Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Germany bans ‘water vitalizer’ over radio interference

German authorities banned the sale and use of a New Age water vitalizer device amid concerns that it is interfering with amateur radio signals. The Federal Network Agency said it had received numerous reports that the device, sold by Swiss company Wassermatrix AG as a way to “activate” the body’s self-healing powers, was transmitting on the frequencies allocated for ham radio users. The agency said owners of the $9,540 device, which has been sold more than 2,400 times in Germany, are allowed to keep but not use it. (Associated Press)


Cheerleader mom charged with faking nudes of daughter’s squad to get them kicked off

A 50-year-old woman in Hilltown Township, Pennsylvania is facing multiple harassment charges for allegedly creating deepfake images and videos and using them to anonymously cyberbully her daughter’s cheer squad, according to authorities in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. In charging documents, the Hilltown Township Police Department allege that the woman harassed several of the staff and members of the Victory Vipers cheer squad in Doylestown. After the first victim came forward alleging cyber harassment, several others came forward too, police said, and at least one victim received a message encouraging suicide. The woman allegedly created digitally manipulated images and videos that falsely showed her daughter’s teammates drinking, vaping, and posing nude, all activities that would get them kicked off the squad. Police wrote that they identified the woman by searching the phone numbers that anonymously sent the bullying text messages to several cheer squad members. The numbers belonged to a smartphone app called Pinger, which allows users to send text messages. (NBC Philadelphia)


Judge rules Google must face class-action lawsuit claiming the search giant collected users’ data even while browsing in incognito mode 

A judge in California ruled Friday that Google has to face a class action lawsuit that claims the search giant secretly collects data from users even when they’re using its private “Incognito” mode. Three users filed a complaint last June alleging Google has a “pervasive data tracking business,” and its tracking persists even if users take steps to protect their private information, such as using incognito mode in Chrome, or private browsing in Safari and other browsers. The lawsuit seeks at least $5 billion. Google had sought to have the case thrown out, but the US District Judge wrote in her ruling that the company “did not notify users that Google engages in the alleged data collection while the user is in private browsing mode.” (Bloomberg)


Study finds myelin, which acts as a protective coating around the brain’s wiring system, degrades over time; research reveals a potential new primary factor in age-related neurodegenerative diseases

A new study led by the University of Portsmouth has identified that one of the major factors of age-related brain deterioration is the loss of a substance called myelin. Myelin acts like the protective and insulating plastic casing around the electrical wires of the brain – called axons. Myelin is essential for superfast communication between nerve cells that lie behind the supercomputer power of the human brain. The loss of myelin results in cognitive decline and is central to several neurodegenerative diseases, such as Multiple Sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease. This new study found that the cells that drive myelin repair become less efficient as we age and identified a key gene that is most affected by ageing, which reduces the cells ability to replace lost myelin. The study is part of an international collaboration led by Professors at the University of Portsmouth and at the University of Dusseldorf in Germany, together with Italian research groups in Milan and Padua. (University of Portsmouth)


Crews find possible Revolutionary War ship cannons in Savannah River

Cannons, an anchor and other nautical relics dredged from the depths of the Savannah River last month could be from a British war ship that wreaked havoc during the Revolutionary War and led to the commission of the fledgling country’s first naval vessel. The Army Corps of Engineers were using a clamshell dredger February 22 as part of a project to expand the depth of Savannah Harbor when they found the artifacts. Other debris, including pottery from indigenous people who lived upstream, pieces of the Confederate warship CSS Georgia and other vessels have been recovered from the riverbed over the years. The canons are about five feet long. Because of their length, they are believed to date from the mid-1700s. Although the Georgia could have been outfitted with older guns it is believed they came from another ship. The cannons are believed to be those from the HMS Rose, considered the scourge of the Revolution for its success at intercepting smugglers 250 years ago off the coast of Rhode Island. The intrepid ship, outfitted with 20 guns and a 160-man crew, led to the commission of the first vessel for the Continental Navy, Providence, in response. The Rose patrolled off the Eastern Seaboard until it was ordered to blockade the port of Savannah in 1779. The Rose was sunk in September 1779 in an effort to keep French ships from entering the harbor. The Rose is one of two ships that sunk at the mouth of the river. The crew survived the sinking and joined other soldiers in Savannah. The British eventually won the battle. Britain left the city in 1782 and much of the wreckage was cleared at that time to open the waterway. (Savannah District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)


Facebook to label all posts about COVID-19 vaccines

Facebook Inc, which has been criticized by lawmakers and researchers for allowing vaccine misinformation to spread on its platforms, said on Monday it has started adding labels to posts that discuss the safety of the shots and will soon label all posts about the vaccines. The social media company said in a blog post it is also launching a tool in the United States to give people information about where to get COVID-19 vaccines and adding a COVID-19 information area to its photo-sharing site Instagram. False claims and conspiracies about the coronavirus vaccines have proliferated on social media platforms during the pandemic. Facebook and Instagram, which recently tightened their policies after long taking a hands-off approach to vaccine misinformation, remain home to large accounts, pages and groups that promote false claims about the shots and can be easily found through keyword searches. (Reuters)


World at ‘peak twin’ as birth rates reach historic high, study finds

Twins may be more common today than at any time in history, according to the first comprehensive survey of twin births around the world. Researchers analyzed records from more than 100 countries and found a substantial rise in twin birthrates since the 1980s, with one in 42 people now born a twin, equivalent to 1.6 million children a year. According to the study, the global twin birthrate has risen by one-third, on average, over the past 40 years. Rather than seeing the trend continue, the world may have reached “peak twin”, the authors say, as the most recent data suggest some countries have begun to see twinning rates plateau or even fall from historic highs. “The trends are really quite striking,” according to a professor of sociology and demography at Oxford University. “Over the past 40 to 50 years we’ve seen a strong increase in twinning rates in rich, developed countries, and that has led to more twins in both a relative and an absolute sense than we’ve seen ever before.” Twins are born naturally when a fertilized egg spontaneously splits in half, leading to identical twins, or when the mother releases two eggs at once that are both fertilized, producing non-identical twins. Most now are born as a result of fertility treatments, such as ovarian stimulation or having more than one in vitro fertilizations (IVF) embryo transferred into the womb at the same time, a practice now discouraged in many countries on health grounds. While the birthrate for identical twins has barely changed over time, researchers found that naturally conceived, non-identical twins and twins born as a result of medically assisted reproduction, an umbrella term for a range of fertility treatments, had risen globally. (The Guardian)


27% Of U.S. Adults Have Received At Least 1 Dose

The CDC says 107 million total vaccines have been administered. More than 1 in 4 adults now have gotten at least one dose of a COVID vaccine and almost 15% of adults are fully vaccinated. The CDC says 107 million total vaccines have been administered. More than 37 million people are fully vaccinated and more than 60% of those over the age of 65 have gotten at least one dose. (Yahoo News)


Toys ‘R’ Us has been sold… again

Toys “R” Us is changing hands again, less than two years after Tru Kids Inc. bought it in a liquidation sale. WHP Global, a New York-based brand management company, announced it has bought a controlling interest in Toys “R” Us’ parent company and will now manage Tru Kids’ business and growth. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. “We are thrilled to be taking the reins of the world’s leading toy brand at a time when the category is up 16% and consumer demand for toys is at an all time high,” WHP CEO said in a press release. Toy sales have soared as bored families look for something to do. Plans for the brand weren’t immediately revealed. However, the CEO said the sale was a “natural fit” for WHP because it can use its “global network and digital platform to help grow Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us around the world.” Toys “R” Us’ website remains operational and more than 700 stores outside of the United States are still open. WHP claims that the brand still generates more than $2 billion in global retail sales. (CNN)


Georgia police arrest 102 suspected street racers after trapping them in parking lot

More than 100 suspected street racers have been taken into custody in Georgia after police surrounded them inside a parking lot and deployed spike strips to prevent their escape.  The Clayton County Sheriff’s Office says the arrests happened following its response to calls about cars performing stunts outside a Sam’s Club store in Morrow, near Atlanta. A total of 75 adults were hit with charges including loitering, prowling and possession of a firearm under 18, while the parents of 27 juveniles were charged with curfew violations. “Of course, some tried to leave, driving over sidewalks and medians attempting to flee,” Officers said. “But, no worries, we got them, too.” 48 vehicles were impounded and four firearms were seized. The identities of the suspects were not revealed, but they appeared to be young, according to a picture released by the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office. Police also said in the statement that “reading is fundamental”. “However, when you drive too fast it is hard to read the warning signs posted at the entrances of Clayton County giving those intent on breaking the law the warning that it might be wise to turn around,” it said. (Fox News)


YouTube will broadcast a Major League Baseball package of games for a third season

The series of 21 telecasts start on Wednesday, April 7 at 1:10 p.m. EDT when the Boston Red Sox host the AL champion Tampa Bay Rays in the finale of a two-game series, MLB and YouTube said. The games are exclusive and will not be televised by club broadcast partners. The second game will be on Thursday, April 22 when Houston hosts the Los Angeles Angels at 8;05 p.m. EDT, and the third will be when Cleveland hosts AL Central champion Minnesota at 1:10 p.m. EDT. YouTube telecasts include live chats. YouTube broadcast 13 games in 2019 and says it generated an average of 1.2 million live views. It broadcast four games last September during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. MLB’s primary national agreements are with Fox, Turner and ESPN. (Associated Press)


Baby kangaroo found after night on the loose in New York

A baby kangaroo that escaped from a New York farm employee’s home was found by a sheriff’s deputy after a night on the loose. The Yates County Sheriff’s Office said the female joey, named Kaia, was captured by Deputy Sheriff Scott Walker about a mile away from where she had escaped from the home of a Stokoe Farms employee. Stokoe Farms said Kaia had been taken home for the weekend by the employee because the young marsupial requires round-the-clock care, and the kangaroo managed to escape when the handler took the animal with her to visit family members in Yates County. The sheriff’s office said more than 40 volunteers joined in the search before Kaia was safely located in Jerusalem on Sunday. Deputies said the animal did not appear to be injured. Stokoe Farms owners Dave and Suzanne Stokoe said Kaia was rescued from Ohio late last year, and the 7-month-old animal is at an age at which she still would be in her mother’s pouch in the wild. (UPI)


Tinder will roll out a background check feature this year (for a FEE) so users can see their potential date’s criminal history using just their name and phone number

Tinder, along with all dating apps owned by Match Group, will soon let users vet potential dates prior to meeting them in person – but for a fee. Match group announced a partnership with the non-profit background check platform Garbo Monday, which will be integrated into Tinder and other dating apps like OKCupid and Match. The cost of the service has yet to be revealed, but the average fee for a national criminal background check is about $7 to $15 per request. The firm’s website says it collects ‘public records and reports of violence or abuse, including arrests, convictions, restraining orders, harassment and other violent crimes.’ And to access such information, users would need the first name and phone number or full name of their match. Tinder makes it clear that it does not vet members prior to giving them access to the platform, but has continuously come under fire for allowing predators and criminals use the site. The background check feature is set to begin testing in the Tinder app over the next few months and will then be rolled out to other Match Group apps, which includes OkCupid, Hinge and Match. (Daily Mail)


Tuesday Slacks Off With:

  • Artichoke Hearts Day
  • Black Press Day
  • Campfire Girls Day
  • Curl Crush Day
  • Curlew Day
  • Everything You Do Is Right Day
  • Freedom of Information Day
  • Goddard Day
  • Lips Appreciation Day
  • No Selfies Day
  • Panda Day
  • St. Urho’s Day
  • World Social Work Day (3rd Tuesday)