News roundup for Fri, Apr 08, 2022

Ukraine war

There have been 95 potential war crimes documented in Ukraine so far. The UN suspended Russia from the Human Rights Council and Greece will ask the International Criminal Court to investigate alleged war crimes in Mariupol.

Eastern Ukrainian cities are under evacuation orders and more refugees are leaving Ukraine. Krakow, Poland grew 20% since the start of the war and is starting to feel the strain. Some refugees might not be going home after the war ends, creating new socio-economic, and political dynamics in the welcoming countries.

SpaceX and USAID have delivered additional 5,000 Starlink terminals to Ukraine.

Here are the latest updates.

Economy and supply chain

US Congress suspended normal trade relations with Russia, and banned Russian oil, liquefied natural gas, and coal.

The White House is to extend the student loan pause through August.

What does it mean:

  • Borrowers won’t be asked to make payments until after Aug 31.
  • Interest rates will remain at 0% during that time.
  • People who were behind on payments before the pandemic will automatically be put in good standing.

The EU will ban Russian coal starting mid-August. The UK will ramp up the production of nuclear and wind energy as it aims to generate 95% of Britain’s electricity from low carbon sources by 2030 and tackle the energy crisis.

Walmart is retraining warehouse workers as truckers in order to ease their trucker shortage. The salary for new truckers is between $95,000 – $110,000.

Plastipocalypse

Microplastics have been found deep in living human lungs. The main culprits were, again: PET and polypropylene (PP).

Microplastics have also infiltrated the deep sea’s main food source. Scientists worry that they could alter the ocean’s role in one of Earth’s ancient cooling processes.

There’s reason to believe that microplastics can cause health concerns, from damage to human cells to disruption of immune and endocrine systems, and damage to organs.

Plastics are ubiquitous and we still don’t understand the full impact of microplastic exposure. What can you do to limit exposure or shedding of microplastics:

  • Use a reusable stainless steel bottle or glass to drink.
  • Limit takeaway, fast food wrappings, and packaged food.
  • Use a respirator or pollution mask if you live in a high-pollution area.
  • Use filters to catch microplastics when doing laundry.
Climate and extreme weather

Air pollution from wildfire smoke in the Pacific Northwest will double or triple in the coming years.

Researchers predict another above-average Atlantic hurricane season. The prediction includes a 71% chance that major hurricanes (Cat 3 and above) will land on US soil. Learn how to prepare for hurricanes here.

There have been 38 tornados this week in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina that left three dead and the state of Georgia under a state of emergency.

Severe weather is expected in the next few days:

Covid

The new Covid relief plan covers the purchase of more vaccines and therapeutics and the maintenance of testing capacity and research. Extra funding for the uninsured and global Covid aid are left out of the package.

The federal employee COVID vaccine mandate is reinstated.

Covid resources:

The rest

There have been already five mass shootings in the US in 2022, with the recent in Sacramento, CA being the deadliest in the city’s history. Summer is statistically when the most shootings occur.

Here is what you can do to prepare:

  • Practice situational awareness (i.e. know your exit routes, call the police if seeing something suspicious, etc).
  • Learn first aid skills, especially how to stop the bleed (i.e. apply pressure). If you carry one item in your IFAK, make it a tourniquet.
  • During: Run, hide, or fight as a last resort.
  • After: Follow the law’s enforcement instructions. Keep your hands empty and visible at all times as you could be mistaken for a shooter.

Read more here, and here.

Active Shooter Response
via UMSL

A look at people’s go-bags from around the world. Cell phones, electronics, and IDs seem to be ubiquitous. Keep extra charging cables and/or a battery charger, as well as copies of the most important documents in your EDC or go-bag. Here is TP’s beginners bug out bag checklist.

How the prepping community has shifted from cold-war doomsday bunker prepping, to self-sufficiency and community-building:

Doomer optimism: Aligning realistic fears about the future with practices of self-sufficiency, sustainability, self-care and community building.Bradley Garrett

  • 23 Comments

    • brownfox-ffContributor

      What you can do about it:

      Have a productive weekend.

      15 |
      • TraceContributor brownfox-ff

        Use lithium batteries in your items that you store away. They’ll last longer unused and they don’t corrode like alkaline batteries. Yes they’re more expensive, but when you take it out you want it to work. If you use alkaline batteries consider storing them in a bag with the device and they’ll be less likely to leak/corrode (and if they do they won’t ruin your device).  

        4 |
      • Bill Masen Trace

        I ONLY use Lithium batteries these days, I’ve had leaky alkaline battes destroy good kit.

        3 |
    • brownfox-ffContributor

      Berkey says their Black filters _should_ be able to remove microplastics, but they haven’t officially tested – https://theberkey.com/blogs/water-filter/do-the-berkey-filters-remove-microplastics-plastic-fibers-from-the-water

      8 |
    • Captain Peanut

      A very organized and well rounded chunk of relevant news. Thank you for this!

      On the covid front, I have been extremely blessed during the pandemic to have all of my monthly health insurance costs waived. As the pandemic is winding down, I am starting to hear that they are looking at reinstating the monthly fee. It sure helped out during that difficult time, but now I need to adjust my budget accordingly again.

      5 |
    • Karl Winterling

      The new COVID package is expected to pass because it’s a “must-pass” bill. It’s being delayed as a way to force senators to vote on hot-button culture wars issues but I’m pretty sure it will eventually pass. I think the bill covers vaccines and testing for people who don’t have health insurance but doesn’t cover international programs like COVAX (given that non-military foreign aid is now a culture wars issue).

      You’ll be put back in good standing if you’ve defaulted on your federal student loans, which should mean you’ll be able to get a deferment or forbearance so that you have time to get to a point where you’re able to pay the loans back. It’s unclear whether coming out of default will mean you’re eligible to receive federal student aid again.

      4 |
    • Bill Masen

      Absolutely delighted with Elon Musks generosity and the Star Link system, Feedback  from UK / EU media clearly suggest that its saving lots of lives, and helping families stay in touch. Well done America

      8 |
      • Hardened Bill Masen

        On behalf of the US, thank you Bill.  It’s a nice feeling for us to be accused of doing something generous for a change.

        2 |
    • Bill Masen

      I use the Ceramic filter candles in my water filters that should be removing most microplastics

      5 |
      • Renata T Bill Masen

        Could you explain this in a bit more detail? New to filtering laundered water for microplastics. I throw clothes made with blends or polyester in special bags that prevent plastic shedding from getting into water supplies, but they’re not big enough for the fake fleece blankets my sister and mother bring to our home when visiting. We otherwise try to buy natural fibers and sundry when possible. I wanted a more whole-house approach when laundering to prevent our pollution from hitting the water. 

        4 |
      • Bill Masen Renata T

        Source NAT GEO.

        Microplastics, as the name implies, are tiny plastic particles. Officially, they are defined as plastics less than five millimeters (0.2 inches) in diameter—smaller in diameter than the standard pearl used in jewelry. There are two categories of microplastics: primary and secondary.

        Primary microplastics are tiny particles designed for commercial use, such as cosmetics, as well as microfibers shed from clothing and other textiles, such as fishing nets. Secondary microplastics are particles that result from the breakdown of larger plastic items, such as water bottles. This breakdown is caused by exposure to environmental factors, mainly the sun’s radiation and ocean waves.

        The problem with microplastics is that—like plastic items of any size—they do not readily break down into harmless molecules. Plastics can take hundreds or thousands of years to decompose—and in the meantime, wreak havoc on the environment. On beaches, microplastics are visible as tiny multicolored plastic bits in sand. In the oceans, microplastic pollution is often consumed by marine animals. 

        Some of this environmental pollution is from littering, but much is the result of storms, water runoff, and winds that carry plastic—both intact objects and microplastics—into our oceans. Single-use plastics—plastic items meant to be used just once and then discarded, such as a straw—are the primary source of secondary plastics in the environment.

        Microplastics have been detected in marine organisms from plankton to whales, in commercial seafood, and even in drinking water. Alarmingly, standard water treatment facilities cannot remove all traces of microplastics. To further complicate matters, microplastics in the ocean can bind with other harmful chemicals before being ingested by marine organisms.

        Scientists are still unsure whether consumed microplastics are harmful to human or animal health—and if so, what specific dangers they may pose. Even so, many countries are taking action to reduce microplastics in the environment. A 2017 United Nations resolution discussed microplastics and the need for regulations to reduce this hazard to our oceans, their wildlife, and human health.

        Ceramic filters SOURCE British Berkfield ( UK version of Berkys)

        How long do British Berkefeld filters last?
        The stainless filter body should last a lifetime, or more, – there is nothing to go wrong! The Super Sterasyl and Super Sterasyl ATC candle life depends firstly on the frequency of cleaning and secondly on the concentrations of the chemicals it is removing. Because cleaning removes a little bit of the candle material, the more you clean the shorter the life of the candle. Never the less, a typical life expectancy for a ceramic candle in continuous use is 6-12 months. Because the life of the carbon or carbon ATC core is dependent on the concentration of chemicals they are removing, it is generally recommended that Super Sterasyl and Super Sterasyl ATC candles be replaced after aproximately 2000 litres (440 gallons), per candle, for optimum performance. Even after the carbon fill has reached its absorption limit and the chemicals are no longer being removed, the candles will continue to work removing dirt and bacteria.

        SS2 and ATC SS2 = 4000 litres (880 gallons)
        SS4 and ATC SS4 = 8000 litres (1760 gallons) ……. roughly 50,000 cups of tea!

        Tip: Work out how much water you need per day then see how long it will be before you need to replace the candles.
        When should I clean the filter candles?
        If the filtration rate has slowed right down yet the upper container is full, it is likely that dirt is blocking the surface of the filter candles and that they are ready for a clean.
        How do I clean the filter candles?
        Carefully remove the upper container and drain. Remove the candles being careful not to contaminate the plastic mounting screw with dirty hands or unfiltered water. Using a stiff brush or scouring pad (stiff nailbrush or pad similar to 3M Scotchbrite), clean the ceramic surface of the candles. The outside of the candles can be rinsed in untreated water. Any sludge or dirt can be wiped out from the inside of the upper container.Avoid contaminating the plastic mounting screws with untreated water or dirt from the filter and avoid breathing or injesting any dirt or untreated water spray. Using rubber or plastic gloves is recommended. Re-assemble taking care to avoid contamination of the ‘clean’ side/ends of candles and upper container. The surface of the ceramic candles is quite soft and cleaning will remove a little ceramic material from the surface of the candles. This is normal.
        DO NOT USE SOAP or DETERGENTS!
         
        I need to clean the candles too often. Why?
        The dirtier the water you are treating the more often the filter will need cleaning. Try to improve the water you are using. Ways you may be able to do this include letting the water stand in a covered bucket so that some of the dirt can settle to the bottom. Then carefully top-up the filter from the cleaner water near the top. You may also be able to get cleaner water by changing the place the water is collected from, or in the case of sources shared by animals or other people, changing the time of day may help.

        Do I need to sterilise Super Sterasyl candles?
        Super Sterasyl and Super Sterasyl ATC candles are self sterilising and do not need additional sterilisation.

        Can I leave the British Berkefeld filters unused for a period?
        Yes. Drain the filter completely and leave it to air dry thoroughly before storing.
        Tip: Don’t hurry the drying – the core of the candles will still be damp after the outer ceramic seems dry.

        Will it filter out eggs, flukes and other parasites?
        Yes. These are relatively large and easily removed by the British Berkefeld filters.

        Will it filter out Cysts and Protozoa?
        Yes. These single celled organisms including Amoeba and Giardia are relatively large and easily removed by the British Berkefeld filters.

        Will it filter out Cysts and Protozoa?
        Yes. These single celled organisms including Amoeba and Giardia are relatively large and easily removed by the British Berkefeld filters.

        Will it filter out Bacteria?
        Yes. The manufacturers lab test the filters using a bacteria called E-Coli and claim a 99.99% reduction. That’s a lot of protection and is generally considered more than adequate for protected water supplies and the vast majority of moderately contaminated surface waters. If the water supply is very heavily contaminated though, then even at 99.99% there may still be more bacteria than you want. Furthermore, bacteria differ in size and shape, some may get past the filter in larger numbers compared to E-Coli, and some in smaller numbers. Most bacteria are not harmful. The risk from harmful bacteria is dose related, that means the less there are the less the risk.

        Will it filter out Viruses?
        Not directly. Viruses alone are much too small to be stopped by all normal filters. The British Berkefeld filter should still achieve a significant reduction because viruses are usually associated with infected cells or attached to other organisms and these can be stopped by the filter.

        ((Will it clean the water?))
        [It will remove most solid particles larger than 2μ (2/1000th of a milimeter) in the water. Some very, very fine sediments around 1μ and smaller can still pass through. Discolouration from disolved minerals and chemicals may not be removed. The unpleasant taste, smell or colouring from organic chemicals will be significantly improved by absorption into the activated carbon.]

        Will the British Berkefeld filter remove water hardness?
        No. Water hardness is not removed by filtration.

        Will the British Berkefeld filter lead out of the water?
        Yes. All SS filters and Super Sterasyl candles will remove particles of lead metal. Additionally the ATC SS2, ATC SS4 filters and the ATC Super Sterasyl candles are also designed to remove disolved lead from the water.

        Will the British Berkefeld filter remove aluminium?
        Only particles of aluminium will be removed, not dissolved aluminium.

        Will the British Berkefeld filter remove nitrates?
        No. Nitrates in solution need an ion exchange filter to remove them.

        Will the British Berkefeld filter remove fluoride?
        No. Dissolved fluoride cannot be removed by ceramic or carbon filtration.

        3 |
      • Carlotta SusannaStaff Renata T

        Have you heard of the Cora Ball, by any chance? It’s just an alternative to the filter bags. You just put the ball in the washing machine and it’s supposed to catch the microfibers shedding from laundry.

        To be honest, I don’t know of any other tools or methods to filter microplastics from laundry apart from the filter bags like Guppyfriend and the Cora Ball.

        2 |
      • Renata T Carlotta Susanna

        Thanks for this, Carlotta. We currently use both the Cora Ball and the Guppyfriend. But, the Cora Ball only helps with larger fibers and pieces rather than those which I can’t see. I read something years ago that mentioned that water filters could be used for whole home integration to prevent microplastics from getting flushed into municipal or grey water, but no further info on exactly which filters/systems could do that – at that time. 

        2 |
      • Bill Masen Renata T

        I think reverse osmosis filters stop everything in the micro plastic range.

        2 |
      • Renata T Bill Masen

        I think you might be correct (not my field to confirm)! Here is a new guide from a U.S. based, nonpartisan group that sets the standard for consumer protections: https://www.ewg.org/tapwater/water-filter-guide.php#findfilter 

        Looks like I’ll have to get a filter for the entire home, not just below the sink in the kitchen for cooking purposes. Had not known the reverse osmosis (with a carbon filter) would be that universally effective. 

        3 |
      • CR Renata T

        Important point on RO, you do need to get the ones that have an end stage remineralization filter, otherwise the water is too pure & not as good for you. Ran across this info recently when upgrading from 30 year old one under my kitchen sink. 

        Found a good one that includes remineralization and UV (nice to have for well water that can get random bacterial issues) for about $200 on Amazon. Easy to install replacing old one.  Works great

        3 |
      • Carlotta SusannaStaff Bill Masen

        That’s cool, didn’t know that. I don’t have reverse osmosis at home, but now it looks even more desirable.

        3 |
      • Bill Masen Carlotta Susanna

        Oddly enough I only became aware of domestic RO water systems when a friend of mine a fellow aquarist decided to start keeping a fish species  called Oscars.  They need  very high quality water apparently so he had an inline multi cartridge  RO system installed.

        One point he made that caught my attention was he had it installed so it only fed one tap ( faucett, spigot) instead of being fed to the entire house. It apparently allowed him to use a smaller and less expensive system, as the water only gets used for drinking/ cooking and fish keeping.

        I’m advised that rainwater catchment has little or no microplastics in it as its the end product of natural evaporation.

        Typical-domestic-rainwater-harvesting-systems-Source-UNEP-and-CEHI-2009

        Rainwater-harvesting-systems-v1-01

        3 |
      • Renata T Bill Masen

        Thank you! The install part, for me, was another issue. My husband is pretty handy, but I’m trying to get my skills up. Looks a like a weekend event. 

        3 |
      • Bill Masen Renata T

        TIP, sometimes  your supplier  OR your local aquarist shop MAY provide an installation service.

        2 |
    • Bill Masen

      Intel snippet,

      Sri Lanka has had to default on its international debt repayments. The whole place is in chaos , no one can afford anything, including the government,  no food, fuel, medicines, cash etc. The place was utterly reliant on Tourism and Covid killed that off.

      UK media saying Russia MAY have used Chemical weapons in Mariopol.

      Eco Terrorists in the UK are causing chaos by blockading oil refineries and roads in the UK.

      0 |