Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Teachers at a primary school in Indonesia are implementing distance learning with walkie-talkies

While countries around the world have struggled to gather enough tablets and laptops to engage students remotely, Indonesia’s Minister of Education, Nadiem Makarim, has expressed support for this unconventional low-tech solution as the country grapples with its COVID-19 crisis. In early March, the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) reported that COVID-19 was disrupting the education of 290.5 million students globally, 70 million of whom were in Indonesia. (South China Morning Post)


Heavy prenatal exposure to tiny air pollution particles—less than the width of a human hair—more than doubles the risk of early childhood asthma

Women who were highly exposed to ultra-fine particles in air pollution during their pregnancy were more likely to have children who developed asthma, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Thoracic Society recently. This is the first time asthma has been linked with prenatal exposure to this type of air pollution, which is named for its tiny size and which is not regulated or routinely monitored in the United States. Slightly more than 18 percent of the children born to these mothers developed asthma in their preschool years, compared to 7 percent of children overall in the United States identified as having asthma by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other types of pollutants are routinely monitored and regulated to reduce potential health effects, such as larger-size particulate pollution and gaseous pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide. These have been associated with asthma risk in children in prior research. (Mount Sinai)


Sales of existing US homes drop for third straight month by 2.7% in April; median April home price of $341K up 19% over last year

Sales of existing homes dropped 2.7% in April from March to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 5.85 million units, according to the National Association of Realtors. It was the third straight month of declines, the group said. Sales were 33.9% higher than April 2020, but that comparison is an anomaly because the housing market and economy shut down at the start of the pandemic. Housing then rebounded strongly last summer. Sales were still 11% stronger than April 2019. The supply of homes for sale at the end of April was down 20%. There were 1.16 million homes for sale, representing a 2.4-month supply at the current sales pace. High demand and rock-bottom supply continued to push prices higher. The median price of an existing home sold in April was $341,600, an increase of 19.1% from April 2020. That is both the highest median price on record and the largest annual increase on record. (CNBC)


Three researchers at China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology had COVID-19 symptoms as early as November 2019

Three researchers from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) sought hospital care in November 2019, months before China disclosed the COVID-19 pandemic. The report provided fresh details on the number of researchers affected, the timing of their illnesses, and their hospital visits, which may add weight to calls for a broader probe of whether the COVID-19 virus could have escaped from the laboratory. The report came on the eve of a meeting of the World Health Organization’s decision-making body, which is expected to discuss the next phase of an investigation into the origins of COVID-19. (France 24)


Florida high school edits 80 ‘inappropriate’ photos of girls in yearbook

At least 80 photos of girls in a Florida high school yearbook were edited after school officials deemed them “inappropriate.” The School District confirmed 80 images of girls in the Bartram Trail High School yearbook were digitally altered after being deemed inappropriate for not following the dress code. The district superintendent, school principal, the person who edited the images and a member of the yearbook committee were not “available for an interview.” A female yearbook teacher made the decision to edit the images. Some Parents argued that it is a double standard.“They looked at the girls body and thought just a little bit of skin showing is sexual. They looked at the boys, for the swim team photos and other sports photos and thought that was fine, and that’s really upsetting and uncomfortable.” Parents and students are now asking for a major change. (WJAX)


President Biden is allocating an additional $1B in funding to help U.S. communities prepare for extreme weather and allow NASA to collect better climate data

About 40% of the funding will go to disadvantaged areas most likely to be impacted by hurricanes and wildfires. The funding is double the amount previously allocated to FEMA’s Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) program. Funding for NASA will help the agency launch more advanced technology into space to analyze “the interactions between Earth’s atmosphere, land, ocean, and ice.” (The Washington Post)


The FAA has announced fines totaling more than $60,000 against five passengers on different planes for belligerent behavior in 2021

One passenger facing a fine became unruly after a flight attendant removed a glass of champagne and a meal that had been accidentally delivered to them. The passenger yelled obscenities and assaulted the flight attendant. Another passenger on a separate flight shoved a flight attendant who was checking to make sure passengers were appropriately wearing masks. Two of the five passengers are facing fines for refusing to wear a mask. The FAA says unruly behavior onboard flights has surged in 2021. The agency has recorded 2,500 “formal cases of bad passenger behavior” so far this year. That number is usually 100 to 150 in a typical year. 1,900 of those 2,500 violations are specifically related to the federal mask mandate. (NBC News)


Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and Pfizer say they will deliver a collective 3.5 billion low-cost coronavirus vaccines around the world over the next two years

The companies made the announcement at a G20 health summit as part of an effort with COVAX, a WHO program, to bring vaccines to poor nations to accelerate an end to the pandemic. The European Union also pledged to set up manufacturing hubs in Africa to help vaccines get across the continent more efficiently. Despite the new pledges, the ACT-Accelerator is still $19 Billion Dollars short of its funding goal needed to get the world to herd immunity through vaccination. (France 24)


Ford CEO Jim Farley called on the federal government to better regulate automated driving systems

He suggested that federal regulators, like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), were moving too slowly when it came to developing a framework for regulating Automated Vehicles. Adding that most automated vehicle regulations to date vary on a state-by-state basis and are more orientated on the development of the technology and not full-scale deployment. Ford is the majority stakeholder in Argo AI, which is developing a Level 5 autonomous driving system. The unit, which also received investment from Volkswagen, plans to launch an autonomous ride-hailing service by the end of 2022. (Associated Press)


FAA issues fines to passengers who allegedly interfered with flight attendants

Federal officials are going after more airline passengers accused of disrupting flights and interfering with flight attendants. The Federal Aviation Administration said that it will seek fines totaling more than $64,000 against five passengers on flights in the last several months. The FAA has received approximately 2,500 reports of unruly behavior by passengers, including about 1,900 reports of passengers refusing to comply with the federal face mask mandate, since the start of 2021. The new fines by the FAA are proposed civil penalties ranging from $9,000 to $15,000 against five airline passengers. The FAA said in two cases, passengers assaulted flight attendants who asked them to follow instructions and other federal regulations. (Federal Aviation Administration)


Don’t Kiss Your Chickens, The CDC Says In A Salmonella Warning

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning people to refrain from snuggling with backyard poultry, citing concerns that the chickens may be spreading salmonella. The CDC warned that backyard poultry owners should take special precautions when handling their animals after 163 confirmed cases of salmonella were reported in 43 states. “Don’t kiss or snuggle backyard poultry, and don’t eat or drink around them. This can spread Salmonella germs to your mouth and make you sick,” the public health agency said. It’s not the first time the CDC has had to remind bird lovers to love from a distance, but the growing numbers of owners do make it a bigger concern. Children under 5 made up a third of the cases that have been recorded. But additional cases may have gone unreported since most people don’t seek testing for the bacterial infection that can cause fever, stomach cramps and diarrhea. (Center For Disease Control and Prevention)


Man charged with 7th DWI

An Albuquerque, New Mexico man whose history of drunk driving dates back to the eighties was busted again, this time, while passed out behind the wheel. New police video shows his efforts to convince police he did nothing wrong, and how his actions proved otherwise. A security guard in the area had called police after reportedly finding the man passed out behind the wheel of a red SUV that hit a concrete barrier near an intersection. After some back and forth conversation between the man and the police officer, he finally admitted to being under the influence, saying “I just want to let you know that it’s illegal drugs”. Then, the officer asked the man how much he had to drink, before finally putting him in cuffs. “I’m just asking how much?” the officer asked. “Too much,” he replied said. At the Prisoner Transport Center, the video shows the man falling over while trying to sit down, so the officer called an ambulance. He will be arraigned on the drunk driving charge. If convicted, a seventh DWI requires at least two years of prison time. That penalty jumps to a mandatory 10 years for an eighth DWI. (KRQE)


U.S. CDC looking into heart inflammation in some young vaccine recipients

Some teenagers and young adults who received COVID-19 vaccines experienced heart inflammation, a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory group said, recommending further study of the rare condition. The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices said it had looked into reports that a few young vaccine recipients, predominantly adolescents and young adults, and predominantly male, developed myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle. The condition often goes away without complications and can be caused by a variety of viruses, the CDC group said. CDC monitoring systems had not found more cases than would be expected in the population, but members of the committee on vaccinations felt that healthcare providers should be made aware of the reports of the “potential adverse event,” the committee said in the statement. It did not say how many people had been affected and recommended further investigation. (Reuters)


Tuesday Be Mackin’ With:

  • Brown-Bag It Day
  • Cookie Monster’s Birthday
  • Missing Children’s Day
  • Nerd Pride Day or Geek Pride Day
  • Tap Dance Day
  • Wine Day
  • World Thyroid Day
  • Towel Day


Historical Events

1328 – William of Ockham, Franciscan Minister-General Michael of Cesena and two other Franciscan leaders secretly leave Avignon, fearing a death sentence from Pope John XXII.

1538 – Geneva expels John Calvin and his followers from the city. Calvin lives in exile in Strasbourg for the next three years.

1637 – Pequot War: A combined Protestant and Mohegan force under English Captain John Mason attacks a Pequot village in Connecticut, massacring approximately 500 Native Americans.

1770 – The Orlov Revolt, an attempt to revolt against the Ottoman Empire before the Greek War of Independence, ends in disaster for the Greeks.

1869 – Boston University is chartered by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

1908 – At Masjed Soleyman in southwest Persia, the first major commercial oil strike in the Middle East is made. The rights to the resource are quickly acquired by the Anglo-Persian Oil Company.

1936 – In the House of Commons of Northern Ireland, Tommy Henderson begins speaking on the Appropriation Bill. By the time he sits down in the early hours of the following morning, he had spoken for 10 hours.

1942 – World War II: The Battle of Bir Hakeim takes place.

1972 – The United States and the Soviet Union sign the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

2008 – Severe flooding begins in eastern and southern China that will ultimately cause 148 deaths and force the evacuation of 1.3 million.