Friday, June 25, 2021

UPDATE: The Supreme Court ruled 8-1 in favor of a former cheerleader who was suspended from cheering at a Pennsylvania high school after posting a vulgar rant on Snapchat

Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in his majority opinion that the First Amendment covers the speech expressed by Brandi Levy on social media and that her school did not have a right to punish her for off-campus remarks. “The school’s interest in teaching good manners is not sufficient, in this case, to overcome B. L.’s interest in free expression,” the Justice wrote. The cheerleader’s snap showed her giving the middle finger to the camera and said: “F— school, f— softball, f— cheer, f— everything.” The snap was sent to 250 people who followed her and was ultimately shared with her school’s cheer coaches. Justice Clarence Thomas dissented, arguing that precedent had been set to allow schools to punish students for such speech. The ACLU, which argued the case for Levy, called the ruling “a huge victory for the free speech rights of millions of students.” (Washington Post)


A 51-year-old Buddhist monk in China has been credited with saving more than 8,000 dogs from the streets of Shanghai

The monk regularly rescues dogs picked up off the streets by police who are otherwise set to be killed in shelters. Of the thousands of dogs he’s rescued, several hundred live at his Bao’en Temple, and others stay at a shelter he runs in Shanghai until they can be adopted. Many will be “resettled” with families in Europe and North America. “I have to rescue them because if I don’t, they will die for sure,” he said. (Times Of India)


More than 1,715 stars relatively close to our solar system, including hundreds of “probable Earth-like planets,” have been able to view Earth over the past 5,000 years

Scientists in the journal Nature wrote this week that intelligent life on other planets could use similar technology to what we have on Earth to observe our planet and judge that it could be habitable. Those other planets with a good view of Earth are all within 100 parsecs (~1,900 trillion miles) of us. Researchers look for planets by observing them passing in front of their stars, which temporarily dims their light. Other beings from a far off planet could use the same technology to view Earth. The study’s authors said we may not have received messages from other forms of life due to civilizations not lasting very long and the difficulty of transmitting messages over trillions of miles of space. (Associated Press)


Sales of single-family homes in the U.S. are at their one-year low amid a high median price

Sales of new U.S. single-family homes fell to a one-year low in May as the median price of newly built houses soared amid expensive raw materials, including framing lumber. The second straight monthly decline in sales reported by the Commerce Department earlier this week was the latest indication that the tailwind from the COVID-19 pandemic could be subsiding. Single-family housing benefited from a migration from cities as millions of Americans sought more spacious accommodations for home offices and schooling during the pandemic. New home sales dropped 5.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 769,000 units last month, the lowest level since May 2020. April’s sales pace was revised down to 817,000 units from the previously reported 863,000 units. The median new house price jumped 18.1% from a year earlier to $374,400 in May. (Reuters)


Saudi Arabia’s NEOM has announced a joint venture to create the world’s largest coral garden by 2025

NEOM is the future $500B mega-smart city Saudi Arabia announced three years ago. NEOM will be built north of the Red Sea, east of Egypt, and south of Israel. The garden will be based on Shusha Island, on the coast of the Red Sea, and cover 100 hectares. It aims to “preserve the environment and all its components,” including “coral reefs, in particular, and marine life,” NEOM’s CEO said. (Arab News)


42,000 pounds of missing pistachios leads to possible illegal pistachio operation

When a pistachio company in California noticed that thousands of pounds of its main product had gone missing, it opened an investigation. It appears that a truck driver may have been running an illegal pistachio operation out of the trucking yard. The company reported the situation to the sheriff’s office, which opened an investigation. According to the Facebook post, it was eventually discovered that a tractor-trailer had been moved from the Montemayor Trucking lot in Delano, California to a nearby, unnamed lot. There, it was discovered that the pistachios were in 2,000-pound sacks. Apparently, the plan was to move the pistachios into smaller bags and resell them. On Facebook, the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office wrote, “investigative leads in Fresno and Kern County discovered the tractor-trailer containing the pistachios had been moved from the Montemayor Trucking lot in Delano to a nearby lot. Detectives found that the pistachios were being moved from 2000 pound sacks into smaller bags for re-sale.” The remaining pistachios were returned to the Touchstone Pistachio Company. (Fox News)


South African woman who claims she gave birth to 10 babies admitted to psychiatric ward

A 37-year-old woman, who made headlines for the alleged record-breaking birth, was taken to the psychiatric ward last week at Tembisa Hospital in Johannesburg and examined by a medical team amid growing speculation from multiple sources say that she lied about the birth. The medical evaluation has shown that there was no pregnancy. It also shows that there are no physical scars to indicate a recent C-section. The hospital visit was the latest turn in the strange saga, which has involved even the reported babies’ father calling the children’s existence into question. Local health officials have also said they have no record of the decuplets being born at any of the region’s private and public facilities, but several of Sithole’s relatives have maintained that Sithole did indeed recently give birth to the brood, overtaking former world record holder “Octomom” Nadya Suleman, who had eight children in 2009, and Halima Cisse, a Malian woman who delivered nine children at a Moroccan hospital in May. (Eye Witness News)


McDonald’s Offers Free COVID-19 Vaccines at Some of Their California Stores

McDonald’s is partnering up with the California Department of Public Health to offer free COVID-19 vaccinations at more than 70 locations. The pop-up clinics will offer vaccines to McDonald’s employees, their families, and the general public. Those who get a vaccine at McDonald’s will receive a coupon for one free menu item, according to the company. No appointment or health insurance is required, and walk-ups are welcomed. (NBC Los Angeles)


Six Oklahoma casinos hit by ransomware

Lucky Star officials say they have contacted the FBI to investigate as multiple Oklahoma casinos get hit with a cyber-crime attack. The lights are down at the Lucky Star Casino in Concho, one of six tribal casinos in western Oklahoma to be hacked. Lucky Star Casino officials issued a statement Monday, saying in part “Lucky Star Casino has unfortunately joined the growing list of government agencies, businesses, and other casinos to be hit by a ransomware attack,” but casino officials have not said what the hackers are demanding. Experts say since almost all the games in casinos are now computerized in some way or another, hackers use ransomware holds the casino main frame hostage. Lucky Star apologized to customers, saying they don’t know if any personal information was impacted.  Their official statement went on to say “We apologize to our customers and partners and emphasize the need to be extra vigilant, particularly regarding suspect communications. Our insurance company is providing credit monitoring services for 12 months”. Computer experts do have advice for customers to stay cyber-safe when they go to a casino. (KFOR)


Births plummet during pandemic

The tail end of 2020, nine months after pandemic-induced lockdowns, saw the number of U.S. births plummet by 8%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For 2020 overall, provisional data from the CDC show births fell 4% to 3.6 million, the biggest drop in almost 50 years. Births had been declining about 2% a year, but the pandemic accelerated the drop. In fact, a demographer and professor notes that five states had more deaths than births in 2019; in 2020, deaths outnumbered births in 25 states. California led the U.S. with a 19% drop in births in December. New York, New Mexico, Hawaii and West Virginia also recorded major decreases in births in the second half of the year, ranging from 8% to 11%. Life expectancy in the U.S. decreased by nearly two years between 2018 and 2020, mostly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new study, which said there had not been a decline like this “since World War II.” (Center For Disease Control And Prevention)


Man abandons 118 pounds of cannabis near Niagara Falls

US Border Patrol agents say they were alerted to more than 100 pounds of cannabis left on a path on the US side of the Niagara River north of Niagara Falls. A “concerned citizen” who was walking a trail in Whirlpool State Park is said to have contacted New York State Parks Police after seeing a person first dragging what appeared to be multiple plastic-wrapped packages. Upon being seen, the person reportedly fled, leaving behind several large black packages. US Border Patrol agents responded, and a search of the area for suspects and/or other contraband was conducted with the assistance of the Buffalo Air Unit, Air and Marine Operations and the New York State Police and Parks Police. Ten packages with a total weight of 118 pounds were seized by the U.S. Border Patrol. The contents of the packages field-tested positive for the properties of cannabis. It’s unclear where the packages came from and the incident is currently under investigation. New York State has seen several large seizures of cannabis in the past year, including near the Niagara Falls border crossing. (Stratcann)


Athens priest arrested for acid attack on bishops

A priest has been arrested in Athens after he threw acid on seven bishops of the Greek Orthodox Church, police say. The attack took place during a disciplinary hearing against the 36-year-old priest, according to police. Three bishops are being treated in hospital for the burns, mostly on their faces. A policeman, who ran to help the bishops, was also taken to hospital. The suspect, a priest who risked being expelled from the church, was accused of being involved in drug trafficking, according to the ANA press agency. The bishops were meeting to discuss defrocking him, stripping him of his priesthood, after he was allegedly discovered to be in possession of 1.8 grams of cocaine in June 2018, according to local media. (BBC)


Finally Friday Is Here With:

  • Catfish Day
  • Color TV Day (CBS)
  • Day of The Seafarer
  • Drive Your Corvette to Work Day (Last Friday that’s closest to June 30)
  • Food Truck Day (Last Friday)
  • Global Beatles Day
  • Global Smurfs Day
  • International Rose’ Day (4th Friday)
  • Leon Day
  • Police Community Cooperative Day
  • School Prayer Banned Anniversary
  • Strawberry Parfait Day
  • Take Your Dog to Work Day (Friday After Father’s Day)


Historical Events

  • 1788 – Virginia becomes the 10th state to ratify the United States Constitution.
  • 1876 – Battle of the Little Bighorn and the death of Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer.
  • 1913 – American Civil War veterans begin arriving at the Great Reunion of 1913.
  • 1944 – World War II: The Battle of Tali-Ihantala, the largest battle ever fought in the Nordic Countries, begins.
  • 1949Long-Haired Hare, starring Bugs Bunny, is released in theaters.
  • 1975 – Mozambique achieves independence.
  • 1976 – Missouri Governor Kit Bond issues an executive order rescinding the Extermination Order, formally apologizing on behalf of the state of Missouri for the suffering it had caused to the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
  • 1991 – Croatia and Slovenia declare their independence from Yugoslavia.
  • 1996 – The Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia kills 19 U.S. servicemen.
  • 1997 – The Soufrière Hills volcano in Montserrat erupts resulting in the death of 19 people.