Daily Archives: December 30, 2020

Covid vaccines in Africa: What you need to know – BBC Africa

BBC News Africa

Dec 30, 2020

BBC Africa speaks to two health experts to find answers to key questions about Covid-19 vaccines in Africa, such as why a vaccine is needed, how we know if it’s safe and when Africans will be able to get it.

Video edited by Anne Okumu

Video producers: Hugo Williams, Penny Dale and Samuel Lando

Presenters: Yemisi Adegoke and Georgie Ndirangu

Senate remains at a standstill over increased COVID relief checks

PBS NewsHour
Dec 30, 2020

The struggle to provide additional COVID relief continues in the U.S. Senate. The passage of $2,000 relief checks is stalled despite President Trump’s repeated demands for larger direct payments. Anna Palmer, senior Washington correspondent for POLITICO, joins Amna Nawaz to discuss.

U.S. struggles to distribute vaccinations, falling far short of projections

PBS NewsHour
Dec 30, 2020

In the first two weeks of America’s vaccination campaign, just 2 million people have received the fist of the two required doses for their vaccinations — far short of the Trump administration’s projections of 20 million vaccinations by the end of this year. William Brangham spoke to Dr. Carlos del Rio, a professor of global health at Emory University School of Medicine, to discuss.

In the first two weeks of America’s vaccination campaign, just 2 million people have received the fist of the two required doses for their vaccinations

Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds

Elizabeth Kolbert, New Yorker Radio,  11-14 minutes

In 1975, researchers at Stanford invited a group of undergraduates to take part in a study about suicide. They were presented with pairs of suicide notes. In each pair, one note had been composed by a random individual, the other by a person who had subsequently taken his own life. The students were then asked to distinguish between the genuine notes and the fake ones.

Some students discovered that they had a genius for the task. Out of twenty-five pairs of notes, they correctly identified the real one twenty-four times. Others discovered that they were hopeless. They identified the real note in only ten instances.

As is often the case with psychological studies, the whole setup was a put-on. Though half the notes were indeed genuine—they’d been obtained from the Los Angeles County coroner’s office—the scores were fictitious. The students who’d been told they were almost always right were, on average, no more discerning than those who had been told they were mostly wrong.

In the second phase of the study, the deception was revealed. The students were told that the real point of the experiment was to gauge their responses to thinking they were right or wrong. (This, it turned out, was also a deception.) Finally, the students were asked to estimate how many suicide notes they had actually categorized correctly, and how many they thought an average student would get right. At this point, something curious happened. The students in the high-score group said that they thought they had, in fact, done quite well—significantly better than the average student—even though, as they’d just been told, they had zero grounds for believing this. Conversely, those who’d been assigned to the low-score group said that they thought they had done significantly worse than the average student—a conclusion that was equally unfounded.

“Once formed,” the researchers observed dryly, “impressions are remarkably perseverant.”

A few years later, a new set of Stanford students was recruited for a related study. The students were handed packets of information about a pair of firefighters, Frank K. and George H. Frank’s bio noted that, among other things, he had a baby daughter and he liked to scuba dive. George had a small son and played golf. The packets also included the men’s responses on what the researchers called the Risky-Conservative Choice Test. According to one version of the packet, Frank was a successful firefighter who, on the test, almost always went with the safest option. In the other version, Frank also chose the safest option, but he was a lousy firefighter who’d been put “on report” by his supervisors several times. Once again, midway through the study, the students were informed that they’d been misled, and that the information they’d received was entirely fictitious. The students were then asked to describe their own beliefs. What sort of attitude toward risk did they think a successful firefighter would have? The students who’d received the first packet thought that he would avoid it. The students in the second group thought he’d embrace it.

…(read more).

Covid: Millions more braced for tougher rules in England – BBC News live – BBC


Published on Dec 29, 2020

U.S. Senate leader blocks push for $2,000 COVID-19 checks


Dec 29, 2020

Relief money is starting to flow to millions of Americans struggling with COVID-19. The $600 payments are part of a giant stimulus package signed by President Donald Trump. He wants to increase the amount to $2,000, but the leader of the Senate, which is controlled by Trump’s Republican Party, is blocking that for now.

Is terrestrial net primary production a planetary boundary for the carbon cycle?

NASA Climate Change

Dec 29, 2020

Planetary boundaries has emerged as a widely quoted conceptual framing for potential limits to the carrying capacity of the Earth, especially in policy disciplines. Yet in the original 2009 paper in Nature no planetary boundary for the carbon cycle was suggested. In a 2012 Science paper i suggested global terrestrial net primary production as a carbon cycle boundary. Seven years later, has my idea withstood scrutiny? And more generally, is a planetary boundary for the carbon cycle a useful concept? This seminar will provide all the answers.

Steven W. Running has been with the University of Montana, Missoula since 1979, where he is a University Regents Professor Emeritus of Global Ecology. His primary research interest is the development of global and regional ecosystem biogeochemical models integrating remote sensing with bioclimatology and terrestrial ecology. He has worked in the NASA Earth Observing System since 1981, and is responsible for the EOS MODIS global terrestrial net primary production and evapotranspiration datasets. He has published more than 300 scientific articles and two books.. He recently ended Chairing the NASA Earth Science Subcommittee. He now co-chairs the Committee on Earth Science and Applications from Space for the National Academy of Science. Dr. Running was a chapter Lead Author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. Dr. Running is an elected Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, and has been designated for many years a Highly Cited Researcher by the Institute for Scientific Information. In the popular press, his essay in 2007, “The 5 Stages of Climate Grief” has been widely quoted.

Originally presented February 13, 2019, at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California as part of the Center for Climate Sciences Distinguished Climate Lectures series.

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