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Ghost Dog

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Gender: Do not display
Hometown: Canary Islands Archipelago
Home country: Spain
Member since: Wed Apr 19, 2006, 01:59 PM
Number of posts: 16,607

About Me

A Brit many years in Spain, Catalunya, Baleares, Canarias. Cooperative member. Geography. Ecology. Cartography. Software. Sound Recording. Music Production. Languages & Literature. History.

Journal Archives

Not the U. S. alone, it seems :

Mossad officer describes covert global battle to obtain ventilators at all costs

... "I have overseen many operations in my life, and I’ve never dealt with such a complex operation,” said the Mossad officer, identified only by the Hebrew initial “Het.”... "We are utilizing our special connections to win the race and perhaps do what the whole world is doing — lay our hands on stocks ordered by others,” he said...

He said that unlike three or four days ago, he was now confident that Israel would weather the crisis much better than Italy, Spain and the United States, and that there will be no shortage of equipment...


What will the world be like after coronavirus? Four possible futures

... The fact that so many people work pointless jobs is partly why we are so ill prepared to respond to COVID-19. The pandemic is highlighting that many jobs are not essential, yet we lack sufficient key workers to respond when things go bad.

People are compelled to work pointless jobs because in a society where exchange value is the guiding principle of the economy, the basic goods of life are mainly available through markets. This means you have to buy them, and to buy them you need an income, which comes from a job. The other side of this coin is that the most radical (and effective) responses that we are seeing to the COVID-19 outbreak challenge the dominance of markets and exchange value. Around the world governments are taking actions that three months ago looked impossible. In Spain, private hospitals have been nationalised. In the UK, the prospect of nationalising various modes of transport has become very real. And France has stated its readiness to nationalise large businesses. Likewise, we are seeing the breakdown of labour markets. Countries like Denmark and the UK are providing people with an income in order to stop them from going to work. This is an essential part of a successful lockdown. These measures are far from perfect. Nonetheless, it is a shift from the principle that people have to work in order to earn their income, and a move towards the idea that people deserve to be able to live even if they cannot work...

... One of the things the COVID-19 crisis could be doing, is expanding that economic imagination. As governments and citizens take steps that three months ago seemed impossible, our ideas about how the world works could change rapidly. Let us look at where this re-imagining could take us. To help us visit the future, I’m going to use a technique from the field of futures studies. You take two factors you think will be important in driving the future, and you imagine what will happen under different combinations of those factors. The factors I want to take are value and centralisation. Value refers to whatever is the guiding principle of our economy. Do we use our resources to maximise exchanges and money, or do we use them to maximise life? Centralisation refers to the ways that things are organised, either by of lots of small units or by one big commanding force. We can organise these factors into a grid, which can then be populated with scenarios. So we can think about what might happen if we try to respond to the coronavirus with the four extreme combinations:

1) State capitalism: centralised response, prioritising exchange value
2) Barbarism: decentralised response prioritising exchange value
3) State socialism: centralised response, prioritising the protection of life
4) Mutual aid: decentralised response prioritising the protection of life...

Read much more: http://theconversation.com/what-will-the-world-be-like-after-coronavirus-four-possible-futures-134085

The coronavirus did not escape from a lab. Here's how we know.

The coronavirus did not escape from a lab. Here's how we know.... A group of researchers compared the genome of this novel coronavirus with the seven other coronaviruses known to infect humans: SARS, MERS and SARS-CoV-2, which can cause severe disease; along with HKU1, NL63, OC43 and 229E, which typically cause just mild symptoms, the researchers wrote March 17 in the journal Nature Medicine... Kristian Andersen, an associate professor of immunology and microbiology at Scripps Research, and his colleagues looked at the genetic template for the spike proteins that protrude from the surface of the virus. The coronavirus uses these spikes to grab the outer walls of its host's cells and then enter those cells. They specifically looked at the gene sequences responsible for two key features of these spike proteins: the grabber, called the receptor-binding domain, that hooks onto host cells; and the so-called cleavage site that allows the virus to open and enter those cells.

That analysis showed that the "hook" part of the spike had evolved to target a receptor on the outside of human cells called ACE2, which is involved in blood pressure regulation. It is so effective at attaching to human cells that the researchers said the spike proteins were the result of natural selection and not genetic engineering.

Here's why: SARS-CoV-2 is very closely related to the virus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which fanned across the globe nearly 20 years ago. Scientists have studied how SARS-CoV differs from SARS-CoV-2 — with several key letter changes in the genetic code. Yet in computer simulations, the mutations in SARS-CoV-2 don't seem to work very well at helping the virus bind to human cells. If scientists had deliberately engineered this virus, they wouldn't have chosen mutations that computer models suggest won't work. But it turns out, nature is smarter than scientists, and the novel coronavirus found a way to mutate that was better — and completely different— from anything scientists could have created, the study found.

Another nail in the "escaped from evil lab" theory? The overall molecular structure of this virus is distinct from the known coronaviruses and instead most closely resembles viruses found in bats and pangolins that had been little studied and never known to cause humans any harm. "If someone were seeking to engineer a new coronavirus as a pathogen, they would have constructed it from the backbone of a virus known to cause illness," according to a statement from Scripps...


Life after lockdown: has China really beaten coronavirus?

... Some of the concerns about China’s reporting stem from how Beijing classifies patients. While the World Health Organization and South Korea consider anyone who has tested positive for the virus as a confirmed case, China does not include asymptomatic infections in its final tally.

Late on Monday night, Wuhan’s health commission published a Q&A explaining how asymptomatic cases are dealt with. On why such cases are not included as confirmed cases, the commission said that patients were quarantined for 14 days and if they began to show symptoms they would be designated as confirmed and that data would be published.

“A small number of asymptomatic infections may progress to becoming confirmed cases, but the vast majority [of patients] will heal by themselves,” it said.

Critics also question why recovered patients who retest as positive are not counted. Data from quarantine centres in Wuhan showed that the possibility of recovered patients testing positive again was between 5% and 10%, according to the state-run Global Times. Officials in Hubei have said those patients would not be recorded as new confirmed cases because they had been counted previously...


The article contains a few quotes, such as:

“I am really worried that there are still many asymptomatic infected people inside Wuhan. As soon as everyone goes back to work, everyone will be infected,” said Wang, 26, who lives in the city. Another resident added: “I don’t believe [the numbers]. This epidemic will not disappear so easily.”

“Any rational person would doubt these figures,” one internet user wrote in response to an essay posted by a volunteer in Wuhan questioning the statistics.

Cuban doctors head to Italy to battle coronavirus

Source: Reuters

HAVANA (Reuters) - Communist-run Cuba said it dispatched a brigade of doctors and nurses to Italy for the first time this weekend to help in the fight against the novel coronavirus at the request of the worst-affected region Lombardy.

The Caribbean island has sent its “armies of white robes” to disaster sites around the world largely in poor countries since its 1959 revolution. Its doctors were in the front lines in the fight against cholera in Haiti and against ebola in West Africa in the 2010s. Yet with the 52-strong brigade, this is the first time Cuba has sent an emergency contingent to Italy, one of the world’s richest countries, demonstrating the reach of its medical diplomacy.

This is the sixth medical brigade Cuba has sent in recent days to combat the spread of the new disease abroad. It has sent contingents to socialist allies Venezuela and Nicaragua as well as Jamaica, Suriname and Grenada...

Read more: https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-cuba/cuban-doctors-head-to-italy-to-battle-coronavirus-idUKKBN219051

This is also reported by the NYT, which adds:

Cuba built a healthcare system that was the envy of the developing world with economic aid from former ally Soviet Union, though some of those advances have been lost since the communist bloc collapsed. Many Cuban hospitals have fallen into disrepair and Cubans say they have difficulty finding medicine, a situation the government says is largely due to decades-old U.S. sanctions although analysts blame also the inefficient state-run economy. Still, Cuba has one of the highest ratios worldwide of physicians per capita even when excluding those doctors abroad, and its medical brigades for disaster relief continue to earn Havana goodwill worldwide.

"In a time of crisis, the Cuban government, the Cuban people ... have risen to the occasion, they have heard our appeal and they have responded," Jamaican Health Minister Christopher Tufton said on Saturday upon greeting 140 Cuban medical professionals at Kingston international airport. Britain also thanked Cuba last week for allowing a British cruise ship that had been turned away by several Caribbean ports to dock on the island and for enabling the evacuation of the more than 600 passengers onboard...


England (Westminster) is doing almost nothing to halt or slow infection spread,

and is hardly counting now...

... On Thursday, the Prime Minister’s spokesman said there was “zero prospect” of any restrictions on travel in and out of London, and that there were “no plans” to shut down its transport network. However, the city’s transport authority had already closed parts of London’s Tube network, and the government did not rule out introducing further social distancing measures in the coming days.

Johnson was due to meet the London mayor, Sadiq Khan, on Thursday to discuss plans to fight coronavirus in London, a spokesman for City Hall told CNN.

Giving evidence to the London assembly on Thursday, Khan said too many Londoners were failing to follow official advice. “We are clearly still in the early phase of this crisis but the spread of the virus is at a more advanced stage in London than in other parts of the country. This means that further measures will need to be introduced at the point at which they will have the biggest effect,” he said...


It is a huge source of potential infection for the rest of the world.

There has to be an implementation of a Universal Basic Income.

It has to cover everyone: Those in the gig economy, on or off the books, those running down and out of their life savings, the unemployed and the homeless. The latter will need to registered and be ID-d somewhere.

Potentially viable businesses also must be supported to prepare for the future. A future difficult to discern in these early days...

Peacetime constraints ditched in the war for economic survival (Larry Elliot)

... The pandemic has highlighted the need to work together for both public health and economic stability reasons. Sadly, the world has rarely looked less prepared to act in concert and that matters, because this time it is not the banks that need bailing out, it is the people. Some are able to work from home: millions are not. Covid-19 is already a health crisis; it is set to be an economic crisis too.

A month ago, when financial markets belatedly woke up to the threat posed by Covid-19, the assumption was that there would be a painful but relatively short shock. But even if countries have emerged from quarantine by the summer – a very big if – the speed of economic recovery is going to depend on the collateral damage caused in the meantime: how many businesses go bust; whether laid-off workers have reached the limit of their credit cards to pay the regular monthly bills; the time it takes for confidence to return.

Politicians are starting to use the language, and deploying the policies, of wartime. The UK government wants manufacturers to switch production lines to making ventilators in the same way that factories switched from consumer goods to making planes and tanks.

They are also adopting the language and policies of the left: the need for social solidarity, the importance of intervening to help struggling firms, the urgency of bailouts for hard-hit industries. In a battle for economic survival the constraints of peacetime have to be ditched. When the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, said this was not a time for ideology or orthodoxy, what he really meant was that this was not time for free-market ideology or orthodoxy. Just as in 1940, the size of the budget deficit is seen as irrelevant. All sorts of hitherto taboo policies become possible...


There are three freedoms essential to any proper democracy

These are:

1. Of Access to Information;
2. Of Thought;
3. Of Speech.

Of, these, beautifully expressed by Founding Fathers of the USA, these, the first is still (it is the foundation of the power of the powerful) restricted (but less so than usually); the second is, in the minds of so many, heavily manipulated; and the third is under threat.


'Get ready': Italian doctors warn Europe

... In the note, sent to the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine, critical care experts Professor Maurizio Cecconi, Professor Antonio Pesenti and Professor Giacomo Grasselli, from the University of Milan, revealed how difficult it had been to treat coronavirus patients. They said: “We are seeing a high percentage of positive cases being admitted to our intensive care units (ICUs), in the range of 10 per cent of all positive patients... We wish to convey a strong message: Get ready!”

They said Italian hospitals had seen “a very high” number of intensive care patients who were admitted “almost entirely” for severe lung failure caused by the virus and needing ventilators to help them breathe. They said hospitals across the UK and Europe needed to prepare for a surge in admissions and cautioned against working “in silos”. They said it was vital hospitals had equipment to protect staff and that staff were trained in wearing the kit. They added: “Increase your total ICU capacity. Identify early hospitals that can manage the initial surge in a safe way. Get ready to prepare ICU areas where to cohort Covid-19 patients – in every hospital if necessary.”...

... In a separate note, Italian intensive care doctor Giuseppe Nattino, from the Lecco province in northern Italy, has shared a clinical summary of the patients his unit has been treating, which doctors described as “frightening” in terms of what it could mean for the UK. The technical note spells out how patients with coronavirus experience a severe infection in all of their lungs, requiring major ventilation support. It also reveals the effect of the virus, which affects blood pressure, the heart, kidneys and liver with patients needing sustained treatment...

... In an alarming development, Dr Nattino said younger patients were being affected, saying the ages of patients ranged from 46 to 83 with only a small number having important underlying conditions. He added: “The last days are showing a younger population involved as if the elderly and weaker part of the population crashed early and now younger patients, having exhausted their physiological reserves, come to overcrowded, overwhelmed hospitals with little resources left.” ...

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