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Messages - vox_mundi

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Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: Today at 12:39:20 AM »
... It does not matter what IFR you calculate on the internet because que sera, sera.

... like saying ...

Consequences / Re: Hurricane Season 2020
« on: August 13, 2020, 08:19:10 PM »

Consequences / Re: Heatwaves
« on: August 13, 2020, 06:29:52 PM »
Remember the Heat In Baghdad? It’s Even Hotter.

“Iraq isn’t just hot. It’s punishingly hot. Record-breakingly hot,” so writes WaPo’s Louisa Loveluck and Chris Mooney in this “troubling snapshot of the future” detailing how climate change is turning the frying pan into a fire. “Baghdad hit 125.2 degrees on July 28, blowing past the previous record of 123.8 degrees — which was set here five years ago — and topping 120 degrees for four days in a row.”

On Tuesday, the temperature reached 51.8C (125°F) at Baghdad in Iraq, setting a new record for the city. There were also reports of higher temperatures in other parts of the Middle East during the first half of this week. ... According to the World Meteorological Organisation, the highest temperature on record for the Asia region was 53.9C (129°F) at Mitribah, Kuwait on July 21, 2016.

... What does 125 degrees feel like? “The suitcase crackled as it was unzipped. It turned out that the synthetic fibers of a headscarf had melted crispy and were now stuck to the top of the case. A cold bottle of water was suddenly warm to the lips. At our office, the door handle was so hot it left blisters at the touch.” If the world doesn’t change its climate-changing habits, by 2050 Phoenix, Ariz., could be as hot as Baghdad, according to one study. (Last month, NBC News reported the “feels like” temp reached 159 degrees.)

What is life like? Street vendors can’t sell their goods. The power grid is straining. Farmers are losing crops. Most citizens can’t afford a generator to keep cool. And already-deadly protests are getting worse. “The heat is ruining livelihoods, and power cuts have been compounding a sense of misery so deep that protesters are streaming into the streets to demand better services, even risking the threat of live ammunition from ill-disciplined security forces.”

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: August 13, 2020, 05:12:24 PM »
Good to see you again, SH ...


Nearly 6 Percent of People In England May Have Had COVID-19

Nearly 6 percent of people in England were likely infected with COVID-19 during the peak of the pandemic, researchers studying the prevalence of infections said, millions more people than that have tested positive for the disease.

A total of 313,798 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the UK, 270,971 of which have been in England.

However, a study that tested more than 100,000 people across England for antibodies to the coronavirus showed that nearly 6 percent of people had them, suggesting that 3.4 million people had previously contracted COVID-19 by the end of June.

Prevalence of infections appeared to be the highest in London, where 13 percent of people had antibodies, while minority ethnic groups were two to three times as likely to have had COVID-19 compared with white people.


The overall infection fatality ratio - the proportion of infected people who died - was calculated to be 0.9%, similar to other countries such as Spain.

Antibodies were found in almost all (96%) of those who had a previous infection confirmed by a swab test. People who had severe symptoms from the disease were twice as likely to have antibodies than those with no symptoms when they were diagnosed with or suspected having COVID-19 (29% vs 14%).

... More than 16% of care home workers with client-facing roles and 12% of healthcare professionals that have direct patient contact. In non-key workers, the rate was around 5%. ...


Testing Crisis In Key States Skews Drop In New Cases

The coronavirus outbreak appears to be leveling off in the United States as the average number of new cases declines across the country every day, but testing shortages in key states and other gaps in Covid-19 data call into question whether the outbreak is really slowing.

The country recorded an average of 52,875 new cases every day over the last seven days, down 19% from an average of 65,285 new cases per day on July 28, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. However, Covid-19 testing has declined as well, falling from a seven-day average of about 814,000 tests per day two weeks ago to about 716,000, a 12% decline, over the same two-week period, according to data compiled by the Covid Tracking Project, a volunteer project founded by journalists at The Atlantic magazine.

“I really have come to believe we have entered a real, new, emerging crisis with testing and it is making it hard to know where the pandemic is slowing down and where it’s not,” Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, said in an interview with CNBC.

The decline in testing is particularly acute in some of the hardest hit states with the worst outbreaks, which further skews the overall case numbers across the U.S.

In Texas, for instance, new cases have fallen by 10% to an average of 7,381 a day from 8,203 two weeks ago, based on a seven-day moving average. Testing, however, is down by 53% over the same time frame. Meanwhile, the percent of positive tests has doubled over the last two weeks to about 24%, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Texas isn’t the only state that’s seen a drop in testing in recent weeks, according to the Covid Tracking Project. Testing has fallen in other states, including Florida, North Carolina and Tennessee, which are home to some of the country’s largest Covid-19 outbreaks.

... “How pathetic are we as a nation that six months into this pandemic, we can’t get this stuff right? We don’t have enough tests. Tests are taking two weeks,” he said. “We can’t figure out where the outbreaks are getting better or worse because our numbers are so messed up that we’re having to squint at the data.”

Catherine Troisi, an epidemiologist with The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, said that while testing varies across different regions of the state, overall, it has dropped off substantially at a critical time in the outbreak. The increasing portion of tests coming back positive indicates that the state should be testing more, not less, especially as school districts prepare to reopen in the coming weeks, which she expects to complicate the outbreak even more.

“We know we’re missing a lot of people. Basically, we don’t know what’s happening,”

... President Donald Trump said essentially the same thing at a July 14 press conference. “Think of this, if we didn’t do testing, instead of testing over 40 million people, if we did half the testing we would have half the cases,” he said at the time.

Smith, however, said the cases don’t actually go away. Public health officials just don’t know who’s infected.


U.S. Records Over 1,500 Deaths, for the Deadliest Day Since May

... While the daily number of new Covid-19 deaths is far below the 2,000-plus daily new deaths that the country saw in March and April, the daily death toll remains stubbornly high.

Daily new deaths are rising rapidly in Georgia, according to a CNBC analysis of Hopkins data. Georgia reported 105 new deaths on Wednesday, pushing the state's seven-day average passed 67 deaths per day, more than 38% higher than a week ago, according to CNBC's analysis.


The True Coronavirus Toll in the U.S. Has Already Surpassed 200,000

Across the United States, at least 200,000 more people have died than usual since March, according to a New York Times analysis of estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is about 60,000 higher than the number of deaths that have been directly linked to the coronavirus.

As the pandemic has moved south and west from its epicenter in New York City, so have the unusual patterns in deaths from all causes. That suggests that the official death counts may be substantially underestimating the overall effects of the virus, as people die from the virus as well as by other causes linked to the pandemic.

As the number of hot spots expanded, so has the number of excess deaths across other parts of the country. Many of the recent coronavirus cases and deaths in the South and the West may have been driven largely by reopenings and relaxed social distancing restrictions.

... Nine of the 13 states in the South started seeing excess deaths surge in July, months into the pandemic. A spike in cases in places like Texas put pressure on hospitals, echoing the chaos that ensued in New York months earlier. South Carolina, among the first states to reopen retail stores, saw deaths reach 1.6 times normal levels in mid-July.

Unlike other states in this region, Louisiana saw its excess deaths peak in April — when total deaths reached 1.7 times normal levels. Medical experts said Mardi Gras gatherings most likely contributed to this spike.

... Counting deaths takes time and many states are weeks or months behind in reporting. The estimates from the C.D.C. are adjusted based on how mortality data has lagged in previous years. Even with this adjustment, it’s possible there could be an underestimate of the complete death toll if increased mortality is causing states to lag more than they have in the past or if states have changed their reporting systems.



Critics of Sweden's Coronavirus Strategy Call for More Restrictions

Critics of Sweden's coronavirus strategy have called for more protective measures to be put in place ahead of a potential second wave of the virus once the summer is over.

Writing in Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter, Goran K. Hansson, the general-secretary of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, and Economist Lars Calmfors called for a change in the country's strategy towards the virus, one that has seen it shun a lockdown in favor of largely voluntary measures.

"It is now time to review the corona strategy," Hansson and Calmfors wrote in an op-ed Tuesday. "The beginning of autumn may be crucial for the corona pandemic's continued development in the country. A real retake is needed for the continued infection control strategy so that the spread of infection is kept down while waiting for both better treatment methods and vaccines," they said.

Sweden has seen a far higher death toll than its neighbors, with almost 5,800 deaths. The critics said the number of fatalities represented a "national catastrophe" for Sweden and called for more cost-effective measures, including quarantines for travelers from countries with a large number of infections, and face masks in public environments.


Quoting ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ Judge Strikes Down Trump Administration Rollback of Historic Law Protecting Birds

A federal judge in New York has invalidated rule changes by the Trump administration that allowed individuals and corporations to kill scores of birds as long as they could prove they did not intentionally set out to do so.

In a blistering ruling that cited Harper Lee’s “To Kill A Mockingbird”, U.S. District Judge Valerie E. Caproni ripped the administration’s interpretation of “takings” and “killings” of birds under the century-old Migratory Bird Treaty Act as applying only if the animals are specifically targeted.

... “It is not only a sin to kill a mockingbird, it is also a crime,” Caproni wrote. “That has been the letter of the law for the past century. But if the Department of the Interior has its way, many mockingbirds and other migratory birds that delight people and support ecosystems throughout the country will be killed without legal consequence.”

... Tuesday’s ruling was the latest legal setback for the Trump administration as it has systematically tried to weaken or nullify scores of federal environmental protections. In her decision, Caproni said the administration had gone too far.

The changes made by the Trump administration largely benefited oil companies, which have paid most of the fines for violating the act, according to an analysis by the National Audubon Society.

In the administration’s view, even BP, the company responsible for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that led to the deaths of an estimated 1 million birds, would not be liable for punishment under the law.

... The 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act was enacted after several species of common birds became extinct. The administration’s action reversed decades of efforts by Republican and Democratic administrations to protect the animals as they navigate the globe. The law covers such disparate birds as eagles, red knots, Canada geese and vultures.

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: August 12, 2020, 01:30:00 AM »


Florida reports record single-day jump in deaths

Florida reported 276 new deaths caused by the coronavirus on Tuesday, the most deaths reported in a single day by the state since the pandemic began.

Florida is one of the hardest-hit states in the country by the coronavirus, but daily new cases have appeared to decline in recent days. Epidemiologists, however, warn that it’s too soon to establish any kind of strong trend and say that testing has fallen even faster than new cases.

The seven-day average of daily new cases has dropped by 38% compared with two weeks ago, according to CNBC’s analysis of data compiled by Hopkins, but testing has declined as well. The state was running roughly  54,000 tests per day two weeks ago, but that has dropped by about 46% to just over 37,000 as of Aug. 10, based on data compiled by the Covid Tracking Project, a volunteer project founded by journalists at the Atlantic magazine.


Bars Could Reopen In Texas If Situation Improves, Governor Says

Texas bars may be able to reopen after ordered to shutter in June if the state’s able to better contain the coronavirus, Gov. Greg Abbott said at a press briefing.

... Abbott warned, however, that the state has “to be vigilant right now” and that the coronavirus has “not left the state of Texas,” though there have been some signs of improvement. Texas’ positivity rate remains near 21%, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.


Virus Doesn't Seem to Follow Seasonal Patterns: WHO

A senior doctor at the World Health Organization said COVID-19 is not showing signs of seasonal patterns, and that lifting restrictions is what will cause it to "bounce back".

Speaking from Geneva on Monday, Dr Michael Ryan, the director of WHO Health Emergencies Programne, said "so far, what it has clearly demonstrated is you take the pressure off the virus, the virus bounces back".


Local health officials are leaving their posts as pandemic strains departments

At least 49 public health leaders at the state and local levels have resigned, retired or been fired since April, the Associated Press reports, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to strain departments. Those 49 officials span 23 states and represent an increase of 20 since June, when the AP and Kaiser Health News service started keeping track.

Health officials cite a “frustrating and tiring and disheartening” few months combating the fast moving virus, as well as attacks and threats from members of the public who disagree with a states course of action. Some officials who left their posts cited family reasons or took jobs elsewhere in the field, and still others cited the politicization of mask-wearing and Covid-19 related shutdowns as contributing to their departures.

The politics / Re: The Trump Presidency
« on: August 11, 2020, 10:37:33 PM »

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: August 11, 2020, 10:33:16 PM »
Pre-Orders of COVID-19 Vaccine Top Five Billion!

Although none of the coronavirus vaccines under development has proved its efficacy yet in clinical trials, at least 5.7 billion doses have been pre-ordered around the world.

... So far, Washington has handed out at a total of least 9.4 billion dollars to seven vaccine developers and signed manufacturing contracts with five of them to provide 700 million doses.

The companies involved are: Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Oxford/AztraZeneca, Novavax, Pfizer/BioNTech, Sanofi/GSK, Merck Sharp and Dohme.

Two vaccine developers—Oxford/AztraZeneca and Sanofi/GSK—have signed or are in advanced negotiations with the European Commission to provide a combined 700 million vaccine doses.

Britain, because of Brexit, is negotiating a separate pre-order of 250 million doses from four developers.

Japan is counting on 490 million doses from three suppliers including 250 million from Novavax of the United States.


Scientists Worry Whether Russia's 'Sputnik V' Coronavirus Vaccine is Safe and Effective

... "We [the US] certainly wouldn't allow a vaccine to be used for mass distribution at this point based on the data we have at hand," he said. "We just don't know if the vaccines are safe and effective at this point."


... how quickly they forget ...


Nerve gas antidote a possible cause of Gulf war illness

A study conducted over two years by the Rand Corporation, a non-profit organisation financed by the US Department of Defense, suggests that pyridostigmine bromide may cause a number of symptoms affecting more than 100000 Gulf war veterans.

A wide range of acute and chronic symptoms have been linked to it, including fatigue, muscle pain, cognitive problems, insomnia,[3] rashes and diarrhea.[7] Approximately 250,000[8] of the 697,000 U.S. veterans who served in the 1991 Gulf War are afflicted with enduring chronic multi-symptom illness, a condition with serious consequences

... The RAC concluded[11] that "exposure to pesticides and/or to PB [pyridostigmine bromide nerve agent protective pills] are causally associated with GWI and the neurological dysfunction in GW veterans.

... Gulf War veterans were exposed to a unique mix of hazards not previously experienced during wartime. These included pyridostigmine bromide pills (given to protect troops from the effects of nerve agents), depleted uranium munitions, and multiple simultaneous vaccinations including anthrax and botulinum toxin vaccines. The oil and smoke that spewed for months from hundreds of burning oil wells presented another exposure hazard not previously encountered in a war zone. Military personnel also had to cope with swarms of insects, requiring the widespread use of pesticides. High-powered microwaves were used to disrupt Iraqi communications, and though it is unknown whether this might have contributed to the syndrome, research has suggested that safety limits for electromagnetic radiation are too lenient.

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: August 11, 2020, 09:44:16 PM »
Russia will begin distributing a COVID vaccine that is “effective enough,” Vladimir Putin announced Tuesday, though it has completed no clinical trials nor has the outside world seen any of the science behind it. “Mr. Putin’s announcement came despite a caution last week from the World Health Organization that Russia should not stray from the usual methods of testing a vaccine for safety and effectiveness,” reports the New York Times. It’s “essentially a claim of victory in the global race for a vaccine, something Russian officials have been telegraphing for several weeks now despite the absence of published information about any late-phase testing.”

This vaccine isn’t even listed, NYT notes: “The World Health Organization maintains a comprehensive list of worldwide vaccine trials. In the latest version of the list, there is no Russian Phase III trial.”


... We don't need no stinkin' clinical drug trials


... and more on 'Dr Feel Good' ...,2996.msg264585.html#msg264585

Dr Moncef Slaoui, a former pharma executive, was announced last week as a lead figure in President Donald Trump's push for a coronavirus vaccine.

Slaoui resigned as a director of the company Moderna — which is trialing one vaccine — to take the position.

Moderna's stock climb was helped by an investment from the federal government, of which Slaoui is now a part.

The holding has been called a potential conflict of interest, as Moderna's vaccine could be a beneficiary of the program Saloui is leading.

However, he continues to hold stock options worth more than $10 million in Moderna, which has seen its stock price skyrocket in recent months.

Sorry dnem, I had multiple tabs open on the same subject and combined info. I do all my work on a smartphone and it gets congested sometimes.  I also fact check and correct reporting errors ...


Powerful Storm Leaves 1 Dead, Heavy Crop Damage in Midwest

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Hundreds of thousands across the Midwest remained without power on Tuesday after a powerful storm packing 100 mph winds battered the region a day earlier, causing widespread damage to millions of acres to crops and killing a 73-year-old woman found clutching a young boy in her storm-battered mobile home.

... Farmers reported that some grain bins were destroyed and corn fields were flattened by the storm. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said early estimates indicate 10 million acres have been damaged in the nation’s top corn producing state. That would be nearly a third of the nearly 31 million acres of land used for crops in the state. The most significant damage is to the corn crop, which is in the advanced stages of development nearly a month away from the beginning of harvest.

“This morning I had a farmer reach out to me to say this was the worst wind damage to crops and farm buildings that he has ever seen across the state in such a wide area,” Reynolds said


Gov. Kim Reynolds issued a disaster proclamation Tuesday for several counties heavily impacted by the derecho that passed through Iowa on Monday.

... Gov. Reynolds said early estimates indicate around 10 million acres of crop damage.


It traveled more than 770 miles and left more than 1 million people in the dark

Time lapse radar image

About 80% of all U.S. derechos happen during the months of April, May, June, July, and August. More than 60% happen just during the months of May, June and July. That’s because these wind storms need big-time heat, humidity and “energy” (referred to as CAPE). The late spring and first half of summer are usually when these ingredients all come together

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: August 08, 2020, 02:55:43 AM »
University of Washington model predicts 300,000 U.S. deaths

The coronavirus could kill nearly 300,000 Americans by December, according to new data from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. But consistent mask-wearing by 95% of people in the U.S. could save around 70,000 lives, the data predicts.

Models have previously predicted that the U.S. could see 200,000 coronavirus deaths by October.

The coronavirus has killed more than 160,100 people in the U.S., the largest death toll of any country globally, according to Johns Hopkins University.

“We’re seeing a rollercoaster in the United States,” IHME Director Dr. Christopher Murray said in a press release. “It appears that people are wearing masks and socially distancing more frequently as infections increase, then after a while as infections drop, people let their guard down and stop taking these measures to protect themselves and others – which, of course, leads to more infections. And the potentially deadly cycle starts over again.”


India now has over 2 million cases and more than 41,000 people have died

India has reported more than 2 million cases of Covid-19 to-date and over 41,000 people have succumbed to the illness, according to the health ministry, the Associated Press reported.

Consequences / Re: Hurricane Season 2020
« on: August 07, 2020, 11:56:53 PM »
US Hurricane Experts Predict 'Extremely Active' Storm Season

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center said there could be up to 25 storms which have sustained winds of 39mph or greater. Storms which hit this threshold are named by the agency.

Gerry Bell, the lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at the Climate Prediction Center, said the combined intensity and duration of all storms during the season is predicted to be much higher than the threshold for an “extremely active” season.

“We’ve never forecast up to 25 storms,” Bell said in a press briefing. “So this is the first time.”

The previous high was in 2005, when the agency predicted a maximum of 21 named storms.

Of the 25 possible named storms, NOAA estimates seven to 11 could become hurricanes, which have winds of at least 74mph. The agency also forecast that three to six storms could become major hurricanes, with winds of 111mph or more.

The increase in predicted hurricanes is attributed to warmer than usual sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, combined with the wind conditions.


Researchers Find Link Between Atlantic Hurricanes and Weather System in East Asia

Researchers led by the University of Iowa have identified a connection between a climate system in East Asia and the frequency of tropical storms that develop in the Atlantic Ocean—which can strengthen into hurricanes that threaten the United States.

In a new study, the researchers say the East Asian Subtropical Jet Stream (EASJ) an upper-level river of wind that originates in East Asia and moves west to east across the globe, carries with it an atmospheric phenomenon called a Rossby wave.

Rossby waves occur naturally within the Earth's oceans and atmosphere, forming because of the planet's rotation. The researchers say Rossby waves hitch a ride on the EASJ to the North Atlantic when tropical cyclones in the Atlantic are most likely to form. The waves affect wind shear, a key element in the formation of tropical storms.

"When the EASJ is stronger, it can enhance this pattern, which leads to stronger teleconnections and stronger wind shear in the North Atlantic," explains says Wei Zhang, a climate scientist at IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering at Iowa. "That can suppress Atlantic tropical cyclone formation."

"These jets act as a conduit for the signal originating in Asia, so it can propagate over the Atlantic."

The scientists observed nearly 40 years of Atlantic tropical cyclones during prime formation season, from August to November, and their connection during the same time period with EASJ activity between July to October.

Wei Zhang et al, The East Asian Subtropical Jet Stream and Atlantic Tropical Cyclones, Geophysical Research Letters (2020)


On a personal note.

TS Isaias did a number on my state (Connecticut). Over 750, 000 customers - 2 million people - without power. 44 major roads within 10 miles are blocked by downed trees and powerlines. Don't expect full recovery till next Tuesday.

Most microwave repeater towers failed because of lack of auxiliary power. No phone or internet for last 72 hrs. Coverage still spotty.

12 hrs before the storm hit local weather services predicted 20-40 mph winds. Actually hit with 60-80 mph winds and multiple tornadoes.

Since 2011 (last hurricane) utilities have added a surcharge to the bill to pay for 'hardening' the infrastructure from extreme weather (tree branch removal near wires). Apparently that all went to executive bonuses because the infrastructure failed worse than the last hurricane.And anybody working from home because of COVID-19 is screwed out of a weeks pay.

I am not amused.  >:(

Local road

On a positive note. I tied the corn (maize) in my garden to the wire fence they were growing next to with bungee cords. They all survived. So I'll have 3 dozen ears of sweet corn in a week or two.

The forum / Re: Forum Decorum
« on: August 07, 2020, 05:56:40 PM »
If you haven't tried it already, you may also be able to salvage the hard drive from the laptop. Pop it out, change the setting from boot disk to slave, and test it as an external drive. The computer shop can test this for you.

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: August 04, 2020, 06:53:42 PM »
Vietnam says origin of Danang outbreak hard to track as virus cases rise

... Nguyen Thanh Long, the country's health minister, said on Sunday that those infected with the new strain have infected five to six people on average, Reuters reported.

Those infected with the original strain of COVID-19, which arrived in Vietnam in late January, passed it to an average of 1.8 to 2.2 people, he said.

While the strain is new to Vietnam, it has been seen before in Bangladesh, Britain, and Ireland, according to Vietnamese scientists.

There are multiple strains of the novel coronavirus; the original D614 strain was found in Wuhan, China, in December and appeared in Vietnam in January.

Analysis of the virus’s genome sequence found a mutation called ‘D614G’ made the virus more infectious than the original strain, but did not cause more severe disease

See also:,2996.msg279176.html#msg279176

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: August 04, 2020, 05:39:41 PM »
155,000 Dead and Counting: Donald Trump Flounders in Interview Over US Covid-19 Death Toll

Donald Trump visibly floundered in an interview when pressed on a range of issues, including the number of coronavirus cases and deaths in the US

In the interview, broadcast on HBO on Monday and conducted by Axios’s national political correspondent, Jonathan Swan, Trump again asserted that his administration was doing an “incredible job” responding to the coronavirus.

Claiming that the pandemic was unique, Trump said: “This has never happened before. Nineteen seventeen, but it was totally different, it was a flu in that case. If you watch the fake news on television, they don’t even talk about it, but there are 188 other countries right now that are suffering. Some, proportionately, far greater than we are.”

And when asked about the death toll from coronavirus so far in the US, of almost 155,000 killed, Trump appeared irritated and said: They are dying, that’s true. It is what it is"

Swan pressed the president on which countries were doing worse. Trump brandished several pieces of paper with graphs and charts on them that he referred to as he attempted to suggest the US figures compared well internationally.

“Right here, United States is lowest in numerous categories. We’re lower than the world. Lower than Europe.”

“In what?” asks Swan. As it becomes apparent that Trump is talking about the number of deaths as a proportion of cases, Swan says said: “Oh, you’re doing death as a proportion of cases. I’m talking about death as a proportion of population. That’s where the US is really bad. Much worse than Germany, South Korea.”

Trump then says: “You can’t do that.”

Trump also appears, without evidence, to assert that children are receiving positive Covid-19 test results for having a runny nose – which is not generally listed among the symptoms of coronavirus, which are a high temperature and a new continuous cough.

... “You know, there are those that say you can test too much. You do know that.”

Asked who says that, Trump replies: “Oh, just read the manuals. Read the books.”

The president then attempts to shift blame for the outbreaks of coronavirus on to state governors, saying: “We have done a great job. We’ve got the governors everything they needed. They didn’t do their job – many of them didn’t, some of them did.”

Conversation With a Pre-Dementia Candidate


We're Thinking About Covid-19 the Wrong Way. It's Not a 'Wave' – It's a Wildfire

Like a fire, the virus relentlessly seeks out its fuel, humans, and will keep spreading as long as it has access to that

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: August 04, 2020, 04:03:12 PM »
Trump Nursing Home Plan Limits Supply of Free COVID-19 Tests

The Trump administration's plan to provide every nursing home with a fast COVID-19 testing machine comes with an asterisk: The government will not supply enough test kits to check staff and residents beyond an initial couple of rounds.

A programme that sounded like a game changer when it was announced last month at the White House is now prompting concerns that it could turn into another unfulfilled promise for nursing homes, whose residents and staff represent a tiny share of the US population but account for as many as four in 10 coronavirus deaths, according to some estimates.

"I think the biggest fear is that the instruments may be delivered but it won't do any good, if you don't have the test kits," said George Linial, president of Leading Age of Texas, a group that represents nursing homes.

The weekly cost of testing employees could range from more than $19,000 to nearly $38,000, according to estimates by the national organisation.

Adm. Brett Giroir, the Health and Human Services department’s “testing czar,” recently told reporters that the government would only supply enough kits to test residents once and staff twice.

The program is on track to deliver 2,400 fast-test machines and hundreds of thousands of test kits by mid-August, Giroir said, with the devices and supplies first going to nursing homes in virus hot spots.

However, informational materials from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, say getting a machine to every nursing home could take 14 weeks. That would mean deliveries may not be completed until early November. In Texas alone there are more than 1,200 nursing homes, Linial said, and only a few dozen have gotten them.

... “Doing one round of testing doesn’t really solve the problem in a pandemic that could last months or years.”

The Trump administration said each of the nation’s 15,400 nursing homes could cover the cost of ongoing testing from a $5bn pot provided by Congress, and allocated to the facilities by the White House. [... or they could buy PPE; just not both]

... Nursing homes have other concerns about the program, beyond costs.

For example, antigen tests can sometimes return a negative result when a person actually has the virus. A government guidance document for nursing homes says the tests “do not rule out” COVID-19.

Nursing homes that have begun getting the machines may also be in the dark about how to operate them correctly.

The administration says the manufacturers of the machines are supposed to provide training and technical support.


White House Requiring Mandatory Staff Coronavirus Testing After Trump Downplayed Increased Diagnostics

As President Donald Trump continues to downplay the need for increased Covid-19 testing across the country, White House officials were told on Monday they will now be subjected to random testing for the virus.

According to an email sent to executive branch employees, which POLITICO obtained, the new policy will require “random mandatory Covid-19 testing” for officials working inside the White House complex, and the message added, “Failure to report to testing will be considered a refusal to test.”

Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have stated numerous times that conducting a higher number of tests will lead to a higher number of positive tests.

At a June campaign rally in Tulsa, Okla., the president said he had asked his aides to “slow the testing down.”

Science / Re: Where are we now in CO2e , which pathway are we on?
« on: August 04, 2020, 12:41:45 AM »
'Worst-Case' CO2 Emissions Scenario Is Best for Assessing Climate Risk and Impacts to 2050

The RCP 8.5 CO2 emissions pathway, long considered a "worst case scenario" by the international science community, is the most appropriate for conducting assessments of climate change impacts by 2050, according to a new article published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Long dismissed as alarmist or misleading, the paper argues that is actually the closest approximation of both historical emissions and anticipated outcomes of current global climate policies, tracking within 1% of actual emissions.

"Not only are the emissions consistent with RCP 8.5 in close agreement with historical total cumulative CO2 emissions (within 1%), but RCP8.5 is also the best match out to mid-century under current and stated policies with still highly plausible levels of CO2 emissions in 2100," the authors wrote. "... Not using RCP8.5 to describe the previous 15 years assumes a level of mitigation that did not occur, thereby skewing subsequent assessments by lessening the severity of warming and associated physical climate risk."

The commentary also emphasizes that while there are signs of progress on bending the global emissions curve and that our emissions picture may change significantly by 2100, focusing on the unknowable, distant future may distort the current debate on these issues. "For purposes of informing societal decisions, shorter time horizons are highly relevant, and it is important to have scenarios which are useful on those horizons. Looking at mid-century and sooner, RCP8.5 is clearly the most useful choice," they wrote.

The article also notes that RCP 8.5 would not be significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that "we note that the usefulness of RCP 8.5 is not changed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Assuming pandemic restrictions remain in place until the end of 2020 would entail a reduction in emissions of -4.7 Gt CO2. This represents less than 1% of total cumulative CO2 emissions since 2005 for all RCPs and observations."

Christopher R. Schwalm el al., "RCP8.5 tracks cumulative CO2 emissions," PNAS (2020)


Consequences / Re: Decline in insect populations
« on: August 03, 2020, 11:10:40 PM »
Bumblebees are tough, but not invincible.

A bumblebee queen does not overwinter in the nest. They overwinter in burrows beneath leaf litter or in brush piles. They will be several cm deep, near or below the frost line in dry soil. They may use abandoned mice/vole nests. Their metabolism is so slow during winter that ventalation is usually not a problem.

In spring, a mated queen emerges from her overwintering site, searches for a spot to nest, and works alone to raise a first cohort of worker daughters. The colony grows over several months, producing successive cohorts of workers before switching to produce males and new queens. In mid‐ to late summer, newly mated queens seek sheltered sites where they overwinter.

Rinse; repeat.

Habitat determines both location.

Nectar and pollen near the colony nest
Dry, unfrozen, leaf litter for overwinter site.

Bumblebees start their year early. I've seen them at flowers early march, anytime it's above 8-10°C.

Honeybees will be out earlier because they can return to the colony and warm up. I've seen honeybees on my Snowdrops on clear sunny days in January

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: August 03, 2020, 07:26:52 PM »
Has the Summit Supercomputer Cracked COVID's Code?

A supercomputer-powered genetic study of COVID-19 patients has spawned a possible breakthrough into how the novel coronavirus causes disease—and points toward new potential therapies to treat its worst symptoms.

The genetic data mining research uncovered a common pattern of gene activity in the lungs of symptomatic COVID-19 patients, which when compared to gene activity in healthy control populations revealed a mechanism that appears to be a key weapon in the coronavirus’s arsenal.

... The mechanism, detailed in Jacobson’s group’s new paper in the journal eLife, centers around a compound the body produces to regulate blood pressure, called bradykinin. A healthy body produces small amounts of bradykinin to dilate blood vessels and make them more permeable. Which typically lowers blood pressure.

A normal blood vessel, shown at left, is compared with a blood vessel affected by excess bradykinin. A hyperactive bradykinin system permits fluid, shown in yellow, to leak out and allows immune cells, shown in purple, to squeeze their way out of blood vessels.

However, Jacobson said, lung fluid samples from COVID-19 patients consistently revealed over-expression of genes that produce bradykinin, while also under-expressing genes that would inhibit or break down bradykinin.

In other words, the new finding predicts a hyper-abundance of bradykinin in a coronavirus patient’s body at the points of infection, which can have well-known and sometimes deadly consequences. As Jacobson’s paper notes, extreme bradykinin levels in various organs can lead to dry coughs, myalgia, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia, headaches, decreased cognitive function, arrhythmia and sudden cardiac death. All of which have been associated with various manifestations of COVID-19.

... Another genetic tendency this work revealed was up-regulation in the production of hyaluronic acid. This compound is slimy to the touch. In fact, it’s the primary component in snail slime. And it has the remarkable property of being able to absorb 1000 times its own weight in water.

The team also discovered evidence of down-regulated genes in COVID patients that might otherwise have kept hyaluronic acid levels in check. So with fluid inundating the lungs and gels that absorb those fluids being over-produced as well, a coronavirus patient’s lung, Jacobson said, “fills up with a jello-like hydrogel.”

“One of the causes of death is people are basically suffocating,” Jacobson said. “And we may have found the mechanisms responsible for how this gets out of control, why all the fluid is leaking in, why you’re now producing all this hyaluronic acid—this gelatin-like substance—in your lung, and possibly why there are all these inflammatory responses.”

Jacobson’s group’s paper then highlights ten possible therapies developed for other conditions that might also address the coronavirus's "bradykinin storm" problem. Potential therapies include compounds like icatibant, danazol, stanozolol, ecallantide, berinert, cinryze and haegarda, all of whose predicted effect is to reduce bradykinin levels in a patient. Even Vitamin D, whose observed deficiency in COVID-19 patients is also explained by the group’s research, could play a role in future COVID-19 therapies.

Garvin, M., Jacobson, D., mechanistic model and therapeutic interventions for COVID-19 involving a RAS-mediated bradykinin storm eLite, (2020)

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: August 03, 2020, 04:38:00 PM »
The Six Strains of SARS-CoV-2

... Currently, there are six strains of coronavirus. The original one is the L strain, that appeared in Wuhan in December 2019. Its first mutation—the S strain—appeared at the beginning of 2020, while, since mid-January 2020, we have had strains V and G. To date strain G is the most widespread: it mutated into strains GR and GH at the end of February 2020.

"Strain G and its related strains GR and GH are by far the most widespread, representing 74% of all gene sequences we analyzed," says Giorgi. "They present four mutations, two of which are able to change the sequence of the RNA polymerase and Spike proteins of the virus. This characteristic probably facilitates the spread of the virus."

If we look at the coronavirus map, we can see that strains G and GR are the most frequent across Europe and Italy. According to the available data, GH strain seems close to non-existence in Italy, while it occurs more frequently in France and Germany. This seems to confirm the effectiveness of last months' containment methods.

In North America, the most widespread strain is GH, while in South America we find the GR strain more frequently. In Asia, where the Wuhan L strain initially appeared, the spread of strains G, GH and GR is increasing. These strains landed in Asia only at the beginning of March, more than a month after their spread in Europe.

Globally, strains G, GH and GR are constantly increasing. Strain S can be found in some restricted areas in the U.S. and Spain. The L and V strains are gradually disappearing.

... "Rare genomic mutations are less than 1% of all sequenced genomes," confirms Giorgi. "However, it is fundamental that we study and analyze them so that we can identify their function and monitor their spread. All countries should contribute to the cause by giving access to data about the virus genome sequences."

Daniele Mercatelli et al. Geographic and Genomic Distribution of SARS-CoV-2 Mutations, Frontiers in Microbiology (2020)


Ancient Part of Immune System May Underpin Severe COVID-19

One of the immune system's oldest branches, called complement, may be influencing the severity of COVID-19 disease, according to a new study from researchers at Columbia University Irving Medical Center

... If complement and coagulation influence severity of COVID, people with pre-existing hyperactive complement or coagulation disorders should be more susceptible to the virus.

That led Shapira and Tatonetti to look at COVID patients with macular degeneration, an eye disease caused by overactive complement, as well as common coagulation disorders like thrombosis and hemorrhage.

... Among 11,000 COVID patients who came to Columbia University Irving Medical Center with suspected COVID-19, the researchers found that over 25% of those with age-related macular degeneration died, compared to the average mortality rate of 8.5%, and roughly 20% required intubation. The greater mortality and intubation rates could not be explained by differences in the age or sex of the patients.

"Complement is also more active in obesity and diabetes," Shapira says, "and may help explain, at least in part, why people with those conditions also have a greater mortality risk from COVID."

People with a history of coagulation disorders also were at increased risk of dying from COVID infection.

More evidence linking severe COVID with coagulation and complement comes from a genetic analysis of thousands of COVID patients from the U.K. Biobank, which contains medical records and genetic data on half a million people.

The authors found that variants of several genes that influence complement or coagulation activity are associated with more severe COVID symptoms that required hospitalization.

"Immune complement and coagulation functions in adverse outcomes of SARS-CoV-2 infection," Nature Medicine (2020)


Texas Pauses Virus Reporting (3:33 p.m. NY)

Texas isn’t reporting coronavirus data on Sunday to allow for what the state website called “a scheduled upgrade to the system that processes reports.” The Department of State Human Services said the data will be reported on Monday.

Consequences / Re: Decline in insect populations
« on: August 02, 2020, 10:40:47 PM »
Bumblebee Habitats and Diets Change Over Their Lifecycle

Bumblebees change their home ranges and dietary preferences after establishing nests, suggesting that diversified landscapes help support bee populations as their needs change during different phases of their lifecycle.

Cavigliasso P, Phifer CC, Adams EM, Flaspohler D, Gennari GP, Licata JA, et al. (2020) Spatio-temporal dynamics of landscape use by the bumblebee Bombus pauloensis (Hymenoptera: Apidae) and its relationship with pollen provisioning. PLoS ONE 15(7): e0216190


Observe what the bee's preference are.

Provide blooms during each season

Here in Connecticut these are the flowers most visited by bumblebees at our community garden

Blueberries - spring
Grape hyacinth - spring
Catmint - Spring
Thyme - spring
Borage - summer
Salvia - late spring
Echinacea - summer
Tomatoes - summer
Squash, cucumbers - summer
St John's wort - summer
Agastache - summer, fall
Joe Pye weed - summer
Milkweed - summer
Sunflowers - summer
Butterfly bush - summer fall
Oregano summer fall
Mint - summer fall
Zinnias - summer fall
Goldenrod - fall
Asters - fall

Don't expect the bumblebee queen to stay in the box if your winters are freezing.

I was a beekeeper in the 90's and 00's

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: August 02, 2020, 08:49:07 PM »
COVID-19 Hospital Data Is a Hot Mess After WH HHS Takes Control

With weird discrepancies and fluctuations, COVID trackers say the data is less useful.

As COVID-19 hospitalizations in the US approach the highest levels seen in the pandemic so far, national efforts to track patients and hospital resources remain in shambles after the federal government abruptly seized control of data collection earlier this month.

For some hospitals, that data has to be harvested from various sources, such as electronic medical records, lab reports, pharmacy data, and administrative sources. The task has been particularly onerous for small, rural hospitals and hospitals that are already strained by a crush of COVID-19 patients.

... Amid all the administrative and technical hurdles, the national data on hospitalizations has become a hot mess. The COVID Tracking Project—which collects data on a variety of COVID-19 pandemic metrics—wrote in a blog post July 28 that US hospitalization data is no longer reliable.

The blog noted that between July 20 and July 26, federal totals of currently hospitalized patients has been, on average, 24-percent higher than the totals reported by states. On a state-by-state level, some states are reporting fewer cases than the HHS, some are reporting more, and some federal data has significant day-to-day fluctuations not seen before the reporting transition.

In a July 30 update, the tracking project noted the continued problems, concluding: “Taken together, the gaps and uncertainties in the previously stable hospitalization data mean that this crucial indicator has become much less useful for understanding the true severity of COVID-19 outbreaks."


COVID-19 Hospital Data System That Bypasses CDC Plagued By Delays, Inaccuracies

Earlier this month, when the Trump administration told hospitals to send crucial data about coronavirus cases and intensive care capacity to a new online system, it promised the change would be worth it. The data would be more complete and transparent and an improvement over the old platform run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, administration officials said.

Instead, the public data hub created under the new system is updated erratically and is rife with inconsistencies and errors, data analysts say.

... The data now available to the public appears to be neither faster nor more complete.

When HHS took over the collection and reporting of this hospital capacity data, it promised to update "multiple times each day." Later, the agency walked that back to say it would be updated daily.

Those daily updates have yet to materialize. On Thursday, an HHS spokesperson told NPR via email, "We will be updating the site to make it clear that the estimates are only updated weekly."

The HHS Protect Public Data Hub, the public-facing website set up by HHS, offers three items as a "Hospital Utilization Snapshot," all of which have data that is over a week old

- A "Downloadable Dataset" estimating how many hospital beds are occupied by state — last updated on July 21.

- A table tallying the total number of hospital beds occupied across the country, which has not been updated since July 23.

- A map showing the percent of hospital beds occupied by state, which has not been updated since July 23.

The only information about hospital capacity that appears to be updated regularly on the HHS Protect site is the percentage of hospitals that have submitted data in the past seven days.

But, the tallies do not include certain categories of hospitals, including rehabilitation or veterans' hospitals, which have suffered COVID-19 outbreaks. These rehabilitation and veterans' hospitals had previously been included in the data reported by CDC, says the official, who spoke to NPR on background because they were not authorized to speak on the record.


After the data reporting switch, unusual numbers started cropping up in data that show how many hospital beds are filled in a given state, data analysts say. In some states, the bed occupancy rates soared, even though the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients dropped or only increased modestly.

Take, for example, Arizona. Under the old system, in data last collected by CDC on July 14, an estimated 3,205 COVID-19 patients in Arizona occupied 24% of the state's inpatient hospital beds. After the switch to the new HHS reporting system, an analogous dataset posted by HHS showed 82 fewer COVID-19 patients hospitalized, but the bed occupancy rate had jumped to 42%. It's unclear how fewer patients could be occupying more hospital capacity.

There are similar anomalies in the data for other states, including Georgia and New Mexico.

In Colorado, the hospitalization data maintained by HHS conflicts with the state's data posted to a daily dashboard. As of July 30, the state dashboard lists 341 patients hospitalized in Colorado with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases. A dataset maintained by the HHS, updated on July 30, lists 491 patients in Colorado.

... Members of The COVID Tracking Project from The Atlantic describe the hospital capacity data as being "highly erratic in recent weeks," and noted that data has been missing or incomplete from many states, including California, Texas, South Carolina, Idaho, Missouri and Wyoming, because of complications related to switching reporting systems.

The organizers of the tracking website COVID Exit Strategy initially found the data provided by HHS Protect to be unusable. "It had some states like Rhode Island having an inpatient bed utilization of above 100%," says site co-founder Ryan Panchadsaram. "And Rhode Island is a state where hospitalizations are quite low for COVID."


A Federal Data Failure Is Making It Hard to Talk About COVID

Without a standard, trusted language of COVID data collection, it’s been hard to measure the disease, track its trend, and build effective policy.

When it comes to the language of COVID, the United States stands in sharp contrast with the rest of the world. The Germans have their Robert Koch Institute—the country’s version of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—and its reports are a model of clarity and precision and political neutrality in nailing down the problem.

In the United Kingdom, there’s an up-to-the-minute dashboard of cases, hospitalizations, and the death rate, with the data broken down by region. Australia, likewise, has an easy-to-read “BeCovidSafe” dashboard that tracks the virus. In Canada, there’s a handy outbreak update. Japan has its COVID tracker powered by data from the prefectural governments, and Korea’s website builds on data from the country’s Central Disease Control Headquarters. In all these cases, the building blocks of data come from the government, and they drive the public debate.

In the United States, by contrast, the COVID language problem has been muddled from the beginning. The New York Times is reporting daily trends and hot spots based on data from county governments. For the Washington Post, data comes from the paper’s reporters and from the notable Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 dashboard, whose numbers in turn are compiled from a vast array of local and state public health departments. Then, of course, there’s the University of Washington COVID model, which builds on the Johns Hopkins Github, and the University of Texas COVID-19 Modeling Consortium, which has its own methodology.

Consequences / Re: The Holocene Extinction
« on: August 01, 2020, 08:21:24 AM »
US: Snake River Dams Will Not Be Removed to Save Salmon

The U.S. government announced Friday that four huge dams on the Snake River in Washington state will not be removed to help endangered salmon migrate to the ocean.

"The federal failure to remove the dams despite clear supporting science is a disaster for our endangered salmon and orcas," said Sophia Ressler of the Center for Biological Diversity.

Scientists warn that southern resident orcas are starving to death because of a dearth of chinook salmon that are their primary food source. The Pacific Northwest population of orcas—also called killer whales—was placed on the endangered species list in 2005.

Three Republican members of Congress from Washington state hailed the decision.

... the dams have proven disastrous for salmon that hatch in freshwater streams, then make their way hundreds of miles to the ocean, where they spend years before finding their way back to mate, lay eggs and die.

Snake River sockeye were the first species in the Columbia River Basin listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1991. Now, 13 salmon runs are listed as federally endangered or threatened. Four of those runs return to the Snake River.

The Columbia River system dams cut off more than half of salmon spawning and rearing habitat, and many wild salmon runs in the region have 2% or less of their historic populations, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.

On the way to the ocean, juvenile salmon can get chewed up in the dams' turbines.

Consequences / Re: Heatwaves
« on: July 31, 2020, 09:53:10 PM »
Spain Sets Temperature Records, UK Sees Hottest Day of 2020

San Sebastian on Spain's northern coast witnessed 42 degrees Celsius (107 degrees Fahrenheit) on Thursday—the hottest temperature there since records began in 1955, the national weather agency said.

The city of Palma, on Spain's Mediterranean island of Mallorca, set a local record of 40.6 degrees Celsius (105 degrees Fahrenheit) on Tuesday.

... To the north, U.K. residents sought shade as temperatures rose above 37 degrees Celsius. National weather agency the Met Office said a reading of 37.8 degrees Celsius—100 degrees Fahrenheit—was recorded at Heathrow Airport west of London. That made Friday the hottest day of 2020 and the third-hottest on record.

From Britain to Italy, temperatures around 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) made face masks almost unbearable for many, as more cities begin requiring them outdoors to prevent surges in COVID-19 cases.

Austria and Bulgaria also reported their hottest day yet this year, with Vienna topping 37 degrees before a summer storm brought some relief.

France swelters under heatwave, putting firefighters on alert

Around one-third of the country's 101 departments were on high alert, with Paris forecast to reach 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in the shade after several cities hit record highs Thursday.

Authorities in the capital imposed driving restrictions to limit ozone pollution as tens of thousands of Parisiens prepared to flee to cooler climes, according to the nation's traffic surveillance agency.

The Meteo France weather agency said that storms could bring relief late Friday in central France. Night temperatures elsewhere are likely to stay high, falling to just 25 Celsius (77 Fahrenheit) in cities like Lyon or Grenoble.

Last year was France's hottest on record, and Meteo France has warned that global warming could double the number of heatwaves by 2050.

Consequences / Re: The Holocene Extinction
« on: July 31, 2020, 08:28:12 PM »
Quote from: Walrus
...  In the 1980sm before the commencement of sea ice decline, the bears averaged a 107-day fast.  In the early 2000s, that increased to 130 days, due to earlier breakup of sea ice.  Ice-free days in Hudson Bay have changed appreciably since.  Even in this most vulnerable area, polar starvation is not an issue [Implied - currently].

 ... Walrus, your strawman argument with implied rebuttal has absolutely nothing to do with the conclusions of the paper.

The paper addresses future intersection of trends ...

Abstract: ... Here, we establish the likely nature, timing and order of future demographic impacts by estimating the threshold numbers of days that polar bears can fast before cub recruitment and/or adult survival are impacted and decline rapidly. Intersecting these fasting impact thresholds with projected numbers of ice-free days, estimated from a large ensemble of an Earth system model4, reveals when demographic impacts will likely occur in different subpopulations across the Arctic. Our model captures demographic trends observed during 1979–2016, showing that recruitment and survival impact thresholds may already have been exceeded in some subpopulations. It also suggests that, with high greenhouse gas emissions, steeply declining reproduction and survival will jeopardize the persistence of all but a few high-Arctic subpopulations by 2100. Moderate emissions mitigation prolongs persistence but is unlikely to prevent some subpopulation extirpations within this century.


Ice-adapted algae grow on the underside of the ice, which krill feed upon. Arctic cod and other fish species eat the krill, which are in turn consumed by ringed seals, the most abundant seal in the Arctic and the primary prey of polar bears. If one link in this cycle is broken, the entire marine food chain is at risk.

Consequences / Re: The Holocene Extinction
« on: July 29, 2020, 08:30:51 PM »
So where's your data?

The rest / Re: George Floyd murder and blowback
« on: July 27, 2020, 10:31:05 PM »
Revealed: Oil Giants Help Fund Powerful Police Groups In Top US Cities

Investigation portrays fossil fuel industry as common enemy in struggle for racial and environmental justice in America

Big corporations accused of driving environmental and health inequalities in black and brown communities through toxic and climate-changing pollution are also funding powerful police groups in major US cities, according to a new investigation.

Some of America’s largest oil and gas companies, private utilities, and financial institutions that bankroll fossil fuels also back police foundations – opaque private entities that raise money to pay for training, weapons, equipment, and surveillance technology for departments across the US.

The investigation by the Public Accountability Initiative, a nonprofit corporate and government accountability research institute, and its research database project LittleSis, details how police foundations in cities such as Seattle, Chicago, Washington, New Orleans and Salt Lake City are partially funded by household names such as Chevron, Shell and Wells Fargo.


Police foundations are industry groups that provide substantial funds to local departments, yet, as nonprofits, avoid much public scrutiny.



Modern-day Pinkertons?

... During the labor strikes of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, businessmen hired the Pinkerton Agency to infiltrate unions, supply guards, keep strikers and suspected unionists out of factories, and recruit goon squads to intimidate workers.  ...

See also: Ford Hunger March/Massacre

The rest / Re: George Floyd murder and blowback
« on: July 27, 2020, 05:56:53 PM »
There were 66 vehicle-ramming attacks against activists by right-wing terrorists  across the country in the nearly six weeks immediately after the police killing of George Floyd in late May. The New York Times reported that eye-opening stat on July 7. It’s a tactic that began in the West Bank and was employed by Hamas about a decade ago. ISIS followers picked it up later, terrorism scholar Mia Bloom wrote in Just Security on July 16.


Associated Press reports today “A protest against police violence in Austin, Texas, turned deadly when police said a protester was shot and killed by a person who drove through a crowd of marchers. And someone was shot and wounded in Aurora, Colorado, after a car drove through a protest there.”

The politics / Re: Elections 2020 USA
« on: July 27, 2020, 05:31:44 PM »
VM, do you think those last two rules (about lying) are correct?

1. ...are they correct? (Did I copy the correct info from the OSS report?) Yes

2. ... are they correct? (Do people/governments lie?) Yes ... Pop-quiz ... Which is true? Iraq had WMD or We invaded Iraq for oil?

3. ... are they correct?  (Does it work?) Yes. See above.

4. ... are they correct?  (Do I think it is the right path to follow?) No! It is the path to perdition.


A big lie (German: große Lüge) is a propaganda technique. The expression was coined by Adolf Hitler, when he dictated his 1925 book Mein Kampf, about the use of a lie so "colossal" that no one would believe that someone "could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously".

... All this was inspired by the principle—which is quite true within itself—that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods.

  It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying.

— Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, vol. I, ch. X

The politics / Re: The Trump Presidency
« on: July 27, 2020, 12:02:39 AM »
Trump Is Putting On a Show in Portland

The president is deploying the kind of performative authoritarianism that Vladimir Putin pioneered.

The very idea seems, on the face of it, sheer madness. In Portland, Oregon, federal security officers dressed for combat—wearing jungle-camouflage uniforms with unclear markings, carrying heavy weapons, using batons and tear gas—are patrolling the streets, making random arrests, throwing people into unmarked vans.

Unsurprisingly, these troops are making rudimentary mistakes. Instead of working with local leaders, they have antagonized them. Instead of coaxing people to go home, their behavior has caused more people to come out onto the streets. Instead of calming the situation, they are infuriating people. They have escalated the violence. They have made the situation worse.

... Welcome to the world of performative authoritarianism, a form of politics that reached new heights of sophistication in Russia over the past decade and has now arrived in the United States. Unlike 20th-century authoritarianism, this 21st-century, postmodern influence campaign does not require the creation of a total police state. Nor does it require complete control of information, or mass arrests. It can be carried out, instead, with a few media outlets and a few carefully targeted arrests.

... The chaos in Portland is not an accident. The chaos is the point.

The chaos is also a tactic, and now it will be put to use. Now that it has been deliberately escalated, the violence will provide pictures, footage, video clips, and other material for Trump’s media supporters, and eventually for his campaign advertisements. On Fox News, Sean Hannity has already denounced Portland as a “war zone.” Tucker Carlson has spoken of protesters as “mobs” who keep liberal Democrats in power. The next stage will implicate Joe Biden in this same story: The president’s aides have told journalists that Biden, if he wins, will “allow left-wing fascists to destroy America.” Protesters, mobs, chaos, fascists, the left, the “Dems”, Biden—they’re all one narrative. The Trump administration will show people pictures of its uniformed troops pushing back against them, restoring order with a strong hand. And it will use the kind of language that appeals to that part of the population that prizes safety over all else.

Students of modern dictatorship will find these tactics wearily familiar. Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom Trump admires, has deployed performative authoritarianism, alongside other tools, in order to keep himself in power for many years now. ... Russian state television showed scenes of violence over and over again—scenes that Putin himself had helped create, first by encouraging the former Ukrainian president to shoot at demonstrators, and then by invading the country. He sent troops in unmarked uniforms—the infamous “little green men”—into Crimea and eventually eastern Ukraine to “dominate” the situation, to use Trump’s own word for his tactics in Portland. Or at least that was the way it was meant to look on TV.

... Just this week, Trump’s official Facebook page published an advertisement purporting to show yet another scene of American urban violence. The slogan reads public safety vs chaos & violence, and the ad contrasts a photograph of a somber, concerned Trump with another showing demonstrators pummeling a police officer. But the latter image was not taken in Portland. Sourced from the internet, it was taken in … Ukraine. In 2014. In the ad, which is attributed to Evangelicals for Trump, the insignia on the officer’s shoulder includes a Ukrainian Orthodox cross.

The Big Lie

Image of protesters in Kyiv, Ukraine taken on Feb.18, 2014


Trump Is Determined to Split the Country in Two

The politics / Re: Elections 2020 USA
« on: July 26, 2020, 11:59:10 PM »
From Office of Strategic Services: Hitler's Psychological Profile: pg. 46

His Primary Rules Were:

- Never allow the public to cool off;

- Never admit a fault or wrong;

- Never concede that there may be some good in your enemy;

- Never leave room for alternatives;

- Never accept blame;

- Concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong;

- People will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and

- If you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.

Sound familiar?

Europe’s Economy to Outpace U.S. in Upending of Past Roles

... America’s failure to get a grip on the pandemic is putting the brakes on its rebound compared with Europe, where many former virus hot spots managed to resume economic activity without causing a similar surge in infections

EU ~ 80%, US, UK, Sweden ~ 60%

Crucial for a sustainable recovery is confidence that the virus is no longer out of control, and Europe’s relative success may help encourage shoppers to spend and businesses to invest, further propelling demand and growth. The region has also done a better job of protecting jobs and incomes, at least for now, with furlough programs keeping millions of workers on payrolls.

The politics / Re: Elections 2020 USA
« on: July 26, 2020, 11:27:44 AM »
A Bipartisan Group Secretly Gathered to Game Out a Contested Trump-Biden Election. It Wasn’t Pretty

WASHINGTON — On the second Friday in June, a group of political operatives, former government and military officials, and academics quietly convened online for what became a disturbing exercise in the fragility of American democracy.

The group, which included Democrats and Republicans, gathered to game out possible results of the November election, grappling with questions that seem less far-fetched by the day: What if President Trump refuses to concede a loss, as he publicly hinted recently he might do? How far could he go to preserve his power? And what if Democrats refuse to give in?

“All of our scenarios ended in both street-level violence and political impasse,” said Rosa Brooks, a Georgetown law professor and former Defense Department official who co-organized the group known as the Transition Integrity Project. She described what they found in bleak terms: “The law is essentially ... it’s almost helpless against a president who’s willing to ignore it.”

Using a role-playing game that is a fixture of military and national security planning, the group envisioned a dark 11 weeks between Election Day and Inauguration Day, one in which Trump and his Republican allies used every apparatus of government — the Postal Service, state lawmakers, the Justice Department, federal agents, and the military — to hold onto power, and Democrats took to the courts and the streets to try to stop it.

... “He doesn’t have to win the election,” said Nils Gilman, a historian who leads research at a think tank called the Berggruen Institute and was an organizer of the exercise. “He just has to create a plausible narrative that he didn’t lose.”

It is a fear that has been stoked by the president himself, who has repeatedly warned, without offering evidence, of widespread fraud involving mail-in ballots — which voters are likely to use at unprecedented levels because the pandemic has made in-person voting a potential health risk — to cast doubt on the results of November’s election.

“I think mail-in voting is going to rig the election, I really do,” he told Fox News’ Chris Wallace last Sunday. When asked if he would accept the election results, he said: “I’ll have to see.”

Former vice president Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, has taken to issuing foreboding warnings of his own. “This president is going to try to indirectly steal the election by arguing that mail-in ballots don’t work — they’re not real, they’re not fair,” he said at a fund-raiser on Thursday night. He has also mused publicly about Trump having to be escorted, forcibly if need be, from the White House.

That happened in one of the four scenarios the Transition Integrity Project gamed out, according to summaries of the exercises provided to The Boston Globe. But constitutional experts — and the game play — was less focused on the possibility of a cinematic, militarized intervention on Inauguration Day, which is a possibility many still consider remote, than the room the Constitution appears to leave for a disastrous and difficult transition if the incumbent does not accept a loss.

“When we started talking about this we got a lot of reactions — oh, you guys are so paranoid, don’t be ridiculous, this isn’t going to happen,” Brooks said.

Two things have happened since then: Trump has displayed increased willingness to challenge mail-in ballots, and his administration has deployed federal forces to quell protests in front of the White House and in Portland, Ore., and has threatened to do so in other cities.

“That has really shaken people,” Brooks said. “What was really a fringe idea has now become an anxiety that’s pretty widely shared.”

Brooks, Gilman, and others recruited a slate of players including a former swing state governor, a former White House chief of staff, and a former head of the Department of Homeland Security. They invited both Democrats and Republicans who they knew had concerns about Trump’s comments on the election; nearly 80 people in all were involved. The Republicans were described by participants as “never Trump” or “not Trump Republicans.”

They played using the so-called Chatham House Rules — in which participants can discuss what was said, but not who was there.

The game was elaborate. The participants took on the roles of the Trump campaign, the Biden campaign, relevant government officials, and the media —generally, Democrats played Democrats and Republicans played Republicans — and used a 10-sided die to determine whether a team succeeded in its attempted moves. The games are not meant to be predictive; rather, they are supposed to give people a sense of possible consequences in complex scenarios.

Each scenario involved a different election outcome: An unclear result on Election Day that looked increasingly like a Biden win as more ballots were counted; a clear Biden win in the popular vote and the Electoral College; an Electoral College win for Trump with Biden winning the popular vote by 5 percentage points; and a narrow Electoral College and popular vote victory for Biden.

In the scenarios, the team playing the Trump campaign often questioned the legitimacy of mail-in ballots, which often boosted Biden as they came in — shutting down post offices, pursuing litigation, and using right-wing media to amplify narratives about a stolen election.

To some participants, the game was a stark reminder of the power of incumbency.

“The more demonstrations there were, the more demands for recounts, the more legal challenges there were, the more funerals for democracy were held, the more Trump came across as the candidate of stability,” said Edward Luce, the US editor of the Financial Times, who played the role of a mainstream media reporter during one of the simulations. “Possession is nine-tenths of the law.”

In multiple scenarios, officials on both sides homed in on narrowly decided swing states with divided governments, such Wisconsin, Michigan, and Florida, hoping to persuade officials there to essentially send two different results to Congress. If a state’s election is disputed, a legislature controlled by one party and governor of another each could send competing slates of electors backing their party’s candidate.

Both sides turned out massive street protests that Trump sought to control — in one scenario he invoked the Insurrection Act, which allows the president to use military forces to quell unrest. The scenario that began with a narrow Biden win ended with Trump refusing to leave the White House, burning government documents, and having to be escorted out by the Secret Service. (The team playing Biden in that scenario, meanwhile, sought to patch things up with Republicans by appointing moderate Republican governors, including Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, to Cabinet positions.)

The scenario that produced the most contentious dynamics, however, was the one in which Trump won the Electoral College — and thus, the election — but Biden won the popular vote by 5 percentage points. Biden’s team retracted his Election Night concession, fueled by Democrats angry at losing yet another election despite capturing the popular vote, as happened in 2000 and 2016. In the mock election, Trump sought to divide Democrats — at one point giving an interview to The Intercept, a left-leaning news outlet, saying Senator Bernie Sanders would have won if Democrats had nominated him. Meanwhile, Biden’s team sought to encourage large Western states to secede unless pro-Democracy reforms were made.

That scenario seemed highly far-fetched, but it envisioned a situation in which both sides may have incentives to contest the election.

“There is a narrative among activists in both parties that the loss must be illegitimate,” he said.

According to the Constitution, the presidency ends at noon on Jan. 20, at which point the newly inaugurated president becomes the commander in chief.

The games, ultimately, were designed to explore how difficult it could be to get there.

“The Constitution really has been a workable document in many respects because we have had people who more or less adhered to a code of conduct,” said retired Army Colonel Larry Wilkerson, a Republican and former chief of staff to Colin Powell who participated in games as an observer. “That seems to no longer to be the case. That changes everything.”

The forum / Re: Arctic Sea Ice Forum Humor
« on: July 26, 2020, 02:55:27 AM »

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: July 25, 2020, 10:31:55 PM »
Hundreds of Texas Bar Owners Plan to Open Saturday as a Statement to Gov. Abbott

Hundreds of bar owners have said they will defy Texas governor Greg Abbott’s order to shutter amid a statewide surge in coronavirus cases.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that nearly 800 proprietors have pledged to participate in Freedom Fest in defiance of Abbott’s mandate at the risk of their state liquor licenses.

... In Tarrant County, Arlington’s G Willickers Pub, Burleson’s Cooter Brown’s, the Rail Club Live and Fort Worth’s the Eight Ball Billiard and Bar will participate. Bars from Houston, Pasadena and Sabinal also are scheduled to participate.

Chris Polone, owner of Fort Worth music venue The Rail Club Live, says he organized Freedom Fest to make the voices of bar owners heard and to show people that bars can open safely.

“If you can get every single bar to stand up in solidarity, well, that’s a statement that won’t be ignored,” Polone said.

Polone said it isn’t right that Abbott deemed bars as the place where COVID-19 spreads while other high-traffic service industry locations still operate.

Abbott described his initial decision to allow bars to reopen with restrictions as a mistake when he ordered them to close down again on 26 June.

“If I could go back and redo anything, it would have probably been to slow down the opening of bars, now seeing in the aftermath of how quickly the coronavirus spread in the bar setting,” Abbott told KVIA-TV. “And how a bar setting in reality just doesn’t work with a pandemic. People go to bars to get close and to drink and to socialize, and that’s the kind of thing that stokes the spread of the coronavirus.


... to paraphrase The Graduate (1967)

Mr. Maguire: I want to say one word to you, Benjamin. Just one word.
Benjamin Braddock: Yes, sir.
Mr. Maguire: Are you listening?
Benjamin Braddock: Yes, I am.
Mr. Maguire: Plastics Coffins.
Mr. Maguire: There is a great future in plastics coffins. Think about it. ...

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: July 25, 2020, 04:55:02 PM »
What Do Global Death Patterns Reveal About the UK?

The rest / Re: Masks
« on: July 25, 2020, 04:08:43 AM »

Consequences / Re: Wildfires
« on: July 24, 2020, 10:18:42 AM »
Fires Triple in Brazil's Pantanal Wetlands In 2020

The number of forest fires in the Pantanal, the world's largest tropical wetlands, has nearly tripled in 2020 compared to the same period last year, according to satellite data released Thursday.

Brazil's national space agency, INPE, identified 3,506 fires from January 1 to July 22 in the Pantanal, a 192 percent increase from 2019 and the most for the period since records began in 1998.

The trend is all the more troubling given that 2019 already saw a six-fold increase in fires in the region across the full year.

The Pantanal, which stretches from Brazil into Paraguay and Bolivia, is home to an immense wealth of biodiversity.

It sits at the southern edge of the Amazon rainforest, which has also been hit hard by fires so far this year.

Last month was the worst June for forest fires in the Brazilian Amazon in 13 years, with 2,248 of them.

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: July 23, 2020, 11:39:28 PM »
About 40 Percent of U.S. Adults at Risk for Severe COVID Complications

About 40 percent of adults in the U.S. have at least one underlying health condition that would put them at risk for severe complications of COVID-19, according to a report published Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Certain chronic health problems, such as obesity, Type 2 diabetes, kidney disease and cardiovascular disease, are known to be more prevalent among COVID-19 patients sick enough to be hospitalized. A study published in April found that among people hospitalized with COVID-19 in New York City, 57 percent had high blood pressure, 41 percent were obese and just over a third had diabetes.

To determine the prevalence of those health conditions nationwide, the CDC authors used statistical modeling based on the 2018 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a telephone survey of nearly 500,000 U.S. adults. The survey included data on people living in every county in the nation.

When the study authors looked at each county, they found wide health disparities in the rates of five chronic conditions: obesity, Type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In some counties, about 1 in 4 people had at least one of those chronic conditions. That number rose to about 2 in 3 in other counties.

"Counties with the highest prevalences of any condition were concentrated in Southeastern states, particularly in Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and West Virginia, as well as some counties in Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and northern Michigan," the study authors wrote.

In general, the rates of chronic medical conditions were higher in rural areas. [... Trump country]

As of Thursday afternoon, the U.S. had tallied more than 4 million cases of COVID-19.


US Labs Buckle Amid Testing Surge; World Virus Cases Top 15 Million


US Passes 4 Million Coronavirus Cases

The US has surpassed 4 million coronavirus cases, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of COVID-19 cases worldwide has passed 15 million, a quarter of which are in the US.

The US reported more than 1,100 new deaths for a second day in a row on Wednesday, including a record one-day rise in fatalities in the states of Alabama, California, Nevada and Texas.

The US has not seen back-to-back days of so many fatalities since late May. Deaths rose by 1,101 on Wednesday to a total of over 143,800, after increasing by 1,141 on Tuesday. The states with the highest death tolls on Wednesday were Texas with 197, California at 159, Florida at 140 and Ohio at 106.


Florida Reports Another Record Virus Death Toll

Florida has reported a record daily coronavirus death toll of 173 in the latest reflection of the COVID-19 surge in America.

The state health department said there were 10,249 new cases for a total of 389,868 people infected and 5,518 fatalities.     

For nearly three weeks now Florida has been reporting more than 10,000 new cases a day. Other states in the south and west of the US are also seeing alarming increases as the country now regularly reports more than 60,000 new cases a day.

A total of 82 percent of the new fatalities in this warm, sunny state popular with retirees were over age 65. And 46 percent lived or worked in nursing homes.



A cafeteria employee who works in the same building as some White House staffers has tested positive for the coronavirus, an NBC News reporter has confirmed on Twitter.

The White House is currently identifying people who may have come in contact with the employee at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, which is located next to the White House, NBC News reporter Josh Lederman said. The White House Medical Office has determined that the risk of virus transmission is low, he said.


Science / Re: ECS is 2.5
« on: July 23, 2020, 12:43:12 AM »
Major Study Rules Out Super-High and Low Climate Sensitivity to CO₂

... the likely range for equilibrium climate sensitivity ends up at 2.6-4.1°C, with the most likely answer just a hair above 3°C. (Even some tests of alternate assumptions or methods stay within 2.3-4.5°C.) That’s considerably narrower than the old 1.5-4.5°C range.

Overall, there are heaps of careful and nitpicky work in this synthesis effort (the manuscript weighs in at a svelte 166 pages), the product of a concerted community effort that began with a week-long workshop in 2015. The broadest takeaway is that our best understanding of how much warming our greenhouse gas emissions are causing seems quite likely to be accurate. A climate sensitivity below 2°C or around 4.5°C might cause us to reconsider our present attitude about climate change, moving the expected timeline of impacts forward or back. But this research suggests that neither of those outcomes is likely. Instead of worrying about adjusting our climate action targets, we can just worry about hitting the targets we’re already quite late to.

An assessment of Earth's climate sensitivity using multiple lines of evidence

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: July 22, 2020, 11:50:52 PM »
For-Profit Long-Term Care Homes Have More Cases, Deaths from COVID-19 Outbreaks

For-profit status is associated with the extent of an outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in long-term care (LTC) homes and the number of resident deaths from COVID-19, but not the likelihood of an outbreak, which was related to the infection rate in the surrounding local public health unit and the total number of beds in the home, found new research published in CMAJ(Canadian Medical Association Journal).

The study looked at all 623 long-term care homes in Ontario from March 29 to May 20, 2020, and their 75,676 residents. It excluded retirement residences, which are privately funded and not administered by the Ministry of Long-term Care. For-profit homes were usually smaller, housed fewer residents, and had older design standards from before 1972 with multiple-occupancy rooms and chain ownership.

About 30% (190) of long-term care homes in Ontario experienced outbreaks during the study period, with 110 (30.6%) occurring in for-profit homes, 55 (34%) in nonprofit homes and 25 (24.8%) in municipal homes.

For-profit status of LTC homes was associated with about a two-fold increase in the extent of a COVID-19 outbreak (number of resident cases) and a 178% increase in the number of resident deaths compared with homes with non-profit status. ... Of the 10 homes with the highest death rates, seven were for-profit-homes with older design standards and chain ownership.

Nathan M. Stall, et al, For-profit long-term care homes and the risk of COVID-19 outbreaks and resident deaths, CMAJ July 22, 2020

The politics / Re: The Trump Presidency
« on: July 22, 2020, 11:10:03 PM »


Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: July 22, 2020, 12:54:09 AM »
This Is Not Your Father's Flu Shot

... Back in May, a CNN report described the Oxford group as being “the most aggressive in painting the rosiest picture” of its vaccine, so let’s start with them. Just how rosy is the Oxford picture really?

It’s certainly true that this week’s news shows the vaccine has the potential to provide protection from Covid-19. But there are flies in the ointment. After the first clinical trial for this vaccine began in April, for example, the researchers added new study arms in which people got acetaminophen (paracetamol) every six hours for 24 hours after the injection.

That’s not featured in their marketing, of course, and I saw no discussion of this unusual step in media coverage in early summer. Newspapers only said the vaccine had been proven “safe with rhesus monkeys,” and did not cause any adverse effects in those animal tests. It was a worrying signal though: How rough a ride were people having with this vaccine? Was the acetaminophen meant to keep down fever, headaches, malaise—or all of the above?

The Oxford group is also giving acetaminophen to participants in an advanced, phase 3 trial now underway in Brazil, too. In another major study of the vaccine, involving 10,000 people in the UK, you can’t participate if you have an allergy or condition that could be made worse with acetaminophen. No mention of the extra drug, though, in the same group’s trial in South Africa.

Journalists could have pressed them on this issue months ago. The first people to get vaccines are carefully picked to be the least likely to have a negative reaction. If the Oxford vaccine is knocking them around badly, it might not bode well for the rest of us. Don’t get me wrong: a day or two of pain or illness wouldn’t deter me from getting an effective Covid-19 vaccine. But I think we need to be prepared if that’s going to be the case.

The press release for Monday’s publication of results from the Oxford vaccine trials described an increased frequency of “minor side effects” among participants.

A look at the actual paper, though, reveals this to be a marketing spin that has since been parroted in media reports. (The phrases “minor side effects” or “only minor side effects” appeared in writeups from the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and Reuters, among other outlets.)

Yes, mild reactions were far more common than worse ones. But moderate or severe harms—defined as being bad enough to interfere with daily life or needing medical care—were common, too. Around one-third of people vaccinated with the Covid-19 vaccine without acetaminophen experienced moderate or severe chills, fatigue, headache, malaise, and/or feverishness. Close to 10 percent had a fever of at least 100.4 degrees and just over one-fourth developed moderate or severe muscle aches. That’s a lot, in a young and healthy group of people—and the acetaminophen didn’t help much for most of those problems. The paper’s authors designated the vaccine as “acceptable” and “tolerated,” but we don’t yet know how acceptable this will be to most people. If journalists don’t start asking tougher questions, this will become the perfect setup for anti-vaccine messaging: Here’s what they forgot to tell you about the risks…

... Coverage of the Moderna vaccine reflects a different kind of pharma spin: the drip-feeding of selective data via press release.

On May 18, Moderna put out some patchy, positive findings on interim outcomes from their first-in-human trial. The company followed that up with a stock offering—and company executives sold off nearly $30 million in shares into the feeding frenzy their press release created.

With last week’s paper from Moderna, results from that same group of people finally had their formal publication. At the same time, the group registered a 30,000-person phase 3 clinical trial, specifying a pair of 100-microgram injections of the Covid-19 vaccine. According to the press release from May, there were no serious adverse events for the people in that particular dosage group.

But last week’s paper shows the full results:

By the time they’d had two doses, every single one was showing signs of headaches, chills or fatigue; and for at least 80 percent this could have been enough to interfere with their normal activities.
A participant who had a severe reaction to a particularly high dose has talked in detail about how bad it was: If reactions even half as bad as this were to be common for some of these vaccines, they will be hard sells once they reach the community—and there could be a lot of people who are reluctant to get the second injection.

Permafrost / Re: Permafrost general science thread
« on: July 20, 2020, 10:20:19 PM »
40 More Gt of CO2 Baked In: Plant Roots Increase Carbon Emission from Permafrost Soils

Plant roots in soil stimulate microbial decomposition, a mechanism called the priming effect. An international research team co-lead by Frida Keuper from INRAE and Umeå University and Birgit Wild from Stockholm University shows that the priming effect alone can cause emission of 40 billion tons carbon from permafrost by 2100. The study was published today in Nature Geoscience.

Scientists have previously anticipated that rapidly rising temperatures will drive the emission of 50-100 billion ton permafrost carbon by 2100. On top of that, plant roots feed sugar to the microorganisms in the soil, which the microbes can use to break down more soil organic matter—the priming effect—resulting in even higher greenhouse gas emissions.

The researchers combined maps of plant activity and data on soil carbon content from the Northern Circumpolar Soil Carbon Database with an extensive literature survey on priming and plant root properties, to estimate the priming effect in permafrost ecosystems and its influence on greenhouse gas emissions.

They show that the priming effect increases soil microbial respiration by 12 percent, which causes the additional loss of 40 billion tons of carbon by 2100 compared to current predictions for permafrost. This equals almost a quarter of the remaining "carbon budget" for human activities to limit global warming to max 1.5°C.

Carbon loss from northern circumpolar permafrost soils amplified by rhizosphere priming, Nature Geoscience (2020).

Consequences / Re: The Holocene Extinction
« on: July 20, 2020, 10:15:01 PM »
Climate Change On Track to Wipe Out Polar Bears by 2100

Climate change is starving polar bears into extinction, according to research published Monday that predicts the apex carnivores could all but disappear within the span of a human lifetime.

In some regions they are already caught in a vicious downward spiral, with shrinking sea ice cutting short the time bears have for hunting seals, scientists reported in Nature Climate Change.

Their dwindling body weight undermines their chances of surviving Arctic winters without food, the scientists added.

"The bears face an ever longer fasting period before the ice refreezes and they can head back out to feed," Steven Amstrup, who conceived the study and is chief scientist of Polar Bears International, told AFP.

A male bear, for example, in the West Hudson Bay population that is 20 percent below its normal body weight when fasting begins will only have enough stored energy to survive about 125 days rather than 200 days.

On current trends, the study concluded, polar bears in 12 of 13 subpopulations analysed will have been decimated within 80 years by the galloping pace of change in the Arctic, which is warming twice as fast as the planet as a whole.

There is not enough data for six others to make a determination as to their fate.

"By 2100, recruitment"—new births—"will be severely compromised or impossible everywhere except perhaps in the Queen Elizabeth Island subpopulation," in Canada's Arctic Archipelago, said Amstrup.

There are approximately 25,000 Urus maritimus left in the wild today.

Maps of polar bear populations showing the progression towards extinction by the end of the century

Fasting season length sets temporal limits for global polar bear persistence, Nature Climate Change (2020).

US Scientists Rebuke Trump Over Coronavirus Response and Other Affronts

More than 1,200 members of the US National Academy of Sciences have rebuked Donald Trump’s “denigration of scientific expertise”, an unusual move for a community which has historically avoided the political sphere.

The co-organizers of an open letter seeking to “restore science-based policy in government” say they have rapidly gained signatures during the coronavirus pandemic.

Scientists have watched the Trump administration downplay the crisis and ignore expert advice, including the need to wear masks and the dangers of using unproven drugs.

... “These repeated efforts to subvert sound public health guidelines introduce chaos and uncertainty while unnecessarily putting lives at risk"

... “It’s one thing for the political establishment not to respond very well to a crisis that happens around the world,” ... “It’s quite another thing to be actively denigrating the science and making things up routinely."

... “We no longer have the luxury, in my opinion, of retreating to our offices and closing the door and hoping bad stuff will go away,” ... “That’s a singularly poor survival strategy when you’re facing a global pandemic or global climate change. Bad stuff isn’t going to go away.”

... The Trump administration has ignored or silenced science so many times that the Union of Concerned Scientists maintains an archive of incidents. They range from contradicting hurricane forecasting to dismantling health protections at pork processing plants.

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: July 20, 2020, 04:49:41 AM »
Neat animated infographic to get a quick overview of the present situation in the US. Shows entire nation up to this month by county per capita. Amazing how quickly the last month has changed the picture from the Northeast and the bottom half of the country.:

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: July 19, 2020, 04:55:21 AM »
U.S. CDC reports coronavirus cases rise nearly 75,000

(Reuters) - The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Saturday reported 3,630,587 cases of new coronavirus, an increase of 74,710 cases, and said the number of deaths had risen by 918 to 138,782.


White House Seeks to Block Funds for Coronavirus Testing and Tracing in Relief Bill, Report Says

Some GOP lawmakers, angered by the administration's position, are pushing back and trying to keep the $25 billion for testing and tracing in the bill, people involved in the negotiations told The Washington Post.

Some White House officials reportedly believe new money shouldn't be allocated for testing because previous assistance funds remain unspent.

The Trump administration is trying to use the legislation to fund priorities unrelated to the pandemic such as a new FBI building, according to the Post.

The Trump administration also wants to block billions of dollars that would go toward bolstering the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Pentagon and the State Department to combat the pandemic, the Post reported Saturday, citing people familiar with the deliberations.

The Post report comes just hours after a piece in The New York Times detailed how the White House sought to shift responsibility for dealing with the pandemic to the state governments with disastrous results. The Times' report was based on interviews with state and administration officials as well as emails and documents.


Trump Reportedly Seeks to Block Testing Funds as Covid-19 Surges Across South and West

... At Tampa general hospital in Florida, Dr Jason Wilson, the associate medical director, told the Washington Post: “We can withstand a disaster. But we can’t withstand a disaster every single day.

“How many jumbo jet crashes can you handle before you run out of capacity? That’s what we’re facing.”

At the same hospital, Dr Andy Wilhelm, the head of intensive care, told WAPT: “When you’re on a hamster wheel, and a lot of people die, it’s tiring”.

... “It took us 100 days to reach the first thousand cases,” said Patricia Boswell, a Florida Department of Health administrator in Volusia county, which encompasses the Daytona Beach metro area, according to the Daytona News-Journal.

“Then, it took 12 days to reach the second thousand cases. Nine days to reach the third thousand cases, and six days later, to exceed 4,000 cases on 13 June. In the past three days, we’ve had more than 600 cases reported in Volusia.”


Worldwide Coronavirus Death Toll Surpasses 600,000

The death toll in the coronavirus pandemic has hit 600,435, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally. Meanwhile, The number of coronavirus cases worldwide has hit 14.2 million, while more than 7.9 million have recovered.


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