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Social Media, Hookup Apps Blamed For Spikes In Syphilis, Gonorrhea, Other STDs In Rhode Island

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(International Business Times) – New cases of syphilis, gonorrhea and HIV are on the rise in Rhode Island, a trend that the state health department attributed in part to social media as people increasingly turn to their phones to arrange “casual and often anonymous sexual encounters.” Better testing has also contributed to the rising number of infections, the department said.

“Despite the progress we have made in reducing STDs [sexually transmitted diseases] and HIV over the years, there is more work to do,” Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, director designee at the Rhode Island Department of Health, said in a release. “This trend reminds us that we cannot become complacent.”

From 2013 to 2014, syphilis cases rose by 79 percent, gonorrhea by 30 percent and HIV cases by nearly 33 percent, the department said. New cases of these increased faster among men who have sex with men and had a greater impact on African-Americans and Hispanics as well as on youth.

Although the health department stated that the rising rates followed national trends, the most recent data from U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that from 2012 to 2013, rates of gonorrhea remained stable and rates of syphilis increased only among men. Over the same time period, HIV infections were stable as well, and from 2009 to 2013, HIV infections due to injection drugs decreased.

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Black History

George Robert Carruthers: Revealing the Mysteries of Space

During a 1992 oral history interview with the American Institute of Physics, George Robert Carruthers (1939–2020) shared: “When I was about 8 or 9 years old, I got a Buck Rogers comic book from my grandmother, and that was, of course, long before there was any such thing as a space program. Since it was science fiction, nobody took space flight seriously in those days, back in the late ’40s, early ’50s.”

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The Cincinnati-born George Carruthers (center) constructed his first telescope using cardboard tubing and mail-order lenses he bought with money he earned as a delivery boy.
The Cincinnati-born George Carruthers (center) constructed his first telescope using cardboard tubing and mail-order lenses he bought with money he earned as a delivery boy.

By Tamara Shiloh

At a time when only a few Black high school students were entering projects in Chicago science fairs, George Robert Carruthers (1939–2020) presented the telescope he’d designed and built. He won three awards, including first prize.

He later graduated (1957) from Chicago’s Englewood High School and earned his Ph.D. in aeronautical and astronautical engineering at the University of Illinois (1964). But his deep interest in space started much earlier.

The Cincinnati-born Carruthers constructed his first telescope using cardboard tubing and mail-order lenses he bought with money he earned as a delivery boy. He was 10 at the time and found everything about space fascinating. Although the first human journey around Earth did not take place until 1961, George’s dream was to become a part of the “unknown” being explored.

During a 1992 oral history interview with the American Institute of Physics, Carruthers shared: “When I was about 8 or 9 years old, I got a Buck Rogers comic book from my grandmother, and that was, of course, long before there was any such thing as a space program. Since it was science fiction, nobody took space flight seriously in those days, back in the late ’40s, early ’50s.”

What was then considered an interest in so-called science fiction would lead Carruthers to a successful career as an astrophysicist and engineer and his 1970 telescopic design that had been sent into space on an unmanned rocket from the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, proving the existence of molecular hydrogen between stars and galaxies.

He also created an advanced telescopic device used during the 1972 Apollo 16 mission to produce ultraviolet photographs of Earth’s outermost atmosphere, stars, nebulae, and galaxies. This discovery enabled scientists to examine Earth’s atmosphere for concentrations of pollutants. For his work on the project, Carruthers was awarded NASA’s Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal.

Throughout his career, Carruthers would design several telescopes that flew aboard NASA spacecraft. In the 1980s, one of his inventions captured an ultraviolet image of Halley’s Comet. In 1991, he invented a camera used in the Space Shuttle Mission.

A supporter of education, Carruthers was instrumental in creating the Science & Engineers Apprentice Program that offered high school students an opportunity to work at the Naval Research Laboratory. In 1996 and 1997, he taught a course in Earth and Space Science for Wash., D.C., Public Schools science teachers. In 2002, he taught an Earth and Space Science course at Howard University.

In 2003, Carruthers was inducted into the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame for his work in science and engineering.

Charles F. Bolden Jr., a NASA administrator, said about Carruthers: “He has helped us look at our universe in a new way by his scientific work and has helped us as a nation see ourselves anew as well.”

Carruthers, described as “a slight, reserved man who often rode his bicycle to work,” died in 2020. He was 81.

Learn more about Carruthers and other Black inventors in Susan K. Henderson’s “African-American Inventors II.”

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Activism

My Brother’s Keeper Chair Broderick Johnson Donates Laptops to Members of Oakland’s Hidden Genius Project

“The tremendous impact that Hidden Genius Project has made in the lives of Black male youth in Oakland, Richmond, and the East Bay is the reason we’ve been a partner since 2014 and have steadily increased our support and commitment to the organization,” said Broderick Johnson, chair of President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Alliance Advisory Council, former member of the Obama Administration, and current executive vice president of Digital Equity and Public Policy for Comcast. “I’m delighted that our ongoing support will enable the organization to continue its important mission and potentially expand to other cities across the country, helping even more Black male youths.” 

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Broderick Johnson (left) inscribes the laptop for one of the members of the Hidden Genius Project. (Photo courtesy of The Hidden Genius Project.)
Broderick Johnson (left) inscribes the laptop for one of the members of the Hidden Genius Project. (Photo courtesy of The Hidden Genius Project.)

By COMCAST

The Hidden Genius Project in downtown Oakland recently had a renowned special guest visit the organization.

Broderick Johnson, chair of President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Alliance Advisory Council, former member of the Obama Administration, and current executive vice president of Digital Equity and Public Policy for Comcast, met with members of the organization.

He punctuated his visit by making a surprise donation of free laptops to the 40+ Geniuses in attendance.

The event featured a fireside chat during which Johnson was interviewed by former Hidden Genius Kevin Butler, 22, of Oakland, who studied computer science and is now an educator and entrepreneur. Mr. Butler founded a startup called TechZen Collective, which supports artists seeking to participate in Web 3.0 and creates Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) to showcase their work.

The Hidden Genius Project was founded in 2012 by five Black male entrepreneurs/technologists who were dismayed by the dramatic gap between high unemployment among young Black males and the abundance of career opportunities within the technology sector.

To address the challenge, the founders established a program to connect young Black males with skills, mentors, and experiences that they need to become high-performing entrepreneurs and technologists in a 21st century global economy. The Hidden Genius Project has served more than 8,400 students and offered more than 612,800+ hours of direct training.

“The tremendous impact that Hidden Genius Project has made in the lives of Black male youth in Oakland, Richmond, and the East Bay is the reason we’ve been a partner since 2014 and have steadily increased our support and commitment to the organization,” said Johnson. “I’m delighted that our ongoing support will enable the organization to continue its important mission and potentially expand to other cities across the country, helping even more Black male youths.”

The Hidden Genius Project partnership showcases Comcast’s long-standing investment in diversity, inclusion, and equity by empowering the Geniuses with digital training and leadership skills.

Furthering its commitment to Oakland specifically, Comcast has also established more than 20+ Lift Zones in the area. Lift Zones provide free high-speed WiFi from Comcast in community centers and other locations to allow students, seniors, and families to get online and more fully participate in the digital economy.

Comcast has also twice selected Oakland as a RISE Investment Fund Grant city, making $2 million in cash contributions to 200 diverse-owned small businesses in the city.  In fact, the location at which the event was held, Geoffrey’s Inner Circle, was a RISE recipient.

Jon Koriel is the public relations manager for the California region of Comcast.

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Bay Area

Clipper Customers Urged to Go Mobile Amid Plastic Supply Chain Issues

BART, which is by far the largest distributor of new plastic Clipper cards, has installed signs near ticket vending machines at its stations to let customers know they can save $3 by putting Clipper on their mobile phones. BART has also reprogramed ticket vending machines at the San Francisco International Airport station to distribute paper tickets rather than plastic Clipper cards, per the transit agency. While Clipper cards can still be refilled and utilized at the station, only paper tickets will be sold.

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Clipper card photo by Ron Purdy.
Clipper card photo by Ron Purdy.

By Kathy Chouteau | Post News Group

As supply chain issues put a stranglehold on the plastic Clipper card inventory, BART and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) are encouraging riders to put the card on their mobile phones via Apple Pay or Google Pay. The shortage is expected to continue for several months, per the transit agencies.

There’s a bonus for riders who select to use the mobile option for their Clipper card —the usual $3 new card fee will be waived through the end of this year. Customers who opt for a plastic card instead of the mobile option will be charged the fee.

Setting the Clipper card up on a mobile device is easy-peasy, according to the MTC and BART. Apple customers — who have an iPhone 8 or later model or an Apple Watch Series 3 or later — can add the card directly through Apple Wallet and load cash value with Apple Pay. Those who have Android phones running Android 5 or later can add the Clipper card via Google Wallet and load cash value.

BART, which is by far the largest distributor of new plastic Clipper cards, has installed signs near ticket vending machines at its stations to let customers know they can save $3 by putting Clipper on their mobile phones. BART has also reprogramed ticket vending machines at the San Francisco International Airport station to distribute paper tickets rather than plastic Clipper cards, per the transit agency. While Clipper cards can still be refilled and utilized at the station, only paper tickets will be sold.

Riders utilizing fare-discount cards — i.e., those for seniors, youths, the Clipper START® program for lower-income adults, or the RTC Clipper card for disabled riders under age 65 — don’t need to be concerned about falling inventories, said the MTC and BART. This due to those special purpose cards being directly distributed by Clipper and produced on an alternative card stock.

Per MTC, it serves as the transportation planning, funding and coordinating agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area and also operates the Clipper system on behalf of the region’s transit agencies.

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