Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Egypt will release a ship that blocked the Suez Canal for a week in March

The 400m-long ship had run aground in the canal’s single lane and was extracted six days later. The Suez Canal Authority had initially demanded $550M in compensation from the ship’s Japanese owners for the disruptions it caused. After coming to an undisclosed agreement, the vessel will be freed this week. (BBC)


Man Bitten By 5ft Snake “In Genital Area” While Sitting On Toilet At Home

A 65-year-old man woke up abruptly after a reticulated python bit him while sitting on the toilet at home. The man went to the toilet around early in the morning and felt a “pinch in the genitals” shortly after sitting on the toilet. He then turned to see a 1.5 meter albino snake in the toilet bowl. The reticulated python, a constrictor native to Asia that can grow to nearly 30 feet in length, is said to have found its way into the toilet via the building drain network in the Austrian city of Graz. The man had to be hospitalized for minor injuries. A reptile expert contacted by emergency services took the snake out of the toilet, cleaned it up, and returned it to its owner. Although the snake’s alleged route down the toilet could not be confirmed, it is believed to have escaped from a neighbor’s apartment. The 24-year-old neighbor, who possesses 11 non-venous constrictor snakes, was reported to the prosecutor’s office on suspicion of negligently causing bodily harm, police said. (FR 24 News)


Denver Zoo will start vaccinating animals for COVID-19 as early as next week

The Denver Zoo will start vaccinating some of its animals for COVID-19 as early as next week. Zoologists say they have yet to formulate a specific plan for which animals will be vaccinated first, but they are working with the veterinary vaccine company Zoetis to receive doses for its animals. “It’s very important to us to provide protection for our animals,” said the vice president of animal health at the Denver Zoo. “Our primates and carnivores will be at the top of the list.” (The Denver Channel)


US left Afghan airfield at night, didn’t tell new commander

The U.S. left Afghanistan’s Bagram Airfield after nearly 20 years by shutting off the electricity and slipping away in the night without notifying the base’s new Afghan commander, who discovered the Americans’ departure more than two hours after they left, Afghan military officials said. Afghanistan’s army showed off the sprawling air base recently, providing a rare first glimpse of what had been the epicenter of America’s war to unseat the Taliban and hunt down the al-Qaida perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks on America. The U.S. announced last week it had completely vacated its biggest airfield in the country in advance of a final withdrawal the Pentagon says will be completed by the end of August. (Associated Press)


New study indicates conspiracy theory believers have less developed critical thinking abilities

New research provides evidence that critical thinking skills are negatively related to belief in conspiracy theories. In other words, the study suggests that people with greater critical thinking skills are less likely to believe that terrorist attacks are being covertly directed by a country’s own government or that mind-control technology is secretly being used to control the population. In two studies, 338 undergraduate students completed a French version of the Ennis-Weir Critical Thinking Essay Test, which assessed their ability to understand an argument and formulate a written response to it. They also completed a questionnaire that assessed their general tendency to believe in conspiracy theories. In addition, the participants were asked if they thought there was a relationship between belief in conspiracy theories and critical thinking ability. The researchers found that those who scored lower on the test were more likely to agree with statements such as “Certain significant events have been the result of the activity of a small group who secretly manipulate world events” and “The power held by heads of state is second to that of small unknown groups who really control world politics.” The more people believe in conspiracy theories, the worse they perform on a critical thinking ability test. (PsyPost)


Researchers show cancer cells use a technique known as macropinocytosis to repair damage to the cell membrane

In both normal cells and cancer cells, the cell membrane acts as the skin of the cells. And damage to the membrane can be life threatening. The interior of cells is fluid, and if a hole is made in the membrane, the cell simply floats out and dies, a bit like a hole in a water balloon. Therefore, damage to the cell membrane must be repaired quickly, and now research from a team of Danish researchers shows that cancer cells use a technique called macropinocytosis. The technique, which is already a known tool for cells in other contexts, consists in the cancer cells pulling the intact cell membrane in over the damaged area and sealing the hole in a matter of minutes. Next, the damaged part of the cell membrane is separated into small spheres and transported to the cells’ lysosomes, where they are broken down. In the laboratory, the researchers damaged the membrane of the cancer cells using a laser that shoots small holes in the membrane and triggers macropinocytosis. Here, they can see that if the process is inhibited with substances blocking the formation of the small membrane spheres, the cancer cell can no longer repair the damage and dies. Researchers at the Danish Cancer Society have previously shown how cancer cells can use another technique to repair the membrane, namely by tying off the damaged part, rather like when a lizard throws its tail. (MedicalXpress)


Lower-wage sectors lead job gains

Lower-wage workers in restaurants and other hospitality businesses are feeling the effects of economic recovery, hiring and wage growth. About half of all payroll gains in June included new jobs at restaurants, hotels, stores and salons, according to the Labor Department. As consumers become more willing to travel, dine and shop, retailers and restaurants are offering higher wages and hiring bonuses to attract workers. Recent job growth in low-wage industries, expected to continue into the fall, brings them closer to fully recovering last year’s losses. (The Wall Street Journal)


Tech giants mull Hong Kong exit

A consortium of U.S. tech companies, including Google and Facebook, has warned it may exit Hong Kong should current data protection laws there change. The industry group representing these companies told the Hong Kong government that they are concerned the changes could make them liable for the malicious sharing of individuals’ information online, or so-called doxxing. The new rules could “put their staff at risk of criminal investigations or prosecutions related to what the firms’ users post online.” (Yahoo Finance)


Keystone XL owner seeks $15B from US

The operator of the now-defunct Keystone XL pipeline project, TC Energy, wants $15 billion from the U.S. government following the Biden administration’s decision to rescind its permit back in January. The energy company announced it filed a Notice of Intent with the State Department to initiate a legacy NAFTA claim, accusing the U.S. government of abandoning its obligations in the trade pact. TC Energy terminated the project last month, ending more than a decade of controversy and scoring a win for Indigenous communities and environmental groups. (The Globe And Mail)


Man finds ‘witch bottle’ with human tooth and hair while searching woods

A father-of-three exploring his local woods recently discovered an old artifact that he probably won’t be displaying in his home. Instead, he says he’s worried he may have stumbled upon an old curse. He found a pile of broken dishes in the woods near his home in England and decided to inspect it. He then found a bottle underneath which contained a human tooth, hair and a yellowish liquid that appeared to be urine. The top layer seemed to be from around 1900 to 1910 as there were some commemorative cups and things broken on the surface. On the latest visit, he found a blue poison bottle and a broken dolls head which was creepy in itself which dates to 1900. He continued digging away and this bottle came out. As he looked closer, a tooth slid up the bottle. When he began to research the item, however, he discovered that it may have a creepy history because it was a witch bottle and it was later confirmed to be it could date back to 1860. Items like this were apparently used to ward off evil spells and curses. Upon learning this, he decided that it wasn’t worth keeping the unusual find. (Fox News)


Pentagon cancels $10 billion cloud contract given to Microsoft over Amazon

The Department of Defense is canceling a controversial $10 billion cloud computing contract that had been awarded to Microsoft over Amazon under the Trump administration. It will instead seek new solicitations for an updated Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability (JWCC) contract from Amazon and Microsoft. The JEDI contract would have resulted in Microsoft building a cloud storage system for sensitive military data and technology, such as artificial intelligence, for the Department of Defense and could have resulted in revenue of up to $10 billion over 10 years. Microsoft winning the JEDI contract in 2019 over Amazon caused some controversy, surprising many industry experts who saw Amazon as the stronger candidate to win the contract. Amazon Web Services is widely viewed as the market leader in the cloud computing industry. (CNN)


Baby monitor records terrifying moments tree topples onto home, missing sleeping child

A baby monitor captured the terrifying moments a tree fell on top of a home Friday as rafters, debris and insulation rained down on a five-month old in his nursery. The baby was not hurt and the family said they are extremely grateful that mother nature spared their lives. The parents had just put the baby down for the night when the weather started getting bad. The couple recalled a terrifying noise a couple minutes later. Immediately they went to check on their son and when they rounded the corner in the hallway, they could see the tree in the hall. The dramatic moments captured on the baby monitor. Video shows them immediately scooping the baby to safety. As they reflect on the damage and how everyone walked away, they are eternally grateful the baby was okay. (WBRZ)


Chick-fil-A is America’s top fast food spot for 7th year straight

For the seventh year in a row, Chick-fil-A has earned the top accolades in the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) in the limited-service, a.k.a. fast food sector. The ACSI measures cleanliness, mobile app reliability, quality, staff helpfulness and more. According to its press release, Chick-fil-A secured the number one spot for the seventh consecutive year, even though their customer satisfaction score dropped by 1% from 2020 to 83. The industry standard customer satisfaction rating remained 78. Domino’s was the leader in pizza with a score of 80. KFC and Starbucks tied at 79, with Panera Bread, Pizza Hut, and ACSI list newcomer Five Guys scoring 78. Subway plummeted by 5% to 75, bridging the sandwich chain down toward the bottom of the annual list. The umbrella category of smaller full-service restaurants ranked first with a customer satisfaction rating up 1% to 81. LongHorn Steakhouse, Olive Garden, and Texas Roadhouse tied for second with a score of 80. (ACSI)


Wednesday “Hodl” On With:

  • Chocolate Day
  • Dive Bar Day
  • Father-Daughter Take A Walk Together Day
  • Macaroni Day
  • Strawberry Sundae Day
  • Tell The Truth Day
  • Victims of The Dallas, Texas Attack Day
  • World Forgiveness Day


Historical Events

  • 1534 – European colonization of the Americas: first known exchange between Europeans and natives of the Gulf of St. Lawrence in New Brunswick.
  • 1543 – French troops invade Luxembourg.
  • 1863 – United States begins its first military draft; exemptions cost $300.
  • 1892 – Katipunan: the Revolutionary Philippine Brotherhood is established, contributing to the fall of the Spanish Empire in Asia.
  • 1937 – Sino-Japanese War: Battle of Lugou Bridge – Japanese forces invade Beijing, China.
  • 1952 – The ocean liner SS United States passes Bishop’s Rock on her maiden voyage, breaking the transatlantic speed record to become the fastest passenger ship in the world.
  • 1953 – Ernesto “Che” Guevara sets out on a trip through Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, and El Salvador.
  • 1985 – Boris Becker becomes the youngest player ever to win Wimbledon at age 17
  • 1991 – Yugoslav Wars: the Brioni Agreement ends the ten-day independence war in Slovenia against the rest of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
  • 2005 – A series of four explosions occurs on London’s transport system killing 56 people including four alleged suicide bombers and injuring over 700 others.