Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Wake-Up Call: N.Korea Accused U-S Of Hostility

: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Monday accused the U.S. of hostility towards his country and vowed to build a, quote, "invincible" military to deal with it. He made the remarks during a rare exhibition of newly-developed weapons, including intercontinental ballistics missiles that could reach the U.S. mainland that it has already test-launched. Kim said, "The U.S. has frequently signaled it’s not hostile to our state, but there is no action-based evidence to make us believe that they are not hostile. The U.S. is continuing to create tensions in the region with its wrong judgments and actions." Kim also accused South Korea of hypocrisy for criticizing the North's weapons development while increasing its own military capabilities. At the same time, he said the North's military doesn't target South Korea. AP said some experts believe the North is trying to use South Korea's desire to improve ties with the North to get Seoul to convince the U.S. to relax economic sanctions on North Korea and make other concessions.

Pharmaceutical company Merck asked the Food and Drug administration yesterday to approve its drug for treating Covid-19. If it's authorized, the antiviral would be the first approved treatment that's a pill, instead of requiring an IV or injection. Merck said it specifically asked for emergency approval for use in adults with mild-to-moderate Covid who are at risk for severe disease or hospitalization. The company reported earlier this month that the drug, called molnupiravir, cut hospitalizations and deaths by half among patients with early symptoms of Covid, results so strong that independent experts monitoring the trial recommended stopping it early.

The legal battle between the Justice Department and Texas over the state's new law that bans abortion after six weeks continued yesterday, with the Justice Department asking an appeals court to suspend the law. The request came three days after the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the law, after a federal judge had ordered it suspended. It's not clear when the appeals court will decide whether to extend the current temporary order allowing the law to stand. The law is enforced via an unusual method of having private citizens sue anyone they believe provided an abortion or assisted a woman in getting one, and the Justice Department said in its request to the appeals court, "If Texas’s scheme is permissible, no constitutional right is safe from state-sanctioned sabotage of this kind."

➤EXPERTS FIND MAN CHARGED WITH KILLING 10 AT COLORADO SUPERMARKET NOT COMPETENT: State experts found that 22-year-old Ahmad Alissa, who's accused of killing 10 people at a Colorado supermarket, is not competent to stand trial due to an unspecified mental condition, according to court filings released Monday. However, a judge granted prosecutors' request for Alissa to be evaluated a second time. Competency involves whether defendants can understand legal proceedings and whether they have the ability to work with their attorneys in their defense. Alissa is accused of having opened fire at a King Soopers supermarket in Boulder in March, killing 10 people, including a police officer.

➤TWO KILLED WHEN SMALL PLANE CRASHES IN SAN DIEGO SUBURB: Two people were killed yesterday when a small, twin-engine plane crashed in the San Diego suburb of Santee. The Cessna 340 hit a UPS van, killing the driver, just after noon, and then hit houses. The pilot is also believed to have died, and at least two people on the ground were hurt. The plane was heading in to land at Montgomery-Gibbs Executive Airport in San Diego when it crashed. Air traffic control had alerted the pilot shortly before that he was too low. The plane was owned by Dr. Sugata Das, who worked at Yuma Regional Medical Center in Arizona and commuted from his San Diego home back-and forth. He may have been the pilot and died in the crash.

➤NORTH CAROLINA LT.GOVERNOR CALLS LGBT ISSUES 'FIFTH:  North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson is standing by calling LGBT issues "filth" during remarks when he was criticizing teaching kids about them. While speaking at the Asbury Baptist church in the town of Seagrove in June, Robinson, who's a Republican, said, "There’s no reason anybody anywhere in America should be telling any child about transgenderism, homosexuality, any of that filth. And yes, I called it filth." The comments were surfaced last week by the group Right Wing Watch, which tweeted a clip of the speech. That led to widespread criticism as well as calls for Robinson to resign. But he's not budging, telling local station WRAL "Absolutely not" when asked if he'd use a different word than "filth." He did say that he was specifically referring to the teaching of LGBT issues in school, saying, "That is in reference to introducing it to children in the classroom," adding, "in our public schools, it has no place." Robinson made similar comments on October 1st at a North Carolina Values Coalition event, saying, "[T]hey're pushing these perverted agendas, to try to teach our children that they're really not boys or girls, or they're shoving this homosexuality garbage down their throats."

➤POLL..MOST AMERICAN'S HAVEN'T WRITTEN A LETTER ON PAPER IN AT LEAST 5 YEARS: The days of writing and sending actual letters is largely behind us, with a new CBS News poll bearing this out, finding that most Americans haven't handwritten a letter on paper in more than five years -- or never have. In the survey, 37 percent said it's been more than five years, and 15 percent said they've never done it. Sixteen percent said it's been between one and five years and 31 percent said they've done it in the past year. Similarly, half of Americans haven't gotten a personal letter in the past five years and 14 percent have never gotten one. Interestingly, even though they grew up with letters, older Americans aren't holding on to the practice. Among those 65 and older, just half have written a letter in the past five years, about the same proportion as younger Americans.

The new Tom Cruise

➤WHY WE’RE OBSESSED WITH HALLOWEEN HAUNTED HOUSES, ACCORDING TO A PSYCHOLOGIST:  If you like Halloween and haunted houses you’re not alone. Knox College professor of psychology, Frank McAndrew, says going to “haunted” experiences provides an ideal emotional cocktail of “fear, enjoyment, and surprise.” He adds, “Walking through a commercial haunted house can also provide relevant feedback about ourselves. It might be useful to know which types of things are scary to us and which are not, and examining our emotional reactions to unsettling experiences may help us gauge our level of preparedness for dealing with terrifying unexpected situations.” He adds that haunted houses give our bodies an arousal change (increased heart rate, adrenaline rush) that he describes as, “Goldilocks arousal changes—not too small and not too large, but just right.”

🛫SOUTHWEST CANCELS ANOTHER 350 FLIGHTS: After hundreds and hundreds of cancellations over the weekend, Southwest Airlines canceled another more than 350 flights on Monday as it struggles to recover. Southwest says the problems began Friday due to bad weather and air traffic control issues in the Florida region, and it snowballed to affect the airline more broadly. Monday's cancellations amounted to 10 percent of Southwest's schedule. The head of the pilots union, Casey Murray, told AP the problems stem from Southwest's operation, which he said "cracks under the slightest pressure." He said the airline uses antiquated crew-scheduling technology that leads to cascading disruptions when flights are canceled in one part of its network.

➤'JEOPARDY' CHAMP'S LUCK RUNS OUT: Matt Amodio's "Jeopardy!" reign has come to an end.  His 38-game streak concluded Monday when the Yale computer science Ph.D. student and Ohio native came in third place. Jonathan Fisher, an actor hailing from Coral Gables, Florida, bested Amodio and competitor Jessica Stephens, a statistical research specialist residing in Nashville. Amodio's 38-game streak and winnings of $1,518,601 have solidified his place in the "Jeopardy!" Hall of Fame (at least for now.)

➤FAST FOOD ISN’T FAST ANYMORE, BUT IT’S MORE POPULAR THAN EVER:  Fast food is more popular than ever before, but it’s also not as fast as it used to be. SeeLevel HX has released its Annual Drive-Thru study, and they found that total wait time in drive-thrus has increased nearly 30 seconds since 2020 to 382.29 seconds, or just over six minutes. Waits have steadily increased over the past few years, from 234 seconds in 2018, to 327 seconds in 2019, and 356.8 seconds in 2020. One possible explanation for the increase in wait time is the labor shortage. Also, drive-thrus have been optimized in the past year-and-a-half as the pandemic closed many dining rooms. But these wait times don’t tell the whole story, as Chick-fil-A had the longest wait times in one study, but it also topped both studies in order accuracy and measures of customer satisfaction.

Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden resigned yesterday after emails from 2011 to 2018 surfaced in which he used racist, homophobic and misogynistic language. He'd already been under fire for an email from a decade ago that used racial language about NFL players' union head DeMaurice Smith, who's Black, saying he has "lips the size of michellin tires." Gruden said in a statement last night announcing he'd resigned that he didn't want to be a distraction, stating, "I'm sorry, I never meant to hurt anyone." The New York Times reported on the newly-discovered emails yesterday, in which Gruden used a gay slur to insult NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, called him "clueless" and "anti-football," and said the commissioner shouldn't have pressured the Rams to draft, quote, "queers," referring to Michael Sam, the first openly gay player drafted by an NFL team. Among the other emails, Gruden responded to a sexist meme of a female official by saying, "Nice job roger" and criticized Goodell and the NFL for trying to reduce concussions. Special teams and assistant head coach Rich Bisaccia will take over on an interim basis.

The Boston Red Sox won their AL Division Series 3 games to 1 last night with a 6-5 win, their second walkoff victory in a row over the Tampa Bay Rays. Kike Hernandez drove in the winning run with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth inning to score Danny Santana and send the Red Sox to the AL Championship Series. They will play the winner of the other ALDS between the Houston Astros and Chicago White Sox, which Houston leads 2 games to 1. Game 4 of their matchup was rained out yesterday.

In the two NL Division Series games yesterday:
  • The Atlanta Braves shut out the Milwaukee Brewers 3-0 to take a 2 games to 1 lead. All the scoring came from Joc Pederson, who hit a three-run homer in the fifth inning.
  • The San Francisco Giants beat the L.A. Dodgers 1-0 on an Evan Longoria fifth-inning home run, to take a 2 games to 1 lead over the defending World Series champions.

The Baltimore Ravens downed the Indianapolis Colts 31-25 in Monday Night Football last night, getting the win on a five-year touchdown pass from quarterback Lamar Jackson to Marquise Brown on the first possession of overtime. Jackson threw for a career-high 442 yards and four touchdowns, rallying his team from being down 25-9 in the fourth quarter. They made it to overtime after Colts' kicker Rodrigo Blankenship missed a 47-yard field goal attempt on the final play of regulation.

🏃KENYAN RUNNERS SWEEP BOSTON MARATHON: Kenyan runners won among both the men and the women in the Boston Marathon for a sweep yesterday, the eighth since 2000. Benson Kipruto was the winning man in two hours, nine minutes and 51 seconds, and Diana Kipyogei finished first among the women at two hours, 24 minutes and 45 seconds. The race was held in October instead of its usual April Patriots Day date for the first time in its 125-year history because of a pandemic delay. It was the first race since 2019, since the marathon wasn't run last year, also due to the pandemic.

🏀ESPN...SIMMONS REPORTS TO 76ERS, SURPRISING TEAM: Ben Simmons reported to Philadelphia's Wells Fargo Center for the 76ers last night, surprising the team, which had expected him later, ESPN reported. Simmons had stayed away for two weeks to start the NBA preseason, wanting a trade and reportedly adamant that he wouldn't return to the 76ers. ESPN reported that Simmons returned because he wanted to prove a point and knew he'd done so by sitting out training camp, costing him nearly $1 million in lost salary and fines. Simmons is expected to meet with the organization's leadership starting today, according to the report.

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