Sunday Reading – 07/26/2020


The following links are just news items and opinions that pass my desk throughout the week. I don’t necessarily support or advocate any of the items, they are just interesting reads.

Survey: Majority of Americans Afraid of Expressing Political Beliefs – A majority of Americans say they are worried about facing social or professional consequences for their political views, a new survey from the Cato Institute found.

The survey, conducted by Cato in collaboration with YouGov, found 62 percent of Americans self-censor their political expression out of fear of offending others. Majorities across the political spectrum said they are worried about sharing their political opinions, including 52 percent of Democrats, 59 percent of independents, and 77 percent of Republicans.

Thirty-one percent of liberals, 30 percent of moderates, and 34 percent of conservatives said they are specifically worried about professional retribution for political speech. The only respondent group with a majority confident in sharing political opinions was the “strong liberal” group, 58 percent of whom said they were confident. Fifty-two percent of respondents who identified as “liberal” said the political climate prevents them from sharing some of their beliefs, while 64 percent of “moderate” respondents and 77 percent of “conservative” and “strongly conservative” respondents said the same.

Respondents with stronger ideological leanings expressed support for punishing business executives who engage in political speech, although the sentiment was higher for strong liberals than strong conservatives. Half of “strong liberals” and 36 percent of “strong conservatives” said they support punishing business executives who donate to the opposing party’s presidential candidate. Read More > in The Washington Free Beacon

Child care is on the verge of collapse in the Bay Area. Can parents go back to work? – A new report from UC Berkeley’s Center for the Study of Child Care Employment presents the crisis in stark terms. After surveying 953 programs throughout California from June 22 to July 1, it concluded that the state’s attempt to restart the economy “has only escalated the crisis in California child care, exposing providers to the dual threats of health risk and the potential collapse of their programs.”

As the pandemic surges and counties stumble through the start-stop process of reopening, the child care industry — a vital crutch for working parents — is facing financial ruin. The report lays out a grim scene. Roughly a quarter of the programs remain closed, and of those that have opened, 77% have lost income from tuition and 80% now contend with higher cleaning costs.

New social distancing rules have limited most programs to a fraction of their normal capacity, adding to the financial strain and creating a child care shortage just as parents prepare to return to work. Many who relied on public school as a path to child care are now casting about for babysitters, moving back home with grandparents or leaving the workforce altogether. Parents of kindergartners are trying to keep those children in preschool.Yet the coronavirus has also exposed an unsettling social divide, as wealthy parents shell out for tutors and nannies, and lower-income parents compete for a dwindling number of child care spots or subsidies. The child care industry, a patchwork of small businesses and nonprofits run mostly by underpaid women of color, will now have to fill in for public schools that have closed. Read More > in the San Francisco Chronicle

Parents’ New Plan for Fall: Import Teachers into Homes – Fed up with remote education, parents who can pay have a new plan for fall: import teachers to their homes. This goes beyond tutoring. In some cases, families are teaming up to form “pandemic pods,” where clusters of students receive professional instruction for several hours each day. It’s a 2020 version of the one-room schoolhouse, privately funded. Weeks before the new school year will start, the trend is a stark sign of how the pandemic will continue to drive inequity in the nation’s education system. But the parents planning or considering this say it’s an extreme answer to an extreme situation.

And this weekend, education writer JoAnne Jacobs shared a post from a Berkeley, California, mom that read in part:

If you are not a parent/in a mom’s group, you may not be aware that a kind of historic thing is going on right now. This week, there has been a tipping point in Bay Area families looking to form homeschooling pods. Or maybe ‘boiling point’ might be a better term.

Sound niche? It’s actually insanely involved and completely transformational on a lot of levels. Essentially, within the span of the last 48 hrs. or so, thousands of parents (far and away mostly moms because that’s how these things work) are scrambling through an absolute explosion of Facebook groups, matchups, spreadsheets, etc. to scramble to form homeschooling pods.

These are clusters of 3-6 families with similar aged (and sometimes same-school) children co-quarantined with each other, who hire one tutor for in-person support for their kids. Sometimes the tutor in question is full time and sometimes part time/outdoor classes, depending on the age of kids and individual circumstances … Suddenly teachers who are able to co-quarantine with a pod are in incredible demand.

This is maybe the fastest and most intense PURELY GRASSROOTS economic hard pivot I’ve seen, including the rise of the masking industry a few months ago. Startups have nothing compared to thousands of moms on Facebook trying to arrange for their kids’ education in a crisis with zero school district support.

I swear that in a decade they are going to study this because I have never seen an industry crop up and adapt so fast. Trends that would typically take months or years to form are developing on the literal scale of hours.

The writer goes on to acknowledge the equity elephant in the room: Only families with means are going to participate in this trend, absent programs to assist disadvantaged students: Read More > at redefinED

Office Owners Who Want Workers Back Face A Massive Hurdle: Schools – For weeks, companies have been gradually and carefully reopening their offices in a world still combating a pandemic. But efforts to bring workers back are getting more complicated as public school systems across the country prepare to start the school year with varying degrees of online and in-person learning.

Some businesses are trying to find alternatives for their employees’ school-aged children so their parents can return to their office. In other cases, parents are scrambling to find their own alternatives, including private schools and tutors.

But, like in most aspects of American life, the coronavirus pandemic has laid bare the inequality inherent in a remote school environment, especially among blue-collar workers.

School districts across the country have already begun to delay school openings or reinstating distance learning for portions of the year. Some of the largest school districts in North America have already led the way in these decisions, including Los Angeles Unified School District, Atlanta Public Schools, the Houston Independent School District and the New York City Department of Education, the country’s largest public school district.

One of the nation’s largest for-profit child care organizations, Primrose Schools, is seeing a boost in interest from large companies asking it to operate on-campus preschool and even elementary schools for employees’ children, said Annette Heng, who oversees Primrose’s more than 400 schools across the nation. Primrose also operates private schools for the workers of some Fortune 500 companies, including Procter & Gamble. Read More > at Bisnow

SF Mayor London Breed shreds white progressives for projecting beliefs onto city’s Black residents – San Francisco Mayor London Breed recently spoke with Vogue about certain white progressives involved in the recent demonstrations following the death of George Floyd, and did not have very nice things to say.

Breed stated that while she’s happy more white Americans are now supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement — recent polling shows upwards of 60% of white Americans support the protests and calls for police reform — she has “a real problem with the takeover of the movement by white people.”

“I want people to respect the opinions and feelings of Black people and allow us to decide what is in our best interest,” Breed told Vogue. “I talk about the plan to reduce the police budget and reallocate those resources to the African American community, and a large number of non-Blacks reached out to tell me what I should do for the Black community. Then, they say what their community deserves because of their challenges as well. That really bothered me. The Black community [of San Francisco] is capable of speaking for ourselves and deciding what’s in our best interest.”

Polling from the Pew Research Center has shown that just 22% of African-Americans want police funding “decreased a lot,” with the overwhelming majority favoring small decreases, no change, or even increases. Breed’s proposal to reallocate some funding was met with pushback from some white progressives who accused her of not going far enough. This prompted protests at Breed’s home, protests she was not happy about. Read More > at SFGate

How to Reopen the Economy Without Killing Teachers and Parents – The debate about reopening schools seems to pit parents and their employers against teachers. But there is actually a solution that would let grown-ups go back to work, educate kids and keep everyone safe at the same time.

More than 140,000 Americans have died from Covid-19, and there are growing outbreaks in many states. No other developed nation has sent children back to school with the virus at these levels. Data about transmission in classrooms is limited. Many teachers have health risks and are understandably afraid to return. The safest course would be for kindergartners through 12th graders to continue with online courses in the fall.

But what about the millions of kids from disadvantaged backgrounds whose homes are not conducive to online learning and who rely on schools for meals? And what about parents who cannot work from home and watch over them?

There is a better way: Allow schools to offer only virtual classes this fall, and convert schools and other large unused spaces into Safe Centers for Online Learning. We could call them not schools, but “SCOLs.”

Students who can keep learning at home should do so. As a result, the centers would not be crowded and it would be possible to maintain social distancing.

Staff members would simply help students connect to online courses provided by their schools — they would not need to be teachers themselves with subject matter expertise… Read More > in The New York Times

At SoCal’s drive-in concerts, fans, artists and promoters make the best of a live-music apocalypse – If you closed your eyes and leaned back in your car seat Saturday night at the Ventura County Fairgrounds, you’d have smelled the cool salt air and heard the manic ska-funk-punk of L.A.’s Fishbone and Ozomatli. You’d have almost felt like live music was back to normal in Southern California.

At the show, one of the region’s first drive-in concerts bringing live music back during the COVID-19 pandemic, cars encircled the main stage, plonked in the middle of the outdoor venue’s vast seaside parking lot (fans in the back could view the show on big LED screens).

Some families, donning face masks, climbed on the roofs of their cars to get an optimal view, while others stayed in, clandestinely tailgating with takeout pizza. Over a well-synced FM radio signal, Fishbone played its ageless hits — “Party at Ground Zero,” “Lyin’ Ass Bitch” — with extra verve to rouse those in attendance in the 500 cars at the show. Concertgoers honked their approval at the end of songs. Read More > at Yahoo News!

When Choosing What To Believe, People Often Choose Morality Over Hard Evidence – What happens when moral beliefs collide with documented evidence? For many people, it means doubling down on whichever compliments their worldview.

It’s not hard to find evidence of this phenomenon in everyday life. Now, new research from Princeton University cognitive science researcher Corey Cusimano and Princeton psychologist Tania Lombrozo explore more about how and why this seems to be.

In a pre-publication paper titled “Morality justifies motivated reasoning in the folk ethics of belief,” Cusimano and Lombrozo report that people “treat moral considerations as legitimate grounds for believing propositions that are unsupported by objective, evidence-based reasoning.” The researchers also found that people who deemed beliefs morally good also considered those same beliefs logically sound, even when the “good” belief lacked supportive evidence.

“Across three studies, many people prescribed motivated reasoning to others, reported that morally good beliefs require less evidence to be justified, and that, in some circumstances, a morally good belief can be justified even in the absence of sufficient evidence,” Cusimano and Lombrozo write. Read More > at Reason

Restaurant Revolution: How the Industry Is Fighting to Stay Alive – It’s never been easy to make money in the restaurant industry. A highly fragmented sector dominated by 70 percent independent owners and operators, the average restaurant’s annual revenue hovers around $1 million and generates an operating profit of just 4-5 percent. A financially sustainable business model for small independents is often elusive.

So when a crisis of the magnitude of the COVID-19 global pandemic forces restaurants to close, and their revenue drops to zero overnight, things get particularly dire. Unlike the oligopolistic airline industry, where a few large firms can easily band together to lobby for government support, the concerns of restaurant owners and the unique realities and concerns of their industry remain largely unaddressed by government programs designed to help small businesses.

Two months into the pandemic, 40 percent of America’s restaurants were shuttered and 8 million employees out of work—three times the job losses seen by any other industry. While some restaurants began reopening in May and June, most featured only takeout, delivery, or outdoor dining options due to local restrictions. The number of diners in June remained down more than 65 percent year over year, and the National Restaurant Association projected an industry revenue shortfall of $240 billion for the year.

Second-order effects of restaurant closures ripple through the American economy, bringing economic pain to farmers, fishermen, foragers, ranchers, manufacturers, and other producers who supply the industry. Equally hit are supply chain partners who move goods across the country.

…Restaurants are universally labor intensive—by any productivity metric they rank among the least productive industries. Labor is required to both produce food in the kitchen and serve to consumers in the dining area. On average, restaurants spend 30 percent of their revenue on labor. With increasing focus on fair wages and legislated wage increases, restaurants may easily exceed that average.

…At the outset of the crisis, most restaurants had only two to three weeks of operating reserves and those reserves were quickly exhausted. With no end date in sight of mandatory closures, owners moved quickly to furlough or layoff almost all staff, maintaining skeleton crews. Thomas Keller, whose restaurant group includes the French Laundry in Napa Valley and Per Se in Manhattan, employed 1,200 staff in his 13 restaurants, but by mid-March staffing was reduced to 18 employees across all restaurants.

…Throughout the crisis, restaurants and regulatory authorities have discussed game plans for reopening. Prominent features of these plans include reconfiguring floor plans to enable physical distancing while acknowledging that the oft-cited six-foot rule may not be practical for restaurant dining, utilizing transparent screens or other physical barriers to demarcate table separation, limiting the number of individuals at each table, expanding outdoor seating, health and safety training and staggered shifts for employees, more flexible sick day policies, frequent and more rigorous sanitation of all surfaces, touch-free interactions between customers and waitstaff, scanning QR codes, single-use menus or contactless, mobile-device ordering and payment, waitstaff screening and gloving, and many more. Read More > from Harvard Business School

Even More Now Oppose Defunding Police, Fear More Violence – Opposition is growing to efforts by the political left to defund the police, with most Americans convinced that such a move will lead to more violent crime.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 66% of American Adults now oppose reducing the police budget in the community where they live to channel that money into more social services. That’s up from 59% in early June when we first asked this question. Just 23% favor defunding the cops where they live, down from 27% in the previous survey. Eleven percent (11%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Calls for defunding the police are being aggressively championed by the Black Lives Matter movement, but even among black Americans, 57% are opposed to defunding the police in their home community. Sixty-nine percent (69%) of whites and 62% of other minority adults share that view.

Sixty-one percent (61%) of all Americans believe that violent crime is likely to go up in communities that defund the police. Only 12% think violent crime is more likely to go down, while 20% predict it will remain about the same. Read More > from Rasmussen Reports  

Because of COVID-19, Fewer Laws – Back in April, I wondered on this page if the pandemic’s effect on the legislature shutting down the capitol during an extended break would result in fewer bills passed and signed into law. Apparently, that will be the case.

On top of the extraordinary month-long lockdown in March, the legislature was forced to extend its summer recess two weeks because some members and staffers contracted the COVID-19 virus. With an end of the session deadline of August 31 coming fast, Democratic leaders want members to consider pulling bills so that they get through legislative business before the end date.

The legislature may seek to extend the session, but this is an election year, and while in California few seats turn over, politicians want to conduct a campaign rather than sit in Sacramento—although campaigning this year will be different than any other.

Of all the bad news that comes out of the months long battle against the coronavirus, maybe the idea that fewer laws coming from the legislature can be viewed in a positive vein.

I’ve made the assertion before that there are too many bills and too many laws for any citizen to follow. Far fewer laws should be drafted so the “lawmakers” will have time to deliberate over them. And while they are at it, they could remove a number of laws from the books that have little resonance in this day and age. Read More > at Fox and Hounds

Report: Millennials, Generation Z Turn To Social Media First For Health Advice – A concerning new study reports the majority of millennials and members of Generation Z rely first on social media platforms for their health information. A situation made necessary partly by quarantine conditions, it would indicate those age groups are at the mercy of social media sources’ sometimes dubious accuracy.

The information from Healthline.com was gathered in a two-wave, online qualitative study in late April and early June 2020 with people living with chronic health problems. The sources represented mix of genders, ages and ethnicities, and come from 39 different states in the U.S.

The research focused first on people living with chronic health conditions and how they are impacted by the Covid-19 outbreak. Its primary data point makes it clear that health-centric web pages such as its home site and WebMD are the most popular general resource for those living with health conditions as 76% of those surveyed go to them first.

However, amongst those younger adults questioned, social media platforms become the first source of medical information. Millennials (62%) and Generation Z (52%) go to the likes of influencers on Twitter, Facebook and other apps with medical concerns. Generation X ranked third behind its younger peers at 44%. Read More > at Forbes

CIF delays start of all high school sports; football will end in April – There is still a chance that high school football will be played in California in the coming school year.

But teams will have to wait until December to take the field for the first time, there currently isn’t a plan in place for state championships, and the season isn’t expected to end until the middle of April.

The California Interscholastic Federation — the governing body for high school athletics in the state — Monday announced a modified schedule for its sports, all of which have been delayed from one to four months by the coronavirus pandemic. Read More > in the San Francisco Chronicle

Court Upholds Simple Majority Threshold for Special Tax Voter Initiatives – The Court of Appeal in San Francisco has issued a blockbuster decision on the threshold needed for special taxes imposed through a citizens’ initiative. In City and County of San Francisco v. All Persons Interested in the Matter of Proposition C, the court held that a two-thirds voting majority is only necessary for special tax initiatives put forth by governments. In the case of a special tax measure placed on the ballot by voters, a simple majority will suffice.

The parties may now petition for a rehearing or for a review by the California Supreme Court.

To see how the Court’s decision will impact local governments Read More >  here.

Walmart will close stores on Thanksgiving, ending a Black Friday tradition that drew huge crowds – Walmart on Tuesday said it planned to keep all its stores closed on Thanksgiving Day.

The closures, affecting both Walmart and Sam’s Club stores, mark a huge departure from Walmart’s tradition of kicking off Black Friday in-store doorbuster sales on the Thanksgiving holiday, which falls on November 26 this year.

Walmart typically opens its stores during regular hours on Thanksgiving and ropes off the parts devoted to Black Friday sales and merchandise until doorbuster sales kick off in the evening.

Last year, Walmart launched its doorbuster sales at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving. These deals typically draw huge crowds to Walmart’s stores. Read More > at Business Insider

The people with hidden immunity against Covid-19 – The clues have been mounting for a while. First, scientists discovered patients who had recovered from infection with Covid-19, but mysteriously didn’t have any antibodies against it. Next it emerged that this might be the case for a significant number of people. Then came the finding that many of those who do develop antibodies seem to lose them again after just a few months.

In short, though antibodies have proved invaluable for tracking the spread of the pandemic, they might not have the leading role in immunity that we once thought. If we are going to acquire long-term protection, it looks increasingly like it might have to come from somewhere else.

But while the world has been preoccupied with antibodies, researchers have started to realise that there might be another form of immunity – one which, in some cases, has been lurking undetected in the body for years. An enigmatic type of white blood cell is gaining prominence. And though it hasn’t previously featured heavily in the public consciousness, it may well prove to be crucial in our fight against Covid-19. This could be the T cell’s big moment.

T cells are a kind of immune cell, whose main purpose is to identify and kill invading pathogens or infected cells. It does this using proteins on its surface, which can bind to proteins on the surface of these imposters. Each T cell is highly specific – there are trillions of possible versions of these surface proteins, which can each recognise a different target. Because T cells can hang around in the blood for years after an infection, they also contribute to the immune system’s “long-term memory” and allow it to mount a faster and more effective response when it’s exposed to an old foe.

Several studies have shown that people infected with Covid-19 tend to have T cells that can target the virus, regardless of whether they have experienced symptoms. So far, so normal. But scientists have also recently discovered that some people can test negative for antibodies against Covid-19 and positive for T cells that can identify the virus. This has led to suspicions that some level of immunity against the disease might be twice as common as was previously thought.

Most bizarrely of all, when researchers tested blood samples taken years before the pandemic started, they found T cells which were specifically tailored to detect proteins on the surface of Covid-19. This suggests that some people already had a pre-existing degree of resistance against the virus before it ever infected a human. And it appears to be surprisingly prevalent: 40-60% of unexposed individuals had these cells. Read More > from the BBC

Has the Fed Discovered a Cure for Displaced Workers? – In recent months, an estimated 40 million Americans have been displaced from work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. And economists predict that 40 percent of the job losses will be permanent.

That means that to regain their economic footing, millions of displaced workers will have to find their way to not just new jobs, but entirely new positions and sectors. Displaced restaurant workers will be challenged to apply their skills as a contact tracer. A hotel manager will need to translate customer service skills to consider managing an urgent care facility.

Making the connection between a worker’s existing capabilities and entirely new roles will require a match between an individual’s work history, and the demands of jobs that may be adjacent or closer than anyone expected. It will be especially challenging for low-wage earners, who face long documented gaps in access to the social capital required to navigate their way to and through a maze of education and training providers to find programs that are both the right match for them — and aligned with local labor market demand. A one-size-fits all approach won’t work — it will require personalization.

According to a groundbreaking report from the Federal Reserve Banks of Philadelphia and Cleveland the advent of personalized workforce development may soon offer a cure for laid-off workers. The study looks across 33 US metro areas at recent job data and to explain how an individual’s unique skills history, paired with more targeted training, might enable them to make the leap to a new occupation with at least a 10 percent salary bump.

By analyzing data from 60 million job postings in 33 major metro areas, researchers were able to spot patterns that help us understand the fastest paths to higher wages based on a similarity score reflecting the skills needed for a pair of occupations. The scores provide displaced workers with an unprecedented, real-time understanding of the skills required to jump to a new career. It helps them to understand how their unique skills and experience, paired with training, can help to cure their unemployment woes. Read More > at Real Clear Policy

Nike, Other Global Brands, Complicit in China Slave Labor – In March, the non-partisan Australian Strategic Policy Institute, in a report titled “Uyghurs for Sale,” accused Beijing of forcing more than 80,000 Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities to produce products for Nike and 82 other brands.

The report’s accusations against Nike are damning. “A factory in eastern China that manufacturers shoes for U.S. company Nike is equipped with watchtowers, barbed-wire fences, and police guard boxes,” it noted…. There, people have been kept against their will in inhumane conditions. This facility, a Nike supplier for more than three decades, produces approximately eight million pairs of shoes each year.

U.S. law provides that products made with forced labor can be seized, but those made in horrific conditions in China and elsewhere routinely are cleared through Customs and end up on the shelves of American retailers.

“Slave labor.”

That is the term U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo used on July 16 when speaking about China to television anchor Bill Hemmer on his Fox News show.

The polite phrase is “forced labor.” America’s top diplomat, however, was dropping the diplomacy and employing America’s most powerful weapon: Unvarnished truth.

The unvarnished — and horrific — truth is that the Chinese party-state has institutionalized slavery, ramped it up to industrial scale, and offered slaves to foreign companies. Moreover, compounding its crime, China picks its slaves from racial minority groups inside its borders. Read More > from the Gatestone Institute 

KFC hopes to develop the first lab-made chicken nuggets – The quest for lab-grown meat is extending to a staple of the fast food scene. The Verge reports KFC has teamed up with Moscow’s 3D Bioprinting Solutions with the goal of producing the world’s first lab-made chicken nuggets. The Russian firm is developing an additive printing technique using chicken cells and plant material that, ideally, recreates the “taste and texture” of natural chicken while keeping animal involvement to a minimum. KFC, meanwhile, will provide bread, spices and other ingredients to match the restaurant’s “signature” flavor.

KFC hopes to have a final nugget design ready for testing in Moscow by fall 2020.

As elsewhere, the lab-produced meat promises numerous advantages. It’s more environmentally friendly, as it doesn’t require nearly as much resources — KFC points to a study suggesting it requires 100 times less farm land, and cuts greenhouse gas emissions by 25 times. They’re also more ethical by avoiding harm to animals, and healthier due to the lack of chemicals. Read More > at Engadget

Bay Area of 2050 will be more crowded — planners want to make it more equitable, too – For the first time, the Bay Area’s largest planning agencies have mapped what the region might look like in 2050 — and it’s a place where new jobs and housing increasingly migrate to the South Bay.

The draft document known as Plan Bay Area 2050 anticipates less growth in San Francisco and Oakland than had been forecast in the past — though both would continue to develop — and more in San Jose and nearby parts of Santa Clara County. It also warns that even with governmental and investment strategies to try and preserve a diverse population, lower-income residents will still be under pressure from housing and transportation costs.

Plan Bay Area 2050 — which still must go through public review and receive final approval — is the latest in a series of regional plans dating to 1970. But this one could have more impact than most: Funds related to needs such as bay restoration and transportation upgrades increasingly are allocated on a regional basis. The state requires the report every five years to show regulators how the region will try to reduce the Bay Area’s share of greenhouse gas emissions in coming years. Overall, the plan anticipates that the region’s population will grow from roughly 7.9 million in 2020 to 10.3 million by 2050. The number of jobs within the nine counties would climb from 4.1 million to 5.4 million. Read More > in the San Francisco Chronicle

More on the Twitter breach – In this post we summarize the situation as of July 17 at 8:35p Pacific Time. The following information is what we know as of today and may change as our investigation and outside investigations continue. Additionally, as the investigation of this incident is unfolding, there are some details — particularly around remediation — that we are not providing right now to protect the security of the effort. We will provide more details, where possible in the future, so that the community and our peers may learn and benefit from what happened.

At this time, we believe attackers targeted certain Twitter employees through a social engineering scheme. What does this mean? In this context, social engineering is the intentional manipulation of people into performing certain actions and divulging confidential information.

The attackers successfully manipulated a small number of employees and used their credentials to access Twitter’s internal systems, including getting through our two-factor protections. As of now, we know that they accessed tools only available to our internal support teams to target 130 Twitter accounts. For 45 of those accounts, the attackers were able to initiate a password reset, login to the account, and send Tweets. We are continuing our forensic review of all of the accounts to confirm all actions that may have been taken. In addition, we believe they may have attempted to sell some of the usernames.

For up to eight of the Twitter accounts involved, the attackers took the additional step of downloading the account’s information through our “Your Twitter Data” tool. This is a tool that is meant to provide an account owner with a summary of their Twitter account details and activity. We are reaching out directly to any account owner where we know this to be true. None of the eight were verified accounts.

The most important question for people who use Twitter is likely — did the attackers see any of my private information? For the vast majority of people, we believe the answer is, no. For the 130 accounts that were targeted, here is what we know as of today.

  • Attackers were not able to view previous account passwords, as those are not stored in plain text or available through the tools used in the attack.
  • Attackers were able to view personal information including email addresses and phone numbers, which are displayed to some users of our internal support tools.
  • In cases where an account was taken over by the attacker, they may have been able to view additional information. Our forensic investigation of these activities is still ongoing.

We are actively working on communicating directly with the account-holders that were impacted. Read More > from Twitter

Walmart partners with Yahoo Mail for online grocery program – Walmart Inc. and Yahoo Mail have partnered for an online grocery program that will allow customers to fill their Walmart shopping cart directly from their email. “Groceries from Walmart” is available now on the Yahoo Mail iOS app and website, and will be available on Android later this year. Yahoo Mail is owned by Verizon Media. “Because of the unprecedented coronavirus challenge, online grocery shopping is now the new normal and Verizon Media is well positioned to take advantage of the behavior shifts,” said Guru Gowrappan, CEO of Verizon Media, in a statment. Last year, Yahoo Mail launched Grocery View, which offers users deals at their local grocery store. This option will allow customers to load up a Walmart basket and pick up items from the nearest location. Read More > at MarketWatch

Babies’ Mysterious Resilience to Coronavirus Intrigues Scientists – As the new coronavirus continues to burn through populations, studies are beginning to shed light on its impact on infants. And so far the findings have been promising for parents and researchers alike.

The initial data suggest that infants make up a small fraction of people who have tested positive for COVID-19. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study released in April reported 398 infections in children under one year of age—roughly 0.3 percent of all U.S. cases at that time for which age was known. In addition, most of these cases appear mild in nature: a recent review published in the Italian Journal of Pediatrics that looked at infants up to the age of six months found that those who were infected would typically exhibit only a slight cough, runny nose or fever, which disappeared in a week or so. Other studies have suggested similar minor reactions. The question is: Why?

One of the favored hypotheses focuses on how easily the new coronavirus can gain access to the body’s tissues. Infection occurs when particles of the virus, SARS-CoV-2, enter human cells through a receptor called ACE2 and hijack those cells’ machinery to make copies of themselves. These copies then invade new cells. The thinking is that infant cells have only a few ACE2 receptors, whereas those of an elderly person might harbor thousands. With fewer available points of entry in a baby, it could be harder for the virus to break in. Alternatively—and perhaps counterintuitively—an infant’s immune system might simply be too immature to attack SARS-CoV-2. Given that most of the damage in severe COVID-19 cases seems to be caused by strong immune responses, that immaturity may work in babies’ favor.

Although some of the details still need to be teased out, it is clear that infants are uniquely resilient to COVID-19—a finding that could aid in treatment development efforts. Scientists have already identified drugs that block certain inflammatory pathways in the body, and several are in clinical trials in COVID-19 patients. Another possibility is that drugs that target the ACE2 receptor could be the key to a vaccine or treatment. Read More > at Scientific American 

Historic Moon Landing Footage Has Been Enhanced by AI, And The Results Are Incredible – A photo and film restoration specialist, who goes by the name of DutchSteamMachine, has worked some AI magic to enhance original Apollo film, creating strikingly clear and vivid video clips and images.

Take a look at this enhanced footage from an Apollo 16 lunar rover traverse with Charlie Duke and John Young, where the footage that was originally shot with 12 frames per second (FPS) has been increased to 60 FPS. Read More > at Science Alert

‘Pent-Up Supply’ Floods San Francisco Housing Market, Most Since Housing Bust – There is a lot of discussion about the low levels of inventory for sale, as potential sellers have pulled their homes off the market or are not wanting to list their homes at the moment, waiting for the pandemic to blow over, or waiting for more certainty or whatever, or their mortgage is now in forbearance and they don’t want to make a move.

…But this is not the case everywhere. So we’re going to look at San Francisco, one of the most expensive housing markets in the US, based on weekly data that was compiled by real-estate brokerage Redfin, from local multiple listing service (MLS) and Redfin’s own data, updated at the end of the week.

San Francisco is now flooded with homes for sale. “Active listings” surged to 1,344 homes in the week ended July 5, up 65% from the same week last year, and the highest number since the housing bust amid a 145% year-over-year surge in “new listings.”

There normally is a seasonal surge in active listings after Labor Day that peaks in late October. But this month, the surge of active listings (1,344) has already blown by those peaks in October, including the multi-year peak of 1,296 in October 2019. This is “pent-up supply” coming on the market at the wrong time of the year when supply normally declines. Read More > at Seeking Alpha

Does Every Emergency Call Require Police Response? – Less than 10 percent of police responses involve a violent crime. Rethinking policing involves more than how police behave on the job. Often, they may not be the right people to answer calls of distress.

As the conversation about police reform heats up, one point of agreement between law enforcement and activists has come into focus: more often than not, police aren’t sent out to stop crime. Instead, they are dispatched to deal with citizens in distress, community members who need the kinds of help that law enforcement is not designed to provide.

recent analysis of calls for police service in 10 cities across the U.S. revealed that only about 1 percent involved violent crime. Other reports have put the figure at about 10 percent.

Today’s policing can involve “bad guys” who are more defenseless than dangerous. A 2015 report from the Los Angeles city administrative officer estimated that arrests of homeless persons accounted for over 14 percent of all arrests made by police in a year, at a cost of $80 million. At that time, the homeless population was estimated at 23,000; the current number is more than 53,000.

…Subramanian wants to see investments in pilot projects, based on best practices and research regarding innovative approaches, that go beyond business as usual to get at problems such as addiction, educational failure, homelessness, and unemployment that breed trouble in communities. Read More > at Governing

About Kevin

Mayor - City of Oakley, Manager of Mainframe Operations and Optimization – USS-POSCO INDUSTRIES, Co-Founder and Board Member - Friends of Oakley A Community Foundation, Commissioner - Contra Costa Transportation Authority, Board Member - Tri Delta Transit, Transplan, San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority and RD 2137, Advisory Board – Opportunity Junction
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1 Response to Sunday Reading – 07/26/2020

  1. Teri says:

    Always enjoy the articles.

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