And they come with no warning,
nature loves her little surprises.
Continual crisis!

Friday, July 17, 2020

Linkee-poo Friday

"The first images from ESA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter are now available to the public, including the closest pictures ever taken of the Sun."

"With 32,695 new coronavirus cases, India broke its own record Thursday for the virus's biggest daily spike… India has been setting such records almost daily. Only the United States and Brazil have had more infections."

"Over 100 prominent scientists, including 15 Nobel laureates, are calling for healthy volunteers to be exposed to the coronavirus to see whether vaccines against Covid-19 actually work." This is ethically a hazard. So let's say the vaccine only provides limited protection, you are now giving people a potential death sentence for just participating in the study (as some of the participants are given a placebo vaccine, but you have to expose everyone to the coronavirus). I wonder if they fully explained that to those people who "volunteered"? Also, "scientists and Nobel laureates" does not mean "doctors and medical ethics." This is also especially fraught when we don't fully understand the effects and affects of being infected with SARS-CoV2.

"But members of the NIH's Accelerating Covid-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines (ACTIV) Vaccines Working Group said earlier this month that challenge trials would not speed up vaccine development… They said it would be unethical to organize an experiment in which people were deliberately infected unless there were a rescue therapy -- a treatment that can save lives -- which does not exist for coronavirus."

And, again, there is so much we don't know about this disease. Such as… "Experts agree that claims of recurring infections require more study since we are only months into the health crisis and evidence has been anecdotal. But if it's proven that recovered patients can 'catch' the virus a second time, it would affect their own immunity while also complicating efforts to obtain the Holy Grail of current medical research: effective vaccines." The key isn't the level of antibodies in the blood after infection, which will normally decrease over time. The key is how well and how effective your immune memory cells (T and B cells IIRC) learn to fight the infection, and the virus' mutation rate.

"An unpublished document prepared for the White House coronavirus task force and obtained by the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit newsroom, recommends that 18 states in the coronavirus 'red zone' for cases should roll back reopening measures amid surging cases." And now you know why they changed the reporting hierarchy from CDC to HHS.

Also, "Previously public data has already disappeared from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website after the Trump administration quietly shifted control of the information to the Department of Health and Human Services."

"Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp urged residents Friday to wear a face mask when in public, two days after he blocked local officials from enforcing their own rules to further prevent the spread of Covid-19." But he won't make it mandatory.

In the UK… "Councils in England will get new powers from Saturday to force owners to shut pubs, cafes, shops and restaurants in areas hit by coronavirus outbreaks… Boris Johnson said local authorities would also be able to close public places, like parks, and cancel events."

"Boris Johnson has said that life in the UK could return to 'normality' with all remaining coronavirus social-distancing restrictions removed in time for Christmas." It's so cute when they're unrealistically optimist, aren't they?

Not sure if I posted this yesterday or not… "On the one hand, it is clear that the transition to online school has led to serious setbacks in learning in the spring, especially for students who are already at a disadvantage in the school system. For example, researchers found that after the shift online, student math progress declined by about half at schools in low-income zip codes, but not at all in schools in high-income areas, according to the New York Times." Hey, remember that "digital divide" problem we didn't solve in the 90s?

"Federal law enforcement officers have been using unmarked vehicles to drive around downtown Portland and detain protesters since at least July 14. Personal accounts and multiple videos posted online show the officers driving up to people, detaining individuals with no explanation of why they are being arrested, and driving off." Federal officers should tread carefully here. There are rules, and they don't seem to be abiding by them. Failure to follow those rules leaves the officers personally liable and affords them no protection for their actions. They will, of course, retroactively try to enforce their rights. But without identifying yourself by insignia or by voice, by not answering for cause (as in you have to be told why you're being arrested as you are being arrested if you ask), your actions could be found to be extra judicial (again, depending on who brings what lawyers). In that case, you have no expectation of safety or cooperation. This is a dangerous escalation and very well might be unlawful.

"Political leaders in Oregon have accused President Donald Trump of interfering in Portland's handling of widespread protests and riots in the wake of George Floyd's death as a political stunt to rally his base ahead of the November election." Without permission, or a declared emergency, this is illegal.

Meanwhile, on Bullshit Mountain… "Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf on Thursday accused Portland politicians of enabling the 'mob' of protesters who have besieged the city for more than six weeks -- and posted a lengthy timeline of the damage caused by 'violent anarchists.'"

"The sculpture of a Black Lives Matter protester that appeared on a plinth formerly occupied by a statue of a slave trader, which was torn down and thrown into a river last month in Bristol, England, was removed Thursday by the city. The city of Bristol has not yet officially decided what to do with the plinth on which a statue of Edward Colston previously stood."

"Twitter (TWTR) accounts belonging to Joe Biden, Bill Gates, Elon Musk and Apple, among other prominent handles, were compromised on Wednesday in what Twitter said it believes to be an attack on some of its employees with access to the company's internal tools."

"First-time applications for unemployment benefits topped 1.3 million last week, marking a continued pain point in the nation's economic recovery after 17 straight weeks of job losses in the millions."

"The Commerce Department said on Thursday retail sales rose 7.5% last month. That was on top of the 18.2% jump in May, which was the biggest gain since the government started tracking the series in 1992. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast retail sales advancing 5% in June."

"On July 9, Bridger jumped into action when a 1-year-old old German shepherd mix charged toward his 4-year-old sister, a statement from the family obtained by CNN states. While shielding his sister he was brutally attacked by the dog."

"As Captain America and leader of the Avengers, Chris Evans knows a real-life superhero when he sees one… He added that he'd send Bridger 'an authentic Captain America shield because pal, you deserve it.'"

"A year after Congress approved emergency humanitarian funds meant to benefit asylum-seekers apprehended along the border with Mexico, a government watchdog report released Wednesday finds that some of that money got spent instead on things from dirt bikes to dog food to security camera systems." It's time for a housecleaning at CBP.

"Former Rep. Trey Gowdy was working with President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani last summer when Giuliani secured a meeting at the Justice Department with Attorney General William Barr and senior Department of Justice officials on behalf of a Venezuelan client, according to newly disclosed documents… The September 2019 meeting at the Justice Department happened one month before Gowdy was briefly named to Trump's impeachment defense, though the South Carolina Republican ultimately did not join Trump's legal team." Would you look at that swamp. My how it has grown.

"An estimated 1.4 million people listening to Morning Edition on Friday, June 26, heard U.S. Attorney General Barr falsely declare that mail-in ballots will jeopardize the security of the upcoming presidential election."

"One day after winning the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate, Tommy Tuberville said he would probably agree to a debate with Sen. Doug Jones but did not say it was a sure thing." Republicans know that debates are more than likely a loser for them, so unless they're in trouble or it's very close, they won't risk it.

"President Donald Trump’s troubled re-election bid entered a new phase on Thursday after a leadership shake-up put a longtime Republican political strategist in charge of resetting the campaign even as Trump refuses to show more discipline." Ah, we've reached the time where people start falling on their swords.

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