Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Dying shopping malls find new life

Shopping malls have been in decline for the past several years, and the pandemic only accelerated this trend. As more consumers turn to e-commerce, mall vacancies are growing. Some analysts estimate that as much as 17% of U.S. malls are not sustainable businesses. Some malls are becoming Amazon fulfillment centers, others are being reconfigured into corporate office space. A former Macy’s space in Vermont is being turned into a high school. (Axios)


Why can’t businesses find workers?

Some businesses, especially services, are struggling to hire back workers, even with the unemployment rate at 6%. While expanded jobless benefits and pandemic stimulus payments are playing a role in the dynamic, research suggests it’s small compared to the scale of the economy’s reopening. Companies hired almost a million Americans in March, the most since the initial rebound from the pandemic in August and, before that, in the aftermath of World War II. (The New York Times)


Peloton: Tread+ warning ‘inaccurate’

Connected fitness giant Peloton is fighting back against the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), saying warnings about potential Tread+ dangers are “inaccurate and misleading.” The CSPC has reported 39 incidents involving the treadmill, including “multiple reports of children becoming entrapped, pinned, and pulled under,” and one case in which a child died, which the CPSC is trying to investigate further. (The Washington Post)


Texas debates how to fix power woes

Two months after a deadly winter storm left two-thirds of Texas in the dark, the state is grappling with an overhaul of power markets. While the state’s wholesale power prices were much cheaper than other regional markets, favoring value over reliability for almost 20 years. Lawmakers and industry players are calling for guardrails to ensure reliable performance or an overhaul of the system to compensate power providers that step in to manage demand spikes. Ultimately, that likely means Texans will eventually pay more for power. (The Wall Street Journal)


Castro Reign Ends

Raúl Castro announced his resignation as head of the Communist Party of Cuba Friday, stepping down as the de facto leader of the country. The 89-year-old politician made public his decision at a speech Friday opening the eighth session of the party’s congress.  The news marks the end of more than six decades of rule by Raúl and his brother Fidel, who took power following the 1959 revolution. While a successor was not immediately identified, observers believe Miguel Diaz-Canel, who has served as president since 2018, to be the likely candidate. Despite being 60 years old, Diaz-Canel is viewed as a party traditionalist who can appeal to a younger generation of Cubans while favoring a moderate amount of economic opening. The change comes as Cuba faces one of its worst economic crises in recent history, battling the dual impact of renewed US sanctions and the pandemic. The country’s economy shrank by an estimated 11% last year, and about 16% of the migrants arriving at the US southern border in February were Cubans seeking asylum. (USA Today)


Archaeologists uncover evidence for the oldest known use of honeypots, revising the timeline of when humans began to interact with bees; the 3,500-year-old ceramic vessel was uncovered in Africa 

Honey is humankind’s oldest sweetener and for thousands of years it was also the only one. Indirect clues about the significance of bees and bee products are provided by prehistoric petroglyphs on various continents, created between 8,000 and 40,000 years ago. Ancient Egyptian reliefs indicate the practice of beekeeping as early as 2600 year BCE. But for sub-Saharan Africa, direct archaeological evidence has been lacking until now as Archaeologists at Goethe University in cooperation with chemists at the University of Bristol were able to identify beeswax residues in 3500 year-old potsherds of the Nok culture. The Nok culture in central Nigeria dates between 1500 BCE and the beginning of the Common Era and is known particularly for its elaborate terracotta sculptures. These sculptures represent the oldest figurative art in Africa. Until a few years ago, the social context in which these sculptures had been created was completely unknown. In a project funded by the German Research Foundation, Goethe University scientists have been studying the Nok culture in all its archaeological facets for over twelve years. In addition to settlement pattern, chronology and meaning of the terracotta sculptures, the research also focused on environment, subsistence and diet. (Eurekalert)


The oldest living American dead at 115

Hester Ford, the oldest living person in the United States, died Saturday (4/17) at her home in Charlotte, North Carolina, her family said. She was 115. Hester McCardell Ford was born August 15, 1905, in Lancaster County, South Carolina, according to the Gerontology Research Group. She had lived in the Charlotte area since the 1950s. Some U.S. census records place her birth year as 1904. She had 12 children, 48 grandchildren, 108 great-grandchildren, and approximately 120 great-great-grandchildren. She became the oldest person in the United States when Alelia Murphy died on November 23, 2019, at the age of 114. (WSOC)


man saves his wife from bobcat by grabbing and hurling it across lawn

A viral video captured a rabid bobcat being hurled across a lawn by a man after the feral feline attacked his wife in Burgaw, North Carolina. The couple were preparing to take their cat to the veterinarian. A video shared on Twitter showed the two leaving their home and preparing to get inside their SUV in their driveway as a wild cat springs into view. The wife can be heard screaming as the bobcat springs into view and jumps onto her in the video. The husband appears to run to his wife’s aide, pull the bobcat off her body and hold the cat at arm’s length as the animal writhes in his hands. “Oh my god, it’s a bobcat! Oh my god!” he screamed, tossing the animal several feet across his lawn. The 46-second clip cuts out after the husband appears to pull out a small handgun as the bobcat runs away. Shortly after the video ended, the husband shot the bobcat at least once before the cat was eventually killed by law enforcement. The Pender County, North Carolina Sheriff’s Office confirmed the killing of the bobcat, which was sent to a state lab in Raleigh where it “tested positive for rabies.” The couple has since undergone treatment for rabies and received more than 30 shots each. (WECT)


Man names his newborn son ‘Department Of Statistical Communication’

An Indonesian man has named his son “Department of Statistical Communication” in honor of his beloved workplace. The 38-year-old man who hails from the regency of Brebes in the Indonesian province of Central Java had reportedly agreed with his then-pregnant wife that if she gave birth to a son, he would be allowed to choose the newborn’s name. After she gave birth to the baby boy in December last year, his 33-year-old wife was on board with the decision with him. His wife did not mind despite the name sounded strange at first. Friends and family of the couple, including their own parents, had voiced scepticism about the unorthodox name.The parents accepted their concerns in good faith before deciding on the 38-character mouthful as his son’s name undeterred. They also revealed the youngster will go by the more easily pronounceable portmanteau ‘Dinko’ in his day-to-day life in an apparent act of compromise. (Ary News)


Milk Overtaking Nuts As Top Food Allergy Threat

While for years, peanuts and some tree nuts were to blame more than other foods, cow’s milk is now “the most common food allergy in children younger than five years,” according to a study. Astoundingly, cow’s milk is said to account “for about half of all food allergies in children younger than one.” The report explains that cow’s milk has been a popular drink for children for its calcium, vitamins, and other nutrients, like protein. However, some of these same proteins are the very triggers that the body identifies as foreign and attacks, which produces the allergic reaction event. Some experts say all this is why it’s so important to educate the public about the dangers of dairy today. If there’s good news, it’s that as children age, reports suggest that some outgrow the cow’s milk allergy. (WebMD)


Having the personality trait known as neuroticism can make you more susceptible to Parkinson’s disease, a new study suggests

For the new study, researchers from the Florida State University College of Medicine analyzed data collected by the UK Biobank, which recruited nearly half a million people aged 40 to 69 from the mid-to-late-’90s and followed them for 12 years. (Each person’s neuroticism was assessed when they joined the study.) The scientists found that people who scored in the top quartile of neuroticism had more than an 80% greater risk of Parkinson’s, compared to those who scored lower. Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative brain disorder that causes a long-term decline in motor skills and physical functions. As Parkinson’s progresses, nerve damage in the brain causes levels of dopamine to drop, leading to symptoms such as tremors, slow movement, stiffness and loss of balance. Known as the “feel-good” hormone, dopamine gives us a sense of reward; it also helps control body movements. Neuroticism has been associated with dementia in previous smaller studies. It has also been connected with a variety of other health problems, including anxiety, mood, substance, somatic symptom [sleep issues], and eating disorders. (Movement Disorders)


Students report illnesses after eating Jimmy John’s food

A new case of suspected food poisoning at a major fast-food chain is being investigated in Illinois. According to the latest reports, several customers have fallen ill after eating at a Jimmy John’s location in Bloomington. At least 16 cases of illness, 15 of which were student athletes from Illinois State University’s lacrosse team is being reported to have been affected, several of them required hospital treatment for fluid replacement because of severe vomiting and diarrhea. The incident is being investigated both by the McLean County Health Department who received initial reports of the illness on April 7, as well as by state officials. (Food Safety News)


Brain’s Pleasure System Wastes Away in Early Dementia

A new study has shown for the first time how some forms of early-onset dementia are associated with a profound loss of pleasure linked to a wasting of ‘hedonic hotspots’ – brain regions associated with reward seeking. An absence of pleasure is known as anhedonia, and it’s a common symptom in mental health conditions such as depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder.  Where most of us are rewarded with a sense of satisfaction, excitement, and bliss when we achieve a goal or associate with loved ones, those experiencing anhedonia can’t. Interestingly, early dementia is often confused with depression, and a decline in motivation can be used as a criterion for diagnosis. Researchers from the University of Sydney and University of New South Wales in Australia decided to formally investigate this link between anhedonia and types of dementia for what they believe is the first time. In the study, the researchers assessed 121 patients diagnosed with various forms of dementia to determine who was more likely to suffer from the clinical symptom of anhedonia. Out of the group, 87 patients had 1 of 3 different types of frontotemporal dementia (FTD). FTD is an earlier-onset dementia, with symptoms usually starting between the ages of 40-65. (Science Alert)


Tuesday Twists Things Up With:

  • 4/20 Day
  • Boston Marathon (3rd Monday)
  • Cheddar Fries Day
  • Chinese Language Day
  • International Cli-Fi Day
  • Lima Bean Respect Day
  • Look Alike Day
  • Pineapple Upside Down Cake Day
  • Pot Smokers Day or National Weed Day