News roundup for Fri, Oct 15, 2021

The people of Benton Harbor, Michigan have been told not to drink their tap water for at least three years because of lead contamination. The water is not safe for drinking, bathing, or cooking. The state is expanding free water distribution in the city but critics of the slow response say it’s too little, too late. The contamination is worse than that in Flint. It will take years to replace the water line infrastructure.

The White House is trying to address logistics woes by asking multiple private companies to move to 24/7 operations: Walmart, FedEx, and UPS. Glaringly absent from the list is the deliberately (maliciously?) hobbled USPS. The Administration is also asking the Port of Los Angeles to move to 24/7 operations. A big unanswered question here is where the Administration thinks all these workers are going to come from. The White House also acknowledges that scarcity could be a problem during the holidays:

4.3 million people quit their jobs this summer. We’ve heard there will be openings at Walmart, FedEx, and UPS, among others…

Apple is having trouble sourcing chips for their phones and will have to decrease production because of it. Getting the newest iPhone might be more difficult than usual.

Windy conditions in California are prompting electricity cuts to prevent wildfires. Again. 30,000 people will be without electricity today.

Hurricane Pamela made landfall in Mexico as a Category 1 and is expected to bring some flooding to Texas:

There was a mass killing in Norway—the attacker used a bow and arrows. Five people died. The attacker’s motivations are unknown.

The US is reopening cross-border travel to Canada and Mexico for those who are fully vaccinated.

Biomethane-electric hybrid tractors could help decrease industrial emissions to a serious extent—as much as 30% of global greenhouse emissions come from the farming industry. Widespread adoption of greener farming technologies is critical in the battle to lower harmful industrial emissions.

Speaking of farms: farmers who can’t find tires for their equipment can’t harvest their crops.

John Deere workers are on strike, and the strike could impact parts and equipment badly enough that harvest season could be tougher than it already is:

The Social Security cost of living adjustment will rise by almost 6% next year because of current inflationary trends.

The world has 240.2 million COVID cases. The world has gained 2.7 million cases in the last seven days. There have been nearly 4.9 million deaths in total. The US has had a cumulative 45.6 million cases—nearly 600,000 cases were added in the last seven days. Over 740,000 Americans have died—over 9,800 in the last week. The US added 100,000 new cases on Wednesday and over 1,800 deaths that day as well. The US is still leading global daily case gain.

Aspirin use to prevent first heart attack or stroke may cause more harm than good. Low-dose aspirin is such a potent blood thinner that the mortality and morbidity caused by bleeding events can cause more damage than the cardiac/stroke events it aims to prevent. Although this may be true for the prevention of first cardiac/stroke events, it may not be true for those at very high risk. The take-home here is to be careful and speak with your doctor to see if your risk profile meets the need for taking low-dose aspirin. Higher dose aspirin, contrary to what folks might expect, has lower blood-thinning properties than low-dose. Again, if you have questions about the use of aspirin, talk to your primary care provider.

A new treatment for Lyme Disease could rely on a novel compound that is toxic to the pathogenic bacteria that causes the disease. Clinical trials have not yet begun.

J&J is going to seek a second dose for its COVID vaccine:

Malfunctioning vaccine passport apps cause travel and access woes—it was bound to happen.


    • John Grayman

      Always great stuff, Stephanie. Thank you!

      I’m not a super ‘gun guy’ but there are multiple reports on the Norway incident that the terrorist did most of his damage AFTER the police responded chasing him and un-armed.

      I’m not trying to advocate unilateral/lethal use-of-force, but seems like some people may have been protected had the police had a means to intervene. I mean the guy had a bow and arrow…

      Thoughts and prayers to those folks. 

      2 |
    • Captain Peanut

      That top story about Benton Harbor not being able to drink, bathe, or cook for years is insane! What do you do at that point? My only thought is to set up a rain collection system and only use that.

      7 |
      • Stephanie ArnoldContributor Captain Peanut

        I would (personally) beg, borrow, and steal my way far away from that place. I’m not unfamiliar with the trap that is abject poverty–I know people get stuck and can’t get out. But I would hitchhike with family in tow if I had to… I would not stay. That we put people in this country in this position is… there are no words. 

        3 |
    • EzlyAmuzzed

      Florida ports are not experiencing this backlog, and Michael Rubin of the Florida Ports Council has done recent interviews asking for ships to come to Florida. The city of Jacksonville, FL has recently (past year or so?) diversified their trade lanes, which means they can take multiple cargo types and has not reportedly had any backlogs. Florida is a longer route for ships coming from Asia, and I haven’t heard how the Panama Canal is doing, but seems like an option with my limited understanding of this mess.

      Regarding the comment about running the ports 24/7, I wonder what they specifically mean by that. Many years ago I worked dispatch at the Port of Houston and saw work happening throughout the night. Ships were not being unloaded but unloaded containers were moved out of port. Seeing how large those cranes are I wonder if it is even safe to run those at night. Being a crane operator is a very skilled career so if there are worker shortages in that area I could see that as a problem. If you haven’t been in a major port and next to a crane, you would not know that just the tires alone are nearly as tall as a house…they are HUGE. Lets hope they don’t have a shortage of those tires!

      3 |
      • Stephanie ArnoldContributor EzlyAmuzzed

        Send them to Florida! 

        Yes, safety is the number one issue–you can’t create skilled workers out of nowhere. It’s not possible to run a port 24/7 without highly trained folks in place. 

        2 |
    • az13

      And on top the existing infrastructure issues with water facilities (gas & electric too) don’t forget the potential outside problems as well.

      4 |
    • Bill Masen

      The Perp in the Norwegian killings was a Danish Islamic Convert.

      1 |