The MGM plan released Tuesday offered a first look at how Atlantic City casinos plan to operate to protect both employees and guests from the coronavirus.
The new rules include:
— Daily temperature checks for all employees, as well as screening measures to determine whether they have infection symptoms and where they are in contact with those who have been infected, such as someone in their household or someone they care for.
— Guests who think they may have been exposed will be “strongly encouraged” to stay at home and not travel.
— All employees must wear masks, and all guests will be encouraged to do so in public areas. The casino will hand out free masks to guests.
— Workers will be trained on proper cleaning procedures and other steps to protect against the virus.
— Employees who handle food, clean public areas and enter guest rooms must wear gloves. Other workers also may required to wear personal protective equipment.
— Guests still will be able to order beverages but not food on the casino floor, and can remove their masks to drink.
— Frequent cleaning and disinfecting of slot machines, tables and kiosks.
— Stations for handwashing and hand sanitizing in high-traffic areas.
— A six-foot social distancing policy will be followed whenever possible, with signs and floor guides to help separate patrons. In areas where the distancing policy cannot be followed, plexiglass barriers will be installed or employees will be given eye protection.
— Poker rooms may not reopen when the rest of the casino does, depending on guidance from state officials and medical experts.
— Plexiglass barriers throughout the casino and lobbies.
— Medical personnel on staff to respond in case a guest or employee tests positive for COVID-19. Exposed areas will be sanitized and efforts will be made for contact tracing, notifying those who may have been in contact with the individual.
— Limits on how many people can share an elevator cab.
— Allowing guests to check in to their hotel rooms digitally without having contact with anyone at the front desk.
— Digital menus and text notifications when tables are ready, eliminating the need to wait in line.
It remains to be seen if the steps are sufficient to win the approval of Unite Here, the union that represents 10,600 Atlantic City workers. Their plan called for having the state gaming commission ensure that the casinos were taking the necessary steps to protect employees and guests.
The union said that the six-foot distance between customers needed to be followed at slot machines and table games, dice and chips needed to be frequently sanitized, buffets needed to be suspended and spas and pools needed to close temporarily.
“It’s good that the company is talking about it, but we need them to work in partnership with frontline workers to come up with a full plan to protect guest and workers,” said Mayra Gonzalez, a line server at Borgata and a member of Unite Here.
In Jefferson County, Pennsylvania, a Brookville teen was sentenced to two years of probation on Monday after pleading guilty to animal cruelty as he and another teen were caught on a viral video kicking and abusing an injured deer.
Alexander Smith, 18, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor cruelty to animals and four summary offenses, according to the Jefferson Prothonotary’s Office. Smith had originally been charged with four counts of felony animal cruelty, but those charges have since been dismissed.
According to CbsPittsburgh ,the video was posted on November 30 by Gregg Rossman, who identified the teens after first seeing the footage on Snapchat.
“Something definitely needs done. This video was shared to me from a mutual friend on Snapchat,” Rossman said. “I was not a part of this! I shared simply to get the attention of authorities!”
Video: (copy and paste url into your browser to view )
The viral video showed Smith and another teen laughing as they kicked the injured white-tailed buck in the face and ripped off one of her antlers. Brookville Police Chief Vince Markle identified one of the teens in the video as his stepson and stated he was sickened by the situations.
In addition to two years of probation, Smith will also serve 200 hours of community service and must be available to the game commission to speak at hunting safety courses, schools and youth groups. Smith also had his hunting license revoked for 15 years.
No information has been made available as to the other teen involved in this egregious animal cruelty case.
Photograph by David Chancellor, National Geographic Read Caption
New invasions are hitting just as growing season gets underway, threatening millions with hunger.
By Haley Cohen Gilliland Photographs by David Chancellor PUBLISHED May 12, 2020
“These…swarms…are terrifying,” Albert Lemasulani narrated breathlessly as he recorded a video of himself swatting his way through a crush of desert locusts in northern Kenya this April. The insects, more than two inches long, whirred around him in thick clouds, their wings snapping like ten thousand card decks being shuffled in unison. He groaned: “They are in the millions. Everywhere…eating…it really is a nightmare.” null
Lemasulani, 40, lives with his family in Oldonyiro, where he herds goats that survive on shrubs and trees. He’d previously heard of locusts only from stories passed down in the community. That changed earlier this year when the largest invasion of the voracious insects in decades descended on East Africa. With their seemingly bottomless appetites, locusts can cause devastating agricultural losses. An adult desert locust can munch through its own bodyweight, about 0.07 ounces, of vegetation every day. Swarms can swell to 70 billion insects—enough to blanket New York City more than once—and can destroy 300 million pounds of crops in a single day. Even a more modest gathering of 40 million desert locusts can eat as much in a day as 35,000 people.
A large swarm of locusts descends on acacia trees in northern Kenya in April. Swarms can swell to 70 billion insects—enough to cover New York City 1.5 times—and to decimate 300 million pounds of crops in a single day.Photograph by David Chancellor, National Geographic
This is the worst “upsurge”—the category of intensity below “plague”—of desert locusts experienced in Ethiopia and Somalia for 25 years and in Kenya for 70 years. The region’s growing season is underway, and as the swarms have grown while the coronavirus complicates mitigation efforts, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates up to 25 millionEast Africans will suffer from food shortages later this year. null
Some 13 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Djibouti, and Eritrea already suffer from “severe food insecurity,” according to the FAO, meaning they may go without eating for an entire day or have run out of food altogether.
“We fear for our future because these kinds of swarms will mean we don’t have anything to feed our animals,” Lemasulani says. Farmers are equally worried about their crops. “We pray God will clear the locusts for us. It’s as terrifying as COVID-19.” null
In the beginning
Desert locusts flourish when arid areas are doused with rain, because they seek to lay their eggs in damp, sandy soil near vegetation that can sustain the young until their wings develop enough for the insects to forage farther afield.
A dead locust sits on a tree branch. Desert locusts can grow to about four inches long and live for three to five months. Their life cycle consists of three phases: egg, hopper, and adult. Locusts are often solitary, but under the right conditions, they breed exponentially and transform into social, or “gregarious,” creatures, which change color and form large, destructive swarms. Until 1921, people believed that gregarious locusts and solitary desert locusts were two different species.
Desert locusts tend to feed on green vegetation and can pick plants bare, including this bush in northern Kenya. The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization warns that if they migrate further into agricultural areas, millions of people could face hunger.Photograph by David Chancellor, National Geographic
Albert Lemasulani, a Kenyan pastoralist, has voluntarily tracked locust swarms for the Kenyan government and the FAO since the insects appeared near his hometown of Oldonyiro, in northern Kenya, in January. They’re typically controlled with pesticides, but because locust swarms can move up to 80 miles a day, simply finding them can be a challenge.Photograph by David Chancellor, National Geographic
Usually, when locusts have space to spread out, they actively avoid one another. But in favorable circumstances, desert locust populations can multiply 20-fold every three months. Crowding together as a result of this increased breeding triggers a behavior change. No longer loners, they turn into social or “gregarious” creatures, forming large swarms.
Recently, conditions for procreation and migration have been not just favorable—but ideal. In 2018 and 2019, a series of cyclones that scientists link to unusually warm seas rolled in off the Indian Ocean and soaked a sandy desert in the Arabian Peninsula known as the Empty Quarter. A locust boom followed. null
“We often think of deserts as environments that are very harsh and low productivity, which they are a lot of the time,” says National Geographic grantee Dino Martins, an entomologist, evolutionary biologist, and executive director of the Mpala Research Centre in northern Kenya. The center is working to sequence the desert locust’s genome to to learn what environmental and genetic factors may prompt the locusts’ transformation from solitary to gregarious. “When [deserts] have the right conditions, they can flip, and you can move to a situation with lots of biological activity. That’s basically what we’re seeing now,” he says.
This valley is on the locusts’ route, which is largely determined by the wind.Photograph by David Chancellor, National Geographic
By June 2019, large swarms were on the move, traveling over the Red Sea to Ethiopia and Somalia. Aided by uncommonly heavy rains that buffeted East Africa from Octoberto December, the insects spread south to Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania.
Frozen desert locusts stored at the Mpala Research Centre are kept on hand to study. Scientists there are working to help sequence the insect’s genome. “The desert locust is an enigmatic creature who leads a two-faced life,” says Dino Martins, executive director of the research center. On the one hand, it’s “a pretty unremarkable, ordinary grasshopper struggling to survive, and, when better conditions allow…[it’s] a voracious, upwardly, and onwardly mobile beast.” Desert locusts have one one of the largest genomes known of any animal, he says.
Ivy Ngiru, the center’s research lab manager, inspects frozen desert locusts. Scientists hope that sequencing the desert locust’s genome will allow them to better understand what genetic and environmental variables prompt the locusts’ transformation from solitary to wildly social, swarming creatures.Photograph by David Chancellor, National Geographic
Since the locusts first reached East Africa, favorable breeding conditions have continued, and the swarms have expanded. “I can’t tell you if it’s by 20 times, but [the population] is much bigger,” says Cyril Ferrand, Resilience Team Leader for East Africa at the FAO, which monitors the desert locust situation globally.
When the first wave of locusts arrived in the region in late 2019, most of last year’s crops had reached maturity or been harvested. But the timing of the current, so-called “second generation”—an even more massive wave—is especially worrisome.
That’s because East Africa’s primary growing season begins around mid-March, and the emerging plants are particularly vulnerable to locusts, says Anastasia Mbatia, the technical manager of agriculture at Farm Africa, a charity that works with farmers, pastoralists, and forest communities in East Africa. “When [locusts] feed on the germinating leaves, the crop cannot grow,” she says. “Farmers would need to sow seeds again.” But a second planting in the weeks ahead likely would not be successful, as the best growing weather has already passed.
Spraying for relief
To stem the explosion of locusts, governments often spray pesticides—either from the air or directly on the ground. FAO’s Ferrand says sourcing such chemicals during the COVID-19 pandemic is a challenge. “We have had delays in supply. That means managing the [pesticide stocks] today is a very different reality because there are fewer planes moving globally,” he says.
Desert locusts tend to fly during the daytime and roost in the evening. Lemasulani says he tries to locate them in the afternoons, so pesticide sprayers have the best chance of finding them.Photograph by David Chancellor, National Geographic
Even more difficult in places such as Kenya that have little experience with gigantic locust invasions is deciding where to spray. Depending on the winds, which largely determine locust flight patterns, a swarm might travel 80 miles in a day. (In 1988, desert locusts were found to have crossed from West Africa to the Caribbean in just 10 days.)
To chase down these highly mobile swarms, the FAO is relying increasingly on information provided by local people, including Lemasulani, who began voluntarily tracking locust swarms in January.
Drawing on an extensive network of contacts who call him when they spot pockets of the insects, Lemasulani hires motorbike taxis to speed him to swarms. When he finds them, he enters their coordinates in a mobile phone app called elocust3m that was released in late February by David Hughesand his colleagues at Penn State University’s PlantVillage program, an open access public resource for smallholder farmers. Hughes developed the app at the request of the FAO, whose field staff have operated a similar tracking program on specialized tablets since 2014. The data are then shared with the government, which can decide how best to react.
Until recently, when PlantVillage began paying him a stipend to cover his transport and telephone costs, Lemasulani paid for his locust scouting out of his own pocket. (His travels have been exempted from COVID-19 restrictions, as are training sessions for new elocust3m volunteers—residents in areas where swarms are expected—who nonetheless must wear masks and stay six feet apart.)
As Lemasulani wraps a red shawl around his shoulders to protect himself from the rain that has begun to fall outside his home, he says over video chat, “I come from a poor family background and got sponsored by the Catholic church in Oldonyiro though my primary and high school years. I was sponsored by a person I have never met. There is no way I can pay my sponsor back, but I feel noble giving back to my community.”
Show captionMadrid’s Las Ventas bullring is deserted, following the cancellation of the 2020 bullfighting season due to the coronavirus lockdown. Photograph: JuanJo Martin/EPABullfighting
For months the ranchers had laid the groundwork; grazing and exercising a select crop of half-tonne fighting bulls to be transported to arenas and festivals across the country. Then – just as Spain’s bullfighting season was set to kick off – the country was plunged into lockdown.
“It was dreadful,” said Victorino Martín, a second-generation breeder of fighting bulls. “The coronavirus came at the worst possible moment.”
The lockdown brought the bullfighting sector to a standstill as Spanish authorities scrambled to control one of the world’s deadliest outbreaks, with more than 26,000 lives claimed. Weeks later, though urban hotspots like Madrid and Barcelona remain under lockdown, elsewhere measures have eased, and industries ranging from travel to car manufacturing have turned to the government for help in navigating Spain’s new normal.
No request has been as controversial as that made by the bullfighting sector. Long reviled by animal rights campaigners who see it as cruel and outdated, bullfighting’s fight for survival has triggered a fierce debate over its future in Spanish society.
“The bullfighting sector is – and will be – one of the most affected by the dramatic situation that we’re living through,” bullfighter Cayetano Rivera said recently on social media, after dozens of events, including Pamplona’s running of the bulls, were cancelled.
Bullfighter Cayetano Rivera in the ring in Jaen, southern Spain, in October 2019. Photograph: SALAS/EPA
With the virus threatening to wipe out much of the season, which runs until October, he appealed to Spaniards to consider the tens of thousands of people thrown out of work as the industry struggles. “We can’t forget the many people and families who depend, either directly or indirectly, on the bullfighting world to live.”
The estimated loss of income so far is at least €700m (£797m), said Martín, who also heads the Fundación del Toro de Lidia, which was created in 2015 to defend the industry. “Even more concerning is that we don’t know when we’ll be able to restart our activities,” he said. “Meanwhile, the animals continue to eat. You have to take care of them and the employees.”
The industry is in discussions with television networks about broadcasting bullfights behind closed doors – a measure Martín hopes could help the beleaguered industry.
But with little chance that crowds will be allowed to return to the streets for bull fiestas or into arenas for bullfights, he was steeling himself for his worst-case scenario: cancellation of the entire season. “What industry could survive a year and a half without any income and still cover its costs?”
Animal rights activists protest against bullfights before the San Fermin annual running of the bulls in Pamplona in 2018. Photograph: Pablo Blázquez Domínguez/Getty Images
A handful of ranchers have already given up, he said. “There are breeders that have slaughtered all of their animals … I know there was a week where more than 400 were killed.”
The economics of that make little sense, as it can cost up to €5,000 to rear a bull while the slaughterhouse pays €500, he noted. But for those who have bulls that will outgrow the strict age limits on bullfighting and street festivals if they are not used this year, it is one of the few options.
The Unión de Criadores de Toros, which represents the interests of some 345 breeders of fighting bulls, estimates that more than 7,000 bulls had been raised for this year’s season.
The industry has turned to the Spanish government for help, outlining a list of requests that include a rollback of the sales tax on fighting bulls and grants to help breeders. “We want them to treat us as they would any other cultural industry,” said Martín, citing the economic spinoffs for hotels, restaurants and bars generated by events.
Their request has been met with stiff opposition. More than 100,000 people have signed an online petition urging the government not to use public funds to prop up bullfighting.
“It’s outrageous – particularly at this moment, when there are families that don’t have enough to eat and hospitals that have been decimated by cutbacks,” said Aïda Gascón of AnimaNaturalis, an animal rights group that is one of the organisations behind the petition. “Public funds should not be used to promote and pay for spectacles based on the abuse and mistreatment of animals.”
Similar petitions have been launched in Portugal and France, where the local bullfighting industries have also asked for government help. “Bullfighting is facing the most critical moment of its existence,” the petition noted. “We have a unique opportunity … to build a world without bullfighting.”
The assertion is borne out by Spain’s last economic crisis, which saw cash-strapped municipalities shift funds away from festivals involving bulls. In 2007, one year before the financial crash, Spain held 3,651 events featuring bulls. Just over a decade later, this number had more than halved, with 1,521 such events held in 2018.
Spain’s economic minister, Nadia Calviño, predicts that Spain’s GDP could shrink by 9.2% this year and animal rights groups are pushing for bullfighting to be cut off from public funding.
“What we’re looking for is the total abolition of this practice of torturing animals as a form of spectacle,” said Gascón. “One way to do that is to choke off their subsidies … it wouldn’t get rid of the industry completely but it would reduce it to 5% or 10% of what we have today.”
PETITION: Justice for Dog Repeatedly Punched in Face for Viral ‘Boxing’ Video
PETITION TARGET: Ada County Prosecutor Jan M. Bennetts
In a sickening video posted on Snapchat, a German shepherd cried out in pain as he was punched in the face over and over by a woman wearing boxing gloves in Eagle, Idaho.
“I hit him so hard, I felt that through –” the attacker said, as the video abruptly ends.
As the suspect repeatedly struck the visibly terrified canine, someone in the background made a taunting statement against animal lovers and laughed.
“We’re boxing animals. Where’s Sarah McLachlan?” the onlooker snidely remarked, referencing the popular singer and animal rights activist, before erupting into laughter at the violence unfolding before his eyes.
Disturbed viewers are overwhelmingly responding to the horrifying clip, which went viral on social media, with demands for justice. The suspect could face an animal abuse charge, Idaho Humane Society spokesperson Kristine Schellhaas told the Idaho Statesman, but for now, the case sits on the prosecutor’s desk, awaiting a decision.
The person who beat this innocent dog in an obvious display of cruelty must not get away with their actions. Sign this petition urging Ada County Prosecutor Jan M. Bennetts to charge the perpetrator for their suspected crimes, and to prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.
"There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily" – George Washington letter to Edmund Randolph — 1795. We live in a “post-truth” world. According to the dictionary, “post-truth” means, “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Simply put, we now live in a culture that seems to value experience and emotion more than truth. Truth will never go away no matter how hard one might wish. Going beyond the MSM idealogical opinion/bias and their low information tabloid reality show news with a distractional superficial focus on entertainment, sensationalism, emotionalism and activist reporting – this blogs goal is to, in some small way, put a plug in the broken dam of truth and save as many as possible from the consequences—temporal and eternal. "The further a society drifts from truth, the more it will hate those who speak it." – George Orwell “There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” ― Soren Kierkegaard