News roundup for Fri, Apr 29, 2022

Ukraine war

Russia stopped sending natural gas to Poland and Bulgaria. Bulgaria said that it has enough gas for the time being, and Poland had already started taking steps to wean off Russian gas, so this move might not cause the level of disruption it intended. In case of Russian gas disruptions, some countries have alternative supply options, and Europe’s gas network is linked up so they can share supplies. Hungary said it would comply with Russia and pay for its gas supplies in rubles because it has no other choice.

According to the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), radiation levels in the areas excavated by Russian soldiers near Chornobyl were high but still within workers’ annual exposure limits. IAEA delivered new monitoring equipment and reestablished links to the agency in Vienna.

Ukrainian armed forces intentionally flooded a village and the surrounding fields to prevent Russian troops from reaching Kyiv. It worked. Most residents are happy that it helped, even though they are still under water. The Ukrainians have employed various scorch-earth policies throughout the war. In one instance, they bombarded the runway of an airport near Kyiv to prevent it from receiving Russian special forces; in another, they blew out bridges and forced the Russians into a peat bog that sank four of their tanks.

Ukrainian authorities filed criminal charges against ten individual Russian soldiers accused of kidnapping and torturing civilians in Bucha. The International Criminal Court has also opened an investigation into the alleged genocide in Ukraine.

Microsoft released the most comprehensive public record yet of Russian hacking efforts related to the war in Ukraine. The report shows that Kremlin-backed hacking groups have conducted at least 240 hacking operations in Ukraine. Hacking activities seem to coincide with actual attacks on the ground, but it’s unclear if the two types of attacks are usually coordinated. Some cyberattacks have been aimed at gathering details on Ukraine’s population, cybersecurity, and military intelligence.

Russia deployed trained dolphins to block the entrance to their Sevastopol (Crimea) naval base.

Live updates and latest maps:

Economy

The US economy contracted in the first quarter, the first decline since the early days of the pandemic and a sharp reversal from the rapid growth at the end of 2021. Economists say that the evidence of economic recovery has been partially masked by the way inventories and trade are calculated and the winding down of Covid relief efforts. Consumer spending actually grew 0.7% despite skyrocketing gas prices and Covid restrictions.

The World Bank’s latest Commodity Markets Outlook report shows that we will suffer high commodity prices through the end of 2024. Energy prices will increase by 50% and food by 23% (with wheat prices rising by 40%). High fertilizer prices have exacerbated this spike in energy prices, and it’s the biggest since the 1973 oil crisis.

A recent analysis by the Guardian shows that the profits of most top corporations are increasing by a median of 49% while they pass inflationary costs onto consumers.

Climate change and extreme weather

Southern California declared a water shortage emergency. Officials ordered six million residents to restrict outdoor watering to only one day a week or find other ways to cut usage to a new monthly allocation limit. This is the first time the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has taken such a step.

Climate change will cause animals to gather in cooler regions, increasing the spread of virusesThe study is one of the first to predict how global warming will shift wildlife habitats, increase encounters between species capable of swapping pathogens, and quantify how many times viruses will jump between species.

A new UN report shows that between now and 2030, we will experience around 560 disasters every year, up from an average of 100 just a couple of decades ago. This prediction could be an underestimate as climate change worsens in the following decades. According to the UN Office of Disaster Risk Reduction chief, 90% of disaster relief money is typically spent on emergency relief, while only 4% on prevention.

Storms of Category 4 and 5 could double in some places by 2050. Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Honolulu are among some major cities that will experience the most significant increase. The US has lost $480 billion due to tropical storms in the last decade alone.

It seems that the gist of all recent predictions has been: expect bigger, stronger, more destructive natural disasters. How do you prepare for such extreme events? In the same way you would normally prepare, but with the awareness that traditional seasons are shifting and that weather events might be more destructive, last longer, or start expanding geographically.

Never prepped before? Start here:

Continue by building your foundation:

Prepping for a specific event?

The news roundup from Apr 12 lists a bunch of websites and tool that predict how the climate will change in your area. Helpful if you want to research further how to adjust your preps. And here is our master list of other prepping scenarios. Tip: if you click on the “View discussion in forum” button next to a guide’s title, you will see a list of relevant forum and blog posts. Our forum is also a great place to share and seek advice.

Here’s NOAA’s three-month outlook for May-July:

NOAA three month forecast

NOAA three month forecast
via NOAA

Busan, South Korea, will build a prototype floating city designed to withstand rising sea levels and storms. The city will be able to hold 12,000 people, and it will be divided into three platforms: one for housing, one for communal spaces (theatres, restaurants, etc.), and one for research. The platforms will be coated in a buoyant limestone material called Biorock, which is harder than concrete, strengthens with age, and is self-repairing. The buildings will be made of sustainable materials like bamboo and timber, with five stories max. 800 million people will live in cities where sea levels could rise more than half a meter (1.6 ft) by 2050, so floating cities could be a smart way to both adapt to a changing climate but also ease housing crunches:

Covid becoming endemic in the US?

Fauci said that the US is likely transitioning into a more manageable, endemic phase. But endemic does not mean that Covid will come to a natural end, nor that it will become less deadly. It just means that overall rates of infection are static. Malaria is endemic, and it still kills one million people a year. The best way to stop spreading variants that are more dangerous or transmittable is to stop their uncontrolled spread:

Is Coronavirus here to stay
via Nature

WHO update: global cases and deaths down, but new surges (mainly caused by new Omicron variants and sub-variants) in South Africa, Europe, and Asia. We’re keeping an eye on the new variants, but it seems that there is no reason so far for doing anything differently than with Omicron.

Moderna requested FDA authorization for their vaccine for children under six. The FDA should review the application within the next week.

Pediatric hepatitis spreads in the US and to new countries. Still no clues

Japan and China are the latest countries to have reported new cases. New cases have been confirmed in Alabama, Delaware, North Carolina, and Illinois in the US, while potential patients are monitored in New York and Wisconsin. One of the four cases being observed in Wisconsin resulted in death. Scientists still don’t know the exact causes of the outbreaks, but one possible theory could be that the children are indeed infected with adenovirus, but because they have been in lockdown, they have not been able to build a normal immune response and so even a mild infection is creating disproportionately worse symptoms.

The rest

You can now request Google to remove your personal information from Search. Removing content from Google Search won’t remove that info from the internet, and not all requests are granted, like in the case if that information is a public record. If you wish a specific website to delete your info, you’d need to contact the website owner directly. (Editor’s note: Edited to clarify that Google won’t remove your info from specific sites, just from their Search services, and added that removing content from Google Search won’t remove that info from the internet. The link provides more info, but also check the comments below for a useful conversation on the topic.)

Apple’s self-repair service is now available.

Ford finally launched its electric F-150 Lightning pickup truck. It has four outlets in its “frunk,” a battery that can be used to power a house for up to three days, a four seconds 0-to-60 acceleration time, and a 230-320 miles range. This year’s current model is no longer available for orders due to high demands.

The first human case of H3N8 bird flu was discovered in China. H3N8 flu is endemic in birds, horses, and dogs, and the risk of human-to-human spread is low.

MIT researchers have developed a portable solar desalination unit that uses electrical power instead of filters. The unit weighs less than 10 Kg (20 lb), produces 0.3 liters (about 1.2 cups) of clean water per hour, and requires only 20 watts of power per liter. The output is not great, and a 20 lb box is not the lightest, but it’s a step in the right direction. The lack of a filter that needs to be cleaned or replaced is likely one of the best features.

Here’s a nice article from The Guardian featuring British preppers.


  • 20 Comments

    • atlanticrando

      I would argue that there is no real way for The Prepared’s core audience to prepare for Russian combat dolphins, but combat dolphins are such a good lede/teaser…

      Thanks for mentioning that Guardian piece about inflation, it was a good read that I’d encourage others to check out, and I have found that angle continues to be underrepresented in major North American media. While I suppose in one sense it doesn’t matter where inflation is coming from the perspective of individual preparedness, it is helpful for preppers to be informed consumers and to know where they can direct their political/social action energies.

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      • Momof6 atlanticrando

        I agree I appreciate being able to see which companies are really benefiting above and beyond. 

        4 |
      • atlanticrando Momof6

        Indeed. Speaking of…https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/29/business/exxon-mobil-chevron-earnings.html

        Exxon will be using high profits to dump $30B into stock buybacks. Sigh.

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      • i have a counter attack platoon of trained sea otters that can take out a dolphin any day. the key is numbers, five otters to one dolphin.

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      • MainPugh pint of beer

        😂

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      • Hardened atlanticrando

        Observers note a common thread along the supply chain: consolidation.

        This is the problem.

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      • atlanticrando Hardened

        I think this is especially acute with one of the most visible (and most discussed on this site) categories: food. Ex. meat processing industry, etc.

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      • Trained dolphins defending Russian naval base -> we’ve definitely been living in a Black Mirror episode since March 2020.

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      • pnwsarahContributor atlanticrando

        Really appreciated this thread— both for the “counter attack platoon of trained sea otters”, which made me laugh, and the nods to consolidation’s role in the inflation problem we’re experiencing currently. I share atlanticrando’s sense that this (consolidation, not weaponization of marine mammals) is an underreported angle (at least in the U.S.). I also feel like I heard a lot more discussion of it ~10-20 years ago. 

        Also clicked through to the dolphin article, and found this:

        “During the Soviet era, Russia used the Sevastopol base to train dolphins to search for mines and plant explosives on ships, according to the Moscow Times. After the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine inherited the dolphins and retrained them as therapy animals for special needs children.”

        … then scrolled up at that point to make sure the date on the article wasn’t the 1st. 

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    • Carlotta SusannaStaff

      More European countries are now saying that they have enough reserves of oil and/or gas to help them wean off Russian gas (and some already did):

      https://www.businessinsider.com/eu-countries-saying-they-have-enough-energy-cut-russia-off-2022-4

      (Edited a word for clarity)

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      • Cia Carlotta Susanna

        I read that Germany, Austria, and Slovakia agreed to Russia’s demand to be paid in rubles and are setting up bank accounts to do so. The EU doesn’t want them to, but in the short term it may be necessary. Bulgaria is supplying some electrical energy to its neighbors produced by nuclear plants there. It looks as though 90% of the uranium used in nuclear plants is supplied by Russia. I don’t know how hard it would be to get it from other sources. Probably hard. 

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    • Hardened

      You can now request Google to remove your personal information from those sites that list people’s personal information.

      No, this is incorrect:

      It’s important to remember that removing content from Google Search won’t remove it from the internet, which is why you may wish to contact the hosting site directly, if you’re comfortable doing so.

      Google is just tweaking their existing policy that allows you to request removal from their Search service, not sites.

      3 |
      • Supersonic Hardened

        Hardened is right, if your personal info is on example.com, Google will not remove that info from that site. After a removal request however, they will remove your personal info from example.com showing up in a Google search result.

        It’s always best to contact the main site (example.com) and ask for the information to be removed from there. After they remove it, it will take a few days for Google to reindex that site and not show your personal info in the search results. So try that first to be more thorough and not bog down Google’s team there, but if example.com is being a pain and will not remove it, then go through the Google link and at least make it slightly more difficult for people to just Google search that info.

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      • Carlotta SusannaStaff Hardened

        Thanks for the correction.

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    • Hardened

      … a four seconds 0-to-60 acceleration time …

      This is messing with my head that a Ford truck is now faster than my Tesla!  It was fun to rule the road, if only for a brief window.

      3 |
      • Supersonic Hardened

        Surprised that I haven’t seen any electric police vehicles. Could easily sneak up on the bad guy with it’s quiet engine, very fast acceleration to hurry to a scene, less pollution from idling. 

        Some reasons why they aren’t doing so yet are because police cars are sometimes ran 24/7, as one officer in a car gets off their shift they pass it onto the next guy. Hard to charge a car when it’s always getting used. Maintenance may be more complicated than what the department’s mechanic is used to. Requires new infrastructure like charging stations, etc…

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      • pnwsarahContributor Supersonic

        If you want an electric cop car, Ford’s got you: https://www.ford.com/police-vehicles/

        Super weird to find this here— I was just in a meeting about electrification of police vehicles, even though this is, no joke, something I have never thought about in my life prior to this afternoon. When I told my husband (who works in decarbonization/climate) about that conversation, he said that one common challenge to fleet electrification actually comes from the other direction— i.e., because the EVs need less maintenance than regular gas cars, and this raises hackles among the department’s mechanics and sometimes even the higher-up fleet managers. 

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      • Hardened pnwsarah

        That’s right, EVs require less and simpler maintenance than gasoline vehicles.  Ever play with a remote-controlled car toy as a kid?  Was it gas or electric?  What was the maintenance on it like?

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      • ReadyPlayer Hardened

        Good question: the only maintenance I remember of my remote controlled toys was changing the batteries.

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    • brownfox-ffContributor

      Great update Carlotta. I think you already linked to everything I would have linked.

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