News roundup for Fri, Oct 8, 2021

Fertilizer prices are soaring, and this is bad news for food production and food prices. The 2022 growing season is at serious risk if nothing is done to shore up fertilizer production.

India is running scant on the coal it relies on to run its power companies. 70% of the countries electrical output depends on consistent and ample coal supplies. Rising coal prices on imported coal seems to be the cause. Large-scale power outages are a possible outcome.

Scarcity itself is destabilizing—things don’t have to be completely gone for negative outcomes to ripple through a society or economy. Globalization relies on relatively fragile networks and these networks are currently under significant stress.

Here’s a useful website that monitors and documents situations around the world that may be a cause for an emergency/disaster. You can filter the info, zoom in on a global map, or organized the list by category.

A lack of access to childcare is a major factor fueling labor shortages in the US. There are more jobs than folks out of work, but if folks can’t get childcare, those jobs will go unfilled. Wages for childcare providers are also notoriously low.

Kellogg’s cereal plant workers have gone on strike. The union representing the workers says that the company is asking “workers give up quality health care, retirement benefits, and holiday and vacation pay. The company continues to threaten to send additional jobs to Mexico if workers do not accept outrageous proposals that take away protections that workers have had for decades.” The union and the company are now at an impasse:

The WSJ says we’ve had a small group of US troops in Taiwan for over a year who have been secretly training Taiwanese forces. This is quite a statement. The intelligence community is recalibrating its sights on China as well. Oh, and in the meantime, we’ve had a US Navy Seawolf-class fast-attack submarine suffer an underwater collision in the South China Sea:

I think it would do the world some good to get more white-collar company folk back out in the proverbial trenches:

The US Forestry Service has approved the use of a long-lasting fire retardant that could meaningfully help in preventing catastrophic wildfires.

In good news, bystanders made a makeshift stretcher and helped to rescue an injured 70-rear-old hiker.

The WHO approves a malaria vaccine. It will likely be given out to billions of people at risk.

The world has 237.5 million COVID cases. The world has gained 3 million cases in the last seven days. There have been over 4.8 million deaths in total. The US has had a cumulative 45 million cases—nearly 700,000 cases were added in the last seven days. Over 729,000 Americans have died—over 13,000 in the last week. The US added over 107,000 new cases on Wednesday and over 2,100 deaths that day as well. The US is still leading global daily case gain.

Vaccine efficacy may wane over time, but it’s still pretty good at keeping people alive and out of the hospital:

Bird flu, we don’t need this right now—a concerning rise in human cases of H5N6:

Nearly 20% of health care workers reported in a poll that they quit their jobs during the pandemic. There’s likely to be some voluntary response bias here as people who feel very strongly about something are more likely to answer a poll, but it’s still an incredibly concerning trend. In addition to the stressors of the pandemic, violent outbursts by patients were cited as a factor by many in their choice to leave—this is reminiscent of the recent increase in violent outbursts in plane passengers.

COVID tests can be alarmingly difficult to procure, so it’s about time the Administration did something to make tests more available to people:

Many of those ivermectin studies are questionable. That’s why the US doesn’t recommend it:

Kaiser Permanente has suspended without pay about 1% of its workforce—those who refused vaccines. The suspended workers have until December 1st to get vaccinated if they wish to return.


    • Bed

      While it’s bad knowing that another influenza disease is seemingly rising in cases, the amount for H5N6 is thankfully low (the article says 48 cases, but half are since last year). But a rise in cases, while not cause for alarm, is definitely cause for research and caution, especially since it hasn’t so far become a pandemic or even an epidemic like SARS-CoV-2 (which is good in its own right but still). Is it common for influenza diseases like H5N6 to come and go like this, with cases rising during one year and falling during the next few years (or maybe decade)?
      Also, speaking of diseases, it’s great to see another one like Malaria getting a vaccine since it’s so common in… well, almost every continent really.

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    • más picante

      The continued media suppression of therapeutic options for Covid is disturbing.  Dr. Tess Lawrie et al. released a meta-analysis of the various IVM studies and concluded that “large reductions in COVID-19 deaths are possible using ivermectin” especially if it’s administered early on, which is what it’s proponents advocate.

      There has been almost zero media advocacy regarding Regeneron monoclonal antibodies, an indisputably beneficial treatment – again, if given early on.  We are now seeing the media take a guarded approach against Molnupiravir, after touting it’s 50% reduction in hospitalizations just days earlier.  

      The official narrative assumes that people cannot handle multiple ideas at once.  That if we give credence to therapeutics, then people won’t get vaccinated.  This is faulty logic.  Both vaccines AND therapeutics have their place in treatment, particularly as the effectiveness of the vaccines is starting to dwindle and breakthrough cases and deaths are clearly occurring.  People can handle news that vaccines work AND that there also might be other drugs that treat the disease.

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      • Stephanie ArnoldContributor más picante

        The results of a meta-analysis are only as good as the data being crunched. If the data is falsified, the results are no good. Critical analysis of the methods and data of multiple key Ivermectin studies have been found to be highly questionable–some of the data tables contained data that were not even possible. 

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      • más picante Stephanie Arnold

        There are studies in virtually every aspect of Covid treatment that are questionable, depending on who you ask.  Regardless, it is indisputable that IVM is nearly harmless in any reasonable dose, so even if it is only marginally effective, so what?  We approve drugs for use all the time (say, for example, cancer drugs) that are only effective in <10% of cases.  Hospitals are still administering Remdesivir which has even less proven effectiveness than IVM.  And again, there are other therapeutics, formally approved for use, that are being ignored/sidelined because the only approved narrative is “get vaccinated”.  

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      • Karl Winterling más picante

        My feeling is that otherwise rational people like Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying have gone off the deep end after years of being overly charitable to grifters. I recommend the Decoding the Gurus podcast about them and their role in promoting Ivermectin conspiracism.

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    • Karl Winterling

      People say they oppose boosters because, in general, you only care about whether a vaccine prevents death, severe disease, or hospitalization. The Public Health field is broader than medicine in general and has more of a sociological dimension, and generally takes more of a stance that people should be allowed to choose options for preventing infection that people are willing to live with (I’m getting a booster if I can so I can feel more comfortable going on a date without wearing a mask). You can generalize all that to a broader society.

      And yeah, the H5N6 is something to keep an eye on but hasn’t risen to the level where it looks like it could be a threat.

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