just kidding
September 21, 2020

The CDC is already walking back its latest COVID-19 guidance.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently updated its website to acknowledge that the coronavirus is spread through the air and that "there is growing evidence that droplets and airborne particles can remain suspended in the air and be breathed in by others, and travel distances beyond 6 feet," as reported by CNN on Sunday. But the agency is already walking this guidance back, as The Washington Post reports the new guidelines have now been removed. A top CDC official told the Post, "that does not reflect our current state of knowledge."

The relevant page on the CDC's website now features a message which reads, "A draft version of proposed changes to these recommendations was posted in error to the agency's official website." The message also says that the CDC is "currently updating its recommendations regarding airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19)" and that "once this process has been completed, the update language will be posted."

This is yet another reversal at the CDC after last month, the agency raised eyebrows when it released a guidance that suggested not everyone exposed to COVID-19 "necessarily" needs to be tested if they are asymptomatic. Amid criticism from experts, and a report from The New York Times saying that this change was not written by CDC scientists and was published despite their objections, this guidance change was ultimately reversed.

Experts had praised the recent CDC guidance on airborne transmission of COVID-19, with University of Maryland professor Donald Milton telling CNN, "I'm very encouraged to see that the CDC is paying attention and moving with the science." Brendan Morrow

July 10, 2020

Amazon employees can apparently download TikTok again.

On Friday, The New York Times broke the news that Amazon sent an email to employees telling them they had to delete TikTok from their cell phones due to "security risks." Staffers were reportedly told they needed to have the app deleted by Friday in order to continue accessing their Amazon email. It was major news that generated headlines across the internet following Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying earlier this week the United States was considering potentially banning the Chinese-owned app.

But just hours later, Amazon says actually, forget about all that, as the company now claims it sent the email to employees accidentally.

"This morning's email to some of our employees was sent in error," an Amazon spokesperson told The Verge. "There is no change to our policies right now with regard to TikTok."

If it was an error, it's quite a mistake to make given all the attention the news got, although considering the company did evidently have an email ready to go for this scenario, "right now" may be the key phrase in that statement. Brendan Morrow

December 4, 2019

Tesla CEO Elon Musk argued in his defamation trial Wednesday that when he called a British diver "pedo guy," this was clearly a flippant remark and that using the word "guy" made it "less significant than pedo."

Musk is being sued for defamation by Vernon Unsworth, a diver who helped rescue soccer players trapped in a Thailand cave and who Musk publicly called a "pedo guy" on Twitter last year. The Tesla CEO has been arguing that when he called Unsworth a "pedo guy," he was not legitimately accusing him of being a pedophile, claiming this was simply a common insult used in South Africa, where he grew up, to call someone creepy.

Musk continued to make that argument on the second day of his trial Wednesday, arguing that his use of the word "guy" further shows that it was not a literal accusation.

"Pedo guy is more flippant than pedo, especially in the context I used in the tweet," Musk said Wednesday, Agence France-Presse reports. "It's obviously an insult, no one interpreted it as meaning he was actually a pedophile."

Musk did, however, also call Unsworth a "child rapist" in an email exchange with BuzzFeed News, during which he also invited Unsworth to sue him. "I f---ing hope he sues me," Musk wrote to BuzzFeed. That quote that was read in court on Tuesday, CNN reports, to which Musk responded, "Yeah, I guess be careful what you wish for." Brendan Morrow

March 14, 2019

A Republican senator who announced he would vote to terminate President Trump's national emergency declaration just flip-flopped completely.

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) in an op-ed for The Washington Post last month said that he would vote with Democrats to terminate Trump's declaration of a national emergency over the southern border. Trump made this declaration after a partial government shutdown in an attempt to obtain southern border wall funding without congressional approval. Tillis also told the Post it was an easy decision, saying: "It's never a tough vote for me when I'm standing on principle."

Tillis had warned that a future Democratic president could similarly bypass Congress in an attempt to pass an agenda conservatives may not be happy with, saying that "as a U.S. senator, I cannot justify providing the executive with more ways to bypass Congress." He also compared the use of emergency declarations to "acting more like an 'emperor' or 'king' than a president" and said that he would, therefore, vote in favor of blocking it.

But the Senate on Thursday voted to pass a resolution doing just that, and despite Tillis previously saying he would vote yes on it, he voted no. Tillis is up for re-election in 2020, and The Washington Post's Robert Costa reports that conservative activists and donors were "ready to start drafting primary challengers" if he voted in favor of the resolution. CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports the White House threatened to play a role in primarying Republican defectors. The resolution ultimately passed the Senate with 59 votes, without help from Tillis. Brendan Morrow

January 31, 2019

Following widespread backlash to a report that several original songs were being cut from the 2019 Oscars, at least one will be allowed on the show after all.

Variety reported last week that, in an attempt to cut down the length of this year's Academy Awards, the show's producers would only be allowing two of the five nominees for original song to perform. According to the report, "Shallow" from A Star Is Born and "All the Stars" from Black Panther made the cut, but "I'll Fight" from RBG, "The Place Where Lost Things Go" from Mary Poppins Returns, and “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings” from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs didn't. Typically, all five original songs are performed, and the decision to cut three of them was not received well, especially not by Mary Poppins Returns star Lin Manuel-Miranda.

But the Academy is responding to this controversy right on time — a full week later — by saying that Jennifer Hudson will, in fact, perform "I'll Fight" from RBG.

The Hollywood Reporter now quotes inside sources as saying Variety's original report was not accurate, suggesting there may turn out to be a place for "The Place Where Lost Things Go" and "When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings," too. No other performances have been officially lined up, though. The Academy should probably get around to clarifying this pretty soon, as the 91st Academy Awards will air on Feb. 24. Brendan Morrow

January 14, 2019

President Trump has decided he won't declare a national emergency to build his border wall.

Amid an ongoing government shutdown, Trump has floated the idea of declaring a national emergency to pay for a border wall with Mexico. But asked Monday if he's still considering that option, Trump said he's "not looking to do that" because "this is so simple, you shouldn't have to."

Most lawmakers, including Republicans, warned Trump against declaring a national emergency, saying a potential Democratic president could do the same regarding climate change. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), though, strongly compelled Trump to "declare a national emergency NOW" on Friday. He then suggested Trump reopen the government and, if border wall negotiations don't move forward, declare a national emergency later.

Trump turned down that idea on Monday, hitting Democrats for visiting Puerto Rico this past weekend instead of discussing the longest-ever government shutdown. If Democrats would give in to Trump's $5.7 billion border funding demand, reopening the government would be "simple," he says. With both national emergency options rejected and Democrats still unwilling to bend, it's unclear just how Trump intends to reopen the government and get what he wants. Kathryn Krawczyk

November 20, 2018

The Pentagon may not begin winding down its mission at the southern border this week after all.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Northern Command told Politico Tuesday that "no specific timeline for redeployment has been determined," adding that more details would be provided "as they become available." Just one day earlier, Army Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, who heads the deployment, actually provided a specific timeline, telling Politico some troops would begin coming home as early as this week and would all be leaving the border by Dec. 15. "Our end date right now is Dec. 15, and I've got no indications from anybody that we'll go beyond that," Buchanan said.

The new Army statement disputes that, and merely says that some troops may be shifted "to other areas of the border," such as in California. These members of the military were sent by Trump in response to an approaching caravan of Central American migrants, which he has dubbed an "invasion" even though most are fleeing poverty and violence. After Buchanan said Monday that the mission was about to be wrapped up, Democrats pointed to this as evidence that the whole thing was nothing more than a stunt to energize Trump's base on Election Day, but now, whether it's true that the troops actually will be leaving in the immediate future remains unclear. Brendan Morrow

May 7, 2018

After examining detailed scans and cross-checking results, researchers at the University of Turin made a disappointing announcement: King Tutankhamen's tomb does not contain a hidden chamber.

In 2015, English archaeologist Nicholas Reeves published a paper called "The Burial of Nefertiti," and in it, he claimed King Tut's tomb, which is on the smaller side, was actually designed for Queen Nefertiti, whose remains have never been found. Reeves came up with his theory after looking at scans of the tomb and seeing traces of doors beneath the plaster, BBC News reports.

Based on this, Egyptian authorities said they were "90 percent sure" that there was a secret room in the tomb. Researchers at the University of Turin looked at new penetrating radar scans and determined that the hidden room just doesn't exist. "It is maybe a little bit disappointing that there is nothing behind the walls of Tutankhamen's tomb, but I think on the other hand that this is good science," said Dr. Francesco Porcelli, head of the research team. Egypt's antiquities minister said he accepts the results. Catherine Garcia

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