Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Coronavirus News (246)

Urban design explained: the signs, the symbols, the mysterious objects, and why LED panels have replaced the glow of neon Cities surround us with arcane signs, symbols and objects of unsuspected meaning, says American radio producer Roman Mars in his new book The 99% Invisible City Mars provides an offbeat guide ‘to decoding the built world’ 

Indo-Pacific strategy gains support as China’s assertiveness fuels fears More nations will be prompted to join US initiative because of Beijing’s behaviour in the region, according to analyst He cites threats to freedom of navigation and overflight, coercive actions against Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia, and ‘Wolf Warrior diplomacy’ .......... Washington’s Indo-Pacific strategy is seen by Beijing as an effort to rally powers like India and Japan against China’s rise in the region ........ the US-led quadrilateral grouping with Japan, Australia and India, known as the Quad, has repeatedly called for rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific. Beijing has called the alliance “an anti-China front line”.   

US seeks formal alliance similar to Nato with India, Japan and Australia, State Department official says Washington’s goal is to get countries in the Indo-Pacific region to work together as a bulwark against ‘a potential challenge from China’, says the US official He says the four nations are expected to meet in Delhi sometime this autumn ........... even Nato started with relatively modest expectations and a number of countries [initially] chose neutrality over Nato membership ......... the group of four nations were expected to meet in Delhi sometime this autumn and cited Australia’s possible participation in India’s Malabar naval exercise as an example of progress towards a more formal defence bloc. .......... The naval exercises, taking place mostly in the Bay of Bengal, have been run annually by the US and India since 1992, and have included Japan since 2015. ........... Washington would like to see South Korea, Vietnam and New Zealand to eventually join an expanded version of the quad 

Why is Germany wading into the Indo-Pacific’s strategic waters? Berlin’s relationship with Beijing is founded on economics and trade but now the European giant is taking a bigger interest in the region on the other side of the world Among the main concerns is the South China Sea, an area at risk of becoming a flashpoint ....... Germany’s new Indo-Pacific policy suggests that it is reassessing its relationship with China ....... Germany’s relationship with China has long centred on economics and trade but now that is expected to encompass geopolitical interests and human rights.  

Amy Coney Barrett and the New, Old Anti-Catholicism Critics of Trump’s Supreme Court nominee argue that pious Catholics are a problem for liberalism. They have a point. ........ liberal theorists have long recognized that it’s risky to tolerate notions and movements that could undermine liberal democracy itself. In the case of religious tolerance, liberals have historically grappled with the matter of Roman Catholicism. ............  Roman Catholicism does not readily distinguish between public and private moral obligations. ............ the options of Catholic judges hearing capital punishment cases, which the state permits but the church forbids. Judge Barrett and her co-author maintain that Catholic judges must or should recuse themselves from such cases, concluding that “judges cannot — nor should they try to — align our legal system with the Church’s moral teaching whenever the two diverge. They should, however, conform their own behavior to the Church’s standard.” ........... Catholic hospitals have found themselves embroiled in court battles for refusing to perform or even discuss abortions, regardless of state or federal law. ......... religions whose ethics conflict with the broader culture will shift toward forming small, dense enclaves, where they are unlikely to encounter legal challenges to their preferred practices. 

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Meet Donald Trump Over the past five days, we learned a lot about the president and his powers. ........ Trump’s businesses have usually lost money hand over fist ....... “the dogma lives loudly within you.” ...... the Kavanaugh hearings only helped Republicans expand their Senate majority in 2018 ........ Barrett is certainly a way, way more sympathetic character than Kavanaugh was. At this point it’s hard to imagine her being blocked. ....... with this new, 6-3 conservative majority they can wave goodbye not only to abortion rights, but also a ton of other things including protection against gender discrimination and any aggressive federal attempt to beat back climate change. .......... Biden has to win so he might have a chance to appoint Clarence Thomas’s eventual successor and bring the Court back to a 5-4 balance. ......... Trump has spent so much time painting his opponent as a senile idiot ........  All Biden has to say is, I’m Joe, two plus two is four and 10 times 10 is one hundred, I love my wife, I’m not going to declare war on anyone’s suburb, my economic plan is to cut taxes on the middle class, build a faster Acela and declare the Trump hotel in Washington a toxic-waste dump, I won’t blow up the world and I’m definitely not Donald Trump. Argument over. ........ I’d rather have a president who might sometimes get a bit confused than one who deliberately sows confusion. I’d rather lose more of my paycheck in taxes under Biden than lose more of my democracy in demagogic deceit under Trump. ..........  I’ll take Biden’s Medicare expansion over Trump’s repeal of protection for people with pre-existing conditions.   

Monday, September 28, 2020

Coronavirus News (245)

The Secret To Cultivating A Productive Team From Home  a daily or weekly “PIES” check-in with your teammates. ........... During the check-in, each person rates their PIES (i.e., physical, emotional, intellectual, and sleep quality) on a scale of 1-5. Along with their number, the person provides a quick reason why their score is what it is (e.g. my child was crying all night and I didn’t get any sleep). ........ In order to instill an inclusive and empathetic culture, it’s critical that teams establish regular points of communication. With new projects or teams, there should be regular kickoff/introduction meetings. .........  Distance makes it easier to leave room for miscommunications, misalignments, and silently growing bitterness. .......... eating together virtually. 

World-Class Finance Skills That Can’t Be Automated Integrity is at the core of every world-class finance organization. ......... Empathy allows us to better understand our customers, employees, partners, and the greater good. 

COVID-19 can affect the heart

The China-Laos railway: a way out of poverty or a white elephant in waiting?  A complete default could see China taking ownership of the entire asset, as happened with Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port, also funded by the Export-Import Bank of China. ......... China’s train manufacturers and railway contractors have been exporting their expertise since completing the country’s first overseas high-speed railway, in Turkey, in 2014. Encouraged by cheap labour and the promise of speedy construction and a reliable product, countries across Africa and Asia have been rolling out rivers of China-backed rail. .........  China is now Laos’ biggest investor ......... an official from Laos’ Finance Ministry predicted the loan would land the country with a bill of US$3 billion in interest payments alone, based on rates of 2 per cent per annum over 30 years. ...... a project moulded more in China’s short-term interests than in Laos’s long-term interest ....... The ADB says Asia will require US$1.7 trillion of infra­structure investment a year until 2030. ........... For good or bad, that train has already left the station.

Why the US dollar is only going to fall faster and harder Given the unprecedented erosion of domestic savings, an explosive current account deficit, and the Fed determined to keep rates flat, expect the dollar to plunge by as much as 35 per cent next year ......... Is the world seeing the end of the aura of American exceptionalism that has given the dollar Teflon-like resilience for most of the post-World War II era? ........ The US dollar slide has entered the early stages of what looks to be a sharp descent, having already fallen by 4.3 per cent in the four months ending in August in terms of its real effective exchange rate ......... the dollar remains the most overvalued major currency in the world. .........  the end of the aura of American exceptionalism ........ The confluence of an unprecedented erosion of domestic savings and the current-account deficit is nothing short of staggering. ......... For the first time since the 2008-09 global financial crisis, the net national savings rate has entered negative territory, at minus 1 per cent in the second quarter. And it did so at speed .......... The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act featured US$1,200 relief cheques to most Americans and a sharp expansion of unemployment insurance benefits. This boosted the personal savings rate to an unheard-of 33.7 per cent in April but this quickly receded to 17.8 per cent in July ........... Like the savings collapse, the current-account dynamic is unfolding in ferocious fashion. .........  Driven by the explosive surge in the federal budget deficit this year and in the next, the collapse of domestic savings and the current-account implosion should unfold at near-lightning speed. ......... Don’t expect the Fed, focused more on supporting equity and bond markets than on leaning against inflation, to save the day. The dollar’s decline has only just begun.

Why the US dollar slide may be a sign of real danger this time The rare event of a general depreciation of the world’s leading currency suggests a fundamental lack of faith that could sink financial markets and undermine the global economy Recent events suggest the dollar could erode from within as the US retreats from international obligations and its domestic economy weakens ........... Dollar depreciation could, as some suggest, simply reflect the fact that financial managers everywhere are “rotating” out of the US currency in search of yield as real or inflation-adjusted returns on dollar securities hit zero or even negative levels. ...............  confidence in currencies and faith in them as measures of value and as mediums of exchange cannot survive the idea that their supply is virtually endless. .......... Central banks have enabled governments to finance fiscal stimulus to the tune of US$11 trillion during the pandemic, pushing total government debt to US$70 trillion .......... many things could fall with the dollar, from global reserves and trade, to banking and financial transactions and commodities. ....... The US could be the biggest loser. The exorbitant privilege it enjoys because the dollar is the global currency means the US does not face balance-of-payments crises while it imports in its own currency. But the dollar world could go the same way as the sterling area, into obscurity. 

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Coronavirus News (244)

मधेशको समस्या समाधान गर्ने जसपासँग स्पष्ट दृष्टिकोण छैन : सरिता गिरी

‘अब पनि प्रभावकारी ढङ्गले जान सकेनौँ भने देशमा अप्ठ्यारो स्थिति आउँछ’ कम्युनिस्ट पार्टीको नेतृत्वमा सरकार बनेपछि ‘केही पनि भएन वा सम्पूर्ण भयो’ भनेर प्रचार गर्नु सही छैन : प्रचण्ड, नेपाल कम्युनिष्ट पार्टी (नेकपा) का कार्यकारी अध्यक्ष
राजनीतिक षड्यन्त्र र भारतको दबाबको शिकार बनेका रामराजा प्रथम गणतन्त्रवादी नेतालाई राष्ट्रपति हुनबाट रोक्न यसरी भएको थियो चलखेल
केपी ओली गणतन्त्र विरोधी हुन्, प्रचण्ड पनि संविधानसभाको पक्षमा थिएनन् सङ्घीय संरचना, शासकीय स्वरूप, नागरिकता लगायतका कुरा अपूर्ण छन् : डा भट्टराई  
‘ओली राजमा जनताबाट निर्वाचित जेलमा, पराजित संसदमा हुँदो रहेछ’ नक्साबाट नेपाली भूमि उडाउनेहरू नै आज फेरि फिर्ता ल्याउँछु भनिरहेका छन् : राजेन्द्र महतोसँगको अन्तरवार्ता
कहाँ चुक्यो नेपालको संविधान ? संविधान जलाउने र दीपावली मनाउनेबीचको द्वन्द्व यो संविधान रहुन्जेल ज्यामितीय हिसाब बढेर जाने देखिन्छ

Cost Of Racism: U.S. Economy Lost $16 Trillion Because Of Discrimination, Bank Says  Since 2000, U.S. gross domestic product lost that much as a result of discriminatory practices in a range of areas, including in education and access to business loans ........ Citigroup estimates the economy would see a $5 trillion boost over the next five years if the U.S. were to tackle key areas of discrimination against African Americans. ............. $13 trillion lost in potential business revenue because of discriminatory lending to African American entrepreneurs, with an estimated 6.1 million jobs not generated as a result $2.7 trillion in income lost because of disparities in wages suffered by African Americans $218 billion lost over the past two decades because of discrimination in providing housing credit And $90 billion to $113 billion in lifetime income lost from discrimination in accessing higher education 

Economists are growing more worried about the recovery. Blame Congress slashed its fourth-quarter US gross domestic product growth forecast in half to just 3% on an annualized basis because of the deadlock in Washington. That would mark an extreme deceleration from the rapid growth economists are predicting for the third quarter, when Goldman expects US GDP to grow at an annualized pace of 35%. ........... another 870,000 Americans filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week, a level that's four times higher than before the pandemic. ......... Failure to get a stimulus deal will cause a "meaningful hit" to disposable income in the fourth quarter, causing it to drop to pre-pandemic levels ......... "On the aggregate level for the whole economy, we could be seeing a clear slowing down of what was supposed to be a fast rebound" .......... widespread distribution of a vaccine to the full population" will happen by the second quarter of 2021, instead of the first quarter.   

Tesla's value drops $50 billion as Musk's promised cheaper battery three years away  Investors had expected two significant announcements at Musk’s oft-touted “Battery Day”: The development of a “million mile” battery good for 10 years or more, and a specific cost reduction target -- expressed in dollars per kilowatt-hour -- that would finally drop the price of an electric vehicle below that of a gasoline car. Musk offered neither. ............... Tesla expects to eventually be able to build as many as 20 million electric vehicles a year. This year, the entire auto industry expects to deliver 80 million cars globally. Building an affordable electric car “has always been our dream from the beginning of the company” ...... price parity, or the point at which electric vehicles are equal in value to internal combustion cars, is reached when battery packs cost $100 per kilowatt hour (kWh). Tesla’s battery packs cost $156 per kWh in 2019

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Coronavirus News (243)

U.S. Places Restrictions on China’s Leading Chip Maker The export controls follow a review in which the United States concluded that Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation’s chips may be used by the Chinese military. .......... Factories in China churn out a huge share of the world’s cellphones, computers and internet equipment. But the silicon brains of that gear are often shipped in from overseas. ........... Last year, mainland China imported more than $300 billion in computer chips, more than it spent on crude oil. 

Brushing Off Criticism, China’s Xi Calls Policies in Xinjiang ‘Totally Correct’ Mr. Xi made the remarks at a meeting on the region of western China, suggesting that the Communist Party remains committed to drastically changing Uighurs and other Muslim minorities. ....... and vowed more efforts to imprint Chinese national identity “deep in the soul” of Uighurs and other largely Muslim minorities. ......... Mr. Xi’s unyielding words signaled that condemnation from the United States, the European Union and other powers has not shifted his determination to subdue Xinjiang’s Muslim minorities through a dual strategy of political indoctrination and state-driven demographic change. ............ Mr. Xi used a similar meeting in 2014 to demand a much tougher approach to unrest, resistance and separatist violence in the region. .......... Ever since Chinese Communist Party forces took over Xinjiang in 1949, the authorities have struggled to establish lasting control over the region’s Uighurs, Kazakhs and other minorities. Their Turkic language and Muslim traditions have set them apart from China’s Han majority, and many members of these minorities have resented the expanding presence and power of the Han Chinese majority. .............. the Chinese government has tried to uproot hundreds of thousands of Uighurs from villages and assign them urban and factory jobs, where officials hope they will earn more and cast aside their traditional lifestyles. .......... thousands of mosques, shrines and other Islamic religious sites have been demolished in Xinjiang since 2017. .......... the indoctrination camps, which Chinese government officials have defended as a friendly vocational training centers ..........  internal speeches by Mr. Xi in 2014, when he called for all-out “struggle against terrorism, infiltration and separatism” in Xinjiang using the “organs of dictatorship,” and showing “absolutely no mercy.” ............ what he said were rising incomes of the people of Xinjiang and government spending. ........... the Chinese government would continue investing heavily in industrial and urban development in Xinjiang 

How to Debate Someone Who Lies Truth sandwiches, ridicule and other tactics for Joe Biden when he faces President Trump. ........ If you attempt to counter every falsehood or distortion that Mr. Trump serves up, you will cede control of the debate. .......... The first weapon maybe the most effective: humor and ridicule. .......... Mr. Trump, faced with a pandemic and an economic downturn, tells Americans what a great job he’s done. In response, Mr. Biden should smile and say with a bit of laugh: “And just where have you been living? South Korea? Or Fiji? You cannot be in the United States — except maybe on the golf course. We’ve got about 4 percent of the world’s population and 21 percent of all Covid deaths and the highest unemployment since the Great Depression! You must be living on another planet!” ............... He is  apparently so fearful of being the target of a joke that — unlike any president before him — he has skipped the last three roasts at the White House Correspondents Dinner............ “This is like the bad joke about the arsonist who shows up at the bonfire and started posing as a fireman! The guy who calls himself a stable genius seems to have forgotten that he’s been president during all this violence and that he’s been the instigator in chief with his racist rhetoric. The country’s biggest bully thinks he can fool you by playing sheriff.” ........... the president’s lies generally fall into two categories. The first are boastful and self-aggrandizing claims, such as “Only I can fix it. ” This swagger betrays a fragile self-esteem, and while outlandish and amusing, the lies are typically harmless. ................  The second type of lie aims to deceive others in pursuit of a specific goal. ............ This kind of lie is emblematic of individuals with antisocial traits who have a deficit in moral conscience. But if they also have strong narcissistic traits, they are exquisitely sensitive to criticism and especially to ridicule. Derisive humor threatens to expose them for the loser they secretly believe they are. ..............  “The fact is that more than 200,000 American have died — even if the president falsely suggests that the number is lower. But let’s focus on the grim truth: More than 200,000 of our loved ones died from coronavirus, many because of the president’s deception.” ............. a “truth sandwich” — a lie gets sandwiched between true statements. .............. “Wearing a mask is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of coronavirus. But you sure wouldn’t know it from the president, who has run around in public without one and mocks people like me who wear them. Is it vanity or that he just doesn’t believe in science? I don’t know, but the science is undisputed: wearing masks saves lives.” ............. the goal is serious: to expose the truth and unnerve Mr. Trump by getting under his skin.

This Is the Casual Racism That I Face at My Elite High School Unexpectedly, the school did something about it. ...........  Navigating college applications and maintaining my G.P.A. while dealing with Zoom burnout and no physical connection to my friends. ............ I attend Regis, the academically rigorous Catholic high school on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. To those who get in, it is tuition-free, and it is regularly recognized as one of the top high schools in the country. ........... Even as classes have started remotely, the racism that many Black students like me have experienced and continue to experience in school feels more emotionally draining than ever. ............. Getting the “best education possible” is the mantra of my Jamaican-immigrant parents. ............. And yet even in this high-achieving environment, among peers who are “supposed to know better,” I have felt constantly diminished. ........ Classmates have made numerous comments over the years about how affirmative action puts them at a disadvantage for getting into top schools. ............. schools still need to do work to address institutionalized racism within their communities. ............. I am no stranger to racist behavior. In middle school, I was targeted with it, as well as enduring classmates casually using the N-word. ......... Within the first two weeks there, a photo of me was shared around school by a white classmate; the caption referred to me as a monkey. ........... Whether it’s heads turning toward you during a lesson about slavery in fourth grade or everybody staring at you when the civil rights movement is discussed ............... restorative justice. ........... a collaboration between victim and offender. The process is uncomfortable and tedious for everyone involved, but it leads to a transformative result. ................  Administrators facilitated real dialogue between me and my main offender, a former friend who had used the N-word in front of me on several occasions. ........... We talked at length over his thought process, and he even sent me a message apologizing and telling me exactly what it was he did wrong and that my frustrations were valid. ..............  Restorative justice doesn’t allow an institution to simply remove the bad apples. It inspires solutions that achieve value and respect for everyone. It forces an institution to look at community-oriented solutions that make everybody uncomfortable, not just those who are involved. But it’s the only way real change can be made. 

The Gilgo Beach serial killings were a cold case. Then a new police chief arrived.  

‘I Feel Sorry for Americans’: A Baffled World Watches the U.S. From Myanmar to Canada, people are asking: How did a superpower allow itself to be felled by a virus? And why won’t the president commit to a peaceful transition of power? ............ Two out of three Canadians live within about 60 miles of the American border. ........... it’s like watching the decline of the Roman Empire ............ How did a superpower allow itself to be felled by a virus? ............... “Fundamental to democracy is the peaceful transition of power,” Mr. Romney wrote on Twitter. “Without that, there is Belarus.” ............ its reputation seems to be in free-fall. .......... over the past year, nations including Canada, Japan, Australia and Germany have been viewing the United States in its most negative light in years. In every country surveyed, the vast majority of respondents thought the United States was doing a bad job with the pandemic. ..............  a disease unchecked, mass protests over racial and social inequality, and a president who seems unwilling to pledge support for the tenets of electoral democracy. ......... In places like the Philippines, Mexico and others, elected leaders have been compared to Mr. Trump when they have turned to divisive rhetoric, disregard of institutions, intolerance of dissent and antipathy toward the media. ........ Because of the coronavirus, American tourists are banned from most of Europe, Asia, Africa, Oceania and Latin America. ............. “He has many nuclear weapons,” Sok Eysan, a spokesman for Mr. Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party, said of Mr. Trump. “But he is careless with a disease that can’t be seen.”

Violinist Concetta Abbate Talks Trauma, Empathy & The Healing Process Of 'Mirror Touch' The prolific musician and music teacher shares the process of creating a poignant album from candid conversations with women and people who identify as nonbinary ........... Abbate’s lyrics, which filters the many stories she heard and absorbed into poignant, poetic verses that use just enough detail to be recognizable to the people that inspired her words, but open-ended enough to allow anyone to find solace within them. ...... this concept of mirror touch, which is a really extreme form of empathy ............. A large part of my livelihood is being a music teacher. I run a private school in Brooklyn teaching adults and kids. When you work one-on-one with someone, you end up being the first person to hear about a lot of difficult situations. It’s something that, as a music teacher, you don’t really get trained to deal with because you’re not a therapist. But the reality is that there’s some overlap there. ............ That’s why conversation and listening and empathy and validation are so important. As we share perspectives, we build and grow. ............ historically, certain demographics of people feel more comfortable talking to me. I could also be because men are less likely to express personal feelings and emotions. But if enough people are willing to share their stories, the systemic problems of society start to reveal themselves. ............. And this was all before the age of 12! [laughs] “Who am I if I don’t play violin? No one’s going to value me.” ......... I have students who never perform but they play every day. There’s something really special about that—that music is a personal thing instead of a product. ...............  When we have conversations, there should be a lot of moments of silence and listening. 

America is the Holy Roman Empire of the 21st century  The American Constitution is the oldest in the world still operating, and has been obviously out of date for well over a century. Half the basic mechanics of government are either malfunctioning kludges or a gross betrayal of its own founding principles. .......... Let's start with the Electoral College, which has developed a clear bias towards Republicans — a 2-3 point Biden popular vote win would mean a tossup according to its rules, while he would need about a 5-point victory to be sure. As I have argued before in detail, this is the goofiest method of selecting a head of government found in any rich nation, and quite possibly in the entire world. Not only has it delivered the presidency to the popular vote loser twice in less than two decades, it is mechanically possible to win while losing the popular vote 4-1. ................. The vast majority of states, both large and small, are virtually ignored by campaigns because their electoral votes can be taken for granted ............ another janky aspect of American government: gerrymandering. In most states today, it is also legal for the members of the state legislatures to draw their own district boundaries — choosing their own voters rather than the other way around. This is wildly impermissible in about every other advanced democracy, because it amounts to election-rigging. ................ (the most cutting-edge democracies today use multi-member districts or some kind of proportional representation). ........ in Wisconsin in 2018, for instance, they got 46 percent of the vote but 64 percent of the seats in the state Assembly. In other words, several of the legislative majorities that could potentially steal the upcoming election for President Trump are themselves the product of flagrant cheating. .............  one could theoretically rig the Senate such that Democrats had a permanent super-majority with the strategic migration of a few hundred thousand solid liberals from California and New York into sparsely-populated Western states. ..............  So we have a founding document declaring that "all men are created equal" and an 18th-century jalopy constitution that allows legal election theft and randomly gives residents of one state over 70 times the influence of another in one chamber of Congress. .......... Simply voting is a complicated and burdensome pain in the neck in many states. Voters routinely have to wait in line for hours, or face ridiculous administrative complexities. In Pennsylvania, for instance, thanks to a vaguely-written law and a recent idiotic court decision, mail-in voters are legally required to put their ballot into a pointless "secrecy envelope" before they put it in the normal envelope. Fail to do this, as about 5-6 percent of mail-in voters routinely do, and your vote will be thrown out. .................. The Holy Roman Empire was finally dissolved when Napoleon, commanding the first modern national army, steamrolled the coalition opposing him at the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805. 

Coronavirus News (242)

Face masks could be giving people Covid-19 immunity, researchers suggest Mask wearing might also be reducing the severity of the virus and ensuring that a greater proportion of new infections are asymptomatic .........  universal face mask wearing might be helping to reduce the severity of the virus and ensuring that a greater proportion of new infections are asymptomatic. ......... universal mask-wearing could become a form of variolation (inoculation) that would generate immunity and “thereby slow the spread of the virus in the United States and elsewhere” as the world awaits a vaccine. ........... the amount of virus someone is exposed to at the start of infection - the “infectious dose” - may determine the severity of their illness .......... “viral load at diagnosis” was an “independent predictor of mortality” in hospital patients. ....... population-wide mask wearing might ensure that a higher proportion of Covid-19 infections are asymptomatic ......... there can be strong immune responses from even mild or asymptomatic coronavirus infection, researchers say that any public health strategy that helps reduce the severity of the virus - such as mask wearing - should increase population-wide immunity as well. ....... even a low viral load can be enough to induce an immune response, which is effectively what a typical vaccine does. ......... In a coronavirus outbreak on a closed Argentinian cruise ship, for example, where passengers were provided with surgical masks and staff with N95 masks, the rate of asymptomatic infection was 81 per cent. This is compared with 20 per cent in earlier cruise ship outbreaks without universal masking. 

Google Maps gets a COVID-19 layer View COVID data as easily as you view traffic or satellite data. ............  COVID-19 data is available for all 220 countries and territories that Google Maps supports, with more detailed state or province, county, and city-level data where available. 

Amy Coney Barrett Is No Ruth Bader Ginsburg When it comes to the Supreme Court, we’ve been to this identity politics movie before. ......... Judge Barrett, who is on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, has impeccable intellectual credentials .......... She has written that abortion is “always immoral” .......... and publicly criticized Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. for voting with the high court’s liberal bloc to uphold the Affordable Care Act, saying he pushed the statute “beyond its plausible meaning” to save it. ........... Make no mistake: Judge Barrett’s confirmation will be the wrecking ball that finally smashes Roe v. Wade and undoes the Affordable Care Act. ......... (Justice Ginsburg was known as the “Thurgood Marshall of gender equality law.”) 

Will Amy Coney Barrett Cost Republicans the Senate? Mitch McConnell has a tricky needle to thread. ........... Democrats are still spitting mad about how Republicans cheated President Barack Obama out of his Supreme Court pick, Merrick Garland, in 2016 — based on some rubbish about how a vacancy shouldn’t be filled during a presidential election year. ......... Since Justice Ginsburg’s death, contributions have come pouring into progressive groups and individual campaigns at a level that political veterans say is unlike anything they’ve ever seen. ActBlue, which focuses on small-dollar donations, pulled in more than $100 million last weekend. ........... over the past decade, Republicans gave up on consensus building and doing “the hard work of passing laws,” and instead are aiming to “have the courts solve our problems.”  

The Meaning of Amy Coney Barrett Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s likely successor could become a different kind of three-initialed icon. ......... as the Notorious R.B.G., she embodied liberal feminism, a history of struggle and achievement condensed into three initials and one life. .......... can there be a conservative feminism that’s distinctive, coherent and influential, at least beyond quirky religious subcultures ............ A conservative feminism today .. takes for granted that much of what Ginsburg fought for was necessary and just; that the old order suppressed female talent and ambition; that sexism and misogyny are more potent forces than many anti-feminists allowed. It agrees that the accomplishments of Barrett’s career — in academia and now on the federal bench — could have been denied to her in 1950, and it hails that change as good. ............... But then it also argues that feminism’s victories were somewhat unbalanced, that they were kinder to professional ambition than to other human aspirations, and that the society they forged has lost its equilibrium not just in work-life balance but also in other areas — sex and romance and marriage and child rearing, with the sexes increasingly alienated from one another and too many children desired but never born. ............. integrate feminist insights with ideas from the old regime about the centrality of marriage, children and religious commitment to the good life. ............ shorter dating lives and earlier marriages, four or five children instead of two or fewer, and other more traditionally coded choices — more frequent churchgoing, denser social networks, living closer to extended family, work lives designed more around home life than the reverse. ........... her claim to any kind of feminism a cheat  

Coronavirus News (241)

Airlines stare down dire future

This Is the Most Dire Prognostication on the Future of Airlines … and Travel  how slow the recovery in travel will happen, how this is a generational break from the past, how we may have already seen peak travel in various parts of it, how much of the demand may be permanently lost, and how long it would take for recovery to come close to pre-Covid levels (maybe a decade, maybe never?) .............  the dire fundamentals facing airlines carriers in the post-coronavirus world, how it will spawn a complete mayhem in the industry, and why it is the top airline executives, and the investment community that invests in them, who are deciding to ignore the obvious. ............ The airline industry is in denial about its imminent collapse and the reasons why that is. ............ proposes a solution on industrywide restructuring of the airline sector ...........  “The industry, capital markets and the business press have willfully ignored the actual magnitude of the collapse and remain wedded to absurd narratives that falsely assumed rapid, robust demand recovery. The industry and government officials who are actually dealing with the crisis have been myopically focused on narrow objectives (e.g. protecting the financial interests of select investors, minimizing direct government payments to workers). ............. “In the U.S., it is not clear that the competence to oversee an industry-wide restructuring focused on overall economic welfare exists anywhere in the federal government.”

Hubert Horan: The Airline Industry Collapse Part 4 – Total Paralysis Continues 

Alphavid: The airline sector is in denial about its imminent collapse He puts this down in part to duopolistic and monopolistic structures (driven by decades’ worth of industry consolidation) that have reduced any incentive for the sector to properly restructure itself in the face of 85 per cent declines in revenues due to coronavirus. .................. Barring the miraculously rapid development of an effective vaccine, no international airline companies are viable going concerns. ............. a situation where worldwide demand has totally evaporated.  

Hubert Horan: What Will it Take to Save the Airlines? the airlines need a deep restructuring, including a much greater focus on operational efficiency, to have any prospect of being self-supporting. Yet he deems the industry to be dead set against these changes and the US both unwilling to and incapable of imposing them. So we’ll have the worst of all possible worlds: permanent corporate welfare queens that get to keep private sector executive pay and perks. ................ Coronavirus has created the greatest challenge the airline industry has ever faced. For the large legacy carriers serving intercontinental markets, the threat is comparable to the meteor that caused massive climate change and drove dinosaurs into extinction. ......... the coronavirus meteor. ................. US airlines filled 85% of their seats in 2019 (up from 58% when the industry was deregulated and 70% 20 years ago). Once an airline has committed to the costs of operating a given schedule, almost all of the lost revenue from a shortfall of passengers directly reduces the bottom line. ............ Traffic through TSA checkpoints in US airports was down 96% versus the year before in mid April and 88% in mid-May. ........... Never before has flying on an airplane required accepting serious medical risk. ......... the idea of a rapid, “V-shaped” recovery to the January status quo seems wildly improbable. ............ the massive short-term substitution of videoconferencing may reduce business travel for years to come. ......... Cross-border travel bans have been key to slowing the spread of the virus,  and the point where the mass market is no longer concerned with the health risks is somewhere in the distant future. .......... capital markets will be a major obstacle to the major restructuring the industry desperately needs. ............ An industry based on open collusion and protected by huge entry barriers will not produce those improvements. ......... Approval of the domestic mergers and intercontinental alliances had been justified by the false claim that the current existence of three competitors is all that is required to indefinitely provide consumers will the full benefits of competition. The coronavirus crisis provides a painful demonstration why that was never true. .......... The airline bailout requests that led to the CARES Act clearly indicate that when the crisis began both the industry and Congress expected a fairly rapid “V-shaped” demand recovery that would protect the current owners of the major carriers. .................. The current revenue (and medical) reality demands an immediate move to bankruptcy protection for most carriers and an industry-wide restructuring program. The industry’s 2019 status quo cannot survive. ................. Bankruptcy is needed to protect assets that will be critical to the (much smaller) reorganized industry from short-term creditor claims, and to ensure that current owners and insiders cannot divert scarce cash into their own pockets. ........... One model for an industry-wide restructuring program is the U.S. Railway Association, a temporary Federal agency that successfully reorganized the bankrupt freight railroads in the Eastern US in the late 1970s. ..............  the many political obstacles that will likely prevent the needed restructuring from happening. ............. All efforts by airlines and Washington to deal with the crisis appear to have been entirely focused on protecting the owners and the future equity value of the incumbent companies, which totally precludes any consideration of the major downsizing and industry-wide restructuring that is actually needed. This is consistent with Washington’s overall emphasis on helping the owners of politically organized large corporations while providing only token support for suppliers, small business and workers. .................   Even if one argues that programs designed to protect the 2019 status quo for a couple months until a powerful “V-shaped” demand recovery occurred was a plausible position in March, it is now a delusional fantasy. Subsidies for the status quo will waste billions that could be used to allow the future industry to reorganize with more capacity and jobs. But the only people at the table discussing the future of the industry are executives totally dedicated to protecting their shareholders and Washington officials who see the interests of capital accumulators as superior to all other economic interests. .................. Between 2014 and 2019, the big 4 airlines used $42.4 billion of the cash they had generated to repurchase stock. The combination of stock buybacks and increased leverage (between 2016 and 2019 debt increased from $47 to $75 billion) was designed to inflate short term stock prices. This was done at the direction of these four boards, who had incentivized the four CEOs with $431 million in stock based compensation. Stock buybacks exceeded the free cash flow these airlines were generating, and increased even as key financial metrics began declining. ...............  The ability to deal with major industry crises always depended on government agencies tasked with representing broader public interests and judicial processes tasked with upholding evidentiary standards. But they also depended on the ability of capital markets to allocate resources based on objective information about corporate efficiency. The economy’s ability to  deal with the airline industry crisis has not only been compromised by the capture of oversight and bankruptcy processes but by the conversion of capital markets into a political utility disconnected from the real economy. The staggering cognitive dissonance between airline equity values and the actual evidence about airline economics suggests a level of “market failure” that may make the desperately needed industry recovery impossible. ............  the best interim solution may be to convert the industry to a regulated public utility for several years  

How Airline Alliances Convinced Regulators That Collusion Reduces Prices  In the space of just a few years, the North Atlantic, the world’s biggest aviation market, was converted from robust competition to a permanent oligopoly/cartel of three collusive alliances. By design, the consolidation of the North Atlantic, in turn, forced a wave of mergers that consolidated the domestic US market (the world’s second-largest) and forced most Transpacific and Latin American long-haul airlines to align with one of the three collusive groups. ...............  The Airline Deregulation Act’s focus on maximizing long-term consumer welfare was reinterpreted as the basis for DOT policies favoring the largest, most politically influential companies. ........ from 2003 onward, a totally new pattern emerged, with North Atlantic fares rising three times faster than domestic fares. ............... This fundamental shift in pricing behavior exactly tracks the move towards extreme North Atlantic concentration, which started when Air France announced its intention to acquire KLM, previously the largest single driver of price competition in European long-haul network markets. .............  They mounted a massive political attack on the three independent Middle Eastern hub carriers (Emirates, Etihad, Qatar) even though their network overlap was extremely small ..........  Backroom deals between government officials and the largest incumbent carriers have not just distorted market results, but have destroyed the corporate value of smaller competitors. ............. Government policies are no longer established by legislation based on extensive public debates and detailed analysis of objective evidence about industry economics. .........   International aviation presents a useful case example of the utter failure of competition policy and antitrust administration. Clearly written laws were ignored by senior officials of both Republican and Democratic administrations who employed falsehoods and serious misrepresentations without consequence. ................    absolutely no one in the legal or economics professions or the business media seemed the least bit troubled. .............. The people who now control the industry are the ones who spent the last 15 years undermining competition, maximizing artificial oligopoly market power in order to generate readily extractable cashflow, misallocating capital to less efficient airlines, and ensuring the hegemony of investors pursuing short-term capital appreciation over customers, workers, suppliers, local communities, and every other longer-term stakeholder. 

Friday, September 25, 2020

Coronavirus News (240)

Biggest software IPO ever 

Snowflake shares more than double. It's the biggest software IPO ever Snowflake helps blue chip companies analyze and share data in the cloud. ........  now has more than 3,100 customers, double the total from a year ago. That includes 146 of the Fortune 500 firms. ........... Snowflake competes with Amazon's AWS, Microsoft's Azure and the Google Cloud platforms. .........  Revenue more than doubled in the past six months, to $242 million. But the company posted a net loss of $171 million, slightly less than the loss it posted in the same period a year ago.

You're never too old to excel: How Snowflake thrives with 'dinosaur'​ cofounders and a 60-year-old CEO  Say hello to 53-year-old co-founder Benoit Dageville, the nonstop explainer with bushy eyebrows and a pirate’s grin. Sitting across from him is Thierry Cruanes, 52, the quick-witted interrupter with a scruffy salt-and-pepper beard. Both men left their native France decades ago, with dreams of making it big as software architects in the United States. Everything since has been the tech sector’s version of a buddy movie. ............  In their mid-40s, they quit Oracle and rented a tiny office in downtown San Mateo, across the street from a hamburger joint. The cofounders picked a whimsical company name that reflected their shared love of skiing. Then they bought cheap furniture from Ikea, coaxing their kids into doing much of the assembly. ..............  “We’re French,” Cruanes explains, as he recounts those days. “Even if we failed, we knew we could do it in style.” ............ From that puny start, Snowflake has raised more than $900 million in venture money, while achieving a valuation that tops $4 billion. Snowflake’s engineers have redefined data storage and computation to take full advantage of cloud computing’s flexibility. The result: a data-warehousing system that’s easier to use and stunningly faster than older alternatives. ........  Enterprise software is the sector where older engineers, salespeople and other employees are most likely to flock. In these business-to-business markets, product cycles are longer, customers’ priorities evolve more predictably and even the boldest innovators keep building atop what has come before. As a result, long-time pros bring valuable knowledge. There’s room for people who grew up in the age of cassette tapes instead of Spotify. ............... Blunt to a fault, Slootman is famous for acid-tongued comments that make his subordinates gasp. Barely eight minutes into our interview, he tells me: “Silicon Valley is a highly promotional, self-congratulatory culture. Everybody wants to feel good all day long. Not me. I make people feel bad all day long.” ............ Even Snowflake’s elegant snack stations distress him. “We’ve got five kinds of coffee,” he observes. “Do you really need that?” .............  He’s been refining his messages steadily in nearly 30 years of tech leadership. Raise your standards. Act decisively. Shrink your priority list, so you can focus on doing just a few things brilliantly. .................. “I don’t want to high-five,” he explains. “I want to have conversations about the things that aren’t working well, or things that can be better.” ......... Most changes in software are incremental and small. What Snowflake’s doing is radical and ginormous.” ........... Data-centric businesses -- which means basically everyone these days -- are intrigued by the power of big cloud-computing platforms run by Amazon, Microsoft or Google. But moving everything to the cloud can get clunky, especially when users’ data projects create intense spikes and slowdowns in the amount of storage versus compute power they need. ................ Snowflake’s software separates compute and storage, making it faster, cheaper and easier for customers to run all the data queries they crave. ......... A lot of Snowflake’s culture reflects the steady values of lifelong engineers. The hallways are quiet. Distractions are rare. Helping everyone else succeed is a core value; showing off is not. People get their work done by 6 p.m. or so, and head home.  

Snowflake, Before It Was Obvious The founders of Snowflake felt that the problems lay not with relational technology itself, but with the way it had been implemented. They were certainly in excellent position to know, having been key architects of several generations of database products at Oracle and elsewhere. They believed that relational could be unleashed by rearchitecting it to take advantage of the power of the cloud. If they were right, the benefits would be enormous: the mainstream enterprise was already built around relational, with legions of analysts and DBA’s were fully trained in SQL, providing a large and ready market. But this notion was way out of step with the Silicon Valley belief system of the time. .........  In November 2012, Amazon released its Redshift cloud-based data warehouse into preview beta. This product would compete directly with Snowflake. Not only that, Snowflake was building its product on top of AWS computing and storage services. Amazon would be Snowflake’s chief competitor and primary supplier. .........  In 2013, the enterprise data warehousing market was largely captured in on-premise deployments of Oracle, Teradata, Microsoft and a few others. .............. there was enough enterprise data “born in the cloud” to constitute a viable early market, and that the volume and importance of cloud-born data would ultimately dominate. ..........  there is a strategic rationale for customers to embrace a focused, cloud-neutral guardian of the “Data Cloud” that allows them to unlock the power of all their data assets and put them to use however they choose. ...................  They also embraced help in the areas they needed it most from people like Mike Speiser (lead investor and original CEO), Bob Muglia, Frank Slootman and a host of other amazing team members that have made Snowflake a rare talent magnets. ........... Those of us in the early Snowflake supporter camp always believed that the company could carve out a big chunk of the enterprise data warehousing market. And we thought that the best way to penetrate would be to make it easy for customers to try the Snowflake service. This is why so much of the development effort was devoted to making Snowflake super-easy to adopt and effortless to use – in stark contrast to the brain-exploding experience customers had come to expect from legacy data warehousing projects. ................  “Snowflake is addictive,” I was told by a Snowflake Sales Ops leader. “Once customers try it, they inevitably want more.” There was more pent-up demand for analytics in the enterprise than most of us realized, and Snowflake was breaking open the dam with its new model of delivery and consumption. .............  Today one of the most celebrated dimensions of the Snowflake business model is its superlative NRR (Net Revenue Retention) on quite substantial six-figure-plus ACV’s. ............  is there a bigger happening in enterprise technology than Snowflake? The company has become the foundation of the Modern Enterprise.  

Coronavirus News (239)

Airbus Just Unveiled Three New Zero-Emission Concept Aircraft 

At 75, is the United Nations still relevant or necessary? Legitimate criticism and lingering questions surround the UN, even as it makes important progress in areas mostly unseen and vastly under-reported Instead of using the UN as a scapegoat for political failures, criticism should be turned on to states that overpromise and underfund humanitarian operations

Australia has ‘painted itself into a geopolitical corner’ with China, but what is Beijing’s trade endgame? Australia agreed to lead the investigation into the origins of the coronavirus following a call between its Prime Minister Scott Morrison and US President Donald Trump China has since imposed anti-dumping tariffs on Australian barley, suspended certain beef imports and launched two investigations into wine imports

Indonesia’s biggest YouTube star Atta Halilintar on fame, fortune, his mistakes – and why he’s not happy any more Atta Halilintar has 25.5 million subscribers on a channel that earns him up to an estimated US$1.6 million a month But he says being number one comes at a price and that at his lowest he has thought of famous people who had committed suicide

Who’s playing the Taiwan card in India-China tensions, Modi or the RSS? Members of expatriate Indian Hindu nationalist groups are unofficially calling for greater engagement with Taipei – something likely to anger Beijing While the calls mirror a hardening of New Delhi’s stance, it is unclear how much weight they carry with PM Modi – and for him, that’s very convenient

China’s middle-class dream of a second home in Malaysia dashed by coronavirus and geopolitical tensions Many Chinese people have left Malaysia, opting to sell their homes remotely rather than wait to see when and if they will be allowed to return Individual Chinese investors are often unprepared – both financially and psychologically – for the risks of overseas investment, expert says

50 startups on the rise

Global income falls by $3.5 trillion

CEOs speak out on remote work

The Keys to Remote Work - What We Have Learned in a Decade of Leading an Award-Winning Remote Team  .... the importance of boundaries in remote work. ...... There’s a misconception that people who work from home are not accountable and let their home-life distractions spill into their work. For many remote workers, however, the opposite is more often the case. ..........  keep a structured schedule and be intentional about how time is used .......... schedule breaks into their day and stick to those break times. ........ manage your energy and keep yourself from burning out from too much uninterrupted work .......... can be easy to dive deep into work, not get up from your desk for hours, and exhaust yourself in the process ........  In the fitness world, there’s a widespread practice of interval training: strong bursts of rigorous exercise, followed by a brief period of rest. This builds your strength and stamina without overex­erting your body. Interval training can be applied to mental tasks as well—it’s important to sepa­rate periods of mentally strenuous work with short breaks to ensure you don’t burn out. ........... I like to schedule periods of intense work in the morning—when I am cognitively strongest—for tasks that involve writing and development of new materials. Then, I’ll follow that with a break and reserve the afternoon for meetings and tasks that are discussion-oriented and don’t require as much mental capacity and acute focus. ..........   Physical boundaries are also very important. We encourage employees to have a place in their home that is specifically designated for work. ........... Commuting can be a pain, but we often underestimate how much that time in the car or on the subway helps us separate from work on the way home. 

How live music makes a comeback

LinkedIn Top Startups 2020: The 50 U.S. companies on the rise.  Our editors and data scientists parsed hundreds of millions of actions generated by LinkedIn’s 171 million members in the U.S., looking across four pillars: employee growth; jobseeker interest; member engagement with the company and its employees; and how well these startups pulled talent from our flagship LinkedIn Top Companies list. 

Covid-19: A Global Perspective  everyone needs to do their part: governments, the private sector, civil society, and the general public .......... COVID-19 has killed more than 850,000 people. It has plunged the world into a recession that is likely to get worse. And many countries are bracing for another surge in cases. .............  we argue for a collaborative response. There is no such thing as a national solution to a global crisis. All countries must work together to end the pandemic and begin rebuilding economies. The longer it takes us to realize that, the longer it will take (and the more it will cost) to get back on our feet. ..........  How bad the pandemic gets and how long it lasts is largely within the world’s control. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Coronavirus News (238)

 In The Epicenter Of Mexico's Epicenter, Feeling Like A Trapped Animal  No part of the world has been as devastated by the pandemic as Latin America. Mexico, Brazil, Peru and other Latin American countries — hobbled by weak health systems, severe inequality and government indifference — have several of the highest deaths per capita from the virus in the world. ............ By the first week of September, the 10 countries with the highest deaths per capita were all in Latin America or the Caribbean. ..........  Poverty circumscribes life, with chronic water shortages. Hundreds of thousands live day by day, far more fearful of hunger than any virus. ............ Starvation haunted people who had never considered themselves poor, and rituals that had bound the community for generations were scrapped, including one of the biggest Christian celebrations in Latin America, which was canceled for the first time in more than 150 years. ............... People could wear masks, and distance as much as possible, but almost no one could afford to stay home. They had to keep working. ...........  The region is now bracing for one of the world’s worst economic crises. The old wounds of inequality are growing worse, and the poor will add another 45 million people to their ranks ........... Some officials are bracing for a lost decade. .............  Mr. Arriaga’s own attempts to stay away from the market lasted only a month before he blew through his life savings and trudged back to work in fear. ............... “Look around,” he said. “You see anyone here dying?” Many would, very soon. ........... “We survived the War of Reform, the Revolution and the 1985 earthquake,” lamented Tito Dominguez, one of the chief organizers, “and we’ve never had to do this.” .......... Hospitals began to fill and the plaintive wail of ambulances became a nighttime soundtrack. ........... Some claimed that the virus was a Chinese conspiracy, others that bleach was a cure. Even President Andrés Manuel López Obrador offered his own theories, contending that a clean conscience helped prevent infection. ........... “I’ve heard government is paying people to claim their loved ones died from Covid,” Ms. Aquino whispered. “I have two friends who were offered money.” At best, the rumors sowed confusion and doubt. At worst, they were a death sentence. ............. “I don’t care about this virus,” he said, dropping onto a plastic stool, nearly toppling over. “I have no way to survive.” ..........  After his father got sick, Mr. Arriaga fled the city, decamping to his mother’s house in the town of Chalco. For the first time in five years, he took time off. It felt strange, like a guilty pleasure. He used to joke that his dream was to sleep until 10 a.m., if only for one day. ............ “It was really beautiful, just spending time with my mom and brother and sister,” he said. “For all the bad things that happened, at least this was a gift.” ..............  And at every level, there is simply less. Fewer clients. Fewer sales. And a looming sense that the worst still lies ahead. ............ “You have no idea what it feels like to be unable to feed your family,” he said. “I never thought it could get this bad in Mexico.”   

Covid World Map: Tracking the Global Outbreak The coronavirus pandemic has sickened more than 31,746,600 people, according to official counts. As of Wednesday evening, at least 973,500 people have died, and the virus has been detected in nearly every country ............... The outbreak was initially defined by a series of shifting epicenters — including Wuhan, China; Iran; northern Italy; Spain; and New York. Cases worldwide leveled off in April after social distancing measures were put in place in many of the areas with early outbreaks. ............. After case numbers fell steadily in April and May, cases in the United States are growing again at about the same rapid pace as when infections were exploding in New York City in late March. But the hotspots are now mainly spread across the southern and western parts of the country. ..............  there are four factors that most likely play a role: how close you get to an infected person; how long you are near that person; whether that person expels viral droplets on or near you; and how much you touch your face afterwards. ..........  Wash your hands often. Anytime you come in contact with a surface outside your home, scrub with soap for at least 20 seconds, rinse and then dry your hands with a clean towel. Avoid touching your face. The virus can spread when our hands come into contact with the virus, and we touch our nose, mouth or eyes. Try to keep your hands away from your face unless you have just recently washed them.

Fauci finally loses his patience with Rand Paul  the four or five things: of masks, social distancing, outdoors more than indoors, avoiding crowds and washing hands—” ....... New York adopted some of the toughest measures, and it now has the third-lowest per-capita case rate among the 50 states.  

Massive genetic study shows coronavirus mutating and potentially evolving amid rapid U.S. spread The largest U.S. genetic study of the virus, conducted in Houston, shows one viral strain outdistancing all of its competitors, and many potentially important mutations. ...........  Coronaviruses such as SARS-CoV-2 are relatively stable as viruses go, because they have a proofreading mechanism as they replicate. ......... the strong possibility that the virus, as it has moved through the population, has become more transmissible, and that this “may have implications for our ability to control it.” ........... “Wearing masks, washing our hands, all those things are barriers to transmissibility, or contagion, but as the virus becomes more contagious it statistically is better at getting around those barriers” ............. As people gain immunity, either through infections or a vaccine, the virus could be under selective pressure to evade the human immune response. ...............  as the virus interacts with our bodies and our immune systems, it may be learning new tricks that help it respond to its host.  

Coronavirus News (237)

 What Two Billion People Pay Attention to Is Still in the Hands of a Few Companies

Microsoft Had a Crazy Idea to Put Servers Under Water—and It Totally Worked

Three Steps for Creating a More Equitable Workplace

Are You Ready for the Quantum Computing Revolution?  Quantum physics has already changed our lives. Thanks to the invention of the laser and the transistor — both products of quantum theory — almost every electronic device we use today is an example of quantum physics in action. We may now be on the brink of a second quantum revolution as we attempt to harness even more of the power of the quantum world. ......... Although quantum theory is over a century old, the current quantum revolution is based on the more recent realization that uncertainty — a fundamental property of quantum particles — can be a powerful resource. ............  In the quantum world, we must use the language of probability, rather than certainty. ......... the revolutionary idea behind quantum information processing is that quantum uncertainty — a fuzzy in-between “superposition” of 0 and 1 — is actually not a bug, but a feature. It provides new levers for more powerful ways to communicate and process data. .............. While mathematical encryption techniques are vulnerable to being cracked by powerful enough computers, cracking quantum encryption would require violating the laws of physics. ............  quantum computers are fundamentally different from current classical computers. The two are as different as a car and a horse and cart. A car is based on harnessing different laws of physics compared to a horse and cart. It gets you to your destination faster and to new destinations previously out of reach. ............ quantum teleportation, where information encoded in quantum particles disappears in one location and is exactly (but not instantaneously) recreated in another location far away. While that sounds like sci-fi, this new form of data transmission could be a vital component of a future quantum internet. .............  A particularly important application of quantum computers might be to simulate and analyze molecules for drug development and materials design. ..........  solving complex optimization tasks and performing fast searches of unsorted data ............  Given the current state of the field, it’s not clear when or if the full power of quantum computing will be accessible. ............ Nobody could have predicted the myriad ways that classical computers impact every aspect of our lives. Predicting quantum applications is equally challenging.  

Coronavirus cabinet concludes: Full lockdown beginning Friday Blue and White ministers accuse PM of using closure to mute protesters · Nearly 7,000 people diagnosed in one day ............  The country is heading back into a complete lockdown which is to begin Friday and is likely to last until at least the end of the holidays. .......... The lockdown is expected to be more stringent than the one in March, and should include shuttering synagogues, reducing the number of people who can protest, closing all nonessential businesses and markets, reducing public transportation routes and allowing citizens to gather only within their nuclear families. ........... The decision comes on the day that almost 7,000 people were diagnosed with coronavirus in a 24-hour period – unprecedented numbers. ...........  The closure will cost an estimated NIS 35 billion ($10b.) if the lockdown lasts three weeks. .............  There were 6,948 people diagnosed with the virus on Tuesday, the Health Ministry showed Wednesday evening – some 11.7% of the 61,165 people screened. Israel has now had 203,136 cases since the start of the pandemic ........... new restrictions to stop the coronavirus from burning across the country ............   “I am fighting for the lives of the citizens of Israel... We are at war – wake up!” 

Coronavirus News (236)

China must deliver on opening up promises ahead of Xi Jinping’s ‘last chance’ EU virtual summit next week President Xi Jinping is expected to take part in a virtual summit with European leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, on Monday The talks are seen as key as Beijing tries to convince Europe it is sincere about opening its markets and free trade ahead of the US presidential election

Coronavirus: Chinese vaccine ready for use in November, top scientist says Clinical trials have been progressing smoothly and preparations are being made to go into mass production, CDC’s chief biosafety expert Wu Guizhen says Wu says she was inoculated herself in April and ‘has felt quite good’ since

What the World Can Learn From Life Under Tokyo’s Rail Tracks

Nepal’s remittance villages New book on overseas labour migrants details the good, bad and ugly about dependence on money they send home

नेपालकाे रेल यातायातमा अर्काे यात्रा शुरु (फाेटाे फिचर)


NASA Has Figured Out a New Way to Safely Land on the Moon How to land on the Moon without a human pilot.

Ford VP Disses Cybertruck, Calling Electric F-150 a “Real” Work Truck Ford has no interest in "competing for lifestyle customers."

WHO SAYS EUROPE IS HEADED INTO ANOTHER POTENTIAL PANDEMIC CRISIS "WE HAVE A VERY SERIOUS SITUATION UNFOLDING BEFORE US."  ...... “pandemic fatigue” is causing numbers of confirmed cases of COVID-19 to surge in parts of Europe ....... Numbers are rising in both France and Spain. In some instances, the number of new cases is outpacing peak numbers back in April. Both countries even surpassed the per capita-adjusted numbers in the US. .............  this autumn could look especially bad, considering the fast-approaching flu season

A BRAZILIAN CITY MAY HAVE HAD ENOUGH COVID-19 CASES TO REACH HERD IMMUNITY IS THIS IN STORE FOR ALL OF US? ...... Coronavirus cases in the city of Manaus, Brazil are on the decline — and experts suspect it’s because so many people already caught COVID-19 there that it’s now too hard for the virus to spread to new people. ......... about 66.1 percent of residents of Manaus were infected with COVID-19 at some point, which falls in line with the percentages that epidemiologists previously predicted would be necessary to establish herd immunity.