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Messages - vox_mundi

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Greenland and Arctic Circle / Re: What's new in Greenland?
« on: August 14, 2020, 01:00:51 PM »
Warming Greenland Ice Sheet Passes Point of No Return

Nearly 40 years of satellite data from Greenland shows that glaciers on the island have shrunk so much that even if global warming were to stop today, the ice sheet would continue shrinking.

The finding, published today, Aug. 13, in the journal Nature Communications Earth and Environment, means that Greenland's glaciers have passed a tipping point of sorts, where the snowfall that replenishes the ice sheet each year cannot keep up with the ice that is flowing into the ocean from glaciers.

... The researchers found that, throughout the 1980s and 90s, snow gained through accumulation and ice melted or calved from glaciers were mostly in balance, keeping the ice sheet intact. Through those decades, the researchers found, the ice sheets generally lost about 450 gigatons (about 450 billion tons) of ice each year from flowing outlet glaciers, which was replaced with snowfall.

"We are measuring the pulse of the ice sheet—how much ice glaciers drain at the edges of the ice sheet—which increases in the summer. And what we see is that it was relatively steady until a big increase in ice discharging to the ocean during a short five- to six-year period," King said.

The researchers' analysis found that the baseline of that pulse—the amount of ice being lost each year—started increasing steadily around 2000, so that the glaciers were losing about 500 gigatons each year. Snowfall did not increase at the same time, and over the last decade, the rate of ice loss from glaciers has stayed about the same—meaning the ice sheet has been losing ice more rapidly than it's being replenished.

"Glacier retreat has knocked the dynamics of the whole ice sheet into a constant state of loss," said Ian Howat, a co-author on the paper, professor of earth sciences and distinguished university scholar at Ohio State. "Even if the climate were to stay the same or even get a little colder, the ice sheet would still be losing mass."

Michalea D. King et al. Dynamic ice loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet driven by sustained glacier retreat, Nature Communications Earth & Environment (2020)

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: August 14, 2020, 12:39:20 AM »
... It does not matter what IFR you calculate on the internet because que sera, sera.

... like saying ...

The rest / Re: Astronomical news
« on: August 13, 2020, 10:03:34 PM »
Hubble Finds That Betelgeuse's Mysterious Dimming Due to Traumatic Outburst

This four-panel graphic illustrates how the southern region of the rapidly evolving, bright red supergiant star Betelgeuse may have suddenly become fainter for several months during late 2019 and early 2020. In the first two panels, as seen in ultraviolet light with the Hubble Space Telescope, a bright, hot blob of plasma is ejected from the emergence of a huge convection cell on the star's surface. In panel three, the outflowing expelled gas rapidly expands outward. It cools to form an enormous cloud of obscuring dust grains. The final panel reveals the huge dust cloud blocking the light (as seen from Earth) from a quarter of the star's surface.

... Between October and November 2019, Hubble Space Telescope observed dense, heated material moving outward through the star's extended atmosphere at 200,000 miles per hour. The following month, several ground-based telescopes observed a decrease in brightness in Betelgeuse's southern hemisphere, as if something was blocking light in this region of the star. By February 2020, the star had lost more than two-thirds of its brilliance, a dimming visible even to the naked eye, creating buzz that the star might be going supernova. Continued ultraviolet light spectroscopic observations with Hubble provided a timeline for researchers to follow, like breadcrumbs leading back through time to pinpoint the source of the mysterious dimming.

And Betelgeuse held another surprise for scientists when Hubble observations revealed that the detected plasma was not ejected from the star's rotational poles as predicted by stellar models. "Hubble observations suggest that material can be driven off from any part of the stellar surface," said Dupree, adding that recent activity on Betelgeuse was not normal for this star. Dupree noted that Betelgeuse is losing mass at a rate 30 million times higher than the Sun, but that recent activity resulted in a loss of roughly two times the normal amount of material from the southern hemisphere alone.

... "No one knows how a star behaves in the weeks before it explodes, and there were some ominous predictions that Betelgeuse was ready to become a supernova. Chances are, however, that it will not explode during our lifetime, but who knows?"

Trump Rolls Back Methane Climate Standards for Oil and Gas Industry

The Trump administration is revoking rules that require oil and gas drillers to detect and fix leaks of methane, a greenhouse gas that heats the planet far faster than carbon dioxide.

The Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Andrew Wheeler, will announce the rollback from Pennsylvania, which has major oil and gas operations and is also a politically important swing state. The rule change is part of what Trump calls his “energy dominance” agenda.

Roughly a quarter of global warming the planet has experienced in recent decades has been due to methane, said Robert Howarth, a researcher who studies methane at Cornell University. The oil and gas industry is the biggest source of the pollutant.

US methane emissions have become more concerning as scientists have begun to better understand their prevalence and impacts, and as gas production has continued to grow rapidly, increasing 10% last year.

The world essentially cannot meet the near-term goals nations agreed to in an international climate agreement without reducing methane, Howarth said.

EPA to Rescind Methane Regulations for Oil and Gas

Agency would end requirements that the industry have systems and procedures to detect and fix greenhouse-gas emissions, sources say

Consequences / Re: Hurricane Season 2020
« on: August 13, 2020, 08:33:15 PM »

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.


The rest / Re: Astronomical news
« on: August 13, 2020, 12:00:28 AM »
The Iconic Arecibo Telescope Goes Quiet After Major Damage

Early Monday morning, a cable suspended over the Arecibo Telescope in Puerto Rico broke and left a 100-foot-long gash in the dish of the iconic radio telescope. The 3-inch diameter cable also caused damage to the panels of the Gregorian dome that is suspended hundreds of feet above the dish and houses the telescope’s receivers. It is unclear what caused the cable to break or when radio astronomers using the telescope will be able to resume their research.

“This was an auxiliary cable used to support the weight of the platform, and we are in the process of assessing why it broke,” says Zenaida Kotala, the assistant vice president for strategic initiatives at the University of Central Florida, which manages the observatory. “We are working with engineers to determine a strategy for repairs. Our goal is to get the facility operational as soon as it is possible to do so safely.”

The history of the Arecibo telescope is also deeply entwined with the history of SETI. The planetary astronomer Frank Drake, who conducted the first radio SETI search the same year that construction on Arecibo began, served as the observatory’s director for years. In 1976, he and Carl Sagan used the telescope to transmit the world’s first interstellar message to a star system 12,000 light years away.  ... For years, Siemion and his colleagues at Berkeley collected radio data from Arecibo for SETI@Home, a distributed computing project that allowed anyone with an internet connection to help in the search for intelligent aliens.

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 11, 2020, 06:36:47 PM »
'The Best People': The Sketchy Past of Trump’s Coronavirus Vaccine Czar

In May, President Trump tapped Moncef Slaoui to become what was dubbed his “Coronavirus Czar” and lead Operation Warp Speed, the White House initiative to expedite a coronavirus vaccine.

... Meanwhile, experts have been concerned that Operation Warp Speed has issued no public standards or explanations for choosing vaccine candidates and may rush vaccines through approval.

An understanding of Slaoui’s biography and his time at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) may add to those concerns. While working for the Pharma giant, Slaoui helped misrepresent scientific research on a drug that had harmed tens of thousands of Americans. Since the Trump administration has shifted its COVID-19 strategy to favor vaccine development, this means America’s hopes for addressing the pandemic rests with someone who was at the epicenter of one of the more controversial episodes in recent drug development.

Back in 2007, Avandia was GSK’s $3 billion-per-year blockbuster diabetes drug, when Dr. Steve Nissen of the Cleveland Clinic published a study in the New England Journal of Medicine that found that it increased the risk of heart attacks and deaths in patients. With the future of Avandia in doubt, the company’s share price fell 7 percent, wiping out billions of dollars of value. GSK was in a serious bind. But instead of opening its books, it responded by misleading the public, federal agencies, and Congress about the drug’s dangers. Slaoui helped the company in this deception. At the time, he was GSK’s chairman of research and development, and when he was hauled before Congress to testify to Avandia’s safety, he offered a rosy assessment that downplayed the drug’s risks. He lied. ...

The “Flat Corn” Derecho of August 10, 2020

... Millions of acres of corn has been blown down. If that wasn’t bad enough, many grain elevators and bins were damaged or destroyed as well.

A seiche or meteotsunami occurred on Lake Michigan this evening. The water level rose 1.5 FEET at Benton Harbor:

The strong winds from a line of thunderstorms push the water toward the Michigan shore. The water level rises at a fairly rapid rate. You can get caught out on the piers and breakwaters. As the storm passes, the water sloshes back toward the Illinois and Wisconsin shore. As it does, strong currents are possible, moving from the shore to the west and out toward open water. On July 4, 2003, seven people drowned when caught in currents following a severe thunderstorm in St. Joseph Michigan.

Derecho With 100 mph Winds Approaches Chicago As It Moves Across the Midwest

A line of severe storms on Monday approached downtown Chicago, where a severe thunderstorm warning was in effect.

The storms have produced winds as high as 100 mph as they moved through Iowa and Illinois.

The storms are part of what the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center called a "particularly dangerous situation."

Tornado warnings are in effect west of Chicago.

More than 500,000 homes and businesses in the Midwest are without power, including a third of all of customers in Iowa.

The storms are part of a derecho that was moving out of Iowa into northern Illinois, toward Chicago, and that prompted the Storm Prediction Center to issue a PDS thunderstorm watch through 7 p.m. CT Monday.


   * Primary threats include...
- Widespread damaging winds and scattered significant gusts to 100 mph likely
- Isolated large hail events to 1.5 inches in diameter possible
-  A couple tornadoes possible

  SUMMARY...A derecho will rapidly progress across eastern Iowa and northern Illinois this afternoon. Widespread severe wind gusts, some of which should reach 80-100 mph are anticipated along the track of the bow. Brief tornadoes are also possible.

The severe thunderstorm watch area is approximately along and 85 statute miles north and south of a line from 20 miles west southwest of Cedar Rapids IA to 75 miles south southeast of Racine WI. For a complete depiction of the watch see the associated watch outline update (WOUS64 KWNS WOU6)


Destructive Derecho Blasts Chicago With Winds Over 70 mph; More Than 1 Million Lose Power In Upper Midwest

By Monday evening, more than 1 million people were without power in the wake of the storms from eastern Nebraska to northern Illinois as the storms raced eastward into southern Michigan. The storms also crossed Indiana, causing wind damage there, and moved into Ohio near 8 p.m. ET.

Iowa was hardest hit. Several locations clocked wind gusts exceeding 112 mph, while gusts between 75 and 85 mph were common, tearing apart metal silos like a sheet of paper. The storm’s intensity marginally waned as it headed east, but Chicago’s Midway Airport clocked a gust to 73 mph.

As of 8 p.m., Doppler radar indicated that the most intense winds in the derecho had passed Fort Wayne, Ind., and were pushing into northwestern Ohio. Severe weather associated with the same line of thunderstorms extended southwest to St. Louis, Mo., and north into Michigan.

Satellite imagery of the impending derecho was revealing on Monday afternoon. Overshooting tops could be seen as bubbles in the overcast along the eastern limb of the cloud mass where intense thunderstorm updrafts lurk. Rippling outward from them were gravity waves, akin to wavelets in a pond, indicating extreme turbulence nearby.

Particularly impressive were the tendril-like high clouds and transverse banding within it — appearing as strips of shading radially outward from the center — illustrating healthy outflow, or storm exhaust, at the upper levels. That’s a common feature on satellite associated with strong hurricanes.

... On the eastern shores of Lake Michigan in southwest Michigan, the derecho was predicted to generate large waves and push high water ashore, prompting a lakeshore flood warning.

Numerous reports of significant winds, and at times extreme winds, have been received from across the Corn Belt:

112 mph near Midway, Iowa
106 mph near La Grand, Iowa, measured by personal weather station
100 mph near Hiawatha, Iowa
99 mph at Marshalltown Municipal Airport
99 mph near Albion, Iowa
95 mph estimated near Marshalltown, Iowa
91 mph near Marshalltown, Iowa
90 mph in Atkins, Iowa
90 mph in Blairstown, Iowa
86 mph in Davenport, Iowa
85 mph in Moline, Ill.
78 mph at Ankeny Airport
75 mph at Des Moines airport
72 mph at Midway Airport in Chicago

In Iowa, gusts above 80 mph were ubiquitous with the line of destructive storms.

In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, an eyewitness on social media described “utter destruction.” The Iowa Department of Transportation reported that Interstate 35 and other roads were blocked due to overturned vehicles and storm damage between Cedar Rapids and Iowa City.

Policy and solutions / Re: Nuclear Power
« on: August 09, 2020, 06:25:23 PM »
From the Folks Who Brought Us 9/11: Saudi Goes Nuclear

U.S. Examines Whether Saudi Nuclear Program Could Lead to Bomb Effort

Intelligence agencies are scrutinizing whether the kingdom’s work with China to develop nuclear expertise is cover to process uranium and move toward development of a weapon.

The Chinese helped the Saudis build a uranium refinement facility as part of the Kingdom’s quest (Saudi, that is; not the Middle Kingdom) “to master nuclear technology,” as the Wall Street Journal described it Tuesday. “The facility, which hasn’t been publicly disclosed, is in a sparsely populated area in Saudi Arabia’s northwest and has raised concern among U.S. and allied officials that the kingdom’s nascent nuclear program is moving ahead and that Riyadh is keeping open the option of developing nuclear weapons.”

One big concern: “Saudi Arabia only has the most limited safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency. The country was among the last to sign the old version of a so-called Small Quantities Protocol in the 2000s, which doesn’t oblige it to disclose the yellowcake site to the agency.”

An entirely different Saudi facility is deeply concerning to spy agencies around the world, the New York Times reported Wednesday. That would be “a newly completed structure near a solar-panel production area near Riyadh, the Saudi capital, that some government analysts and outside experts suspect could be one of a number of undeclared nuclear sites.”

... A satellite image taken in 2014, before the structure had a roof, revealed the installation of four large yellow cranes for lifting and moving heavy equipment across sprawling high-bay areas. Mr. Albright added that each building also had adjoining two-story offices and areas for support personnel.

In his report, Mr. Albright found the appearance of the Saudi buildings to be roughly comparable to that of Iran’s uranium conversion facility, a plant that was designed by China in the city of Isfahan. It is central to Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

One reason this matters: It would seem to put the U.S. “in the uncomfortable position of declaring it could not tolerate any nuclear production ability in Iran, while seeming to remain silent about its close allies, the Saudis, for whom it has forgiven human rights abuses and military adventurism.”

At the White House, Trump administration officials seem relatively unperturbed by the Saudi effort.
(... as they were with the Khashoggi murder)

In the 1990s, the Saudis helped bankroll Pakistan’s successful effort to produce a bomb. But it has never been clear whether Riyadh has a claim on a Pakistani weapon, or its technology.

Policy and solutions / Re: Nuclear Power
« on: August 09, 2020, 05:01:02 PM »
Nuclear Fusion: No Tokamak Required

Researchers at NASA’s Glenn Research Center have now demonstrated a method of inducing nuclear fusion without building a massive stellarator or tokamak. In fact, all they needed was a bit of metal, some hydrogen, and an electron accelerator.

The team believes that their method, called lattice confinement fusion, could be a potential new power source for deep space missions. They have published their results in two papers in Physical Review C.

... Aside from deuteron-deuteron fusion, the NASA group found evidence of what are known as Oppenheimer-Phillips stripping reactions. Sometimes, rather than fusing with another deuteron, the energetic deuteron would collide with one of lattice’s metal atoms, either creating an isotope or converting the atom to a new element. The team found that both fusion and stripping reactions produced useable energy.

“What we did was not cold fusion,” says Lawrence Forsley, a senior lead experimental physicist for the project.

There’s still plenty of research to be done by the NASA team. Now they’ve demonstrated nuclear fusion, the next step is to create reactions that are more efficient and more numerous. When two deuterons fuse, they create either a proton and tritium (a hydrogen atom with two neutrons), or helium-3 and a neutron. In the latter case, that extra neutron can start the process over again, allowing two more deuterons to fuse. The team plans to experiment with ways to coax more consistent and sustained reactions in the metal.

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: August 09, 2020, 03:07:58 PM »
Saudi Aramco Profit Drops 50% for First Half of the Year as Pandemic Batters Oil Price

Saudi Aramco's net income plunged to $23.2 billion in the first six months of the year, down by half from $46.9 billion over the same period in 2019.

Saudi Arabia's majority state-owned oil company and the world's largest crude producer also maintained its second-quarter dividend of $18.75 billion, saying it will be paid in the third quarter.

The financial results for the second quarter reflect the biggest shock to global energy markets in decades.

... "The worst is likely behind us," Nasser told the earnings call. "We remain fairly positive about the long term demand for oil."


... It's like déjà vu all over again. ...

May 1, 1930

"While the crash only took place six months ago, I am convinced we have now passed the worst and with continued unity of effort we shall rapidly recover.

- President Hoover

The rest / Re: Masks
« on: August 08, 2020, 03:32:50 AM »

Electric Cooker An Easy, Efficient Way to Sanitize N95 Masks, Study Finds

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: Thermohaline Circulation Connections
« on: August 08, 2020, 12:37:40 AM »
^ Related ...

Florida Current Weaker Now Than At Any Point In the Past Century

A key component of the Gulf Stream has markedly slowed over the past century—that's the conclusion of a new research paper in Nature Communications published on August 7.

Weakening of the Florida Current transport is apparent on longer timescales. The centennial trend during 1909–2018 is  −1.7 ± 3.7 Sv century−1, which overlaps zero, but implies that the trend is likely negative (P = 0.82; Supplementary Fig. 3b).

Christopher G. Piecuch, Likely weakening of the Florida Current during the past century revealed by sea-level observations, Nature Communications (2020)

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.

The rest / Re: Port of Beirut Explosion
« on: August 05, 2020, 02:06:35 AM »

Hiroshima bomb ~ 10 - 15 kilotons TNT

2.38 kg of ammonium nitrate = 1.00 kg of TNT

2750 tons = 2.75 kilotons AN = 1.16 kilotons TNT

~ 8 - 12% of Hiroshima bomb

Minor Scale, a 1985 United States conventional explosion, using 4,744 tons of ANFO explosive to provide a scaled equivalent airblast of an eight kiloton (33.44 TJ) nuclear device,[14] is believed to be the largest planned detonation of conventional explosives in history.

I disagree with the 240 ton estimate by bellingcat. It doesn't match evidence.

The rest / Re: Port of Beirut Explosion
« on: August 05, 2020, 12:41:09 AM »
20% of the Hiroshima nuke ...

'Unacceptable' 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored without safety measures: Aoun

General Security Chief Abbas Ibrahim said some 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate were in Beirut's port on the way to Africa when they exploded.

Ibrahim made the comments after the meeting of Lebanon's Higher Defence Council.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun said that it is "unacceptable" that 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate were stored in a warehouse for six years without safety measures, according to statements published on the presidency's Twitter account.

Aoun also pledged that those responsible would face the "harshest punishments" and said a two-week state of emergency should be declared.

Death toll rises to 73

According to Lebanon's health ministry, the death toll has risen to 73, with 3,700 wounded.

At least 60 of the wounded people were in critical condition, according to the Red Cross.

The rest / Re: Port of Beirut Explosion
« on: August 04, 2020, 09:31:41 PM »
Dozens killed, thousands wounded in Beirut blast: Live updates

Lebanese Health Minister Hassan Hamad says more than 25 people have been killed and more than 2,500 are wounded.

"It is a disaster in every sense of the word," Hamad said in an interview with several television channels while visiting a hospital in the Lebanese capital.


Secretary General of Lebanese Kataeb Party among the dead

Among the dead is the Secretary General of the Lebanese Kataeb Party, the party has announced.

The headquarters of the Kataeb Party, one of the oldest parties in the country, is located right next to the port.


Dozens of people being turned away from hospital

Dozens of people are trying to enter a hospital in Beirut and are being turned away, Al Jazeera's Timour Azhari said.

"People are discussing about which hospital they can get to across the city. This hospital, the Hotel-Dieu hospital has formally announced that people should stop coming here."

"There are corridors lined with wounded, bloody people," Azhari said.

"There are people crying. The hospital itself has sustained damage; its ceiling looks very precarious, it looks like it's going to fall apart."

... "Ambulances have been called from across the country to help in the rescue effort. It was a massive explosion; you can see the fire trucks arriving at the scene trying to put out the flame.



Ammonium nitrate stored in the port: Interior Minister

The Lebanese Interior Minister has said that ammonium nitrate was stored in the port, which is what caused the explosion, local media reported.

He said Lebanese customs should be asked about why it was there.

Lebanon-based broadcaster Mayadeen cited the country's customs director saying tonnes of nitrate exploded.


'Cars were thrown three floors up onto roofs of factories': Al Jazeera correspondent

Al Jazeera's Timour Azhari reaching the Beirut port shortly after the explosion, said the site looks like a "wasteland" with debris seen everywhere.

"Cars [from the ground] were thrown three floors up onto roofs of factories here," Azhari said.

"Rescue services have not been able to reach the actual site of the explosion yet because fires are still raging. Helicopters are circling the area trying to extinguish the fire," Azhari said.

Azhari spoke to the captain of an Italian civilian ship, the Orient Queen, that was docked near the blast site.

"He was covered in blood after the explosion threw him across a room of his ship. Several people on board were wounded and taken to hospital.

"It really was an incredible explosion. People here are saying that they have never seen anything like it.
Even on the way here the roads were covered in glass," Azhari said.


The rest / Re: Port of Beirut Explosion
« on: August 04, 2020, 09:15:49 PM »
Video: Structures to the left are were grain elevators

Video and pictures are now emerging of the aftermath of the explosion, which looks to have been absolutely devastating. Some sort of conflagration in a warehouse on the dock itself may also have been the epicenter of at least one of the blasts.

There are reports now of hundreds of casualties and that the Lebanese military is assisting in the response efforts. Power outages are also being reported as a result of the explosions.

Grain elavator absolutely destroyed along with the surrounding area. The pressure within those from the fire would have been unbelievable.

There are now reports that a burning container of fireworks then set off the huge secondary explosion at the nearby warehouse, which contained sodium or ammonium nitrate. (similar to the Galveston port explosion) It's unclear whether the fireworks-filled container was actually on a ship or was on the dock.


The head of Lebanon's Beirut Governorate, which includes the capital city of the same name, has also described the incident as a "national disaster akin to Hiroshima," referring to the U.S. nuclear bombing of Hiroshima, Japan, during World War II.


All Beirut hospitals have exceeded their capacity and cannot receive any further patients.


There are reports that the blast in Beirut was so strong that people on the island of Cyprus, some 240 kilometers (nearly 150 miles) northwest in the Mediterranean Sea, felt it.


Real-time network data show significant internet outage in #Lebanon following reports of blast near #Beirut impacting ability to contact eyewitnesses; circumstance and cause remain unclear; incident ongoing; see live report for updates

The rest / Port of Beirut Explosion
« on: August 04, 2020, 08:37:50 PM »
This is very, very bad ...

Port of Beirut Explosion

As smoke clears, port of Beirut devastated- added to casualties- billons of $ in imports including national wheat silos-seem to have been eviscerated. Homes shattered for miles. Damages will be massive and could not come at worse time when everyone is broke and hungry.

I'll update shortly


The bane of working with 5pt type on a smartphone. Thanks bk


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.”

Consequences / Re: The Holocene Extinction
« on: August 04, 2020, 03:00:20 AM »

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: August 04, 2020, 01:38:00 AM »
Without Seasonal Workers, Australia May Face a Hungry Summer

With not enough workers to pick the upcoming harvest, Australia faces potential food shortages, and its farmers face economic devastation, writes Michael Rose, a research fellow and anthropologist at the Australian National University.

We are sailing into a food shortage and few are talking about it. This needs to change.

In essence the issue is this: a large proportion of Australia’s harvest labour is done by people from abroad who are unable to travel. As the months tick down towards the summer harvest there are simply not enough people to pick the fruit.

If this doesn’t change the result is likely to be shortages and price rises for horticultural products and, even more seriously, devastating hardship for our primary producers


Tests: 2.5% of Italians Had COVID-19, Far More In the North

About 1.5 million Italians - 2.5% of the population of Italy- may have already contracted coronavirus, nationwide antibody tests indicate, according to the Associated Press. But officials said Monday that huge geographic variations in the results confirmed a nationwide lockdown was “absolutely crucial” to preventing the country's south from getting slammed as badly as its north.

The figure, announced by health officials on Monday, is six times the number of confirmed cases in Italy’s official virus tally. The results — viewed with the country’s overall death toll of close to 35,000 —align with a 2.3% estimated mortality rate of the virus.

There were significant geographic disparities: An estimated 7.5% of the Lombardy region's residents had virus antibodies versus 1.9% in neighboring Veneto. Within Lombardy, sharp differences also emerged from province to province: Some 24% of Bergamo residents developed virus antibodies, but only 5.1% of residents did a few provinces over in Pavia.

The variations were even more stark when compared to southern Italy: Only 0.3% of residents in Sicily came into contact with the virus, and less than 1% of residents had virus antibodies in a half-dozen other southern regions.

Locatelli said the results also indicated that 27.3% of the people with the virus experienced no symptoms, demonstrating the need for continued social distancing and mask requirements. He stressed that the tests were not looking at whether the antibodies provided protection against the virus going forward, just the tested individuals had come into contact with the virus.

Consequences / Re: The Holocene Extinction
« on: August 04, 2020, 12:42:58 AM »

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, 09:58:11 PM »
Severe Covid-19 Can Lead to Kidney Injury or Failure, Medical Studies Reveal

As the mysteries of Covid-19 unfold, doctors and medical experts are studying an alarming trend: kidney damage in patients with serious illness.

Since February, the American Society of Nephrology Covid-19 Response Team has been studying the phenomenon at hospitals across the country and it is raising concerns of what is needed for treatment.

“What we have observed is that approximately 10% to 50% of patients with severe Covid-19 that go into intensive care have kidney failure that requires some form of dialysis,” said Dr. Alan Kliger, co-chair of the team. As he explains, many have had no underlying health conditions, or problems with their kidneys before contracting the virus.

At Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, 46% of patients that were admitted to the hospital with Covid-19 had some form of acute kidney injury. Of those 17% required urgent dialysis.


Outbreaks In Florida, Texas, California and Arizona Begin to Decline

Coronavirus outbreaks that have torn through Sun Belt states like California, Florida, Texas and Arizona for weeks have started to decline, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. As of Sunday, cases in Texas have fallen more than 8% over the previous week, hitting roughly 7,723 daily new cases based on a seven-day moving average, according to Johns Hopkins data.

Meanwhile, Florida reported a more than 14% drop in its seven-day average of new Covid-19 cases Sunday, and Arizona reported a more than 10% drop, according to Johns Hopkins data. California’s cases are also slowly starting to trend down, with the state reporting a more than 8% drop in its seven-day average.

Although cases appear to be descending, Covid-19 deaths have been on the rise since early July. The U.S. reported an additional 1,047 deaths based on a seven-day average on Sunday, a near 15% increase compared with a week ago, according to a CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins data. California hit a record-high seven-day average on Sunday, growing nearly 30% compared with a week ago.


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, 05:31:27 PM »
Data Leak Reveals Iran Cover-Up On COVID-19 Deaths: BBC

A BBC Persian service investigation has found the number of deaths from COVID-19 in Iran is nearly triple what Iran's government claims.

The government's own records appear to show almost 42,000 people died with COVID-19 symptoms up to 20 July, versus 14,405 reported by its health ministry.

The number of people known to be infected is also almost double the official figures: 451,024 as opposed to 278,827.

In recent weeks, it has suffered a second steep rise in the number of cases.

A level of undercounting, largely due to testing capacity, is seen across the world, but the information leaked to the BBC reveals Iranian authorities have reported significantly lower daily numbers despite having a record of all deaths - suggesting they were deliberately suppressed.

... The new data includes details of daily admissions to hospitals across Iran, including names, age, gender, symptoms, date and length of periods spent in hospital, and underlying conditions patients might have.

The details on lists correspond to those of some living and deceased patients already known to the BBC.

... Tehran, the capital, has the highest number of deaths with 8,120 people who died with Covid-19 or symptoms similar to it.

The city of Qom, the initial epicentre of the virus in Iran, is worst hit proportionally, with 1,419 deaths - that is one death with Covid-19 for every 1,000 people.

It is notable that, across the country, 1,916 deaths were non-Iranian nationals. This indicates a disproportionate number of deaths amongst migrants and refugees, who are mostly from neighbouring Afghanistan.

The initial rise of deaths is far steeper than Health Ministry figures and by mid-March it was five times the official figure.

Lockdown measures were imposed over the Nowruz (Iranian New Year) holidays at the end of the third week in March, and there was a corresponding decline in cases and deaths.

But as government restrictions were relaxed, the cases and deaths started to rise again after late-May.

Crucially the first recorded death on the leaked list occurred on 22 January, a month before the first case of coronavirus was officially reported in Iran.

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: COVID-19
« on: August 02, 2020, 05:09:39 PM »
Hundreds of Coronavirus Infections at Georgia Camp Raise Tough Questions About Schools Reopening

Hundreds at a YMCA camp in north Georgia were infected with the coronavirus in a mere matter of days before it was shut down, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that could have broad implications for the ongoing debate about reopening schools. YMCA Camp High Harbour followed some but not all the CDC guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus among the 597 campers and staff. A total of 260 children and staffers tested positive for COVID-19, amounting to more than three-quarters of the 344 people for whom the CDC was able to obtain results.

CDC Report

... A total of 597 Georgia residents attended camp A. Median camper age was 12 years (range = 6–19 years), and 53% (182 of 346) were female. The median age of staff members and trainees was 17 years (range = 14–59 years), and 59% (148 of 251) were female.

Test results were available for 344 (58%) attendees; among these, 260 (76%) were positive. The overall attack rate was 44% (260 of 597), 51% among those aged 6–10 years, 44% among those aged 11–17 years, and 33% among those aged 18–21 years (Table).

Attack rates increased with increasing length of time spent at the camp, with staff members having the highest attack rate (56%). During June 21–27, occupancy of the 31 cabins averaged 15 persons per cabin (range = 1–26); median cabin attack rate was 50% (range = 22%–70%) among 28 cabins that had one or more cases.

Among 136 cases with available symptom data, 36 (26%) patients reported no symptoms; among 100 (74%) who reported symptoms, those most commonly reported were subjective or documented fever (65%), headache (61%), and sore throat (46%).

... attack rates presented are likely an underestimate because cases might have been missed among persons not tested or whose test results were not reported

These findings demonstrate that SARS-CoV-2 spread efficiently in a youth-centric overnight setting, resulting in high attack rates among persons in all age groups, despite efforts by camp officials to implement most recommended strategies to prevent transmission. Asymptomatic infection was common and potentially contributed to undetected transmission, as has been previously reported (1–4).

This investigation adds to the body of evidence demonstrating that children of all ages are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection (1–3) and, contrary to early reports (5,6), might play an important role in transmission (7,8). The multiple measures adopted by the camp were not sufficient to prevent an outbreak in the context of substantial community transmission


Young Kids, Adults May Have Same Amount of Coronavirus In Upper Airway

Young children with mild or moderate COVID-19 may have the same or higher amounts of virus in their upper respiratory tracts as older children and adults, a study published Thursday by JAMA Pediatrics found.

This could indicate that [b<children age 5 and younger can "spread the virus as efficiently as adults,"[/b] study co-author Dr. Taylor Heald-Sargent told UPI.

The researchers sorted study participants into three groups: 46 young children age 5 and below, 51 children age 5 to 17 and 48 adults age 18 to 65.

Testing revealed that "young children have equivalent or more viral nucleic acid in their upper respiratory tract compared with older children and adults," the researchers wrote.

The upper respiratory tract includes the nose and nasal passages, sinuses, pharynx and the portion of the larynx above the vocal cords.


Student and Staffer Test Positive for Coronavirus at Indiana Schools, First State in U.S. to Reopen

US Officials Seek Limits On "Habitat" for Imperiled Species

The Trump administration is moving to restrict what land and water areas can be declared as "habitat" for imperiled plants and animals—potentially excluding locations that species could use in the future as climate change upends ecosystems.

An administration proposal obtained in advance by The Associated Press and publicly released Friday would for the first time define "habitat" for purposes of enforcing the Endangered Species Act, the landmark law that has dictated species protections efforts in the U.S. since 1973.

A final decision is expected by year's end, with broad implications for how lands are managed and how far the government must go in protecting plants and animals that could be sliding toward extinction.

Democratic lawmakers and wildlife advocates said the proposal ignores shifting threats to wildlife and plants due to climate change and habitat loss.

It follows other steps under Trump to scale back or alter endangered species rules, including lifting blanket protections for animals newly listed as threatened and setting cost estimates for saving species.

Legal observers said the Republican administration's two-sentence definition of habitat would limit what areas the government can designate as critical to a species' survival.

Its declaration that habitat includes areas with "existing attributes" appears to rule out land or water needing restoration work or sites that could become suitable in the future as climate change forces species to relocate, said J.B. Ruhl with Vanderbilt University Law School.

"To me, they are clearly trying to rule out restoration and climate change," Ruhl said.

... Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva, a Democrat, said if the Friday's proposal had been in place decades ago, iconic species such as the bald eagle would not have recovered widely, and instead would be limited to scattered patches of land.

"The purpose of the Endangered Species Act is to help endangered species flourish and expand back into their former habitat." said Grijalva, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee.

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: COVID-19
« on: August 01, 2020, 01:06:59 AM »
Nobody Knows Who Is In Charge of the Vaccine Plan?

“[P]ublic health officials and senior U.S. lawmakers are sounding alarms about the Trump administration’s lack of planning for its nationwide distribution,” Reuters reports. Cutting to the quick: “Right now, it is unclear who in Washington is in charge of oversight, much less any critical details, some state health officials and members of Congress told Reuters.”

President Trump disagrees, telling reporters on Thursday, “We are way ahead on vaccines, way ahead on therapeutics and when we have it we are all set with our platforms to deliver them very, very quickly.” (Granted, that comes from the man who has claimed the virus would simply go away at least 22 separate times so far.)

The rest / Re: Arctic Café
« on: July 31, 2020, 10:05:22 PM »
Inception: Psychologists Show That Embedding Primes In a Person's Speech Can Influence People's Decision Making

A pair of psychologists at Goldsmiths, University of London has found that embedding primes in a person's speech and gestures can influence people's decision-making. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Alice Pailhès and Gustav Kuhn describe experiments they conducted with volunteers and primes and what they learned from them.

In both psychology and magic circles, primes are known as actions or words that unconsciously influence the thinking of another person. One example is a policeman interrogating a witness tapping his ring while inquiring about jewelry a suspect might have been wearing. It is a technique magicians have used for years. They prime a person or audience by giving them subtle verbal or physical clues to get them to choose a number during a guessing trick, or a card during a card trick. In this new effort, the researchers tested the practice to see if it actually works.

Alice Pailhès et al. Influencing choices with conversational primes: How a magic trick unconsciously influences card choices, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2020)

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