Solarbird (solarbird) wrote,

Today's News (2020/5/21): So Many, Many Bots Edition (feat. COVID-19)

A mix of science and sabotage. I also have a story that's about vote-by-mail and Donkeyballs Donald's attempt to extort Michigan and Nevada to stop it, but I'll have that in the corruption update, next.

  1. Sweden becomes country with highest coronavirus death rate per capita
  2. In Iowa, No Stay-at-Home Order May Have Increased Cases of COVID-19
  3. Trump says US topping world virus cases is 'badge of honour'
  4. China’s new outbreak shows signs the virus could be changing
  5. 'We've been muzzled': CDC sources say White House putting politics ahead of science
  6. Nearly Half Of The Twitter Accounts Discussing ‘Reopening America’ May Be Bots
  7. Social distancing a week earlier could have saved 36,000 American lives, study says
  8. Scientists in China believe new drug can stop pandemic 'without vaccine'
  9. We Can Prevent a Great Depression. It’ll Take $10 Trillion.
  10. False claim: Video shows 5G telecoms equipment stamped with ‘COV-19’ ready to be installed into a mast

----- 1 -----
Sweden becomes country with highest coronavirus death rate per capita
Sweden has 6.08 deaths per million inhabitants, higher than the UK, USA and Italy
By Richard Orange Malmö
20 May 2020

Sweden has now overtaken the UK, Italy and Belgium to have the highest coronavirus per capita death rate in the world, throwing its decision to avoid a strict lockdown into further doubt.

According to figures collated by the Our World in Data website, Sweden had 6.08 deaths per million inhabitants per day on a rolling seven-day average between May 13 and May 20.

This is the highest in the world, above the UK, Belgium and the US, which have 5.57, 4.28 and 4.11 respectively.

However, Sweden has only had the highest death rate over the past week, with Belgium, Spain, Italy, the UK and France, still ahead over the entire course of the pandemic.

----- 2 -----
In Iowa, No Stay-at-Home Order May Have Increased Cases of COVID-19
An analysis of border counties in Illinois and Iowa indicates more than 200 cases of COVID-19 could be tied to the absence of an official order in the Hawkeye State.
by Gaby Galvin
15 May 2020

A new study tracks how the growth in COVID-19 case rates diverged in two neighboring regions – one in Illinois, where residents were under an official order to stay home, and one in Iowa, where they were not.

The study, published Friday by JAMA Network Open, indicates that after Illinois adopted a statewide stay-at-home order on March 21, the case rate was slower to rise in seven counties that border Iowa. But in Iowa, where there was no such order, cases of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus rose more quickly in eight border counties; one month later, those counties had as many as 217 "excess cases" compared with the Illinois area.

----- 3 -----
Trump says US topping world virus cases is 'badge of honour'
20 May 2020

President Donald Trump has argued it is "a badge of honour" that the US has the world's highest number of confirmed Covid-19 infections.

"I look at that as, in a certain respect, as being a good thing because it means our testing is much better," he said at the White House.

The US has 1.5 million coronavirus cases and nearly 92,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

In second place is Russia, with nearly 300,000 confirmed cases.

----- 4 -----
China’s new outbreak shows signs the virus could be changing
May 19, 2020 at 11:02 pm

Chinese doctors are seeing the coronavirus manifest differently among patients in its new cluster of cases in the northeast region compared to the original outbreak in Wuhan, suggesting that the pathogen may be changing in unknown ways and complicating efforts to stamp it out.

Patients found in the northern provinces of Jilin and Heilongjiang appear to carry the virus for a longer period of time and take longer to test negative, Qiu Haibo, one of China’s top critical care doctors, told state television on Tuesday.

Patients in the northeast also appear to be taking longer than the one to two weeks observed in Wuhan to develop symptoms after infection, and this delayed onset is making it harder for authorities to catch cases before they spread, said Qiu, who is now in the northern region treating patients.

“The longer period during which infected patients show no symptoms has created clusters of family infections,” said Qiu, who was earlier sent to Wuhan to help in the original outbreak. Some 46 cases have been reported over the past two weeks spread across three cities — Shulan, Jilin city and Shengyang — in two provinces, a resurgence of infection that sparked renewed lockdown measures over a region of 100 million people.

----- 5 -----
'We've been muzzled': CDC sources say White House putting politics ahead of science
By Robert Kuznia, Curt Devine and Nick Valencia, CNN
Updated 10:58 AM ET, Wed May 20, 2020

(CNN)In the early weeks of the US coronavirus outbreak, staff members in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had tracked a growing number of transmissions in Europe and elsewhere, and proposed a global advisory that would alert flyers to the dangers of air travel.

But about a week passed before the alert was issued publicly -- crucial time lost when about 66,000 European travelers were streaming into American airports every day.

The delay, detailed in documents obtained by CNN, is the latest example to emerge of a growing sense of disconnect between the CDC and the White House.
In interviews with CNN, CDC officials say their agency's efforts to mount a coordinated response to the Covid-19 pandemic have been hamstrung by a White House whose decisions are driven by politics rather than science.

The result has worsened the effects of the crisis, sources inside the CDC say, relegating the 73-year-old agency that has traditionally led the nation's response to infectious disease to a supporting role.

----- 6 -----
Nearly Half Of The Twitter Accounts Discussing ‘Reopening America’ May Be Bots
CMU Researchers Say Sophisticated, Orchestrated Bot Campaigns Aim To Sow Divide
Virginia Alvino Young Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Scrolling through your Twitter feed, it may not be obvious when you come upon a bot account — something that is more likely to occur in the era of COVID-19. Carnegie Mellon University researchers have discovered that much of the discussion around the pandemic and stay-at-home orders is being fueled by misinformation campaigns that use convincing bots.

To analyze bot activity around the pandemic, CMU researchers since January have collected more than 200 million tweets discussing coronavirus or COVID-19. Of the top 50 influential retweeters, 82% are bots, they found. Of the top 1,000 retweeters, 62% are bots.

The monitoring of tweets is ongoing and collections from Facebook, Reddit and YouTube have been added to the research.

"We're seeing up to two times as much bot activity as we'd predicted based on previous natural disasters, crises and elections," said Kathleen Carley, a professor in the School of Computer Science’s Institute for Software Research and director of the Center for Computational Analysis of Social and Organizational Systems (CASOS) and Center for Informed Democracy & Social - Cybersecurity (IDeaS.)

----- 7 -----
Social distancing a week earlier could have saved 36,000 American lives, study says
By Teo Armus
May 21, 2020 at 4:03 a.m. PDT

On March 8, it was mostly business as usual in the United States. As the Lakers faced the Clippers in a much-anticipated Los Angeles basketball matchup, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) rallied before a packed crowd in Michigan. In Miami, thousands squeezed onto the beach for a massive dance party. With 500 coronavirus infections reported nationwide at the time, the outbreak seemed like a distant threat to many Americans.

But by the following Sunday, the nation had entered a different universe: 2,000 confirmed cases, dozens of deaths, and shutdown orders in Illinois, Ohio and New York City, among other parts of the country.

What if those sweeping measures imposed by March 15 — a federal warning against large gatherings, health screenings at airports, states of emergency declared by governors and mayors — had been announced a week earlier?

New research from Columbia University epidemiologists offered one possible answer on Wednesday. If the same kind of social distancing had been in place seven days earlier, their study found, the United States could have prevented 36,000 deaths through early May — about 40 percent of fatalities reported to date.

“If you don’t take steps to fight the growth rate aggressively, you get much worse consequences,” Jeffrey Shaman, an environmental health sciences professor who led the study, told The Washington Post.

----- 8 -----
Scientists in China believe new drug can stop pandemic 'without vaccine'
Japan Times
May 20, 2020

Beijing – A Chinese laboratory has been developing a drug it believes has the power to bring the coronavirus pandemic to a halt.

The outbreak first emerged in China late last year before spreading across the world, prompting an international race to find treatments and vaccines.

A drug being tested by scientists at China’s prestigious Peking University could not only shorten the recovery time for those infected, but even offer short-term immunity from the virus, researchers say.

Sunney Xie, director of the university’s Beijing Advanced Innovation Center for Genomics, said that the drug has been successful at the animal testing stage.

“When we injected neutralizing antibodies into infected mice, after five days the viral load was reduced by a factor of 2,500,” said Xie.

“That means this potential drug has (a) therapeutic effect.”

The drug uses neutralizing antibodies — produced by the human immune system to prevent the virus infecting cells — which Xie’s team isolated from the blood of 60 recovered patients.

A study on the team’s research, published Sunday in the scientific journal Cell, suggests that using the antibodies provides a potential “cure” for the disease and shortens recovery time.

Xie said his team had been working “day and night” searching for the antibody.

“Our expertise is single-cell genomics rather than immunology or virology. When we realized that the single-cell genomic approach can effectively find the neutralizing antibody we were thrilled.”

----- 9 -----
We Can Prevent a Great Depression. It’ll Take $10 Trillion.
Don’t think of that number as “big” or “bold.” Just think of it as the appropriate dosage for a once-in-a-century economic affliction.
May 18, 2020
Derek Thompson
The Atlantic

Last week, House Democrats unveiled their latest pandemic-relief package. The bill combines aid for families, a bailout for struggling cities and states, and additional funds for testing, tracing, and hospitals. The price tag is about $3 trillion—and it comes just weeks after the president signed an economic-relief package worth about $2 trillion.

Republicans have assailed the bill as a profligate wish list. Even Americans who are suffering from the health and economic ravages of the pandemic may feel a bit stunned by the dollar amount. Does the government really have to spend $5 trillion in three months? Can the United States afford to dump such unfathomable amounts of money into the economy?

The answers to those questions are yes and absolutely yes.

Small-business activity has plunged nationwide by nearly 50 percent. Hundreds of thousands of companies have already failed. Big retailers such as J.Crew and Neiman Marcus have filed for bankruptcy, while others, including Macy’s, are teetering. By some measures, scarcely one-third of Americans say they are working. Next month’s jobs report will likely show that, for the first time since World War II, a majority of Americans aren’t officially employed.

“The scope and speed of this downturn are without modern precedent,” Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said on Wednesday. “Additional fiscal support could be costly but worth it if it helps avoid long-term economic damage and leaves us with a stronger recovery.”

To understand why the U.S. needs additional fiscal support, let’s review where we stand on government assistance.

----- 10 -----
False claim: Video shows 5G telecoms equipment stamped with ‘COV-19’ ready to be installed into a mast
Reuters Fact Check
May 15, 2020

A video being shared widely on social media shows a man who presents himself as a telecoms engineer allegedly revealing equipment labelled COV-19 that is due to be installed into a 5G tower. This video contains false information.

The footage emerged earlier this week and has been shared on multiple social networks, garnering thousands of views (here here here).

It shows a man wearing a hard hat and high-visibility jacket telling the camera that he works as a telecoms engineer erecting 5G masts across the UK while the country is in lockdown. He then holds up a circuit board and claims it is “a piece of kit that has COV-19 on it”.

He adds: “I don’t really know any product by any company that produces circuitry like this that has the brand name COV-19, but that’s what it says on the fucking circuit board. I’m not a fucking conspiracy theorist but obviously I’ve read all that stuff online about coronavirus and COVID-19, but why the fuck are they putting circuitry like that in towers like that?”

It is not clear whether the subject in the video is actually a telecoms engineer, but the equipment he is holding is not 5G telecoms kit. The circuit board was actually taken from a Virgin Media box for cable television - the casing of which can be seen on the bonnet of the van as the camera pans at the end of the footage.

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Tags: cascadia now, covid19, politics
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