Thursday, July 22, 2021

Norway fined for not wearing bikini bottoms at European beach handball competition

Norway has been fined almost $1800 dollars after their women’s beach handball team did not wear bikini bottoms at a European competition. Norway’s players wore shorts in their bronze medal match against Spain at the European Beach Handball Championship in Varna, Bulgaria, but the uniform violated the regulations of the International Handball Federation (IHF), which requires players to wear “fitted, low-cut bikini bottoms”. Earlier this week, the Disciplinary Committee of the European Handball Federation (EHF) fined the Norwegian team €150 per player, for violating international rules. The Norwegian Handball Federation (NHF) had stated that it was prepared to pay the penalty. Norwegian sports circles and commentators have expressed their outrage at the punishment. Players have previously stated that bikini bottoms are too degrading or impractical and Norway’s culture minister described the fine as “completely ridiculous”. Norway lost their bronze medal match against Spain 0-2. (Euro News)


Google Admits employees listen to conversations recorded by Google Assistant even without a user’s ‘Hey Google’ trigger

Google allegedly admitted to listening to conversations recorded by Google Assistant even without a user’s “Hey Google” trigger. The tech giant made the admission during a closed-door meeting with Indian government officials. The company admitted that its AI assistant will at times record audio on a smartphone or smart speaker even when it hasn’t been summoned. Google clarified how the assistant system works in a statement to Android Authority. “In standby mode, the device processes short snippets of audio (a few seconds) to detect an activation — like when you say, ‘Hey Google.’ If no activation is detected, then those audio snippets won’t be sent or saved to Google”, Google spokesperson clarified. The statement also noted that when the Assistant detects its wake word, “the recording can include a few seconds before you activate your Assistant to catch your request at the right time.” Google has previously admitted that employees listen to short recordings to improve language comprehension in its products. (The Sun)


NASA astronauts begin growing chili peppers aboard the International Space Station, testing whether plants with long germination and growing times can be harvested in space

Astronauts on the International Space Station are adding something spicy to their diet: red and green chile peppers. Chile peppers from Hatch, New Mexico, arrived at the station in June as a part of an experiment initiated by an astronaut who grew and ate “Outredgeous” red romaine lettuce in 2016. “It is one of the most complex plant experiments on the station to date because of the long germination and growing times,” according to a NASA news release. A team with the Kennedy Space Center’s Exploration Research and Technology programs planted the seeds in a science carrier that slots into a plant growth chamber, the Advanced Plant Habitat, on the orbiting laboratory where astronauts raise crops, according to NASA. (USA Today)


PG&E, the California-based utility company, said its equipment might have sparked one of the largest wildfires in California this year

PG&E Corp. said its equipment may have started the Dixie Fire that has charred more than 30,000 acres in Northern California. The California utility giant said a worker who was investigating a power outage near the area where the blaze started discovered two blown fuses and a “healthy green tree” leaning against a power line, with fire on the ground, according to an incident report filed Sunday with the California Public Utilities Commission. The blaze is one of the biggest in the state this year. It’s near the scar of the Camp Fire, which was started by PG&E equipment and destroyed the town of Paradise in 2018. State regulators put the company into an enhanced oversight process this year because of issues with its tree-trimming efforts. PG&E has been on probation since its 2016 conviction for safety violations stemming from a fatal gas-pipeline explosion in San Bruno in 2010. (Yahoo Finance)


Officials in Oregon are asking for help from outside the state to address an already explosive fire season

Most of Oregon’s firefighting network is currently dedicated to battling the Bootleg Fire, covering a 569-square-mile area in the southern part of the state. The Bootleg Fire, now 606 square miles in size, has ravaged southern Oregon and is the fourth-largest fire in the state’s modern history. It’s been expanding by up to 4 miles a day, pushed by gusting winds and critically dry weather that’s turned trees and undergrowth into a tinderbox. Severe dryness in combination with expected lightning threatens to start more fires, so Oregon is asking for fire engines and other aid from Alaska, Arkansas, Nevada, and other states. (Associated Press)


Taco Bell is facing a shortage of some food items

No specific ingredients were listed, though Taco Bell cited “national ingredient shortages and delivery delays” for an inability to “feed your current crave.” Supply chain issues have caused ingredient shortages in recent months at other fast-food restaurants, including KFC. Both Taco Bell and KFC are owned by Yum Brands. Individuals on social media are complaining that some Taco Bell locations have run out of chicken, beef, hot sauce, and tortillas. Earlier this spring, Yum Brands CEO highlighted the “general tightening in domestic chicken supply” as a challenge for the rollout of KFC’s new chicken sandwich. Tyson says a spring chicken shortage was due to high demand and underperforming roosters. Some Chick-fil-A locations limited the distribution of sauce packets in May, also citing “industry-wide supply chain disruptions.” (CNN)


Smartphones hit by chip shortage

The chip shortage has reached the smartphone industry, delaying production and shipments and raising prices on consumers. Mobile phone makers, like Samsung and Xiaomi, initially avoided the worst of the shortage due to stockpiles of semiconductors, but the supply chain crunch has diminished those reserves. The report comes as automakers are finally seeing the light at the end of the a shortage that hurt production and distorted U.S. inflation numbers. (Scoftware)


Face scans growing in stores

A growing number of stores are using (or considering using) facial recognition technology to track shoppers, sparking renewed debate about privacy. While the technology is primarily used for theft, it is being rolled out to track shopping habits, monitor employee productivity or send targeted ads to certain shoppers. Advocacy organizations are pushing back against their use on privacy grounds, while Portland, Oregon, has outright banned the use of facial recognition by government, retail, hotels and restaurants. (Axios)


Schools face another pandemic year

With a new school year looming, the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended everyone over the age of 2 wear a mask in classrooms, regardless of whether they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19. The group, which supports in-person learning, said the measure was needed because it was too hard to know who had been inoculated as new variants spread. Meanwhile, a federal judge upheld Indiana University’s requirement that students returning in the fall be vaccinated. (USA Today)


Vinyl Keeps Setting Records

Vinyl has become much more than just rarities to be bought and sold by music aficionados.  It has become a bona fide growth area for a music industry that finds itself in continual transition – just like the rest of the media business. While the entertainment industry mostly suffered throughout 2020, sales of vinyl records surged up an impressive 29%, contributing $626 million in sales. Vinyl is now outselling compact discs, impressive for a music format written off for dead not so many years ago. And if you still don’t believe in the power of retro, keep in mind audio cassettes had a great year as well. Astonishingly, there are now more than 400 additional record stores than when the business hit bottom several years ago. Another vestige of vinyl’s comeback in the sales of turntables. (Jacobs Media)


U.S. states ending federal unemployment benefit saw no clear job gains

Individual states within the United States putting an early end to federal unemployment benefits saw a larger jump in local labor supply in June than those planning to maintain the $300 weekly supplement until early September, according to new data. Although there was no clear sign it had led to significantly more hiring. State-level jobs data released earlier this month show that in the 26 states stopping benefits early an additional 174,000 people joined the labor force in June, by either taking jobs or beginning work searches, compared to 47,000 in the other states. (Reuters)


Summer rains bring ‘acid-squirting land lobster from hell’ in Texas

Big Bend National Park in Texas shared on their Facebook page earlier this week the news of how these acid spraying arachnids are being brought out of their burrows by summer rains and are in “search of food and love.” The National Park Service says the creatures are about three inches long and relatively unharmful unless you annoy them. They can pinch with their heavy mouth parts, also known as pedipalps, and can shoot a spray of 85% acetic acid (vinegar) from the base of their “whip” to protect themselves, the park says in their post. The park adds the Vinegaroons are nocturnal and can’t see very well. Female Vinegaroons can be seen sometimes carrying hatchlings on their back. “They hunt millipedes, scorpions, crickets, cockroaches, and other invertebrates by sensing vibrations with their long, thin front legs. Most commonly seen in the desert, this vinegaroon was taking a stroll around the Chisos Basin campground,” the post reads. (Big Bend National Park Facebook)


Child dies after apparently attempting TikTok challenge

Police in Bethany, Oklahoma are investigating the death of a 12-year-old child, who died after police said he apparently attempted the TikTok “Black Out” challenge. According to police, officers responded earlier this week to a report of an unresponsive child. Officers arrived and found the boy in the breezeway of an apartment building. They reported seeing ligature marks around his neck. He was taken to the University of Oklahoma Children’s Hospital and to following morning, police said he died from his injuries. According to police, detectives were called to the scene based on information received from family members. The preliminary investigation lead detectives to believe this incident was not a suicide attempt, but that of a TikTok Challenge known as the “Black Out” Challenge. “The loss of a loved one is very traumatic to all and our condolences go out to the family. We would like to warn parents to stay involved with their children and take the time to look what they are doing on social media. Now more than ever due to the lockdowns, kids are bored and looking to occupy their time. Social media is a very influential part of a child’s life and should be heavily scrutinized by parents,” police officials said in the news release. The investigation is ongoing. (Fox 23)


Thursday Gets Knocked Out With:

  • Casual Pi Day
  • Hammock Day
  • Fragile X Awareness Day
  • Mango Day
  • Penuche Fudge Day
  • Refreshment Day (4th Thursday)
  • Rat-catchers Day
  • Spooners (Spoonerism) Day


Historical Events

  • 1484 – Battle of Lochmaben Fair – A 500-man raiding party led by Alexander Stewart, Duke of Albany and James Douglas, 9th Earl of Douglas are defeated by Scots forces loyal to Albany’s brother James III of Scotland; Douglas is captured.
  • 1499 – Battle of Dornach – The Swiss decisively defeat the Imperial army of Emperor Maximilian I.
  • 1706 – The Acts of Union 1707 are agreed upon by commissioners from the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland, which, when passed by each countries’ Parliaments, lead to the creation of the Kingdom of Great Britain.
  • 1796 – Surveyors of the Connecticut Land Company name an area in Ohio “Cleveland” after Gen. Moses Cleaveland, the superintendent of the surveying party.
  • 1864 – American Civil War: Battle of Atlanta – outside Atlanta, Georgia, Confederate General John Bell Hood leads an unsuccessful attack on Union troops under General William T. Sherman on Bald Hill.
  • 1916 – In San Francisco, California, a bomb explodes on Market Street during a Preparedness Day parade killing 10 and injuring 40.
  • 1976 – Japan completes its last reparation to the Philippines for war crimes committed during the imperial Japan’s conquest of the country in the Second World War
  • 1983 – Martial law in Poland is officially revoked.
  • 1992 – Near Medellín, Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar escapes from his luxury prison fearing extradition to the United States.
  • 2005 – Jean Charles de Menezes is killed by police as the hunt begins for the London Bombers responsible for the 7 July 2005 London bombings and the 21 July 2005 London bombings.