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What else is happening in the news besides COVID-19?

Mar 16, 2020, 12:41 PM
besides covid-19...
circa 1938: A man wearing a hat reading a copy of Paris-Soir newspaper. (Photo by London Express/Getty Images)
(Photo by London Express/Getty Images)

With the spread of the coronavirus around the globe, it’s hard to not get caught up in all the headlines. It’s hard to take a step back and be informed on what else is going on that is unrelated to the virus. So what else is happening in the news besides COVID-19?

Here at KSL NewsRadio, we are dedicated to informing our community on what is going on everywhere — bringing you the stories that matter.

While news coverage has been largely dominated by the spread of the COVID-19, here are a few things you may have missed:

U.S. government could change what gets posted online

For decades, tech companies have leaned on a little-known law to avoid responsibility when it comes to controversial content posted on their platforms. This federal law, known as Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, has been used in several court cases to defend these companies from lawsuits.

However, that may change.

As social media sites have become more likely to house hateful content and misinformation, critics are pushing for big changes to the law. In fact, Attorney General William Barr has initiated a campaign to weaken — if not repeal — the law completely.

These proposals challenge the notion that social media companies are neutral platforms for information. It could open up the companies to legal exposure as well as potential lawsuits.

“No longer are tech companies the underdog upstarts,” Barr said at a Justice Department workshop. “They have become titans of US industry. Given this change in the technology landscape, valid questions have been raised as to whether Section 230’s broad immunity is still necessary, at least in its current form.”

Weakening Section 230 could force these websites to vet every piece of content created by users before it goes online, according to defenders of the federal law. This is a task that only large and already-powerful companies like Facebook would be able to afford, they argued.

This could eliminate smaller companies vying to compete with Google and Facebook.

But critics say these large tech companies are using this legal immunity provided in Section 230 to turn a blind eye to potentially dangerous content on the Internet — and they allege it’s because it drives engagement and profit.

Second person cured of HIV in the UK

The second person to be cured of HIV is still virus-free after more than two years. The London patient, Adam Castillejo, finished HIV antiretroviral therapy over two and a half years ago after undergoing a different surgery that made him resistant to the virus.

Castillejo underwent a stem cell transplant to treat lymphoma and his donor carried CCR5-delta 32, which caused him to become resistant to HIV. Since he is only the second patient to undergo this type of experimental treatment successfully, authors of the study published by medical journal The Lancet HIV note Castillejo will be continually monitored for re-emergence of the virus.

“It is important to note that this curative treatment is high-risk, and only used as a last resort for patients with HIV who also have life-threatening haematological malignancies,” said Ravindra Gupta, lead author of the study. “Therefore, this is not a treatment that would be offered widely to patients with HIV who are on successful antiretroviral treatment.”

New dinosaur, the size of a hummingbird, was found

The complete skull of what is the smallest-known dinosaur was found in a preserved, 99 million year old piece of amber. It’s smaller than the size of the tiniest hummingbird alive today — and researchers say it’s the smallest dinosaur ever found.

The creature was likely a predator, despite its tiny stature. Its head was the size of a thumbnail, with its jaw packed with jagged teeth and bulging eyes.

“When I first saw this specimen, it really blew my mind. I literally have never seen anything like this,” said Jingmai O’Connor, senior professor at the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing and a research associate at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. “There are over 100 teeth present in the jaws. These weird eyes sticking off looking to the side. There’s nothing like this alive today.”

The chunk of amber was donated to the Hupoge Amber Museum in southwestern China to be studied by scientists.

The discovery allows researchers to explore the possibility that dinosaur species were more diverse than originally thought — they weren’t all large and powerful creatures.

This tiny fossil, with its unique traits, may shed light on how birds evolved from dinosaurs — allowing researchers to suggest birds attained their minimum body size much quicker than they previously thought.

Harvey Weinstein found guilty, sentenced to 23 years in prison

Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison Wednesday for rape and sexual assault, after being found guilty of criminal sex act for assaulting production assistant Mimi Haleyi at his apartment in 2006 and third-degree rape of a woman in 2013.

Weinstein was previously found not guilty for the most serious charge — predatory sexual assault — which would’ve landed him life in prison.

Both women spoke in court before Judge James Burke announced the 23-year sentence. It was the second time they confronted Weinstein after their testimony that sealed his conviction at the landmark #MeToo trial.

The judge convicted Weinstein on two counts: criminal sex act for the 2006 assault and rape in the third degree for the 2013 attack. On the 2006 charge, he faced a minimum of five years in prison and a maximum of 25 years. The 2013 attack carried a maximum of four years in prison.

Asteroid flyby in April

An asteroid expected to be between 1.1 and 2.5 miles wide will fly by Earth in late April — but it’s not expected to collide. If it did, it would be “large enough to cause global effects,” according to NASA.

The asteroid was first spotted in 1998 and is predicted to pass within 3,908,791 miles of the earth, moving at 19,461 miles per hour.

It’s the largest asteroid expected to fly by Earth within the next two months, but it’s not the largest ever. The asteroid was classified as a potentially hazardous object because of its path near the Earth’s orbit — but NASA doesn’t predict it will be an impact event.

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What else is happening in the news besides COVID-19?