Monday, July 19, 2021

A female sailor became the first woman ever to complete a U.S. Navy special warfare training program

The woman was one of 17 troops to successfully finish the 37-week selection process to become a Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewman (SWCC). The Navy did not identify the sailor, as is policy for all special forces graduates. Approximately 300 sailors attempt the SWCC course per year, and 70 (23%) finish it. The program ends in a 72-hour event called “The Tour,” which entails 23 hours of running and 5 miles of swimming. The woman is the first to succeed out of 18 who have tried out for the SWCC or SEAL forces since women became eligible five years ago. 14 of the women failed, while three are still in training. (CBS News)


Rest of World published a report looking at six tech hubs worldwide modeled after Silicon Valley

The report comes as Silicon Valley’s “grip on superiority” slips in light of new visa regulations, expensive hiring costs, and more competitive tech hubs worldwide. Other places that seem to be moving up on the list: Lagos, Recife, Bengaluru, Shenzhen, Tel Aviv, and Medellín. 77 people per hour move from other parts of Nigeria to Lagos, home to Africa’s largest e-commerce company, Jumia. In 2000, Brazil created Porto Digital to run Recife’s tech hub. In 2019, it generated $430 Million Dollars in tech and AI revenue. Bengaluru has transformed from an outsourcing hub to a start-up city, birthing 14 unicorns and 64 “soonicorns.” Shenzhen, the world’s hardware capital, transitioned from a town of 30,000 people in 1979 to a metropolis of 13 million people in 2021. In 2019, Israeli tech companies had exits worth $21.7 Billion Dollars. Medellín has attracted 379 tech companies over the past six years, including AI Fund and Skillshare. (Rest Of World)


Virginia will invest $700M in grant funding to roll out statewide broadband by 2024

Spurred by a pandemic-induced move to remote work, Governor Ralph Northam said over 233,000 homes and businesses would gain broadband access. In July, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said small businesses need more bandwidth to operate and called for the FCC to increase its minimum broadband speed standards. Since 2015, The FCC has maintained minimum broadband speeds of 25 megabits/second download and three megabits/second upload. Northam said Virginia would roll out “much higher” broadband speeds than the FCC’s minimum standards. (The Verge)


Impossible Foods will launch plant-based chicken nuggets this fall

Its competitor, Beyond Meat, launched its “chicken tender” recently. Impossible’s nuggets will use textured soy protein and sunflower oil. Impossible was founded in 2011, but in July 2016, it launched its Impossible Burger at David Chang’s Momofuku Nishi in New York. In 2019, Impossible partnered with Burger King to sell Impossible Whoppers nationwide. In 2020, Impossible’s plant- based sausage began selling at restaurants including Burger King and Starbucks. Impossible Foods has raised $1.5 Billion Dollars in funding over 12 rounds. (Bloomberg)


Digital nomads need more attention

The number of digital nomads, mobile workers often working from far flung corners of the globe, have skyrocketed during the pandemic. Researchers say there is an increase in these types of workers and a growing interest in this lifestyle should encourage companies to create formal policies and infrastructure to support them. (Harvard Business Review)


A win for four-day workweeks

Iceland’s trial of shorter workweeks has been hailed an “overwhelming success,” with 86% of workers now either on shorter hour contracts or in positions to negotiate. The trial cut work weeks down from 40 hours to between 35 and 36 hour-weeks, with no pay reductions, across a range of occupations. The findings indicated that reducing work hours actually maintained or increased productivity and improved well-being and work-life balance. (CNBC)


Put your restless nights to bed

While the past year of the pandemic proved traumatic to even the most impregnable of psyches, it did a number on our sleep patterns, as well. Sleep experts warn we may be in store for an “epidemic of chronic insomnia” after the pandemic, or what they’re calling “coronasomnia.” We are instinctually programmed to not sleep when we are threatened, so it’s no wonder many of us are struggling to catch a healthy number of ZZZs. Here’s what they recommend:

  • Good sleep is about structure (i.e. get up at the same time every day),
  • Go to bed later if you wake up frequently in the middle of the night,
  • Implement a “no gadgets” rule for the bedroom, 
  • And no napping.

(Los Angeles Times)


Is cash a thing of the past?

According to a recent survey, the share of consumers who used cash at least once a month dropped to 74.7% in 2020, from 82.4% in 2019. This trend, largely influenced by the safety of not carrying cash, the convenience of digital transactions, and its sanitary nature, is igniting conversations at the Federal Reserve around the need for a competitive alternative. Though U.S. officials are still weighing the costs and benefits of creating their own central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) to combat the issue, many governments have already begun the process. (Atlanta Fed)


Companies plan for smaller workforces

With recruiters bemoaning staffing shortages for roles suited to highly paid professionals and low-wage service workers, millions of workers are actually struggling to land a job that suits their skills, experience or location. Many will also find that the jobs they lost amid the pandemic may disappear forever. Companies are looking to AI, automation and “other labor-saving steps” so they are able to plan for the future with “a permanently smaller workforce.” (The Wall Street Journal)


A new way to find cancer early

Researchers at MIT have developed a way to identify cancer and its location in the body, and it all begins with a simple urine test. The research team developed a nanoparticle that produces specific biomarkers in a patient’s urine that indicate cancer in the body. The nanoparticle is coated with a peptide that will light up in parts of the body that contain cancer, allowing doctors to identify the precise spot of the cancer using PET imaging. This testing method has been successfully trialed in mice. If it works with humans, it could turn cancer screening into a routine part of a doctor’s visit, increasing the likelihood of early detection. (MIT News)


Drug-dealers are targeting middle-class users with ‘ethically sourced’ cocaine to ‘suit their vegan, organic’ lifestyle

Drug dealers have been targeting middle-class users with ‘ethically sourced’ cocaine marketed at about $275 dollars per gram. Wealthy users are shelling out a fortune for the upmarket sniff to suit their ‘vegan, organic’ lifestyle. Britons have reportedly been behind a rise in demand for the ethically sourced drugs, which have been dubbed ‘woke coke’. The product is sold with tags including ‘environmentally friendly’ and ‘ethically sourced’, with promises it is produced by well-paid farmers, but experts have warned that there is nothing to back these claims and they are simply a ‘very clever’ marketing ploy that is encouraging users to pay through the nose for the illicit substances. Drug policy experts called the move a ‘woke coke con’ and remind people there is no way to produce environmentally friendly or ethically sourced cocaine when the market is unregulated. It is estimated that at least 9% of the 3.2million people in England and Wales has taken a drug in the past year, according to the most recent data published in a government report last year. Among young people the figure is even higher, with the figures suggesting almost a one in five young adults aged 16 to 24 have taken an illicit substance in the previous 12 months.  These users contribute to a booming market in the UK, with People in England and Wales spending an estimated $13 Billion dollars in illicit drugs annually, according to the government’s review. (Daily Mail)


Brooklyn man robbed twice after falling asleep in front of his building

A man who fell asleep outside of his Brooklyn apartment building was robbed, not once but twice. The NYPD says it happened outside the 32-year-old man’s apartment building. The man fell asleep on his front stoop and a short time later a dark-skinned man approached him and took his messenger bag that contained a laptop. A very short time later, a Hispanic man approached the victim and took his phone and wallet from his pants pocket. Among the items inside the victim’s wallet were a debit card and a credit card. That man used the victim’s debit card to make unauthorized purchases at a store a short time later. Police have not made any arrests.  They released a photo of the man who is accused of taking the wallet from when he used the debit card. (Fox 5 New York)


Spain porn star held after man dies in toad venom ritual

A porn star has been arrested on manslaughter charges following a man’s death during a mystic ritual in which he inhaled psychedelic toad venom, Spanish police said. Nacho Vidal was detained in connection with the death of a man in July 2019. The police operation began following the victim’s death during the celebration of a mystic ritual based on the inhalation of venom of the bufo alvarius toad. The toad, a rare species which is native to the Sonoran Desert, stretching from northern Mexico into California and Arizona, secretes venom containing a very powerful natural psychedelic substance known as 5-MeO-DMT. Its effects have been compared to ayahuasca, a powerful hallucinogenic concoction from the Amazon consumed as part of a shamanic ritual. Following an 11-month inquiry, police arrested the porn star along with one of his relatives and an employee on suspicion of manslaughter and crimes against public health. Investigators said they had discovered such rituals were being carried regularly on grounds they offered medicinal benefits. But in reality, this “apparently harmless ancestral ritual” posed a “serious health risk”, luring people who were “easily influenced, vulnerable or who were seeking help for illnesses or addictions using alternative methods”. (Yahoo Finance)


Monday Arrives With:

  • Daiquiri Day
  • Global Hug Your Kid Day (Third Monday)
  • Get Out of the Doghouse Day (Third Monday)
  • Words With Friends Day


Historical Events

  • 390 BCE – Roman-Gaulish Wars: Battle of the Allia – a Roman army is defeated by raiding Gauls, leading to the subsequent sacking of Rome.
  • 1812 – The Treaties of Orebro end both the Anglo-Russian and Anglo-Swedish Wars.
  • 1870 – The First Vatican Council decrees the dogma of papal infallibility.
  • 1942 – World War II: the Germans test fly the Messerschmitt Me-262 using only its jet engines for the first time.
  • 1969 – After a party on Chappaquiddick Island, Senator Ted Kennedy from Massachusetts drives an Oldsmobile off a bridge and his passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne, dies.
  • 1976 – Nadia Comăneci became the first person in Olympic Games history to score a perfect 10 in gymnastics at the 1976 Summer Olympics.
  • 1994 – The bombing of the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (Argentinian Jewish Communal Center) in Buenos Aires kills 85 people (mostly Jewish) and injures 300.
  • 1995 – On the Caribbean island of Montserrat, the Soufriere Hills volcano erupts. Over the course of several years, it devastates the island, destroying the capital and forcing most of the population to flee.
  • 1996 – Battle of Mullaitivu. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam capture the Sri Lanka Army’s base, killing over 1200 Army soldiers.
  • 1996 – Storms provoke severe flooding on the Saguenay River, beginning one of Quebec’s costliest natural disasters ever.