Thursday, June 17, 2021

Olympic runner says tainted burrito led to positive test for banned substance

Shelby Houlihan, the American record holder in the 1,500 and 5,000 meters, posted on social media that she’s been banned for four years following a positive test for what she concluded was a tainted pork burrito. She made the announcement on her Instagram account days before the start of U.S. Olympic track and field trials in Eugene, Oregon, where the top three in each event earn a spot to the postponed Tokyo Games. The 28-year-old said she received an email from the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) earlier this year, notifying her that a drug testing sample returned a finding for the anabolic steroid nandrolone. She said it has “long been understood by WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) that eating pork can lead to a false positive for nandrolone, since certain types of pigs produce it naturally in high amounts. Pig organ meat (offal) has the highest levels of nandrolone.” She made a list of all the food she ate leading up to a December 15th test that produced the adverse analytical finding for the anabolic steroid. “We concluded that the most likely explanation was a burrito purchased and consumed approximately 10 hours before that drug test from an authentic Mexican food truck that serves pig offal near my house in Beaverton, Oregon,” Houlihan wrote. “I notified the AIU that I believed this was the source.” She said she passed a polygraph and had a hair sample analyzed by toxicologists, but she was informed the Court of Arbitration for Sport “did not accept my explanation of what had occurred and has subsequently banned me from the sport for four years.” (NBC News)


Several in hospital after parachute protest

Several people have been taken to hospital to receive treatment for injuries caused by a protester who parachuted into the Allianz Arena during France’s win over Germany. European football’s governing body Uefa said “law authorities will take the necessary action” for what it called a “reckless and dangerous” act. Debris fell on to the pitch and stands when the parachutist got tangled in wires carrying an overhead camera. The man landed heavily on the pitch. He had the words “Kick out oil Greenpeace” written on his parachute and was given medical attention before being escorted away by security. Environmental campaign group Greenpeace took responsibility for the stunt and in a statement apologized to those who were hurt, blaming “technical difficulties” for the para-glider unintentionally landing on the pitch. (BBC)


A robot is killing weeds by zapping them with electricity

On a field in England, three robots have been given a mission: to find and zap weeds with electricity before planting seeds in the cleared soil. The robots, named Tom, Dick and Harry, were developed by Small Robot Company to rid land of unwanted weeds with minimal use of chemicals and heavy machinery. The startup has been working on its autonomous weed killers since 2017, and this April launched Tom, its first commercial robot which is now operational on three UK farms. The other robots are still in the prototype stage, undergoing testing. Small Robot says robot Tom can scan 49 acres a day, collecting data which is then used by Dick, a “crop-care” robot, to zap weeds. Then it’s robot Harry’s turn to plant seeds in the weed-free soil. Using the full system, once it is up and running, farmers could reduce costs by 40% and chemical usage by up to 95%, the company says. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization six million metric tons of pesticides were traded globally in 2018, valued at $38 billion. Small Robot calls this “per plant farming”, a type of precise agriculture where every plant is accounted for and monitored. (CNN)

Woman arrested for killing & frying alleged cheating husband’s penis with soybean oil

A woman was arrested by police in the Brazilian city of Sao Goncalo recently for killing & frying alleged cheating husband’s penis with soybean oil. Police officers arrived at the couple’s house and found the victim’s lifeless, naked and mutilated body inside their home. A kitchen knife believed to have been used by the suspect to commit the crime was retrieved from the scene. The suspect has been charged with murder and corpse desecration. (Pulse)


Execs ditch tech giants for startups

The hybrid work boom is shifting the technology world, causing executives to leave tech giants for startups that build communications and collaboration tools. Developers and engineers have been working on these types of apps at large companies for years. Hybrid work is here to stay, with an estimated 60% of global companies developing permanent models. Spending in the global collaboration software market is forecast to jump 17.1% this year from 2020. (The Wall Street Journal)


Pakistan police allegedly detain restaurant staff after being refused free burgers

An entire crew of workers at a fast food restaurant in Pakistan were allegedly detained on the weekend after refusing police officers’ demands for free burgers, according to a statement from the company. Burger joint Johnny & Jugnu in the eastern city of Lahore said in a statement on Facebook that a group of police officers had visited its store late last week asking for free food, “which has become a common practice for them.” When their request was denied, the statement said: “the police officers threatened our managers and left, only to return the next day to further harass and pressurize our teams on ground with baseless arguments.” All 19 staff members and managers at the restaurant were rounded up and held by police for almost seven hours overnight, the statement alleged. Restaurant staff were forced to leave their kitchen and customers unattended, “with our fryers still running,” while police claimed they had refused to entertain a “request from a very high profile special guest,” said the statement. The head of marketing for Johnny & Jugnu’s said the incident had been very upsetting for the team but praised the quick action taken to suspend those involved. (CNN)


Congress passes bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday

The United States will soon have a new federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the nation. The House voted 415-14 Wednesday to make Juneteenth, or June 19th, the 12th federal holiday. The bill now goes to President Joe Biden’s desk, and he is expected to sign it into law. Juneteenth commemorates the day the last enslaved African Americans learned they were free. Confederate soldiers surrendered in April 1865, but word didn’t reach the last enslaved Black people until June 19, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to Galveston, Texas. That was also about 2 1/2 years after the Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in the Southern states. It’s the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was created in 1983. (USA Today)

Woman attacks Ravenna McDonald’s employees due to refusal to mix slushie flavors

Police in Ravenna, Ohio were called to the McDonald’s restaurant recently to deal with a report of a 44-year old woman attacking employees behind the counter. When officers arrived, she was observed attempting to strike several employees. Upon investigation, police determined that the cause of the incident was Cleveland wanting to mix flavors of her slushie together. When told by the manager at McDonald’s that was not possible, she became irate and stormed behind the counter to make the slushie mix herself. Police say the manager at the McDonald’s tried to block the woman’s path and was punched. Another employee was able to get her back into the customer area, but was punched in the right eye and suffered multiple abrasions. The employee was finally able to wrestle her to the ground. She was detained by police and charged with two counts of misdemeanor assault. (WBNS)


New episodes of Disney+ series will debut on Wednesdays, in a permanent move from Fridays

The streamer experimented by debuting “Loki” on Wednesday, June 9th, rather than Friday, June 11th, resulting in its most-watched premiere episode to date. Upcoming series including “Monsters at Work,” “Turner and Hooch,” “Behind the Attraction,” “Chip ‘n’ Dale: Park Life,” and “Turning the Tables with Robin Roberts” bumped their premiere dates up following the announcement. Original Disney+ films will continue to debut on Fridays, allowing the streamer to add both a new film and series in the same week without cannibalizing its audience. (Hollywood Reporter)


South Korea plans to deploy robots and an AI surveillance system along the border with North Korea

The Korean Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) announced a $2.5M project to deploy the technologies this year at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). The robots will be capable of moving on a rail at speeds of 5 meters per second. Using advanced sensors and cameras, they’ll be able to detect and track moving objects. A separate AI system will use a closed-circuit television network and deep learning technologies to analyze videos and audio for border incursions. DAPA says the goal is to create tighter 24/7 surveillance to minimize loopholes and manage its troops more effectively following recent security breaches. The AI system could be deployed in October, followed by six-month testing of the rail-based robots starting in December. (NextGov)


Rocket Lab has won a design contract with NASA that could lead to the company sending two of its spacecraft to Mars in 2024

The company plans to raise $750M to fund its operations by going public at a $4.1B valuation via SPAC before June 30, 2021. Rocket Lab is a start-up that develops complete rocket systems and technologies. Its Photon family of spacecraft is a cost-effective alternative to interplanetary mission vehicles, which often cost hundreds of millions of dollars. NASA’s Small Innovative Missions for Planetary Exploration program supports R&D for spaceflight missions carried out on small spacecraft. The awarded contract is part of the program’s dual-spacecraft mission, aimed at studying the martian orbit and solar wind’s effects on the planet’s atmosphere. NASA is expected to decide before the end of July if the company will build the two spaceships based on the design. Rocket Lab hopes to have its Neutron rocket, currently in development, ready for the ESCAPADE mission. (CNBC)


A federal judge in Louisiana issued an injunction that blocks the Biden Administration from suspending new oil and gas leases on federal land

A federal judge in Louisiana blocked the Biden administration’s pause on oil and gas leasing on public lands and waters earlier this week, dealing a setback to a key White House effort to address climate change. The order granted a preliminary injunction to Louisiana and 12 other states that sued President Joe Biden and the Interior Department over the freeze on new drilling auctions. Louisiana is a major hub for offshore oil and gas production. President Biden paused the government’s leasing auctions in January pending a review that is expected to be completed in the coming weeks. The move was part of a sweeping plan to rein in fossil-fuel extraction and combat the effects of climate change. The Interior Department said it would comply with the ruling, but did not say when auctions might resume. (Reuters)


Engineers compile library of more than 11,000 detailed hand gestures using a motion glove with five separate sensors

Researchers at Comenius University Bratislava in Slovakia have recently developed WaveGlove, a new system for hand gesture recognition that utilizes multiple inertial sensors, instead of a single sensor. This new system, introduced in a paper pre-published on arXiv, is essentially a glove with an inertial sensor placed on each of its fingers. Using WaveGlove, the hand gesture recognition system they created, the researchers were able to acquire two datasets containing over 11000 hand gesture samples. Researchers then designed two different gesture vocabularies, one containing 8 whole-hand movements (WaveGlove-single) and another containing 10 more complex, carefully designed hand gestures, for which individual fingers move differently (WaveGlove-multi). The findings gathered by this team of researchers could have numerous valuable implications. Firstly, their work could inform research focusing on hand gesture recognition and help to enhance existing systems. Secondly, the WaveGlove prototype they created could ultimately be used to improve communications between humans and machines, allowing the latter to better interpret human hand gestures. (TechEplore)


Thursday Stays Wet With Sweat From:

  • Apple Strudel Day
  • Bartender Day (The Day They Crown The Winner of Bartender of The Year)
  • Dump The Pump Day (Third Thursday)
  • Eat Your Vegetables Day
  • Garbage Man Day
  • Career Nursing Assistants Day (Second Thursday of Full Week)
  • Cherry Tart Day
  • Mascot Day
  • Recess At Work Day (Third Thursday)
  • Stewarts Root Beer Day
  • World Day To Combat Desertification and Drought
  • World Tapas Day (Third Thursday)
  • World Tesselation Day


Historical Events

  • 1565 – Matsunaga Hisahide assassinates the 13th Ashikaga shogun, Ashikaga Yoshiteru.
  • 1773 – Cúcuta, Colombia, is founded by Juana Rangel de Cuéllar.
  • 1885 – The Statue of Liberty arrives in New York Harbor.
  • 1901 – The College Board introduces its first standardized test, the forerunner to the SAT.
  • 1944 – Iceland declares independence from Denmark and becomes a republic.
  • 1953 – East Germany Workers Uprising: in East Germany, the Soviet Union orders a division of troops into East Berlin to quell a rebellion.
  • 1958 – The Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Crossing, in the process of being built to connect Vancouver and North Vancouver (Canada), collapses into the Burrard Inlet killing many of the ironworkers and injuring others.
  • 1987 – With the death of the last individual of the species, the Dusky Seaside Sparrow becomes extinct.
  • 1991 – Apartheid: the South African Parliament repeals the Population Registration Act which required racial classification of all South Africans at birth.
  • 1992 – A “joint understanding” agreement on arms reduction is signed by U.S. President George Bush and Russian President Boris Yeltsin (this would be later codified in START II).