|Monday 24th of February 2020
China's economy is likely to pick up quickly after the coronavirus is contained and stage a "V-shaped" recovery, a PBOC official says @economics
China’s economy is likely to pick up quickly after the coronavirus is
contained and stage a “V-shaped” recovery, according to a senior
official with the nation’s central bank.
The “sound” fundamentals of the domestic economy remain unchanged in
the medium to long run despite a short-term slowdown due to the
epidemic, Chen Yulu, a deputy governor at the People’s Bank of China,
wrote in an opinion piece in the Financial Times dated Feb. 20. The
PBOC summarized the column in a separate posting Sunday.
“China has sufficient policy space to support steady economic growth.
China is one of the few major economies in the world that have
maintained normal monetary policy,” wrote Chen.
“Equipped with a rich policy toolkit, China is capable of coping with
2-SEP-2019 :: the China EM Frontier Feedback Loop Phenomenon. #COVID19
China EM Frontier Feedback Loop Phenomenon. This Phenomenon was
positive for the last two decades but has now undergone a Trend
The Fall-out is being experienced as far away as Germany Inc. 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.
@IMFNews's @KGeorgieva says #coronavirus to shave 0.1 percentage points from global growth @Reuters
The fast-spreading coronavirus outbreak will likely lower China’s
economic growth this year to 5.6%, down 0.4 percentage points from its
January outlook, and shave 0.1 percentage points from global growth,
the IMF said on Saturday
International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva
presented the outlook to central bankers and finance ministers from
the world’s 20 largest economies gathered in Riyadh where the outbreak
was a major topic of discussion, but said the IMF continued to look at
more dire scenarios.
China, which did not send senior officials to the G20 meeting because
of the crisis over the virus, reported a sharp fall in new deaths and
cases on Saturday.
But world health officials warned it was too early to make predictions
about the outbreak as new infections continued to rise in other
“In our current baseline scenario, announced policies are implemented
and China’s economy would return to normal in the second quarter. As a
result, the impact on the world economy would be relatively minor and
short-lived,” Georgieva said.
“But we are also looking at more dire scenarios where the spread of
the virus continues for longer and more globally, and the growth
consequences are more protracted.”
The latest draft communique from the G20 meeting gives less prominence
to the outbreak of coronavirus as a growth risk, saying only that the
G20 would “... enhance global risk monitoring, including the recent
outbreak of COVID-19,” the medical acronym for the coronavirus.
“While the impact of the epidemic continues to unfold, the WHO’s
assessment is that with strong and coordinated measures, the spread of
the virus in China and globally can yet be contained and the human
tragedy arrested,” she said, referring to the World Health
The #Coronavirus May Be 'Disease X' Health Experts Warned About @business
Law & Politics
The World Health Organization cautioned years ago that a mysterious
“disease X” could spark an international contagion.
The new coronavirus, with its ability to quickly morph from mild to
deadly, is emerging as a contender.
From recent reports about the stealthy ways the so-called Covid-19
virus spreads and maims, a picture is emerging of an enigmatic
pathogen whose effects are mainly mild, but which occasionally -- and
unpredictably -- turns deadly in the second week.
In less than three months, it’s infected about 77,000 people, mostly
in China, and killed more than 2,200.
“Whether it will be contained or not, this outbreak is rapidly
becoming the first true pandemic challenge that fits the disease X
category,” Marion Koopmans, head of viroscience at Erasmus University
Medical Center in Rotterdam, and a member of the WHO’s emergency
committee, wrote Wednesday in the journal Cell.
Unlike SARS, its viral cousin, the Covid-19 virus replicates at high
concentrations in the nose and throat akin to the common cold, and
appears capable of spreading from those who show no, or mild,
That makes it impossible to control using the fever-checking measures
that helped stop SARS 17 years ago.
A cluster of cases within a family living in the Chinese city of
Anyang is presumed to have begun when a 20-year-old woman carried the
virus from Wuhan, the outbreak’s epicenter, on Jan. 10 and spread it
while experiencing no illness, researchers said Friday in the Journal
of the American Medical Association.
Five relatives subsequently developed fever and respiratory symptoms.
Covid-19 is less deadly than SARS, which had a case fatality rate of
9.5%, but appears more contagious.
Both viruses attack the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts, via
which they can potentially spread.
#Coronavirus how the @WHO is leading the social media fight against misinformation @DrTedros @SCMPNews
Law & Politics
Exacerbating the outbreak is misinformation, which is spreading faster
online than the coronavirus is on the ground.
As the leading international health body, the WHO uses its web and
social media platforms to disperse relevant public health information
across the world.
Videos on YouTube, which is owned by Google, that purport to be giving
information about the coronavirus are now framed by a banner
redirecting users to the WHO web portal.
Similarly, if you enter “coronavirus” into the Facebook search
function, the first result encourages users in most countries globally
to look to the WHO for the latest information.
The Industrially Necessary Doctor & @DrTedros The truth is that only now - TWO MONTHS INTO THE EPIDEMIC - is ⁦@WHO sending a "team" to "start investigating" the virus. @EpsilonTheory
Law & Politics
The truth is that WHO has done nothing more than parrot the official
Chinese Communist Party line since the day the world learned of
The truth is that only now – TWO MONTHS INTO THE EPIDEMIC – is WHO
sending a “team” to “start investigating” the virus.
To be sure, WHO’s Director General, Dr. Tedros, has been to China
several times since the disease broke out, glad-handing (again,
literally) President Xi and all the other CCP mandarins.
Tedros said there was no need for measures that “unnecessarily
interfere with international travel and trade,” and he specifically
said that stopping flights and restricting Chinese travel abroad was
“counter-productive” to fighting the global spread of the virus.
This is the Director General of the World Health Organization. On February 4th.
“We call on all countries to implement decisions that are
evidence-based and consistent,” said Tedros. Roger that.
There’s just one problem.
The “evidence” here – taken without adjustment or question from the
CCP – was a baldfaced lie.
And everyone at WHO knew it.
How do I know that everyone at WHO knew that the official Chinese
numbers were a crock on Feb. 4?
Because WHO-sponsored doctors in Hong Kong published independent
studies on Jan. 31 showing that the official Chinese numbers were a
In our baseline scenario, we estimated that the basic reproductive
number for 2019-nCoV was 2.68 (95% CrI 2.47–2.86) and that 75,815
individuals (95% CrI 37,304–130,330) have been infected in Wuhan as of
Jan 25, 2020.
Will this disease spread farther and faster … will more people DIE …
because WHO Director General Tedros recommended as best practice on
February 4th that flights and visa issuance in and out of China
continue without significant disruption?
Yes. I think so.
And what is this “fake news”?
Fake news is now defined as anything that disputes WHO data, which
means that fake news is now defined as anything that disputes the
official China party line.
Where possible, China wants to criminalize any speech … any social
media … that does not follow the official party line. Where it’s not
possible to criminalize that speech, China wants to ban it through the
cooperative censorship of global tech and media platforms.
Where it’s not possible to ban that speech, China wants to shame it
into the shadows by getting us to reject it as “fake news”.
But what is happening at the most senior levels of the World Health
Organization is not just a disgrace. It is not just a humiliation for
the people who are doing good and important work.
It is a betrayal of the entire world.
Report 6: Relative sensitivity of international surveillance @imperialcollege @MRC_Outbreak
Law & Politics
we estimated that about two thirds of COVID-19 cases exported from
mainland China have remained undetected worldwide, potentially
resulting in multiple chains of as yet undetected human-to-human
transmission outside mainland China.
The number of exported cases by country was plotted as a function of
the average monthly passenger volume originating from Wuhan Tianhe
International Airport on international flights (Figure 1).
This showed Singapore to be an outlier in terms of having relatively
many exported cases compared to the measure of air traffic volume.
we estimated that about two thirds of COVID-19 cases exported from
mainland China have remained undetected worldwide, potentially leaving
sources of human-to- human transmission unchecked (63% and 73%
undetected based on comparisons with Singapore only and with
Singapore, Finland, Nepal, Belgium, Sweden, India, Sri Lanka, and
Undoubtedly, the exported cases vary in the severity of their clinical
symptoms, making some cases more difficult to detect than others.
However, some countries have detected significantly fewer than would
have been expected based on the volume of flight passengers arriving
from Wuhan City, China.
A model was developed assuming that for each country i, there are two
numbers: 𝑋 and 𝐹 where 𝑋 𝑖𝑖𝑖 is the number of exported cases (a
count) and 𝐹 is the air traffic volume.
Assuming Poisson 𝑖 distributions, the relative sensitivity of country
i, compared to country j, denoted 𝑠𝑒𝑖, can be used to write a joint
log likelihood for the data from countries i and j:
𝑙=𝑋 ln(𝑠 𝜆𝐹)−𝑠 𝜆𝐹 +𝑋 ln(𝜆𝐹)−𝜆𝐹 𝑖 𝑒𝑖 𝑖 𝑒𝑖 𝑖 𝑗 𝑗 𝑗
ignoring additive constants. Thus, the maximum likelihood estimates
are:̂ 𝑋𝑗 𝑋𝑖𝐹𝑗 𝜆=𝐹𝑗 and 𝑠̂𝑒𝑖 =𝑋𝑗𝐹𝑖.
The likelihood-based confidence intervals are obtained by calculating
the maximum log likelihood (over values of λ) for each value of
Then the 95% CI includes all those values of 𝑠𝑒𝑖 such that 2(𝑙𝑠̂
− 𝑙𝑠 )≤3.84 (the 95th centile of the chi-squared distribution with 1
degree of freedom). 𝑒𝑖 𝑒𝑖
The relative sensitivities can also be estimated relative to J
countries simultaneously using a method similar to above but with the
𝐽 𝑙 = 𝑋 ln(𝑠 𝜆𝐹)−𝑠 𝜆𝐹 + ∑𝑋 ln(𝜆𝐹)−𝜆𝐹 𝑖 𝑒𝑖 𝑖 𝑒𝑖 𝑖
𝑗 𝑗 𝑗 𝑗=1
̂ Expected values could then be calculated for every country i as simply 𝜆𝐹 .
In South Korea, Coronavirus Meets the Second Coming @thedailybeast H/T @csdickey
Law & Politics
SEOUL—A South Korean church whose founder says, rather mysteriously,
that he represents the second coming of Christ on Earth and has unique
insights into God’s revelations is getting much of the blame for a
major surge in the spread of the deadly coronavirus here.Fear of the
disease now known as COVID-19 actually had been on the decline in
South Korea until a fresh outbreak was traced to a 61-year-old woman
who belonged to the Shincheonji Church in Daegu, a city of 2.4 million
about 170 miles southeast of Seoul. Now it appears scores of church
members are infected, representing more than half the 433 cases so far
reported in the entire country, including three who have died. A
former member of the church told South Korea's Yonhap news agency that
Shincheonji’s practices during worship may heighten the risk of
coronavirus contagion, since participants kneel close together and
sing songs with their arms on each others’ shoulders during services.
There are also concerns about its presence outside South Korea,
possibly including Hubei province in China, the epicenter of the
Lee Man-hee, the 88-year-old founder and leader of the church, has
called the disease the “devil's deed” and a test of faith meant to
stop the growth of Shincheonji, according to Yonhap.
Leaders of more traditional churches have been quick to denounce
Shincheonji, which means “New Heaven and Earth.” And the spread of
COVID-19 from one of the 74 Shincheonji “sanctuaries” strengthens the
view among the mainstream that Shincheonji is a dangerous cult that
keeps many of its 200,000 members in secret compounds while pressuring
them to absorb its teachings and recruit other followers.
Christian critics for years have denounced Lee Man-hee as “a heretic”
who has exploited thousands of adherents since opening his first
congregation 36 years ago. He calls himself “the promised pastor.”
“They are not real Christians,” says a member of Korea’s Presbyterian
church, the country’s largest Christian organization. “They are fake.”
Park Won-soon, the mayor of Seoul, has picked up on the hostile
sentiment, warning against the evil the church poses in the
metropolitan region of the Korean capital. “Shincheonji sect, also
known as ‘Church of Jesus, the Temple of the Tabernacle of the
Testimony’ in Daegu, has become a hotbed of the infections in local
communities,” he warned in a lengthy media briefing as the extent of
the outbreak became known, calling for measures to stop the disease
Already, he said, confirmed cases elsewhere were “related to the
church in Daegu” and “another confirmed patient in Seoul attended the
chapel in that church.” It was “to proactively prevent the further
spread of the virus,” he said, that “the Shincheonji churches in Seoul
will be closed.”
That crackdown was not the only severe measure ordered by Park. He
also banned street demonstrations, notably by conservatives hostile to
his own municipal government and the national government.
Park, a left-leaning politician who has long advocated dialogue with
North Korea, insisted he had in mind the health of old people who join
in such protests waving American and Korean flags.
“The symptoms and prognosis of the confirmed cases could be fatal to
people with underlying conditions, and the elderly in particular,” he
said, ordering the closure of welfare facilities, senior citizen
centers and an historic park in central Seoul where old men frequently
Conservatives, hoping to defeat ruling party legislators in national
assembly elections in April, denounced the ban as “politics” and
promised to turn out in defiance of rows of policemen massed on the
main avenue running by city hall.
The role of Shincheonji in spreading the disease, however, seems far
more important than political protests in a country where religious
groupings often fight one another.
About a third of South Korea’s 51 million people identify as
Christians, but there are deep divisions among them, and these
movements like Shincheonji draw adherents despite social and cultural
barriers to proselytizing and preaching.
Cults and cult-like groupings have proliferated, seeming to fill some
sort of spiritual void in this fast-moving fast-growing country always
under threat from its neighbor to the north.
If the COVID-19 epidemic is striking down members of Shincheonji its
critics “will say God has struck heretics,” says Michael Breen, author
of books on Korean culture and a former member of the Unification
Church of the late Rev. Moon Sun-myung. “A lot of people will be
thinking, they kind of deserve this.”
In fact, in the years since Lee Man-hee first mesmerized young Koreans
with his claim to embody Jesus Christ, the Shincheonji Church has
proven about as controversial as the “Moonie” Unification Church.
Lee may not call himself “the messiah” or “true parent” of mankind as
did Moon, but he preaches an extremist view of Christianity whose
message is essentially that he came to know the meaning of Christ on
Earth through the Bible’s Book of Revelation.
“More people are upset with Lee than with Moon,” says Breen. “They
will go after him. They are very dogmatic and judgmental.”
The secrecy of the church adds to the build-up of emotions against its
“Health authorities are having difficulties as they could not reach or
contact more than 400 followers of the church,” reported Dong A Ilbo,
a leading newspaper in Seoul.
It was only through GPS tracking, the paper said, that the church
member who was first diagnosed was discovered to have visited
Cheongdo, where an outbreak was reported in a hospital and the first
person in Korea died of the disease.
“Since the entire nation is experiencing a national crisis,
Shincheonji religious followers should voluntarily report symptoms and
self-quarantine at home while fully cooperating with the authorities
in quarantine efforts,” the paper editorialized.
At the same time, Dong A called on citizens not to attack patients
“even for the sake of ensuring the success of quarantine efforts.”
Kukmin Ilbo, a Christian newspaper with strong ties to South Korea’s
largest congregation, the evangelical Full Gospel Church in Seoul,
suggested Shincheonji members are reluctant to cooperate with
authorities tracing the course of the disease.
“It seems to be the tendency to act in a closed manner without showing
much of its beliefs,” said the paper, describing Shincheonji as “a
pseudo-religion or cult.”
It claimed that “there were even allegations that Shincheonji sent an
internal notice to the congregation telling them to say, ‘I didn’t go
to church that day’ and ‘I worshipped somewhere other than there.’”
Shincheonji says such claims are concocted by its mortal enemies.
“There is no such thing as an internal notice,” a church official
More to the point, Mayor Park said, “Anyone who attended the chapels
of the Shincheonji Church in Daegu must report to an emergency
Seoul will quickly get the list of names, he said. “This is an
inevitable measure to ensure and protect the health, safety and life
of citizens.” Seoul, he promised, “will exert all its administrative
Michael Lamm, who got his doctorate from the University of North Korea
Studies in Seoul, attributes the power of the church to high-pressure
tactics, discipline and secrecy.
“They are well organized,” says Lamm, now based in Washington. “They
recruited me. They put a large amount of pressure on me. They were
taking my picture and introducing me to people.”
Shin Hyun-wook, a pastor who specializes in deprogramming Shincheonji
members, says they are told not to let their families know they belong
to the church. “They believe in eternal life,” he says, dying only
from “lack of faith.”
The Year of the Locust @mailandguardian @simonallison
In appearance the locusts were like horses prepared for battle: on
their heads were what looked like crowns of gold; their faces were
like human faces, their hair like women’s hair, and their teeth like
lions’ teeth; they had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the
noise of their wings was like the noise of many chariots with horses
rushing into battle — The Bible, Revelation 9:7-10
The locusts have no king, yet all of them march in rank. — The Bible,
Their eyes humbled, they will emerge from the graves as if they were
locusts spreading, racing ahead toward the Caller. The disbelievers
will say, ‘This is a difficult day‘— The Quran 54:7-54:8
The Empty Quarter does not get a lot of water. This is one of the
harshest deserts in the world, centred in the triangle of land that
connects Saudi Arabia, Oman and the United Arab Emirates, and even
today it is a place where humans tread with extreme caution.
“It is a bitter, desiccated land which knows nothing of gentleness or
ease,” wrote Wilfred Thesiger, the explorer, in Arabian Sands.
Thesiger made his name by becoming one of the first Europeans to
traverse the Empty Quarter.
He was in the Arabian Peninsula on official business: it was his job
to survey and map the population of desert locusts. As inhospitable as
the conditions in the Empty Quarter may be, it is here that some bands
of locusts have made their home.
For the most part, these creatures live in small groups that are easy
for the casual observer to miss. Their brown, chitinous exoskeletons
(pictured left) are hard to spot against the backdrop of the desert.
At this stage in their life cycle the insects mostly keep to
themselves. It is a lonely existence, dedicated only to survival.
But sometimes — rarely — it rains in the Empty Quarter. And then
Towards the end of May 2018, Cyclone Mekunu struck the Arabian
Peninsula. Over the course of three days, more than 60cm of rainfall
was recorded in Salalah, a port in Oman. The rains created lakes in
the middle of the Empty Quarter, which typically receives just three
centimetres of rain every year.
In the wet, desert locusts change their behaviour so dramatically that
for a long time scientists assumed they were looking at another
species. This is their gregarious phase Eggs that have lain dormant,
sometimes for years, begin to hatch.
Adults begin breeding at a furious rate: so quickly that, every three
months, the size of the locust population multiplies by 20.
There are so many of them that camouflage becomes impossible, so they
turn bright yellow, a signal to predators that they are dangerous and
may not taste very nice.
The babies — known as hoppers, because they cannot yet fly — are
bright pink, for the same reason.
In October 2018, just as the locusts’ second three-month breeding
cycle was coming to an end, a second cyclone struck the Arabian
Cyclone Luban dropped another 30cm of rainfall in the area. The
hoppers feasted on the new vegetation. They grew into mature adults
and began yet another breeding cycle.
Six months after that first cyclone, these small bands of locusts had
grown into a swarms that were 400 times larger than the original
Nine months on, the swarms were 8 000 times larger, and the locusts
were running out of food. It was time to move.
Keith Cressman has one of the world’s most unusual jobs. His official
title is Senior Locust Forecasting Officer for the United Nation’s
Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
Unofficially, he is a locust whisperer, responsible for figuring out
where locust swarms may form and to where they might travel once they
Accurate forecasting prevents locust swarms from spiralling out of
control — out of human control, that is.
The earlier that land can be treated, usually with insecticide, the
less likely it is that the locusts can continue their exponential
Half of Cressman’s job is science. From his office in Rome, he speaks
to national-level locust monitoring units in two dozen frontline
countries in North Africa, the Sahara Desert, the Arabian Peninsula
and Southwest Asia.
Each country is responsible for monitoring their desert areas, looking
for any unexpected vegetation or unusually wet conditions that might
encourage locusts to breed.
These reports are supplemented by satellite data, as well as wind and
weather predictions, and all the information is fed into a centralised
locust tracking database, which goes back to the 1930s.
(Humans have been tracking locusts for even longer than that; locust
invasions are one of humanity’s oldest nemeses and records date back
to Biblical times).
“The other 50 percent, dare I say, is intuition. It’s a feeling. I’ve
been doing this for more than three decades,” he said.
“I know all of these countries. I’ve been in the deserts of all of
these countries. I know the people collecting the data … I have a
feeling of how the locusts are going to respond, how they are going to
behave. So I suppose the whole thing is half science, and half art.”
In 2018, watching from afar as the two cyclones hit Saudi Arabia,
Cressman’s intuition kicked in.
He knew that conditions were perfect for locust breeding. But because
the area is so remote, and so vast, he did not appreciate the scale of
the problem until the insects started to move.
When vegetation starts to run low, older locusts emit a scent that
tells the others that it is time to leave. The insects are not strong
enough to fly against the wind, and so they are hostage to it, being
carried helplessly in the direction the prevailing current or monsoon.
This is more ingenious that it sounds: wind always travels towards
areas of low pressure, where it is more likely to rain.
In early 2019, over the course of several months, the winds carried
the bulk of the desert locust swarms south into Yemen, where they
found new vegetation and more good rain. Some locusts were carried
north, into Iran, and from there into Pakistan.
Another generation of breeding was undisturbed, because the conflict
in Yemen made it impossible for anyone to stage any kind of
The swarm was now 160 000 times its original size.
From Yemen, easterly winds in mid-2019 carried the locusts into
Somalia and Ethiopia. Neither country is a stranger to locust
invasions, but the sheer scale of this one was different.
Although authorities were able to treat more than two million hectares
of land with insecticide ahead of the arrival of the swarm, it was not
Ethiopia has just three planes that can be used for locust control,
according to the Washington Post, while the ongoing conflict in
Somalia means that there are some areas that the government cannot
3 200 000 times bigger.
From his office in Rome, Cressman tracked the progress of the swarm
with considerable alarm. He looked at the wind and weather patterns,
and in mid-2019 he issued a warning to Kenya: watch out, the locusts
are probably coming your way.
In mid-October, he confirmed his warning: the locusts are definitely
coming, and will be in Kenya by the end of the year.
At this stage, although the locust numbers were high, they were not
yet catastrophic. Eventually the insects would run out of food, or
climate conditions would not be right for new generations to hatch.
But not this time. “A single event tipped the whole thing into a very
serious situation. And that was another cyclone,” said Cressman.
Cyclone Pawan made landfall in the Horn of Africa on December 7 2019,
in almost exactly the same area as the locust swarms.
Pawan was not an especially strong cyclone, but the unseasonal rain it
dumped on the region’s arid landscape was enough to allow for two new
generations of breeding, creating the most severe plague of locusts
64 000 000.
1 280 000 000.
About 25 years ago, Baldwyn Torto and his team taught themselves to
talk to locusts. Torto was, and remains, a chemist at the
Nairobi-based International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology
(ICIPE), where he was responsible for analysing the chemical signals
that form the basis for locust communication.
“We were trying to understand the chemical language used by locusts to
keep them cohesive, as a group. We were able to decode this chemical
language. One language is used by the hopper stage, and when they
become adults they switch to a different type of chemical language,”
Not only was ICIPE able to decode the locusts’ language, but it was
able to produce chemicals to mimic it. “It’s exciting to discover a
chemical and then you present it to the insect, and the insect
responds in exactly the way you think it would … it allows you to use
an insect’s own communication to modify the behaviour of the insect.”
This was a major breakthrough. Although it took a decade of field
testing to be sure, now scientists can disrupt the locust breeding
cycle by overwhelming hoppers with chemical signals from adult
This leaves them confused, disorientated and vulnerable to predators.
But it only works if you know where the locusts are breeding — and if
you get there in time. For the current outbreak, it is already too
25 600 000 000.
As of mid-February, locust swarms had spread to 17 counties in Kenya,
to 12 northeastern districts of Uganda, to Magwi county in South Sudan
and to northern Tanzania.
Swarms remain in northeastern Somalia and southeastern Ethiopia. Some
of these swarms are the size of cities, measuring 40km in width and
60km in length. There are up to 80-million locusts per square
Each day, each one of these billions of insects can eat their own body
weight. In Kenya alone, they are consuming the same amount of food per
day as Kenya’s entire population.
They are passing through farms — many of which are subsistence farms —
and leaving nothing edible behind them. As the locusts feast,
13-million people in East Africa are likely to go hungry.
“Locusts outbreaks can cover a whole region, and Africa is always more
vulnerable, and small-scale farmers are the biggest losers,” said
Against the destructive power of the swarms, and their huge numbers,
local authorities are powerless. Kenyan police have resorted to
throwing tear gas grenades and shooting bullets into the swarms.
There are not enough planes and equipment to distribute insecticide
over such vast areas. Not that insecticides are necessarily the
solution: they are indiscriminate killers that will decimate the
populations of other insects such as bees and wasps, causing even
greater long-term damage to the environment.
Torto wants to work on another solution. His hypothesis is that locust
eggs release a chemical scent, which is the signal for them to hatch.
If this scent can be isolated, reasons Torto, then it can be detected
— and then the sands in which those eggs incubate can be treated with
insecticide before the young hoppers emerge.
ICIPE has approached donors to help with this research, but it’s a
slow process. “We hope that the incubation period for donors is
shorter than the incubation period for the eggs,” he said.
Until any new solutions are found, the areas affected by the locust
swarms are at the mercy of the weather and the wind. Come June, the
direction of the wind is expected to change, with the coming of the
Only then is East Africa likely to see some respite, when the winds
will drive the locusts back into the Red Sea, across the Arabian
Peninsula and into parts of Pakistan, which is already facing a locust
invasion of its own, one so severe that the country has declared a
As the world warms, so locust invasions are likely to become more
frequent and larger.
“There is a link between climate change and the unprecedented locust
crisis plaguing Ethiopia and East Africa,” warned António Guterres,
the UN secretary general. “Warmer seas mean more cyclones generating
the perfect breeding ground for locusts. Today the swarms are as big
as major cities and it is getting worse by the day.”
512 000 000 000.
“I think as an entomologist, you have a tremendous amount of respect
for them,” said the FAO’s Cressman.
“When you actually see a swarm in the field, it’s the awesome power of
mother nature, like when you see a hurricane or a tornado, it’s the
same with locusts. These guys are professional survivors. They have so
many tricks to survive the harshest weather.
“They’ve been through climate change several times and survived. How
we fare is another story.”
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.
Fossilized Fish Bones in the Sahara Desert Show How Diets Changed With the Climate @SmithsonianMag
Thousands of years ago, hunter-gatherers in the “green Sahara” ate
mostly catfish and tilapia
Ancient food waste holds the history of the Sahara desert’s climate in
Nearly 5,000 years worth of fossilized leftovers in the Takarkori rock
shelter in southwestern Libya show ancient humans’ transition from a
mostly-fish diet to one that featured more land animals like sheep and
cattle, according to new research published on February 29 in the
journal PLOS One.
About 11,000 years ago, the Sahara, which is now a hyperarid desert,
was in a green phase.
Sediment and pollen data show that the iconic desert was once covered
in lakes, rivers and wetlands, but between 4,500 and 8,000 years ago,
the humid savannah transitioned into the dry, windy desert that’s
Residing in rock shelters like the one researchers studied at
Takarkori, ancient human hunter-gatherers lived through it all.
Researchers from Belgium and Italy analyzed over 17,000 animal remains
from the rock shelter. The bones were marked with cuts and burns,
signs that they were cooked and eaten by humans.
The researchers found that catfish and tilapia bones made up 90
percent of the finds from the first few thousand years that humans
inhabited the shelter, starting about 10,000 years ago.
But of the more recent 4,650- to 5,900-year-old remains, only about 40
percent were fish bones, and the majority belonged to mammals.
“All the other finds are surface finds, [from] just one layer, one
period, one event. Whereas what we have here is a 5,000-year sequence
with a lot of bones – so that makes it special,” bioarchaeologist Wim
van Neer, a co-author of the study, tells the Guardian’s Nicola Davis.
Analyzing the bones further, the researchers found the number of
tilapia decreased with time, possibly because catfish are better
adapted to live in warm, shallow water, according to a PLOS statement.
Previous research has shown that about 6,400 years ago, the Takarkori
shelter’s original residents called the Late Acacus hunter-gatherers
were replaced by people who used early agricultural practices.
Research has found evidence that the pastoral residents cultivated
weed-like cereal grasses, and that pastoral groups around the rock
shelter kept herds of domesticated Barbary sheep.
That has led some experts to suggest that the introduction of
domesticated livestock may have exacerbated the region’s shift from
the “Green Sahara” to the desert seen today, as Lorraine Boissoneault
reported for Smithsonian magazine in 2017.
Though critics suggest the shift back to a desert was inevitable.
The new research in PLOS One provides evidence that regardless of
whether humans influenced the creation of the desert, their behavior
reflected the constraints of a rapidly changing climate.
“There are not a whole lot of sites like Takarkori that show the
transition in the ways people were eating in this period of dramatic
landscape change,” University of Oslo archaeologist David Wright says
to Jason Arunn Murugesu at New Scientist.
“It is just one piece of the puzzle, but an important one as we
wrestle with understanding how people can adapt to extreme forms of
@WHO SOUNDS ALARM OVER AFRICA #CORONAVIRUS PREPAREDNESS @ewnupdates
ADDIS ABABA – The World Health Organization warned Saturday that
African health systems would be ill-equipped to respond to the deadly
coronavirus outbreak should cases start to proliferate on the
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called on African Union member
states "to come together to be more aggressive in attacking" the
virus, known as COVID-19.
"Our biggest concern continues to be the potential for COVID-19 to
spread in countries with weaker health systems," Tedros, speaking by
video link from Geneva, said during a meeting of African health
ministers at AU headquarters in Addis Ababa.
The outbreak which began in December has already killed more than
2,200 people and infected more than 75,500 in China.
More than 1,150 people have also been infected outside China, although
Egypt is the only African country to have recorded a confirmed case.
There have been more than 200 suspected cases in the WHO's AFRO
region, which includes most African countries, though nearly all have
been confirmed negative, regional director Matshidiso Rebecca Moeti
But if COVID-19 starts to spread on the continent, African health
systems will struggle to treat patients suffering from symptoms such
as respiratory failure, septic shock and multi-organ failure, WHO's
"These patients require intensive care using equipment such as
respiratory support machines that are, as you know, in short supply in
many African countries and that's a cause for concern," he said.
AU Commission chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat told officials to take
"drastic preventive and control measures".
"Our dear continent, Africa, is particularly at risk, given its
relatively fragile health systems," he said.
African countries have been scrambling to develop the capacity to test
In three weeks, the number of African countries capable of conducting
their own tests has jumped from two to 26, Moeti said.
Several African airlines including Kenya Airways have suspended
flights to China, although the continent's biggest carrier Ethiopian
Airlines has kept its China routes open.
Liu Yuxi, China's ambassador to the AU, on Saturday urged officials to
ease travel restrictions
"I hope that everyone will stay calm and objective. Excessive panic
could actually increase the disease," he said.
"It is in adversity and really difficult times that you really get to
know your friends."
#Coronovirus : @BillGates warns of 10 million deaths as virus spreads to Africa @Telegraph #COVID19
Bill Gates has warned that coronavirus in Africa could overwhelm
health services and trigger a pandemic which could cause 10 million
The Microsoft founder and global health pioneer was speaking at the
AAAS meeting in Seattle just hours before the first case was confirmed
in Cairo, Egypt.
There are now fears that the disease could spread to sub-Saharan
Africa where it could spark an uncontrollable outbreak, with health
services unable to monitor or control the virus.
Mr Gates said: “I wanted to talk about a special topic, which is this
recent coronavirus epidemic.
“This is a huge challenge, we’ve always known the potential for an
naturally caused, or intentionally caused, pandemic is one if the few
things that could disrupt health systems and economies and cause more
than 10 million excess deaths.
“This could be particularly if it spreads in areas like sub-Saharan
Africa and some Asia, it could be very very dramatic.
“We’re doing the constant science to provide the tools to do the
diagnosis to provide vaccines, to provide therapeutics and hopefully
contain this epidemic, but it’s potentially a very bad situation.”
Mr Gates said coronovirus was more worrying than Ebola because
although the death rate is not as high, it spreads far faster.
“Ebola is terrible, but it’s not like a lightning flu,” he said.
“This coronavirus has a lot of similarities to a very bad flu, in
terms of the death rate, so far more like the 1957 flu outbreak.
”But this is way worse than a typical seasonal flu and of course we
have no immunity.
“Will this get into Africa or not and if so, will those health systems
“If you look at Ebola, most of the excess deaths were caused because
the health service shut down. It’s not just the direct effect, it’s
also the panic, the overload, and the things that effect health
workers, because you’re already at very limited capacity.
“This disease, if it’s in Africa it’s more dramatic than if it’s in
China, even though I’m not trying to minimise what’s going on in China
in any way.”