Thursday, July 1, 2021

Greek police recovered two paintings by Pablo Picasso and Piet Mondrian stolen during a heist at the National Gallery in Athens in 2012

Picasso had donated his “Woman’s Head,” a cubist female bust, to Greece in 1949 to recognize the role of the Greek people in the Second World War. The Mondrian painting was a figurative piece from 1905. After the paintings were found hidden in a Greek gorge, police arrested one Greek man. Praising Greek police for solving the crime, the country’s Citizens’ Protection Minister said it “took a Greek to deprive” the nation of the masterpiece and “Greeks to bring it back”. The incident had been called the theft of the century, shocking the nation and leaving police astonished by its audacity. The burglary took no more than seven minutes. In that time the paintings were stripped of their frames before being spirited out of the gallery through a smashed balcony door after the alarm system was manipulated to send the sole guard, then on duty, in another direction. (The Guardian)


Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled that laws prohibiting the cultivation and consumption of recreational cannabis are unconstitutional

The ruling effectively decriminalizes the recreational use of cannabis and comes as Mexico’s congress stalls on a bill to fully legalize cannabis. Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled 8-3 in favor of the decision. Adults will now be able to apply for permits to cultivate and consume cannabis. Public consumption and consumption around children are banned. The ruling does not mention the commercialization or regulation of the cannabis industry in Mexico. (Yahoo News)


California has banned state-funded travel to five more states due to laws the state says discriminate against LGBTQ citizens

California’s attorney general added Arkansas, Florida, Montana, North Dakota, and West Virginia to the list earlier this week, arguing that the United States is “in the midst of an unprecedented wave of bigotry and discrimination.” In 2016, California lawmakers banned non-essential government travel to states that discriminate against the LGBTQ community. Arkansas, Florida, Montana, and West Virginia were added to the list because they passed laws this year that prevent transgender women and girls from playing on school teams that conform to their gender identity. A new North Dakota law allows some publicly-funded student groups to ban LGBTQ membership. The state-funded travel ban includes conferences or training sessions. Government officials will still be able to travel to honor contracts signed before the states were added to the list, which now includes 17 states. It’s unclear how much official travel has been prevented in recent years based on the ban. (ABC News)


Home prices in the United States rose by 14.6% year-over-year in April, the largest gain in more than 30 years

According to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index, home prices rose in 20 major American cities at a steeper annual rate than they had in March. Some cities, like Dallas, Denver, and Seattle, saw their largest annual gain in home prices in the Case-Shiller data’s history. The steepest gains were seen in Phoenix, San Diego, and Seattle. The high prices are also the result of low supply – there were 21% fewer homes for sale in May 2021 than in May 2020. (CNBC)


United Airlines is making the largest plane order in its history, apparently betting on the widespread post-pandemic return to travel

United is buying 200 Boeing 737 MAX jets and 70 Airbus SE A321neo planes. The company will receive discounts for bulk orders, but the list price for all 270 planes comes to more than $30 Billion dollars. This is the largest order by a United States airline since American Airlines purchased 460 planes from the two manufacturers in 2011. United expects that July will be its first profitable month (on an adjusted pretax basis) since January 2020. The airline lost more than $7 Billion dollars in 2020. In all, United has about 500 new planes set to join its fleet, though 300 of those will replace older jets. Many of the planes will come with screens in seat backs, which other airlines have not prioritized, in favor of allowing customers to stream entertainment on their own devices. (New York Post)


Supreme Court allows eviction ban to remain in place

The Supreme Court earlier this week ruled to keep the federal eviction moratorium to in place, in a 5-4 decision. The decision is a blow for the National Association of Realtors, the powerful lobbying group that funded the challenge to the pandemic-related moratorium on behalf of two of its chapters. The association had asked the court to act on an emergency basis to vacate a stay on a lower-court decision overturning the ban, saying the “stay will prolong the severe financial burdens borne by landlords under the moratorium for the past nine months.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s moratorium is currently set to expire July 31 after the Biden administration extended it last week, with the CDC saying it intended the move as the final extension. Some six million renter households are behind on rent, according to a recent Census survey. (Politico)


A Maine man is accused of trying to use fake money to pay his bail

The York County, Maine Sheriff’s Office arrested a man for an outstanding warrant for theft and was taken to the York County Jail. According to deputies, he claimed he had enough money for bail, so the bail commissioner was contacted. However, deputies say when he met with the bail commissioner, he gave two counterfeit $100 bills. So he was denied bail and returned to jail with an additional charge of forgery. Later that day, deputies say the crook was able to post bail using authentic U.S. currency. (WGME)


Canada to ban sale of new fuel-powered cars and light trucks from 2035

Canada will ban the sale of fuel-burning new cars and light-duty trucks from 2035 in an effort to reach net-zero emissions across the country by 2050, Prime Minister’s government said earlier this week. Only zero-emissions cars and trucks can be sold from 2035, according to a statement, adding that a mixture of investments and regulations will help industry transition toward that goal. The government also said it will set interim targets for 2025 and 2030. Britain said last year it would ban fuel-powered vehicles from 2030, while the United States has yet to fix a date. (Reuters)


A Wyoming man who asked a sheriff’s dispatcher why he hadn’t been arrested soon found himself in handcuffs

The 62-year-old man called the Campbell County, Wyoming Sheriff’s Office recently to ask why he hadn’t been arrested after deputies raided his house the previous day. Asked why he should be arrested, the man said meth use. The man also told a dispatcher 10 young men were following him. Nobody had raided the man’s house or was planning to arrest him, a spokesman said. After the call, a deputy spotted the man driving and followed when he pulled off the road. The man allegedly told the deputy he had used methamphetamine a day and a half before and was still high. He did poorly on sobriety tests and was arrested for driving under the influence of a controlled substance. (Associated Press)


Are bots doing the firing at Amazon?

Amazon has “increasingly” been turning to artificial intelligence and algorithms in its human resources operations to cut costs and keep its “competitive edge”. They claim drivers are rated by an algorithm, and if rated poorly, can result in a termination email. The e-commerce giant refutes these claims, saying they are “anecdotal.” (Bloomberg)


A Man Has Broken The World Record For Wrapping His Wife In Plastic Wrap

In 1 minute and 2.44 seconds, an Idaho man set a new Guinness World Record by wrapping his wife’s body in plastic wrap. The man has broken over 150 Guinness World Records to promote STEM education, first set the record in 2019 when he wrapped his wife in plastic wrap in 1 minute and 57 seconds. He claimed that it took nine rolls of plastic wrap to practice for their latest attempt, and the couple managed to perfect their technique in 1 minute, 2.44 seconds. The man stated that the record’s challenges include making sure there are no gaps in the wrapping job and that each arm and leg is individually wrapped. (StardiaPost)


Bill Cosby’s sex assault conviction overturned by court

Pennsylvania’s highest court overturned Bill Cosby’s sex assault conviction after finding an agreement with a previous prosecutor prevented him from being charged in the case. The 83-year-old Bill Cosby has served more than two years of a three- to 10-year sentence at a state prison near Philadelphia. He had vowed to serve all 10 years rather than acknowledge any remorse over the 2004 encounter with accuser Andrea Constand. Bill Cosby was convicted of drugging and molesting the Temple University employee at his suburban estate. He was charged in late 2015, when a prosecutor armed with newly unsealed evidence, Cosby’s damaging deposition from her lawsuit, arrested him days before the 12-year statute of limitations expired. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court said that testimony tainted the trial, even though a lower appeals court had found it appropriate to show a signature pattern of drugging and molesting women. Prosecutors did not immediately say if they would appeal or seek to try Cosby for a third time. Bill Cosby was the first celebrity tried and convicted in the #MeToo era, so the reversal could make prosecutors wary of calling other accusers in similar cases. The law on prior bad act testimony varies by state, though, and the ruling only holds sway in Pennsylvania. (Associated Press)


Walmart unveiled ReliOn NovoLog, its own brand of low-cost insulin for diabetes patients

Walmart will begin selling ReliOn this week to adults and children with a prescription at $72.9 for an insulin vial or $85.9 for a package of pre-filled insulin pens. According to Walmart, consumers will save up to $101 per insulin vial (58%) or $251 per package of pens (75%). Insulin costs have skyrocketed in recent years, drawing scrutiny from House representatives who have questioned pharmaceutical executives about the issue in the past. Walmart’s executive vice president of health and wellness said that the high prices were preventing people from accessing the essential drug. (NBC News)


Thursday Ups The Game With:

  • Canada Day
  • Creative Ice Cream Flavors Day
  • Estee Lauder Day
  • Medicare’s Birthday
  • Gingersnap Day
  • GSA Employee Day
  • Postal Workers Day
  • Resolution Renewal Day (To renew your broken New Year’s Resolution)
  • U.S. Postage Stamp Day
  • Zip Code Day


Historical Events

  • 1862 – American Civil War: the Battle of Malvern Hill takes place. It is the final battle in the Seven Days Campaign, part of George B. McClellan’s Peninsula Campaign.
  • 1863 – Keti Koti (Emancipation Day) in Suriname, marking the abolition of slavery by the Netherlands.
  • 1881 – General Order 70, the culmination of the Cardwell and Childers reforms of the British Army, comes into effect.
  • 1890 – Canada and Bermuda are linked by telegraph cable.
  • 1921 – The Communist Party of China is founded.
  • 1943 – Tokyo City merges with Tokyo Prefecture and is dissolved. Since then, no city in Japan has had the name “Tokyo” (present-day Tokyo is not officially a city).
  • 1949 – The merger of two princely states of India, Cochin and Travancore, into the state of Thiru-Kochi (later re-organized as Kerala) in the Indian Union ends more than 1,000 years of princely rule by the Cochin Royal Family.
  • 1968 – Formal separation of the United Auto Workers from the AFL-CIO.
  • 1970 – President General Yahya Khan abolishes One-Unit of West Pakistan restoring the provinces.
  • 1980O Canada officially becomes the national anthem of Canada.