News roundup for Fri, Nov 5, 2021

The Pentagon noted a buildup of military assets on the Russian border earlier this week. Today, Russia cut off a large portion of gas to Europe through a pipeline in Poland. 90,000 troops are estimated to be at Russia’s western border. Some in Germany see this as a strong-armed attempt at forcing their hand into accepting the Nord Stream 2 pipeline:

John Deere workers rejected a second offer from the company that boosted wages and retirements benefits—the workers remain on strike.

Leaders in China encouraged people to stock up on staples in the event their city goes into a COVID lockdown—the directive prompted waves of panic-buying. The government is also encouraging farmers to plant and grow fast-growing produce to help ease the burden of crop loss from weather events.

La Palma eruptions are still ongoing, six weeks after they started. 2,000 acres of land have been scalded and reshaped by lava flows. Thousands of island residents have been displaced. Seismic activity is still increasing. The island relies on fruit exports and has seen crops ruined this year.

Dozens have died after gunmen attacked a Kabul military hospital. It is likely an attack by the Islamic State against the Taliban. Afghanistan is in an ever-worsening economic crisis after the US military pullout as much international aid has also been withdrawn.

Use the ProPublica map to see if your neighborhood suffers from industrial air pollution. There are more than 1,000 such hot spots in the US. The map shows that the EPA allows much more air pollution than many would be comfortable with. The EPA is also being accused of withholding information about the safety and toxicity of over 1,200 chemicals known to be a risk to people.

Facebook has rebranded as Meta, and it says it’s going to delete its facial recognition program. With the Cambridge Analytica scandal still fresh in mind, I’m not entirely convinced the company has swerved to now hold folks’ best interests as a priority. Will the rebranding help the scandal-plagued company? Not if they can’t get young people to engage with it:

Two middle schoolers in the metro Atlanta area acted fast when they suspected their bus driver was suffering from a hypoglycemic medical emergency. They supplied the driver with soda and cookies and called for help over the radio. They applied the e-brake and set the stop signs out as well. They waved down adults nearby. Their driver recovered. Kudos to these kids.

Staffing shortages are impacting 911 response. Houston callers have been sent to message. Low wages and long hours were mentioned as barriers to filling the Houston Emergency Center positions.

The world has 249.3 million COVID cases. The world has gained 3.1 million cases in the last seven days. There have been over 5 million deaths in total. The US has had a cumulative 47.2 million cases—nearly 500,000 cases were added in the last seven days. Over 772,000 Americans have died—over 9,000 in the last week. The US added over 76,000 new cases on Wednesday and over 1,400 deaths that day as well. The US is still leading global daily case gain.

Kids aged 5-11 can get signed up for their first Pfizer COVID vaccines now, as the CDC and FDA have officially given the green light. I woke before dawn the morning after the announcement to make the appointments for my kids. I’m ready to help put this pandemic to sleep (proverbially):