Saturday, October 31, 2020

Georgia voter information, November 2020

If you live in Georgia, you can check the status of your absentee ballot at the My Voter Page.  You can see if it has been received, and if it has been accepted.  If not received and accepted by election day, Nov. 3, you can vote in person.

Enter your first name initial, last name, county, date of birth to take you to your voter information.

There are a variety of useful links and information, including

status of your absentee ballot, if you requested one

where you vote on election day

your sample ballot

early voting information

your elected officials

You can vote for at any of the early voting locations for your county.

If you are voting on election day, in order to be able to vote for all the offices in your precinct, you must vote at your designated voting location.  If you go to the wrong one, you have to use a provisional ballot, and might not be able to vote for all the people you want to vote for.

 Another good source of information is

Check county web sites for absentee ballot drop boxes, where you can drop you ballot up to 7pm on election day, Nov. 3, or use the Georgia Democrats Absentee Ballot Dropbox Finder at


Coronavirus mutation may have made it more contagious


News Release 30-Oct-2020
University of Texas at Austin


A study involving more than 5,000 COVID-19 patients in Houston finds that the virus that causes the disease is accumulating genetic mutations, one of which may have made it more contagious. According to the paper published in the peer-reviewed journal mBIO, that mutation, called D614G, is located in the spike protein that pries open our cells for viral entry.


The paper shows "the virus is mutating due to a combination of neutral drift -- which just means random genetic changes that don't help or hurt the virus -- and pressure from our immune systems," said Ilya Finkelstein, associate professor of molecular biosciences at The University of Texas at Austin and co-author of the study. The study was carried out by scientists at Houston Methodist Hospital, UT Austin and elsewhere.

During the initial wave of the pandemic, 71% of the novel coronaviruses identified in patients in Houston had this mutation. When the second wave of the outbreak hit Houston during the summer, this variant had leaped to 99.9% prevalence. This mirrors a trend observed around the world. A study published in July based on more than 28,000 genome sequences found that variants carrying the D614G mutation became the globally dominant form of SARS-CoV-2 in about a month. SARS-CoV-2 is the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

So why did strains containing this mutation outcompete those that didn't have it?

Perhaps they're more contagious. A study of more than 25,000 genome sequences in the U.K. found that viruses with the mutation tended to transmit slightly faster than those without it and caused larger clusters of infections. Natural selection would favor strains of the virus that transmit more easily. But not all scientists are convinced. Some have suggested another explanation, called "founder's effects." In that scenario, the D614G mutation might have been more common in the first viruses to arrive in Europe and North America, essentially giving them a head start on other strains.


The researchers found that SARS-CoV-2 was introduced to the Houston area many times, independently, from diverse geographic regions, with virus strains from Europe, Asia, South America and elsewhere in the United States. There was widespread community dissemination soon after COVID-19 cases were reported in Houston.


New research reveals risky sexual behavior and STIs are rising despite COVID-19 pandemic

News Release 31-Oct-2020
Say Communications


New research (1) launched at the 29th EADV Congress, EADV Virtual, has found that despite the COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) lockdown restrictions, diagnosis of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including gonorrhoea, secondary syphilis and mycoplasma genitalium (MG), have increased. 


Living near green space linked to lower rates of smoking and higher chances of quitting


News Release 30-Oct-2020
University of Plymouth


People are significantly less likely to smoke - and are more likely to successfully quit - if they live in green neighbourhoods, new research has found.

The study is the first to demonstrate that access to neighbourhood greenspace is linked to lower rates of current smoking, and that this is due to higher rates of smoking cessation rather than lower uptake in these areas.


even after to taking into account other factors known to influence smoking, people living in areas with a high proportion of greenspace were 20% less likely to be current smokers than those in less green areas.

In addition, among people who had smoked at some point during their lives, those living in greener neighbourhoods were up to 12% more likely to have successfully quit smoking.


US and UK citizens are world’s biggest sources of plastic waste – study


 Damian Carrington Environment editor
Fri 30 Oct 2020 14.00 EDT 

The US and UK produce more plastic waste per person than any other major countries, according to new research.

The analysis also shows the US produces the most plastic waste in total and that its citizens may rank as high as third in the world in contributing to plastic pollution in the oceans. Previous work had suggested Asian countries dominated marine plastic pollution and placed the US in 20th place, but this did not account for US waste exports or illegal dumping within the country.

Data from 2016, the latest available, show that more than half of the plastic collected for recycling in the US was shipped abroad, mostly to countries already struggling to manage plastic waste effectively. The researchers said years of exporting had masked the US’s enormous contribution to plastic pollution.

The US is 4% of the world’s population, yet its produces 17% of its plastic waste,” said Nick Mallos at the Ocean Conservancy and one of the study authors. “The US needs to play a much bigger role in addressing the global plastic pollution crisis.”


Lavender Law said the Covid-19 pandemic was also increasing plastic waste, particularly discarded PPE, but that data on the scale of the issue was not yet available.


Friday, October 30, 2020

White House science office says Trump ended COVID-19 pandemic as US hits record cases

The kind of garbage we can expect more of if Trump is elected and is able to personally choose civil servants.


By Nathaniel Weixel - 10/27/20 03:37 PM EDT

The White House science office listed "ending the COVID-19 pandemic" as the top accomplishment of President Trump's first term, even as the U.S. has set records for new daily infections and numerous hospitals across the country are stretched to their breaking points.

According to a press release intended to highlight the administration's science accomplishments, the Trump administration said it "has taken decisive actions to engage scientists and health professionals in academia, industry, and government to understand, treat, and defeat the disease."

The rosy outlook flies in the face of reality and underscores Trump's efforts to continuously downplay the severity of the pandemic that continues to rage nearly uncontrolled across the country. 

As of Tuesday, more than 226,000 people in the U.S. have died from COVID-19. The seven-day average of new cases is nearly 70,000, a record number that is only expected to get worse. Hospitalizations and deaths are also climbing steadily upward. According to the COVID Tracking Project, there are more than 42,000 people hospitalized with COVID-19, up from about 30,000 just a month ago.


Public health experts say that as the fall and winter progress, the situation is going to get much worse. Former Food and Drug Administration chief Scott Gottlieb said on CNBC Monday that the U.S. was at a "tipping point" of exponential spread in much of the country.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Study shows COVID-19 risk to firefighters and emergency medical workers in New York City


News Release 29-Oct-2020
European Lung Foundation


Firefighters and emergency medical workers in New York City were 15 times more likely to be infected during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic compared to the general public, according to a study published in ERJ Open Research. [1]

The study, which includes almost all the 15,000 front-line workers at the Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY), also shows that workers who had been experiencing a deterioration in their lung health prior to the pandemic were more likely to suffer a severe COVID-19 infection, meaning they were admitted to hospital or died.

Researchers say their study supports the proper use of PPE and other measures to protect emergency workers around the world and maintain capacity of emergency services during any subsequent waves of the COVID-19 pandemic.







Study measures effectiveness of different face mask materials when coughing


News Release 29-Oct-2020
University of Cambridge


A team of researchers have tested everything from t-shirts and socks to jeans and vacuum bags to determine what type of mask material is most effective at trapping the ultrafine particles which may contain viruses such as SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19.

The researchers, from the University of Cambridge and Northwestern University, tested the effectiveness of different fabrics at filtering particles between 0.02 and 0.1 micrometres - about the size of most viruses - at high speeds, comparable to coughing or heavy breathing. They also tested N95 and surgical masks, which are more commonly used in healthcare settings.


The results, reported in the journal BMJ Open, show that most of the fabrics commonly used for non-clinical face masks are effective at filtering ultrafine particles. N95 masks were highly effective, although a reusable HEPA vacuum bag actually exceeded the N95 performance in some respects.

As for homemade masks, those made of multiple layers of fabric were more effective, and those which also incorporated interfacing, which is normally used to stiffen collars, showed a significant improvement in performance. However, this improvement in performance also made them more difficult to breathe through than an N95 mask.

The researchers also studied the performance of different fabrics when damp, and after they had gone through a normal washing and drying cycle. They found that the fabrics worked well while damp and worked sufficiently after one laundry cycle, however previous studies have shown that repeated washing degrades the fabrics, and the researchers caution that masks should not be reused indefinitely.


The researchers also tested how well each fabric performed in terms of breathing resistance, based on qualitative feedback from users. "A mask which blocks particles really well but restricts your breathing isn't an effective mask," said O'Kelly. "Denim, for example, was quite effective at blocking particles, but it's difficult to breathe through, so it's probably not a good idea to make a mask out of an old pair of jeans. N95 masks are much easier to breathe through than any fabric combinations with similar levels of filtration."


The researchers found that single-use and reusable vacuum bags were effective at blocking particles, but caution that the single-use bags should not be used in face masks, as they fall apart when cut, and may contain component materials which are unsafe to inhale.

"It's a matter of finding the right balance - we want the materials to be effective at filtering particles, but we also need to know they don't put users at risk of inhaling fibres or lint, which can be harmful," said O'Kelly.

The researchers caution that their study has several limitations: namely, that they did not look at the role which fit plays in filtering particles. In a related project, O'Kelly has been studying how the fit of masks in healthcare settings can be improved. In addition, many viruses are carried on droplets which are larger than those looked at in the current study.

However, O'Kelly says the results may be useful for sewers and makers when choosing which fabric to use for making masks. "We've shown that in an emergency situation where N95 masks are not available, such as in the early days of this pandemic, fabric masks are surprisingly effective at filtering particles which may contain viruses, even at high speeds." 

Some COVID-19 "long haulers" experience lasting skin problems


News Release 29-Oct-2020
Massachusetts General Hospital


Some patients with COVID-19 have persistent skin-related symptoms long after their initial infection has cleared, according to a new analysis. The findings, presented at the 29th Congress of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology by investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), point to another burden experienced by so-called "long haulers" who get better but don't seem to fully recover from COVID-19.


Rash-like morbilliform and urticarial eruptions lasted a median of seven days and four days, respectively, for patients with lab-confirmed COVID-19, with a maximum duration of 28 days. Papulosquamous eruptions, which are scaly papules and plaques, lasted a median of 20 days in lab-confirmed cases, with one confirmed long hauler eruption lasting 70 days. Pernio/chilblains, or redness and swelling of the feet and hands, commonly known as "COVID toes," lasted a median of 15 days in patients with suspected COVID-19 and 10 days in lab-confirmed cases. Notably, six patients with pernio/chilblains were long haulers with toe symptoms lasting at least 60 days, with two lab-confirmed patients with COVID toes lasting longer than 130 days.


Effective stroke drugs are saving the NHS millions


News Release 29-Oct-2020
University of Leeds


Drugs prescribed to high-risk stroke patients are costing the NHS hundreds of millions each year - but they are so effective, the service is actually saving money.

Analysis of stroke data showed that the cost to NHS England of prescribing direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) increased by £733m from 2011 to 2017, but resulted in a substantial 11% reduction in stroke cases. This reduction in the number of strokes, and the related expenses, means the cost of treating a patient in the first year after a stroke has dropped by 25%.


Two million lost health coverage, thousands died prematurely in Trump's first 3 years


News Release 29-Oct-2020
Physicians for a National Health Program


A new analysis of federal surveys on health insurance coverage concludes that the number of uninsured Americans increased by about 2.3 million between 2016 and 2019. The analysis by researchers at Harvard Medical School and the City University of New York's Hunter College, published today in Health Affairs blog, concludes that the contraction of coverage under President Trump caused at least 3,399, and perhaps as many as 25,180, excess deaths even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Eating less suppresses liver cancer due to fatty liver


News Release 29-Oct-2020
Shinshu University


Liver cancer from too much fat accumulation in the liver has been increasing in many countries including Japan. In order to change this unfortunate state of affairs, it is important to improve the prognosis of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Most often the cause of fatty liver is overeating and lack of exercise. Fatty liver is often improved through eating less, getting more exercise, and reducing body weight. Therefore, the research group led by Shinshu University graduate student Fangping Jia posed the question, "Can eating less also suppress liver cancer caused by fatty liver?"

An international research team led by Shinshu University School of Medicine were able to show that reducing food intake by 30%, or eating until you are just 70% full is effective in reducing the likelihood of developing liver cancer from fatty liver. Fatty liver is a very common disease that can lead to liver cirrhosis and cancer.


Many previous studies have also shown that dietary restriction delayed the progression of cancer in humans through slowing down the rate of aging. There is a Chinese proverb that says, "to live a long and healthy life, eat until the stomach is 70 percent full." Then you will live healthy, and it might lead to longevity. 

Capitalist parasites

Oct. 29, 2020

Rent is going up $29/month at our mobile home park. A quick calculation of the planned increase for my social security check for 2021 is $23. Don't know the exact amount for SS because I don't know how much the Medicare deduction will be. I thought that when I paid off my home, I would be able to live ok on social security. I didn't know that parasitical investors would start buying up mobile home parks and raising the rents, knowing that most of us can't afford to relocate. 

 After the current owner bought our community, he raised rent while at the same time decreasing services.  We used to have satellite cable TV.

These key psychological differences can determine whether you're liberal or conservative

The mainstream media, which is financially dependent on the power elite, play up things like police shootings of African-Americans, while mostly ignoring police shootings of Caucasians. African-Americans often react with demonstrating, sometimes with violence. Of course, news articles to these protests draws more viewers/readers, so the profit motive can be a motive. But also, protests that include violence, serves the purpose of the power elite by increasing conservative feelings, which can mean the conservatives, who serve the power elite, get additional votes.

Hilary Brueck and Canela López
Oct 27, 2020, 12:51 PM


  • Liberals and conservatives don't just differ politically. According to scientific research, people on different ends of the political spectrum differ psychologically too. 
  • Fear is linked more often to leaning conservative, whereas feeling safer can lead people to lean more liberal. 
  • Liberals and conservatives also tend to show compassion to different groups of people. 
  • The following are of the 15 biggest psychological differences academics have found between liberals and conservatives around the globe.


Being scared can make you more conservative.

Decades of research have shown that people get more conservative when they feel threatened and afraid.


A conservative brain is more active in different areas than a liberal one.

Brain scans show that people who self-identify as conservative have larger and more active right amygdalas, an area of the brain that's associated with expressing and processing fear. This aligns with the idea that feeling afraid makes people lean more to the right.

One 2013 study showed conservative brains tend to have more activity in their right amygdalas when they're taking risks than liberals do.


On the other hand, feeling safe and endowed with strength might make you lean a little more liberal than you otherwise would.

Groundbreaking research that Yale psychologists published in 2017 revealed that helping people imagine they're completely safe from harm can make them (temporarily) hold more liberal views on social issues.


Conservatives tend to display more ordered thinking patterns, whereas liberals have more "aha" moments.

A 2016 study at Northwestern University found that when conservative and liberal college students were given word problems to solve, both groups managed to arrive at some correct answers through gradual, analytical analysis.

But when feeling stuck on a problem, liberals were much more likely to draw upon a sudden burst of insight — an 'aha' moment, like a lightbulb turning on in the brain.


Holding conservative views seems to make people more resistant to change and help them explain inequality.

A 2003 review of decades of research on conservative people suggested that their social views can help satisfy "psychological needs" to make sense of the world and manage uncertainty and fear.

"People embrace political conservatism (at least in part) because it serves to reduce fear, anxiety, and uncertainty; to avoid change, disruption, and ambiguity; and to explain, order, and justify inequality among groups and individuals," the researchers said.


Liberals are more likely to describe themselves as compassionate and optimistic, while conservatives are more likely to say they're people of honor and religion.

A 1980 study of US high school students found that conservative students at that time were more likely to describe themselves as "responsible," "organized," "successful," and "ambitious," while liberal students might describe themselves as "loving," "tender," or "mellow."

Surveys suggest that today's adults aren't much different than those 80s kids. A Pew Research Center study from 2014 showed that liberals were more likely than social conservatives to describe themselves as compassionate, trusting, upbeat, and optimistic, while conservatives were more likely to say they were people of honor, duty, religion, and proud to be American. 

[From my personal experience with conservatives, I don't find them to be people of honor, even though they might choose to see themselves that way.]


Conservatives believe they have more self-control.


Smokers, especially those who begin young, are three times more likely to die prematurely


News Release 28-Oct-2020
Journal of the American Heart Association report
American Heart Association


Current smokers faced nearly three times the risk of premature death from cardiovascular disease compared with people who never smoked, with the risk being higher among those who began smoking during childhood, according to new research published today in the Journal of the American Heart Association, an open access journal of the American Heart Association.

Smoking continues to cause an estimated 100,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease every year in the U.S. Currently, there are about 25 million people who smoke daily including 5 million who became regular smokers before the age of 15.


    Those who quit smoking by the age of 40 reduced their excess risk of premature death from cardiovascular disease by about 90%.

Quitting smoking at any age offered benefits, and the earlier a person quit, the better, according to the findings. The analysis found that when compared to peers who had never smoked:

    Smokers who quit between ages 15 to 34 had about the same risk of dying from heart disease or stroke;
    Those who quit between ages 35 to 44 had about a 20% higher risk;
    Those who quit between ages 45 to 54 had about a 60% higher risk;
    Those who quit between ages 55 to 64 had about a 70% higher risk of death from heart disease or stroke; and
    Those who were current smokers had nearly three times the risk of dying prematurely from heart disease or stroke.


Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Estrogenic and anti-estrogenic effects of PFASs could depend on the presence of estrogen


News Release 28-Oct-2020
American Chemical Society


Perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) have received intense scrutiny in recent years because of their persistence in the environment and potential endocrine-disrupting effects. However, their estrogenic activities are controversial, with different studies showing apparently contradictory results. Now, researchers reporting in ACS' Environmental Science & Technology have used a combination of laboratory experiments and computer modeling to reveal that PFASs can interact with the estrogen receptor in different ways to influence estrogen-controlled gene expression.


The researchers tested the estrogenic and anti-estrogenic behaviors of 10 PFASs using human cells. They found that two of the compounds mimicked estrogen's ability to activate transcription, whereas three others inhibited expression of a reporter gene. However, when the researchers also added estrogen to the cells, all of the compounds blocked the natural hormone's activity.


Health workers and their families account for 1 in 6 hospital covid-19 cases


News Release 28-Oct-2020

Healthcare workers and their families account for a sixth (17%) of hospital admissions for covid-19 in the working age population (18-65 years), finds a study from Scotland published by The BMJ today.

Although hospital admission with covid-19 in this age group was very low overall, the risk for healthcare workers and their families was higher compared with other working age adults, especially for those in "front door" patient facing roles such as paramedics and A&E department staff, say the researchers.


Those working in "front door" roles, such as paramedics and A&E department staff, were at the highest risk of hospital admission for covid-19.


Burning biomass fuels at home led to 32% of premature deaths from inhaling fine particles in China in 2014


News Release 28-Oct-2020
American Association for the Advancement of Science


The burning of biomass fuels such as wood and crop residues, which are often used for cooking and heating homes in rural China, contributed to 32% of an estimated 1,150,000 premature deaths caused by inhaling fine particle pollutants in China in 2014, according to a new study. Residential energy use of all types led to 67% of these premature deaths overall, the findings suggest


Leaving more big fish in the sea reduces CO2 emissions


News Release 28-Oct-2020
ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies


An international team of scientists has found leaving more big fish in the sea reduces the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) released into the Earth's atmosphere.

When a fish dies in the ocean it sinks to the depths, sequestrating all the carbon it contains with it. This is a form of 'blue carbon'--carbon captured and stored by the world's ocean and coastal ecosystems.

"But when a fish is caught, the carbon it contains is partly emitted into the atmosphere as CO2 a few days or weeks after," said Gaël Mariani, a PhD student at the University of Montpellier in France.

Mr Mariani led a world-first study showing how ocean fisheries have released at least 730 million metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere since 1950. An estimated 20.4 million metric tons of CO2 was emitted in 2014--equivalent to the annual emissions of 4.5 million cars.


COVID-19 vaccine nationalism could cost world up to $1.2 trillion: New RAND Europe study


News Release 28-Oct-2020
Study shows global access to COVID-19 vaccines is best for world's health and wealth
RAND Corporation


Nationalistic behaviour by governments may exclude some countries from gaining access to COVID-19 vaccines and cost the global economy up to $1.2 trillion a year in GDP, according to a new study from the not-for-profit research organisation RAND Europe.

If countries demonstrate 'vaccine nationalism' - prioritising their own citizens and insisting on first access to vaccines by signing deals directly with pharmaceutical companies and hoarding supplies - this could mean that, by initially immunising only their own populations, they incur economic penalties for themselves as well as the wider global population.

The study's macroeconomic analysis shows that, as long as the virus is not under control in all regions of the world, there will continue to be a global cost associated with COVID-19 and its prolonged negative impact on certain economic sectors.

Even if only the lowest-income countries were denied equal access to a vaccine and all other countries managed to immunise their populations against the virus, it could still cost the global economy $153 billion a year in GDP terms. The US would lose $16 billion a year, the EU $40 billion a year, the UK $5 billion a year, China $14 billion a year, and other high-income countries collectively $39 billion a year.

The study also notes that there are economic incentives to providing global access to vaccines. Based on previous estimates, it would cost $25 billion to supply lower-income countries with vaccines. The US, UK, EU and other high-income countries combined could lose about $119 billion a year if the poorest countries are denied a supply. If these high-income countries paid for the supply of vaccines, there could be a benefit-to-cost ratio of 4.8 to 1. For every $1 spent, high-income countries would get back about $4.8.


Teen-age boys exposed to pro-cannabis advertising and social media posts associate marijuana use with improving sexual activity

News Release 28-Oct-2020
Teen boys link marijuana use with more, better sex
Washington State University


Teen-age boys exposed to pro-cannabis advertising and social media posts are more likely than female peers to associate marijuana use with improving sexual activity, new research from Washington State University suggests.

Researchers found that the adolescent males expected cannabis users to be less inhibited and enjoy sex more, leading them to express an intention to use marijuana in the future. Adolescent girls and young women, however, were less swayed to future cannabis use by the messages and perceived links.


Regardless of age or gender, researchers found that participants who saw more pro-marijuana content on social media had greater intentions to use cannabis in the future.

Regulating the messages young people see on social media is difficult since the majority of content is user posts, and even content from marijuana businesses often isn't portrayed in the same way it would be in a traditional advertisement, the researchers said.


tags: drug use, drug abuse,

Exposure to suboptimal doses of antimalarial drugs could, under certain circumstances, increase malaria

News Release 28-Oct-2020
Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal)


Exposure to suboptimal doses of the antiparasitic drug artemisinin could increase the sexual conversion rate of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum, thereby increasing the probability of transmission, according to a study led by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal)


The malaria parasite P. falciparum replicates asexually in human blood every 48 hours, causing the typical clinical symptoms of the disease. At each replication cycle, a small number of parasites take a different pathway: that of sexual conversion to generate gametocytes. This sexual form of the parasite is the only one that can be transmitted to the mosquito. Sexual conversion is a highly regulated process, since the parasite needs to maintain a balance between asexual replication within the host and transmission between hosts. "From an evolutionary point of view, the parasite's capacity to adjust its sexual conversion rate in response to the host's conditions is clearly advantageous," explains Alfred Cortés, ICREA researcher at ISGlobal and study coordinator. One factor that clearly decreases the parasite's "comfort" within the host is exposure to parasite-killing drugs.


Social isolation puts women at higher risk of hypertension


News Release 28-Oct-2020
University of British Columbia

It's no secret that loneliness and social isolation have a negative impact on the mental and physical health of older adults. Now, researchers at the University of British Columbia are discovering that social isolation affects the health of men and women in different ways--including placing women at higher risk of high blood pressure.

In a study recently published in the Journal of Hypertension, researchers discovered that middle aged and older women who lacked social ties were much more likely than men to suffer from hypertension--a known risk factor for heart disease, which is the leading cause of death among women--and stroke.


In study of 30,000 mild-to-moderate COVID-19 patients, antibody responses can persist for five months

News Release 28-Oct-2020
American Association for the Advancement of Science


Researchers who studied antibody responses in 30,000 patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 report that the patients' antibodies were relatively stable for at least five months. Although the results do not yet provide conclusive evidence that these levels protect from reinfection, Ania Wajnberg and colleagues say they "believe it is very likely that they will decrease the odds ratio of reinfection and may attenuate disease in the case of breakthrough infection."


Close to 17 percent of patients recovered from COVID-19 could still carry virus

News Release 28-Oct-2020
Although meeting the criteria for discontinuation of quarantine, patients with persistent respiratory symptoms are more likely to test positive for the virus, finds a new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine

A new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, published by Elsevier, presents new data that address important questions pertaining to the containment of the coronavirus pandemic: When should COVID-19 quarantine really end and which continuing symptoms may be more indicative of a positive test in recovered patients?


Investigators report that close to 17 percent of patients considered fully recovered from COVID-19 tested positive for the virus in follow-up screening. Patients who continued to have respiratory symptoms, especially sore throat and rhinitis, were more likely to have a new positive test result. This suggests the persistence of these two symptoms should not be underestimated and should be adequately assessed in all patients considered recovered from COVID-19.


FBI agents back Christopher Wray in letters to Trump, Biden and warn that firing him could 'damage' bureau

Kevin Johnson and David Jackson, USA TODAY
,USA TODAY•October 28, 2020

FBI agents voiced their support Wednesday for embattled Director Christopher Wray, warning President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden that his untimely removal could "undermine stability" within the federal government's premier law enforcement agency.

The action by the FBI Agents Association, representing 14,000 active and retired agents, comes as Trump is weighing a number of key staff changes after the election, including the dismissal of Wray, who has served just more than three years of 10-year term following the abrupt removal of James Comey in 2017.


The association lauded Wray for leading the agency through the uncertainty that followed Comey's dismissal, crediting the former Justice Department official with adhering to an non-partisan, independent brand of leadership.

"He has not led the bureau in a political manner, and politics should not determine his fate as director," the association said. "While the president can remove an FBI director,

doing so could lead to instability and damage to the Bureau’s operations..."


Asked if he thought Trump’s campaign was unfairly targeted in the Russia investigation, Wray said: “I do not.”

“I don’t know what report current Director of the FBI Christopher Wray was reading, but it sure wasn’t the one given to me,” Trump tweeted then, adding that Wray “with that kind of attitude will never be able to fix the FBI...”

More recently, Wray has drawn Trump’s ire for his testimony during congressional hearings in September when he highlighted the conclusions of intelligence officials who warned that Russia was actively attempting to denigrate the candidacy of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

"Director Wray’s highest priorities have been to ensure that the bureau conducts investigations in an impartial way and in compliance with the law and the Constitution, and that agents perform their duties with integrity and professionalism," the association said. "Our country is safer because of him."

Trump Secretly Mocks His Christian Supporters

McKay Coppins
September 29, 2020

One day in 2015, Donald Trump beckoned Michael Cohen, his longtime confidant and personal attorney, into his office. Trump was brandishing a printout of an article about an Atlanta-based megachurch pastor trying to raise $60 million from his flock to buy a private jet. Trump knew the preacher personally—Creflo Dollar had been among a group of evangelical figures who visited him in 2011 while he was first exploring a presidential bid. During the meeting, Trump had reverently bowed his head in prayer while the pastors laid hands on him. Now he was gleefully reciting the impious details of Dollar’s quest for a Gulfstream G650.

Trump seemed delighted by the “scam,” Cohen recalled to me, and eager to highlight that the pastor was “full of shit.”

“They’re all hustlers,” Trump said.

The president’s alliance with religious conservatives has long been premised on the contention that he takes them seriously, while Democrats hold them in disdain.


But in private, many of Trump’s comments about religion are marked by cynicism and contempt, according to people who have worked for him. Former aides told me they’ve heard Trump ridicule conservative religious leaders, dismiss various faith groups with cartoonish stereotypes, and deride certain rites and doctrines held sacred by many of the Americans who constitute his base.


It helped that Trump seemed to feel a kinship with prosperity preachers—often evincing a game-recognizes-game appreciation for their hustle. The former campaign adviser recalled showing his boss a YouTube video of the Israeli televangelist Benny Hinn performing “faith healings,” while Trump laughed at the spectacle and muttered, “Man, that’s some racket.” On another occasion, the adviser told me, Trump expressed awe at Joel Osteen’s media empire—particularly the viewership of his televised sermons.

In Cohen’s recent memoir, Disloyal, he recounts Trump returning from his 2011 meeting with the pastors who laid hands on him and sneering, “Can you believe that bullshit?” But if Trump found their rituals ridiculous, he followed their moneymaking ventures closely. “He was completely familiar with the business dealings of the leadership in many prosperity-gospel churches,” the adviser told me.


To those who have known and worked with Trump closely, the notion that he might have a secret spiritual side is laughable. “I always assumed he was an atheist,” Barbara Res, a former executive at the Trump Organization, told me. “He’s not a religious guy,” A. J. Delgado, who worked on his 2016 campaign, told me. “Whenever I see a picture of him standing in a group of pastors, all of their hands on him, I see a thought bubble [with] the words ‘What suckers,’” Mary Trump, the president’s niece, told me.


Hospitals in Wisconsin, Texas under strain as COVID-19 cases surge

Maria Caspani and Lisa Shumaker
,Reuters•October 28, 2020

UW Health University Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin has been rushing to convert available space into units for COVID-19 patients, as the state's medical facilities struggle to keep pace with a surge in new infections.

As part of the effort, the medical center opened a new intensive care unit (ICU) this week ahead of schedule, and it is quickly filling with coronavirus patients.

"Today we have more patients than we've had ever before," said Dr. Jeff Pothof, an emergency medicine physician at UW Health. "It's putting a strain on our capacity. Our biggest concern is ICU staffing."

Wisconsin, a hotly contested battleground in next week's presidential election, is one of 36 states where coronavirus hospitalizations are rising by at least 10% compared to the previous week, according to a Reuters analysis.

"We are at another critical point in the pandemic response," Admiral Brett Giroir, an assistant U.S. health secretary, told NBC's "Today" show. "Cases are going up in most states across the country."

More than 44,000 U.S. coronavirus patients were in hospitals on Tuesday, the highest number since Aug. 15 and up 40% in October. The nation reported over 74,000 new cases on Tuesday and nearly 1,000 deaths.

The largest increase in U.S. hospitalizations was in Texas, which reported almost 1,000 new COVID-19 hospitalizations on Tuesday, up 20% from a week ago.

With a surge in cases overwhelming local hospitals, the Texas city of El Paso has converted a convention center into a field hospital to treat the overflow.

Twelve states set records for hospitalized COVID-19 patients on Tuesday: Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.


Despite the worsening pandemic and facing criticism that he is prioritizing his re-election above the health of his supporters, President Donald Trump pushed ahead on Wednesday with mass rallies in the final stretch of his campaign.


The number of new COVID-19 cases in the United States has risen 25% in the last week to nearly half a million, while the number of tests performed rose 6%, according to a Reuters analysis.

Giroir emphasized that the spike can be controlled with mitigation efforts, including wearing masks and social distancing.

"If we don't do those things, it may force local officials and government officials in states to have more draconian measures because cases will go up if we don't make a change," he warned.

Republican senators planning how to force Trump out if he loses election, Carl Bernstein claims

Louise Hall
,The Independent•October 26, 2020

Carl Bernstein has claimed that there are a significant number of Republicans in the senate who are making a “plan” for how they would “restrain” president Donald Trump in the event of a constitutional crisis following the election.


Mr Bernstein said that Republicans in the Senate are trying to come up with a “plan” for if “the president provokes a constitutional crisis" and that they “believe he will".

 “They will try to find a way to let law and order and the constitution prevail,” he said.

The journalist and author added: “There are about six, eight, 10 Republicans in the senate who are talking with each other about how to restrain what they regard as an out-of-control, almost madman…who is determined to do anything to hold on to office regardless of its legality.”

The president has on a number of occasions refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power in the event he loses the 3 November presidential election to democratic rival Joe Biden.


Mr Bernstein, who did much of the original news reporting on the Watergate scandal, has been a vocal critic of the president in the run up to the election.

During the interview he explained that he believes that Mr Trump Intends to prolong the count and make it impossible for the electoral college to meet and reach a majority.

“I think he's been very strenuous about telling people around him that he intends to use every tool in his command to see that there is no way that the Democrats and Joe Biden can win this election," he said.

The journalist claimed that some Republicans in Congress were “terribly terribly concerned” about what they regard as “the president's brush with unconstitutional and unthinkable acts to undermine the electoral process”.

Echoing Trump, Kavanaugh argues states have an interest in finalizing results on Election Day

Joey Garrison, USA TODAY
,•October 27, 2020

Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh echoed President Donald Trump’s position on having results of a presidential election finalized on Election Day, perhaps previewing a Supreme Court fight over absentee ballots that could decide a contested outcome.

It came in a concurring opinion late Monday as Kavanaugh sided with the 5-3 majority that found absentee ballots in Wisconsin can only be counted if they are in possession of municipal clerks at the closure of polls on Nov. 3.

Kavanaugh, a Trump appointee to the court, wrote that states like Wisconsin require ballots be received by Election Day to “avoid the chaos and suspicions of impropriety that can ensue if thousands of absentee ballots flow in after election day and potentially flip the results of an election.”

“And those States also want to be able to definitively announce the results of the election on election night, or as soon as possible thereafter,” he said.


Kavanaugh's opinion was not joined by any of the other justices. The court's order was unsigned, but Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justices Neil Gorsuch and Elena Kagan also wrote separately


The notion that counting late-arriving absentee ballots, according to Kavanaugh, could “flip the results of an election" prompted a sharp rebuke by one of the court’s liberal justices.

“There are no results to ‘flip’ until all valid votes are counted,” Kagan wrote in a footnote of her dissenting opinion. “And nothing could be more ‘suspicio[us]’ or ‘improp[er]’ than refusing to tally votes once the clock strikes 12 on election night. To suggest otherwise, especially in these fractious times, is to disserve the electoral process.”

Election results aren't official until states certify them. Federal law allows the counting of absentee and provisional ballots to extend weeks after Election Day.

Projecting winners on election night is an unofficial action typically taken by the media. Deadlines to certify results vary by state. Electors meet Dec. 14 to formally cast their votes for president based on the winner of the popular votes in their states.


"Take it from me," wrote Biden senior advisor Ron Klain, who worked as chief of staff for Gore. "The only way to avoid Bush v Gore II is to win by enough votes that 2020 never gets to the Supreme Court. Don't let the Court have this power: all of us, at the ballot box, need to decide this election."

Kavanaugh, a former associate counsel and staff secretary in Bush's White House, is one of three justices who worked for Bush's legal team on the Bush v. Gore case. Roberts, who was in private practice at the time, and Barrett also assisted. Barrett provided briefing assistance while working for a Washington law firm. 

Trump’s company billed the government at least $2.5 million. Here are the key charges.

By David A. Fahrenthold
Oct. 27, 2020 at 2:06 p.m. EDT

President Trump has visited his own properties more than 280 times since he took office — hosting summits at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida, taking summer breaks at his club in Bedminster, N.J., and pausing international trips to visit his golf resorts in Scotland and Ireland.

These visits brought the president to familiar places, full of friends, family and political supporters.

They also brought his company money, from American taxpayers.

The Washington Post has obtained federal spending records showing that — while Trump was visiting his properties — his company was benefiting from payments from the U.S. government.

The total: at least $2.5 million in taxpayer funds. Much of that spending was triggered by Trump’s travel, or the travel of his family and aides.

These were some of the notable charges:

When Trump hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago in April 2017, Trump hosted a formal dinner at the club — and, over dessert, told Xi that the United States had fired missiles into Syria, he said. Trump later said the dessert was: “The most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that you’ve ever seen.”

Trump’s club later charged the government more than $7,000 for the 30-person dinner, including charges for wine, floral arrangements and decorative potted palm trees. The bill appears to include Trump’s own meal.


Trump’s club in Bedminster, N.J., charges the Secret Service $17,000 a month, every month, from May to November each year. The reason: the Secret Service uses a cottage on the club grounds, near the cottages that Trump and his daughter Ivanka use.

These rental charges — which are unusually high for homes in the area — continue whether Trump or his family are present or not. The reason: A former administration official said that, because Trump’s travels are unpredictable, the Secret Service needed to have a place reserved just in case.

“If he came in the Oval on, let’s say, on a Wednesday and said, ‘I want to go this weekend,’ you have to be ready,” the former administration official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe internal administration matters.


The records show that Trump’s adult children have driven business to their family company, by visiting Trump properties with their own Secret Service agents in tow. Agents followed Eric Trump to the company’s golf clubs in Scotland and Ireland, as the president’s son led tours for paying customers. Agents also accompanied Ivanka Trump on multiple trips to the Trump club in Bedminster.

Those visits make the Secret Service a captive customer, required to rent rooms near the Trump family. Even when Bedminster was closed because of the coronavirus pandemic this spring, Trump’s company still charged for the agents’ rooms.


This is one of the smallest charges that Trump’s business ever asked taxpayers to pay. But it was also one of the most revealing — showing how aggressive Trump’s club was in billing taxpayers, even for the smallest of services.

When Trump and Abe met at Mar-a-Lago, their first meeting was a brief one on the couch in Mar-a-Lago’s central living room. The two men shook hands for the press, and made brief remarks about what they hoped the summit would achieve.

There was no food served. No private room to rent. Seemingly, nothing to charge for.

But Mar-a-Lago still sent the government a bill.

“Bilateral meeting,” the bill said. “Water.” The price was $3 each, including service charge. Taxpayers had effectively paid Trump’s company to serve him water.

Invisible threat: Listeria in smoked fish

News Release 7-Oct-2020
BfR Federal Institute for Risk Assessment

In 2018, 701 cases of severe invasive listeriosis were communicated to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), which translates into 0.8 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Most listeriosis illnesses reported are severe and are associated with blood poisoning, meningitis or miscarriages, for example. In 2018, the disease was fatal in 5% of cases. Elderly people, people with weakened immune defences, pregnant women and their new-born babies are particularly vulnerable. Listeria can be found in a large variety of foods of plant and animal origin. Cold or hot-smoked fish are often contaminated and are, therefore, also suspected of transmitting this illness. Other fish products and seafood eaten raw, such as sushi, sashimi and oysters or cured products such as graved fish, may also be affected. "Pregnant women, elderly people or those with weakened immune defences should only eat fish and seafood that have been thoroughly heated," says BfR President Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel.


How narcissistic leaders infect their organizations' cultures

I suggest reading the whole article.  I left out much that was informative to respect intellectual property rights.


News Release 5-Oct-2020
University of California - Berkeley Haas School of Business

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all? The answer: not the organizations led by narcissists.

A new paper by Berkeley Haas Prof. Jennifer Chatman and colleagues shows not only the profound impact narcissistic leaders have on their organizations, but also the long-lasting damage they inflict. Like carriers of a virus, narcissistic leaders "infect" the very cultures of their organizations, the researchers found, leading to dramatically lower levels of collaboration and integrity at all levels--even after they are gone.


In previous research about toxic leaders, Chatman and her colleagues found that narcissistic CEOs have a dark side that reveals itself slowly over time. Their exploitative, self-absorbed behavior sets them apart from the charismatic, "transformational" leaders they are often confused with. They are also paid more than their non-narcissistic peers, and there's a larger gap between their pay and those of other top executives in their companies, often because they are so good at unfairly claiming credit for other's accomplishments. Narcissistic leaders get their companies involved in more lawsuits, as well, Chatman and her colleagues' research has found.

Narcissistic leaders have personalities that are profoundly grandiose, overconfident, and dishonest, credit-stealing, and blame-throwing, according to Chatman. They are abusive to their subordinates, think they are superior, don't listen to experts, create conflict, and believe the rules simply don't apply to them. They can explode in rage at any sign of disagreement or disloyalty. There's always an "I" in their conception of the team.


"Narcissistic leaders affect the core elements of organizations and their impact on society," says Chatman, the Paul J. Cortese Distinguished Professor of Management. "Companies organize because they can do something together that no individual could accomplish alone. When narcissistic leaders undermine collaboration, they by definition reduce the effectiveness of an organization. Without integrity, an organization risks its very survival."


Yet the mythology persists: Don't bold, visionary leaders like Elon Musk of Tesla or Steve Jobs of Apple need to be a little bit narcissistic in order to have the self-confidence to launch innovative and supremely risky ventures? The answer is a definite no, says Chatman. "You can have confidence and be innovative, and not be self-involved, exploitative of others, overconfident, and risk-insensitive," she says. "Bill Gates is a perfect countervailing example. But somehow, the lay public, especially in the U.S., has developed a view that leaders are supposed to be loud-talking and overconfident."


hatman says that one of the best ways to mitigate the damage narcissistic leaders can cause is to base a significant part of their compensation and performance evaluation on the development of their people. Boards can also align a leader's compensation to the performance of their team, and boards can devise ways to reward collaboration with peers. Measures such as these help ensure leaders cannot circumvent sharing credit and working with others.

Chatman's findings show that after a narcissist leader gets a strong foothold, removing them is only the first step in repairing the organization. "Boards can't assume that simply by removing a leader, they will be able to change how people in the organization behave," she says. "The culture leaders helped create will still be embedded in the policies and practices that reward people for prioritizing uncollaborative and unethical behaviors. Turning around this kind of culture will take explicit effort and likely a significant amount of time." 

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Kid influencers are promoting junk food brands on YouTube -- garnering more than a billion views


News Release 26-Oct-2020
Little-known but common form of product placement boosts children's exposure to unhealthy food, warrants stronger regulations
New York University

Kids with wildly popular YouTube channels are frequently promoting unhealthy food and drinks in their videos, warn researchers at NYU School of Global Public Health and NYU Grossman School of Medicine in a new study published in the journal Pediatrics.

Food and beverage companies spend $1.8 billion dollars a year marketing their products to young people. Although television advertising is a major source of food marketing, companies have dramatically increased online advertising in response to consumers' growing social media use.

"Kids already see several thousand food commercials on television every year, and adding these YouTube videos on top of it may make it even more difficult for parents and children to maintain a healthy diet," said Marie Bragg, assistant professor of public health nutrition at NYU School of Global Public Health and assistant professor in the Department of Population Health at NYU Langone. "We need a digital media environment that supports healthy eating instead of discouraging it."


Hard physical work significantly increases the risk of dementia

News Release 26-Oct-2020
University of Copenhagen The Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

The muscles and joints are not the only parts of the body to be worn down by physical work. The brain and heart suffer too. A new study from the University of Copenhagen shows that people doing hard physical work have a 55-per cent higher risk of developing dementia than those doing sedentary work. The figures have been adjusted for lifestyle factors and lifetime, among other things.


"For example, the WHO guide to preventing dementia and disease on the whole mentions physical activity as an important factor. But our study suggests that it must be a 'good' form of physical activity, which hard physical work is not. Guides from the health authorities should therefore differentiate between physical activity in your spare time and physical activity at work, as there is reason to believe that the two forms of physical activity have opposite effects," Kirsten Nabe-Nielsen says and explains that even when you take smoking, blood pressure, overweight, alcohol intake and physical activity in one's spare time into account, hard physical work is associated with an increased occurrence of dementia.


Air pollution, green space and built environment characteristics may influence body mass index during infancy

News Release 26-Oct-2020
Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal)

Exposure to higher air pollution levels and greater population density during the early months of life may be associated with an increase in children's body mass index (BMI). By contrast, living in areas with greater exposure to green space and a more favourable land use mix (a measure of the variety of building types and services in an area) could be associated with the opposite effect.


People with type 2 diabetes need not avoid eating potatoes based on glycemic index

News Release 26-Oct-2020
Alliance for Potato Research and Education

People with type 2 Diabetes (T2D) are frequently told to avoid eating potatoes, and other high Glycemic Index (GI) foods, because of the longstanding perception that these foods make it difficult to control blood sugar levels. This is especially problematic during the night when blood sugar tends to spike -- a phenomenon that has been associated with cardiovascular disease and endothelial disfunction. However, for the first time, a rigorously controlled clinical trial, including 24 adults with T2D, demonstrates that GI is not an accurate surrogate for an individual's glycemic response (GR) to a food consumed as part of an evening meal. Specifically, the findings published in Clinical Nutrition show that participants had a better 'nocturnal' GR when they ate a mixed meal with skinless white potatoes compared to an isoenergetic and macronutrient-matched mixed meal that included a low GI carbohydrate food -- basmati rice.

"Despite its frequent use among nutrition researchers, GI is not an appropriate tool for understanding how a meal impacts glycemic control; it is a very specific measurement for foods consumed in isolation, typically conducted under controlled laboratory conditions," says Dr. Brooke Devlin, PhD, the primary investigator, at Australian Catholic University in Melbourne. "It's rare that people eat foods in isolation, and findings from this study demonstrate how other factors, such as the time of day or food pairings, need to be considered when investigating the GR of mixed meals in individuals with T2D."


Deforestation and land-clearing are taking a toll on Brazil's corn yield

News Release 29-Jun-2020
Dartmouth College

Brazil is one of the top three producers of both soy and corn globally, and its agricultural sector accounts for one-fifth of the country's economy. Deforestation and land-clearing practices have long been linked to decreases in biodiversity, and increases in temperature, stream flow, fire occurence, and carbon dioxide emissions. According to a Dartmouth study published in Nature Sustainability, these land-clearing practices in Brazil are also altering the climate and can significantly reduce corn yields.


Artificially sweetened drinks may not be heart healthier than sugary drinks

News Release 26-Oct-2020
Research shows high consumption of both types of beverages associated with higher risk of heart disease
American College of Cardiology


Sugary drinks and artificially sweetened beverages are associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, which suggests artificially sweetened beverages may not be the healthy alternative they are often claimed to be, according to a research letter in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.


Compared to non-consumers, both higher consumers of sugary drinks and of artificially sweetened beverages had higher risks of first incident cardiovascular disease, after taking into account a wide range of confounding factors.


Genetic predisposition to increased weight is protective for breast and prostate cancer

News Release 26-Oct-2020
American Society of Human Genetics

Although a recent campaign by Cancer Research UK emphasized obesity as a risk factor for cancer on par with smoking, the scientific literature on the relationship between increased weight and cancer risk is not so clear.


Most studies of the impact of obesity on cancer risk are observational. To distinguish causation from correlation, Mr. Amin and his colleagues used an epidemiological technique known as Mendelian randomization. Using data from the UK Biobank, they compared rates of cancer between people who are genetically predisposed to be heavier and people who are genetically predisposed to be lighter. This allowed the researchers to estimate a causal association between increased weight and cancer risk independent of any confounding variables.

The researchers found that although heavier women have an increased risk of breast cancer, women who are genetically predisposed to being heavier are less likely to develop breast cancer. This disparity suggests the increased incidence of breast cancer in heavier women is likely due to additional differences between the two groups. Mr. Amin and his colleagues plan on investigating what these differences might be in the future.

Heavier men were less likely to develop prostate cancer compared to those who were lighter, both observationally and when using genetically predicted measures.

Interestingly, this effect is significantly stronger in men who are exposed to carcinogenic substances at work, supporting the hypothesis that fat cells play a role in absorbing and safely storing harmful chemicals.


"Furthermore, there may even be certain risks in advising fat loss if, for example, if fat cells are involved in the absorption of carcinogenic substances."

Impacts of family structure on puberty onset in girls

News Release 27-Oct-2020
BMC (BioMed Central)

Girls who do not live with both parents from birth to age two may be at higher risk of starting puberty at a younger age than girls living with both parents, research published in the open access journal BMC Pediatrics suggests. The authors suggest that their findings support the hypothesis that stress in early life may influence puberty onset. The risk of early puberty onset could potentially be mitigated by interventions aiming to improve child wellbeing, according to the authors.


A study has demonstrated that omega-3 rich foods improve post-heart attack prognosis

News Release 27-Oct-2020
IMIM (Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute)

A team of researchers from the Germans Trias i Pujol Hospital and Research Institute (IGTP) and the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute (IMIM) has shown that regularly consuming foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, from both animal and vegetable origins, strengthens the heart's membranes and helps improve the prognosis in the event of a myocardial infarction.


Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) is a type of omega-3 fatty acid found in oily fish. When we eat oily fish on a regular basis, EPA is incorporated into the phospholipids in the membranes of the cardiomyocytes, protecting them from a wide variety of heart stressors. This enrichment of the myocardial membranes limits the damage caused in the event of a heart attack.

The major novelty of this study is that it also focused on another omega-3 fatty acid, of vegetable origin, known as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). This fat, which is found in walnuts as well as soybeans and their derivatives, is far less well studied than marine omega-3s. The researchers observed that EPA and ALA do not compete, but are complementary to one another. While high levels of EPA are associated with a lower risk of hospital readmission from cardiovascular causes, higher levels of ALA are associated with a reduced risk of death.

Antoni Bayés, clinical director of Cardiology at Germans Trias, concludes: "Incorporating marine and vegetable omega-3s into the diet of patients at risk of cardiovascular disease is an integrative strategy for improving both their quality of life and prognosis if they suffer a heart attack."

Aleix Sala, a researcher at IMIM-Hospital del Mar and responsible for the blood testing, states: "The article is important because it highlights the complementary (and non-competitive) effects of the two types of omega-3." 

Scientists discover how a common mutation leads to 'night owl' sleep disorder

I wonder if I have this mutation?

News Release 27-Oct-2020
A small change in a key component of our biological clocks lengthens the clock period, causing people to stay up late at night and sleep late in the morning
University of California - Santa Cruz

A new study by researchers at UC Santa Cruz shows how a genetic mutation throws off the timing of the biological clock, causing a common sleep syndrome called delayed sleep phase disorder.

People with this condition are unable to fall asleep until late at night (often after 2 a.m.) and have difficulty getting up in the morning. In 2017, scientists discovered a surprisingly common mutation that causes this sleep disorder by altering a key component of the biological clock that maintains the body's daily rhythms. The new findings, published October 26 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reveal the molecular mechanisms involved and point the way toward potential treatments.


Daily cycles in virtually every aspect of our physiology are driven by cyclical interactions of clock proteins in our cells. Genetic variations that change the clock proteins can alter the timing of the clock and cause sleep phase disorders. A shortened clock cycle causes people to go to sleep and wake up earlier than normal (the "morning lark" effect), while a longer clock cycle makes people stay up late and sleep in (the "night owl" effect).

Most of the mutations known to alter the clock are very rare, Partch said. They are important to scientists as clues to understanding the mechanisms of the clock, but a given mutation may only affect one in a million people. The genetic variant identified in the 2017 study, however, was found in around one in 75 people of European descent.


Coronavirus in the U.S. is spreading like 'wildfire,' epidemiologist says

Akshay Syal
,NBC News•October 26, 2020

Coronavirus cases are climbing at an alarming rate in the U.S., raising fears that parts of the country are in a third wave of Covid-19.

Nationwide, cases Friday were 79,303, the second day in a row of record-setting confirmed new cases of the coronavirus. Over the weekend, the U.S. added 79,059 cases on Saturday and 64,603 cases on Sunday according to an NBC News tally. According to the COVID Tracking Project, the 7-day average for new cases of the coronavirus is 69,692, the highest number to date. There are also nearly 43,000 Americans hospitalized with Covid-19, the highest number since August 19th.

Fewer than 10 states in the country are not experiencing increases of infection.


Fauci and other experts are particularly concerned that the recent surge in cases is starting from a higher baseline of roughly 40,000 cases per day, compared with 20,000 cases per day during the summer surge.

“Each wave we start from a higher baseline and we start climbing,” Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health said, noting that during the summer, infections were rising most in the South and Southwest. "This time, it's all around the country and we're heading into winter, where the virus becomes more efficient in spreading."


Small gatherings are now playing a larger role in driving transmission, Smith said, and can be tied to the fatigue from a pandemic nearing its eighth month.

“Everyone wants to feel a bit of normalcy, even if for an evening,” she said.

As the U.S. heads into the winter holiday months, doubling-down on basic public health measures is even more crucial, especially wearing a mask and avoiding crowds and close contact in closed spaces with poor ventilation, experts say.

“When you're dealing with the first full winter of the worst pandemic that we have seen in a century, the capacity for chaos is there and is real," Hanage said. "The virus likes chaos."

Two years after Trump put a shovel in the ground, Wisconsin is still waiting on Foxconn to come through

Ricardo Torres, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
,USA TODAY•October 27, 2020

The Foxconn Technology Group project in Mount Pleasant was billed as an economic game changer for Wisconsin.

In 2018, President Donald Trump came to the village and, alongside then-Gov. Scott Walker and Foxconn founder Terry Gou, literally put a golden shovel in the ground and declared the development would become “the eighth wonder of the world.”

Two years later, the project has been dramatically scaled back and has failed to hire enough people to win even the first promised job-creation payments from the state.

And, one week from the Nov. 3 election, one of Trump's signature promises in Wisconsin – part of a pledge to create a boon of manufacturing jobs in the state – is a long way from being fulfilled.


Mitch McConnell just adjourned the Senate until November 9, ending the prospect of additional coronavirus relief until after the election

Tyler Sonnemaker
,Business Insider•October 26, 2020

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday motioned for the Senate to adjourn until November 9.

The move shuts down the Senate from doing any legislative business, including reaching a deal on additional coronavirus aid, until after voters have cast their ballots, and it comes on the heels of Monday's 52-48 vote to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the US Supreme Court.


Republicans had instead insisted that a "skinny" bill of $500 billion would be enough, but their proposal omitted aid to states as well as $1,200 direct payments to taxpayers, both key Democratic priorities, and the Democrats ultimately tanked the measure last week.

Trump planning to axe top security chiefs in White House shake-up if re-elected — report

In other words, he will fire people who are loyal to our country and their duties to it.

Matt Mathers
,The Independent•October 26, 2020

President Donald Trump is reportedly planning to axe top security chiefs seen as disloyal to the administration if he wins re-election in November.

Top of the pile are FBI director Christopher Wray, CIA director Gina Haspel and defence secretary Mark Esper, according to two sources familiar with the plans.

Mr Trump, 74, plans to scythe through a raft of top officials if he secures a second term in the White House.

But Mr Wray, Ms Haspel and Mr Esper are understood to be the priorities because they are not trusted by the president's top team.

He would have sacked the trio already had it not been so close to election day, sources told Axios.


18-year-old freshman at University of Dayton apparently dies from Covid-19

Wilson Wong
,NBC News•October 26, 2020

An 18-year-old freshman at the University of Dayton in Ohio died Thursday “apparently due to complications from" coronavirus, school officials said.

Michael Lang, a first-year student in the College of Arts and Sciences, died in LaGrange, Illinois, after a long hospitalization, the university said. It was not clear how long Lang had been hospitalized or whether he contracted the virus on or off campus.


Lang isn’t the first college student to die from Covid-19 or related complications.

Earlier in September, 20-year-old football player Jamain Stephens Jr. at California University of Pennsylvania passed away from Covid-19 complications, NBC Washington reported.

And late last month, NBC News reported that Chad Dorill, a “healthy” sophomore at Appalachian State University died from coronavirus at age 19.


Salary Council Chairman Resigns in Protest of Trump Order Politicizing Federal Workforce

Another step on the way to tyranny.

Erich Wagner

October 26, 2020 12:13 PM ET

The chairman of a advisory council on federal compensation issues resigned from his post on Monday, saying that he can no longer “in good conscience” serve in the Trump administration after the president signed an executive order that would politicize a wide swath of the federal workforce.

Ron Sanders, who heads the Federal Salary Council, which annually submits recommendations to the President’s Pay Agent on locality pay and other federal compensation issues, submitted a letter of resignation to White House Presidential Personnel Office Director John McEntee, excoriating an executive order last week creating a new Schedule F within the excepted service for “confidential, policy-determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating positions.”

The order instructs agencies to identify which positions qualify as policy-making and transfer existing career workers into the new job classification, stripping them of their civil service protections and making them effectively at-will employees. OPM last week told agencies that they would have wide latitude in deciding which jobs would meet the requirements for the new Schedule F, exacerbating fears among federal employee groups and good government experts that the White House plans to sidestep more than a century of civil service laws.

In his resignation letter, which was obtained by Government Executive, Sanders described his decision to step down as “a matter of conscience,” and he accused the administration of misleading the public about the purpose of the initiative.

“On its surface, the president’s executive order purports to serve a legitimate and laudable purpose—that is, to hold career federal employees ‘more accountable’ for their performance,” Sanders wrote. “That is something that I have spent most of my professional life—almost four decades in federal service (over 20 as a member of the Senior Executive Service)—trying to do. However, it is clear that its stated purpose withstanding, the executive order is nothing more than a smokescreen for what is clearly an attempt to require the political loyalty of those who advise the president, or failing that, to enable their removal with little if any due process.”

Sanders wrote that although he is a lifelong Republican, he takes great pride in the fact that he served under three Democratic and three Republican presidents.


Monday, October 26, 2020

US sets new record for average daily coronavirus cases


By Peter Sullivan - 10/26/20 11:36 AM EDT

The United States set a record Sunday for new coronavirus cases averaged over a seven-day period, as cases march steadily upward.

The average new cases per day over a seven-day period was 68,954 on Sunday, according to the Covid Tracking Project, beating the previous record of 66,844 set on July 23.

The country has now passed the July peak, and there is no end in sight as the weather gets colder and more activity moves indoors, where the virus spreads more easily.


However, hospitalizations are also rising, a sign that the rise in cases is not just because of more testing. There are more than 41,000 people hospitalized with coronavirus, up from around 30,000 at the end of September.

The percentage of tests coming back positive is also rising, another sign of the rising spread of the virus. It is now at about 6 percent nationally and climbing, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, said Sunday that the administration did not even have the goal of getting the pandemic under control.


Adrianna Rodriguez
Jessica Flores
Jorge L. Ortiz

Oct. 26, 2020

The U.S. had more than 481,372 new cases of COVID-19 last week, setting a record for the most new infections reported in a week since the pandemic began.

Nearly half the country set records for new COVID-19 cases in a week while five states had a record number of deaths in a week: Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming.


The U.S. had more than 481,372 new cases of COVID-19 last week, setting a record for the most new infections reported in a week since the pandemic began.

Nearly half the country set records for new COVID-19 cases in a week while five states had a record number of deaths in a week: Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming.


Democrats warn GOP will regret Barrett confirmation

By Jordain Carney - 10/26/20 09:39 PM EDT

Democratic senators are warning that Republicans will regret confirming Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court as the Democrats face pressure from the left to nix the filibuster and expand the court if they win back the majority.

Democrats are facing calls from their base to enact rules changes and broad systemic reforms after President Trump, who lost the popular vote in 2016, was able to put three justices on the bench, in part because Republicans refused to give Merrick Garland, former President Obama's final nominee, a hearing or a vote in 2016. 


Several Democratic senators warned as part of the chamber’s debate over Barrett that Republicans have lost the right to kvetch if Democrats win back the majority and change the rules. Republicans nixed the filibuster in 2017 for Supreme Court nominees and reduced the debate time in 2019 for lower court and executive picks.


Republicans closely resemble autocratic parties in Hungary and Turkey – study

No surprise.

 Julian Borger in Washington

Mon 26 Oct 2020 01.00 EDT

The Republican party has become dramatically more illiberal in the past two decades and now more closely resembles ruling parties in autocratic societies than its former centre-right equivalents in Europe, according to a new international study.

In a significant shift since 2000, the GOP has taken to demonising and encouraging violence against its opponents, adopting attitudes and tactics comparable to ruling nationalist parties in Hungary, India, Poland and Turkey.

The shift has both led to and been driven by the rise of Donald Trump.

By contrast the Democratic party has changed little in its attachment to democratic norms, and in that regard has remained similar to centre-right and centre-left parties in western Europe. Their principal difference is the approach to the economy.

The new study, the largest ever of its kind, was carried out by the V-Dem Institute at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, using newly developed methods to measure and quantify the health of the world’s democracies at a time when authoritarianism is on the rise.

Anna Lührmann, V-Dem’s deputy director, said the Republican transformation had been “certainly the most dramatic shift in an established democracy”.


The study, published on Monday, shows the party has followed a similar trajectory to Fidesz, which under Viktor Orbán has evolved from a liberal youth movement into an authoritarian party that has made Hungary the first non-democracy in the European Union.


India’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been transformed in similar ways under Narendra Modi, as has the Justice and Development party (AKP) in Turkey under Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Law and Justice party in Poland. Trump and his administration have sought to cultivate close ties to the leadership of those countries.

The Republican party has remained relatively committed to pluralism, but it has gone a long way towards abandoning other democratic norms, becoming much more prone to disrespecting opponents and encouraging violence.


“The data shows that the Republican party in 2018 was far more illiberal than almost all other governing parties in democracies,” the V-Dem study found. “Only very few governing parties in democracies in this millennium (15%) were considered more illiberal than the Republican party in the US.”

The institute has found the decline in democratic traits has accelerated around the world and that for the first time this century, autocracies are in the majority – holding power in 92 countries, home to 54% of the global population.

According to V-Dem’s benchmark, almost 35% of the world’s population, 2.6 billion people, live in nations that are becoming more autocratic.

NPR coddles its corporate donors


Oct. 26, 2020

NPR reported  that Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed to the U.S. supreme court tonight. They commented that she would solidify the conservative majority. The only issues they pointed out were abortion and the second amendment. Of course, she is also likely to solidify the conservative friendliness to big business, against the environment, against workers rights, against our shared future.


Last week, near the end of their pledge drive, they kept talking about how wonderful they are, reporting fairly, etc.  Then they aired the comment that Nancy Pelosi keep raising the bar for a Covid stimulus bill.  No hint of the fact that the republicans in the Senate have been blocking it.  Then they had an interview about it with a republican, who of course also blamed Pelosi for the holdup.  The interviewer did do a little bit of timid fact correction, but it was mostly a republican ad.


Of course, NPR has to keep fr

Now A Hurricane, Zeta Is On Track To Hit Louisiana On Wednesday

October 26, 20206:32 PM ET
Matthew S. Schwartz

Zeta has officially strengthened into a hurricane, and is predicted to make landfall late Monday on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula before setting its sights on the U.S.

Louisiana is directly in the path of Hurricane Zeta, which is expected to make landfall there on Wednesday night. If it does so, it would be the fifth named storm to make landfall in the state during a single year — the highest number since the state started keeping records in 1851, state climatologist Barry Keim told The Times-Picayune. (A few other storms have crossed into Louisiana after making landfall in other states.)


Zeta has officially strengthened into a hurricane, and is predicted to make landfall late Monday on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula before setting its sights on the U.S.

Louisiana is directly in the path of Hurricane Zeta, which is expected to make landfall there on Wednesday night. If it does so, it would be the fifth named storm to make landfall in the state during a single year — the highest number since the state started keeping records in 1851, state climatologist Barry Keim told The Times-Picayune. (A few other storms have crossed into Louisiana after making landfall in other states.)

tags: extreme weather, severe weather,

GM and Ford knew about climate change 50 years ago, energy trade publication has uncovered

Published: Oct. 26, 2020 at 3:00 p.m. ET
By Rachel Koning Beals

Scientists at two of America’s major automakers knew as early as the 1960s that car and truck emissions caused climate change, but internal research was stifled while funding to undermine environmental causes persisted, a months-long investigation by energy trade publication E&E News has found.

The environmental data kicked up the ranks inside General Motors Corp. GM, -2.74% and Ford Motor Co. F, -1.59% instead was parlayed into decades of political lobbying by the two car giants that undermined global attempts to reduce heat-trapping emissions. The two automakers in recent months joined a wave of corporations in setting zero-emissions target dates in the coming decades, while embracing rising customer demand for electric vehicles.

A GM scientist in the 1960s presented her findings to at least three high-level executives at the company, including a former chairman and CEO. It’s unclear whether similar warnings reached the top brass at Ford, the report said.

“We also know that certainly by the 1980s and 1990s, the auto industry was involved in efforts to undermine climate science and stop progress to address climate change,” Carroll Muffett, president and CEO of the Center for International Environmental Law, said in the piece. “But a different path was available.”


The discovery is reminiscent of the reporting about five years ago that laid bare the extent of knowledge of global climate-change impact within Exxon Mobil XOM, -2.37%, spawning the campaign #ExxonKnew.


Sunday, October 25, 2020

Biden tweet from exactly one year ago warns US is ‘not prepared’ for a pandemic

Danielle Zoellner
,The Independent•October 25, 2020

A tweet from Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden from one year ago in which he made the claim the United States was “not prepared” for a pandemic has gone viral

“We are not prepared for a pandemic. Trump has rolled back progress President Obama and I made to strengthen global health security. We need leadership that builds public trust, focuses on real threats, and mobilises the world to stop outbreaks before they reach our shores,” Mr Biden wrote on 25 October, 2019.

Mr Biden made the tweet months before reports indicated there was a novel coronavirus spreading through China.


An interview with veteran journalist Bob Woodward revealed that President Donald Trump knew about the potential severity of Covid-19 back in January, but at the same time he was telling the American public it was not a problem.

“This is deadly stuff," the president told Woodward during one interview on 7 February. "You just breathe the air and that's how it's passed. And so that's a very tricky one. That's a very delicate one. It's also more deadly than even your strenuous flu."

Three days later, Mr Trump told a rally crowd it would “miraculously go away” by April.


In recent days, Mr Trump has claimed the US was “turning a corner” in the pandemic. But on Friday the country recorded its highest single-day number of new coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic.

Hospitalisations are also on the rise across at least 33 states.