COVID-19 news update, worldwide

This 2 September 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Covid, Death, Foster Farms & Capitalist Crimes In California’s Central Valley

WorkWeek looks at the growing Covid-19 virus pandemic in California‘s Central Valley where a large amount of world’s agricultural products are grown and processed.

We interview actor and community activist Ramon Real who discusses his and other activists efforts to prevent the expansion of the pandemic in March 2020. He reports that major corporations such as Foster Farms, Dole and many others refused to provide proper distancing and protection and ordered workers to continue to work even when they were sick with Covid. He also reports that workers were passing out on assembly lines and were brought to the cafeteria to be picked up by their relatives so the company would not be responsible for their Covid contamination.

He also reports that Cal/OSHA has not enforced health and safety laws to protect the workers despite numerous complaints to Cal/OSHA of the growing pandemic.

USA: Maine wedding linked to more than 140 COVID-19 cases, 3 deaths.

What young, healthy people have to fear from COVID-19.

Belgian daily De Standaard reports today that Edward Lachaert, chairman of the Flemish pro-Big Business party Open VLD and charged by the Belgian king with forming a new coalition government, has been infected with COVID-19.

Racism in Donald Trump’s USA

This 7 September 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Freedom Struggle: Angela Davis on Calls to Defund Police, Racism & Capitalism, and the 2020 Election

In a Democracy Now! special, we revisit our interview with the legendary activist and scholar Angela Davis about the uprising against police brutality and racism launched in May after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The protests have helped dramatically shift public opinion on policing and systemic racism, as “defund the police” becomes a rallying cry of the movement. Davis is professor emerita at the University of California, Santa Cruz. For half a century, she has been one of the most influential activists and intellectuals in the United States and an icon of the Black liberation movement. We interviewed her in early June.

If Trump wins re-election—or loses— expect more right-wing violence, experts warn.

Donald Trump is the most serious threat to American Jewish security in the past half century.

My fellow Jews: Getting rid of Trump is a religious imperative.

I’m Black and Jewish. Stop telling me Black Lives Matter is ‘political’.

Jordan Stephens on mental health and racism: “Sometimes I just want to burn everything down.”

Threatened Caribbean iguana born in Rotterdam zoo

This 8 September 2020 video from Blijdorp zoo in Rotterdam in the Netherlands says about itself, translated:

A highly endangered lesser Antillean iguana has hatched in Blijdorp Zoo, a memorable moment for the international breeding program in which Blijdorp plays an important role. On May 15, 2018, four young lesser Antillean iguanas came to Rotterdam from St. Eustatius island: two females and two males. … And now, more than two years later, the first young lizard has been born.

The youngster is about 25 centimeter long.

British Conservatives make schools coronavirus epicentres

This 3 August 2020 video from Britain says about itself:

Professor John Ashton absolutely DESTROYS Boris Johnson – EP 13

He walks away from marriages, he walks away from children, he walks away from disasters. He just walks away & leaves someone else to clear up the mess” 00:00 Walk Away 02:03 Success 03:14 Fast Food 04:29 Blame Boris not BAME 06:41 Scapegoat 08:30 Violence 10:08 Sarah Vine 13:15 Business not as usual 17:48 Face Masks, the new condoms

From daily News Line in Britain, 8 September 2020:

Corona spreading through England’s school system

DESPITE warnings from unions, the Tories re-opened schools last week, and now coronavirus has begun spreading through the school system across England.

Five teachers at the Samuel Ward Academy in Haverhill in Suffolk have tested positive for coronavirus, prompting the school to shut.

Two other members of staff at Samuel Ward are awaiting results.

The infections come just a week after children began returning to classrooms in England for the first time since lockdown in March.

Anyone who has been in close contact with the infected staff has been contacted and asked to self-isolate for 14 days, the school said. Further contact tracing will continue and other pupils and staff may be asked to self-isolate.

Elsewhere, coronavirus cases have been confirmed at three schools in the Middlesbrough area, although they will not be closing.

Redcar and Cleveland borough council said on Sunday that a positive case had been recorded at St Benedict’s RC primary school.

St Aidan’s CE primary school, in Hartlepool, said in a Facebook post to parents it also had a confirmed Covid-19 case, while Outwood Academy Ormesby, in Middlesbrough, said in a short statement that a confirmed case had been found ‘within the school community’.

In Redcar and Cleveland, 38 new coronavirus cases were recorded in the seven days to 1st September – the equivalent of 27.7 per 100,000 people, up from 10.2 in the seven days to 25 August. The rate in Hartlepool also rose, from 7.5 to 22.4, with 21 new cases, while Middlesbrough’s rate has risen from 28.4 to 31.2, with 44 new cases.

A further 2,988 cases of coronavirus have been reported in the UK in 24 hours over the weekend, government data showed.

It is the highest number reported on a single day since 22 May and a rise of 1,175 on Saturday, according to the UK government’s coronavirus dashboard.

Tory Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he was ‘concerned’ about the rise in cases ‘predominantly among young people’.

Two further deaths within 28 days of a positive test were recorded, taking the total number of UK deaths to 41,551.

Despite the sharp rise in cases, Hancock insisted the government was right to reopen schools ‘because of the impact on children of not getting an education,’ adding that workplaces which have reopened are ‘Covid-secure’.

Scotland recorded 208 new cases on Sunday, its highest daily increase for more than 17 weeks.

Wales recorded a further 98 cases, its highest daily rise since 30 June, and Northern Ireland recorded 106 new cases, its highest rise since 25 April.

Overall, since the start of the pandemic, 347,152 cases have been confirmed in the UK.

Prehistoric big shark Megalodon, how big?

Palaeoartist reconstruction of a 16 m adult Megalodon. Credit: Reconstruction by Oliver E. Demuth

From the University of Bristol in England:

True size of prehistoric mega-shark finally revealed

September 3, 2020

To date only the length of the legendary giant shark Megalodon had been estimated. But now, a new study led by the University of Bristol and Swansea University has revealed the size of the rest of its body, including fins that are as large as an adult human.

There is a grim fascination in determining the size of the largest sharks, but this can be difficult for fossil forms where teeth are often all that remain.

Today, the most fearsome living shark is the Great White, at over six metres (20 feet) long, which bites with a force of two tonnes.

Its fossil relative, the big tooth shark Megalodon, star of Hollywood movies, lived from 23 to around three million years ago, was over twice the length of a Great White and had a bite force of more than ten tonnes.

The fossils of the Megalodon are mostly huge triangular cutting teeth bigger than a human hand.

Jack Cooper, who has just completed the MSc in Palaeobiology at the University of Bristol’s School of Earth Sciences, and colleagues from Bristol and Swansea used a number of mathematical methods to pin down the size and proportions of this monster, by making close comparisons to a diversity of living relatives with ecological and physiological similarities to Megalodon.

The project was supervised by shark expert Dr Catalina Pimiento from Swansea University and Professor Mike Benton, a palaeontologist at Bristol. Dr Humberto Ferrón of Bristol also collaborated.

Their findings are published today in the journal Scientific Reports.

Jack Cooper said: “I have always been mad about sharks. As an undergraduate, I have worked and dived with Great whites in South Africa — protected by a steel cage of course. It’s that sense of danger, but also that sharks are such beautiful and well-adapted animals, that makes them so attractive to study.

“Megalodon was actually the very animal that inspired me to pursue palaeontology in the first place at just six years old, so I was over the moon to get a chance to study it.

“This was my dream project. But to study the whole animal is difficult considering that all we really have are lots of isolated teeth.”

Previously the fossil shark, known formally as Otodus megalodon, was only compared with the Great White. Jack and his colleagues, for the first time, expanded this analysis to include five modern sharks.

Dr Pimiento said: “Megalodon is not a direct ancestor of the Great White but is equally related to other macropredatory sharks such as the Makos, Salmon shark and Porbeagle shark, as well as the Great white. We pooled detailed measurements of all five to make predictions about Megalodon.”

Professor Benton added: “Before we could do anything, we had to test whether these five modern sharks changed proportions as they grew up. If, for example, they had been like humans, where babies have big heads and short legs, we would have had some difficulties in projecting the adult proportions for such a huge extinct shark.

“But we were surprised, and relieved, to discover that in fact that the babies of all these modern predatory sharks start out as little adults, and they don’t change in proportion as they get larger.”

Jack Cooper said: “This means we could simply take the growth curves of the five modern forms and project the overall shape as they get larger and larger — right up to a body length of 16 metres.”

The results suggest that a 16-metre-long Otodus megalodon likely had a head round 4.65 metres long, a dorsal fin approximately 1.62 metres tall and a tail around 3.85 metres high.

This means an adult human could stand on the back of this shark and would be about the same height as the dorsal fin.

The reconstruction of the size of Megalodon body parts represents a fundamental step towards a better understanding of the physiology of this giant, and the intrinsic factors that may have made it prone to extinction.