Wednesday, February 24, 2021

New legislation would protect drivers who hit protestors

When massive demonstrations against racial injustice erupted across the nation last summer, protesters used an increasingly common tactic to draw attention to their cause: swarming out onto major roads to temporarily paralyze traffic. This method sometimes resulted in searing images of drivers plowing through crowds, causing serious injuries and in some cases, deaths. Now, Republican politicians across the country are moving to stop the road-blocking maneuver, proposing increased penalties for demonstrators who run onto highways and legal immunity for drivers who hit them. The bills are among dozens introduced in Legislatures aimed at cracking down on demonstrations. Now legislators in Iowa, Missouri, Oklahoma, Utah and about a dozen other states have introduced new counter-protest measures. (Fox 25)


Organ transplant patient dies after receiving Covid-infected lungs

Doctors say a woman in Michigan contracted Covid-19 and died last fall two months after receiving a tainted double-lung transplant from a donor who turned out to harbor the virus that causes the disease, despite showing no signs of illness and initially testing negative. Officials at the University of Michigan Medical School suggested it may be the first proven case of Covid-19 in the U.S. in which the virus was transmitted via an organ transplant. A surgeon who handled the donor lungs was also infected with the virus and fell ill but later recovered. The incident appears to be isolated, the only confirmed case among nearly 40,000 transplants in 2020. But it has led to calls for more thorough testing of lung transplant donors, with samples taken from deep within the donor lungs as well as the nose and throat. Three days after the operation, however, the recipient spiked a fever; her blood pressure fell and her breathing became labored. Imaging showed signs of lung infection. As her condition worsened, the patient developed septic shock and heart function problems. Doctors decided to test for SARS-CoV-2. Samples from her new lungs came back positive. (NBC News)


Poland to introduce retirement benefits for police dogs and horses

Poland’s government is seeking to introduce retirement benefits for dogs and horses that have served in the police force. Currently, service animals receive no support from the state after finishing work. In practice, this means that retired police dogs are usually adopted by their handlers, who look after them at their own expense. That situation is now about to change. The interior ministry, which oversees the police service, announced that it is submitting legislation to provide for animals after they finish work. “The bill provides for lifelong maintenance and veterinary care,” said the interior minister. He hopes that the measures, which cover dogs and horses that have worked for the police, border guard and fire service, will receive cross-party support. The legislation would still allow retired animals to be housed with their handlers, or to be taken in by organizations that care for animals. But food, medical treatment and other costs would be covered by the state. (Notes From Poland)


Florida man, ‘upset at his girlfriend,’ sets fire in BG hotel room

A fire in a Bowling Green, Kentucky hotel room resulted in the arrest of a man Thursday on suspicion of intentionally setting the fire. The Bowling Green Police Department was contacted to assist the Bowling Green Fire Department at the scene. According to an arrest citation, the BGFD managed to contain the fire to one room. City firefighters found the 57-year-old man from Orlando, Florida, unconscious outside the room and treated him for smoke inhalation. “When the man regained consciousness he made comments to (firefighters) saying he set the fire because he was upset at his girlfriend who was not on scene at the time,” the arrest citation said. “He said his girlfriend had left last week and sent him a message earlier tonight that upset him,” his arrest citation said. “He set a bag of her belongings she left in the room on fire and threw it up against the door to his room.” A front desk clerk at the hotel told authorities that 17 rooms were occupied at the time of the incident, and the owner estimated that damage to the hotel exceeded $10,000. The man was arrested on charges of first-degree arson, first-degree criminal mischief and 17 counts of first-degree wanton endangerment. First-degree arson is a Class A felony in Kentucky punishable by 20 to 50 years in prison, or life without the possibility of parole for at least 20 years. The other charges against him include Class D felonies punishable by up to five years in prison. (Bowling Green Daily News)


Why doctors can’t get hired

Medical school graduates should be in high demand. The Association of American Medical Colleges reported in 2020 that they expect a shortage of as many as 139,000 physicians by 2033. And yet, thousands of newly minted medical grads have been shut out of residency programs, a critical point of entry to the profession. As many as 10,000 doctors are currently unmatched in the U.S. The result for these grads? Stalled careers and mounting student debt. (The New York Times)


Facebook restores news in Australia

Facebook will reinstate news pages in Australia “in the coming days,” after the social media giant stopped users there from sharing or posting news links. The original move, made last week, came in response to the Australian government’s proposed media bargaining laws. The latest decision follows negotiations between the Australian government and Facebook over paying local publishers for their news content, with the latter saying it was “pleased” it was able to reach an agreement with the government. (NBC News)


Top educator says she was fired for not doing a Wakanda Salute after virtual meetings

A 50-year-old educator in the Bronx says she was fired for refusing to do the “Wakanda Forever” salute during virtual superintendent meetings. She is now suing the city’s DOE, and some of its top-ranking officials, including Chancellor Richard Carranza. The “Wakanda Forever” salute, which involves crossing one’s arms across the chest, is a gesture that symbolizes empowerment and black power. It was popularized by the 2018 Marvel movie “Black Panther,” set in a fictional technologically-advanced African country called Wakanda. She was then fired without explanation. In an effort to keep her retirement benefits (she was fired when she was only one year away from earning a lifetime DOE pension) and health insurance, the doctorate holder settled for a demotion to school investigator, a role that only requires a high school diploma.  She also claims that some DOE officials told her she was not “black enough” and should “just learn to be quiet and look pretty.” A spokesperson said the department is “committed to fostering a safe, inclusive work environment and strongly dispute any claims of discrimination or improper treatment.” (Reclaim The Net)


Gender-reveal device explosion kills father-to-be

A 28-year-old father-to-be from New York state has died after a device he was building for his child’s gender-reveal party exploded, according to police. He was assembling the device in the town of Liberty when it exploded just before noon on Sunday (2/21). Police said the blast killed him and injured his 27-year-old brother, who was taken to hospital. Gender-reveal parties are celebrations announcing whether expecting parents are going to have a girl or a boy. New York’s state police department and its bomb disposal unit are investigating the incident. A spokesman for state police said the device consisted of some kind of pipe, without giving further details. The death is the latest in a string of catastrophes to be linked to gender-reveal parties in recent years. They can include prediction games, with the “big reveal” being made with fireworks and colored smoke grenades, but several large-scale parties have gone wrong, even resulting in several deaths. (The New York Times)


Hospitality workers look for new roles

Millions of hospitality workers, made jobless during the pandemic, are pivoting jobs in a bid to save their careers. Some have transitioned to “roles that tap skills honed over years of public-facing work in high-pressure environments,” says The Wall Street Journal. The leisure-and-hospitality sector has lost approximately 4 million workers since last February, and a large number remain unemployed. Other employers are taking the mass exodus into account when recruiting; Walmart recently contacted industry groups before announcing plans to hire 150,000 store associates across the United States. (The Wall Street Journal)


Arkansas AG introduces bill to ban transgender athletes from girls’ school sports

Arkansas Attorney General announced earlier this week proposed legislation that would ban transgender athletes from playing on women’s school sports teams in Arkansas. The announcement comes after President Joe Biden issued an executive order on January 20th aimed at combating discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. The Attorney General said that the order hurts female athletes. The drafted legislation, known as the Gender Integrity Reinforcement Legislation For Sports Act, or GIRLS Act, would make it illegal for student-athletes who are identified as male on their birth certificate to play on women’s teams. A draft of the proposed bill cites chromosomal, hormonal and physiological differences between male and female sexes. If passed, the bill would apply to K-12 schools in Arkansas. It would allow the attorney general to sue any school that violates the bill and ban them from receiving funds from a public source for one year. (Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge)


Every Canadian household to get free, pre-paid postcard

Canada Post will be sending out one of six, free, pre-paid postcards for people to send anywhere in the country. Canada Post is getting ready to deliver approximately 13.5 million pre-paid postcards, one to every residential address nationwide, for people to send to whomever they want in the country. There are six versions of the postcard, each one offering a simple message of love, appreciation or thanks. According to Canada Post, every household will receive one randomly selected postcard, starting March 1, which they can send to someone in Canada for free – no stamps are needed. The postcards are part of Canada Post’s “Write Here Write Now” program, launched in September 2020 to encourage Canadians to use letter writing to connect with friends and family. “Meaningful connection is vital for our emotional health, sense of community and overall well-being,” according to president and CEO of Canada Post. “Canada Post wants everyone to stay safe, but also stay in touch with the people who matter to them.” Canadians are encouraged to share photos and videos of sending and receiving their postcards using #WriteHereWriteNow. (Richmond News)


Triumph the koala climbs and runs with prosthetic foot made by Australian dentist

Triumph, a male koala born without a foot, has been climbing and running since he was fitted with a prosthetic one made by a neighborhood dentist, an Australian wildlife care person said earlier this week. A Veterinarian nurse had rescued the joey koala in northern New South Wales in 2017, after she found him next to his dying mother with only three feet and a protruding bone in place of the fourth. A U.S. company specializing in animal prosthesis tried to create a foot for Triumph, but was unsuccessful after several attempts. Eventually Christian found an answer closer to home. A Dental prosthetist had heard of Triumph’s dilemma and volunteered to take on the case. The resulting prosthetic is pink, with a velcro strap to help keep it on Triumph’s leg and a tread on the bottom to help the marsupial grip while walking and climbing. Triumph, who is nearly five years old, will need to spend the rest of his life in captivity, most likely under care. (Reuters)


Illinois lawmakers want to ban ‘Grand Theft Auto’ amid spike in carjacking’s

People have been saying for months now that teens are running around Chicago and carjacking motorists like it’s a video game, but now, local lawmakers are doubling down on that idea, saying video game “Grand Theft Auto” should be banned. Some of the carjacking suspects are not even old enough to drive. Earlier this week, a 16-year-old was charged and days ago, two 15-year-olds were arrested and charged as well. Some experts say violent video games like GTA could be influencing their young minds. In January, legislation was drafted to amend a 2012 law preventing some games, including GTA, from being sold to children in Illinois. Different versions of GTA have been banned or censored in five different countries, but never in the United States. (Fox 32)


Wednesday Slaps Down On:

  • Dance Day
  • Forget Me Not Day
  • Inconvenience Yourself Day (4th Wednesday)
  • Pink Shirt Day (Last Wednesday)
  • Tortilla Chip Day
  • World Bartender Day