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Messages - Sigmetnow

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1
Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: August 09, 2020, 07:23:37 PM »
U.S.

School that suspended students for posting photos of unmasked students crowded in hallway now reports nine positive cases among students and faculty.

School District defends itself saying: “Situations in which students crowd into halls only happen in between classes.”

 ::) 

9 people test positive for coronavirus at Georgia school where viral photos showed packed hallways
https://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/511212-9-people-test-positive-for-coronavirus-at-georgia-school-where-viral

2
The rest / Re: SpaceX
« on: August 03, 2020, 01:39:24 AM »
Successful autonomous return to earth of the Dragon capsule!  Astronaut egress occurred just over an hour after splashdown, delayed by small concentrations of toxic propellants outside the capsule, discovered after Dragon Endeavor had been brought aboard GO Navigator.  Given the option of exiting earlier, the astronauts radioed that they were fine with waiting, to assure everyone would be safe.

SpaceX lands NASA astronauts in the ocean for the first time in decades
https://www.teslarati.com/spacex-nasa-astronaut-splashdown-success/

SpaceX Crew Dragon makes historic 1st splashdown to return NASA astronauts home
https://www.space.com/spacex-crew-dragon-demo-2-splashdown.html

The good weather, low wind and glassy sea made for an easy splashdown — but it also allowed a buildup of the toxic combustible gas (common to returning spacecraft), plus an unhealthy concentration of pleasure boaters surrounding the capsule before it had been safed. Coast Guard vessels had maintained a safe area for splashdown, but Pensacola boaters clearly have a lot to learn.

Quote
Gavin - SpaceXFleet.com (@SpaceXFleet) 8/2/20, 5:05 PM
 
The first question of the press conference addresses all the boats near Dragon.
The Coastguard cleared a 10 nautical mile area prior to splashdown but the boats came in afterward once they saw splashdown. "It's something we need to do better next time."
https://twitter.com/spacexfleet/status/1290030986516783104
< How many @USCG cutters would it require to restrain the boating public's interest and enthusiasm for @NASA @SpaceX ? A lot.
<< I live on the Space Coast. I don’t think that would have happened if the landing was off Cape Canaveral. The people around here know the boundaries when it comes to NASA

Elon Musk and Gwynne Shotwell were front and center at displays in Hawthorne mission control.  After Bob and Doug were safely out, they celebrated the mission success with a little champagne.

3
Policy and solutions / Re: Electric cars
« on: July 28, 2020, 02:03:28 AM »
There is a piece of reality going on here about the ability to produce viable power packs for millions of vehicles a year.
...

Yes, but aside from the automakers’ desperate search for batteries, there is likely also a big push from Big Oil to keep vehicles dependent on fossil fuel derivatives for as long as possible.  Most hydrogen today comes from natural gas.

I can’t find that this has been posted yet:

Revealed: fossil-fuel lobbying behind EU hydrogen strategy
Quote
So why is the hydrogen strategy, and more worryingly, the European Green Deal, courting fossil gas?

As Green MEP Michael Bloss put it: "The gas lobby has massive influence on the EU hydrogen strategy".
...
The fossil fuel lobby has exploited the shock caused by the pandemic and in the name of 'recovery' managed to double Invest EU funds for hydrogen and CCS (unproven carbon capture and storage technology). This is the perfect example of what author and scholar Naomi Klein calls the "shock doctrine".

In general, the fossil fuel lobby is quite happy with the focus the EU is putting on "net-zero by 2050" and the push for hydrogen.

Why? It keeps their business model largely intact and allows huge energy companies to remain in control of a centralised energy system, from which they can keep profiting now and in the decades to come.

As with other 'false solutions' prioritised by the fossil fuel industry in recent decades, the hydrogen option allows fossil fuel companies to keep polluting without much disruption to their business model. ...
https://euobserver.com/opinion/148873

4
Policy and solutions / Re: Tesla glory/failure
« on: July 27, 2020, 02:39:43 AM »
Quote
Earl of :'( stonks (@28delayslater) 7/25/20, 7:18 AM
Turns out it was legacy automakers that might not make it. $TSLA 
https://twitter.com/28delayslater/status/1286984109043208192
First Image below.

Quote
Teemu Rajala (@teseppa) 7/25/20, 9:19 AM
https://twitter.com/teseppa/status/1287014536785072129
Second image below.

Quote
Third World Tesla (@thirdworldtesla) 7/22/20, 7:14 PM
 “If GM wANtEd tO” 
https://twitter.com/thirdworldtesla/status/1286077161435049984
Third image below.

5
The rest / Re: SpaceX
« on: July 21, 2020, 02:43:48 PM »
——Demo-2
— Aboard the ISS
Quote
Bob Behnken (@AstroBehnken) 7/20/20, 5:51 PM
Technology development is one of @Space_Station’s many missions. I recently had the rare opportunity to open the expandable module know as BEAM to perform some activities inside. We both launched on @SpaceX rockets to get here!
https://twitter.com/astrobehnken/status/1285331572187594758
Brief time Lapse at the link — opening the hatches to the BEAM.

—- More practice for splashdown/rescue
Quote
Gavin - SpaceXFleet.com (@SpaceXFleet) 7/18/20, 9:43 AM
Crew Dragon recovery ship GO Navigator is heading offshore to conduct a sea trial.
There's a mockup Dragon capsule on the deck and a sizeable group of people standing on the helipad above.
https://twitter.com/spacexfleet/status/1284483941693566976
Photos at the link.


—- SpaceX ANASIS-II mission successes
Quote
Gavin - SpaceXFleet.com (@SpaceXFleet) 7/20/20, 5:22 PM
Ms. Tree and Ms. Chief are configured to catch the payload fairing.
The team will conduct a poll about two minutes before the attempt to decide whether to proceed.
https://twitter.com/spacexfleet/status/1285324115025551365
Image below.

 > > HAT TRICK!
Quote
Gavin - SpaceXFleet.com (@SpaceXFleet) 7/21/20, 7:10 AM
Recovery team reacts to yesterday's fairing catch success with a new destination name!
https://twitter.com/spacexfleet/status/1285532671842680832
~ 1 booster + 2 fairing halves = hat-trick :D
Image below.

Quote
Whole Mars Catalog (@WholeMarsBlog) 7/20/20, 5:42 PM
just another casual autonomous rocket launch and landing nbd
https://twitter.com/wholemarsblog/status/1285329200828706816
~ there are humans in space that elon put there, whatever.   we’ll send more soon
< Wouldn’t it be crazy if the mastermind behind the autonomous rockets also made autonomous cars
<< At least here they don't chant for rocket landing "competition is coming"

Whole Mars Catalog (@WholeMarsBlog) 7/20/20, 5:51 PM
So that was the same rocket that took Bob and Doug to Space.
And now it’s back on Earth again. Amazing, right?
https://twitter.com/wholemarsblog/status/1285331514301902848
~ how funny is it that lockheed martin needs to launch a satellite and they call @elonmusk
~ well they probably called Shotwell but you know what I mean

Quote
Viv  (@flcnhvy) 7/20/20, 5:40 PM
SpaceX just broke the turnaround record for an orbital rocket! B1058, which previously launched @AstroBehnken & @Astro_Doug to the ISS, was reused after only 51 days — beating Space Shuttle Atlantis’ record of 54 days. Congrats @elonmusk & @SpaceX
https://twitter.com/flcnhvy/status/1285328667258826753

Elon Musk (@elonmusk) 7/20/20, 5:51 PM

 Still long way to go. Reuse only matters to degree that it’s rapid & complete.
https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1285331502381715456


—- Starship
Quote
Jack Beyer (@thejackbeyer) 7/21/20, 5:04 AM
Starship SN8's Common Dome has been spotted, clearly labeled (I love when they do that). SN5 underwent a fueling test and the next level of the High Bay has started to go up. Video + Photos by Mary (@BocaChicaGal) for @NASASpaceflight. Edited by me.
https://twitter.com/thejackbeyer/status/1285500791319482368

SpaceX Boca Chica - SN8 Common Dome Spotted - SN5 Fueling Test


6
It's been 124 years since Arrhenius published calculations showing increased CO2 would raise the temperature by 4+ °C. 124 years we've had to act. O n e h u n d r e d t w e n t y f o u r years!

On the Influence of Carbonic Acid in the Air upon the Temperature of the Ground

Link >> https://zenodo.org/record/1431217#.XxM6USgzY2x

Well, it took longer than that for us to accept Copernicus’ finding that the earth revolved around the sun — which didn’t even require upending the way we lived.  CO2 and heat being a threat to survival will soon be impossible to ignore.  And we’re overdue for a cycle of scientific renaissance, after the recent years of anti-science, ignorance and isolationism.

7
Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: July 18, 2020, 06:55:07 PM »
U.S.
GOP senators sound alarm as coronavirus surges in home states
07/18/20
Senate Republicans are raising the alarm over the country's rapidly growing number of coronavirus cases.
Quote
The warnings come as President Trump has repeatedly linked the recent spike to an increase in testing, while also overselling his administration’s response and appearing optimistic about the odds of a quick vaccine or the disappearance of the virus altogether.
But GOP senators — back in their home states, many of which are seeing increased case counts — are painting a more sobering picture with their on-the-ground view.
...
A Quinnipiac University Poll survey released Wednesday found that 67 percent of registered voters surveyed do not trust information Trump provides on the coronavirus compared with 30 percent who do. An ABC News-Ipsos poll released the previous week found similar results, with 67 disapproving and 33 percent approving of the president’s response. ...
https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/507924-gop-senators-sound-alarm-as-coronavirus-surges-in-home-states

8
Consequences / Re: Places becoming less livable
« on: July 18, 2020, 03:48:41 PM »
How livable is the planet today? What is the Carrying Capacity? What would be the CC for a civilization using sustainable green technology? For a species living as the San people?

Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity’s demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year.

In 2020, that date is August 22.

https://www.overshootday.org/

9
Policy and solutions / Re: Cars, cars and more cars Part Deux
« on: July 17, 2020, 05:52:44 PM »
There is currently no option for the transport of persons and goods (including food, clothing and shelter materials) by road (in particular the “last miles”) to reach most areas of the globe.  However, efforts can be made today to reduce environmental damage caused by that transport.  Eliminating exhaust emissions would reduce as much or more PM10 pollution than eliminating brake and tire wear.

Quote
Abstract
Traffic related sources are a significant contributor of particulate matter, particularly in urban environments and major cities. Traffic related particles can be distinguished into: exhaust traffic related particles, which are emitted as a result of incomplete fuel combustion and lubricant volatilization during the combustion procedure, and non-exhaust traffic related particles, which are either generated from non-exhaust traffic related sources such as brake, tyre, clutch and road surface wear or already exist in the environment as deposited material and become resuspended due to traffic induced turbulence. ...
https://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/bitstream/JRC89231/jrc89231-online%20final%20version%202.pdf

10
”Since the summer of 2019, I've been speaking with one of the world's leading pandemic experts about what a global outbreak could look like. Now, as the world enters a grim new phase, he says we're in a whole new ball game.”

'We'll be living with masks for years': COVID-19 through the eyes of a pandemic expert
Quote
"I think what's important is that there's going to be no summertime lull with a big wave in the fall. It's clear that we are having a significant resurgence of cases in the summer, and they'll get bigger. And it'll keep going until we lock things down again."

Unlike the influenza virus, which was behind the 1918 pandemic that claimed as many as 50 million to 100 million lives around the world, Toner says there's no good evidence of seasonality with COVID-19. Until we have a vaccine, any rise or fall in cases will be based on social factors: communities locking down and families sheltering in place. And, as was the case back in 1918, individuals wearing masks
...
As for those who refuse to wear a mask?
"They will get over it.  It's just a question of how many people get sick and die before they get over it."
https://www.cnet.com/news/living-with-masks-for-years-covid-19-through-the-eyes-of-a-pandemic-expert/

11
The rest / Re: Astronomical news
« on: July 12, 2020, 06:32:31 PM »
“A spectacular cosmic display of C/2020 F3, Comet #NEOWISE in the early morning, predawn sky.”
https://twitter.com/nasa_nerd/status/1282266038193868800
Photo below.  Others at the link.
East-Northeast pre-dawn sky from the mid-Atlantic U.S. coast area. This was taken around 4am ET.

Starting Sunday, stargazers will be able to see it in the evening. After sunset, look for the comet toward the northwest, just below the Big Dipper.

How to see Comet Neowise, now visible to naked eye, according to AccuWeather - 6abc Philadelphia
Stargazers are in for a treat -- a newly discovered comet is visible in the July night sky.
https://6abc.com/science/bright-comet-now-visible-to-naked-eye-in-july-night-sky/6308987/

12
Consequences / Re: Heatwaves
« on: July 10, 2020, 03:30:15 PM »
U.S.
Weekend weather: A rare heat wave event is forecast this weekend, the National Weather Service says
Quote
Parts of the southwestern United States are under an excessive heat warning going into this weekend. Temperatures are forecast to reach as high as 120 degrees Fahrenheit [49°C] in some areas, and officials are urging people to take precautions as heat this high can turn deadly.
...
The National Weather Service uses different criteria for heat advisories in different parts of the country. An excessive heat warning indicates unusually high temperatures that could pose considerable health risks.

In the southwest, "we use what we call a heat risk," said Marvin Percha, National Weather Service meteorologist. This is different from other areas of the country where heat indexes take a bigger importance in heat warnings.

"We look at how rare the event is and compare what's normal," Percha said. "Considering the temperatures we have forecast now, we're looking at a pretty rare event."


Heat in Phoenix this weekend could break daily records. Phoenix's expected high of 117 on Sunday would beat the daily record for July 12 of 115, set in 2009. Heat in California and Nevada will come close to records, but not quite meet them.

High heat is seasonally appropriate for the region, just usually not so high for so long.

Friday marks the 107-year anniversary of the hottest day ever recorded on earth, when Death Valley hit 134 degrees Fahrenheit, said CNN meteorologist Pedram Javaheri. ...
https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/10/weather/southwest-record-high-temps-arizona-california-forecast/index.html

13
Newscasters feature a teacher’s response about dealing with the pandemic.


14
The rest / Re: SpaceX
« on: July 08, 2020, 03:07:23 PM »
—- Starlink (+ Blacksky sats) launch today!
Quote
SpaceX (@SpaceX) 7/7/20, 6:06 PM
Falcon 9 is vertical on LC-39A ahead of our tenth Starlink mission, targeted for [today] at 11:59 a.m. EDT. Vehicle and payload look good; weather is 60% favorable → spacex.com/launches
https://twitter.com/spacex/status/1280624175590240256

SpaceX’s next batch of Starlink satellites back on the launch pad
July 7, 2020 Stephen Clark
https://spaceflightnow.com/2020/07/07/spacexs-next-batch-of-starlink-satellites-back-on-the-launch-pad/

Edit:
Quote
SpaceX (@SpaceX) 7/8/20, 11:01 AM
T-1 hour until Falcon 9 launches its tenth Starlink mission; team is monitoring weather conditions. Webcast will go live ~15 minutes before liftoff spacex.com/launches

SpaceX (@SpaceX) 7/8/20, 11:48 AM
Standing down from today’s mission due to weather; proceeding through the countdown until T-1 minute for data collection. Will announce a new target launch date once confirmed on the Range
https://twitter.com/spacex/status/1280891612088823808


——  Next customer launch targeting July 14th
Quote
Nathan Barker (@NASA_Nerd) 7/7/20, 1:55 PM
Before Falcon 9 and Starlink even gets off the ground, the next Falcon 9 launch hazard advisory is on the Range for July 14th. This advisory is covering a period from 4:55 pm EDT to 9:47 pm EDT. This launch will carry KMilSatCom 1 for the South Korean Military.
https://twitter.com/nasa_nerd/status/1280560997237997568

—- Starship
Quote
Michael Baylor (@nextspaceflight) 7/7/20, 6:07 PM
New road closures in Boca Chica! Starship SN5 static fire testing starts July 10. Then, the notice starting July 13 through July 15 says SN5 150 meter launch! Surely too soon? Windows are daily from 8 am to 5 pm local.
cameroncounty.us/spacex/
https://twitter.com/nextspaceflight/status/1280624400694341632

—-
SpaceX Super Heavy ‘high bay’ construction begins in South Texas
SpaceX began assembling the first building dedicated to Starship's Super Heavy booster on July 7th.
https://www.teslarati.com/spacex-starship-super-heavy-high-bay-construction/amp/


—-  NASA & SpaceX
Congress may allow NASA to launch Europa Clipper on a Falcon Heavy
New budget also offers some hope for Human Landing System.
Eric Berger
Quote
One of the big questions in recent years has been how NASA will get its multi-billion-dollar Europa Clipper mission to Jupiter's moon. In the past, Congress has said this must go on NASA's Space Launch System rocket, but this came with downsides. For one, the SLS rocket likely will cost NASA at least $1.5 billion more than a commercial rocket. Also, because it takes so long to build the large rocket, it's unlikely an SLS would be available for the Clipper before 2026.

Because the spacecraft may be ready to launch as early as 2024, and storing it would lead to increased costs, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has studied alternative launch vehicles. Among the most promising is a Falcon Heavy booster with a kick stage.

In the House legislation, Congress says NASA "shall use the Space Launch System, if available, as the launch vehicles for the Jupiter Europa missions," and plan for an orbiter launch no later than 2025. Because few people at NASA expect an SLS vehicle to be available in 2025, this is a pretty big deal.

It remains to be seen how the US Senate will act—the biggest proponent of the SLS rocket, Alabama's Richard Shelby, chairs the Senate Appropriations subcommittee. …
https://arstechnica.com/science/2020/07/house-budget-for-nasa-frees-europa-clipper-from-sls-rocket/

—-
Excellent review of information from the web conference yesterday.  NASA admits they paid closer attention to SpaceX and its “new” approach, compared to the well known and trusted Boeing.
Quote
Thomas Burghardt (@TGMetsFan98) 7/7/20, 8:34 PM
Today, NASA released the final results of the Starliner OFT investigation. Now, Boeing teams will move to implement 80 recommendations ahead of OFT-2 later this year and crewed flight in 2021.

Quote
NASA and Boeing Complete Starliner Orbital Flight Test Investigation
https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2020/07/nasa-boeing-complete-oft-investigation/
https://twitter.com/tgmetsfan98/status/1280661557614166017

Edit:  Here is a link to the audio briefing, which starts about five minutes in.
NASA Live: NASA Review of December 2019 Boeing Starliner Orbital Flight Test (July 7, 2020)
➡️https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hsB1ZWrGero

15
Policy and solutions / Re: If not Capitalism... then What? And, How?
« on: July 07, 2020, 04:55:13 PM »
This thread is not for humour

I created the thread, and I say humor/humour is welcome. :P

16
Policy and solutions / Re: If not Capitalism... then What? And, How?
« on: July 06, 2020, 03:46:46 PM »
I think that is off-topic here Sig. That is coloured and biased politics and should go somewhere else.

Reluctantly taking the bait:
8. Capitalism has failed every time it was tried

It is a “Not Capitalism” and therefore a suggestion as to a particular not-capitalism which should not be considered.

“Capitalism has failed every time it was tried” is off-topic.

17
Policy and solutions / Re: If not Capitalism... then What? And, How?
« on: July 06, 2020, 01:55:07 AM »
 ;D

18
Policy and solutions / Re: Tesla glory/failure
« on: July 01, 2020, 10:11:21 PM »
Unofficial, but an interesting video review of AP data.
Here's What Tesla Autopilot Sees And How The System Works
https://insideevs.com/news/430233/tesla-autopilot-what-it-sees/



=====
Perhaps related to stories about salvaged Tesla computers containing personal data:  recent OTA updates indicate data is being encrypted.

“Software Updating to 2020.24.6.1
Encrypting data...”
Quote
Tesla Model X Performance Ludicrous Raven (@tesla_performax) 6/28/20, 6:55 AM
Yes.. also in Europe! And confirmed by @greentheonly since [version] 2020.16. Seems to be a new feature to prevent privacy leaks in replaced MCUs
https://twitter.com/tesla_performax/status/1277193868379918336

====
Tesla Giga Berlin Applies For Early Shell Construction
Quote
Tesla is continuing active construction at its Giga Berlin and has now filed another application for approval of the early start of measures for shell parts.

At the moment, the process of approving the project is incomplete, and Tesla builds at its own risk. Now, In addition to earlier construction work, the company wants to build shell parts. If everything goes according to plan, then there is no doubt that Tesla will begin production of Model Y in Giga Berlin earlier than mid-2021.

Tesla recently refined its factory plan, as detailed planning revealed that some factory buildings would need to be built on piles. The new plan also contains information on the forecast of water consumption at the plant. According to the documents, the volume of water supply and the wastewater was reduced by a third. …
https://www.tesmanian.com/blogs/tesmanian-blog/tesla-plans-to-build-a-shell-before-approval-is-completed

Tesla Giga Berlin’s building structure is about to begin construction
June 26, 2020
Quote
Construction on the main building at Tesla Giga Berlin has begun, as validated by the recent sightings of the pillar and beams that have arrived by train. Giga Berlin production facility will begin construction soon as pillars and beams for the building have arrived on the site via train.
Tesla has been ramping the project since January, but recently the building foundations and preparations to begin the construction of the facility itself have started to take shape.
Photos from Tobias Lindh show a series of construction-grade pillars and beams being transported into the Giga Berlin property by a series of cargo trains that Tesla has been using since mid-May. …
https://www.teslarati.com/tesla-giga-berlin-construction-building-framework/

=====
—- California is acting to halt its renewed COVID community spread.  No sign yet that offices and factories, which can enforce COVID safety measures and minimize employee contact on site, will be forced to close.
Fremont, CA,  COVID update
Quote
Scott Haggerty (@scott_haggerty) 6/29/20, 5:13 PM
The Alameda County Public Health Dept. announces that it will take a pause on its reopening plans. As COVID-19 cases increase in the region.
@DublinPIO
@Fremont_CA
@CityofLivermore
@Dare2BWell
#AlamedaCounty
https://twitter.com/scott_haggerty/status/1277711759093067776
Text image of the announcement, at the link.

19
U.S.:
Bloomberg on Twitter: "BREAKING: Unemployment payments surpass $100 billion in June, the most for a single month since the pandemic started https://t.co/7GvH98oUgz "
https://twitter.com/business/status/1278070857252904960

20
The rest / Re: Wildlife
« on: July 01, 2020, 08:06:04 PM »
Hundreds of elephants dead in mysterious mass die-off
Wed 1 Jul 2020
Quote
More than 350 elephants have died in northern Botswana in a mysterious mass die-off described by scientists as a “conservation disaster”.

A cluster of elephant deaths was first reported in the Okavango Delta in early May, with 169 individuals dead by the end of the month. By mid June, the number had more than doubled, with 70% of the deaths clustered around waterholes, according to local sources who wish to remain anonymous.

“This is a mass die-off on a level that hasn’t been seen in a very, very long time. Outside of drought, I don’t know of a die-off that has been this significant,” said Dr Niall McCann, the director of conservation at UK-based charity National Park Rescue.
...
Local witnesses say some elephants were seen walking around in circles, which is an indication of neurological impairment. “If you look at the carcasses, some of them have fallen straight on their face, indicating they died very quickly. Others are obviously dying more slowly, like the ones that are wandering around. So it’s very difficult to say what this toxin is,” said McCann.

Elephants of all ages and both sexes have been dying, local reports found. Several live elephants appeared weak and emaciated, suggesting more will die in the coming weeks. The true number of deaths is likely to be even higher because carcasses can be difficult to spot, say conservationists. ...
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jul/01/more-than-350-elephants-dead-in-mysterious-mass-die-off-botswana-aoe

21
Policy and solutions / Re: If not Capitalism... then What? And, How?
« on: June 27, 2020, 01:02:17 AM »
And what should be done with the “excess” they are not allowed to keep?

22
"The steep contraction in economic activity and fiscal revenues, along with the sizable fiscal support, has further stretched public finances, with global public debt projected to reach more than 100% of GDP this year."
IMF slashes its forecasts for the global economy and warns of soaring debt levels
Quote
The International Monetary Fund slashed its economic forecasts once again on Wednesday and warned that public finances will deteriorate significantly as governments attempt to combat the fallout from the coronavirus crisis.

The IMF now estimates a contraction of 4.9% in global gross domestic product in 2020, lower than the 3% fall it predicted in April.

"The Covid-19 pandemic has had a more negative impact on activity in the first half of 2020 than anticipated, and the recovery is projected to be more gradual than previously forecast," the IMF said Wednesday in its World Economic Outlook update.

The Fund also downgraded its GDP forecast for 2021. It now expects a growth rate of 5.4% from the 5.8% forecast made in April (the positive reading reflects that economic activity will be coming from a lower base following 2020′s heavy contraction).

The Washington-based institution explained the downward revisions were due to social-distancing measures likely remaining in place during the second half of the year, with productivity and supply chains being hit. And in those nations still grappling with high infection rates, the Fund expects that longer lockdowns will dent economic activity even more.
...
[T]he United States is expected to contract by 8% this year. The Fund had estimated a contraction of 5.9% in April.  Similarly, the Fund also downgraded its forecasts for the euro zone, with the economy now seen shrinking by 10.2% in 2020.  Brazil, Mexico and South Africa are also expected to contract by 9.1%, 10.5% and 8%, respectively. ...
https://www.cnbc.com/2020/06/24/imf-global-economy-to-contract-with-coronavirus-recovery-slow.html

23
Quote
Ada Monzón (@adamonzon)6/22/20, 8:30 AM
8 am: Preliminary measurements from #SaharanDust in #PuertoRico are between 350-380 ug/m3 (PM10) and AQI estimated 173-237: VERY UNHEALTHY.
According to Dr. Olga Mayol, @UPR_Oficial this is a historic event in PR, unseen in 50-60 years. Image from #Villalba Osvaldo Burgos.
https://twitter.com/adamonzon/status/1275043526104006662 

24
Policy and solutions / Re: If not Capitalism... then What? And, How?
« on: June 20, 2020, 08:31:24 PM »
… Do you think I am voluntarily unemployed? I've had years of frustration and stress about it and finally accepted my predicament. And then you come with this. Bah.
:'(
Your words, nanning:
...
I am poor by choice. I am not in the academic system by choice. I have no honours and degrees by choice. I am not a grown-up by choice. I have made many sacrifices by choice.  I am vulnerable by choice. ...

Above, I wrote:
Quote
If everyone lived like nanning, there would quickly be no food (even for him) because no one would be working the fields, or transporting it, there would be no one in the factories to process it, no fuel for trucks to distribute it to people (or ways for people to get to distant food supplies) and no one making the tools or manufacturing the parts to maintain vehicles to continue to do so. ...

I’m not saying everyone’s purpose in life is to be part of the work force.  You be you. 

I’m saying:
a work force is required (Capitalism or no); 
most workers will live differently than you currently do; 
   and so complaining about that, or suggesting everyone should follow your example for the good of the planet, makes no sense.

25
Policy and solutions / Re: If not Capitalism... then What? And, How?
« on: June 19, 2020, 04:30:14 PM »
Quote
If everyone lived like nanning that would just delay the collapse to later this century, and depending on what such a lifestyle revolution would do to carrying capacity might even bring it about sooner.

If everyone lived like nanning, there would quickly be no food (even for him) because no one would be working the fields, or transporting it, there would be no one in the factories to process it, no fuel for trucks to distribute it to people (or ways for people to get to distant food supplies) and no one making the tools or manufacturing the parts to maintain vehicles to continue to do so.

Similarly, most places would have no electricity (no fuel being transported to power plants; no workers in those plants), and no public water or sewer. ...

Thankfully, many people still work for a living.

26
Consequences / Re: Wildfires
« on: June 19, 2020, 02:50:30 AM »
Facing a record increase in coronavirus cases, Arizona is besieged by wildfires
Quote
As coronavirus cases in Arizona hit a new record high, the state is facing another serious threat: wildfires, with several large blazes stoked by extreme heat and drought burning not far from three of its largest cities.
Scientists say the fires are an ominous start to what could be a very active fire season in the West, as the pandemic, wildfires and climate change all converge to create a recipe for potential disaster.
Arizona has already seen three times as much land burned by fire this year compared to the same time frame in 2019, according to Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management statistics.

The largest of the state's fires is the Bush Fire, which is burning northeast of Phoenix in Tonto National Forest. In the roughly five days since it began, it has exploded to become the largest fire currently burning anywhere in the US, and is already one of the largest fires in Arizona history.
As of Thursday morning, the blaze was only 5% contained and had scorched more than 114,000 acres, an area larger than the city of Denver. Evacuation orders have been issued for some towns in Maricopa and Gila counties, as hot and dry conditions are forecast to continue beyond the next week.

As public health officials try to keep the coronavirus from spreading, the pandemic has forced the state's firefighters to adjust how they suppress fires. This year, they are prepositioning more crews, spreading out camp sites and relying more on aircraft to dump water, according to Tiffany Davila, public information officer for the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management.
"... It can be difficult at times to be socially distant while fighting fire, especially when there can be hundreds, maybe even a thousand firefighters assigned to any incident. But we are working in the safest possible way to make sure our crews remain healthy and our communities and residents remain protected," she said.

Extreme heat and a 'megadrought' are fueling the fires
Abnormally high temperatures are the main driver of these massive fires, says Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA and the National Center for Atmospheric Research.
May was one of the warmest in Arizona history, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), with temperatures in the state 5.5 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than the 20th century average for the month.
But there are also longer-term trends at play.
According to the National Weather Service in Phoenix, the city has not seen any measurable rainfall in more than two months.

A fiery rest of 2020 is likely
The situation in Arizona is concerning, but the possibility of what could come as fire season shifts North to other parts of the Western US is even more troubling, especially in California, which has been devastated by several deadly fires in recent years.
The National Interagency Fire Center's most recent outlook projects above-average fire activity in Northern California starting in June, and broadening to include much of the Northwest, which could see fires pop up through September.

"Unfortunately, [Arizona is] probably a preview of what's coming to the surrounding states over the coming weeks and months, because of this emerging drought across much of the West and the projections for a warmer than average summer just about everywhere, which is happening pretty often these days with climate change," Swain said.

And underlying this is an epic, multi-decade "megadrought," which has parched huge swaths of the Southwest. A recent study found that the last two decades are likely the driest stretch the region has seen in hundreds of years, and that human-caused global warming is to blame.
In the short term, favorable weather to help firefighters get control of the flames is not expected anytime soon.

The next opportunity for rain likely won't come until the monsoon season begins in early to mid-July, Swain says.
"Right now, it looks like it'll be at least a couple more weeks of very dry, hot and occasionally windy conditions, which are probably going to mean that some of the fires burning now in Arizona are going to be burning well into July," he said. …
https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2020/06/18/weather/arizona-wildfires-coronavirus-climate-change/index.html

27
Consequences / Re: Wildfires
« on: June 18, 2020, 10:07:48 PM »
U.S.
Arizona's Bush Fire burns through about 115,000 acres
Quote
June 18 (UPI) -- Arizona's Bush Fire has burned through about 115,000 acres with only 5 percent contained, an incident report showed Thursday.

The blaze, which was sparked Saturday by a car fire on Bush Highway that ignited dry bush and grass, doubled in size from Tuesday to Wednesday. 

It surpassed the size of Mesa, a city in Maricopa County, Arizona, when it burned through 104,379 acres in the Four Peaks Wilderness area of Tonto National Forest on Wednesday night.  Since then, according to Inciweb, the wildfire has burned though 114,941 acres in southern Arizona with only 5 percent contained, becoming the largest active wildfire in the country.

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, 37 large fires have burned through more than 292,000 acres in nine states.

Gila and Maricopa county emergency officials have been evacuating Apache Lake, Sunflower, Punkin Center and Tonto Basin "due to the fire's growth and movement," Inciweb reported.  Residents in Jake's Corner have also been told to pack up and get ready to leave in case they also have to evacuate.

The fire has been fueled by tall grass, shrubs, brush, along with hot and dry conditions and increased winds.

It is Arizona's seventh-largest wildfire on record, according to the National Weather Service Phoenix.

...
The state's second-largest active fire north of the Grand Canyon in the Kaibab National Forest, called the Mangum Fire, has also grown rapidly this week. It recently doubled in size and has burned through 56,780 acres with 3 percent contained, according to Inciweb. ... 
https://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2020/06/18/Arizonas-Bush-Fire-burns-through-about-115000-acres/4651592492293/

28
Policy and solutions / Re: Trains, Trams, Subways and Buses
« on: June 17, 2020, 05:26:19 PM »
U.S. passenger rail service
Amtrak is ending daily service to hundreds of stations. Blame the coronavirus pandemic, the railroad says
Quote
While the company’s plan to slash long-distance daily service was not a surprise, some rail advocates said Amtrak is wrong to reduce daily service to communities across the country where the train is the only transportation option. Besides, they said, those routes saw the smallest declines in ridership during the pandemic. According to Amtrak, demand for its long-distance service is down by 70 percent.

“Let’s be clear: this is penny-wise and pound-foolish,” Jim Mathews, president and chief executive of the Rail Passengers Association, said in a statement. “The long-distance services declined the least among Amtrak’s three business lines during the coronavirus-induced slowdown, and its services remain essential to the hundreds of small communities across the United States with fewer options than Philadelphia or Boston or New York City.”

Mathews estimates that as many as 461 stations outside the Northeast Corridor will lose daily service. He said Amtrak could be “setting itself up for failure by losing operating slots on host railroads, losing employees it will need to restore service and possibly losing the rolling stock as well.”
...
Amtrak said last month that it needs nearly $1.5 billion in supplemental funding from the federal government to maintain “minimum service levels,” anticipating ridership will not recover to pre-pandemic levels in fiscal 2021. Even with the supplemental funding, the company said, it would need to cut service and personnel to stay afloat.

Amtrak estimates that ridership in the next fiscal year may drop to 16 million, or roughly 50 percent of pre-pandemic levels.

Ridership was down 95 percent during the height of the pandemic, and the Northeast Corridor, which had several coronavirus hot spots, was hit especially hard. Even as states begin to reopen, ridership remains down 90 percent. ...
https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/companies/amtrak-is-ending-daily-service-to-hundreds-of-stations-blame-the-coronavirus-pandemic-the-railroad-says/ar-BB15zVal

29
Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: June 16, 2020, 02:57:19 PM »
Working from home. Kids continuing their COVID-necessitated homework.  Refrigerator preventing the family’s food spoilage. And charging the electric cars.  It is possible to be a valuable contributor to society without sucking a lot of energy from the grid.  In fact, you can help others by adding more to the grid than you take from it.

Quote
When grid power went down that morning, our rooftop solar system was already at 5.9kW, far more power than our home was consuming (600 watts). As a result, nothing changed. Our home continued to be powered by the rooftop solar system, with the 5.3kW of excess power still getting pushed to the Powerwalls.

The morning outage only lasted 24 minutes, with another 16 minute outage later in the afternoon. As uneventful as it may sound, the exciting part is exactly how uneventful it was. I was able to continue working without losing internet connectivity or power to any of my devices. On the other side of the house, our two boys were able to continue their COVID-induced remote schoolwork. We didn’t have to reset any clocks or worry about our refrigerated goods spoiling.

It’s not the most interesting story and that is exactly the beauty of the system. When paired with an appropriately sized solar system, a home energy storage unit enables life to continue unaffected in the face of power outages big or small. If the outage would have lasted hours or even a few days, the situation wouldn’t have changed all too much. We would pay a bit more attention to when we charge our vehicles, run the electric dryer, oven, and heat pump, but life would continue largely unaffected. …
https://cleantechnica.com/2020/06/16/the-tesla-powerwall-saves-the-day-in-sce-power-outage/amp/

30
Consequences / Re: Hurricane Season 2020
« on: June 16, 2020, 04:02:05 AM »
When politics decides the weather.

Independent panel finds NOAA leadership violated code of ethics in "Sharpiegate"
Quote
An independent panel commissioned by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) found that two top officials violated the agency’s code of ethics during a series of events that led to an NOAA statement contradicting its own meteorologists to support President Trump’s false claims about the path of Hurricane Dorian.

Why it matters: The September episode, which came to be known as "Sharpiegate" after Trump drew on a map of Hurricane Dorian's path to support his assessment that it could hit Alabama, embroiled the NOAA in a scandal about possible political interference within the scientific agency. ...
https://www.axios.com/noaa-sharpiegate-investigation-74d5f6c6-7004-4cb1-bd94-4d22a7942f1e.html

31
Consequences / Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« on: June 14, 2020, 09:30:40 PM »
In Alaska, Summer’s Getting Too Hot for the Salmon Run
Quote
The state stipulates that water temperature must not exceed 59 degrees Fahrenheit in order for salmon to stay healthy during upstream migration. Last summer, however, river temperatures in Bristol Bay reached 76 degrees. That spells problems for the fish: When salmon can’t avoid warm water, they can sicken or die. Warm water adds stress at a time when fish are already tackling the herculean task of returning to headwater lakes and streams to spawn, making them more susceptible to diseases and speeding up their already-taxed metabolisms. Something like a heart attack can follow: Warm water holds less oxygen than cooler water, but at higher temperatures, salmon actually need more oxygen to survive. Under those conditions, their hearts can’t pump blood fast enough to support their brains and bodies.

In Bristol Bay, state biologists manage salmon by opening and closing commercial fishing to allow enough fish to reach the areas where they spawn. Each river system has a target number of adult salmon that should evade capture—an “escapement goal” that is designed to ensure the future of the population. But last summer Alaska sizzled with heat, and warm river water pressed down the Ugashik, preventing salmon from heading upstream. Along Bristol Bay, rubber raingear melted. Some fishermen fished wearing only underwear and waders. The weeks of sunny, windless weather baked the region’s lakes and rivers. ...
https://www.wired.com/story/in-alaska-summers-getting-too-hot-for-the-salmon-run/

32
Consequences / Re: Floods
« on: June 13, 2020, 06:23:44 PM »
At Least 18 Dead, 8 Missing in China Flooding
Quote
Some 13,000 people were evacuated and more than 2,000 homes damaged in Zunyi in this week's round of rainstorms, a statement on the government's website said. Multiple sections of roads and three bridges were destroyed.

Guangxi’s crucial tourism sector, already hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, has been set back further by the floods. The region is home to the city of Guilin, famous for its landscape of karst rock formations.

Seasonal flooding regularly strikes the lower regions of China’s major river systems, particularly those of the Yangtze and the Pearl to the south.

Authorities have sought to mitigate flooding through the construction of dams, such as the massive Three Gorges structure on the Yangtze. 
https://weather.com/news/news/2020-06-13-china-flooding-rain-storms-damage
Image below.

Video: the seasonal Meiyu Front explained
Meiyu Front Brings Flooding Rain to Southern China
https://weather.com/news/weather/video/meiyu-front-brings-flooding-rain-to-southern-china

——
Video: Flash Flooding in Corsica Sweeps Away Cars, Damages Buildings
The monthly average of one inch of rain fell in one hour.
https://weather.com/news/weather/video/flash-flooding-in-corsica-sweeps-away-cars-damages-buildings

33
Many epidemiologists are already comfortable going to the doctor, socializing with small groups outside or bringing in mail, despite the coronavirus. But unless there’s an effective vaccine or treatment first, it will be more than a year before many say they will be willing to go to concerts, sporting events or religious services. And some may never greet people with hugs or handshakes again.

These are the personal opinions of a group of 511 epidemiologists and infectious disease specialists who were asked by The New York Times when they expect to resume 20 activities of daily life, assuming that the pandemic and the public health response to it unfold as they expect.

When 511 Epidemiologists Expect to Fly, Hug and Do 18 Other Everyday Activities Again
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/06/08/upshot/when-epidemiologists-will-do-everyday-things-coronavirus.html

34
The US went into a recession in February, the National Bureau of Economic Research says, ending the longest economic expansion in American history.

It's official: The recession began in February
Quote
New York(CNN Business) The longest economic expansion in American history is officially over. The National Bureau of Economic Research declared Monday that the recession began in February.

The economy collapsed so rapidly that NBER wasted no time in announcing a recession, a stark contrast to previous downturns when the body took upwards of a year to declare what most people already knew. This was the fastest that NBER has declared any recession since the group began formal announcements in 1979.

Social distancing requirements imposed to fight the pandemic have crushed broad swaths of the US economy, from airlines and cruise ships to restaurants and Broadway shows.

"The unprecedented magnitude of the decline in employment and production, and its broad reach across the entire economy, warrants the designation of this episode as a recession, even if it turns out to be briefer than earlier contractions," NBER wrote.

More than 42 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits. Major companies including JCPenney, J.Crew and Hertz have filed for bankruptcy. And economists are predicting GDP imploded at an annualized rate of 40% during the second quarter.

The pandemic marked an end to the mediocre but long recovery from the Great Recession. In July 2019, that expansion officially became the longest period of uninterrupted growth in US history dating back to 1854. It spanned 128 months, easily breaking the prior record of 120 months set between March 1991 and March 2001 during the dotcom boom.

Normally, economists define a recession as consecutive quarters of negative growth. The United States already endured one quarter of a shrinking economy, with GDP dropping by 5% during the first quarter. NBER decided not to wait for a second quarter of a contracting economy, although it is widely expected to happen during the second quarter. The body also declared that while the economy peaked on a monthly basis in February, the quarterly peak happened in the fourth quarter. That disparity "reflects the unusual nature of this recession," NBER said.

"The economy contracted so sharply in March," NBER said, that by the first quarter GDP and employment was "significantly below" the levels of the fourth quarter of 2019. ... 
https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2020/06/08/economy/recession-economy-coronavirus-nber/index.html

35
Supernumary robotic limbs.
This one’s not quite ready for prime time, but....

This wearable robotic arm can hold tools, pick fruit, and punch through walls
https://www.theverge.com/21283724/wearable-robotic-arm-supernumerary-research-sherbrooke

Createk third-arm : Supernumerary robotic arm powered by magnetorheological clutches and an hydrostatic transmission. Fast enough to compensate for human motions while being safe for physical human-robot interaction.
(More details in the notes at the Youtube link.)


36
Consequences / Re: Hurricane Season 2020
« on: May 27, 2020, 04:46:09 PM »
Quote
Philip Klotzbach (@philklotzbach) 5/27/20, 8:30 AM
#Bertha has formed near the coast of South Carolina - the 2nd named storm of the 2020 Atlantic #hurricane season to date. The only years on record (since 1851) with 2 Atlantic named storms prior to May 27 are 1887, 1908, 1951 and 2012.
https://twitter.com/philklotzbach/status/1265621454533431296
Image below, gif at the link.

- The only other year with 2 Atlantic named storms prior to June 1st than those 4 is 2016. No season has had three named storms prior to June 1st on record.

37
The rest / Re: Cannabis and Hemp
« on: May 26, 2020, 03:52:01 PM »
U.S.
Hemp was supposed to boost farmers. It’s turned out to be a flop.
Oversupply and a lack of federal rules led to trouble for the industry.
Quote
Hemp has friends in high places, namely Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell [of Kentucky].

But the crop he championed in an attempt to boost ailing agriculture is at a low point.

Farmers and manufacturers who wanted to capitalize on the frenzy around CBD, which comes from hemp, were lured into the industry after Congress passed the 2018 farm bill. It legalized cultivation of the crop, a low-potency sibling of marijuana. Hemp acreage in the U.S. more than tripled from 2018 to 2019. McConnell was a driving force behind legalization.

“It was a mad rush,” said Colorado Agriculture Commissioner Kate Greenberg.

But the boom has quickly turned into a bust.

In recent months, several CBD businesses declared bankruptcy — including GenCanna, a hemp processing facility in Winchester, Ky., that McConnell visited in April of last year.
...
CBD remains unregulated by the FDA. Consumers are left with conflicting messages about the legality of hemp products while unscrupulous businesses tout CBD as a potential treatment for every illness under the sun, including the coronavirus.

States have written their own jumble of rules to contain the mess. The decline in investor interest in the cannabis sector last year led to financial troubles for businesses focused on expansion over profitability. ...
https://www.politico.com/news/2020/05/25/hemp-farmers-275046

38
Spain unveils climate law to cut emissions to net zero by 2050
May 18, 2020
The government hopes the draft law, which would ban all new coal, oil and gas projects with immediate effect, will shape the recovery effort to Covid-19
Quote
The Spanish government is due to present an ambitious draft law to cut the country’s carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 to Parliament on Tuesday.

Spain joins a handful of countries to have set out a legal binding strategy to end their contribution to global heating in the next 30 years.

The draft text, which follows a public consultation started in February 2019, sets the direction of economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

“We would like to have presented this law in other conditions, several weeks ago,” said Spain’s vice president Teresa Ribera, who serves as the minister for the ecological transition, adding the draft bill had to be “a useful guide” to shape the recovery effort.

“This law offers us an incredible opportunity to debate about the country that we want to be,” she said.

Under the law, which still needs to be approved by Parliament, the government is pledging to make Spain’s electricity system 100% renewable by the middle of the century, ban all new coal, oil and gas extraction projects with immediate effect, end direct fossil fuel subsidies and make all new vehicles emission-free by 2040. ...
https://www.climatechangenews.com/2020/05/18/spain-unveils-climate-law-cut-emissions-net-zero-2050/

39
Policy and solutions / Re: Lessons from COVID-19
« on: May 22, 2020, 12:37:57 AM »
How to memorably illustrate two-meter social distancing.

Evan Hadfield on Twitter: "The Canadian metric system”
https://mobile.twitter.com/evan_hadfield/status/1262795831444471809
And others...   More at the link.

40
Policy and solutions / Re: Batteries: Today's Energy Solution
« on: May 21, 2020, 09:37:34 PM »
Northvolt unveils its own Tesla Powerpack/Megapack competitor: Voltpack
Quote
Swedish startup Northvolt, who secured massive backing from VW, has unveiled its own stationary energy storage solution to compete with Tesla Powerpack and Megapack.

Northvolt is a battery startup founded by two former Tesla executives who worked on Tesla’s Gigafactory 1 in Nevada with Panasonic. The Swedish startup received investments from several companies, including Volkswagen, to build a massive battery factory in Sweden.

Volkswagen’s investment also came with the option to create a 50/50 joint-venture with the startup to build another battery factory to supply the automaker. The deal was finalized last year. The company is poised to replicate the success of Tesla Gigafactory Nevada in Europe to supply batteries for Volkswagen’s electric vehicles. But now we’ve learned that like Tesla, they also want to produce their own stationary energy storage products.

Northvolt is launching the ‘Voltpack Mobile System’, a new modular energy storage system in partnership with Vattenfall:

“Northvolt and Vattenfall today announced the launch of a new battery energy storage solution, Voltpack Mobile System – a rugged, highly modular lithium-ion battery system envisioned as a zero-emission alternative to replace diesel generators.”

The company is emphasizing its modular capability enabling quick deployment and mobility, but they are aiming at applications similar to other products on the market like Tesla’s Powerpack and Megapack, including “powering remote electricity grids, reinforcing weak grids, supporting electric vehicle charging and delivering grid services such as balancing power, flexibility, or other ancillary services.”
https://electrek.co/2020/05/20/northvolt-voltpack-tesla-powerpack-megapack-competitor/

41
Policy and solutions / Re: Lessons from COVID-19
« on: May 14, 2020, 02:07:39 PM »
Quote
XKCD Comic (@xkcdComic)5/13/20, 6:21 PM
Common Cold xkcd.com/2306/ m.xkcd.com/2306/

Alt/title text: "Not even metapneumovirus, easily the common cold virus with the coolest name, warrants our sympathy. Colds suck. No mercy."
https://twitter.com/xkcdcomic/status/1260696791726448641

42
U.S. life insurers are doing the once unthinkable, turning away business from some Americans who want a policy. 
Quote
The driving force behind the action: a collapse in interest rates tied to the spread of the new coronavirus and an expectation from insurers that rates won’t rebound significantly anytime soon.

Life insurers earn much of their profit by investing customers’ premiums in bonds until claims come due. In simplest terms, when they price policies, they make assumptions about how much interest income they will earn investing these premiums years into the future. The less they earn, the more they may need to collect in premium or fees to turn a profit.
...
“In 33 years, I have never seen more changes come more quickly to the life-insurance products we sell,” said Lawrence Rybka, chairman of ValMark Financial Group, an insurance brokerage in Akron, Ohio. “It is unprecedented how fast and widespread—it is across lots of carriers.”

The insurer also temporarily suspended sales of 30-year “term-life” policies, an offering popular with young families, a spokeswoman confirmed. Such policies provide a basic death benefit during the years in which they rear their children. Prudential also reduced the amount of interest it is crediting to certain combination savings-and-death-benefit “universal life” policies.

Typically, life insurers hold about 70% of their general investment account in long-term bonds. In general, the yields on these holdings, many of them corporate securities, follow the 10-year U.S. Treasury. Its annual yield has been mostly declining since the 1980s, when it peaked at nearly 16%.

The yield dove after the 2008-09 financial crisis and was as low as 1.366% in 2016 before rebounding to about 3% in 2018. In March, it plummeted again as coronavirus sparked a rush to safer assets and investors feared interest-rate cuts from the Federal Reserve.
The yield on Friday: 0.679%.
...

Some insurers are reacting directly to the new coronavirus.
Penn Mutual Life Insurance Co., among others, has temporarily halted life-insurance sales to people 70 and older and who are in poor health. Insurance-industry executives say that analysis shows older people with underlying medical problems are dying at much higher rates from Covid-19 than younger people.

In a memo to brokers, Penn Mutual said it expects “to revisit these and other changes as we gain better insight into the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.” ...
https://www.wsj.com/articles/some-americans-are-being-turned-away-trying-to-buy-life-insurance-11589103002

43
“This is the first time in its history that Norway’s sovereign wealth fund is having to liquidate its assets, as the coronavirus pandemic and low oil prices impact markets.”
 
Norway's Sovereign Wealth Fund Will Have To Liquidate Assets: Report
Quote
Norway’s sovereign wealth fund will have to liquidate assets in order to make “room to maneuver” through an economic crisis, according to Bloomberg.

Norges Bank governor Oystein Olsen, who oversees the country’s $1-trillion bank, told Bloomberg Television that this will provide “room to maneuver” through the worst economic crisis since World War II.

“It’s part of the general guidelines that in such circumstances you can spend more,” Olsen said in an interview with Bloomberg Television.
https://www.benzinga.com/node/15989111

—-
Canada loses record 2 million jobs; temporary layoffs hide extent of damage
Quote
OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada lost a record-breaking 2.0 million jobs in April while the unemployment rate surged to a near-record high 13.0%, according to official data released on Friday that did not reflect the full extent of layoffs caused by coronavirus shutdowns.

Although the numbers were not as bad as markets had feared, Statistics Canada said they did not capture the 1.1 million people who had temporarily lost their jobs and who expected to return to work once restrictions were relaxed.

Had these people been counted as jobless, the April unemployment rate would have been a record 17.8%.

Analysts in a Reuters poll had forecast a loss of 4 million jobs and an unemployment rate of 18%, up from the 7.8% seen in March, when 1 million jobs were lost.

“The unemployment rate at 13% is not something to be excited about, but it’s a lot better than feared. I would say that the jobs figures probably understate the weakness in the economy,” said Andrew Kelvin, chief Canada strategist at TD Securities. ... 
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-canada-economy-employment/canada-loses-record-2-million-jobs-temporary-layoffs-hide-extent-of-damage-idUSKBN22K1P1

44
NWS WPC: "For those in the east...no, you are not hallucinating...these are the actual forecast high temperatures on Saturday, May 9th. Yes, May! Near a 100 degree [F] difference across the U.S. between the expected lowest max on Mt. Washington, NH to the highest max in Death Valley, CA.”
https://mobile.twitter.com/nwswpc/status/1258517061120090117

45
EU warns coronavirus will trigger ‘recession of historic proportions’ in 2020
May 6, 2020
Quote
BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union predicted Wednesday “a recession of historic proportions this year” due to the impact of the coronavirus as it released its first official estimates of the damage the pandemic is inflicting on the bloc’s economy.

The 27-nation EU economy is predicted to contract by 7.5% this year, before growing by about 6% in 2021. The group of 19 nations using the euro as their currency will see a record decline of 7.75% this year, and grow by 6.25% in 2021, the European Commission said in its Spring economic forecast.

“It is now quite clear that the EU has entered the deepest economic recession in its history,” EU Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni told reporters in Brussels. As the virus hit, “economic activity in the EU dropped by around one third practically overnight,” he said.
...
The pandemic has hurt consumer spending, industrial output, investment, trade, capital flows and supply chains. It has also hit jobs. The unemployment rate across the 27-nation EU is forecast to rise from 6.7% in 2019 to 9% in 2020 but then fall to around 8% in 2021, the commission said. Beyond that, Gentiloni said, “we will have a massive drop in hours worked.” ...
https://www.marketwatch.com/story/eu-warns-coronavirus-will-trigger-recession-of-historic-proportions-in-2020-2020-05-06

46
Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: May 05, 2020, 07:11:12 PM »
U.S.:  Massachusetts and Florida
Quote
Joshua Potash (@JoshuaPotash) 5/4/20, 3:21 PM
Right now outside the Massachusetts State House.
This crowd is calling for the Governor to reopen the state.
While packed tightly together, with many not wearing masks.
https://twitter.com/joshuapotash/status/1257389793123631104
Helicopter video.  Links to a Twitter thread with more details on the protest.

—-
Miami Beach closes park just five days after reopening as nearly 8,000 break face mask and distance rules
Quote
Not even a week since reopening, the city of Miami Beach closed the popular South Pointe Park back up after thousands of visitors failed to wear face coverings and social distance to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The Miami Beach Police Department announced Monday that the park was closed until further notice after they issued 7,329 verbal face cover warnings and more than 470 warnings for failing to social distance between Friday and Sunday. ...
https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/04/us/miami-beach-south-pointe-park-close-trnd/index.html

47
UK:  People are so scared that neighbors will spread the virus that more than 200,000 have called the police to report rule breaking by their fellow citizens
Quote
A campaign to keep Britons locked down and protected from the coronavirus may have proved too successful, according to new research, with many now scared to leave their homes.

A leading Cambridge University statistician warned that the government’s stay-at-home message had caused many people to grow “particularly anxious” about going out.

“Many people are definitely overanxious about their chance of both getting the virus and the harm they might come to if they do get it,” Cambridge’s David Spiegelhalter told the BBC.
...
Keiran Pedley, research director at Ipsos Mori, said: “Clear majorities of Britons are nervous about using public transport again or going to bars, restaurants or live music and sporting events.

“These numbers suggest that it will take some time for parts of the British economy to return to any semblance of normality, even after lockdown has ended.”
...
https://www.marketwatch.com/story/a-day-after-elon-musk-denounced-coronavirus-lockdowns-as-infringements-of-freedom-research-shows-britons-are-too-scared-to-leave-their-homes-anyway-2020-05-01

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Britain says more than a fifth of workers furloughed as of Sunday
Quote
LONDON (Reuters) - More than a fifth of employees in Britain have been furloughed, with 8 billion pounds ($9.9 billion) claimed from the government to sustain their wages during the coronavirus lockdown, tax authorities said on Monday.

HM Revenue and Customs said on Twitter that 6.3 million workers from 800,000 employers had been furloughed, citing figures up to midnight (2300 GMT) on Sunday.

That accounts for 23% of Britain’s 27.9 million employees, according to the most recent labour market data.
Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which is central to efforts to slow a rise in unemployment, the state pays 80% of workers’ pay up to 2,500 pounds a month.

The scheme is due to run until the end of June and is likely to cost the public finances around 39 billion pounds, based on an assumption that 30% of employees are enrolled, Britain’s official budget forecasters have said.

The figures came as pensions minister Therese Coffey said the government received 1.8 million claims for welfare payments between March 16 and the end of April via its ‘Universal Credit’ benefits system.
Universal Credit benefits are paid to people in work as well as those who have lost their jobs.
Coffey said that overall, the volume of welfare claims had been six times bigger than pre-coronavirus during that period, and that in one particular week the increase had been tenfold.


Last week an official survey showed two thirds of British firms had asked for public money to pay staff they have temporarily laid off, pointing to a strong take-up for a key part of the government’s plan to soften the economic impact of the coronavirus. ... 
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-britain-furlough/britain-says-more-than-a-fifth-of-workers-furloughed-as-of-sunday-idUSKBN22G22D

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Quote
On the Road to AGI (Artificial General Intelligence): Common Sense Comes Closer to Computers

“Juliet on her balcony”

“Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra”


Context often involves more than simple logic.

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Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: May 01, 2020, 02:08:20 PM »
New from XKCD

XKCDAltTextBot:
Alt/title text: "If enough people uphill decide to try the rolling strategy, they can make the decision for you."

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