Archive for September 17th, 2019

Russian lab holding smallpox virus EXPLODES – TweakTown

September 17th, 2019

The word explosion is not what you want to hear when you read news about the smallpox virus, but an explosion has rocked Russia’s State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology on Monday.


The facility is only one of two places on the planet that actually houses live smallpox samples on-hand, so an explosion has officials concerned. Russian news agency TASS reports that the explosion and post-explosion fire were caused during “routine maintenance” of the facility.

No hazardous pathogens were released, if you trust Russia that is, while one worker at the facility was injured in the explosion and is at a local hospital getting treated for burns.

No biohazard materials were released in the explosion at the facility otherwise known as VECTOR, with the explosion shattering glass throughout the building. TASS reports that there was no damage caused to the concrete-reinforced structure.

The only other lab in the world that hosts the live smallpox virus is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US, which USA Today reports “was inspected by the World Health Organization in 2016 and was found to meet international levels of biosafety and biosecurity for its smallpox research and storage but inspectors ‘requested further work on some issues.’


One in 16 US women forced into first sexual encounter, says study – Malay Mail

September 17th, 2019
Women physically restrained during their first sexual encounter are more likely to develop endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease or problems with ovulating or menstruation. — gpointstudio/ pic via AFP
Women physically restrained during their first sexual encounter are more likely to develop endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease or problems with ovulating or menstruation. — gpointstudio/ pic via AFP

WASHINGTON, Sept 18 — One in 16 American women were either forced or coerced into their first sexual encounter, according to a study investigating the long-term negative impacts of such “trauma” on women’s health.

In the US, “the #MeToo movement has highlighted how frequently women experience sexual violence,” the researchers wrote in the introduction.

“However, to date, no recent studies have assessed the prevalence of forced sex during girls’ and women’s first sexual encounter or its health consequences.”

Published Monday in the American Medical Association’s peer-reviewed journal (Jama Internal Medicine), the study is based on a sample of more than 13,000 women aged 18 to 44, who were interviewed as part of a survey conducted between 2011 and 2017 by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

About 6.5 per cent of women were either forced or coerced into their first sexual encounter. Extrapolated out to account for the US population (327 million), this number works out to approximately 3.3 million women in that age group, the authors note.

That equals one in 16 women.

The women surveyed said they were submitted to multiple forms of coercion: 56.4 per cent said they experienced verbal pressure, 46.3 per cent said they were held down, 25.1 per cent were physically harmed, 22 per cent were forced to consume alcohol or a drug, and 16 per cent said their partners threatened to end the relationship.

Forced “sexual initiation,” the study said, was reported by women of all ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds.

There is a higher risk for black women, women who were born outside the US, low-income women and women with lower levels of education.

The main difference between women who consented to their first sexual encounter and those who were coerced is linked to age: On average, women who were coerced were closer to 15 years old, while women who consented were 17 years old.

For women who had been coerced, their male partners were also much older — 27 years old, versus 21 years old in couples where the woman had consented.

The study also showed that “forced sexual initiation appeared to be associated with multiple adverse reproductive, gynecologic and general health outcomes.”

Women who had been physically restrained during their first sexual encounter were subsequently more likely than women who consented to have unwanted pregnancies or abortions.

They were also more likely to develop endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease or problems with ovulating or menstruation.

Their general health was also worse, with a higher likelihood of drug use and mental health issues, the researchers said, adding that their research points to a need for public health strategies to prevent sexual violence.

The study never used the word “rape,” although some of the situations addressed in the study seem to meet the criminal definition of the term. — AFP-Relaxnews


Popular podcast app Pocket Casts is now available for free – Engadget

September 17th, 2019

Downton Abbey is listing on Airbnb for $187 — for one night only – CNBC

September 17th, 2019

Fans of hit TV series Downton Abbey now have the opportunity to live like a “Lord or Lady” for a night at the prestigious stately home.

To mark the release of the “Downton Abbey” movie, the owners of Highclere Castle — the set of the BBC’s iconic period drama — have listed their home on Airbnb at a rate of £150 (approx. $187).

In a one-night-only listing, Earl and Lady Carnarvon are inviting one lucky couple to “live like royalty” at their 100,000-square-foot, 300-room estate in Hampshire, England.

The chosen pair will be invited to share dinner with the Earl and Countess in the state dining room, followed by coffee in the library. They will then retire to one of the gallery bedrooms with views overlooking 1,000 acres of parkland.

Aerial photograph of Highclere Castle, the offical residence of the Earl of Carnarvon on April 07, 2015.

David Goddard | Getty Images

Before departing the next day, they will o receive a tour of the grounds and a “special gift” to enjoy a “little bit of Highclere Castle at home.”

The selected couple will need to successfully convince the Lord and Lady in a written application that they are “passionate about Downton Abbey.” Only applicants with a verified Airbnb profile and positive reviews will be considered.

Applications open on October 1, with the stay set for November 26.

Highclere Castle, which is already open to the public on select days of the year, has been in the Carnarvon family since 1679.

Over the years, it has been used as a location for various films and TV shows, including John Legend’s 2006 music video for “Heaven.” The property rose to new acclaim in 2010 as the home of the Crawley family in Downton Abbey.

The “Downton Abbey” movie opened in the U.K. last week and will hit U.S. cinemas Friday.

Highclere Castle, is pictured in Highclere, southern England, on May 12, 2016.

NIKLAS HALLE’N | AFP | Getty Images


Caught up in school scandal – World News –

September 17th, 2019

A woman accused of paying $400,000 to get her son into the University of California, Los Angeles, as a fake soccer recruit has become the 52nd person charged in a sweeping college admissions bribery scheme, according to an indictment unsealed Tuesday.

Xiaoning Sui, 48, of Surrey, was charged with a single count of conspiracy and fraud in the indictment unsealed in Boston’s federal court. Authorities say she was arrested in Spain on Monday night and was being held there while they seek to extradite her to the United States.

Sui is the first person to be charged since June, when parent Jeffrey Bizzack pleaded guilty to paying $250,000 to get his son into the University of Southern California as a fake athlete. Dozens of others were charged in March when authorities announced the investigation.

It was not immediately clear whether Sui had an attorney to speak for her.

She is the second person from B.C. to be charged in the investigation.

Prosecutors say Sui paid $400,000 to a sham charity operated by admissions consultant William “Rick” Singer as part of an alleged scheme to have her son admitted to UCLA as a fake soccer recruit. Sui is accused of providing Singer her son’s transcript and photos of him playing tennis.

Singer worked with Laura Janke, a former assistant soccer coach at USC, to fabricate an athletic profile depicting Sui’s son as a top player on two private soccer clubs in Canada, prosecutors said. Both Singer and Janke have pleaded guilty.

Sui’s son was admitted to UCLA as a soccer player in November 2018, authorities say, and was awarded a 25 per cent scholarship.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

The case was outlined in a March indictment against former UCLA soccer coach Jorge Salcedo that didn’t identify Sui by name. The document said only that Salcedo accepted $200,000 to help two of Singer’s clients get their children admitted as soccer recruits, including one in October 2018. Salcedo has pleaded not guilty.

A statement from UCLA says it took “immediate corrective action” after the March indictment was released. The school said privacy laws prevent it from discussing specific cases, but officials are “not aware of any currently enrolled student-athletes who are under suspicion” by the Justice Department.

The alleged bribe ranks among the highest in the scheme. Some other parents are accused of making payments of up to $500,000, and some pursued the scheme multiple times, prosecutors say, with payments totalling up to $1.2 million.

Prosecutors did not explain why Sui was not part of the original group of parents charged. Court documents show Sui’s indictment was filed in March but remained under seal until Tuesday.

In April, a Vancouver businessman pleaded not guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering after he was charged in the investigation.

David Sidoo’s lawyer, Richard Schoenfeld, said at the time the plea was entered in writing after an indictment from the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts accused him of wiring about $100,000 in January 2013 from an account in Canada to an account in California.

The indictment alleges the money was in the name of college-prep company The Key, and meant to be in exchange for admissions consultant’s facilitation of an alleged SAT cheating scheme for Sidoo’s younger son.

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Coral color Pixel 4 officially outed on huge Times Square billboard – TechRadar

September 17th, 2019

We’ve seen numerous Google Pixel 4 leaks over the last few weeks, including some incredibly convincing photos showing off the upcoming handset in a new (and rather eye-catching) orange color option allegedly dubbed ‘coral’.

Now, the teasing is finally over, with Google confirming the new orange shade (with black accents) in a massive billboard in New York’s Times Square, as photographed by Reddit user LousyTX and reported on by 9to5Google.

Aside from revealing that the new orange color is real, the billboard is pretty light on details (there’s no mention of the name ‘coral’, for instance). 

However, it does let people know to “set a reminder for October 15”, which was confirmed as the Pixel 4’s launch date yesterday. 

Along with the expected Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL models, there has been evidence to suggest that Google will launch a total of four new smartphones this year. 

It’s probably safe to assume that Google will launch a Pixel 4a alongside the Pixel 4, while the fourth phone may very well be the rumored Pixel 4 XL 5G, which is expected to be the company’s most powerful handset to date – we’ll know for sure on October 15.

Android, Apache, bioinformatics, bitcoin mining, computers, Employment, ethereum mining, Linux, Marketing, Microsoft, skype, smartphone, software, tablet, TV, Video, visualizations

‘America’s Got Talent’ Finals: Simon Cowell Calls Kodi Lee’s Performance the ‘Most Beautiful’ He’s Ever Heard – Entertainment Tonight

September 17th, 2019

‘America’s Got Talent’ Finals: Simon Cowell Calls Kodi Lee’s Performance the ‘Most Beautiful’ He’s Ever Heard | Entertainment Tonight

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From Hobbiton to Mordor – stunning locations last time New Zealand was Middle-earth –

September 17th, 2019

New Zealand is getting another timely economic boost thanks to the brilliant creative mind of JRR Tolkien and his world of hobbits, elves, dwarves, orcs, men, wizards, and giant eagles that show at absolutely crucial moments.

Last time, director Peter Jackson made The Lord of the Rings into three movies – based on Tolkien’s original three-book structure – released between 2001 and 2003.

Edoras, the capital of the horse riding people of Rohan, was set majestically overlooking the upper reaches of the Rangitata River in South Canterbury, the Battle of the Pelennor Fields was fought in open country near Twizel, and Hobbiton, of course, was built on a farm near Matamata, in Waikato.

The new television series will be set in a time before The Lord of the Rings movies, so many of the characters from the films won't be around. But Gandalf is very old.

James Fisher/Warner Bros. Pictu

The new television series will be set in a time before The Lord of the Rings movies, so many of the characters from the films won’t be around. But Gandalf is very old.

In Wellington, sets for the great city of Minas Tirith, and for Helm’s Deep – both settings for crucial battles – were built in a quarry in the Hutt Valley.

Lord of The Rings TV series: What we know so far
Amazon’s The Lord of The Rings TV series to start filming in Auckland
Lord of the Rings TV series: Potential filming locations in Auckland

This time round Amazon Studios is making a $1.3 billion television series. Pre-production has started, filming will begin in Auckland, and the series is expected to premiere in 2021.

Amazon isn’t releasing many details yet, so while we wait here’s a chance to reminisce about the warm glow that settled on New Zealand the last time the country fell under the sway of the “One Ring to rule them all”.

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’Jersey Shore’ star turned EMT Angelina Pivarnick sues city, says EMS lieutenant groped her, begged for sex – New York Daily News

September 17th, 2019

Pivarnick, a 33-year-old New Jersey resident, alleges one of her supervisors peppered her with lewd sexual remarks, while another repeatedly made unwanted sexual advances and groped her, texting her right after, “That a**! If you only knew the thoughts in my mind.”


Cycle of panic & death: Humankind totally not ready for global pandemic, emergency preparedness group warns – RT

September 17th, 2019

A sudden lethal pandemic could wipe out tens of millions of people, destroy the world’s economies, and leave humanity in chaos, according to a new report from an emergency preparedness body that isn’t alarmist in the slightest.

Citing a reactionary “cycle of panic and neglect” in which health emergencies are dealt with as they arise, rather than before they start, the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board – an entity formed last year by the World Bank and the World Health Organization – has called for immediate and massive investment in emergency preparedness systems in its first-ever report, titled “A World At Risk.”

The world is not prepared for a fast-moving, virulent respiratory pathogen pandemic,” the report, posted on Tuesday, warns, claiming that such a crisis would kill off 50 to 80 million people – 2.8 percent of the population – ravage the global economy and trade, and “destabilize national security.” Countries must “be prepared for the worst,” if they want to avoid getting crushed by the next pandemic.

Also on Blast & fire hits major virus lab in Russia, where HIV, Ebola & anthrax strains are stored

The other six “urgent actions” governments are advised to take mostly consist of throwing money at the problem, according to the report. “Heads of government must commit and invest,” “countries and regional organizations must lead by example” (so that reluctant and/or poor countries are persuaded to commit and invest), “all countries must build strong systems” with those investments, “financial institutions must link preparedness with financial risk planning” i.e. budget for spending lots of money on preparedness, “development assistance funders must create incentives and increase funding for preparedness,” and “the UN must strengthen coordination mechanisms” so the money gets to the right place.

The report repeatedly reminds countries that they’ve adopted the International Health Regulations, a binding 2005 agreement that already requires them to report any “public health emergency of international concern” to the WHO and step up their domestic preparedness infrastructure, and lambastes them for not implementing those regulations to satisfaction. Epidemics, it reminds these wayward nations, have a nasty tendency to exceed national borders – especially when “countries, terrorist groups, or scientifically advanced individuals create or obtain and then use biological weapons that have the characteristics of a novel, high-impact respiratory pathogen.”

Also on Smallpox bioterrorist attack could devastate planet for 10 years

Amid all this fearmongering, the report still finds time to lament that “trust in institutions is eroding,” thanks to “misinformation that can hinder disease control communicated quickly and widely via social media.”

On the bright side, “preparedness is not a very costly investment,” Dr. Alexander Ross, director of the GPMB secretariat, told the Telegraph, adding that such an investment “is immediate and has additional benefits of increasing trust.”

The GPMB was devised following the 2014-2016 Ebola epidemic in West Africa, the deadliest outbreak of that disease in history and one in which sluggish action by the WHO played a major part in the high death toll. In the midst of another such epidemic, Ross has called for a “shift in paradigm in how we think about preparedness,” pointing out that even with a vaccine and new drugs to treat Ebola, the outbreak is not under control.

Also on Anti-vax movement among TOP THREATS to global health, with HIV & Ebola, WHO says

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