Thursday, April 30, 2020

Chicken poo is being used for crowd control now

Reuters Videos•April 30, 2020

A town in Sweden has found a sure fire way to keep social distancing, whether people want to or not -- ward them off with chicken poo.

That's right -- the university town of Lund has begun spreading the droppings in its central park to put off any would-be revellers that show up to celebrate Walpurgis Night on Thursday (April 30).


(SOUNDBITE)(Swedish) MAYOR AND CHAIRMAN OF LUND CITY COUNCIL, PHILIP SANDBERG, SAYING:"We don't want Lund to become some kind of an infection epicentre. Chicken manure has two effects - firstly it will smell which means that it won't be particularly nice to sit here behind me in the park today and have a picnic in the grass but it's also good for the lawn and good for the park. It contains a lot of nitrogen and phosphorus so we're taking the opportunity to do a lot of maintenance work in the park today."


Hitler Was Incompetent and Lazy—and His Nazi Government Was an Absolute Clown Show

His description of Hitler's way of governing sounds very much like Trump's.

Tom Phillips
On 4/30/19 at 5:22 AM EDT

The below is an excerpt from HUMANS: A Brief History of How We F*cked It All Up by Tom Phillips.

Look, I know what you're thinking. Putting Hitler in a book about the terrible mistakes we've made as a species isn't exactly the boldest move ever. "Oh wow, never heard of him, what a fascinating historical nugget" is something you're probably not saying right now.

But beyond him being (obviously) a genocidal maniac, there's an aspect to Hitler's rule that kind of gets missed in our standard view of him. Even if popular culture has long enjoyed turning him into an object of mockery, we still tend to believe that the Nazi machine was ruthlessly efficient, and that the great dictator spent most of his time…well, dictating things.

So it's worth remembering that Hitler was actually an incompetent, lazy egomaniac and his government was an absolute clown show.
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In fact, this may even have helped his rise to power, as he was consistently underestimated by the German elite. Before he became chancellor, many of his opponents had dismissed him as a joke for his crude speeches and tacky rallies. Even after elections had made the Nazis the largest party in the Reichstag, people still kept thinking that Hitler was an easy mark, a blustering idiot who could easily be controlled by smart people.

Why did the elites of Germany so consistently underestimate Hitler? Possibly because they weren't actually wrong in their assessment of his competency—they just failed to realise that this wasn't enough to stand in the way of his ambition. As it would turn out, Hitler was really bad at running a government. As his own press chief Otto Dietrich later wrote in his memoir The Hitler I Knew, "In the twelve years of his rule in Germany Hitler produced the biggest confusion in government that has ever existed in a civilized state."


We tend to assume that when something awful happens there must have been some great controlling intelligence behind it. It's understandable: how could things have gone so wrong, we think, if there wasn't an evil genius pulling the strings? The downside of this is that we tend to assume that if we can't immediately spot an evil genius, then we can all chill out a bit because everything will be fine.

But history suggests that's a mistake, and it's one that we make over and over again. Many of the worst man-made events that ever occurred were not the product of evil geniuses. Instead they were the product of a parade of idiots and lunatics, incoherently flailing their way through events, helped along the way by overconfident people who thought they could control them.

U.S. reports 66,000 more deaths than expected so far this year

By Lenny Bernstein
April 29, 2020 at 9:20 p.m. EDT

The United States has suffered at least 66,000 more deaths than expected this year, a toll that includes the devastation directly caused by the coronavirus pandemic and a sharp rise in fatalities not attributed to the virus, the government reported late Wednesday.

The new report from the National Center for Health Statistics shows 33,756 covid-19 deaths and 32,325 from all other causes since Jan. 1. Other causes include heart attacks, accidents, overdoses, cancer and a wide variety of other fatal diseases. It also could include people who died of covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, at home but whose deaths were incorrectly attributed to another cause.

The numbers are almost certainly a substantial undercount of the actual total. The report notes that information on the cause of deaths can take as long as eight weeks to reach the federal government and be tallied.

On Wednesday, the death toll from the coronavirus alone passed 60,000 since Feb. 29, according to data collected by The Washington Post.


The numbers paint a statistical portrait of the national devastation of the past 120 days. There have been more than 17,000 excess deaths in New York City alone, 10,000 more in New York state and nearly 8,000 in New Jersey. Pennsylvania, Michigan, Virginia and Massachusetts all suffered more than 2,000 excess deaths.

West Virginia, which has reported just 40 coronavirus deaths, nevertheless has suffered 2,182 excess deaths so far this year, according to the new data. California has experienced just 807. At the bottom of the list, Hawaii and Nevada have seen 12 each.


Breastfeeding helps prevent mothers from developing diabetes after childbirth

News Release 29-Apr-2020
The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)

A team of South Korean researchers found that lactation can lower the incidence and reduce the risk of maternal postpartum diabetes. The researchers identified that lactation increases the mass and function of pancreatic beta cells through serotonin production. The team suggested that sustained improvements in pancreatic beta cells, which can last for years even after the cessation of lactation, improve mothers' metabolic health in addition to providing health benefits for infants.


Drug reduces the risk of child sexual abuse

News Release 29-Apr-2020
Karolinska Institutet

A drug that lowers levels of the male hormone testosterone in the body reduces the risk of men with pedophilic disorder sexually abusing children, a study from Karolinska Institutet published today in the journal JAMA Psychiatry shows.

About one in ten girls and one in twenty boys are sexually abused, primarily at the hands of men with pedophilic disorder. Despite law enforcement, technical and political initiatives, the rate of child sexual abuse continues to rise, above all that committed online. There is therefore a pressing need for effective and scientifically proven treatments for people at risk of committing sexual offence.

Researchers at Karolinska Institutet and Gothenburg University in Sweden have now evaluated the effect of a drug called degarelix, which is approved for the treatment of prostate cancer. The drug acts by switching off the production of testosterone, reducing within a matter of hours the levels of the hormone in the body, and is administered by injection every three months.


tags: child abuse

Florida ordered coroners to stop releasing coronavirus death data: report

By Zack Budryk - 04/29/20 03:07 PM EDT

Florida officials have reportedly withheld medical examiners’ data on coronavirus deaths in the state for over a week, with the policy changing shortly after the Tampa Bay Times reported that the medical examiners were counting 10 percent more deaths than the state.

Stephen Nelson, the chairman of the state Medical Examiners Commission, told the Tampa Bay Times that the state health department intervened and told him it planned to remove causes of death and case descriptions from mortality data.

Nelson told the newspaper the data is meaningless without that information, and the entirety of the list should be considered public information.


In March, the agency attempted to persuade the Miami-Dade County medical examiner’s office to restrict access to death records, according to the Times, citing correspondence between the two agencies. The county ultimately released the records, including the names of the dead.

Hillsborough County, meanwhile, refused to release records for weeks before eventually releasing a list on Tuesday of those identified as dying from the virus after questioning from the newspaper. The Palm Beach County Medical Examiner, which previously provided a spreadsheet of coronavirus-related deaths, was directed by county attorneys last week to stop releasing it, according to the Times.

“I was actually taken aback when they called us,” Paul Petrino, the Palm Beach County office’s operations manager, told the newspaper, saying the office considers the release of the information essential to providing the public with information.


Jay-Z takes action against 'deepfakes' of him rapping Hamlet and Billy Joel

Ben Beaumont-Thomas
Published on Wed 29 Apr 2020 05.13 EDT

Jay-Z’s company Roc Nation have filed takedown notices against “deepfake” videos that use artificial intelligence to make him rap Billy Joel’s We Didn’t Start the Fire and Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” soliloquy.

The anonymous creator of the YouTube-hosted videos, known as Vocal Synthesis, has said that copyright notices were filed by Roc Nation, stating: “This content unlawfully uses an AI to impersonate our client’s voice.” The two aforementioned videos have been removed, though others remain, including one of the rapper taking on the Book of Genesis.


Deepfakes differ from so-called “cheapfakes”, which don’t involve AI and instead feature re-edited footage with the aim of distorting the truth. Famous examples include a video of Nancy Pelosi doctored to make her look drunk, and one of Keir Starmer created by the Tory party for social media where he appeared unable to answer a question. Posting on Twitter this week, Donald Trump shared a fake gif of Joe Biden sticking his tongue out.


Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Good News on Mortgages: You Won't Have a Huge Lump Sum Due If You Seek Relief

Scott Medintz
,Consumer Reports•April 29, 2020

t's a classic good news, bad news, good news story.

In early April, many people needing help paying their mortgage because of financial woes caused by the coronavirus crisis were heartened to learn that they could hold off payments for a year without any late fees or extra charges, thanks to the recently passed $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

But when they contacted their mortgage companies to avail themselves of the provision, they were told about a big catch: They’d have to make up any skipped payments, in full, as soon as the forbearance period was up.


But the message these consumers were hearing—that they’d owe a lump-sum payment at the end of the forbearance period—was incorrect. The vast majority of homeowners who accept a COVID-related forbearance will be offered less painful ways to get current on their home loans.


most homeowners who accept forbearance will ultimately be offered an alternative repayment plan that does not require a large lump-sum payment. Per Fannie and Freddie guidance, servicers of federally backed mortgages are instructed to contact borrowers around 30 days before their forbearance ends to determine an appropriate “workout option.”

Depending on the borrower’s financial situation, such options will likely include simply adding the missed payments to the end of the mortgage, which many consumer advocates believe to be the best option for many consumers who can afford to restart their monthly payment. “It’s the simplest, cleanest way to do it, for everyone involved,” Sitkin says.

Others will be asked to catch up to the original payment schedule by resuming their full monthly payments and making modest extra payments over a period of, say, one or two years.

Borrowers who are unable to resume full payments, meanwhile, could be required to go through a formal loan modification process, where their payments are lowered and the term extended further into the future.

Those unable to pay anything going forward, unfortunately, may lose their homes to foreclosure.


Keep in mind that these guidelines, like the forbearance provisions of the CARES Act, apply only to federally backed mortgages
. (If you aren’t sure if that includes your mortgage, read our article How to Get Help With Your Mortgage During the Coronavirus Pandemic or call your servicer.)


The unexpected way COVID-19 is screwing up weather reports

I heard a report on NPR today about how the lack of weather measurements from docked cruise ships is hurting our ability to measure weather conditions in the ocean, and thus the accuracy of weather reports. Couldn't find it on the internet yet, but found this, which discusses the same problem because of fewer airplane flights, where weather measurements are also made. Eg., hurricane predictions will be less accurate.

29 April 2020

The drop in airline operations across the US and around the world has had an impact on weather reporting, particular with the input flight crews make to the World Meteorological Organization’s Global Observing System, part of the World Weather Watch program. The WMO provides part of the architecture through which 193 member countries can build weather forecasts as well as monitor atmospheric and climate conditions.
According to a press release from the WMO, “some parts of the observing system are already affected. Most notably the significant decrease in air traffic has had a clear impact. In-flight measurements of ambient temperature and wind speed and direction are a very important source of information for both weather prediction and climate monitoring.”


Newport Folk And Jazz Festivals Canceled Due To Coronavirus

April 29, 20205:29 PM ET
Anastasia Tsioulcas

On Wednesday, two storied, sibling American music festivals — the Newport Folk Festival and the Newport Jazz Festival — announced that they are being canceled for 2020, due to coronavirus concerns. Each event is scheduled to return in the summer of 2021.


Fans who have bought tickets to either festival can receive a full refund, apply their purchase to 2021 tickets, or donate all or part of their purchase to the festivals' not-for-profit foundation.






How Many Adults Are at Risk of Serious Illness If Infected with Coronavirus?

The article has interactive maps that allow you to see the number and percentage of people in a state who are at risk.

Wyatt Koma, Tricia Neuman , Gary Claxton, Matthew Rae , Jennifer Kates, and Josh Michaud
Published: Apr 23, 2020

As the number of people in the U.S. with coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues to grow, there is increasing concern for adults who have a higher risk of developing serious illness if they are infected. The majority of people who become infected are expected to be asymptomatic or recover without needing special treatment, according to the World Health Organization. However, based on the most current information made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), older people and younger adults with serious medical conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, asthma and obesity have a greater risk of becoming severely ill if they get infected with coronavirus. CDC has issued specific guidance for people who fall into these categories.


Key Findings

About four in ten adults (37.6%) ages 18 and older in the U.S. (92.6 million people) have a higher risk of developing serious illness if they become infected with coronavirus, due to their older age (65 and older) or health condition (Figure 1; Table 1).

Just over half of those at higher risk of developing a serious illness are ages 65 and older (55.2% or 51.1 million adults); however, the remaining 41.4 million adults ages 18-64 are at risk due to an underlying medical condition.

The share of adults ages 18 and older who have a higher risk of developing a more serious illness varies across the country, ranging from 49.3 percent (West Virginia) to 30 percent (Utah).

In some of the states with the highest number of reported coronavirus cases thus far, the share of adults at high risk of serious illness if infected is relatively high: Louisiana and Florida (at 42.1 percent, each) and Michigan (41.2 percent).

An estimated 5.1 million adults who are at higher risk of getting a serious illness if they become infected with coronavirus are uninsured.


Coronavirus testing chief says ‘no way on Earth’ US can test 5 million a day, despite what Trump says

William Feuer
Christina Wilkie
Published Wed, Apr 29 202010:03 AM EDTUpdated Wed, Apr 29 20201:52 PM EDT

There’s “no way on Earth” the U.S. can test 5 million people a day for the coronavirus, the government’s top testing official said in an interview, just hours before President Donald Trump vowed that the country would be able to test that many people daily “very soon.”

“There is absolutely no way on Earth, on this planet or any other planet, that we can do 20 million tests a day, or even five million tests a day,” Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary of health who is in charge of the government’s testing response, told TIME in an interview he gave Tuesday morning that was published later in the evening. The interview took place before Trump’s eye-popping pledge about testing.

Speaking to reporters the following day, Trump denied having said there would be 5 million tests per day, but he added that he does believe there will, in fact, be 5 million tests per day at some point.


The U.S. will be able to test 8 million per month by May, Giroir told Time.


The U.S. has run just 5.7 million total Covid-19 tests since the beginning of the pandemic, according to data compiled by the Covid Tracking Project. The most tests the nation has run on a single day was 314,182 on April 22, according to the volunteer project designed to track testing data launched last month by The Atlantic.


The capacity to test broadly for Covid-19 will be key to preventing a resurgence of the virus as states ease restrictions and reopen businesses, public health specialists and state officials have repeatedly said.


'It’s horrific': coronavirus kills nearly 70 at Massachusetts veterans' home

I would say that politicians and taxpayers whose highest value is paying less taxes are at least partly to blame.

Associated Press
Tue 28 Apr 2020 20.53 EDT

Nearly 70 residents sickened with the coronavirus have died at a Massachusetts home for ageing veterans, as state and federal officials try to figure out what went wrong in the deadliest known outbreak at a long-term care facility in the US.

While the death toll at the state-run Holyoke Soldiers’ Home continues to climb, federal officials are investigating whether residents were denied proper medical care and the state’s top prosecutor is deciding whether to bring legal action.


The superintendent, Bennett Walsh, said this month that state officials knew that the home was in “crisis mode” when it came to staffing shortages and were notified early and often about the contagion at the facility.

Staffing problems that plagued the home for years contributed to the virus spreading like wildfire, said Joan Miller, a nurse at the home.

Because staffing was so tight, workers from one unit were constantly moving to others to help out – and bringing their germs with them, she said. At one point, a unit was shut down because there wasn’t enough staff to operate it, and those veterans were moved into close quarters in other parts of the building, she said.


“Geriatricians and experts in long-term care medicine were sounding alarms at the beginning of March and we’ve essentially been ignored by everyone: federal, state, local government and the nursing home industry,” he said.

There is currently no official count of nursing home deaths across the country. The federal government has only recently required the nation’s more than 15,000 nursing homes to start reporting numbers of confirmed and presumed deaths and infections, but it is not yet clear when that count will be published.

In the meantime, the Associated Press has been compiling its own tally from state health departments and media reports, finding at least 13,762 deaths from outbreaks in nursing homes and long-term care facilities across the country.

But that is probably an undercount because only about half the states are currently reporting nursing home deaths and not all count those who died without being tested for Covid-19.

Ruptured Heart Caused First COVID-19 Death in U.S., Autopsy States

By Kashmira Gander On 4/28/20 at 7:50 AM EDT

A California woman who is thought to be the first person to die of COVID-19 in the U.S. suffered a ruptured heart, according to an autopsy report.

Patricia Dowd, 57, died on February 6, 2020, the report exclusively obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle stated.

The autopsy report signed by medical examiner Dr. Susan Parson said that Dowd complained of flu-like symptoms in the days leading up to her death. Dowd was described as "mildy obese" but had no known underlying conditions. The document showed that as well as her heart, COVID-19 had spread to her trachea, lungs, and intestines. Parson found evidence that Dowd's left ventricle had ruptured, and this was linked to COVID-19.


Melinek told The Mercury News: "The immune system was attacking the virus and in attacking the virus, it damaged the heart and then the heart basically burst."


Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Work-related stress linked to increased risk for peripheral artery disease

News Release 28-Apr-2020
American Heart Association

People who reported work-related stress were more likely to be hospitalized for peripheral artery disease compared to those who did not report work-related stress, according to new research published today in the Journal of the American Heart Association, an open access journal of the American Heart Association.


Work-related stress, or job strain, refers to psychological and social stress at work, often from high expectations combined with lower levels of personal control. Previous studies have linked work-related stress to other forms of atherosclerotic disease;


Researchers found that people with work-related stress were 1.4 times as likely as those without work-related stress to have a record of peripheral artery disease in the hospitalization register, after adjusting for age, sex and lifestyle variables.

"Our findings suggest that work-related stress may be a risk factor for peripheral artery disease in a similar way as it is for heart disease and stroke," said lead study author Katriina Heikkilä, Ph.D., senior researcher at the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm.


1 in 7 Americans would avoid care for suspected COVID-19 fearing cost of treatment

News Release 28-Apr-2020
West Health Institute

About 1 in 7 Americans say they would avoid seeking medical care if they experienced key symptoms associated with COVID-19 out of fear of the potential cost. Another six percent - representing about 15 million people - report that they or a family member have been denied medical care for some other health issue due to heavy volume brought on by the coronavirus outbreak.


When presented with a scenario in which they experience a fever and a dry cough, telltale signs of COVID-19, 14% of U.S. adults say they would avoid seeking medical attention due to cost. Even when asked to specifically suspect themselves infected with coronavirus, 9% would still avoid treatment, suggesting gaps in insurance coverage, poor finances or incomplete knowledge of the key symptoms of COVID-19. More than 20% of adults under 30, non-whites, those with a high school education or less and those in households with incomes under $40,000 per year were the groups most likely to avoid care.


Although race does not strongly relate to be being denied care, income level is strongly inversely related. While 3% of those with annual household incomes exceeding $100,000 report such occurrences, this jumps to 11% of those with incomes of under $40,000 - nearly four times higher.

The survey did not identify healthcare consumers' reasons for seeking care - respondents could have been feeling symptoms related to COVID-19, experiencing symptoms related to other conditions or attending routine treatments.


Childhood obesity and high blood pressure warn of future heart disease

News Release 28-Apr-2020
European Society of Cardiology

A large study in adolescents and children, some as young as 3 years of age, shows a link between obesity, high blood pressure, and later damage to blood vessels.


Experts at UTHealth successfully treat severe case of COVID-19 in 3-week-old infant

News Release 28-Apr-2020
University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

In one of the first reported cases of its kind, a 3-week-old infant in critical condition recovered from COVID-19 due to rapid recognition and treatment by physicians from McGovern Medical School at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). The case was published April 22 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

As more data is released on COVID-19, the original belief that pediatric patients are spared from the worst of the disease has been disproven.

"We are still so early in the research and data available on COVID-19, and as providers, we need to be aware that children can get critically ill from this virus," said Alvaro Coronado Munoz, MD, first author and assistant professor of pediatric critical care medicine at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth. "It's important for parents to understand that they should not delay seeking care for their children if there's any presence of fever or trouble breathing."


The child first presented at a local hospital with nasal congestion, rapid breathing, and reduced eating. Physicians there recorded a temperature of 97.0 degrees, high pulse rate, and low oxygen saturation. The child was transferred to a pediatric intensive care unit, and Coronado and other team members were alerted. Upon arrival, the child had low blood pressure and hypothermia, as well as continued rapid heart rate and breathing. Lung X-rays revealed opacity and collapse in one of the upper lobes, indications of pneumonia.

As it was early in the pandemic, it would take a week for test results from a nasal swab to return as positive for the coronavirus, but physicians did not wait before moving into a COVID-19 action plan for the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU).


On day nine, the infant had recovered and was sent home without supplemental oxygen.


Heart disease more likely for adults with dysfunctional childhoods

News Release 28-Apr-2020
Northwestern University

Children who experience trauma, abuse, neglect and family dysfunction are at increased risk of having heart disease in their 50s and 60s, according to a new Northwestern Medicine study.

Results from the study showed people exposed to the highest levels of childhood family environment adversity were more than 50 percent more likely to have a cardiovascular disease event such as a heart attack or stroke over a 30-year follow-up.


Children who experience this type of adversity are predisposed to higher rates of lifelong stress, smoking, anxiety, depression and sedentary lifestyle that persist into adulthood. These can lead to increased body mass index (BMI), diabetes, increased blood pressure, vascular dysfunction and inflammation.

"This population of adults is much more likely to partake in risky behaviors - for example, using food as a coping mechanism, which can lead to problems with weight and obesity," said first author Jacob Pierce, a fourth-year medical student at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. "They also have higher rates of smoking, which has a direct link to cardiovascular disease."


"Social and economic support for young children in the United States, which is low by the standards of other developed countries, has the biggest 'bang for the buck' of any social program."


tags: child abuse

A new analysis of coronavirus deaths suggests that official tolls are massively undercounting all over the world

No surprise.

Sinéad Baker
Apr 27, 2020, 7:18 AM

A new analysis of coronavirus deaths in 14 countries found that official death tolls are likely massively understating the true scale of the pandemic.

The Financial Times studied the number of deaths from all causes in 14 countries in March and April, then compared that figure with the average for the same period between 2015 and 2019. It concluded that the difference between the two was a reasonable estimate of how many extra deaths the pandemic had caused.

The Financial Times found that the death toll calculated this way was almost 60% higher than the various countries' official death tolls: a total of 122,000 deaths above normal levels, compared with 77,000 from the official numbers.

It has long been clear that official figures — usually from national health ministries — are not capturing all the deaths from the pandemic. Some governments, for instance, do not include deaths in care homes.

The Financial Times said its figure might also capture deaths that are indirectly attributable to the virus — for example, people who died of other health problems because national systems were overwhelmed with virus patients.

But it said most were directly related to the virus. "Excess mortality has risen most steeply in places suffering the worst COVID-19 outbreaks, suggesting most of these deaths are directly related to the virus rather than simply side-effects of lockdowns," the report said.


It found that New York City had at least a 200% rise in deaths and that Madrid had a 161% increase.


And some countries already have glaring omissions from their reported death tolls.

For example, some of the UK's official data includes only the deaths in hospitals.


Other research has found that the real death tolls in China, Italy, and the US may be at least 10 times as high.

Social Security Beneficiaries: Here's When You'll Get Your Stimulus Check

Katie Brockman
Apr 27, 2020 at 12:01PM


Here's when you can expect to receive your stimulus money if you're collecting Social Security benefits.

The first people to receive their stimulus checks will be the ones who have their direct deposit information on file with the IRS. In that case, the IRS will simply deposit your stimulus check straight to your bank account.

If you're receiving your Social Security benefits via direct deposit, your bank account information should already be on file. The IRS is working with the Social Security Administration to determine who is eligible to receive a check and where that check should be sent, so you shouldn't need to do anything to get your payment.


Whether you receive your check in a matter of days or months will depend on your income. The IRS is sending checks in a particular order, with the lowest-income individuals receiving theirs first. If you fall into that category, you can likely expect to receive your check relatively soon. But if your income falls closer to the $99,000 per year income limit (or $198,000 per year for married couples), you might not receive your check until late August or early September. If your income falls somewhere in the middle, you'll likely receive your check sometime this summer.


Coronavirus Has Now Killed More Americans Than Vietnam War

David Welna
April 28, 20205:55 PM ET

In not even three months since the first known U.S. deaths from COVID-19, more lives have now been lost to the coronavirus pandemic on U.S. soil than the 58,220 Americans who died over nearly two decades in Vietnam.

Early Tuesday evening ET, the U.S. death toll reached 58,365, according to Johns Hopkins University.

While the number of lives lost in the U.S. during the pandemic and the U.S. death toll in that war are roughly the same now, the death rate from the coronavirus in America is considerably higher. It now stands at about 17.6 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants.

During 1968, the deadliest year for the U.S. in Vietnam, the death toll of 16,899 occurred at about half the pandemic's rate — 8.5 troops were killed for every 100,000 U.S. residents.

The pandemic has also been marked by nationwide death tolls surpassing 2,000 on six days this month. The highest daily toll for Americans fighting in the Vietnam War was on Jan. 31, 1968, when 246 U.S. personnel were killed during the Tet Offensive.


A closer parallel to the total of lives lost so far to the pandemic in the U.S. may be the 2017-2018 flu season, the deadliest in the past decade. There were 61,000 influenza-related deaths nationally reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for a roughly eight-month period.

Insights into why loud noise is bad for your health

In my neighborhood, the noise comes from people's boomboxes.

News Release 27-Apr-2020
Experimental Biology

Whether it is loud machinery at work, a busy freeway or a nearby airport, many people are exposed to high levels of noise. Two new mouse studies provide new insight into how this type of noise exposure can lead to high blood pressure and cancer-related DNA damage.

"Large studies have linked noise exposure to health problems in people," said Matthias Oelze, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at the University Medical Center of Mainz in Germany. "Our new data provides additional mechanistic insights into these adverse health effects, especially high blood pressure and potentially cancer development, both leading causes of global death."


Oelze and colleagues found that healthy mice exposed to four days of aircraft noise were more likely to develop high blood pressure. For mice with pre-established high blood pressure, this noise exposure aggravated heart damage because of a synergistic increase of oxidative stress and inflammation in the cardiovascular and neuronal systems.

In another study, the researchers observed that the same noise exposure induced oxidative DNA damage in mice. This damage led to a highly mutagenic DNA lesion that was previously associated with the development of cancer in other settings.


Increasing green spaces in cities could prevent many premature deaths every year

News Release 27-Apr-2020
Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal)

Increasing the tree canopy to 30% of land area in the city of Philadelphia (United States) could prevent over 400 premature deaths across the city every year and yield an estimated annual economic benefit of almost four billion dollars. This is the conclusion of a study published in the journal The Lancet Planetary Health, which has, for the first time, analysed the impact of increasing green spaces on premature mortality in an entire city.


"Although every city has its own characteristics, this study provides an example for all the cities in the world: many lives can be saved by increasing trees and greening urban environments, even at modest levels" concludes Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, the study coordinator and director of ISGlobal's Urban Planning, Environment and Health Initiative. "What's more," he adds "green spaces increase biodiversity and reduce the impact of climate change, making our cities more sustainable and more liveable".

The study also showed that neighbourhoods with a low socioeconomic level would benefit most from any increase in green spaces. "Many of the deaths prevented would be in the poorest areas of the city, even with a moderate increase in the number of trees," comments Kondo.

Philadelphia is the poorest of the ten largest cities in the United States and its mortality rate is higher than the national average. "Urban reforestation programmes are not only essential for improving public health, they are also a way to reduce health inequities and promote environmental justice," she adds.

Antibiotic exposure can 'prime' single-resistant bacteria to become multidrug-resistant

News Release 27-Apr-2020
University of Washington

Antibiotics save lives -- but using them also helps antibiotic-resistant strains evolve and spread. Each year, antibiotic-resistant bacteria infect some 2.8 million people in the United States, killing more than 35,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Infections by multidrug-resistant -- or MDR -- bacteria, which are resistant to two or more antibiotics, are particularly difficult to treat.

Scientists at the University of Washington and the University of Idaho have discovered just how readily MDR bacteria can emerge. In a paper published April 6 in Nature Ecology & Evolution, the researchers report that, for a bacterial pathogen already resistant to an antibiotic, prolonged exposure to that antibiotic not only boosted its ability to retain its resistance gene, but also made the pathogen more readily pick up and maintain resistance to a second antibiotic and become a MDR strain.

The team's experiments indicate that prolonged exposure to one type of antibiotic essentially "primed" the bacteria. This priming effect made it more likely that the bacteria would acquire resistance to additional antibiotics, even in the absence of further antibiotic exposure, and helped the strain hold on to those antibiotic-resistance traits for generations.


Survey: Most Americans want government commitment to reduce inequality

News Release 27-Apr-2020
Lehigh University

A new poll finds that a majority of Americans say that the federal government should commit to reducing economic inequality in this country over the next year, considering the spread of coronavirus in the United States and its impact on the economy and the American people.

A national survey conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Lehigh University of 2,018 Americans, conducted between April 7-9, 2020, finds that 78 percent of Americans agree that "considering the spread of coronavirus in the United States and its impact on the economy and the American people," it is "somewhat" or "very important" that "the U.S. government commit to reducing economic inequality" over the next year, through things like "raising the minimum wage" and "taxing households making more than $250,000 a year to guarantee health care coverage to all Americans who lack access." Only 22 percent feel reducing inequality through these actions is "not very important" or "not at all important."

As the polling data show, public attitudes on inequality reduction vary by income, age, and between renters and homeowners.


Disruptions in health insurance coverage are common and affect cancer care and survival

News Release 27-Apr-2020
American Cancer Society

A new study finds disruptions in health insurance coverage are common in the United States and are associated with poorer cancer care and survival. The study appears in JNCI: The Journal of the National Cancer institute.

For years, experts have known that lack of health insurance coverage is associated with poor access and receipt of cancer care and survival in the United States. Meanwhile, disruptions in coverage are common among low-income populations


To learn more, investigators led by Robin Yabroff of the American Cancer Society conducted a systematic review of studies of health insurance coverage disruptions and cancer care and outcomes published between 1980 and 2019. They identified 29 observational studies for analysis.

In those studies, from 4.3% to 32.8% of adults experienced coverage disruptions. Those with coverage disruptions were less likely to receive cancer prevention or screening, and if diagnosed with cancer, they were more likely to have advanced disease, were less likely to receive treatment, and have worse survival than their counterparts without coverage disruptions.

"Our findings were consistent across multiple cancer sites, with several studies finding a 'dose-response' relationship, meaning the longer the disruption, the worse the care," said Robin Yabroff, PhD, lead author of the study. "The consistency of these findings across the cancer control continuum in our review highlights how important it is to minimize breaks in health insurance coverage to address cancer disparities and promote health equity."

God Only Knows Where We'd Be Without You

I love the parodies by Founders Sing. They have really been inspired by the Covid-19 crisis.

Monday, April 27, 2020

'Another pandemic': In Latin America, domestic abuse rises amid lockdown

By Lucila Sigal, Natalia A. Ramos Miranda, Ana Isabel Martinez and Monica Machicao
,Reuters•April 27, 2020

Lockdowns around Latin America are helping slow the spread of COVID-19, but are having a darker and less-intended consequence: a spike in calls to helplines suggests a rise in domestic abuse, in a region where almost 20 million women and girls suffer sexual and physical violence each year.


Nurse dies from COVID-19 days before retirement

Caitlin O'Kane
,CBS News•April 27, 2020

A Kansas City nurse with 40 years of experience died from coronavirus last week — just days before her planned retirement, according to National Nurses United (NNU). In a press release, the union says Celia Yap Banago died of COVID-19 after contracting it from a patient she was treating. Now, NNU and some of Banago's coworkers are hoping her death raises awareness about the lack of personal protective equipment, or PPE, in hospitals.


National alert as ‘coronavirus-related condition may be emerging in children’

By Dave West
Health Service Journal
27 April 2020

An alert to GPs and seen by HSJ says that in the “last three weeks, there has been an apparent rise in the number of children of all ages presenting with a multisystem inflammatory state requiring intensive care across London and also in other regions of the UK”.

It adds: “There is a growing concern that a [covid-19] related inflammatory syndrome is emerging in children in the UK, or that there may be another, as yet unidentified, infectious pathogen associated with these cases.”

Little is known so far about the issue, nor how widespread it has been, but the absolute number of children affected is thought to be very small, according to paediatrics sources. The syndrome has the characteristics of serious covid-19, but there have otherwise been relatively few cases of serious effects or deaths from coronavirus in children. Some of the children have tested positive for covid-19, and some appear to have had the virus in the past, but some have not.

The fact that very few children have become seriously ill with the virus or died, compared to adults, remains the case.


Both messages said: “The cases have in common overlapping features of toxic shock syndrome and atypical Kawasaki Disease with blood parameters consistent with severe COVID-19 in children.

“Abdominal pain and gastrointestinal symptoms have been a common feature as has cardiac inflammation. This has been observed in children with confirmed PCR positive SARS-CoV-2 infection as well as children who are PCR negative. Serological evidence of possible preceding SARS-CoV-2 infection has also been observed.”


A disturbing new study suggests Sean Hannity’s show helped spread the coronavirus

By Zack Beauchamp Apr 22, 2020, 8:40am EDT

Using both a poll of Fox News viewers over age 55 and publicly available data on television-watching patterns, they calculate that Fox viewers who watched Hannity rather than Carlson were less likely to adhere to social distancing rules, and that areas where more people watched Hannity relative to Carlson had higher local rates of infection and death.

“Greater exposure to Hannity relative to Tucker Carlson Tonight leads to a greater number of COVID-19 cases and deaths,” they write. “A one-standard deviation increase in relative viewership of Hannity relative to Carlson is associated with approximately 30 percent more COVID-19 cases on March 14, and 21 percent more COVID-19 deaths on March 28.”


In the survey, they ask viewers which shows they watched and how much they watched them. They also asked when, if it all, they started changing their behavior in response to the outbreak — things like canceling their vacation plans, doing social distancing, and washing their hands with increased frequency.

They then ran a regression analysis to see if behavior changes correlated with any viewership patterns. It turned out that, when compared to viewers of other Fox News shows, both Hannity and Carlson fans were distinct and statistically significant outliers.

“Viewers of Hannity changed their behavior five days later than viewers of other shows,” they write. “Viewers of Tucker Carlson Tonight changed their behavior three days earlier than viewers of other shows.”


That’s where the second regression model comes in. It exploits a pattern the authors identified in television viewership: It tends to be highest 2.5 hours after the sun sets, regardless of what’s on the air. This makes sense: People like to be outside or doing other stuff during daylight hours, settle in at home to watch TV for a bit after the sun sets, and then tend to go to bed within a couple of hours.

Around the country, Carlson’s show is broadcast in the hour before Hannity’s. This sets up a random experiment: In counties where the sun sets earlier, Carlson viewership will be higher (and vice-versa when the sun sets later). This isn’t because people prefer Carlson to Hannity for any particular reason, but simply because they want to watch something on Fox and Carlson’s show happens to be on.

Studying this random pattern allows them to remove the possibility that it’s something about the kind of people who watch the shows, rather than the programing itself, that’s driving the results.

In a second regression incorporating the sunset data, focusing on media markets where Fox is popular while once again controlling for confounders, the relationship holds: Places where Hannity viewership is randomly higher than Carlson viewership tend to have higher rates of infection and deaths.

“Greater exposure to Hannity relative to Tucker Carlson Tonight increased the number of total cases and deaths in the initial stages of the coronavirus pandemic,” the authors conclude. “Our findings indicate that provision of misinformation in the early stages of a pandemic can have important consequences for health outcomes.”


Sunday, April 26, 2020

'A phantom plague': America's Bible Belt played down the pandemic and even cashed in. Now dozens of pastors are dead

Alex Woodward
~ April 24, 2020

Dozens of pastors across the Bible Belt have succumbed to coronavirus after churches and televangelists played down the pandemic and actively encouraged churchgoers to flout self-distancing guidelines.

As many as 30 church leaders from the nation's largest African American Pentecostal denomination have now been confirmed to have died in the outbreak, as members defied public health warnings to avoid large gatherings to prevent transmitting the virus.

Deaths across the US in areas where the Church of God in Christ has a presence have reportedly stemmed from funerals and other meetings among clergy and other church staff held during the pandemic.

The tragedy among one of the largest black Pentecostal groups follows a message of defiance from many American churches, particularly conservative Christian groups, to ignore state and local government mandates against group gatherings, with police increasingly called in to enforce the bans and hold preachers accountable.

The virus has had a wildly disproportionate impact among black congregations, many of which have relied on group worship.

Yet despite the climbing death toll, many US church leaders throughout the Bible Belt have not only continued to hold services but have urged worshippers to continue paying tithes — including recent stimulus checks — to support their mission.


Most congregations are following stay-at-home guidelines, according to recent polling that found that nearly 90 per cent of congregations have closed their churches and been encouraged to worship at home.But 20 per cent of parishioners say they're encouraged to attend in-person services, and another 17 per cent continue to do so. The survey found that evangelicals were more likely to report worshipping in person. In states with restrictions on attending church as well as those without, nearly a third of church-attending evangelicals said they continued to attend in person.


Reverend Spell has also directed parishioners to donate their federal stimulus checks — sent out earlier this month to support unemployed and under-employed Americans during the crisis — to his website.

Several other prominent evangelical leaders and televangelists on the Christian right, who rely on miraculous healing in their ministries, have also attempted to capitalise on the crisis.

Kenneth Copeland urged viewers to pay tithes despite losing their jobs amid unprecedented unemployment claims. Jim Bakker pleaded to viewers to donate to his ministry to avoid filing for bankruptcy after he was cut off from credit card processing companies for selling a fake coronavirus "cure" for $80.


Hospital charges

April 26, 2020

Some people are posting about hospitals charging more if someone is diagonsed with Covid-19.
A comment from another person on this issue:

They should.

You know how garages charge for mechanics’ time based on the average time for fixing your car’s particular problem? Medicare pays the same way.

Medicare has figured out the average cost per patient for thousands of different diagnoses: how many days the patient should spend in the hospital, the level of nursing care, the doctors’ various services for diagnosis and treatment, the cost of medications and supplies. Medicare hands the hospital that average payment, and for the most part it’s up to the hospital to get you well enough to go home for that amount of money.

COVID is so infectious that it requires hospitals to dedicate more space and more materials than it would for regular pneumonia. Because antibiotics generally cure pneumonia but not COVID, COVID takes longer in the hospital to resolve. Everything about it is more expensive, and there’s no conspiracy about it.

Medicare reviews charts to make sure diagnoses are accurate. A hospital may get away with a wrong diagnosis every now and then, but if it makes very many, Medicare will spot it for sure. Then they can penalize the hospital or even file fraud charges.


Another Facebook comment about this:

I learned when working Home Health (nurse for 35 years) that Medicare reimbursements have ALWAYS been graded to ACUITY. And also, compensation varies regionally. ........YA KNOW WHY??????
Because patients who are more ACUTELY ILL need more intensive care, and it costs a shitload more to treat them with best practices.

When are “we” going to learn that there are EVIL, EVIL people and groups who will take an existing truth and desecrate it for their own agenda. So-

In case anybody doesn’t get it- screaming caps and all: Yes, Medicare pays more for the sickest patients. They always have. And for this we should be grateful.
You’re welcome.

U.S. coronavirus death toll doubles in 10 days to more than 50,000

By Lisa Shumaker
,Reuters•April 24, 2020

The U.S. death toll from the novel coronavirus reached 50,000 on Friday, having doubled in 10 days, according to a Reuters tally.

More than 875,000 Americans have contracted the highly contagious respiratory illness COVID-19 caused by the virus, and on average about 2,000 have died every day this month, according to a Reuters tally.

The true number of cases is thought to be higher, with state public health officials cautioning that shortages of trained workers and materials have limited testing capacity.

Deaths are also likely higher, as most states only count hospital and nursing home victims and not those who died at home. About 40% of the deaths have occurred in New York state, the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, followed by New Jersey, Michigan and Massachusetts.


Of the top 20 most severely affected countries, the United States ranks ninth based on deaths per capita, according to a Reuters tally. The United States has 1.5 deaths per 10,000 people. Belgium ranks first at over five deaths per 10,000 people, followed by Spain, Italy, France and the United Kingdom.


Warmest oceans on record Could Set Off a Year of Extreme Weather

By Karen Graham Apr 18, 2020

The world’s seas are simmering, with record high temperatures spurring worry among forecasters that the global warming effect may generate a chaotic year of extreme weather ahead.

Our planet has already experienced its hottest January and second-steamiest February in recorded history, while March 2020 was almost 2 degrees Centigrade warmer than the average between 1981 and 2010.

What is worrisome is the ocean surface temperatures around the world. Parts of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans all hit the record books for warmth last month, according to NOAA's U.S. National Centers for Environmental Information.

Parts of the tropical Atlantic Ocean, central Indian Ocean, and parts of the northern and southwestern Pacific Ocean had temperatures that were 1.5°C (2.7°F) above average or higher. This could have far-reaching implications looking ahead.


This year, the chance of an El Nino developing is small, and scientists are theorizing that this may be due to global warming's impact on sea surface temperatures. El Nino “depends on contrasts, as well as absolute values of sea-surface temperatures,” according to Kevin Trenberth, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

Should sea surface temperatures over the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico remain warmer than usual, we could see stronger and more frequent tropical cyclones when the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane season begins on June 1.

The NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information chief Deke Arndt sums it up, according to NY Daily News: “Long-term warming is a lot like riding on an escalator — the longer you stay on the escalator, the higher you go. El Niño is like standing tall and crouching down as you’re riding up that escalator.”

4-month-old daughter of New York City firefighter dies of coronavirus, family says

April 23, 2020, 5:04 PM EDT
By Minyvonne Burke

A New York City firefighter and his wife lost their 4-month-old daughter to the coronavirus, the family said.

Jay-Natalie La Santa died on Monday, nearly a month after she was rushed to the hospital with a fever.


Wanda La Santa says the family is devastated over the sudden loss. She says she wanted to share the tragedy her family is going through to encourage other people to take the virus seriously.


Six new symptoms have been added to the CDC's COVID-19 list, including muscle pain, chills and headaches

Gabby Landsverk)
,•April 25, 2020

The CDC has added six new symptoms to its list of what to watch out for in COVID-19 patients. Chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headaches, sore throat, and loss of smell and taste are all newly listed on the CDC's coronavirus website.

That brings the total of common symptoms up to nine, triple the number previously listed on the CDC website. Prior to the update, just fever, coughing, and shortness of breath were recognized as common indications of the virus on the website.


Symptoms of the virus tend to appear between 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus, according to the CDC. Severe symptoms may develop between 5 to 10 days after the initial symptoms appear, research suggests.


The CDC advice for severe symptoms hasn't changed, however — if you experience trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in your chest, unexpected confusion, inability to wake up, or bluish lips/face, contact a medical professional immediately.

The Pandemic’s Hidden Victims: Sick or Dying, but Not From the Virus

This is part of the reason for preventing a huge number of Covid-19 cases at the same time, flattening the curve as they say.

By Denise Grady
April 20, 2020

Maria Kefalas considers her husband, Patrick Carr, a forgotten victim of the coronavirus.

In January, Mr. Carr, a sociology professor at Rutgers University, suffered a relapse of the blood cancer that he has had for eight years. Once again, he required chemotherapy to try to bring the disease, multiple myeloma, under control.

But this time, as the coronavirus began raging through Philadelphia, blood supplies were rationed and he couldn’t get enough of the transfusions needed to alleviate his anemia and allow chemo to begin. Clinic visits were canceled even as his condition worsened.

For Mr. Carr and many others, the pandemic has shaken every aspect of health care, including cancer, organ transplants and even brain surgery.

On April 7, Mr. Carr began receiving home hospice care. He died on April 16. He was 53. The pandemic “expedited his death,” Ms. Kefalas said.


Beds, blood, doctors, nurses and ventilators are in short supply; operating rooms are being turned into intensive care units; and surgeons have been redeployed to treat people who cannot breathe. Even if there is room for other patients, medical centers hesitate to bring them in unless it is absolutely necessary, for fear of infecting them — or of health workers being infected by them. Patients themselves are afraid to set foot in the hospital even if they are really sick.


Nearly one in four cancer patients reported delays in their care because of the pandemic, including access to in-person appointments, imaging, surgery and other services, according to a recent survey by the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network.


“My department has 65 surgeries on the schedule,” said Dr. David Langer, the director of neurosurgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. Neither he nor other neurosurgeons have operated in weeks; they have been redeployed to the I.C.U. to take care of coronavirus patients.


Some of his other patients with serious illnesses have also refused to go to the hospital, for the same reason[fear that they could get Covid-19 there]. One who wanted to go, and whose family called 911, was urged by paramedics to stay home because the hospital was overwhelmed by coronavirus cases. He did stay home, and died a few days later.


Friday, April 24, 2020

A mysterious text notification is suddenly causing iPhones and other Apple devices to crash

Lisa Eadicicco)
,Business Insider•April 24, 2020

Apple's iPhone software has once again been affected by a bug that makes it possible to crash an iPhone when receiving a specific string of text through a notification.


Receiving these characters through a notification from any messaging or social media platform, such as Apple Messages, Twitter, or Telegram, among others, will cause Apple devices to freeze and crash, according to multiple reports.


According to Koroy, the issue should resolve itself on its own, but he also said that you can perform a hard reset to fix it.


Coronavirus propaganda from Russia, China, and Iran are beginning to mimic each other, State Department report says

Sounds like the same kind of stuff some right-wingers are accusing China of, and some U.S. politicians even. And I have seen some of the things mentioned in this article in postings on Facebook, by people I know.

Haven Orecchio-Egresitz)
,Business Insider•April 23, 2020

China, Iran, and Russia are each using the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to spread disinformation related to the United States, according to a State Department report viewed by Politico.

The messaging from each government aligns with the others, according to Politico. They include the baseless narratives that the coronavirus is an American bioweapon and is being spread by US troops, that the US is scoring political points from the crisis, and that all three governments — unlike the US — are managing the crisis well, according to Politico's reporting on the document.


The report makes the case that propaganda from the three governments have converged as coronavirus has spread.

Some of the information is produced by state-run media, and some has been put out by the governments, Politico reported.


Americans too scared to go to work risk losing unemployment aid, experts say

By Andy Sullivan
,Reuters•April 23, 2020

U.S. workers who refuse to return to their jobs because they are worried about catching the coronavirus should not count on getting unemployment benefits, state officials and labor law experts say.

Workers in a handful of U.S. states will face this situation this week, as state officials hope to revive economies paralyzed by shutdowns related to the epidemic.

Under an order by Georgia's Republican Governor Brian Kemp, barbershops, gyms, nail salons and tattoo parlors will be able to open on Friday, with restaurants able to open for sit-down service on Monday.

South Carolina allowed retailers to open on Monday, and Texas and Tennessee have said they will ease some restrictions in coming weeks. None of these states currently meet the White House guidelines for reopening only following two weeks of declines in the number of positive tests for the disease.


State unemployment laws generally do not allow workers to collect jobless benefits if they refuse work available to them, said Thomas Smith, an associate professor at Emory University's Goizueta Business School. That could force workers in Georgia back to their jobs at a time when it is not clear whether the risk of infection has abated, he said.

"You're asking people to put their life on the line," he said. "These people aren't Army Rangers - those people signed up for combat. A barber did not."

Going back to work is a worrisome prospect for Decatur, Georgia, librarian Felicities Yee, 36, who said she fears exposure to the virus because she is expecting her first child in July.

"I feel embarrassed and afraid to be in Georgia right now," Yee said. Public libraries in her county remain closed for now.


Some critics say the state's early reopening is an attempt to push people out of a safety-net system that is straining state finances.

"I think that one of the big drivers of this decision by Kemp is to get people off unemployment rolls and having the private sector keeping these people afloat," said Georgia employment lawyer James Radford.


Some Georgia businesses are opting not to open at all at this point due to employees' safety concerns.

At Manuel's Tavern in Atlanta, general manager Steve Pitts said he and many of staffers are reluctant to come back to work while the pandemic is still not contained. The restaurant remains closed for now.

"I have a daughter and I want to be around for her," said Pitts, 53. "It's still too dangerous."

The stimulus money was supposed to help small businesses. But big banks reportedly let their wealthiest clients get money first.

Isaac Scher
,Business Insider•April 23, 2020

The historic coronavirus bailout package directed $349 billion to small businesses hammered by lockdowns and closures. Such business owners were told that cash would be doled out on a first-come, first-serve basis.

But some big banks reportedly gave their wealthiest clients a different option: To skip the line.

JPMorgan Chase, Citibank, and US Bank gave their richest patrons privileged access to the loans, the New York Times reported on Wednesday, citing six bank employees and industry professionals who spoke on condition of anonymity. The Times described the bank practices as "two-tiered," with a "concierge" treatment given to wealthier clients.


New Yahoo News/YouGov poll shows Trump voters worry less about coronavirus — and take fewer precautions — than Clinton voters

Andrew RomanoWest Coast Correspondent
,Yahoo News•April 23, 2020

Voters who cast their ballots for Donald Trump in 2016 are more likely than voters who cast their ballots for Hillary Clinton to say that they have “cheated” on social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic — and much less likely to say they will continue to obey their state’s lockdown order as long as it’s in effect.

According to the latest Yahoo News/YouGov poll, which was conducted from April 17 to 19, most Trump and Clinton voters claim they haven’t broken the rules of social distancing. But the share of Trump voters who say they haven’t cheated (63 percent) is 10 points lower than the share of Clinton voters who say the same, while the share of Trump voters who say they have cheated (26 percent) is 6 points higher than the share of Clinton voters (20 percent) who are willing to confess. That’s a net difference of 16 percentage points.

When it comes to complying with lockdown measures going forward, the divide between the two camps is even more pronounced. A full 82 percent of Clinton voters say they will adhere to their state’s stay-at-home orders for the duration; only 54 percent of Trump voters say the same. Thirteen percent of Trump voters openly admit they won’t; another 13 percent say they’re “not sure.” (Twenty percent of Trump voters say they aren’t under lockdown orders.)

Trump voters are also 19 points less likely than Clinton voters to say they have strictly obeyed existing stay-at-home regulations — and 8 points more likely to describe their level of compliance as “not strict” at all.


Amazon employees say the company used data from 3rd-party sellers to make its own products, a practice the company has denied for years

Paige Leskin)
,Business Insider•April 23, 2020

Amazon employees say they have used data from third-party sellers to inform their production of competing products, bucking the company's long-standing claims to Congress and regulators that it doesn't.

More than 20 former Amazon employees said they had collected and accessed individual sellers' information to figure out which products they should make under its private labels, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. One Amazon employee said it was "standard operating procedure" for workers to pull non-public data that could give the company insight on how to price items and which ones would give them the highest earning potential.


Amazon has responded to past criticism by emphasizing that its private-label brands make up only 1% of sales on the platform. However, former executives told the WSJ that they were told Amazon's private-label brands should make up 10% of retail sales by 2022. Amazon's private-label business includes more than 45 brands, including AmazonBasics, Amazon Collection, and Amazon Essentials.


Amazon dominates the e-commerce marketplace, and accounted for nearly 40% of online sales in the US in 2019, according to eMarketer.

COVID-19 causes sudden strokes in young adults, doctors say

By Maggie Fox, CNN
Published Apr 23, 2020 10:39:13 AM

The new coronavirus appears to be causing sudden strokes in adults in their 30s and 40s who are not otherwise terribly ill, doctors reported Wednesday.

They said patients may be unwilling to call 911 because they have heard hospitals are overwhelmed by coronavirus cases.

There's growing evidence that COVID-19 infection can cause the blood to clot in unusual ways, and stroke would be an expected consequence of that.

Dr. Thomas Oxley, a neurosurgeon at Mount Sinai Health System in New York, and colleagues gave details of five people they treated. All were under the age of 50, and all had either mild symptoms of Covid-19 infection or no symptoms at all.

"The virus seems to be causing increased clotting in the large arteries, leading to severe stroke," Oxley told CNN.


Mothers who drink while pregnant could increase their child's risk of depression

AFP Relax News•April 23, 2020

New UK research has found that children born to mothers who drink while pregnant may have a higher risk of developing depression as teenagers.


The findings, published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, showed that children whose mothers had drank alcohol while 18 weeks pregnant may have up to a 17 percent higher risk of depression at age 18, compared to children whose mothers who did not drink alcohol.


"Our study suggests that children whose mothers consumed alcohol at 18 weeks gestation have a higher risk of depression at age 18 compared to those who did not drink alcohol," commented lead author Dr. Kayleigh Easey. "What was really interesting here is that we also investigated paternal alcohol use during pregnancy and did not find a similar association. Many of the indirect factors that could explain the maternal effects are shared between mothers and partners (such as socio-demographic factors); despite this, we only found associations for mothers drinking."

"This study also illustrates the importance of considering partner behaviors as well as maternal behaviors -- both to help identify causal relationship, and because these may be important in their own right."


Thursday, April 23, 2020

Disney heir criticises $1.5bn in bonuses and dividends as company cuts pay

Mark Sweney
Wed 22 Apr 2020 05.24 EDT

An heir to the Walt Disney fortune has criticised the company for protecting executive bonuses and dividends of more than $1.5bn (£1.2bn) while cutting the pay of more than 100,000 workers to help weather the financial impact of coronavirus.

Abigail Disney, an Emmy award-winning film-maker and a granddaughter of the company’s co-founder Roy Disney, launched a Twitter tirade against the world’s biggest entertainment group over its treatment of employees.

Disney, who in the past has criticised the lucrative pay packages of the executive chairman, Bob Iger, said the $1.5bn in typical dividend payouts would keep staff paid for months.

“That’d pay for three months’ salary to frontline workers,” she said. “And it’s going to people who have already been collecting egregious bonuses for years. Dividends aren’t all bad, given the number of fixed-income folks who rely on them. But still 80% of shares are owned by the wealthiest 10%. Pay the people who make the magic happen with respect and dignity they have more than earned from you. This company must do better.”


NIH Panel Recommends Against Drug Combination Promoted By Trump For COVID-19

Joe Palca
April 21, 2020

A panel of experts convened by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases recommends against doctors using a combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin for the treatment of COVID-19 patients because of potential toxicities.

"The combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin was associated with QTc prolongation in patients with COVID-19," the panel said.

QTc prolongation increases the risk of sudden cardiac death.


The plan is to update the guidelines frequently as new results become available. Swindells said there could be an update about the recommendations regarding remdesivir in the coming week or so.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Conservative activist family behind 'grassroots' anti-quarantine Facebook events

April 20, 2020, 2:59 PM EDT
By Brandy Zadrozny and Ben Collins


A family-run network of pro-gun groups is behind five of the largest Facebook groups dedicated to protesting the shelter-in-place restrictions, according to an NBC News analysis of Facebook groups and website registration information.

The groups were set up by four brothers — Chris, Ben, Aaron and Matthew Dorr — and have amassed more than 200,000 members collectively, including in states where they don't reside, according to an NBC News analysis based on public records searches and Facebook group registrations.

The Dorr brothers are known in conservative circles for running pro-gun and anti-abortion rights Facebook groups that bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars annually by antagonizing establishment conservative leaders and activists.
Their usual method is to attack established conservative groups from the right, including the National Rifle Association, and then make money by selling memberships in their groups or selling mailing lists of those who sign up, according to some conservative politicians and activists who have labeled the efforts as scams.


Trump says he ‘totally disagrees’ with Georgia Gov. Kemp’s decision to reopen businesses in the middle of coronavirus pandemic

It's obvious to many of us that the reason for Kemp's decree is to keep people from being able to claim unemployment benefits.

Noah Higgins-Dunn, Lora Kolodny
Published Wed, Apr 22 2020 7:35 PM EDT

U.S. President Donald Trump said Wednesday he “totally disagrees” with Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s phase 1 plans to reopen tattoo parlors, bars, hair salons and other nonessential businesses this week.

Trump said Kemp’s decision violates the phase 1 guidelines the White House announced last week that recommends states wait to ease social distancing restrictions until there’s widespread testing and a low level of community transmission. Trump said he respects Kemp’s right as a governor to make his own decision.

Kemp is allowing tattoo parlors, spas, hair salons or barbershops, movie theaters and bowling alleys to reopen this week so long as they, and their patrons, follow physical distancing orders and other guidelines, Kemp announced on Monday.

“Maybe you wait a little bit longer until you get to a phase 2. So do I agree with him? No, but I respect him and I will let him make his decision,” Trump said at a White House press conference. “Would I do that? No ... But I’m going to let him make his decision, but I told him, I totally disagree.”


From a Facebook post:

From a small business owner in Georgia...

"Here’s the deal.
Kemp mandates restaurants reopen, whether I reopen dining rooms or not.

I file for business interruption insurance, it does not go through since I am “allowed” to operate full capacity.

My landlord can demand all their money, since I am allowed to fully operate.
Furloughed staff that is collecting unemployment insurance have to come back to work or I have to let them go. There unemployment insurance then goes on my tab.

If things blow up again, they are still on my tab not on the states, since they are no longer employed.

Guys, this is about screwing the working class and small business, not about helping us.
Thank you so much to everyone that voted this malignant tumor into office."

Republican-Led Review Backs Intelligence Findings on Russian Interference

Nicholas Fandos and Julian E. Barnes
April 21, 2020

American intelligence officials’ determination that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election to assist Donald J. Trump’s candidacy was fundamentally sound and untainted by politics, according to a key Republican-led Senate review released on Tuesday. The findings undercut longstanding allegations by Mr. Trump and his allies that the officials were biased against him.

The Senate Intelligence Committee, which conducted the three-year study, had already given the work of the C.I.A. and the F.B.I. an interim stamp of approval, but the 158-page report on Tuesday presented new detail about the government’s attempts in 2016 and 2017 to make sense of Russia’s attacks. Much of the report’s contents about the so-called Intelligence Community Assessment were considered highly sensitive and blacked out by the Trump administration.


Mr. Burr noted that Russia had continued efforts to interfere in American politics, and he said the warnings of three years ago still must be heeded.

“Russia and its imitators increasingly use information warfare to sow societal chaos and discord,” Mr. Burr said. “With the 2020 presidential election approaching, it’s more important than ever that we remain vigilant against the threat of interference from hostile foreign actors.”

Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the committee’s top Democrat, concurred and warned that Russia’s success in 2016 would embolden the Kremlin to continue to interfere in American democracy.

Media literacy can improve child nutrition, family relationships

News Release 21-Apr-2020
Washington State University

During this pandemic when few parents can limit screen time, a new study shows that building critical media skills as a family can have a positive impact on kids' nutrition without restricting their access to TV and computers.

The study, published in the journal Childhood Obesity on April 20, found that an education program that had parents and kids learn media literacy skills together not only helped children eat more fruits and vegetables but also improved communication between parents and their kids.

"We weren't trying just to get children to stop nagging their parents for things like candy and chips," said Erica Weintraub Austin, lead author on the study and director of the Edward R. Murrow Center for Media and Health Promotion Research at Washington State University. "We wanted them to be working together to make healthy decisions, and for the children to be well positioned for the future when they have to make those decisions on their own."


Study finds Tai-Chi-based mindfulness training reduced core ADHD symptoms in children

News Release 21-Apr-2020

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a highly prevalent neurodevelopmental disorder affecting between 8-10 percent of school-age children. In a recent study published in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, Stewart H. Mostofsky, M.D., director of the Center for Neurodevelopmental and Imaging Research at Kennedy Krieger Institute, and Karen E. Seymour, Ph.D., assistant professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, found that a mindful movement (Tai-Chi)-based training intervention was associated with significant improvements in school-age children with ADHD and improved their ability to regulate hyperactive, impulsive and inattentive behavior. Findings suggest that motor control may be a biomarker that could be targeted by mindful movement intervention to improve behavior in children with ADHD.


Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Ice-free Arctic summers now very likely even with climate action

Damian Carrington Environment editor
Tue 21 Apr 2020 07.00 EDT

The loss of summer sea ice in the Arctic is now very likely before 2050, new research shows, even if the carbon emissions driving the climate crisis are cut rapidly.

The result has alarmed scientists but they said slashing greenhouse gases remained vital as this would determine whether Arctic summer ice vanished permanently or could recover over time. If emissions remain very high, there is a risk the Arctic could be ice-free even in the dark, cold winter months, a possibility described as “catastrophic”.

Since satellite records began in 1979, summer Arctic ice has lost 40% of its area and up to 70% of its volume, making it one of the clearest signs of human-caused global heating. In 2019, it shrank to its second lowest extent on record.

The loss of the ice exposes the dark ocean, which absorbs more of the sun’s heat and further ramps up temperatures. These changes are also being increasingly linked to more extreme weather including severe winters, deadly summer heatwaves and torrential floods at lower latitudes such as in Europe and the US.

“Alarmingly the models repeatedly show the potential for ice-free summers in the Arctic Ocean before 2050, almost irrespective of the measures taken to mitigate the effects of climate change,” said Ed Blockley, who leads the UK Met Office’s polar climate programme and was one of the team behind the new research. “The signal is there in all possible futures. This was unexpected and is extremely worrying.”


The models are not perfect and struggle to match closely the ice loss and global warming seen in historical data. “There is still a lot of uncertainty,” Blockley said. “But all the models are clear that the sea ice will continue to decline. At some point, it will be gone, but when that happens is still uncertain.”


Prof James Screen, at the University of Exeter, UK, said: “It is important to keep in mind that although we might see an ice-free Arctic in all scenarios by 2050, the expected frequency of ice-free summers differs between scenarios. Under a higher emissions scenarios there may be ice-free summers every year, but in lower emissions scenarios they might be occasional.”

Blockley said the new research showed cutting carbon emissions remained vital to prevent the worst impacts on the Arctic, adding: “We are showing there is still hope.”

Coronavirus Kills More Americans in One Month Than the Flu Kills in One Year

By John McCormack
April 21, 2020 12:25 PM

Although there is still much we don’t know about the coronavirus, we know enough to say that it is far more dangerous and deadly than the flu. It took twelve months and 61 million infections for the H1N1 swine flu to kill 12,500 Americans in 2009–10. The Centers for Disease Control estimated that the seasonal flu killed 34,200 Americans during the 2018–19 flu season. In 2019, car crashes killed 38,800 Americans.

As for the new coronavirus? On March 20, the death toll in the United States was 225. By April 20, the coronavirus had killed more than 42,000 Americans.


But as Rich Lowry pointed out last week, “if we are going to have 60,000 deaths with people not leaving their homes for more than a month, the number of deaths obviously would have been higher — much higher — if everyone had gone about business as usual.” Indeed, the IMHE model is making an estimate of the death toll only for a first wave of infections, and most of the country will still be vulnerable to infection after the first wave passes.


Not only does the new coronavirus have the potential to infect many more people than the seasonal flu does, it appears to kill a greater percentage of those infected. You don’t need to rely on various statistical models to come to that conclusion. You just have to look at the reality of what has already happened around the world and in our own country.

The seasonal flu kills 0.1 percent of people infected, but the new coronavirus has already killed 0.1 percent of the entire population of the state of New York. That may seem like a small percentage. But imagine the entire country getting hit as badly as New York state: 0.1 percent of the U.S. population is 330,000 people. And there’s no reason to believe that New York’s current death toll marks the upper limit of the virus’s lethality.

The Wall Street Journal reported that confirmed coronavirus cases in the Italian province of Bergamo (population 1.1 million) had killed 0.2 percent of the entire population in one month. The true percentage may be higher: There were 4,000 more deaths in Bergamo in March 2020 than the average number of deaths in March in recent years, but only 2,000 of those deaths were attributed to confirmed COVID-19 cases.

We are talking not about statistical models of what might happen in the future but about the reality of what has already happened. The virus has killed 100 Italian doctors. That doesn’t happen during a bad flu season. The virus has killed 30 employees of the New York City Police Department. That doesn’t happen during a bad flu season.


Almost all conservatives are skeptical of Communist China’s official coronavirus death toll. Why, then, do some think that the coronavirus is not much more deadly than the flu? Did Communist China, a regime not known for valuing human life, shut down much of its economy for a couple of months because of a bad flu? Or did Communist leaders fear that without the costly shutdown the virus would inflict much greater harm on their nation and threaten their grip on power?

You don’t have to have a Ph.D. in epidemiology to answer those questions.