Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Virginia prison staffer says she was fired on suspicion of smuggling after body scan detected tampon

A dental hygienist who says she was fired by the Virginia Department of Corrections after a body scanner detected she was wearing a tampon can proceed with a sex discrimination lawsuit against the state, a federal judge ruled recently. The employee alleged she was interrogated for hours at Augusta Correctional Center on suspicion she was smuggling contraband. She said she was ultimately terminated from her position at the facility despite demonstrating to female guards that she was menstruating and allowing them to search her car and work area, steps she says turned up no evidence of illegal activity. The Department of Corrections responded by asking a judge to dismiss the claim, arguing that she had not sufficiently demonstrated gender was a motivating factor in her termination. Ther District Judge rejected that motion in an opinion issued. “But for the woman’s menstruation and use of a tampon, conditions inextricable from her sex and her child-bearing capacity, she would not have been discharged,” he wrote. The Virginia Department of Corrections drew a nationwide backlash in 2018 after it instituted a policy barring women from visiting prisons while wearing a tampon, citing the inability of new body-scanning technology used for screening visitors to differentiate feminine hygiene products from drugs and other contraband. (NBC 12)


A German college boy caught trespassing in an Australian museum to take selfies with dinosaurs

A German college boy visited Australia’s oldest museum illegally at a nearby university. Since August of last year, it has been closed for refurbishment. Sadly, this is considered a crime when the museum is closed. It is not clear whether the 25-year-old man who broke into Sydney’s Australian Museum for selfies in the dinosaur show knew this. The young man seemed to have spent 40 minutes strolling around the closed museum without hesitation as if he was roaming around in his house. He stole a cowboy staff hat from a coat rack and happily stuck it in the open jaws of the T. Rex, which seemed oblivious to safety cameras and was able to track every move. (Folks Paper)


California mom claims that her three young boys were expelled from their Catholic school all because of her account on the adult website OnlyFans

The mom of three said that she joined OnlyFans in September 2019 to try to repair her marriage with her husband of 14 years. She never imagined anyone would subscribe to her channel, but within the first month, she had made $14,000 from her “risqué photos” and “sexy stories.” Today, she and her husband earn as much as $150,000 per month for “pretty tame” posts on their account. Everything was going well for her family until July 2020. According to her, that’s when one of the dads from Sacred Heart Parish School, where her three sons go to school, found the OnlyFans page. Naturally, word of the page spread like wildfire, and some of the moms demanded her three sons be expelled. According to the woman, some of the moms at the school were so adamant about getting her sons expelled that they even sent an anonymous packet full of her risqué photos to the principal, bishop and church. When she and her husband learned about the envelope, they said they emailed the superintendent to try and clear everything up, but they never heard back. After months of campaigning, the moms’ efforts paid off. The school recently informed the family that their sons were no longer welcome at Sacred Heart Parish, writing, “Your apparent quest for high profile controversy in support of your adult website is in direct conflict with what we hope to impart to our students.” Ultimately, she is disheartened by her fellow moms’ efforts and hopes her story will remind people to treat others with empathy and understanding. (CBS 13)


Texan files $1 billion class-action lawsuit after receiving $9,000 electric bill

A $1 billion class-action lawsuit has been filed against Texas wholesale electricity retailer Griddy Energy for allegedly charging exorbitant prices during the recent historic storm that left millions powerless in the freezing cold. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a resident in Harris County, who claimed her electricity bill soared to $9,340 the week of the storm. According to the lawsuit, her average monthly bills typically range from $200 to $250. She said Griddy automatically withdrew $1,200 from her bank account from February 13 to 18 and her overall bill from February 1 to 19 was $9,546. The lawsuit states that some customers had bills as high as $17,000. The complaint accused the company of “overcharging” some 29,000 customers “knowing consumers would be harmed.” She claimed that despite expressing concern over the withdrawals and subsequently bouncing checks, she never heard back from Griddy. She ultimately placed a stop payment on her bank account on February 18th. In Texas residents can choose between two electricity bill options: A fixed plan, where their price stays at one rate regardless of market conditions, or a market rate plan, which can fluctuate based on how much electricity is used and the market price of electricity. Griddy offers the latter plan. The lawsuit seeks $1 billion in monetary relief for her and “on behalf of all others similarly situated.” It also accuses Griddy of violating the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and requests an injunction to stop the company from collecting payment for “excessive prices”. (ABC News)


Scores of mosquito swarming like a ‘tornado’ trouble drivers in Argentina

The Argentine skies witnessed a bizarre scene as scores of mosquitoes swarmed together to form a ‘tornado.’ A clip has gone viral captured by a motorist who was on Route 74 in the country looking at the tornado that the cars seemed to be driving towards. At first, it seemed like a normal yet terrifying twister that they could not escape. However, as they came nearer, they realized that the mosquitoes were the ones who caused it. Posted on Twitter, the man who captured it is heard saying “It’s getting bigger and bigger, I’ve never seen anything like this in my life.” Researcher at the Centre for Parasitological and Vector Studies say heavy rains caused flooding resulting in large pools of stagnant water where female mosquitoes lay their eggs. While actual tornadoes pose a real threat to humans, mosquito ‘tornados’ are deemed harmless despite being unpleasant on the face. Although, such a twister can cause a lot of problems in farms around the country as they are capable of troubling the farmers at work and ruin all their hard work.  Further more, it’s expected that this will stop within 15 days as these insects might die in that span of time. (Christian Garavaglia Twitter)


Rooster fitted with knife for cockfighting kills its owner by slashing his groin as it tries to escape

A rooster fitted with a knife for an illegal cockfight has killed its owner as it tried to escape by slashing his groin, police in India have revealed. The fighting cock had a blade strapped to its leg ready to take on an opponent when it tried to flee the vicious blood sport. His owner was cut and rushed to the hospital, but died of blood loss before he arrived. The killer rooster was briefly held at the local police station earlier this week before it was sent to a poultry farm. The man’s death has sparked a manhunt for the organisers of the illegal competition. They could face charges of manslaughter, illegal betting and hosting a cockfight. Specially-bred roosters have three-inch knives or blades tethered to their legs and punters bet on who will win the gruesome fight. Thousands of roosters die each year in the battles which, despite the efforts of animal rights groups, attract large crowds. (Daily Mail)


Judge stresses proper court attire after man appears shirtless in Zoom hearing

With the COVID-19 pandemic having forced court hearings to be largely held online via Zoom, defendants have occasionally dialed in wearing less-than-ideal courtroom attire. Now a Bay County, Michigan judge is reminding people to dress properly for virtual court after a defendant showed up for Zoom court with no attire at all. Recently, a Zoom hearing was held before a Circuit Judge in which a 33-year-old man charged by the Michigan Attorney General’s Office with failure to pay child support was to appear. The defendant joined the Zoom hearing, nude from the waist up, walking around his home. The man’s Defense Attorney and Assistant Attorney General were also on the screen. The man proceeded to answer a few questions from the judge while still shirtless. “I’m gonna give you the opportunity to go put some clothes on,” the judge told the man. The man left the frame of his camera for a few moments before reappearing having put on a shirt. The rest of the hearing continued normally. The judge said this was the first time someone Zoomed in without wearing clothes. The judge did not find the defendant in contempt or otherwise penalize him for being under-dressed. The judge encouraged all people appearing in court via Zoom to treat proceedings as in-person hearings and to dress accordingly. (Michigan Live)


Give a hoot for the night owls

The “9 to 5” has looked different this past year, and for some, it’s been replaced by working into the wee hours of the morning. We’re talking to you, night owls. Many of these workers have felt “relief” this past year and “are thriving.” Working off-hours can be a delicate dance and requires strong communication and “transparency,” according to one career specialist, but it can be done. The Journal also recommends scheduling emails so they’re not getting lost in the overnight pile, be open and honest about your work preferences, and don’t forget boundaries. (The Wall Street Journal)


Steps to boost your promotability

Just because you’re working remotely and may be out of sight, it doesn’t mean you should be out of mind when it comes to your bosses or managers. There are ways to stay top-of-mind, in fact, and some simple steps you can take to help your chances of landing that next promotion from the confines of your home office. For starters, don’t let your network fizzle. Keep it fresh and growing. In addition:

  • Try to learn new skills.
  • Communicate, communicate.
  • Boost yourself by boosting others.
  • Showcase your value by “wearing many hats.”
  • Do a self-audit to check if you’re “working at the next level.” 

(The Business of Business)


A federal judge has approved a $650 million settlement of a privacy lawsuit against Facebook for allegedly using photo face-tagging and other biometric data without the permission of its users

A United States District approved the deal in a class-action lawsuit that was filed in Illinois in 2015. Nearly 1.6 million Facebook users in Illinois who submitted claims will be affected. He called it one of the largest settlements ever for a privacy violation. It will put at least $345 into the hands of every class member interested in being compensated,” he wrote, calling it “a major win for consumers in the hotly contested area of digital privacy.” A Chicago attorney who filed the lawsuit said that the checks could be in the mail within two months unless the ruling is appealed. The lawsuit accused the social media giant of violating an Illinois privacy law by failing to get consent before using facial-recognition technology to scan photos uploaded by users to create and store faces digitally. The state’s Biometric Information Privacy Act allowed consumers to sue companies that didn’t get permission before harvesting data such as faces and fingerprints. The case eventually wound up as a class-action lawsuit in California. Facebook has since changed its photo-tagging system. (Chicago Tribune)


Jimmy Hoffa FBI files that have been hidden since 1975 must be released, lawmakers tell DOJ

What happened to Jimmy Hoffa may soon be known, if the government reveals what it has kept hidden for decades. A Congressman from New York has filed a formal Congressional request to open the FBI Hoffa case files to the public. He has submitted what is known as a “Congressional Mandatory Declassification Review” on the Hoffa case to the Department of Justice, seeking the public release of tens of thousands of pages of documents, interviews and reports that the government has kept under wraps since Hoffa vanished in 1975.  He and others believe that if the full account of what authorities have uncovered in the decades long case is revealed, the answers about Hoffa’s fate, and who killed him, will finally be known. The request includes a full declassification of FBI reports and memos dealing with the investigation, as well as the interview of Ralph Picardo and report of Picardo leading FBI agents on December 11, 1975 to ‘Moscato’s Dump’ by FBI agents in Newark and Jersey City, New Jersey. It also asks for bureau interview transcripts of  high level Detroit mobsters believed to have been involved in the killing, among other material. Some of the Hoffa FBI files have been partially released under Freedom of Information lawsuits filed decades ago by the Hoffa family and the Detroit Free Press newspaper, but the vast majority of material remains secret. Page upon page was redacted, blacked out, by the government decades ago with authorities citing the on-going investigation at the time. Noted Hoffa case experts support the release. (Fox News)


Hospitals face a growing threat

The pandemic has strained many hospitals across North America, but another costly problem is taking its toll: cyberattacks. Hospitals in the U.S. and Canada have been increasingly targeted by “ransomware scammers” who lock health care professionals out of digital records in exchange for payouts. Sky Lakes Medical Center in Oregon, for example, was targeted in an attack and suffered an estimated $10 million in losses. Experts suggest this should be a wake-up call to hospitals and health care facilities to invest more in cybersecurity. (The Wall Street Journal)


CDC, FDA back third COVID vaccine

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention panel voted to recommend Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine after the Food and Drug Administration authorized it for emergency use. The CDC’s decision clears the way for distribution, making the single-shot inoculation the third vaccine available in the U.S. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, calls it “a really good vaccine,” even though evidence shows it’s less effective than those by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. (CNN)


Tuesday Catches Up With:

  • Banana Cream Pie Day
  • Dr. Seuss Day
  • Free Dentistry Day
  • Read Across America Day
  • Old Stuff Day
  • Peace Corps Day
  • World Teen Mental Illness Day