Thursday, May 27, 2021

Tasmanian Devils were born for the first time in over 3,000 years in Australia, raising hopes the endangered animals can sustain a new breeding population

Tasmanian Devils were made extinct in mainland Australia after being hunted by wild dogs and have been confined to the island of Tasmania ever since. Last year, 26 Tasmanian devils were released into a sanctuary in the wilds of mainland Australia, designed to protect them from predators. They’ve taken well to their new home, with organizations reporting the birth of seven new devil joeys. (Reuters)


D.C. attorney general brings antitrust lawsuit against Amazon

A Washington D.C. Attorney General has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Amazon, accusing the e-commerce giant of using its monopoly power to hike consumer prices. Amazon denies the allegations. The accused the company of fixing prices through contract provisions with third-party sellers who peddle their products on its platform. The attorney general said that Amazon prevents sellers from offering their products at lower prices or on better terms on any other online platforms, including their own websites, and that that prohibition results in “artificially high” prices across e-commerce sales. Amazon pushed back against the lawsuit’s claims, saying in a statement that the suit would force the company to feature higher prices. (The Washington Post)


Molecules used in stem cell research shown to rebuild muscle tissue, reverse age-related muscle loss in mice 

Scientists at the Salk Institute are studying ways to accelerate the regeneration of muscle tissue, using a combination of molecular compounds that are commonly used in stem-cell research. The investigators showed that using these compounds increased the regeneration of muscle cells in mice by activating the precursors of muscle cells, called myogenic progenitors. Although more work is needed before this approach can be applied in humans, the research provides insight into the underlying mechanisms related to muscle regeneration and growth and could one day help athletes as well as aging adults regenerate tissue more effectively. The compounds used in the study are often called Yamanaka factors after the Japanese scientist who discovered them. Yamanaka factors are a combination of proteins (called transcription factors) that control how DNA is copied for translation into other proteins. In lab research, they are used to convert specialized cells, like skin cells, into more stem-cell-like cells that are pluripotent, which means they have the ability to become many different types of cells. The investigators are also studying other ways to rejuvenate cells, including using mRNA and genetic engineering. These techniques could eventually lead to new approaches to boost tissue and organ regeneration. (Nature)


Scientists discover hypersensitized connections between the auditory and motor regions of the brain in those suffering from misophonia; the condition causes intense reactions to certain sounds 

A ‘supersensitised’ brain connection has been identified in people who suffer an extreme reaction to trigger sounds such as chewing or loud breathing. For many people the sound of someone eating or clicking a pen can be annoying, but sufferers of the condition misophonia feel disgust and even rage when exposed to certain noises. Now, research led by Newcastle University has discovered increased connectivity in the brain between the auditory cortex and the motor control areas related to the face, mouth and throat. The researchers findings indicate that for people with misophonia there is abnormal communication between the auditory and motor brain regions, they described as a ‘supersensitised connection’. Misophonia, meaning hatred of sound, leads sufferers to experience intense and involuntary reactions to certain sounds made by others. These trigger sounds could be chewing, breathing or speaking, and for sufferers, usually related to mouth, throat or facial activity. The reaction can be extreme and combines anger, disgust, a fight-or-flight response and even an urge to hurt the person making the noise. It is thought to affect 6 per cent to 20 per cent of the population, with extreme forms leading to sufferers finding family life difficult to bear. (Science Focus)


Man falls through Subway restaurant ceiling while evading police after stealing bike, ham

A suspect trying to evade police allegedly learned the hard way that the ceiling of an Idaho Subway shop wasn’t strong enough to hold the weight of a grown man. The man is suspected of committing several crimes earlier in the day, including stealing a bicycle from a child and a stack of deli meat from the sandwich shop. Authorities arrested the man after they found him laying on the ground in a woman’s bathroom at a Subway restaurant in Idaho Falls. It is believed that he attempted to escape through the ceiling and then fell through, as pieces of the ceiling were found laying on the floor next to him. The owner of the Subway told authorities that the man had entered the restaurant earlier in the day and went behind the counter to fill out an application. After he left, employees reportedly noticed that a stack of ham was missing. It’s also believed that he was responsible for stealing a kid’s $480 BMX bike. Later in the day, a man reported to police that his motorcycle had been stolen from the parking lot of a grocery store. Whoever stole the bike reportedly left the stolen BMX bike in its place. Fortunately, the motorcycle’s owner had flipped on the fuel cutoff switch and the bike was found just across the street. Officers reportedly spotted him in the area, who they say walked back into the Subway restaurant and locked himself in the women’s room. The owner of the Subway helped open the door, where he was found on the ground, along with pieces of the ceiling. The man is facing multiple charges, including grand theft for the motorcycle and petty theft for the bike and the ham. (East Idaho News)


Florida woman, nearly naked, leads cops on high-speed chase in stolen car

A Florida woman wearing almost no clothing was arrested after leading troopers on a high-speed chase through several counties in a stolen car, authorities said. Troopers were alerted that the stolen 2009 Cadillac sedan was seen traveling on I-75 in Sumter County, the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) said. The stolen car was located on the interstate in Hernando County, where troopers attempted a traffic stop, but the vehicle instead sped away, reaching speeds of 110 mph while changing lanes and using the roadway shoulder to pass other cars. Troopers pulled up next to the vehicle in an attempt to persuade the driver to exit the interstate, according to an arrest report. Eventually, the driver exited the interstate onto State Road 52 in Pasco County, where troopers used a PIT maneuver to disable the vehicle. Troopers removed the 24-year-old “nearly fully unclothed” woman from the vehicle and took her into custody. Troopers found a glass pipe used for smoking methamphetamine and a substance believed to be meth inside the car, the arrest report said. They also learned that the woman’s license had been suspended. She claimed that the car was her aunt’s and she was allowed to drive it. She was charged with grand theft auto, reckless driving, fleeing and eluding, possession of methamphetamine and driving with a suspended license. (Fox News)


Amazon has agreed to purchase Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios (MGM) for $6.5B ($8.45B including debt)

The deal gives Amazon control of franchises like James Bond, Rocky, and RoboCop, as well as a catalog of 4,000 films including “The Silence of the Lambs” and “12 Angry Men.” In a statement, Amazon’s senior vice president of Prime Video and Amazon Studios said the greatest value from the deal comes in the “treasure trove of IP” that can be rebooted and built upon for theatrical and streaming releases. This is Amazon’s second-largest acquisition ever, after its $13.7B purchase of Whole Foods in 2017. The Amazon-MGM acquisition is the latest piece to fall in a media landscape where major tech companies are scrambling to collect intellectual property and production infrastructure to bolster their streaming services. (KCAL)


An anonymous donor has kept good on his pledge to pay for the college of football players at Centennial High School in Roswell, Georgia, who get straight A’s

The donor provides $25,000 for college per semester with straight A’s in a program that began three years ago as a way to encourage the school’s Black football players to excel academically. Recent graduates said the money is a game changer. Other recent graduates who earned straight A’s throughout high school received up to $200,000. In the first year of the program, according to the Centennial athletic director, the anonymous donor pledged $1M. (CBS News)


Facebook is introducing the ability to hide one’s like counts on both Facebook and Instagram

The feature will be optional for all users after testing it for the last several years on both platforms. A spokesperson for Instagram said the move is intended to “depressurize people’s experience” on the platform, to encourage content sharing and engagement without the social anguish that comes from posting content that doesn’t become popular. The platforms will roll out two separate opt-in features. The first will allow users to hide like counts on all posts in your feed; the second will let users hide their own like counts to other users. On Instagram, likes can be hidden on a per-post basis. Eliminating likes entirely from Facebook and Instagram was reportedly not seriously considered, as the functionality is too ingrained into the platforms’ experience. (Tech Crunch)


DNA helped free Texas man in murder case and court declares him “actually innocent”

For more than a decade, a 44-year-old man from Houston, Texas has insisted he was innocent of murder, writing letters from his prison cell that he was “wrongfully convicted” and a “victim of a miscarriage of justice.” But even after reanalyzed DNA evidence and breakthrough computer technology helped authorities track down a new suspect, and convinced prosecutors in Harris County to support his release on bail in November 2019, he was still not officially exonerated, until recently. Texas’ highest criminal court last week ruled that he is “actually innocent” in the fatal stabbing of a man outside a Houston bar in 2010, a murder that would have left the man locked up for life. Although he had an alibi witness at trial, his supporters say jurors were swayed by the prosecution’s flawed DNA analysis and unreliable eyewitnesses who believed he was the man suspected in the crime. He was overjoyed to learn from his attorney that the state’s Court of Criminal Appeals finally agreed he didn’t commit the murder. However, his struggle isn’t over just yet: He is entitled to compensation for being wrongly incarcerated, which in Texas amounts to $80,000 for every year behind bars, plus the chance for monthly annuity payments for the rest of the person’s life. He is also seeking to get his record of the crime expunged. (NBC News)



Florida man hid cocaine in his anus during DUI arrest

 A 48-year-old Lakeland, Florida man was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and possession of cocaine on Monday morning. He was found sleeping behind the wheel of a pickup truck on the side of Interstate 75, a deputy with the Collier County Sheriff’s Office said. The deputy said he opened the truck’s driver-side door and woke the man up. He saw a white powdery substance on his nose and noticed a strong smell of whiskey coming from his breath. He allegedly had bloodshot watery eyes, was speaking slurred Spanish and had trouble performing tasks. After failing multiple field sobriety tests, the deputy arrested him under probable cause for driving a car under the influence of alcohol and drugs. While he was in the back of the patrol car, the deputy watched as he took multiple phone calls and then pulled two baggies of a white powdery substance out of his pockets. As the deputy was completing paperwork, the man shoved both bags up his anus, according to an arrest report. After being transported to the Naples Jail Center, and was required to do a strip search, the baggies were recovered by deputies. A drug test confirmed that the substance in the bags was cocaine. A search of his truck revealed another baggie of cocaine and a bag of marijuana. He was arrested for DUI, possession of cocaine, and evidence tampering. He was also cited for careless driving, improper tag display, and open container of an alcoholic beverage. (NBC 2)


US no longer wants to buy Greenland

US secretary of state Antony Blinken has confirmed that America no longer wants to buy Greenland after visiting the Danish autonomous territory. He stressed that he was not there to buy the country, signalling a change in policy from the Trump administration. Asked whether the US had definitively ruled out any plans to buy Greenland, Blinken replied with a smile: “I can confirm that’s correct.” (The Guardian)


An official Tokyo Olympics partner, urges Games cancellation

An official partner of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, called for the Summer Games to be cancelled in an editorial, citing risks to public safety and strains on the medical system from the COVID-19 pandemic. Several polls have shown the majority of the public is opposed to holding the Games this summer, concerned about tens of thousands of athletes and officials descending on a country where vaccinations have proceeded slowly. Doctors’ associations have protested holding the Games, investors have talked up the benefits of shelving them, and maverick businessmen have called for cancelling the games. (Reuters)


Thursday Be Rollin’ With:

  • Cellophane Tape Day
  • Eat More Fruits & Vegetables Day (Thursday before Memorial Day)
  • Grape Popsicle Day
  • Joe Cool Day


Historical Events

1120 – Richard III of Capua is anointed as Prince two weeks before his untimely death.

1153 – Malcolm IV becomes King of Scotland.

1813 – War of 1812: In Canada, American forces capture Fort George.

1883 – Alexander III is crowned Tsar of Russia.

1927 – The Ford Motor Company ceases manufacture of the Ford Model T and begins to retool plants to make the Ford Model A.

1941 – World War II: The German battleship Bismarck is sunk in the North Atlantic killing almost 2,100 men.

1941 – World War II: U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaims an “unlimited national emergency”.

1967 – The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy is launched by Jacqueline Kennedy and her daughter Caroline.

1997 – The U.S. Supreme Court rules that Paula Jones can pursue her sexual harassment lawsuit against President Bill Clinton while he is in office.

2005 – Australian Schapelle Corby is sentenced to 20 years imprisonment in Kerobokan Prison for drug smuggling by a court in Indonesia.