Friday, May 21, 2021

Alaska man survives brown bear mauling

A 61-year-old man was alone and surveying land for a real estate agent in a wooded, remote part of Alaska, putting some numbers into his GPS unit when he looked up and saw a large brown bear walking about 30 feet away. The mauling left him with a crushed jaw, a puncture wound in his scalp so deep the doctor told him he could see bone, lacerations and many stitches after a 4½-hour surgery. He also is wearing a patch over his right eye, saying the doctors are worried about it. All that damage came from a very brief encounter, he estimates it lasted less than 10 seconds, after he startled the bear near Gulkana, Alaska, located about 190 miles northeast of Anchorage. The bear, which the man said was larger than 300-pound black bears he has seen, charged and closed the ground between them in a few seconds. He tried to dodge behind small spruce trees. That didn’t stop the bear; he went through them. As the bear neared, he held up the pointed end of his surveying pole and pushed it toward the bear to keep it away from him. The bear simply knocked it to the side, the force of which also knocked the man to the ground. When the bear let go, the man turned his face to the ground and put his hands over his head. And then the bear just walked away. When the bear left, he called 911 on his cellphone. While he was talking to a dispatcher, he pulled off his surveyor’s vest and his T-shirt and wrapped them around his head in an attempt to stop the bleeding. Then he waited 59 minutes for help to arrive. He knows that’s how long it took because he later checked his cellphone record for the length of the time he was told to stay on the line with the dispatcher until rescue arrived. At one point, he was able to give the dispatcher his exact coordinates from his GPS unit, but even that was a struggle. Rescuers tried to carry him through the woods to a road that parallels the nearby trans-Alaska pipeline to meet an ambulance. That didn’t work, and he said they had to help walk him a quarter mile through swamps, brush and trees. From there, he was taken to a nearby airport and flown to Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage by a medical helicopter. He is listed in good condition at Providence. He can now add his name to the list of six people he knows who have been mauled by bears in Alaska. (Associated Press)


Pipeline CEO explains ransom pay

Colonial Pipeline’s CEO authorized a $4.4 million ransom payment to cyberattackers because “it was the right thing to do for the country.” He said he felt he needed to pay, since Colonial executives weren’t sure how bad the system breach was, or how long it would take to bring the pipeline back. The six-day shutdown sparked panic-buying and hoarding at U.S. gas pumps. The FBI advises targets not to pay if hit by ransomware, saying it encourages more brazen attacks. Still, many companies pay in order to avoid operational disruptions. (The Wall Street Journal)


Job hopping is back

After a period of workers “sheltering in job” while they waited out the pandemic, many are becoming more comfortable with the idea of switching jobs once again. According to a survey, active job seekers in full-time employment now feel more confident about the availability of jobs, the chances of their income increasing and the opportunity to move to the next level in their field. (Workforce Confidence Index)


Google to open first physical store in New York this summer

Alphabet Inc’s Google said it would open its first physical store in New York City this summer, mirroring a retail approach that has helped Apple Inc rake in billions of dollars in the last two decades. The Google store will be located in the city’s Chelsea neighborhood near the its New York City campus, which houses over 11,000 employees. Google, which has set up pop-up stores in the past to promote its products, said it would sell Pixel smartphones, Pixelbooks and Fitbit fitness trackers along with Nest smart home devices at the retail outlet. Visitors will also be able to avail customer service for their devices and pick up their online orders at the store. (Reuters)


Goodwill stores have a message: Please stop donating trash

Across the country, thrift stores have been flooded by household items, the offerings of people who have been homebound for months and are eager to clear out some of their possessions. Problem is, too many such items could most accurately be described as trash. The thrift stores, wary of discouraging donations, say that they always welcome most contributions, especially after a recession that inflicted harm most heavily on the lowest-income Americans, many of whom now depend on them. Most of the items that arrive at their stores remain perfectly acceptable, but in the midst of spring cleaning season, the stores want to slow a barrage of unwanted contributions that increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. For the thrift stores, such donations aren’t just a hassle to dispose of. They also magnify their garbage-disposal costs. The stores need time and staffing hours to process them. The spikes in trash expenses can divert money away from other services the agencies could spend in their communities, like workforce development programs. Informing donors of this fact won’t necessarily solve the problem. Thrift workers note that many donors already know what sorts of items they should avoid contributing yet dump their trash at the stores anyway just to get rid of it. The increase, workers say, was driven in part by temporary store closures during the pandemic. It’s unclear whether or how much rising trash costs affected all 156 independent Goodwill agencies in the United States and Canada and 12 affiliates in other countries. Goodwill Industries International, of which the local independent agencies are members, doesn’t collect data on trash expenses. Experts say the recent increase in trash costs for these stores is part of a larger trend that resellers, including mom-and-pop thrift stores, have been seeing for perhaps 15 years. (ABC News)


Microsoft is finally retiring Internet Explorer next year, after more than 25 years

The aging web browser has largely been unused by most consumers for years, but Microsoft is putting the final nail in the Internet Explorer coffin on June 15th, 2022, by retiring it in favor of Microsoft Edge. “We are announcing that the future of Internet Explorer on Windows 10 is in Microsoft Edge,” says a Microsoft Edge program manager. “The Internet Explorer 11 desktop application will be retired and go out of support on June 15, 2022, for certain versions of Windows 10.” While the Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) of Windows 10 will still include Internet Explorer next year, all consumer versions will end support of the browser. (Microsoft Windows)


Researchers advance toward using gene therapy to restore hearing for the congenitally deaf

Researchers at Oregon State University have found a key new piece of the puzzle in the quest to use gene therapy to enable people born deaf to hear. The work centers around a large gene responsible for an inner-ear protein, otoferlin. Mutations in otoferlin are linked to severe congenital hearing loss, a common type of deafness in which patients can hear almost nothing. Scientists have been working for years with the otoferlin molecule and in 2017 they identified a truncated form of the gene that can function in the encoding of sound. In its regular form, the otoferlin gene is too big to package into a delivery vehicle for molecular therapy, so the research team is looking at using a truncated version instead. Researchers showed the shortened version needs to include a part of the gene known as the transmembrane domain, and one of the reasons for that was unexpected: Without the transmembrane domain, the sensory cells were slow to mature. To test whether the transmembrane domain of otoferlin needed to be part of the shortened version of the gene, researchers introduced a mutation that truncated the transmembrane domain in zebrafish. Zebrafish, a small freshwater species that go from a cell to a swimming fish in about five days, share a remarkable similarity to humans at the molecular, genetic and cellular levels, meaning many zebrafish findings are immediately relevant to humans. Embryonic zebrafish are transparent and can be easily maintained in small amounts of water. At the molecular level, researchers found that a lack of transmembrane domain led to otoferlin failing to properly link the synaptic vesicles filled with neurotransmitter to the cell membrane, causing less neurotransmitter to be released. (Oregon State University)


Archaeologists have found approximately 250 rock-cut tombs in southern Egypt

The country’s Supreme Council of Antiquities said some of the tombs date back to the Old Kingdom around 2200 B.C. but others belong to the Ptolemaic period in 30 B.C, which suggests the area was used as a funerary site for two millennia. Experts say that, given their small size, the tombs were probably for common people and not royalty. After surveying them, researchers found a variety of artifacts, including well-preserved pots, pottery shards, miniatures crafted for funerary purposes, a metal mirror, and a door featuring hieroglyphs. (Smithsonian Magazine)


A town in Thailand is giving people free cows to encourage them to get vaccinated

People who receive the vaccine can take part in a raffle that will give away a cow a week. District chief said the raffle has been a success because locals love cows. “Our vaccine registration numbers have gone from hundreds to thousands in a couple of days,” he said. From next month, one lucky vaccinated villager in the Mae Chaem district of Chiang Mai province will be randomly chosen every week to win a young cow worth around the equivalent of $319. The campaign, set to run for 24 weeks, has been met with enthusiasm in the town of 43,000 since it was announced earlier this week. Other provinces in Thailand have also come up with creative incentives to boost registration, such as gold necklace giveaways, store discount coupons, or cash handouts. (Reuters)


A massive iceberg has broken off Antarctica

A giant slab of ice bigger than the Spanish island of Majorca has sheared off from the frozen edge of Antarctica into the Weddell Sea, becoming the largest iceberg afloat in the world, the European Space Agency said. The newly calved berg, designated A-76 by scientists, was spotted in recent satellite images captured by the Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission, the space agency said in a statement posted on its website with a photo of the enormous, oblong ice sheet. Its surface area spans 1,668 square miles and measures 106 miles long by 15 miles wide. By comparison, Spain’s tourist island of Majorca in the Mediterranean occupies 1,405 square miles. The U.S. state of Rhode Island is smaller still, with a land mass of just 1,034 square miles. The enormity of A-76, which broke away from Antarctica’s Ronne Ice Shelf, ranks as the largest existing iceberg on the planet, surpassing the now second-place A-23A, about 1,305 square miles in size and also floating in the Weddell Sea. (Yahoo News)


Scientists predict an “above-normal” hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said there could be between 13 and 20 named storms, and six to 10 hurricanes. Three to five of those hurricanes could reach Category 3 or higher, the group said, meaning they will pack wind speeds of more than 111 mph. Hurricane season in the Atlantic typically runs from June 1st to November 30th, though in recent years storms have begun forming in May. NOAA expects the upcoming hurricane season to be less active than last year’s, which saw a record 30 named storms. Should a major hurricane make landfall in the U.S., the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) could be spread thin in its response. (Life Science)


Researchers studying the health impacts of marijuana will soon be able to get their weed from more than a single supplier

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced that it will soon approve a number of marijuana grower applications, since 1968, researchers have only been approved to get marijuana from the National Center for the Development of Natural Products at the University of Mississippi. One researcher called the change “a victory for scientific freedom” that will allow them to use more genetically diverse cannabis in their studies. The move to approve new growers was initiated in 2016. (The Scientists)


An 11-year-old girl has credited “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” with the quick thinking that helped her escape and identify her would-be kidnapper

The 11-year-old girl who fought off an alleged kidnapping attempt this week credited “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” for some quick thinking that helped authorities identify a suspect. In an interview, the girl said she marked her attacker with the blue slime she had been playing with because she “knew that might be better evidence if the cops did find him.” That’s exactly what happened. In a news conference, Escambia County Sheriff said the girl was waiting for her school bus in Pensacola, Florida, when a man drove up. “The man got out of his vehicle holding a knife, came towards me and I tried to run but he caught me,” she said. Surveillance video released by the sheriff’s office shows the girl trying to run away before the man grabs her. There’s a struggle before she breaks free from the suspect’s grip and they both fall to the ground. The girl is seen running away while the man hurries back to his car and drives off. Authorities said the girl was playing with blue slime at the time of the kidnapping attempt, and when authorities arrested suspect 30-year-old suspect, he “had blue slime all over his own arms.”  He has been charged with attempted kidnapping of a child under 13, aggravated assault with a weapon and simple battery, according to the sheriff’s office. He’s being held on $1.5 million bond. (CNN)


Friday Is Shining On With:

  • American Red Cross Founder’s Day
  • Bike to Work Day (3rd Friday)
  • Defense Transportation Day (Third Friday in May)
  • Endangered Species Day (3rd Friday)
  • End of the World or Rapture Party Day (Prediction)
  • I Need A Patch For That Day
  • International Defense Transportation Day (3rd Friday)
  • International Virtual Assistants Day (3rd Friday)
  • Memo DayNASCAR Day (3rd Friday)
  • NASCAR Day (Third Friday in May)
  • Pizza Party Day (3rd Friday)
  • Sister Maria Hummel Day
  • Strawberries and Cream Day
  • Waitstaff Day
  • World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue & Development


Historical Events

879 – Pope John VIII gives blessings to duke Branimir and to Croatian people, considered to be international recognition of the Croatian state.

1554 – A royal Charter is granted to Derby School as a grammar school for boys in Derby, England, by Queen Mary I.

1863 – American Civil War: The Union Army succeeds in closing off the last escape route from Port Hudson, Louisiana, in preparation for the coming siege.

1932 – Bad weather forces Amelia Earhart to land in a pasture in Derry, Northern Ireland, and she thereby becomes the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

1937 – A Soviet station becomes the first scientific research settlement to operate on the drift ice of the Arctic Ocean.

1979 – White Night riots in San Francisco following the manslaughter conviction of Dan White for the assassinations of George Moscone and Harvey Milk.

1994 – The Democratic Republic of Yemen unsuccessful attempts to secede from Republic of Yemen; a war breaks out.

1996 – The Trappist Martyrs of Atlas are executed.

2001 – French Taubira law officially recognizes the Atlantic slave trade and slavery as crimes against humanity.

2006 – The Republic of Montenegro holds a referendum proposing independence from the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro. The Montenegrin people choose independence with a majority of 55%.