KFSN(FRESNO, Calif.) — Drivers in California’s Madera County were at heightened risk of being pulled over Monday — not because cops were looking to ticket them, but because the deputies were looking to distribute some holiday cheer.The Madera County Sheriff’s Department received a $5,000 donation from a local business as part of the department’s “Operation Random Acts of Kindness.” The goal: distribute $100 in cash to 50 drivers before the end of the day.“The biggest thing is, you’re going to have to be active to find enough folks to give away $5,000 in 4-5 hours,” Sheriff Jay Varney told his charges before they hit the road Monday morning.Fresno ABC station KFSN went along for the ride as deputies pulled over drivers for minor traffic violations — then surprised them with a $100 bill instead of a ticket.“The reason I pulled you over is the registration on the vehicle is expired,” a deputy told Ryan Wood when he pulled over Wood in his truck. But instead of a summons, the deputy handed Wood a card from the Madera County Sheriff Deputies and the Employees of Agriland Farming Company, with a $100 bill tucked inside. “(It was) not expected, I can tell you that much, so I’m very appreciative,” Wood told the station after he received the surprise gift. “And it’s a good time of the year to get surprises like that, so it’s pretty awesome.”Department officials said the annual program, now in its fifth year, is a boon to community relations.“This is an opportunity for the deputies to go out and have positive interactions with the community, and it really helps us build relationships with the community,” said Madera County Undersheriff Tyson Pogue.By the end of the day, the department’s Facebook page was filled with video clips of drivers reacting with shock and surprise — several of them crying — when presented with the gifts.“Deputies primarily have contact with citizens when something stressful or bad is happening,” Sheriff Jay Varney said on Facebook. “This annual giving event allows deputies an opportunity to interact with the public in a positive manner and spread some holiday cheer.” Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
Between 2am British Summer Time and 2am Greenwich Mean Time last Sunday, Mertonians took part in the traditional Time Ceremony, walking backwards around Fellow’s Quad in full sub fusc, allegedly to “maintain the space-time continuum”.The ceremony dates back to 1971, when only five undergraduates at Merton College took part. Forty three years later, these same five undergraduates still return to their old College every year on the last Sunday of October, to take part in the now archetypal Mertonian ritual.The science behind the ceremony has never been truly validated, but the aim of the ceremony is to “create an oasis of calm to protect against the perturbative effects of the change from British Summer Time to Greenwich Mean Time”, according to Merton JCR President Daniel Schwennicke.The ceremony begins on Sundial Lawn at 01:50am British Summer Time, where the founders (or the “Grand Originals” as some Mertonians know them) give three toasts to the assembly. These toasts are:“To a good old time!”, “Long live the counter revolution!” and “o tempora, o more!”.Students then move on through the South Gate to enter the 17th century Fellow’s Quad, where the actual ceremony takes place. The participants in the ceremony walk backwards, linking arms to form chains of people, and spinning at each corner.Paul Engeham, one of the five founders of the Time Ceremony, described one of the difficulties of participating in the Time Ceremony: “when you have great strings of people, you can’t turn properly, and the furthest person on the line ends up being swung out… three is the perfect number for spinning”.As is tradition, attendees drink port (or a non-alcoholic, but purple coloured substitute). College has banned glass bottles from the quad due to safety concerns, so participants carry their drinks in plastic bottles.JCR and MCR volunteers are on hand every year to provide water and help look after any students in need of support. In an effort to control numbers, the porters locked all entrances to Merton College at 23:00 British Summer Time, and students had to present their Bod cards at the Lodge to gain admittance to the college after this time, and to ensure that only Mertonians attended the ceremony.Nevertheless, as there is every year, there were several attempts to break in. Two undergraduates scaled a wall near North Lodge Gate, and were found and turned away by Merton College porters.However, one fourth year undergraduate, who wished to remain anonymous, told Cherwell, “I managed to get into the college, but I think a porter saw me. I crouched down and hid in a bush while he walked past. He knew I was there – it was like something out of a horror film. But then I got into the Time Ceremony itself, and it was the most surreal, fantastic thing ever”.The ceremony used to be preceded by the original founders climbing up the walls in Fellow’s Quad to unscrew the lamps, so that the space-time continuum could be preserved in darkness. The undergraduates also used to hold bottles containing candles to light their way.The Time Ceremony has persisted for several decades now, having been embraced by College (whereas originally it was held in secret), but in the late 1970s it seemed that it would never become a fixed Merton tradition. Phillip Brown, a friend of the founders, and a regular participator in the Time Ceremony, died of throat cancer.Without him, his friends were reluctant to continue the ceremony. However, Paul Engeham, one of the founders, said that they decided to re-start in the early 1980s, rooting the Time Ceremony as a Merton tradition in tribute to Phillip Brown.Founder Garth Fowden said in reflection of the ceremony, “anyway, the bell tolled (did it?), the mist swirled (inevitably), much port was imbibed (with mathematical certainty), and the lonely shadowy figures reversed round the hallowed quad. They must surely now be revolving in their graves or their bath chairs at the thought of what it has become.”Since its renewal in the 1980s, the ceremony has grown in popularity, and is now as popular with current undergraduates as it was with those few who took part decades ago. First year Merton undergraduate Caleb Rich described the ritual as “weird and wonderful”.Merton College sports representative and second year undergraduate historian Freddie Money quipped that Time Ceremony is “definitely taking the concept of spinning sessions to a new level”.In an email from the Merton JCR President, Daniel Schwennicke, sent to the undergraduate student body of the college, Time Ceremony was described as, “one of the great events in the Merton calendar, and one of the most surreal and incomparable evenings that you [Merton students] will experience in your time at Oxford”.
A study led by Harvard researchers of Mongolian schoolchildren supports the possibility that daily vitamin D supplementation can reduce the risk of respiratory infections in winter. In a report that will appear in the journal Pediatrics and that has received early online release, an international research team found that vitamin D supplementation decreased the risk of respiratory infections among children who had low blood levels of vitamin D at the start of the study.“Our randomized controlled trial shows that vitamin D has important effects on infection risk,” says Carlos Camargo of Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), the study’s corresponding author. “In almost 250 children with low blood levels of vitamin D during winter, we found that taking a daily vitamin D supplement cut in half the risk of a respiratory infection.”Camargo is a professor in the Department of Epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health and a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.Several recent investigations have suggested that vitamin D — best known for its role in the development and maintenance of strong bones — has additional important roles, including in immune function. Studies led by Camargo and other researchers have associated higher vitamin D levels with reduced risk of respiratory infections such as colds or flu, but such observational studies cannot prove that the vitamin actually protects against infection. That kind of evidence must come from randomized controlled trials comparing two similar populations that either do or do not receive an intervention such as vitamin D supplementation. The first such trial, in Japanese schoolchildren, had equivocal results, showing a reduction in the risk of one type of influenza but no effect on another type, so many organizations have called for further randomized trials to settle the issue.Because vitamin D is naturally produced by the body in response to sunlight, maintaining adequate levels in winter is particularly challenging in areas such as the northern U.S. and Canada, which have significant seasonal variations in daily sunlight. The current study analyzed data from the Blue Sky Study, conducted in Ulan Bator, Mongolia, by a team led by Harvard investigators in collaboration with local health researchers. Mongolians are known to be at high risk for vitamin D deficiency, especially during winter, and the Blue Sky Study followed schoolchildren, all of whom were found to have low blood levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD), which is considered the best measure of vitamin D status, at the study’s outset.In the current study, Camargo and colleagues compared the number of winter respiratory infections among a group of children who received daily doses of vitamin D added to locally produced milk with that of a control group receiving the same milk without added vitamin D. The supplement was undetectable so that children, teachers, and local researchers could not tell which group received vitamin D. While blood samples taken at the outset of the study revealed vitamin D deficiency in all participants, with average 25OHD levels around 7 ng/ml (17 nmol/L) in both groups, at the end of the seven-week treatment period, differences between the two groups were significant, with those who received vitamin D averaging 19 ng/ml (47 nmol/L), which although still low was significantly higher than at the start of the trial. Based on reports from their parents, the children receiving vitamin D had about half the incidence of respiratory infections that the control group had.“Our study design provides strong evidence that the association between low vitamin D and respiratory infections is causal and that treating low vitamin D levels in children with an inexpensive and safe supplement will prevent some respiratory infections,” says Camargo. “The large benefit was undoubtedly related to the low baseline vitamin D levels of these children, so I would not expect the supplement to provide similar benefit in children who start with healthy levels of vitamin D. The key question for future research is at what initial vitamin D level would children no longer receive benefit from winter supplementation?”The researchers note that although the vitamin D dosage used in this study (300 IU daily) was higher than the recommended daily dosage at the time the study was launched, since then the U.S. Institute of Medicine has raised the recommended daily dose for children to 400 IU, and other groups recommend daily dosages as high as 1,000 IU for children at risk for vitamin D deficiency. The authors also point out that, although Mongolia may appear to have little in common with the U.S., the low baseline vitamin D levels seen in study participants are relatively common in some groups of Americans, such as African-American children living in northern states.
Bontemps reported that the league told teams in a memo that “for the time being, it is not appropriate in the current public health environment to regularly test all players and staff for the coronavirus.”Access to tests remains a vexing issue for the NBA while the United States continues to deal with an overall shortage of kits. Bontemps’ colleague Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the league estimates it will need 15,000 test kits if it were to return to action.MORE: LeBron makes it clear that he wants season to resumeThe league’s guidance on not testing possible asymptomatic carriers is notable because people who don’t display COVID-19 symptoms can still spread the disease.Wojnarowski’s reporting also included speculation on when the 2020-21 season might begin. Sources told him that there is “support” for starting next season in December and ending it in late summer 2021. A change to a Christmas opening had support long before the coronavirus disrupted this season, notably from Hawks CEO Steve Koonin, but the current crisis gives the league cover to drastically alter its calendar going forward and keep itself from competing with the NFL for attention during the season’s early months.With the league not close to playing games again, concerns about when the NBA Draft will take place are growing. Sources told Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer that they expect the draft to be moved from June 25 to August or September, to align with a possible summer conclusion to the season. A lot of NBA news has surfaced just ahead of the May 1 target date for the league to begin making decisions about the 2019-20 season.The biggest item came from ESPN’s Tim Bontemps, who reported that the league has advised teams not to have asymptomatic players and staff tested for COVID-19. DeCOURCY: Teams won’t spend time on many draft early entrants Whether the season is played to a conclusion will depend on whether the league believes it will be safe to resume play in the near future. There’s also the logistical hurdle of finding neutral-site facilities to replace teams’ arenas. Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported that Walt Disney World outside Orlando is a candidate to become a “bubble” site where the entire league can be housed. Las Vegas remains under consideration as well.All of this will need to be decided soon, perhaps beginning Friday, if the NBA wants to keep playing this season.
According to court records, two Chinese men have pleaded guilty to illegally taking photographs at a Florida Navy base.24-year-old Jielun Zhang and Yuhao Wang, pleaded guilty on Tuesday in Key West federal court.Zhang, and Wang were charged with illegally photographing a U.S. defense installation, and they each face a year in prison plus a $100,00 fine.Since 2018, four Chinese nationals have been caught taking pictures of Key West military bases.