Thursday, March 11, 2021

High body mass index and obesity found to be significant risk factors for COVID-19 hospitalization and death, particularly for those under 65 years old

About 78% of people who were hospitalized, placed on a ventilator or died from COVID-19 were overweight or obese, a new report from the CDC shows. The findings show risk of severe COVID-19 illness rises sharply with elevated body mass index, especially for people younger than 65 years of age. 15 states have opened up vaccine eligibility for people who are considered obese or morbidly obese, making it lower on states’ priority list than some other risk factors, including age. Patients under 65 who were underweight had a 41% higher risk for hospitalization than those with a healthy weight. (Center for Disease Control and Prevention)


New guidelines expected to double the number of smokers eligible for lung cancer screenings

Lung cancer is the nation’s top cancer killer, causing more than 135,000 deaths each year. Smoking is the chief cause and quitting the best protection. Usually, lung cancer is diagnosed too late for a good chance at survival. But some Americans who are at especially high risk get an annual low-dose CT scan, a type of X-ray, to improve those odds. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force said anyone between ages 50 and 80 who has smoked at least 20 “pack-years” and either still smokes or quit within the last 15 years. A “pack-year” means smoking a pack of cigarettes a day for a year or an equivalent amount. So someone could qualify by going through a pack a day for 20 years or two packs a day for 10 years. (NBC News)


Security firm Verkada hacked, exposing surveillance feeds from 150,000 cameras in factories, jails, police stations, hospitals, and more

Verkada, a Silicon Valley security startup that provides cloud-based security camera services, has suffered a major security breach. Hackers gained access to over 150,000 of the company’s cameras, including cameras in Tesla factories and warehouses, Cloudflare offices, Equinox gyms, hospitals, jails, schools, police stations, and Verkada’s own offices. The hack was meant to show how commonplace the company’s security cameras are and how easily they’re able to be hacked. In addition to the live feeds, the group also claimed to have had access to the full video archive of all of Verkada’s customers. The hack was apparently relatively simple: the group managed to gain “Super Admin”-level access to Verkada’s system using a username and password they found publicly on the internet. From there, they were able to access the entire company’s network, including root access to the cameras themselves, which, in turn, allowed the group to access the internal networks of some of Verkada’s customers. A Verkada representative commented: “We have disabled all internal administrator accounts to prevent any unauthorized access. Our internal security team and external security firm are investigating the scale and scope of this potential issue.” Following Bloomberg’s request to Verkada, the group lost access to both the company’s live feeds and archives. (Bloomberg)


Disney+ removes ‘Peter Pan,’ ‘Dumbo’ from children’s profiles due to negative stereotypes

Disney+ has removed several movies from children’s profiles on its service due to negative stereotypes. The Walt Disney Company previously showed content warnings on the films for “negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people and cultures” in October but has now removed access to the films for children under 7. Adults can still view the movies on their Disney+ accounts with the content warnings. Some of what Disney has said about each of the movies at the “Stories Matter” section include:

  • “Dumbo” (1941): “The crows and musical number pay homage to racist minstrel shows, where white performers with blackened faces and tattered clothing imitated and ridiculed enslaved Africans on Southern plantations. The leader of the group in Dumbo is Jim Crow, which shares the name of laws that enforced racial segregation in the Southern United States.”
  • “Peter Pan” (1953): “The film portrays Native people in a stereotypical manner that reflects neither the diversity of Native peoples nor their authentic cultural traditions. It shows them speaking in an unintelligible language and repeatedly refers to them as ‘redskins,’ an offensive term. Peter and the Lost Boys engage in dancing, wearing headdresses and other exaggerated tropes.”
  • “Swiss Family Robinson” (1960): “The pirates who antagonize the Robinson family are portrayed as a stereotypical foreign menace. Many appear in ‘yellow face’ or ‘brown face’ and are costumed in an exaggerated and inaccurate manner with top knot hairstyles, queues, robes and overdone facial make-up and jewelry, reinforcing their barbarism and ‘otherness.’”
  • “The Aristocats” (1970): “The (Siamese) cat (Shun Gon) is depicted as a racist caricature of East Asian peoples with exaggerated stereotypical traits such as slanted eyes and buck teeth. He sings in poorly accented English voiced by a white actor and plays the piano with chopsticks.”

The content warning displays on the films says: “This program includes negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures. These stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now. Rather than remove this content, we want to acknowledge its harmful impact, learn from it and spark conversation to create a more inclusive future together. Disney is committed to creating stories with inspirational and aspirational themes that reflect the rich diversity of the human experience around the globe.” (WPDE)


Man pulls out ‘Dank Gummies’ instead of ID for deputies

A 40-year-old man from Bonita Springs, Florida was arrested after pulling out a package of “Dank Gummies” while searching for his ID for deputies. He is facing drug possession charges after witnesses called authorities to report the man had nearly hit a gas pump at the Circle K gas station, according to the Collier County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies found the man parked at a gas pump where he asked for help calling AAA because his car wasn’t starting. According to the arrest report, deputies said there was no key in the ignition, and after some searching the man found the keys in his pocket. He  was then asked for his driver’s license and while rummaging through his pockets again he pulled out a small package labeled “Dank Gummies,” deputies said. He also pulled out a “Medicated Nerds Rope” and showed it to law enforcement. The 40-year-old told deputies his girlfriend has a medical marijuana card because of a cancer diagnosis. Deputies searched and found he also had a plastic bag of cocaine on him, according to CCSO. In total, deputies said he  had a package of cannabis-infused gummies with 500mg of THC, a medicated Nerds rope with 400mg of THC, and a plastic bag with 27.5g of cocaine. He is facing charges of felony cocaine possession, and felony possession of a controlled substance. (ABC 7)


New Stanford study says Zoom calls trigger our ‘fight or flight’ survival reflex

Americans are marking the one-year anniversary of stay-at-home orders and remote working with a growing sense of pandemic fatigue. A new study finds that staring at your coworkers’ faces, up-close and personal, and your own is probably triggering your “fight or flight” survival reflex. “The brain is particularly attentive to faces, and when we see large ones, we interpret them as being close. Our ‘fight or flight’ reflex responds,” according to the director of Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab. He added, “From an evolutionary standpoint, if there was a very large human face close by to you, and it was staring right in your eyes, you were likely going to engage in conflict or mating. Neither responses are a good fit for a work meeting.” It’s not just staring at others’ faces in a box all day that’s got you tired of video conferencing, but staring at your own as well. Seeing your image reflected in the camera can be stressful, research shows, consciously and unconsciously leading to self-criticism and negative mental health consequences. (The Hill)


New York City Performer ‘Naked Cowboy’ Arrested in Florida for Panhandling

Robert Burck, popularly known as the New York City Times Square performer “Naked Cowboy,” was arrested recently in Florida during Daytona Beach’s annual Bike Week. Dayton Beach police claim he was dressed in his usual “Naked Cowboy” attire of white briefs, cowboy boots, cowboy hat, and a guitar when they saw attendees gather around him for a picture as he stood about 10 feet away from a shop in the area. Authorities approached him when they noticed people were placing money inside the sound hole of his guitar. He was charged with resisting a police officer without violence for pulling away from a cop, instead of following their orders. He was also cited for panhandling. Photos released by the police show that the headstock of his guitar was broken. Authorities argue that the damage occurred when he was resisting arrest. Footage from his arrest was posted on YouTube and shows a small crowd gathered around as a handcuffed Naked Cowboy leans on a patrol car. According to body cam footage from the incident, he pleaded with the officers, telling them, “I don’t need money, I’m already successful. I will never take their money again, I promise you.” The Naked Cowboy states on his Facebook page that this was his 21st time attending Daytona Beach’s Bike Week, but this one almost certainly had to be the least enjoyable of them all. (Orlando Sentinel)


Panda Express workers forced to strip in ‘cult-like’ team-building seminar, lawsuit alleges

A former employee of a Panda Express in Santa Clarita alleges she was required to strip down to her underwear and hug a partially clad co-worker during a “cult-like ritual” at a 2019 training seminar sponsored by the company as a prerequisite to promotion. The 23-year-old woman is suing Panda Restaurant Group, headquartered in Rosemead, and Alive Seminars and Coaching Academy in Pico Rivera for sexual battery, a hostile work environment and intentional infliction of emotional distress. She is seeking unspecified damages in the lawsuit filed last month in Los Angeles County Superior Court. The victim says she began working for Panda Express in 2016 and was told in July 2019 by then store manager that she needed to complete a self-improvement seminar conducted by Alive Seminars. “Eager to improve her skills and advance within the company, plaintiff signed up and paid out of pocket to attend a four-day program,” the lawsuit says. “Panda Express pushed its employees in the Los Angeles region to complete Alive Seminars training. In many cases, it was a prerequisite to promotion.” The seminar was held in a warehouse in East Los Angeles and attended by 20 to 50 Panda Express employees from throughout Southern California. Those who attended the seminar were required to provide their employee identification numbers and received intake materials with the Panda logo. Officials with Panda Restaurant Group said the company takes the woman’s allegations seriously and has conducted an investigation. (Pasadena Star News)


NYC mom enraged by teacher playing rap videos during Zoom economics class

A mom in Queens, New York who was working at home is outraged to discover that her son’s Zoom economics class at a Brooklyn high school consisted of rap videos featuring drug deals, prostitutes and vulgar language, including the N-word. The mom got so upset during the lesson on “money, power and respect,” she grabbed her son’s laptop and yelled at the social studies teacher for wasting valuable instructional time. “You honestly ought to be embarrassed. Disgusting!” she shouted, infuriated by the videos and lame discussion. The clash, which was videotaped by the son, shines a light on what the mom called “lazy” remote instruction in a low-performing NYC high school, and the plight of teens stuck on screens but learning little during the COVID-19 pandemic. The mom said her 12th-grader did not have a book or syllabus for the economics class, telling her the teacher usually showed videos. The mom, who describes herself as Latina and whose son is also of Irish descent, could not say whether the teacher used the videos to appeal to students of color. “I don’t think it matters what color you are,” she said. “This is a classroom, albeit virtual, and you should be teaching something valuable. These kids are supposed to be preparing for college, and this isn’t helpful to them.” The school officials are looking into this situation. (Fox News)


China, Russia To Build Lunar Station Possibly On The Moon

China says the station will carry out activities such as “the lunar exploration and utilization, lunar-based observation.” China and Russia are planning to build a lunar research station, possibly on the moon’s surface. The China National Space Administration says the station will carry out activities such as “the lunar exploration and utilization, lunar-based observation” and other basic scientific experiments. The station will be open to other countries, but the agency gave no timeline for its construction.  China is also working on the development of its first orbital space station. (US News)


Arkansas Governor Signs Bill Banning All Elective Abortions

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson signed into law a bill that bans all elective abortions in the state, only allowing an exception in cases of a medical emergency where the procedure is required to save the life of the mother. Expecting a legal challenge of the legislation, Hutchinson hopes that the Supreme Court of the United States will eventually use its conservative majority to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision. Governor Hutchinson said he would sign the bill, known as SB6, into law despite his prior concerns over it lacking exceptions for cases of rape and incest. The Arkansas legislation would officially take effect 90 days after the state legislature adjourns for the year (sometime in the summer of 2021). Under current Supreme Court precedent, the anti-abortion measure is unconstitutional, violating the holdings of both Roe and Casey v. Planned Parenthood. The Governor cknowledged that in a statement that the purpose of the legislation is to overturn those precedents. (Law And Crime)


Wisconsin man gets driver’s license photo taken with half of a beard

A Wisconsin driver’s license has people talking. An experimental music producer had his ID photo taken with only half of a beard. He got it at a Milwaukee DMV last week. He says he thought of the idea years ago because nobody could really say anything if that’s how he chose to have his facial hair. He tried it eight years ago, but there was some problem with his information so he had to wait until his next renewal. Eight years later, he finally pulled it off. Another note, he has a masters degree in education from Harvard University, and a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. (WDJT)


Ohio restaurant server receives $2,021 tip after bonding with customers

A restaurant server in Ohio was shocked to receive a huge tip from two customers she had bonded with. A server at Slyman’s Tavern in Independence, Ohio, just outside Cleveland, was working a lunch shift recently when two older women came into the restaurant and ordered lunch, as well as several to-go orders. The servers’ husband died last April and when the two customers told her about their situation, she realized she also probably hadn’t cooked since then. They just bonded over that, the server said. During the conversation, the customers just told her ‘Things are going to get better, we promise.’” That’s when they left a $2,021 tip on their $100.21 order. The server was completely shocked at first and said she couldn’t accept it. The customers said “they wanted to take care of her. Adding they could afford it, not to worry about that.” The restaurant staff was in tears when they heard about what had happened. (Fox News)


Thursday Lifts Up The Day With:

  • 311 Day
  • COVID-19 Global Pandemic Day
  • Dream 2021 Day
  • Funeral Director and Mortician Recognition Day
  • Isra Al Mi’ra
  • Johnny Appleseed Day
  • Key Deer Awareness Day
  • Nametag Day (Thursday of First Full Week)
  • Oatmeal Nut Waffles Day
  • Promposal Day (Ask to prom)
  • World Kidney Day (2nd Thursday)
  • World Plumbing Day
  • Worship of Tools Day