|Thursday 13th of February 2020
A mysterious deep space radio burst is sending signals to Earth every 16 days @CBS
A mysterious object in a galaxy 500 million light-years away is
confusing scientists with its signals. It appears to be transmitting
signals that reach Earth in a repeating, 16-day pattern, but
researchers have no idea why.
According to a recent study, this marks the first time astronomers
have detected a reliable pattern in the signals, known as fast radio
bursts, or FRBs. It's an important step in figuring out where the
bursts originate from.
Before now, such pulses appeared to be random in timing. That changed
when the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment Fast Radio
Burst Project (CHIME/FRB) discovered a repeating pattern.
"We conclude that this is the first detected periodicity of any kind
in an FRB source," the study's authors said. "The discovery of a
16.35-day periodicity in a repeating FRB source is an important clue
to the nature of this object."
Scientists recently pinpointed this specific FRB to a spiral galaxy
known as SDSS J015800.28+654253.0, located half a billion light-years
from Earth — making it the closest FRB ever detected. Researchers hope
that tracing the burst's origin will help them to determine what
The first FRB was spotted in 2007, and the signals have mystified
scientists ever since. They only last for a thousandth of a second,
making them difficult to study. Hundreds have been spotted, but only a
handful have ever repeated themselves — and they seem to come from
locations all over the universe.
While the cause of the repeating pattern is unknown, researchers said
the FRB could be orbiting a black hole-like object, flashing its
signal at a specific point in its orbital period.
The specialist is monitoring data on his mission console when a voice breaks in, "a voice that carried with it a strange and unspecifiable poignancy"
He checks in with his flight-dynamics and conceptual- paradigm
officers at Colorado Command:
“We have a deviate, Tomahawk.”
“We copy. There’s a voice.”
“We have gross oscillation here.”
“There’s some interference. I have gone redundant but I’m not sure
“We are clearing an outframe to locate source.”
“Thank you, Colorado.”
“It is probably just selective noise. You are negative red on the
“It was a voice,” I told them.
“We have just received an affirm on selective noise... We will
correct, Tomahawk. In the meantime, advise you to stay redundant.”
The voice, in contrast to Colorado’s metallic pidgin, is a melange of
repartee, laughter, and song, with a “quality of purest, sweetest
“Somehow we are picking up signals from radio programmes of 40, 50, 60
Coronavirus likely now 'gathering steam' @Harvard Gazette #COVID19
Law & Politics
Lipsitch thinks it is just a matter of time before the virus spreads
widely internationally, which means nations so far only lightly hit
should prepare for its eventual arrival in force
LIPSITCH: We know that the spread is even greater than it was then.
It was likely then that it would spread more widely, but there was
still hope for containment.
I think now that it’s in more countries — even Singapore, which is
really good at tracing cases, has found some cases that aren’t linked
to previous known cases — it’s clear that there are probably many
cases in countries where we haven’t yet found them.
This is really a global problem that’s not going to go away in a week or two.
LIPSITCH: For the cutting off of Wuhan, cordon sanitaire is probably
a better word for it because the movement restrictions apply to
everybody, not just the exposed people. They’re not exactly
LIPSITCH: The ease of transmission is still being confirmed. In terms
of the so-called “R-nought,” or how many secondary cases a single case
infects, experts’ assessment is getting tighter around a level of
transmissibility that’s perhaps lower than SARS, which was about 3 and
higher than pandemic flu, which can be up to about 2.
But what makes this one perhaps harder to control than SARS is that it
may be possible to transmit before you are sick, or before you are
very sick — so it’s hard to block transmission by just isolating
On severity, estimates are that it’s worse than seasonal flu, where
about one in 1,000 infected cases die, and it’s not as bad as SARS,
where 8 or 9 percent of infected cases died.
I’ve been working with some colleagues on estimates. They’re
preliminary still but bounded by those two.
LIPSITCH: Unfortunately, I think it’s more likely to be that it’s
gathering steam. We’ve released a preprint that we’ve been discussing
publicly — and trying to get peer reviewed in the meantime — that
looks at the numbers internationally, based on how many cases you
would expect from normal travel volumes.
And a couple of things are striking. One is that there are countries
that really should be finding cases and haven’t yet, like Indonesia
and maybe Cambodia. They are outside the range of uncertainty you
would expect even given variability between countries. So our best
guess is that there are undetected cases in those countries. Indonesia
said a couple of days ago that it had done 50 tests, but it has a lot
of air travel with Wuhan, let alone the rest of China. So 50 tests is
not enough to be confident you’re catching all the cases. That’s one
bit of evidence that to me was really striking. Second, I was reading
The Wall Street Journal that Singapore had three cases so far that
were not traced to any other case. Singapore is the opposite of
Indonesia, in that they have more cases than you would expect based on
their travel volume, probably because they’re better at detection.
And even they are finding cases that they don’t have a source for.
That makes me think that many other places do as well. Of course,
we’re making guesses from limited information, but I think they’re
pretty likely to be correct guesses, given the totality of
"A key issue is, who can we trust when we have these outbreaks," she said. "It really should be the WHO." @WSJ. @DrTedros @WHO #COVID19
Law & Politics
BEIJING—When the World Health Organization declared a global
public-health emergency at the end of last month, it praised China’s
“extraordinary” efforts to combat the coronavirus epidemic and urged
other countries not to restrict travel.
“China is actually setting a new standard for outbreak response,” WHO
Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
Many governments ignored the travel advice. Other public-health
experts criticized his unqualified praise for China.
“It’s very obvious to me—it must be to most people in the world—that
Dr. Tedros and the WHO are caught in an awfully difficult position,
between what the science dictates and a very, very powerful country,”
said Lawrence Gostin, a professor of global health law at Georgetown
University who advises the WHO.
Many people who work, or have worked, with the organization, and who
study its operations, say that in not declaring a global health
emergency earlier, the agency gave too much weight to China’s concerns
that the move would damage its economy and its leadership’s image.
By praising China’s response effusively, the WHO is compromising its
own epidemic response standards, eroding its global authority, and
sending the wrong message to other countries that might face future
epidemics, they say.
“The WHO’s message that no, don’t anybody panic, keep travel flowing,
keep the borders open, and then saying that we support the Chinese
government is a mixed message,” said Kelley Lee, a professor at
Canada’s Simon Fraser University who wrote a book on the WHO and
co-established the WHO Collaborating Centre on Global Change and
“A key issue is, who can we trust when we have these outbreaks,” she
said. “It really should be the WHO.”
The WHO’s advice against travel restrictions, which it says can cause
disruption and unnecessary economic damage, is being widely ignored.
Shortly after the global emergency was declared, the U.S. warned
against all travel to China and banned entry to most travelers from
there. More than a dozen other countries, including China’s close
friend Russia, followed with their own travel curbs. International
airlines suspended flights.
He said he also credits China with identifying the virus in “record
time,” sharing its genetic sequence quickly, and flagging potential
In a news conference last week, Dr. Tedros said his “very frank and
very candid” meeting on Jan. 28 with China’s Xi Jinping produced
results, including an agreement to share data and send an team of
international experts led by the WHO to China.
“During our visit we told them, you need to speed up, time is of the
essence,” he said in the interview.
Still, it took nearly two weeks for the agency to get a go-ahead from
China to send even an advance team, which arrived in Beijing on
Monday, to discuss a joint mission. The three-person team is
discussing with Chinese officials the agenda and questions that the
joint mission of about 10 international experts will pursue, Dr.
Tedros said Monday.
“The WHO has to keep China on its side,” said John Mackenzie, an
infectious disease expert who is an emeritus professor at Australia’s
Curtin University and member of a WHO committee that advised Dr.
Tedros on declaring a global public-health emergency. “China has a
history in the past, of course, of clamming up when it wants to.”
Dr. Mackenzie questioned why Chinese authorities appeared to delay
reporting an increase in infections in the first half of January. Many
health experts believe the outbreak spread more quickly early on
because local authorities tried to cover it up, including by
reprimanding a local doctor who sought to raise the alarm, and then
were slow to announce it could pass person-to-person.
“China is obviously an important player,” said Dr. Mackenzie. “So
everything the WHO does has to keep that in mind. At the same time,
you can be overly effusive.”
Some foreign government officials and public-health experts believe
that Dr. Tedros, a former Ethiopian foreign minister, delayed
declaring the global emergency last month partly in deference to
Dr. Tedros said that was not the case. “China never interfered on
this,” he said. “They didn’t have any problem when we said we will
focus on science.”
Dr. Tedros, who can override the committee, decided not to declare an
emergency. The number of cases outside China was small, there was no
evidence of human to human transmission outside China, and there were
unanswered questions about the virus’s severity and transmissibility,
he said. The committee recommended meeting again in 10 days.
“That was the mistake right there: It put them in the worst of all
possible worlds,” said David Fidler, an expert on global health at the
Council on Foreign Relations who has been a consultant for the WHO and
is on a roster of experts who can be asked to join one of its
emergency committees, but was not in this case. “It looks like they
dragged their feet.”
On Jan. 23, there were 581 confirmed cases in China and 10 abroad. Dr.
Tedros flew to China and met with Mr. Xi on Jan. 28. By then, there
were 4,537 confirmed cases in China, and 56 internationally.
He said he wanted to use the time before the next emergency committee
meeting to get more information. “I am a field person,” said Dr.
Tedros, who this week is making his 14th trip to Democratic Republic
of the Congo since an Ebola outbreak started there in 2018. “The first
thing that comes to my mind is go, go to the source.”
The rapid increase in cases, signs that the virus was easily
transmissible, and China’s quarantine convinced the U.S. government to
“The concerning data out of China accumulated day by day in a way that
just felt startling,” said Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s
National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.
02-SEP-2019 :: the China EM Frontier Feedback Loop Phenomenon.
This Phenomenon was positive for the last two decades but has now
undergone a Trend reversal.
The ZAR is the purest proxy for this Phenomenon. African Countries
heavily dependent on China being the main Taker are also at the
bleeding edge of this Phenomenon.
This Pressure Point will not ease soon but will continue to intensify.
@WorldBank to Lend Uganda $1.9 Billion Over Next Three Years @economics
The World Bank plans to lend Uganda $1.9 billion for three fiscal
years through 2023 to help finance the East African nation’s budget
The concessional loans for three fiscal years starting July 1 are a
46% increase from $1.3 billion in aid for the previous three-year
package, the lender’s Uganda country manager, Tony Thompson, told
reporters Wednesday in the capital, Kampala.
The amount is still under discussion and the bank “would like to
disburse $500 million to $600 million in the next financial year,” he
The money will be spent on road and energy projects, and on the
health, education, agriculture and water sectors, Thompson said.
While Uganda plans to cut its budget by about 2% to 39.5 trillion
shillings ($10.8 billion) in 2020-21, its fiscal deficit may climb to
10.4 trillion shillings from 8.8 trillion shillings in 2019-20,
according to the Finance Ministry.
Uganda’s public debt was $12.6 billion in June, with multilateral
lenders -- chiefly the World Bank’s International Development
Association -- accounting for 65%, according to the ministry.
East Africa’s third-biggest economy may see output slowing to 6% in
2019-20 from an earlier projection of 6.3% following delays in the
start of oil production, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Uganda has deferred production targets of its 1.4 billion barrels of
recoverable oil to 2022-23.
Ethiopia Vote Agency Queries Key Opposition Leader @Jawar_Mohammed @bpolitics
Ethiopia’s electoral agency asked immigration authorities to establish
the citizenship of a prominent critic of the Horn of Africa
government’s leadership, just months before national elections.
Jawar Mohammed, a member of the Oromo Federalist Congress, gave up his
U.S. citizenship so he could participate in Ethiopian elections
scheduled for August. He’s yet to say what post he’ll be seeking.
The National Electoral Board wants clarification from Ethiopia’s
Immigration Department by Feb. 17 on the technicalities for regaining
Ethiopian citizenship, according to a statement on Facebook.
Violence last year in Oromia region in the south of the country
resulted in the deaths of nearly 90 people after Mohammed said the
government had ordered the withdrawal of his security personnel,
endangering his life.
09-DEC-2019 :: Revelation 6:12-13 When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth
Revelation 6:12-13 When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and
behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as
sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky
fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken
by a gale.
World's Best Carry Trade Thrives With Egypt's Rate Cuts on Pause @markets
The world’s best carry trade is proving resilient, especially now that
a pause in Egypt’s easing cycle keeps its interest rates elevated.
The Egyptian pound is delivering another strong performance this year
following a record appreciation in 2019.
That’s enticing traders who borrow in currencies where rates are low
and invest in the assets of countries where they are high to turn to
Even with inflation well below the central bank’s mid-point target for
this year, a cut at its next policy meeting on Feb. 20 is far from
Monetary officials held their key rate at 12.25% last month after
lowering at the previous three meetings.
Instead of decreasing the base rate, they may continue to loosen
policy by injecting liquidity via short-term central bank bonds known
as open-market operation bills, according to Cairo-based investment
bank EFG Hermes.
It said there’s only a 50% chance of a rate cut next week.
After 450 basis points of easing in 2019, the central bank may cut by
less than a quarter as much this year, “to continue providing decent
real rates for carry traders, who are important to maintain a healthy
outlook for the Egyptian pound,” EFG analysts Mohamed Abu Basha and
Mostafa El Bakly said in a note.
The currency has been on a tear since a 2016 devaluation, the
cornerstone of a sweeping economic program backed by a $12 billion
loan from the International Monetary Fund.
Foreign investors have pumped billions of dollars into the local debt
market since then as the world’s $13.3 trillion pool of
negative-yielding debt intensifies demand for riskier assets.
Egypt’s local-currency bonds have gained 3.7% this year in dollar
terms, about four times the average return across emerging markets,
according to Bloomberg Barclays indexes.
Foreign holdings in Egyptian debt have roughly doubled since late 2018.
The pound is second only to Ghana’s cedi this year, with a rise of
more than 2% against the dollar. It ended 2019 among the world’s top
Even as inflation inched higher for a third-straight month in January
to 7.2%, fanned by increases in the cost of food, Egypt’s real rates
remain among the highest globally.
Overall price growth is likely to remain well within the central
bank’s 2020 target of 9%, plus or minus 3 percentage points, with
Deutsche Bank AG seeing it as low as 6% by the end of the year.
The central bank will probably opt to wait before cutting, which will
attract more portfolio flows into the country, according to Deutsche.
“With rising real rates in the next two months, a cut seems to be more
imminent,” Deutsche economists said in a report. “That said, Egypt’s
central bank may continue to keep rates on hold in the February