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Name: Chris Bastian
Gender: Male
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Home country: USA
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 85,603

Journal Archives

50 years ago, 'The Electric Company' used comedy to boost kids' reading skills


When The Electric Company debuted in October 1971, television hadn't seen anything quite like it. Psychedelic graphics, wildly creative animation, mod outfits, over-the-top characters and sketch comedy all functioned to serve the same goal: teaching kids to read.

Brought to you by the Children's Television Workshop (CTW) — the same producers behind Sesame Street, which debuted in 1969 — The Electric Company won two Emmys, aired on more than 250 public TV stations and became a teaching tool in thousands of classrooms nationwide.

The show's cast included Academy Award winner Rita Moreno, Bill Cosby and a then-unknown Morgan Freeman. Guest stars included Mel Brooks, Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder and Joan Rivers. The teen pop band Short Circus (get it?) included future star Irene Cara. The comedy writers were among the best in the business and later went on to work on hit TV shows, including MASH and Everybody Loves Raymond.

Scientists discover trace of ancient life in a 2.5 billion-year-old ruby


Scientists say they have found a trace of ancient life inside a 2.5 billion-year-old ruby.

The ruby sample from Greenland, where the oldest known deposits of rubies are found, contained graphite -- a mineral made of pure carbon. Chemical signatures in the carbon suggested it was a residue of early life.

"The graphite inside this ruby is really unique. It's the first time we've seen evidence of ancient life in ruby-bearing rocks," said Chris Yakymchuk, professor of earth and environmental sciences at the University of Waterloo in Canada, in a news release.

The graphite is found in rocks older than 2.5 billion years ago, a time on Earth when oxygen was wanting in the atmosphere and single-cell life existed only in microorganisms and algae.

A West Coast storm breaks records as another storm threatens 70 million Americans in the eastern US

Source: CNN

(CNN)After the West Coast got walloped by record-setting rainfall and dangerous mudslides -- with more heavy rain in store today -- 70 million Americans in the eastern US are now also at risk for severe weather.

The threat zone Monday stretches from the southern Appalachians to New York City, according to the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center.

Damaging winds will be the main threat, with some isolated threats of large hail or tornadoes.

Flash flooding is another concern. From Massachusetts to New Jersey, flash flood watches will be in effect from Monday evening through Tuesday afternoon.

Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2021/10/25/weather/california-east-coast-storms/index.html

Georgia man used majority of COVID-19 relief loan to purchase $57K Pokemon card, prosecutors say

Source: The Hill

A Georgia man is facing federal charges after prosecutors allege he used a pandemic relief loan to purchase an over $57,000 Pokemon card, according to The Telegraph.

The charges, filed with the Southern District of Georgia, allege Vinath Oudomsine of Dublin, Ga., falsified information on a pandemic relief loan application through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program in relation to his business’s number of employees and gross revenue. He was awarded an $85,000 loan on Aug. 4, 2020.

Five months later, prosecutors say Oudomsine then used $57,789 of the loan to purchase a Pokemon card, though which card is not disclosed.

Oudomsine is facing one count of wire fraud.

Read more: https://thehill.com/changing-america/resilience/smart-cities/578330-georgia-man-used-majority-of-covid-19-relief-loan-to

Manchin shutting down Sanders on Medicare expansion

Source: The Hill

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on Monday shut down one of Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) biggest priorities, expanding Medicare, which Manchin warned would undermine the solvency of the broader program.

Sanders insisted in a tweet Saturday that his proposal to expand Medicare to cover dental, hearing and vision must be included in a budget reconciliation package, that is likely to come in well below the $3.5 trillion price tag Democratic leaders initially envisioned.

But Manchin on Monday threw cold water on Sanders’s push to expand Medicare, warning the program faces insolvency in 2026.

“My big concern right now is the 2026 deadline [for] Medicare insolvency and if no one’s concerned about that, I’ve got people — that’s a lifeline. Medicare and Social Security is a lifeline for people back in West Virginia, most people around the country,” Manchin warned.

Read more: https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/578319-manchin-shutting-down-sanders-on-medicare-expansion

WMATA: No timeline to return 7000 series cars to service as inspections continue (Washington, DC)

Mass Transit

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) says reduced Metrorail service will continue at least through Oct. 31 with service every 15-10 minutes on the Red Line and every 20-30 minutes on other lines.

WMATA had to pull roughly 60 percent of its fleet after an Oct. 12 derailment involving its 7000-series railcars. The Washington Metrorail Safety Commission ordered WMATA to pull the cars by 5:00 a.m. Oct. 18. The 7000-series car involved in the derailment was found to have a fourth axle that was out of compliance with specifications for the 7000-series car wheel and axle assembly. However, this has not been named as the cause of the incident and the National Transportation Safety Board continues to investigate the cause of the derailment.

In a media briefing on Oct. 22, WMATA General Manager Paul Wiedefeld did not provide a timeline for when the 7000-series railcars would return to service, stating several times the safety of the railcars would drive their return to service.

Germany jails ISIS woman over death of Yazidi girl

Source: Politico

A German woman who joined the Islamic State group (ISIS) was sentenced Monday to 10 years in prison for letting an enslaved Yazidi girl die of thirst in the sun.

During her time in Iraq, Jennifer Wenisch stood by while her then-husband and ISIS fighter tied up a Yazidi girl outside their house in scorching heat and left her to die of thirst, the court heard. The 5-year-old had been tied up as a punishment for wetting her bed.

The child was “defenseless and helplessly exposed,” the judge said in the Munich Higher Regional Court, according to DPA — and Wenisch did “nothing” to help.

Wenisch, who denied the charges, was found guilty of “two crimes against humanity in the form of enslavement,” as well as aiding and abetting the girl’s killing by failing to offer help.

Read more: https://www.politico.eu/article/germany-jails-returned-isis-wife-for-crimes-against-humanity/

Readout of the President's Breakfast Meeting with Leader Schumer and Senator Manchin

Source: The White House

This morning, the President hosted Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Joe Manchin for breakfast at his home in Wilmington for what was a productive discussion about the Build Back Better Agenda, including equipping Americans to get back to work and making our economy deliver for the middle class — not just those at the top. They continued to make progress, will have their staffs work on follow-ups from the meeting, and agreed to stay in close touch with each other and the wide range of members who have worked hard on these negotiations.

Read more: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/10/24/readout-of-the-presidents-breakfast-meeting-with-leader-schumer-and-senator-manchin/

James Michael Tyler, who played Gunther on 'Friends,' has died


(CNN)James Michael Tyler, best known as the coffee shop manager Gunther on the hit show "Friends," died peacefully at his home on Sunday, according to his representative Toni Benson. He was 59.

"The world knew him as Gunther (the seventh "Friend", from the hit series Friends, but Michael's loved ones knew him as an actor, musician, cancer-awareness advocate, and loving husband," Benson's statement read.

Tyler passed away at his Los Angeles home Sunday after a battle with prostate cancer, which was first diagnosed in 2018, according to Benson.

"Michael loved live music, cheering on his Clemson Tigers, and would often find himself in fun and unplanned adventures. If you met him once you made a friend for life," the statement read.

If memory serves, he didn't show up in the FRIENDS reunion special.

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