Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Families to receive monthly payments starting July 15

The Treasury Department said that 39 million families are set to receive monthly child payments beginning on July 15th. Qualified families will receive a payment of up to $300 per month for each child under 6 and up to $250 per month for children between the ages of 6 and 17. The payments are part of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, which expanded the child tax credit for one year and made it possible to pre-pay the benefits on a monthly basis. Nearly 88% of children are set to receive the benefits without their parents needing to take any additional action. (US News)


AT&T to Spin Off CNN, HBO to Discovery in $43 Billion Deal

AT&T Inc. agreed to spin off its media operations in a deal with Discovery Inc. that will create a new entertainment company, merging assets ranging from CNN and HBO to HGTV and the Food Network. The transaction values the combined entity at about $130 billion including debt, based on WarnerMedia’s estimated enterprise value of more than $90 billion. AT&T will receive $43 billion in cash, debt securities, and debt retention, with its shareholders getting stock representing 71% of the new company, the companies said in a statement. The plan would combine Discovery’s reality-TV empire with AT&T’s vast media holdings, creating a formidable competitor to Netflix Inc and Walt Disney Co. AT&T, now the world’s most heavily indebted nonfinancial company, gained some of the biggest brands in entertainment through its $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner Inc., completed in 2018. (NewsMax)


Man behind ‘Keep Portland Weird’ says city not as weird anymore

Portland, Oregon saw a steep decline in the last year to near the bottom of an 80-city ranking that indicates real estate development desirability. Portland’s downtown commercial district is grappling with a staggering 17.5% vacancy rate with projections that it will continue to climb. Issues like the coronavirus, its accompanying economic toll, protests, and homelessness were some of the main issues residents stated as some of the most major the city is facing. The man behind the movement to keep Portland weird said the city used to be more inviting and unique, with stand-out characters like the “Silverman” human statue entertaining residents and visitors, and Portland’s Saturday Market. Nowadays, he said he doesn’t see as much of that around. He said that closed-down shops downtown are largely the reason for that. He added that the accumulation of garbage and graffiti that can be seen on the side of the freeway and in many areas of the city was not a common occurrence 20 years ago. The city has also gotten more expensive than it used to be for artistic types to continue their thing, even if they never turned a profit before, he said. However, he added there are a lot of people still working hard to keep the weird spirit alive. (KOIN)


Man arrested after sitting atop South Beach traffic light, police foot chase

A bizarre chain of events in Miami Beach’s entertainment district led police to arrest a man after, they said, he climbed onto a traffic light post at a busy intersection and sat on top of the light before he fled on foot. Miami Beach Police responded to the location where a 29-year-old man was sitting on top of a traffic light and remained there for several minutes. Police said the man’s actions caused most traffic in the area to come to a stop. Once officers arrived, they pleaded with the man to come down before he injured himself. Police said he jumped onto the ledge of the building on Collins Ave. From there, he jumped off and landed on the sidewalk, ran westbound on 10th Street before he entered a hotel along Washington Avenue. An officer spotted the man exiting the hotel’s patio area. From there, he headed northbound on Washington before he was apprehended near 11th Street. Officials said he ended up near Miami Beach Police headquarters, and that made it easier for them to make the arrest. The man was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest without violence. (WSVN)


Long work hours can kill: Study

Long working hours are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people a year, according to a new study by the World Health Organization and the International Labor Organization. The global study found that working 55 hours or more a week was linked to a 35% higher risk of stroke and a 17% higher risk of dying from ischemic heart disease, compared with a 35-40 hour working week. A majority of victims (72%) were men and were middle-aged or older, and the deaths often occurred years later. A WHO official concluded that “working 55 hours or more per week is a serious health hazard.” (World Health Organization)


Tesla owner who “drives” from back seat got arrested, then did it again

The California Highway Patrol said it arrested a 25-year-old man seen riding in the back seat of a Tesla Model 3 that had no one in the driver’s seat. He was arrested “and booked into Santa Rita Jail” on counts of reckless driving and disobeying an officer, the department said in a statement. He was arrested after multiple 911 calls reported a driverless vehicle “traveling eastbound on I-80 across the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge toward the city of Oakland,” police said. California law stipulates that cars with autopilot assist features must have someone behind the wheel while driving. Experts have said relying totally on tech can be dangerous. (KTVU)


Mississippi court upholds life sentence for pot possession

The Mississippi Court of Appeals upheld a life sentence for a 38-year-old man convicted of a marijuana possession charge because he had previous convictions and those made him a habitual offender. He was sentenced to life in Forrest County in 2019 after a jury found him guilty of possession of more than 30 grams (1.05 ounces) of marijuana. In Mississippi, a person can be sentenced to life without parole after serving at least one year in prison on two separate felonies, one of which must be a violent offense. He was convicted on two home burglaries in 2004 and for unlawful possession of a firearm in 2015. By law, burglary is a violent offense in Mississippi, whether or not there is proof that violence occurred. That was not the case when he was sentenced for home burglary in 2004. Then, burglary was only considered a violent crime if there was proof of violence. The law changed in 2014. (Associate Press)


Wisconsin State Rep Proposes Bill To Make National Anthem Mandatory At Sporting Events

A US Army veteran and Republican State Rep from Wisconsin wants to defend the national anthem. The Wisconsin House passed the bill recently and it goes on to the Senate. The Democrat governor is unlikely to sign it. Representative Tony Kurtz has proposed a bill requiring the national anthem to be played before all sporting events in the state, and expressed that Americans need to “come together as a nation.” The bill includes sites that are major, taxpayer-subsidized venues where the Packers, Bucks and Brewers play, as well as public schools and other facilities that were built or upgraded with taxpayer funds. (The Political Insider)


University of California drops SAT scores for admission

The University of California won’t consider SAT and ACT scores that are submitted with admission and scholarship applications under a settlement of a student lawsuit. The 10-campus system, which has more than 280,000 students statewide, decided not to continue fighting a judge’s injunction issued last fall that barred it from considering the scores for admission even when they were submitted voluntarily. The Board of Regents already had voted to drop the SAT and ACT tests as admission requirements through 2024. Activists have long argued that standardized tests put minority and low-income students at a disadvantage. (KTVU)


Researchers measure brainwave activity in the hippocampus, the brain’s memory center; surgically implanted microgrid structure demonstrates electrical signals travel back and forth across the region, encoding information 

Researchers at UC San Francisco have observed a new feature of neural activity in the hippocampus – the brain’s memory hub – that may explain how this vital brain region combines a diverse range of inputs into a multi-layered memories that can later be recalled. Using a special “micro-grid” recording device developed by colleagues at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), the UCSF researchers were able to measure hippocampus activity in study participants undergoing surgery to treat severe epilepsy. They discovered that brain waves travel back and forth across this structure, integrating messages from different areas of the brain, and showed for the first time what scientists previously had only been able to hypothesize. Previous studies had suggested that waves of activity in the hippocampus only travel in one direction: from the back end, which encodes most of the information about physical location, to the front, which encodes most emotional information. (University of California San Francisco)


The U.S. Supreme Court has taken a case in which plaintiffs argue that states should be allowed to ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy

The court said it will hear the case in its next term, which starts in October. If SCOTUS were to rule in favor of the plaintiffs, the court will effectively undermine abortion rights in the United States. The case involves a Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. That legislation has been barred by lower courts under the argument that it violates Roe v. Wade, the 1973 SCOTUS ruling that effectively legalized abortion in the United States. The central premise of the case is whether a fetus can survive outside the womb at 15 weeks. (Reuters)


Researchers have developed an interface that converts the brain signals associated with writing into letters on a screen

According to a study published in Nature, the system has been tested with a paralyzed man who was able to write text at a speed of 16 words per minute. The patient, a 65-year-old man, had two small sensors inserted into the outer area of the brain’s motor cortex to record signals that were translated into individual letters by a computer. The system was developed specifically for the patient who took part in the study, but researchers want to build a self-calibrating interface for a variety of patients, an effort that will need additional investments and will likely take many years. (Gizmodo)


Scuba teams have removed 200 pounds of garbage from Lake Tahoe as part of what could be the most significant trash cleanup effort ever in the California lake

For six months, the nonprofit Clean Up the Lake will search for trash along the shoreline, including beer bottles, tires, and fishing rods. The crew has already identified car bumpers and buckets filled with cement at the bottom of the lake. Clean Up the Lake has raised $250,000 for the cleanup effort, which also involves a team of volunteer divers who will scour the deepest points of Lake Tahoe three days a week. (The Guardian)


Tuesday Chimes In With:

  • Buy A Musical Instrument Day (Honor of The Music Man Creator)
  • Cheese Soufflé Day
  • HIV Vaccine Awareness Day
  • I Love Reeses Day
  • International Museum Day
  • Mother Whistler Day
  • No Dirty Dishes Day
  • Visit Your Relatives Day


Historical Events

1783 – First United Empire Loyalists reach Parrtown (later called Saint John), New Brunswick, Canada after leaving the United States.

1812 – John Bellingham is found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging for the assassination of British Prime Minister Spencer Perceval.

1843 – The Disruption in Edinburgh of the Free Church of Scotland from the Church of Scotland.

1896 – The United States Supreme Court rules in Plessy v. Ferguson that the “separate but equal” doctrine is constitutional.

1953 – Jackie Cochran becomes the first woman to break the sound barrier.

1955 – Operation Passage to Freedom, the evacuation of 310,000 Vietnamese civilians, soldiers and non-Vietnamese members of the French Army from communist North Vietnam to South Vietnam following the end of the First Indochina War, ends.

1958 – An F-104 Starfighter sets a world speed record of 1,404.19 mph (2,259.82 km/h).

1974 – Completion of the Warsaw radio mast, the tallest construction ever built at the time. It collapsed on August 8, 1991.

1983 – In Ireland, the government launches a crackdown, with the leading Dublin pirate Radio Nova being put off the air.

1991 – Northern Somalia declares independence from the rest of Somalia as the Republic of Somaliland but is not recognized by the international community.