting in a material optimized for a particular purpose. Although, the method is not market-ready yet. Scientists acknowledge it’s still early days for these lab-grown plant tissues, the team will keep fine-tuning the controls, like hormone levels and pH of the gel, that give rise to the final material’s properties. (Tech Explorist)


Wednesday Slumps Down On:

  • Bodhi Day (Rohatsu)
  • Buttercrunch Day
  • Camcorder Day
  • Cheese Lovers Day
  • Disc Jockey Day
  • Inauguration Day
  • National Day of Service
  • Penguin Awareness Day

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