Key developments for Saturday, December 26, 2020

An explosives-rigged RV detonated at 6:30 AM on Christmas Day on 2nd Avenue in Nashville after playing repeated, eerie evacuation warnings. Locals reported hearing gun shots before the evacuation warning began. There have been widespread communications failures in the area secondary to the blast as it occurred next to an AT&T building.

The bombing is reminiscent of the kinds of organized attacks carried out by the IRA during the Troubles. A warning before detonation is a show of force to government, and a seeming gesture of care to civilians. But one of the key points of those kinds of bombings is organizational attribution—attackers want people to know which power is responsible. So far, little has been revealed about who is responsible, why it was done, why this time and location was selected, and whether more are expected. To add to the mystery, authorities say it may have been a suicide bombing. A person on interest has been identified, but we still don’t know much.

A quarter of a million servers, including over 85,000 MySQL servers all over the globe, have been hit by a massive ransomware-attack. Terabytes of data have been stolen and are being ransomed and/or sold on the dark web.

Britain and the EU have reached a Brexit deal:

The world has over 80.6 million cases.  The world has added over 5.4 million cases since Thursday of last week. There have been over 1.7 million deaths in total. The US has nearly 17.6 19.4 million cases. The US has added almost 1.8 million cases in nine days. Over 339,000 Americans have died. The US is gaining roughly 200,000 new cases per day. The US still leads the world in case growth.

Thousands of health care workers have died of COVID in the US, but there’s no concrete system to keep track of these deaths.

One of the features of a new mutant strain of COVID is that the spike protein binds more strongly to ACE2 receptors. We don’t yet know what the fallout will be. We’ve seen increased transmissibility from new strains, but we’re hoping that increased virulence is not also involved:

Mutated strains are spreading quickly, and travel bans continue. Showing proof of a negative test before flying is also increasingly common–we can anticipate that proof of immunization before flying is probably imminent:

We’re still relatively confident that the mRNA vaccines will work well even on mutant strains:

Vaccination programs are moving more slowly than we had hoped in the US. Some of this is logistics log jam, some is a lack of federal direction and communication, and some is from a weary populace. Over nine million doses of the mRNA vaccines have been distributed to states. In good news, the Administration has agreed to purchase 100 million more doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. The extra doses are expected to be delivered by mid-2021. The overall goal of the vaccine program in the US is to hit one million vaccinations per day.

Speaking of a weary populace, let’s keep adverse reactions in perspective:


    • Karl Winterling

      IIRC, the person of interest in the bombing was 63 and there’s supposedly no record of him having voted in any election or any voter registration (which doesn’t mean he can’t be a political extremist who doesn’t vote). He apparently recently transferred a paid-off house for $0 to a 29-year-old woman who lives in California.

      So it looks less like politically-motivated terrorism for now. It could have something to do with conspiracy theories about 5G and COVID-19, which would explain the combination of hostility towards the state and big companies with not wanting to harm civilians.

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    • EzlyAmuzzed

      My husband and I both work in IT and I feel that if a company is not regularly backing up their databases or does not have a disaster recovery plan in place then they are being negligent. My husband’s work did get hit with ransomware last year and he just ignored it and installed the backup data, it was barely a blip in everyday activities. 

      However I am glad this was shared considering I had not heard about it in any other media, thank you.

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      • Olly Wright EzlyAmuzzed

        That is great that your husband’s company thought ahead and was not too affected by that ransomware. 

         I believe that we shouldn’t just be prepared in our personal lives, but bring those principles to our workplace as well.

        What if these major corporations who make millions and millions each year saved that money into an emergency fund? Then when things like covid hit, they can still function and run off of their emergency fund so that they don’t have to go out of business or rely on the government for support. 

        Or storing extra supplies that are necessary for your business to run, so if there is a shortage you can keep going on as normal. 

        I know some businesses are just scraping by day to day and it is harder for them to save money and supplies, but I know that many companies could do much more to be prepared.

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      • EzlyAmuzzed EzlyAmuzzed

        I 100% agree.

        I was surprised to learn that my company created catastrophe plans about 7 years ago, including even one for pandemics with paying a doctor to be available for analytical support. They are also taking advantage of the layoffs of other companies by scooping up good talent (as they put it). They didn’t plan for needing to have 98% of us work remotely, but we did manage to pull it off.

        My husband works for the government where they took full advantage of CARES act grants and is extravagantly spending on unnecessary upgrades. That makes me mad.

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