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World News

Coronavirus Deaths Eclipse Global Toll From SARS

Bloomberg – The coronavirus disease spreading around the world has killed more than 810 people, exceeding the toll from the global outbreak of SARS that started in China almost two decades ago.

Less than two months after surfacing in late December in Wuhan, China, cases of the coronavirus have topped 37,000. The fast-spreading disease long ago eclipsed the 8,100 total cases of SARS, which was transmitted worldwide in eight months, disrupting travel, industry and health care, and killing 774 people before coming under control.

Both severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, and the coronavirus are members of a larger family known to cause disease ranging from common colds to lethal infections. While both emerged from China before spreading to multiple countries, their paths have diverged in a number of significant ways.

The rate of deaths among people infected with SARS was close to 10%, said David Heymann, who oversaw the World Health Organization’s response to the outbreak, while it appears that rate in coronavirus will be below 2%. An analysis of about 17,000 coronavirus patients showed that 82% had mild cases, WHO officials said in a press briefing.

“You have to compare the two in perspective,” Heymann said in an interview. The coronavirus outbreak “could look more dramatic than it is.”

The number of cases and deaths from the new coronavirus may be far higher. The health system in Wuhan has been overwhelmed by the disease, with limited ability to care for every patient or diagnose new cases. Other cases may have been too mild to be counted by Chinese officials.

Bird flu breaks out in two Chinese provinces near coronavirus’s epicentre

Daily Mail – ‘Highly pathogenic’ bird flu has broken out in two Chinese provinces near Hubei since the beginning of the month as Beijing struggles to contain the novel coronavirus currently ravaging the country.

Nearly 2,000 fowl were killed by the H5N6 strain of avian influenza on a poultry farm in Sichuan Province, Chinese agricultural authority announced yesterday.

Just eight days earlier, 4,500 chickens were reported to have died of H5N1 virus in the province of Hunan.

Four outbreaks of H5N6 bird flu were also reported in western China’s Xinjiang in January alone.

China’s War on Children: Youth Banned from All Religious Worship

YoreChildren – A war on children rages in China.

While the youth of Hong Kong march for freedom and democracy, the Communist Party of China (CPC) subjects China’s youth to a brutal campaign of oppression and tyranny, barring Chinese youth from any and all religious practice and venues.

Communist Party chairman Xi Jinping and his CPC thugs are waging a brutal campaign of religious persecution and subjugation, robbing Chinese children of their constitutional and human right to religious freedom.

The CPC is an equal opportunity oppressor. All religions are being wiped from the China landscape, with churches demolished, crosses removed, and believers harassed, detained, and imprisoned in re-education camps. If the present trend continues, any vestiges of faith will be extinguished in the next generation.

The insidious Chinese Communist Party has declared that religious venues, churches, practices, education, and worship are no-go zones for all Chinese children under the age of 18. Chinese youth are being denied the right to religious freedom—a right enshrined in the Chinese constitution and a human right embodied and protected under Articles 2, 14 and 30 of the U.N. Convention of the Rights of the Child, signed and ratified by the People’s Republic of China in 1992. So much for the Chinese honoring international treaty obligations!

The sickle continues to scythe the Chinese child, who exists only to serve the CPC, hence the once onerous, recently modified 30-year one-child policy and, now, this extinction of religion. According to Xi, children must be indoctrinated into the atheist communist ideology. The paranoiac Xi regime is embarking on a systemic eradication of religion: a city-by-city, search-and-destroy mission of all things religious, targeting Chinese children under the age of 18, punishing them with endless reprisals and turning children into spies against their family.

Greece Uses Emergency Powers to Build More Migrant Detention Centres

Breitbart – Greece is planning to use emergency legal powers to create detention centers for migrants on five islands to try and speed up deportations back to Turkey, officials said Monday.

Areas have been earmarked to create the new facilities on Lesbos and four other islands in the eastern Aegean Sea to eventually replace existing camps that are severely overcrowded, government spokesman Stelios Petsas said.

“These closed facilities will be governed by strict rules and (limitations) for movement for the occupants,” Petsas said. “Occupants will receive exit cards for controlled leave, while the structures will remain closed at night time.”

He said fast-track legislative procedures will be employed to build the sites – with the government issuing an emergency decree to be ratified by parliament at a later date.

U.S. News, Politics & Government

Military preparing quarantine centers for coronavirus patients in US, Pentagon says

Eleven military bases near major airports in the United States are setting up quarantine centers for possible coronavirus patients, the Department of Defense said.

The Department of Health and Human Services asked the Pentagon for quarantine space in case beds fill up at other coronavirus centers around the country, according to a DOD statement.

The Pentagon already agreed to house up to 1,000 people for quarantine after they returned to the United States from areas with the virus, the Associated Press reports.

As of Friday, more than 31,400 people have been infected with the 2019 coronavirus worldwide, with most in mainland China, according to the AP. More than 630 people have died from the virus, almost all in China, the AP reports.

“These are tertiary locations, and HHS already has primary and secondary locations identified that are not DOD facilities,” the Pentagon said.

Pompeo Sounds Alarm Over China’s Attempt To Suppress Free Speech In America

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned America’s governors about China’s attempt to influence them in foreign and economic policy matters, saying the Communist government is attempting to shape U.S. policy by suppressing free speech and assessing how friendly each governor is to it.

Speaking at the National Governors Association meeting in Washington on Friday, Pompeo said the Chinese government has assessed every single governor on their attitude towards China with the labels “friendy, hard-line, or ambiguous.”

“They’ve labeled each of you friendly, hardline or ambiguous,” he said, citing a report by a Chinese-backed think tank. “I’ll let you decide where you think you belong. Someone in China already has. Many of you indeed, in the report are referenced by name.”

Pompeo explained how China pressures U.S. diplomats to bend to their will on foreign policy, describing an example of a Chinese diplomat demanded a U.S. elected official not acknowledge Taiwan as an independent nation, or even communicate with them.

“You have a diplomat from China assigned here to the United States – a representative of the Chinese Communist Party, in New York City – sending an official letter urging that an American elected official shouldn’t exercise his right to freedom of speech,” Pompeo said. “Let that sink in for a minute.”

DNC chairman says he won’t step down after chaotic Iowa caucuses but expects review of state’s first-in-nation status

WRAL – Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said Sunday that he has no intention of stepping down following criticism over the chaotic Iowa contest, but that there will be a discussion about the state’s status as the first-in-the-nation caucuses.

“Absolutely not,” Perez told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of The Union” when asked if he has considered resigning. “Jake, look at the last three years. My job when I came in was to rebuild our infrastructure, to win elections. When you do that, sometimes you have to make tough decisions.”

He continued, “We have been winning. This is what it’s about. I think it’s really important for people to take a broader step back right now.”

Alaska high school teacher hunted a moose and had his students butcher the animal to learn life skills

ACH News – Students at an Alaska high school have received lessons in anatomy, life skills and local cultural traditions through a practical source: a moose carcass.

About 30 Chugiak High School students processed a moose cow that their teacher, Brian Mason, hunted and killed. The processing included de-boning, separating, grinding and packaging the animal during a recent World Discovery Seminar class, The Anchorage Daily News reported December 15, 2019.

The lesson provided a hands-on experience where students learned moose anatomy, as well as learning ways local indigenous people survived by hunting moose.

“What I try to emphasize — and the World Discovery Seminar program as a whole — is to emphasize experiential learning,” he said. Around 30 of his students used 4-inch knives to process the carcass. “You can learn certainly about anatomy from diagrams and textbooks and videos but getting your hands on an animal is a big part of the science aspect of it.”

Three More AZ Counties Declare Themselves 2A Sanctuaries

Bearing Arms – Somewhere, Joe Biden is probably scribbling the names of Yuvapai and La Paz counties on a pad of paper, just in case he needs to send a few Hellfire missiles their way after the Arizona counties declared themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries.

The unanimous votes by commissioners in both counties means the pair join Mojave County in the state as the first Second Amendment sanctuaries, and FOX10 in Phoenix reports that the resolutions had overwhelming support from both public officials as well residents in the counties.

The Yavapai County board approved its resolution after previously hearing hours of testimony in December and January. About 120 people packed the meeting room and dozens more filled the lobby Wednesday as 25 people spoke in favor and three against, The Daily Courier reported.

Under the measures, the supervisors vowed to defend state and federal constitutional rights, including the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment.

The measure also said the supervisors won’t spend public money or use other government resources to enforce laws that unconstitutionally infringe on gun rights.

Many of those who addressed the Yavapai County board urged the supervisors to take a stand, arguing that laws in other states infringed on gun owners’ rights.

“We see this type of total disregard for our Second Amendment rights under attack. This is about our rights, protecting our freedoms and liberty,” Prescott resident Sherrie Hanna said.

Another supporter, Chris Kuknyo allowed that “a resolution has no teeth” but said it “sends a message to our governor and other people that we won’t tolerate it, and we will fight against it.”

While Fox 10 reports that Yavapai and La Paz counties have joined Mojave County, the White Mountain Independent newspaper says that Apache County also quietly approved a Second Amendment Sanctuary resolution in the past few days.

Economy & Business

U.S. Charges Four Chinese Military Officers in Equifax Data Breach

Breitbart – China’s military was behind the largest database hacking attack in U.S. history, the Justice Department said Monday.

Prosecutors charged four members of a secretive electronic-espionage branch of the People’s Liberation Army with breaking into the networks of the Equifax credit reporting agency and stealing the personal information of 145 million Americans.

“This was a deliberate and sweeping intrusion into the private information of the American people,” said Attorney General William P. Barr, who made the announcement. “Today, we hold PLA hackers accountable for their criminal actions, and we remind the Chinese government that we have the capability to remove the Internet’s cloak of anonymity and find the hackers that nation repeatedly deploys against us. ”

The hackers successfully stole names, Social Security numbers and other personal information stored in the company’s databases. The news of the data breach provoked public outrage, led to Congressional hearings, the resignation of the company’s chief executive, and a legal dispute that resulted in a settlement worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

The four — members of the People’s Liberation Army, an arm of the Chinese military — are also accused of stealing the company’s trade secrets, law enforcement officials said.

The criminal charges were filed in federal court in Atlanta, where the company is based.

GM recalling nearly 130,000 pickups to fix brake glitch

Fox – General Motors is issuing a recall for certain Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 light-duty trucks because a software update may cause the failure of their electronic brake assist system.

iPhone maker Foxconn resumes production at one plant in China after coronavirus shutdown

Daily Mail – Apple’s biggest iPhone maker Foxconn has been given the green light to resume production at a key plant in the eastern central Chinese city of Zhengzhou, after being forced to shut it following the coronavirus outbreak.

However, only 10 percent or 16,000 employees of the factory’s workforce has managed to return so far, a source told Reuters.

With the shutdown and lack of hands in the plant, it is predicted that Apple’s sales will fall by 10 percent this quarter.

However, the firm has not yet been allowed to restart production in Shenzhen, a southern manufacturing hub, the source said.

Science & Technology

Amy Orben: ‘To talk about smartphones affecting the brain is a slippery slope’

Guardian – The psychologist talks about the widespread fear that smartphones are harmful to our wellbeing – and the difficulty of proving it.

Amy Orben is a research fellow at Emmanuel College and the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit at the University of Cambridge. She works in the field of experimental psychology and her speciality is analysing large-scale datasets to determine how social media and the use of digital technology affect the wellbeing of teenagers. Her latest paper, co-written with Prof Andrew Przybylski, looks at teenage sleep and technology engagement.

In recent years there has been a great deal of speculation about the possible harmful effects of digital technology, particularly smartphones, on mental health, the ability to concentrate, and sleep patterns. Is there any sound evidence to support these concerns?

In relation to how much societal debate and coverage these questions get, there is very little evidence for these concerns, and even less high-quality, robust and transparent evidence. I think that lack of high-quality evidence makes the question really difficult to answer.

‘Puzzling’ virus of UNKNOWN origin with genes scientists can’t identify discovered in Brazil

RT – Scientists in Brazil have discovered a virus which appears to be almost entirely new, consisting of unrecognizable genes that have been, until now, undocumented.

The Yaravirus (Yaravirus brasiliensis), named after a water deity in Brazilian mythology and folklore, was discovered in Lake Pampulha in the Brazilian city of Belo Horizonte.

In recent years, virologists and other researchers have discovered a variety of new viruses which challenge traditional thinking, including so-called “giant viruses” (named for their large protein shells, not their deadliness to humans).

These giant viruses possess a far more complex genome than scientists could have predicted, based on humanity’s knowledge of normal viruses, and are capable of repairing and replicating their own DNA.

“Contrary to what is observed in other isolated viruses of amoeba, Yaravirus is not represented by a large/giant particle and a complex genome, but at the same time carries an important number of previously undescribed genes,” the authors write, adding that it may be the first in “a new lineage of amoebal virus with a puzzling origin and phylogeny.”


Another flu shot fail? This season’s vaccine for the US, UK and Canada is likely to be a ‘mismatch’ for the deadly virus, expert warns

Daily Mail – This year’s flu vaccine may not be effective, a top expert warns.

Dr Danuta Skowronski, an influenza expert from the University of British Columbia told Stat News that the this year’s flu shot for the Northern Hemisphere – including the US, UK and Canada – is likely to be a ‘mismatch.’

Flu shots have to be newly developed ahead of each season based on scientists’ predictions of which strains will be most active in the coming months.

Officials from the World Health Organization (WHO) choose the strains for the Northern Hemisphere’s shot in February, and chose those for the Southern Hemisphere last week.

For the Southern Hemisphere, officials chose influenza A/H3N2 and B/Victoria – different ones from the strains picked for the North, suggesting to Dr Skowronski that the prior prediction was wrong and the Northern shots may be ineffective.

High levels of arsenic found in bottled water sold at Walmart, Target, Whole Foods

CNN – Tests conducted by a California nonprofit found high levels of arsenic levels in the water brands Peñafiel and Starkey, according to a report by CNN.

The testing, carried out by the Center for Environmental Health, found that Peñafiel and Starkey water contained higher levels of arsenic than tap water. The levels were high enough to violate California guidelines.

Peñafiel is owned by Keurig Dr. Pepper. It is sold at stores like Walmart and Target. Starkey is owned by and sold at Whole Foods.

The study corroborates Consumer Reports’ findings, which were released earlier in 2019. It found that Peñafiel and Starkey waters contained nearly double the federal limit of arsenic.

Arsenic can cause reproductive harm and cancer. It can also damage organs and cause hormone disruptions.

The Food and Drug Administration has not yet recalled either brand.

Resveratrol Boosts Your Immunity

Mercola – Studies in rodents against Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) suggest the phytonutrient resveratrol may help boost the immune system.

Resveratrol has been established to be cardioprotective with antioxidant, antiaging and chemopreventive properties.

The use of resveratrol has been explored in Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, vascular dementia, depression and brain inflammation.

Resveratrol’s immune-boosting properties could have implications for use in obesity, Type 2 diabetes mellitus, fatty liver disease, Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis and cancers.

Resveratrol has prevented the progression of melanoma, breast cancer and lung metastasis in animals.

Bedroom carpets are TEN TIMES dirtier than a toilet seat

Daily Mail – You might be diligent about running the vacuum over your carpet whenever it starts to look a bit scruffy, but shocking research has revealed that the average bedroom floor is ten times dirtier than a toilet seat.

The data, compiled by sofa and carpet specialist ScS, found carpets in the bedroom also harbour more than double the bacteria found in a living room, and ten times that of a gym floor.

Their findings also showed that almost half of Brits have admitted to never cleaning their carpets, making them an ideal breeding ground for colonies of disease-causing microbes.

Office floors were found to be the cleanest in the experiment – in which carpets and household appliances were swabbed to reveal levels of aerobic bacteria, yeast and mould.

Bedroom carpets were by far the dirtiest, with a combined bacteria and yeast level of 140 CFU per cm2 (colony forming units per cm2) uncovered within them, as well as heavy mould.

The cleanest surface swabbed was an office carpet, which contained less bacteria than a gym floor, toilet seat or living room carpet, possibly due to more regular professional cleaning.