Momentum for basic income builds as pandemic drags on

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A man shows off an Andrew Yang “Freedom Dividend” $1,000 bill sign on a street in San Francisco. Amid the pandemic and a global recession, basic income and a basket of related policies have gained unprecedented momentum.

When the idyllic upstate city of Hudson, New York, launches its basic-income pilot program in late September, it will become one of the smallest U.S. cities to embrace a policy once seen as far-fetched or radical.

“Basic-income” programs — designed to dole out direct cash payments to large swaths of people, no strings attached — were, until earlier this year, largely the realm of Washington, D.C., policy wonks and West Coast futurists.

But amid the pandemic and a global recession, both basic income and a basket of related policies have gained unprecedented momentum, surfacing everywhere from Capitol Hill to community Zoom meetings in cities like Hudson.

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U.S. home sales spike an unprecedented 24.7% in July

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Sales exploded in every region in the country, led by the Northeast and West

The coronavirus pandemic helped shape the housing market by influencing everything from the direction of mortgage rates to the inventory of homes on the market to the types of homes in demand and the desired locations.

SILVER SPRING, Md. — U.S. home sales rose an unprecedented 24.7% in July as extraordinarily low mortgage rates, and a desire for more space in the pandemic, fuel demand.

A June rebound has stretched to July after the coronavirus pandemic all but froze the housing market in the spring, usually a time when house hunters are most active.

National Association of Realtors said Friday that sales of existing homes jumped last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.86 million. With consecutive months of record-breaking gains, purchases are up 8.7% from a year ago. Home sales rose 20.7% in June, a record that lasted one month.

The housing market has been one of the more resilient sectors of the economy during the pandemic, but market activity continues to hinge on supply, which was limited even before the coronavirus outbreak.

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The role of cognitive dissonance in the pandemic

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The minute we make any decision—I think COVID-19 is serious; no, I’m sure it is a hoax—we begin to justify the wisdom of our choice and find reasons to dismiss the alternative.

Members of Heaven’s Gate, a religious cult, believed that as the Hale-Bopp comet passed by Earth in 1997, a spaceship would be traveling in its wake—ready to take true believers aboard. Several members of the group bought an expensive, high-powered telescope so that they might get a clearer view of the comet. They quickly brought it back and asked for a refund. When the manager asked why, they complained that the telescope was defective, that it didn’t show the spaceship following the comet. A short time later, believing that they would be rescued once they had shed their “earthly containers” (their bodies), all 39 members killed themselves.

Heaven’s Gate followers had a tragically misguided conviction, but it is an example, albeit extreme, of cognitive dissonance, the motivational mechanism that underlies the reluctance to admit mistakes or accept scientific findings—even when those findings can save our lives. This dynamic is playing out during the pandemic among the many people who refuse to wear masks or practice social distancing. Human beings are deeply unwilling to change their minds. And when the facts clash with their preexisting convictions, some people would sooner jeopardize their health and everyone else’s than accept new information or admit to being wrong.

Cognitive dissonance, coined by Leon Festinger in the 1950s, describes the discomfort people feel when two cognitions, or a cognition and a behavior, contradict each other. I smoke is dissonant with the knowledge that Smoking can kill me. To reduce that dissonance, the smoker must either quit—or justify smoking (“It keeps me thin, and being overweight is a health risk too, you know”). At its core, Festinger’s theory is about how people strive to make sense out of contradictory ideas and lead lives that are, at least in their own minds, consistent and meaningful.

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Coronavirus: Experts warn of bioterrorism after pandemic

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The Council of Europe has warned of a potential increase in the use of biological weapons, like viruses or bacterias, in a post-coronavirus world. Terrorists would not forget “lessons learned” during the pandemic.

Security experts from the Council of Europe have warned that the global coronavirus outbreak may increase the use of biological weapons by terrorists in the future.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how vulnerable modern society is to viral infections and their potential for disuption,” the council’s Committee on Counter-Terrorism said in a statement.

The deliberate use of disease-causing agents — like viruses or bacterias — as an act of terrorism “could prove to be extremely effective.”

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WTTC says 50 million tourism jobs are at stake

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The World Travel & Tourism Council on Friday said up to 50 million jobs in travel and tourism are at risk from the Covid‐19 pandemic, and WTTC called for measures to be taken to ensure a swift recovery.

The organization also joined fellow travel groups in condemning the President Donald Trump’s ban on most travel from Europe to the U.S., saying it will damage the U.S. economy but isn’t likely to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

“We all share the priority to stop the spread and should take all necessary actions,” WTTC CEO Gloria Guevara said in a statement. “However, the new travel ban will have a dangerous economic impact on the U.S. and many other countries, and there is little evidence to show this will stop the spread of Covid‐19.”

Guevara suggested that rather than an outright ban, “the priority should be on public health within the country and mitigating the potential harm to individuals.”

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You’re likely to get the Coronavirus

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Most cases are not life-threatening, which is also what makes the virus a historic challenge to contain.

In May 1997, a 3-year-old boy developed what at first seemed like the common cold. When his symptoms—sore throat, fever, and cough—persisted for six days, he was taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Hong Kong. There his cough worsened, and he began gasping for air. Despite intensive care, the boy died.

Puzzled by his rapid deterioration, doctors sent a sample of the boy’s sputum to China’s Department of Health. But the standard testing protocol couldn’t fully identify the virus that had caused the disease. The chief virologist decided to ship some of the sample to colleagues in other countries.

At the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, the boy’s sputum sat for a month, waiting for its turn in a slow process of antibody-matching analysis. The results eventually confirmed that this was a variant of influenza, the virus that has killed more people than any in history. But this type had never before been seen in humans. It was H5N1, or “avian flu,” discovered two decades prior, but known only to infect birds.

By then, it was August. Scientists sent distress signals around the world. The Chinese government swiftly killed 1.5 million chickens (over the protests of chicken farmers). Further cases were closely monitored and isolated. By the end of the year there were 18 known cases in humans. Six people died.

This was seen as a successful global response, and the virus was not seen again for years. In part, containment was possible because the disease was so severe: Those who got it became manifestly, extremely ill. H5N1 has a fatality rate of about 60 percent—if you get it, you’re likely to die. Yet since 2003, the virus has killed only 455 people. The much “milder” flu viruses, by contrast, kill fewer than 0.1 percent of people they infect, on average, but are responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths every year.

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The US Is Trying To Censor Scientific Journals

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Hear no pandemic, see no pandemic, speak no pandemic.

The US government has approached the scientific journals Nature and Science in order to censor data on a lab-made version of bird flu, because it could potentially be used as a weapon. That’s not cool!

According to the Guardian, the US National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) asked the journals to publish redacted versions of studies carried out by two research groups…

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Scientists create man-made flu virus that could potentially wipe out millions if it ever escapes research lab

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The deadly virus is a genetically tweaked version of the H5N1 bird flu strain.

A group of scientists is pushing to publish research about how they created a man-made flu virus that could potentially wipe out civilization.

 

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A Step Closer to a Universal Flu Shot That Protects for Life

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Antibodies developed in patients who had the H1N1 pandemic flu strain that protect against a variety of flu strains.

The swine flu outbreak that swept across the globe claiming over 14,000 lives could provide scientists with a vital clue to creating a universal vaccine, a study claims. Researchers have found several patients infected with the 2009 H1N1 pandemic flu strain have developed antibodies that are protective against a variety of flu strains.

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Researchers Working To Treat Pandemic Flu By Arming The Immune System

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Researchers creating a new vaccine against H1N1 hope to harness the power of the immune system’s dendritic cells, which are responsible for directing the body’s immune response.

Viruses multiply incredibly quickly once they’ve infected their victim–so fast that antiviral medications such as Tamiflu are only effective if given during the first few days of an infection. After that, the viral load is just too high for a single drug to fight off. But researchers are working on a treatment for the H1N1 virus (or swine flu) that uses a different approach. Rather than disabling the virus with a drug, they’re creating a vaccine that can activate and steer a patient’s own immune cells to attack the invader.

 

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New H1N1 Flu Can Kill Fast According To Researchers

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A drawing of a pig and a biohazard sign mark the door of a lab where samples are tested for the H1N1 swine flu virus

The new H1N1 flu is “strikingly different” from seasonal influenza, killing much younger people than ordinary flu and often killing them very fast, World Health Organization officials said on Friday.   A review of studies done during the seven months the virus has been circulating shows it is usually mild, but can cause unusual and severe symptoms in an unlucky few, according to a WHO-sponsored meeting in Washington this week.

 

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Aspirin Misuse Behind Huge Death Toll in 1918-1919 Flu Pandemic

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High doses of aspirin were used to treat patients during the 1918-1919 pandemic

The high death toll during the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic might be attributed to the misuse of aspirin, says an article.
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Published in the online edition of Clinical Infectious Diseases, the article sounds a cautionary note at a time when health experts are discussing their concerns about the novel H1N1 virus.
The write-up points out that high doses of aspirin were used to treat patients during the 1918-1919 pandemic.
Of late, adds the article, such high dosing has been found to increase the risk of toxicity and a dangerous build up of fluid in the lungs.
It further states that these toxicity and fluid build-up in the lungs might have contributed to the incidence and severity of symptoms, bacterial infections, and mortality during the 1918-1919 pandemic.
Additionally, autopsy reports from 1918 are consistent with what is currently known about the dangers of aspirin toxicity, as well as the expected viral causes of death.
Dr. Karen Starko, the author of article, says that the motivation behind the improper use of aspirin is a cautionary tale.
In 1918, notes the writer, doctors did not fully understand either the dosing or pharmacology of aspirin, yet they were willing to recommend it.
Its use was promoted by the drug industry, endorsed by doctors wanting to “do something”, and accepted by families and institutions desperate for hope, the author says.
“Understanding these natural forces is important when considering choices in the future. Interventions cut both ways. Medicines can save and improve our lives. Yet we must be ever mindful of the importance of dose, of balancing benefits and risks, and of the limitations of our studies,” Dr. Starko said.

The high death toll during the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic might be attributed to the misuse of aspirin, says an article.

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