Monday, July 26, 2021

China has rejected a plan from the World Health Organization (WHO) to further examine a Wuhan laboratory as part of its investigation into the origins of the coronavirus

Chinese officials on Thursday rejected a World Health Organization proposal for next steps in the search for the origins of the coronavirus, deepening questions about if and how the roots of the pandemic will be fully investigated and complicating a standoff among the WHO, China and the United States. Senior Chinese health officials and politicians said they were “shocked and offended” at the WHO’s investigation plan and would not agree to welcome a new investigation at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. China says the WHO should focus on investigating natural transmission and the possibility that the virus originated outside of China. (The Washington Post)


New unemployment claims rose, though the number of Americans receiving continuous jobless payments dropped to its lowest level since early in the pandemic

New jobless claims rose to 419,000 from 368,000, bringing the four-week moving average up to 385,250. Meanwhile, the number of people receiving some form of unemployment benefit dropped to 12.6 million, reflecting the end of enhanced benefits in Texas and other states. The biggest increase in new claims came in Michigan, where a global semiconductor chip shortage has disrupted automobile production. Despite the uptick in new jobless claims, economists still see an expanding economy. Sales of existing homes rose by 1.4% in June, rebounding from a four-month dip. (Reuters)


The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) voted unanimously to enforce Right to Repair laws

The new rules will prevent companies from restricting the ability of individuals to repair products they’ve purchased. Corporations like Apple and Microsoft have frequently withheld parts and schematics that would enable people or shops to repair their products. The new rules, the result of bipartisan agreement, will force companies to make those products and instructions available for their customers. However, some large manufacturers say encouraging individuals or technicians to make repairs could endanger them or make products less secure. (Wired)


The NFL has released new rules for its upcoming season, charging teams with a loss if they have a COVID-19 outbreak that forces a game to be canceled

The NFL said any team with unvaccinated players causing a canceled game will not only forfeit the game, but will also be on the hook for financial losses and potential discipline from the league commissioner. The memo appears to be an attempt to encourage teams to reach the 85% vaccinated threshold, after which some COVID-19 protocols are set to be loosened. If a game is canceled due to COVID-19, players from both teams will not be paid. So far, 14 of the NFL’s 32 teams have had at least 85% of their players vaccinated. NFL players who remain unvaccinated will be tested daily, be required to wear masks at all team facilities, and will need to self-quarantine after a possible COVID-19 exposure. Some NFL players have been hesitant to get vaccinated. Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley said he would retire if the NFL mandated inoculations. The upcoming NFL season begins on Thursday, September 9th. (Washington Examiner)


A man in Alaska was rescued after being attacked by a grizzly bear

The man had been alone at a mining camp when a bear suddenly attacked him and dragged him to a river. The bear returned and continued attacking the man, who is reported to be in his 50s or 60s, over the course of several days. He was spotted by the pilot of a coast guard helicopter that had previously adjusted its course to avoid clouds. The chopper spotted the man’s distress and swiftly landed to find him with a bandaged leg and waving a white flag of some kind. The door of his tin shack had also been torn off. The man was waving for help, having written “SOS” and “Help me” on the roof of his shack. The helicopter was on its way from Kotzebue to Nome on a mission to take some scientists to search for dead whales, walruses and seals along the coast. The man is now recovering from his ordeal. (The Guardian)


Cleveland’s Major League Baseball team announced it is changing its name from the Indians to the Guardians

The announcement was made on social media, in a video narrated by Tom Hanks. The Guardians name will take effect after the 2021 season, which concludes in October. The team reportedly considered more than 1,200 different names before settling on Guardians in recent weeks. The owner teams owner, Paul Dolan, said the racial and social reckoning of the summer of 2020 inspired him to change the name of the team, which has seen backlash from Native American groups for decades. The team’s Chief Wahoo logo was retired from games in 2018, though fans can still purchase merchandise featuring the character. Cleveland also unveiled a new logo for the Guardians, a baseball bookended by winged G’s. (ESPN)


A pilot program in New York City that sent social workers to respond to 911 calls for mental health crises appears to have increased the percentage of people accepting help

According to initial data, in its first month of operations in Harlem, the Behavioral Health Emergency Assistance Response Division (B-HEARD) was deployed instead of police officers to 110 calls of individuals suffering a mental health crisis where there was no weapon involved. The program was found to decrease unnecessary hospital visits and individuals accepted assistance 95% of the time, compared to 82% of the time under the previous model. The program appears to be working in tandem with the NYPD, as officers have called for a B-HEARD team 14 times in the last month when police services were found to be unnecessary. The city plans to expand the use of B-HEARD teams to respond to half of all mental health calls in Harlem. (NBC New York)


General Motors has initiated a second recall of its Chevrolet Bolt over a potential fire hazard caused by a battery defect

So far, eight fires have been documented, including one that occurred in a vehicle that had already received a software update following a previous recall. Those who own 2017-2019 model year Bolts are being asked to keep the vehicles charged at a specific level and to park them outside following a charge. GM’s last recall of the Chevy Bolt covered 69,000 vehicles and involved an update to limit its charging capacity. Two injuries, but no deaths, have been reported in relation to the fires. GM has not announced a specific solution to the issues but said cars would undergo battery hardware changes. (Market Watch)


A federal appeals court said the CDC didn’t have the authority to impose a national eviction moratorium

It was first imposed in September 2020 as one of several measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, and it was extended three times. It’s unknown what impact the ruling will have as the moratorium expires on July 31st. In June, the CDC extended it for the final time. That same month, the Supreme Court rejected an appeal to lift the moratorium despite a group of landlords claiming that it was costing property owners $13 Billion dollars a month. Congress has approved $46.5 Billion dollars of assistance for landlords as part of multiple stimulus packages. However, only $3 Billion dollars (6.5%) has been distributed as landlords have accused state and local governments of establishing lengthy and complicated application processes. Over three million of the 11.5 million Americans currently behind on rent could be evicted in the next two months, according to a recent Census survey. (The Hill)


The World Heritage Committee voted against designating the Great Barrier Reef as “in danger” 

The Australian government had lobbied against the designation citing a $2.2B conservation effort it’s undertaking. UNESCO was in favor of the label, arguing the reef is vulnerable to climate change. The reef would have lost its status as a World Heritage Site if it was classified as “in danger” and Australia didn’t implement sufficient conservation measures. The reef contributes the equivalent of $6.4 Billion dollars annually to Australia’s economy and has created 64,000 jobs. More than 1,600 species of fish and 600 types of coral are located in the reef, which covers 133,000 square miles. The World Heritage Committee will hold another meeting in 2023 to determine the reef’s status. (The Guardian)


FBI Sued for $100 Million by Former Drug Dealer

A former convicted drug dealer and FBI informant has filed a $100 million lawsuit against the Detroit, Michigan Police Department and several retired FBI agents for allegedly coercing him into helping officials when he was just 17-years-old. The man filed a lawsuit alleging that he was pressured by local police and federal agents to be an informant, repeatedly sending him into drug operations before abandoning him once he faced legal consequences. He served 32 years in a Michigan prison for his 1987 drug trafficking crime before he was released in 2017. He then spent time in prison in the state of Florida for an unrelated crime. He was the youngest FBI informant in the history of the United States, according to his legal team. His life inspired the 2018 film “White Boy Rick,” featuring Matthew McConaughey and Richie Merritt. The movie’s title was a reference to the man’s childhood nickname, which he despised. (Associated Press)


Productivity hacks 101

If you’re one of those people who wishes there were 25 hours in a day, or maybe you suffer from “pandemic brain,” i.e. you’re always distracted. Researchers say there are some easy steps to rock you out of any productivity slump. For starters:

  • You have to count on yourself, not other people, to be more productive;
  • Be clear about what you want;
  • Assert your needs;
  • Make sure you’re getting enough sleep;
  • Be “intentional” about your breaks;
  • Know when to say “No”.

(Fast Company)


‘About your resume …’ (4 years later)

There’s ghosting in the job world, and then there’s ghosting and inviting someone for an interview years later. That’s the theme of a recent report, which highlighted a number of people who were contacted by places like McDonald’s and Cheesecake Factory two to four years after applying for jobs. White Castle said it reached out to over half a million applicants dating as far back as 2017 with current job leads and 32,000 responded with interest. (The Wall Street Journal


Monday Slashed Back The Weekend With:

  • All or Nothing Day
  • Americans With Disabilities Day
  • Armed Forces Unification Day
  • Aunt and Uncle’s Day
  • Bagelfest Day
  • Coffee Milkshake Day
  • Disability Independence Day
  • International Day For The Conservation Of The Mangrove Ecosystem
  • One Voice


Historical Events

  • 1469 – Wars of the Roses: the Battle of Edgecote Moor pitting the forces of Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick against those of Edward IV of England takes place.
  • 1581 – Plakkaat van Verlatinghe (Act of Abjuration): the northern Low Countries declare their independence from the Spanish king, Philip II.
  • 1803 – The Surrey Iron Railway, arguably the world’s first public railway, opens in south London.
  • 1861 – American Civil War: George B. McClellan assumes command of the Army of the Potomac following a disastrous Union defeat at the First Battle of Bull Run.
  • 1882 – The Republic of Stellaland is founded in Southern Africa.
  • 1941 – World War II: in response to the Japanese occupation of French Indo-China, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt orders the seizure of all Japanese assets in the United States.
  • 1945 – The Potsdam Declaration is signed in Potsdam, Germany.
  • 1946 – Aloha Airlines begins service from Honolulu International Airport
  • 1963 – Syncom 2, the world’s first geosynchronous satellite, is launched from Cape Canaveral on a Delta B booster.
  • 1977 – The National Assembly of Quebec imposes the use of French as the official language of the provincial government.