Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Inching toward a brain cancer vaccine

Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg have developed a vaccine designed to boost brain cancer patients’ ability to limit or stop the growth of their tumors. In Phase 1 human trials, the vaccine, which targets a specific mutation found in diffuse gliomas, triggered an effective response from 93% of participants and among those who displayed such responses, 82% of patients experienced no tumor growth. Diffuse gliomas are a challenging type of brain cancer to address, as they tend to spread across the brain. Up next: A Phase 2 trial with more participants. (Nature)


A potential COVID pill in the making

In today’s fight against COVID-19, much attention has been focused on prevention through social distancing and efforts to increase vaccination, but pharmaceutical giant Merck has begun trials on a possible new weapon in the arsenal against this virus, and the viruses to come. The drug in question: molnupiravir, an antiviral that can gum up the works of the virus replication process. Such a drug may be able to speed the recovery process of those infected with COVID-19 and, perhaps, be useful as a post-exposure treatment to prevent infection in the first place. This kind of antiviral drug may also prove essential in fighting future pandemics. (Bloomberg)


Walmart is looking for local restaurants and other vendors to replace the hundreds of Mcdonald’s closing in Walmart stores around the United States

Due to COVID-19 related restrictions and decreasing demand, McDonald’s is closing hundreds of its stores located in Walmart around the United States. Subway is also closing many of it’s stores inside Walmart as online shopping becomes more popular and customers turn to drive-thru’s, demand for in-store restaurants has fallen sharply. Walmart is already testing Taco Bell and Domino’s Pizza franchises in some locations. Walmart confirmed that McDonald’s will keep around 150 locations across its 3,570 stores. At one point, McDonald’s had over 1,000 stores in Walmart around the U.S. At the start of 2020, there were about 500 McDonald’s in Walmart stores, down from 800+ in 2012. The retailer’s United States e-commerce revenue grew by 79% last year. (Business Insider)


Shipping hits especially rough seas

The shipping industry has seen better days. Since November, shipping giants have lost at least 2,980 containers packed with goods. That’s over double the annual losses endured between 2008 and 2019. Why is this happening? Bad weather conditions, for starters; surging demand amid a pandemic-driven uptick in U.S. imports, for another. And with ships packed to the brim and staff working longer hours, there are more opportunities for problems. Packed container ships are also especially susceptible to parametric rolling, a violent motion aboard that occurs when ocean waves and a ship’s movement align. Such disruptions can send containers overboard. (Wired)


Gen Z faces wealth conundrum

The world’s youngest crop of adults have their work cut out for them. Large portions of Generation Z (those born in 1997 or later) entered the jobs market amid a pandemic, and they will need to contend with the increasingly severe effects of climate change. Their nest eggs are also at risk. The generation can expect just 2% average annual real returns on their investment portfolios. By comparison, Baby Boomers, Gen X’ers and millennials have enjoyed real returns of 5% or greater. To weather the low-return storm, this generation will likely need to be prudent, focusing on saving more and investing for the long-term. (The Economist)


Dakota Access pipeline stays open

Tribal groups are “deeply” disappointed that the Biden Administration won’t immediately shut down the controversial Dakota Access pipeline while it’s under an environmental review. A judge delayed a decision after attorneys for the Army Corps of Engineers asked for more time to break down shifting economic effects of the project. The 1,200 mile-long pipeline, which started flowing in 2017, pumps oil through North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe says it endangers the Missouri River, a major source of their drinking water. (The Associated Press)


Applebee’s customer attacks cook with bicycle, cops find dynamite in bag

A man used a bicycle as a weapon against an Applebee’s cook during a bizarre outburst. The suspect allegedly made a scene at one of the restaurant chain’s Wisconsin locations that involved yelling racial slurs at other customers, including children. When authorities later located the man, they reportedly found an explosive in the bag he was carrying at the time. The incident occurred last Wednesday around 9 in the evening. The suspect reportedly yelled and screamed at other customers and allegedly directed racial slurs at several people. According to reports, the suspect had brought a bicycle into the restaurant. When a cook came out of the kitchen and told him to leave the restaurant, the suspect allegedly picked up the bicycle and swung it at the cook. The victim has struck in the abdomen. By the time authorities arrived on the scene, the man had left the restaurant. The restaurant’s manager locked the door when the suspect left to prevent him from reentering the building. Police located the man nearby, carrying the bicycle as he ran. The officers reported that the suspect appeared to be intoxicated when they confronted him. Shockingly, police reported that they discovered a quarter-stick of dynamite in the man’s book bag. The suspect was taken into custody and allegedly made a series of threats to the police officers. He was arrested for charges stemming from the incident at the Applebees, along with charges related to an incident on March 21st when he allegedly threw a rock through a grocery store. (Kenosha News)


More than a million Clubhouse users had their account info leaked online

Large-scale data leaks have become almost a rite of passage for new social networks. If Clubhouse wasn’t part of the, erm, club before, it is now.  It was reported over the past weekend that personal data for around 1.3 million users was scraped from the trendy voice chatroom app and posted on a hacker forum. The compromised data included names, handles for other linked social media accounts, and the username of whoever invited said user, as Clubhouse is still in an invite-only stage. The official Clubhouse Twitter account pushed back against the idea that there was a hack, saying the leaked information is already public via the app’s API. That may technically be accurate, but the end result is still that the data is now available in a collected and searchable format when it wasn’t before. It also begs the question of why all of that information is included in Clubhouse’s API. Things like real names and the user IDs of those who invited them to the app could be considered important enough to keep behind some kind of digital lock. If this sort of thing can hit Facebook or Twitter, it feels like it’s only a matter of time for most other social networks. (Cyber News)


FEMA to reimburse families $9,000 for COVID-related funeral costs

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will begin offering $9,000 to families who lost loved ones to COVID-19 in a massive effort to retroactively reimburse them for funeral costs. This is $2,000 more than what FEMA had offered earlier this year and has no cut-off date as long as someone died of coronavirus after January 2020. The original amount that was going to be offered was $7,000 and people had to have died only in 2020. The program is open to families regardless of their income, as long as they show documentation and have not already received similar benefits through another program. People do not need to be citizens to apply. FEMA has reimbursed burial costs before, but it has never offered as large a payment to so many people. In 2017, for example, FEMA paid $2.6 million to 976 people for funeral costs of victims of three hurricanes — an average of $2,664 per applicant. (KTVU)


Fake COVID-19 vaccination cards and tests sold on the black market

Paper certificates from the Centers for Disease Control provide proof for millions of people who have received COVID-19 vaccinations, but there is a growing black market for counterfeit vaccination certificates. A man who lives in the Tampa Bay region recently lost his job after he was called out online for trying to sell blank CDC vaccination documents. To some, those 4-by-3 inch cards could be just as valuable, potentially allowing people to return to work, fly certain places or board cruise ships. Cyber Security experts are saying ads for counterfeit COVID test results and vaccination certificates are blowing up on the dark web. $25 gets you a negative COVID-19 test and $200 gets you what looks like an authentic CDC vaccine card. Counterfeit vaccination documents are showing up for sale on mainstream websites as well. Aside from threatening public health, cybercriminals are making money from their customers by reselling their names, dates of birth, emails and home addresses. They advise people to be against posting pictures of the cards on social media, saying that can also give private information to criminals. (WFTS)


A 911 dispatcher from Louisiana has been arrested after she was accused of refusing to return more than $1.2 million mistakenly deposited into her brokerage account

A 33-year-old woman of Harvey, Louisiana was fired after being booked with theft valued over $25,000, bank fraud and illegal transmission of monetary funds, said a Sheriff’s Office spokesperson. She is accused of immediately moving the money to another account and using some of the ill-gotten cash to buy a new car and a house, authorities said. Though the money was put into her account, the spokesperson said, “It’s not her money.” She is also being sued in federal court by Charles Schwab & Co. The company has accused her of dodging their calls, text messages and emailed attempts to recover the money. On February 23, Schwab meant to transfer $82.56 into a Fidelity Brokerage Services account also owned by her, but the company, instead, transferred $1,205,619, court records said. Staffers with the company immediately tried to stop or reclaim the transfer, but couldn’t. The next day, Schwab sent a reclaim request to the institution that administers the account where money was mistakenly sent. But the request was rejected, with Schwab receiving a “CASH NOT AVAILABLE” notification, court records said. That’s because she had already moved the money out of the account. The women went on to buy a new house and a $48,000 2021 Hyundai Genesis SUV. Unfortunately for the woman, the police have been able to recover about 75% of the money after her arrest.  (NOLA)


Woman claiming to be Harry Potter accused in hit-and-run death of federal judge

A 28-year-old woman in Fort Lauderdale, Florida who claimed she was Harry Potter has been arrested in connection with a hit-and-run crash that killed a federal judge and injured a six-year-old boy, authorities said. The crash occurred in Delray Beach, Florida after a car swerved around traffic and onto a sidewalk, striking a 75-year-old woman who was a federal judge in New York’s Eastern District that was later pronounced dead at a hospital. The red, two-door sedan then struck a 6-year-old boy who was crossing the street, and the driver fled. The driver was later found behind the wheel and appeared to be unconscious in a car that matched the description of the vehicle that struck the elderly judge and the boy, it said. She began fighting with emergency medical workers in the ambulance and said she was Harry Potter, the affidavit said. Authorities said they found a synthetic drug that causes excited delirium in her purse. The driver denied that she had been involved in the crash, according to the document. She was being held on suspicion of vehicular homicide, leaving the scene of a crash involving death and other crimes, according to a probable cause affidavit. She was being held in lieu of $20,000 bond, according to jail records. (NBC News)


The fastest-growing age group of those carrying student loan debt might surprise you

Amid calls for the Biden administration to cancel such debt for many Americans, emerging data show it’s becoming a growing burden for those 50 and older. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the 50+ age group now represents more than 20% of borrowers in the U.S., up from nearly 10% in the mid-2000s. A senior strategic policy advisor for AARP said it’s become an intergenerational issue that presents different problems for older adults, emphasizing there are several factors at play, including the exploding costs of higher education making it harder to pay off loans over time. Older adults going back to school for a second career, or taking out loans to cover tuition for their kids or grandkids are cited as well. The stress is real for older adults who are falling behind on their payments, noting for federally backed loans, borrowers risk losing a portion of their Social Security benefits through collections, resulting in a financial burden facing many Baby Boomers. It’s important for all borrowers to know the specifics of their loans and see if they qualify for lower payments or forgiveness. While it might not be a pleasant thought, the remaining balance for federally backed loans isn’t passed down to surviving family members after you die. That, he added, can provide some relief about leaving a financial mess for others to deal with. (Public News Service)


Tuesday Creeps In With:

  • Be Kind To Lawyers Day (2nd Tuesday)
  • Make Lunch Count Day
  • Scrabble Day
  • Thomas Jefferson Day
  • Peach Cobbler Day