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U.S

Nashville Bombing Suspect Anthony Warner’s Possible Ties to 5G Conspiracy Theory Investigated

The FBI are investigating whether the suspect at the center of the Nashville Christmas Day bombing was connected to 5G conspiracy theories, according to reports.

Steve Fridrich, a real estate agent based in Nashville, contacted the FBI to tell them that he previously worked with a man named Tony Warner. Investigators think a man named Anthony Quinn Warner to be a person of interest in the camper van explosion outside an AT&T building that injured three people on the morning of December 25.

Fridrich said agents asked him if the man he worked with had paranoia about 5G technology and conspiracy theories about it being used to spy on Americans.

Fridrich told the man he worked with doing information technology was a “nice guy”, but they did not have a relationship beyond him contacting Warner to work on internet issues.

“You know, he was a techie guy—don’t mean anything negative about that. He would do this thing and leave. He didn’t bother anybody. He did his thing and leave,” Fridrich said.

FBI said they could not comment because of the pending investigation.

Earlier this year, conspiracy theories about the implementation of 5G, including that the technology somehow helps spread or is even the cause of coronavirus, were widely shared and believed by some.

The baseless theories resulted in people attacking 5G mobile phone masts in the U.K as misinformation spread on social media.

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Health

Biden urges Trump to sign coronavirus stimulus bill

President-elect Joe Biden on Saturday requested President Trump to sign the coronavirus stimulus bill after Trump rejected the bill and asked for higher stimulus payments and less “wasteful” spending.

Biden’s push came as Trump and Congress clashed over the size of direct payments included in the mammoth legislation.

“$2000 + $2000 plus other family members. Not $600,” Trump wrote on Twitter on Saturday night. “Remember, it was China’s fault!”

Biden said about 10 million Americans were about to lose unemployment benefits. In addition, an eviction ban was set expire on Thursday night, New Year’s Eve.

“It is the day after Christmas, and millions of families don’t know if they’ll be able to make ends meet because of President Donald Trump’s refusal to sign an economic relief bill approved by Congress with an overwhelming and bipartisan majority,” Biden said in a statement.

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Health

Moderna COVID-19 shots leave warehouses

Shipments of Moderna Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine began administering early on Sunday, heading for healthcare facilities across United States in an attempt to distribute the second approved coronavirus vaccine.

The distribution of Moderna’s vaccine to more than 3,700 locations in the United States will widen the rollout started last week by Pfizer Inc and BioNTech.

U.S. COVID-19 vaccine program head Moncef Slaoui said the first Moderna vaccine shot, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration on Friday, would be given on Monday morning.

“We look forward to the vaccine. It’s going to be easier to distribute because it doesn’t require as low temperature as Pfizer,” Slaoui said.

The U.S. government plans to distribute 5.9 million Moderna shots and 2 million Pfizer shots this week.

But an ambitious target to get 20 million Americans started with their first shot of the two-dose vaccine regimen before the end of the year could go into the first week of January, U.S. Army General Gustave Perna told reporters on Saturday.

The start of delivery for the Moderna vaccine will significantly widen availability of COVID-19 vaccines as U.S. deaths caused by the respiratory disease have reached more than 316,000 in the 11 months since the first documented U.S. cases.

Some states are opting to use Moderna’s shots for harder-to-reach rural areas because they can be stored for 30 days in standard-temperature refrigerators. Pfizer’s must be shipped and stored at minus 70 Celsius (minus 94 Fahrenheit) and can be held for only five days at standard refrigerator temperatures.

Initial doses were given to health professionals. Programs by pharmacies Walgreens and CVS to distribute the Pfizer vaccine to long-term care facilities are expected to start on Monday.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will decide Sunday on who it will recommend to be next in line to receive COVID-19 vaccines. The populations under closest consideration include essential workers, those over 65 and people with pre-existing conditions.

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Technology

GameStop PS5 restock fiasco leaves customers angry

Customers are angry and complaining about recent PS5 restocks. GameStop has had many PS5 restocks this month. It’s also had several Xbox Series X restocks. And these restocks have provided many PlayStation and Xbox gamers with next-gen consoles. However, a lot has also gone wrong for the retailer. Not only are bots and resellers continuing to gobble up supply, but orders are being cancelled. In other words, even if you manage to beat the bots, beat the site crashes, and beat the millions of PlayStation fans trying to secure an order as well, it may be cancelled for a number of reasons.

On top of this, it seems GameStop’s supply can’t fulfill their orders. Customers are complaining that consoles they were told they were getting weeks ago aren’t showing up, meanwhile, in some cases, the retailer is revealing customers they won’t be getting their console until April 2021.

It’s been a failure. And it’s been a problem for other retailers as well, including Walmart, Target, Best Buy, and Amazon. However, right now it’s GameStop that is trending on Twitter, and this is partially because users are making GameStop jokes about stimulus checks, but it’s also because there are many angry GameStop customers taking to the social media platform to vent their frustration.

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Health

Early data show two doses of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine caused good immune response

Oxford University’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate has a better immune response when a two full-dose plan is followed rather than a full-dose followed by a half-dose booster, the university said on Thursday, citing data from early trials.

The developers of the vaccine candidate, which has been licensed to pharmaceuticals company AstraZeneca, have already published later stage trial results showing higher effect when a half dose is followed by a full dose, compared to a two full-dose regime. However, more work needs to be done to establish the result.

The latest details from the Phase I and 2 clinical trials revealed on Thursday made no reference to the half-dose/full-dose program, which Oxford has said had been “unplanned” but approved by regulators.

Once seen as the frontrunner in the development of a coronavirus vaccine, the British team has been overtaken by U.S. drugmaker Pfizer, whose shots have been administered in Britain and the United States this month.

Data published earlier from the later Phase 3 trials showed efficacy was 62% for trial participants given two full doses, but a more stronger 90% for a smaller sub-group given first a half, then a full dose.

In its statement on Thursday, the university said it had started two dosing regimes in early stage trials, a full-dose/full-dose regime and a full-dose/half-dose regime, investigated as a possible “dose sparing” strategy.

“The booster doses of the vaccine are both shown to induce stronger antibody responses than a single dose, the standard dose/standard dose inducing the best response,” the university said in a statement.

The vaccine “stimulates broad antibody and T cell functions,” it said.

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World

Denmark strengthens rape laws, outlawing sex without explicit consent

Denmark has toughen its rape laws by criminalising sex without explicit consent.

The new law approved by parliament on Thursday also spreaded the circumstances that could constitute rape – as per the old legislation, prosecutors had to prove the rapist had used violence or attacked someone who was unable to resist.

“Now it will be clear, that if both parties do no consent to sex, then it’s rape,” the justice minister, Nick Haekkerup, said in a statement.

A similar law introduced in neighbouring Sweden in 2018 contributed in a 75% surge in rape convictions, to 333.

About 11,400 women a year are raped or to attempted rape in Denmark, according to the ministry’s figures.

Amnesty International said Denmark had become the 12th country in Europe to accept non-consensual sex as rape.

Anna Blus, a women’s rights researcher at Amnesty, said. “This is a great day for women in Denmark as it consigns outdated and dangerous rape laws to the dustbin of history and helps to end pervasive stigma and endemic impunity for this crime.”

The law will be effective from January 1st.

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World

A nationwide curfew in Fiji due to Yasa

Tropical Cyclone Yasa caused landfall in Fiji Thursday afternoon, local time, slamming into the island of Vanua Levu packing winds of 240 kph equivalent to a category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. This is the second time this year the Fiji archipelago has had a direct landfall from a major tropical cyclone.

Local officials have warned the potential effect of the storm could be devastating.

The country ordered a 14-hour nationwide curfew from 4 p.m. (10 p.m. ET Wednesday) with people living in low-lying areas requested to move to higher ground before nightfall, Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said in a video posted to Facebook.

“The impact for this super storm is more or less the entire country,” Bainimarama said in the video.

The United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warns that even well built homes could face “severe damage” as a result of winds more than 200 kph (124 mph), while trees and power poles could be downed, bringing more destruction and disruption.

Yasa would “easily surpass” the strength of 2016’s Cyclone Winston, Bainimarama said, referring to the Southern Hemisphere’s most intense tropical storm on record, which killed more than 40 Fijians and left tens of thousands of people homeless.

More than 850,000 Fijians, or 95% of the population, live in the direct path of Yasa, Bainimarama said, adding that weather forecasts anticipated flash flooding and “severe coastal inundation” that included waves up to 10 meters (33 feet) high.

Police would enforce a ban on public transport, said the country’s National Disaster Management Office, which added that the country had declared a “state of natural disaster” that gives law enforcement authorities increased powers.

By 8 p.m. (2 a.m. ET) Thursday, the center of Yasa was forecast to be 100 km (62 miles) east of the village of Yasawa-i-Rara and potentially over Fiji’s fifth-most populous province of Bua, home to 15,000 people, the office said.

Strong cyclones have become increasingly common in the Pacific in recent years, something Bainimarama has put down to climate change. Earlier this year, he said that global warming was the cause of worsening wildfires in Australia as well as heavier storms in the Pacific.

“My fellow Fijians, as the world is getting warmer these storms are getting stronger. Every one of us must treat these climate-fuelled catastrophes with deadly seriousness,” Bainimarama wrote in a Facebook post Thursday.

Categories
U.S

California purchases thousands of body bags as death toll grows due to Covid

California has purchased thousands of body bags and has dozens of refrigerated storage units ready as it prepares to tackle with rising death toll from Covid-19.

The orders for 5,000 body bags and 60 53-foot-long refrigerated units to have ready for counties and hospitals should be a sobering statistic, Gov. Gavin Newsom said.

Although vaccines have arrived, the crisis is not over, Newsom said.

“There is light at the end of the tunnel, but we’re still in the tunnel,” he said at a news conference Tuesday. “And that means we’re going through perhaps the most intense and urgent moment since the beginning of this pandemic.”

Newsom, a Democrat, said there is a ray of optimism: Vaccines began being administered Monday, and the state expects to have 2.1 million doses by the end of December.

He requested people across the state to wear masks, keep distance from others and take other steps to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

“I want to remind folks: It’s not the flu. This is not something to trifle with,” Newsom said. “This is a deadly disease, a deadly pandemic, and we’re in the middle of it right now.” Large parts of the state are under stay-at-home orders.

Roughly 32,300 new Covid-19 cases are reported across the state each day, a number Newsom said was historic, and the positivity rate had risen from 6.9 percent at the beginning of the month to more than 10 percent Monday.

The number of people hospitalized for Covid-19 in California rose from around 8,500 on Dec. 1 to around 14,200 on Monday, he said.

And the state’s intensive care unit capacity averages around 5.7 percent statewide, Newsom said. The lowest capacities are in Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley.

There are more than 21,000 deaths from Covid-19 in California, as per the state health department.

The average number of deaths from the disease in the state was 163 a day as of Monday, Newsom said, using a seven-day average. On Nov. 14, the average daily number was 41.

A national ensemble forecast to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention predicts that the Covid-19 death toll could be 362,000 by Jan. 2.

More than 16.7 million cases had been reported in the United States by Tuesday evening, and more than 304,000 people have died, as per the reports.

Categories
Technology

Amazon’s Luna cloud gaming service is now available on Android

Amazon’s cloud gaming service, Luna, is now available on Android. Like the iOS version of Luna, there’s no separate Luna app to download, one can access the service through the Chrome web browser.

Amazon launched Luna in October, where it was available on PC, Mac, Fire TV, and on iPhone and iPad via web apps. The service works on a channels-based model, where one pays a monthly fee for each channel of games wants access to.

Currently, there are two channels available. Amazon’s $5.99-per-month Luna Plus channel has games from many different publishers, and Ubisoft’s $14.99-per-month Ubisoft Plus channel offers Ubisoft games.

Presently, Luna’s Android version works on some Pixel, Samsung, and OnePlus devices, but Amazon says Luna will extend support for more Android devices during Luna’s early access period. An Amazon spokesperson shared a list of currently-supported devices:

  • Pixel 4XL, 4A, 4A 5G, 5
  • Samsung Galaxy S10, S10 Plus, Note 10, Note 10 Plus, S20, S20 Plus, S20 Ultra, Note 20, Note 20 Ultra
  • OnePlus 7, 7 Pro, 7 Pro 5G, 8, 8 Pro, Nord, 7T, 7T Pro, 7T Pro 5G

One needs to be using Android 9 or higher and Chrome version 86 or newer. He will be able to play games using Amazon’s own Luna controller as well as the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One controller.

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Health

Dr. William G. Rothstein, longtime UMBC faculty member dies

Dr. William G. Rothstein, a founding faculty member of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County who served for nearly five-decade the department of sociology, anthropology and public health, and was an author and expert in the history of medicine in the United States, died at Madonna Heritage Assisted Living Home in Jarrettsville of complications from a stroke. He was 83.

“It’s so easy to talk about Bill Rothstein,” said Freeman A. Hrabowski III, who is president of UMBC since 1992.

“He was one of the founding faculty members of UMBC, and came here when the doors opened in 1966, and was a man who had superb qualifications,” Dr. Hrabowski said. “He was the consummate educator.”

William Gene Rothstein, son of Meyer Rothstein, owner of a scrap metal business, and his wife, Bertha Ann Rothstein, a homemaker, was born and raised in Waterbury, Connecticut, where he graduated in 1955 from Crosby High School.

Professor Rothstein earned a bachelor’s degree in 1959 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a master’s degree from the University of Minnesota in 1961, and his Ph.D. in philosophy in 1965 from Cornell University.

He served from 1964 to 1966 as a research analyst for Prudential Financial Inc. in Newark, New Jersey, then joined the UMBC faculty.

Professor Rothstein was promoted to associate professor in 1969 and to full professor in 1988. In addition to his classroom work, as director of the master’s program in applied sociology, he worked on a one-to-one basis helping them select courses, develop research interests and plan for careers.

“His support and encouragement of these students made him a beloved part of their UMBC experience,” according to a biographical profile submitted by his family.

Described as being a thoughtful and compassionate mentor, he remained connected to his students long after their graduation and closely followed their careers. He shared dinners, lunches, trips to the symphony, emails and phone calls with them.