Day: October 2, 2020

Two Stanford scholars have been named American Physical Society Fellows

JAMES CRYAN, an investigator with the Stanford PULSE Institute (a joint institute of Stanford University and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory), and ALISON MARSDEN, associate professor of pediatrics (cardiology) and of bioengineering, have been honored by the American Physical Society as 2020 American Physical Society Fellows.

James Cryan and Alison Marsden have been honored by the American Physical Society as 2020 American Physical Society Fellows. (Cryan credit: Courtesy SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory; Marsden credit: L.A. Cicero)

The APS Fellowship Program was created to recognize members who have made advances in physics through original research and publications or made significant innovative contributions in the application of physics to science and technology. They may also have made significant contributions to the teaching of physics or service and participation in the activities of the society.

Marsden was nominated by the APS Division of Fluid Dynamics for “the development of numerical methods for cardiovascular blood flow simulation and their application to cardiovascular surgery and congenital heart disease.”

Cryan was nominated by the APS Division of Atomic, Molecular & Optical Physics for “the pioneering development of ultrafast and strong-field atomical, molecular and optical physics at X-ray free electron lasers.”

Fellowship is a distinct honor signifying recognition by one’s professional peers. Each year, no more than one half of one percent of the society’s membership (excluding student members) is recognized for election to the status of Fellow of the American Physical Society.

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U.S. government appeals judge’s ruling to block WeChat app store ban

By David Shepardson

FILE PHOTO: The messenger app WeChat is seen among U.S. flags in this illustration picture

© Reuters/Florence Lo
FILE PHOTO: The messenger app WeChat is seen among U.S. flags in this illustration picture

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department on Friday said it was appealing a judge’s decision to block the government from barring Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google from offering Chinese-owned messaging app WeChat for download in U.S. app stores.

The government said it was appealing the Sept. 19 preliminary junction issued by U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The injunction blocked the U.S. Commerce Department order, which would also bar other U.S. transactions with Tencent Holding’s WeChat, potentially making the app unusable in the United States.


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A U.S. spokesman for Tencent did not immediately comment.

The Justice Department said earlier that Beeler’s order was in error and “permits the continued, unfettered use of WeChat, a mobile application that the Executive Branch has determined constitutes a threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”

Lawyers for the U.S. WeChat Users Alliance, the group behind the legal challenge to the WeChat ban, said on Friday the department “has still presented no compelling national security interest to justify such an unprecedented ban” and will oppose the effort.

The group noted Tencent tried to negotiate a settlement with the Commerce Department and offered a number of mitigation measures to address data security concerns.

Beeler said WeChat users “have shown serious questions going to the merits of the First Amendment claim.” The U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech.

WeChat has had an average of 19 million daily active users in the United States, analytics firms Apptopia said in early August. It is popular among Chinese students, Americans living in China and some Americans who have personal or business relationships in China.

WeChat is an all-in-one mobile app that combines services similar to Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Venmo. The app is an essential part of daily life for many in China and boasts more than 1 billion users.

On Sunday, U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols in Washington issued a similar preliminary injunction to halt the U.S. app store ban on new TikTok downloads. Nichols has not decided whether to block other restrictions set to take effect on Nov. 12 that could effectively ban the app’s use, pending a series of court filings due by Oct. 30.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Jonathan Oatis and Paul Simao)

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Steve Barnes of Cellino & Barnes law firm reportedly dies in plane crash

Stephen Barnes, one half of the personal injury attorney duo Cellino & Barnes, reportedly died Friday in a plane crash.

Barnes, a registered pilot, was flying a plane he owned from New Hampshire back to Buffalo, New York, on Friday when the plane crashed outside of the city. Terry Connors, an attorney from Cellino & Barnes, first said the plane was Barnes’. Another source later told The Buffalo News that Barnes was flying the plane, and that he and a female relative onboard died in the crash. Other Buffalo news sources later confirmed Barnes was piloting, and police later confirmed both people on the plane died.

Barnes and Ross Cellino worked together for decades to turn Cellino & Barnes from a western New York-based firm into a massively profitable powerhouse, with its notable ads always featuring the firm’s phone number as a catchy jingle. Barnes and Cellino began the process of breaking up the firm several years ago. New York magazine published a feature on the firm and its recent, still ongoing breakup just weeks ago.

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Law & Order Spinoff Starring Christopher Meloni Delayed at NBC as Showrunner Exits

Eric Liebowitz/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty

The Law & Order: SVU spinoff starring Christopher Meloni has been delayed.

Production on Law & Order: Organized Crime — and the return of Meloni’s beloved Elliot Stabler character — continues to take shape, PEOPLE confirms.

Meanwhile, previously announced showrunner Matt Olmstead is exiting the series. He formerly had a four-year run with Wolf Entertainment and inked a three-year overall deal to return to Universal TV, according to The Hollywood Reporter, which first reported the delay.

Organized Crime was originally planned to air Thursdays at 10 p.m. this fall —  following Law & Order: SVU — though a premiere date was not announced. THR reports that the show is still slated to air in the 2020-21 broadcast season.

RELATED: Christopher Meloni Confirms Mariska Hargitay Will Appear on Upcoming SVU Spinoff

Meloni was an original cast member when the SVU franchise premiered in September 1999, and his chemistry with costar Mariska Hargitay helped turn the show into an instant hit. After he left in 2011 when contract negotiations broke down, his character was written off the show in the season 12 finale as he retired from the police force.

News of Meloni’s return to the beloved franchise broke in March. The spinoff series, which has received a 13-episode order, will follow Stabler as he returns to the NYPD to battle organized crime after suffering a “devastating personal loss” of his own, NBC announced in June.

As Stabler swings into action, he will have to adapt to how much the times have changed since he left the force a decade ago. Fans will get to follow Stabler’s journey to “find absolution and rebuild his life, while leading a new elite task force that is taking apart the city’s most powerful criminal syndicates one by one,” according to NBC.

NBCU Photo Bank Mariska Hargitay and Christoper Meloni in Law & Order: SVU

RELATED: SVU Reunion! Mariska Hargitay Shares Selfie with Christopher Meloni — ‘Easy Like Sunday Morning’

Stabler and his new role with the force will be introduced in the season 22 premiere of SVU, reuniting him with his Hargitay, who plays detective Olivia Benson. Meloni has also confirmed that Hargitay will appear on his spinoff.

At the end of July, Meloni said that he had yet to see a script for the spinoff series.

During an appearance on SiriusXM’s The Jess Cagle Show, Meloni gave an update on the project, which was in flux amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

RELATED: Mariska Hargitay Is ‘Grateful to Be Back’ as Law & Order: SVU Resumes Filming amid COVID-19

“We’re in the middle of a pandemic production. You know, everything is just insane,” he said. “You get new edicts out of New York City and New York state, and for good reason. And then you get new rules and regulations coming out of Universal, and then from the unions. You have to service a lot of masters right now, just to make sure

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Russian Journalist Sets Herself on Fire and Dies, Blaming Government

MOSCOW — A Russian journalist who edited an independent news website died on Friday, setting herself afire in front of police headquarters in the city of Nizhny Novgorod, a day after investigators had searched her home there.

Just before her self-immolation, Irina Slavina, 47, the founder and editor of Koza Press, a local news site, posted a message on Facebook saying: “I ask you to blame the Russian Federation for my death.”

Koza Press confirmed her death. The local branch of the Investigative Committee, Russia’s equivalent of the F.B.I., said in a statement that the allegation that her death had anything to do with the search of her apartment was “groundless.” The statement said the search had been conducted as part of a criminal case in which Ms. Slavina was considered a witness.

Credit…Associated Press

Ms. Slavina said on Facebook Thursday that early in the morning 12 people, including members of a special police unit, had conducted a search of her apartment. The Facebook post said law enforcement agents had been looking for “brochures, leaflets, accounts” from Open Russia, an opposition organization, financed by Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky, a Kremlin critic, who had to flee Russia after spending more than a decade in prison.

The search was conducted as part of a criminal case against Mikhail Ioselevich, a local entrepreneur, who the authorities suspect was working together with Open Russia, officially regarded as an “undesirable organization” in the country.

Ms. Slavina’s death came against the backdrop of rising dangers confronting journalists who write about subjects deemed objectionable by the Kremlin. The number of threats and attacks against journalists in the country has surged in recent years, according to incidents compiled by Justice for Journalists, an advocacy group.

“Russia remains a country where working as a journalist is associated with increased risks to life, health and freedom,” the group says on its website.

Before the search, Ms. Slavina had been continuously pressured by the local authorities. She was fined for taking part in opposition demonstrations in Nizhny Novgorod and for mentioning Open Russia in her Facebook posts.

Local authorities throughout the Russian regions have been putting pressure on independent media outlets and journalists. Many have quit established publications to create their own small websites or blogs. Before founding her own news website in 2016, Ms. Slavina worked in several local media outlets, where she always faced various forms of censorship.

“I lost jobs three times because I can say that I poked my nose too far,” she said in an interview in September of last year.

The website’s only editor and writer, Ms. Slavina published investigative articles about the internal workings of the Federal Security Service, the most powerful security agency in Russia. Despite its one-member staff, Koza Press quickly turned into one of the most cited outlets in the region.

In Nizhny Novgorod, a city of 1.3 million people 250 miles east of Moscow, people were taking flowers and candles to the site of Mr. Slavina’s death, according

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Harvard poll shows voters receptive to law and order messaging

A new poll from Harvard University suggests the American electorate is receptive to President Trump’s messaging about law and order.

More than two-thirds of the 1,314 registered voters surveyed by the Harvard Center for American Political Studies/Harris Poll have a favorable opinion of law enforcement, compared with 51% for the Black Lives Matter movement.

The two have found themselves increasingly at odds this year after the death of George Floyd, a Black man being detained by a White Minneapolis police officer. Caught on video, Floyd’s death sparked nationwide protests and occasional violence, spurring harsh rhetoric from the White House.

Antifa — a loosely-knit movement opposing right-wing ideologies that has been a frequent talking point for the president — has just 14% approval.


Approximately three-quarters of survey respondents want to see the southern border of the U.S. tightened and illegal immigrants who commit crimes deported.

While each of those positions, on which participants were questioned from Sept. 22 to Sept. 24, more closely aligns with the president rather than 2020 Democratic opponent Joe Biden, voters give a higher overall approval rating to the former vice president.

According to reporting from The Washington Times, Biden leads the president by 6 percentage points, with 44% saying they find him personally likable and 38% disliking him.

President Trump has a 22-percentage-point deficit, with just 33% saying they like him personally.

As many national polls show, Biden has maintained a slight lead over the president through this point in the campaign.

The Harvard poll revealed a 47% to 45% edge for Biden, and when undecided voters were pressed, his lead expanded to 52% versus 48%.

The Real Clear Politics Average, which included these results in its calculation, currently shows Biden up by over seven percentage points.

Harvard cautioned, however, that 21% of voters conceded they might still change their minds come November.

President Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden during the first presidential debate on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020. (AP Photo/Morry Gash, Pool)

President Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden during the first presidential debate on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020. (AP Photo/Morry Gash, Pool)
(Associated Press)

While the president’s job approval is rising, Biden still leads on coronavirus — rated the most important issue. That figure may change after Trump’s disclosure early Friday that he and the first lady have tested positive for COVID-19.

The Harvard poll showed Trump’s approval on handling the COVID-19 pandemic began to tick up from 43% in August to 47% at the end of last month.

Nevertheless, voters polled said they expected a second wave of COVID-19 cases, and 60% said they would support another lockdown if the virus spikes again.

Two-thirds worry about reopening American businesses too soon, though most still want their states to try to remain unrestricted.

More than three-quarters of respondents want to see a national mask mandate, as the Democratic candidate had previously suggested.

Voters also voiced their support for another pandemic stimulus bill, though talks on Capitol Hill have run hot and cold over the past couple

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Top health official says coronavirus ‘herd immunity is not the strategy of the U.S. government’

  • Allowing the coronavirus to circulate through the U.S. population unchecked in an effort to achieve herd immunity “is not the strategy” of the nation’s federal government, HHS Secretary Alex Azar said. 
  • The nation’s top health officials have warned that letting the coronavirus spread uncontrollably in an effort to achieve herd immunity would result in an “enormous” death toll. 
  • White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Scott Atlas, however, has previously pushed the idea of herd immunity. 

a man wearing a suit and tie looking at the camera: Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar speaks during a House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing in Washington, February 26, 2020.

© Provided by CNBC
Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar speaks during a House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing in Washington, February 26, 2020.

Allowing the coronavirus to circulate through the U.S. population unchecked in an effort to achieve herd immunity is not the government’s plan, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said, despite reports that White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Scott Atlas has pushed the idea. 


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“Herd immunity is not the strategy of the U.S. government with regard to coronavirus,” Azar said in response to a question from Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., on Friday during a U.S. House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing. 

“We may get herd slowing of transmission as we perhaps have seen in the New York area and other concentrated areas. Our mission is to reduce fatalities, protect the vulnerable, keep coronavirus cases down to the lowest level possible,” Azar added. 

Herd immunity happens when a large portion of the population becomes immune to the coronavirus, making it harder to spread, the Mayo Clinic says. It can be achieved through natural infection — when enough people are exposed to the disease and develop antibodies against it — and through vaccinations. 

Most scientists think 60% to 80% of the population needs to be vaccinated or have natural antibodies to achieve herd immunity, global health experts say. However, Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told lawmakers during a hearing in late September that a majority of the nation’s population — more than 90% — remains susceptible to infection, citing recent studies. 

White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci has also said that letting the coronavirus spread uncontrollably in an effort to infect enough people to reach herd immunity would result in an “enormous” death toll. 

Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, pushed back on Republican Sen. Rand Paul’s recent claim that New York has achieved enough herd immunity from the coronavirus and is “no longer having the pandemic.”

Fauci said that around 22% of New York’s residents have likely been exposed to the coronavirus, under the amount needed for herd immunity. 

“They got hit very badly. They made some mistakes. Right now if you look at what’s going on right now, the things that are going on in New York to get their test positivity 1% or less is because they are looking at the guidelines that we have put together from the task force of the four or five things of masks, social distancing, outdoors

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New Jersey officials to unveil legislation that would codify Roe v. Wade into state law

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) on Friday will unveil legislation aimed at codifying the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion into state law. 

Murphy told NPR in an interview on Thursday that the decision to put the legislation together with other state officials and reproductive rights advocates was influenced by President TrumpDonald John TrumpPresident Trump, Melania Trump test positive for COVID-19 Trump, first lady to quarantine after top aide tests positive for coronavirus Secret recordings show Melania Trump was frustrated about criticism of Trump 2018 border separation policy: CNN MORE’s Supreme Court nomination of conservative Judge Amy Coney Barrett, whom many anti-abortion GOP members hope will help bring an overturn of Roe v. Wade. 

“I hope to God that doesn’t happen, but we don’t want to take a chance that it could happen,” Murphy told NPR.

In addition to securing the right to abortion under New Jersey state law, a spokesman for Murphy told NPR that the proposed legislation will “remove some restrictions on abortion that advocates say are medically unnecessary; require most private health insurers to cover abortion; and allow a wider range of health care providers, including physician assistants, certified midwives and other advanced-practice nurses, to administer abortions.”

Kaitlyn Wojtowicz, vice president of public affairs at Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey, explained that the bill hopes to ensure access to abortion for New Jersey residents, as well as patients traveling from other states, should the Supreme Court decide to reverse Roe v. Wade. 

“We do know that there could be a future where New Jersey is the state where folks may travel to [for abortions],” she said to NPR. “We just want to make sure that we’re protecting folks in New Jersey and … standing up and being a leader as other states are racing to put abortion out of reach for so many folks.”

If the legislation is passed, New Jersey would follow several states, including Illinois and New York, that have passed laws with a goal of protecting abortion rights. 

News reports on Thursday showed that Barrett added her name to a list supporting a statement in a 2006 newspaper insert opposing “abortion on demand” and supporting the “right to life.” 

The statement, which appeared in the South Bend Tribune, came from a group called the Saint Joseph County Right to Life and stated, “We the following citizens of Michiana oppose abortion on demand and support the right to life from fertilization to a natural death.”

Trump had suggested during an interview on “Fox & Friends Weekend” on Sunday that “it’s certainly possible,” that Barrett could tip the Court against the Roe v. Wade decision should she be confirmed. 

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Humane Society of Kitchener Waterloo in ‘urgent need’ of foster families

WATERLOO REGION — The Humane Society of Kitchener Waterloo and Stratford Perth is calling on anyone thinking about fostering a rescued or surrendered pet to step forward.

“We are in urgent need of fosters,” said Anya Barradas, spokesperson for the organization.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a reduction of staff and volunteers at the organization’s centres. Adoptions are still happening, but only “fast trackers” — kittens, puppies or unique breeds that quickly go up for adoption after they arrive — are kept at these shelters.

All other animals are moved into foster care once they’re cleared by the medical team. The problem is there isn’t enough foster families to take them.

In July, there were close to 100 families fostering animals on a regular basis. At that point in the pandemic, many people were sticking close to home.

But now that the province has opened up a bit more, the number of foster families has dropped significantly. There are now 70 families in the program.

“If it wasn’t for covid, 70 foster families would have been a great number for us to have,” Barradas said. In pre-covid times, foster families would only care for those animals that are too sick or too young to be put up for adoption.

“Under these circumstances (during the pandemic), a drop of 30 foster families is significant. The more foster families we’re able to recruit, the more animals we’re able to care for.”

Anyone over 18 and interested in becoming a foster volunteer can learn more online at

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New York Government Officials Urge Senate to Pass the ‘Save Our Stages’ Act (Guest Column)

The House of Representatives on Thursday passed the revised $2.2 trillion “Heroes Act” coronavirus stimulus package, which includes provisions of the $10 billion bipartisan “Save Our Stages” Act designed to provide financial assistance to independent music and live-entertainment venues across the U.S. However, the Republican-controlled Senate appears unlikely to vote on the latest version unless an agreement is reached between Democrats and the White House.

Below, Justin Brannan, New York City Council Member, District 43, and Ariel Palitz, Senior Executive Director, NYC Office of Nightlife, a division at The Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, urge the Senate to pass “Save Our Stages.” Head here to find out more you can do to support your local music venue and others across the country. 

Our greatest comfort as human beings is so often found in public, in the company of others—grabbing a drink with friends, catching some live music, or letting go on the dance floor. For New York City residents, bars, dance clubs, and music venues are homes away from home, celebrations of creativity, and safe harbors of diversity. These venues are essential to the social and economic health and vibrance of our city.

As public servants who began our careers working in the kinds of venues that are now in danger of disappearing completely, we urge Congress to pass the Save Our Stages Act. We fear that without federal support we are going to lose the independent venues that are the heart and soul of our city and the backbone of our nightlife economy.

The sobering reality, and global dilemma, is that live music, dance, and performance venues are sustained by gathering. So, while most industries have been afforded lifelines to gradually re-open, these venues have been closed since March, with no opening date in sight.

According to the National Independent Venue Association, which represents almost 2,000 music and performance venues across the country, 90% of independent venues may be forced to close permanently without support from Washington.

As a City Councilman and the Senior Executive Director of New York City’s Office of Nightlife, we know what this means. Live venues are the places where the energy and culture and creativity that define New York City radiates, and they are the livelihood for 200,000 of our fellow New Yorkers.

As the former East Village club owner and a founding member of two New York City hardcore punk bands, we know the human cost. We’ve watched as fear and uncertainty have gripped the DJs and musicians, lighting and sound engineers, security, bar staff, and venue operators, who make this part of our economy function. We know the blood, sweat, and tears that go into running a venue, and we know the people who run venues are fighting for survival as we speak.

This bi-partisan Save Our Stages bill, introduced by Senators Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, and John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, would provide a total of $10 billion in grants, of up to $12 million each, to independent venue

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