Emergency team monitors La Palma lava destruction

Associated Press – Sep 25, 2021

Lava flows from a volcano in Spain’s Canary Islands were continuing to cause fires and damage houses, farmland and infrastructure on Saturday. (Sept. 25)

Cystic fibrosis drug: ‘I feel I’ve been given a second chance at life’ – BBC News

By Ben Philip
BBC Scotland   Published 5 August 2021

A 25-year-old Aberdeenshire woman has said she is now living rather than just existing, one year after getting a delayed cystic fibrosis drug.

Hailey Mann, from Westhill, had been advised to make end-of-life preparations as her condition worsened.

She said there were “tears of joy” when the drug was approved for her to start using last year.

The beauty therapist said her life had been transformed and she was now living it to the full.

Ms Mann said at the time that an agreement had been made with the pharmaceutical company which manufactures Kaftrio to make the medicine available to her on compassionate grounds.

The licensing of the drug in Scotland had been delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic, but was then approved for use.

She told BBC Scotland: “It’s been a rollercoaster year, but a much better one than I was on before. It’s a complete 360.

“The amount of energy, the amount of things I’m doing – before Kaftrio I was just existing as opposed to living. Now I’m living. It’s a totally different life.

“I feel like I’ve been given a second chance at life.”

Ms Mann said she tries to do something every day to to make the most of things “because you don’t know what’s around the corner”.

She explained: “Even with the pandemic I’ve been able to do so much more in this last year. The difference is unreal.

“I’m back to work, working from home. I love my job. In between all that, trying to do things all the time. Even just little things like going to the park with my little sister. Something as little as that I would have never been able to do before.

“I’m climbing up and down the stairs which were like a mountain beforehand. I don’t require any oxygen anymore and just not having to depend on anybody. It’s a complete U-turn.”

She added: “I think last year when I was so ill, it just feels like a blur. I wasn’t myself. I’m usually full of energy and doing things and usually quite positive. Last year was hard. I’d almost lost sight of all that. I’m now back to my old self.”

She said she had stayed in touch with a transplant team and that they were happy with her progress, with her lung function going up and stabilising.

“So they’re just keeping me on their radar so if there was to ever be any issues, they know who I am and where I’m at, but for now I’m happy with where I am,” she said.

“Just to try and live everyday like it’s your last. I’m hoping to go to Mexico with the family. That’s our ultimate holiday destination.”

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) allows for use of “unauthorised medicine” that has not yet been licensed under “compassionate use programmes”.

Cystic fibrosis affects hundreds of people in Scotland.

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Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis on rise in Northern Ireland – BBC News

As many as 300 people in NI are diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) every year

By Louise Cullen
BBC News NI Published 5 hours ago

About 1,200 people are living with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) in Northern Ireland.

But not everyone who is diagnosed can get access to the same support and treatment.

Jim Balmer has a competitive streak.

Bagpiping competitions were where he first met his wife. And when he moved on from piping, he took up squash and played for Ulster.

Now, his lungs don’t work.

“Two years ago, I started feeling a bit breathless walking up hills, slight cough – persistent cough actually – very dry,” the 52-year-old father-of-two recalled.

“And in showers, I would have coughed with the steam.”

He went to his GP and was sent for an x-ray. Initially, shadows on his lungs were treated as pneumonia.

But when a follow-up x-ray showed no improvement, a CT scan was ordered, which the pandemic delayed until July 2020.

He was diagnosed with IPF, a condition that causes scarring of the lungs and has no cure.

“Complete life change,” Mr Balmer said.

“Not only for me, but for my wife, my sons. I can’t really do anything, go anywhere.

“I had to sell my company last week, I’ve worked for myself for 21 years and I can’t do anything.”

A growing problem

On top of the roughly 1,200 people who live with the condition in Northern Ireland, as many as 300 more are diagnosed every year.

“Data over the past 20 years shows that more and more people appear to be developing fibrosis in the lungs,” said Northern Trust respiratory consultant Dr Eoin Murtagh.

“It is important that we now change the type of health service we provide, to make sure patients have access to the services they need for early diagnosis and an accurate diagnosis, and then availability for appropriate treatment.”

According to a British Lung Foundation report in 2016, Northern Ireland has the highest prevalence of IPF of any region in the UK.

But after diagnosis, not everyone here can get access to the same support and treatment, according to Dr. Murtagh.

“There’s great variability depending on where you live, which trust you’re in, as to which services you may have access to and the waiting time to avail of assessment and investigations,” he said.

“So we would like to see co-ordinated, dedicated services available to patients across Northern Ireland.”

Currently, only the Northern Trust has a dedicated multi-disciplinary lung disease team with five consultant and nursing staff.

Belfast Trust says it has a consultant and a specialist nurse, the Western Trust has a dedicated pulmonary fibrosis nurse, and the South Eastern has a nurse specialist and a part-consultant who lead their unit.

“The ‘idio’ is ‘idiot'”

Anti-fibrotic drugs can prolong and improve the quality of life for sufferers. In Europe, the US, Canada and New Zealand, they are prescribed on diagnosis.

But current guidance in the UK says they should only be prescribed when a patient’s lung function is within a certain range and they may be stopped if lung function drops below that range.

The guidance is currently under review.

“Although they don’t cure the condition, we know that they slow down the progression of the disease,” said Dr. Murtagh.

“On average, they extend life by an additional three years for patients who are on those medications.

“So if we identify patients earlier in the course of their illness, we could have a bigger impact with that medication.”

Jim Balmer got information and help from the Northern Trust Pulmonary Fibrosis Support Group.

His hope is that awareness of the condition is raised and that sufferers in Northern Ireland can get help, regardless of where they live.

“More funding, more research into what causes it [is
needed],” Mr Balmer said.

“Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis – the ‘idio’ is ‘idiot’. They don’t know.

“They don’t know what causes it.”

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BBC World Service – Newshour, Is this Germany’s climate election?

There are two days to go until the elections to choose Angela Merkel’s replacement in Germany and climate change is top of voters’ concerns. So how is that affecting the campaign?

BBC World Service – Newshour, Climate change and the German election

Germans will vote on Sunday with climate change a big election issue.

BBC World Service – Newshour, UK Prime Minister: Humanity is reaching a “turning point” on climate change

A climate summit of world leaders in 40 days will be the “turning point for humanity”, PM Boris Johnson has said in a speech to the United Nations. So what would a successful summit in November look like?

🇳🇬 Nigeria – President Addresses United Nations General Debate, 76th Session (English) | #UNGA

Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, addresses the general debate of the 76th Session of the General Assembly the United Nations (New York, 21-27 September 2021).

The UN General Assembly (UNGA) is the main policy-making organ of the Organization. Comprising all Member States, it provides a unique forum for multilateral discussion of the full spectrum of international issues covered by the Charter of the United Nations. Each of the 193 Member States of the United Nations has an equal vote.

The United Nations is an international organization founded in 1945. Currently made up of 193 Member States, the UN and its work are guided by the purposes and principles contained in its founding Charter.

The UN has evolved over the years to keep pace with a rapidly changing world.

But one thing has stayed the same: it remains the one place on Earth where all the world’s nations can gather together, discuss common problems, and find shared solutions that benefit all of humanity.

General debate website: https://gadebate.un.org/

House Democrats Are Scared to Tax Billionaires – That’s a Costly Mistake

23 september 21

Political cowardice means those funding Joe Biden’s ambitious social policy plan want to leave the mega-rich unscathed

This week, House Democrats released their proposed tax increases to fund Joe Biden’s $3.5tn social policy plan.

The biggest surprise: they didn’t go after the huge accumulations of wealth at the top – representing the largest share of the economy in more than a century.

You might have thought Democrats would be eager to tax America’s 660 billionaires whose fortunes have increased by $1.8tn since the start of the pandemic, an amount that could fund half of Biden’s plan and still leave the billionaires as rich as they were before the pandemic began.

Elon Musk’s $138bn in pandemic gains, for example, could cover the cost of tuition for 5.5 million community college students and feed 29 million low-income public-school kids, while still leaving Musk $4bn richer than he was before Covid.

But senior House Democrats decided to raise revenue the traditional way, taxing annual income rather than giant wealth. They aim to raise the highest income tax rate and apply a 3% surtax to incomes over $5m.

The dirty little secret is the ultra-rich don’t live off their paychecks.

Jeff Bezos’s salary from Amazon was $81,840 last year, yet he rakes in some $149,353 every minute from the soaring value of his Amazon stocks, which is how he affords five mansions, including one in Washington DC which has 25 bathrooms.

House Democrats won’t even close the gaping “stepped-up basis at death” loophole, which allows the heirs of the ultra-rich to value their stocks, bonds, mansions and other assets at current market prices – avoiding capital gains taxes on the entire increase in value from when they were purchased.

This loophole allows family dynasties to transfer ever larger amounts of wealth to future generations without it ever being taxed. Talk about an American aristocracy.

Biden wanted to close this loophole but House Democrats balked.

…(read more).

These are the asteroids to worry about

Veritasium – Nov 30, 2020

Stephen Hawking thought an asteroid impact posed the greatest threat to life on Earth. Thanks to Kiwico for sponsoring this video. For 50% off your first month of any crate, go to https://kiwico.com/veritasium50

For other potential world ending catastrophes, check out Domain of Science: https://ve42.co/DoS

Special thanks to: Prof. Dave Jewitt from UCLA Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences Prof. Mark Boslough from Sandia National Labs Scott Manley: https://www.youtube.com/user/szyzyg

Ryan Wyatt at Morrison Planetarium Prof. Amy Mainzer Alexandr Ivanov for the opening shot of Chelyabinsk Meteor Maps of Asteroid Impacts —https://ve42.co/Map T

ime passing animation from Universe Sandbox – http://universesandbox.com/

Opposition Effect — https://ve42.co/Belskaya2000

Belskaya, I. N., & Shevchenko, V. G. (2000). Opposition effect of asteroids. Icarus, 147(1), 94-105. Potentially Hazardous Asteroids — https://ve42.co/Perna2013

Perna, D., Barucci, M. A., & Fulchignoni, M. (2013). The near-Earth objects and their potential threat to our planet. The Astronomy and Astrophysics Review, 21(1), 65. Survey of Potentially Hazardous Asteroids — https://ve42.co/NEOSurvey

Population Vulnerability — https://ve42.co/Rumpf2017

Rumpf, C. M., Lewis, H. G., & Atkinson, P. M. (2017). Population vulnerability models for asteroid impact risk assessment. Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 52(6), 1082-1102. Size distribution of NEOs — https://ve42.co/Trilling17

Trilling, D. E., Valdes, F., Allen, L., James, D., Fuentes, C., Herrera, D., … & Rajagopal, J. (2017). T

he size distribution of near-earth objects larger than 10 m. The Astronomical Journal, 154(4), 170. 2020 NEOWISE Data Release — https://ve42.co/NEOWISE

National Research Council Report— https://ve42.co/Defending

Board, S. S., & National Research Council. (2010). Defending planet earth: Near-Earth-Object surveys and hazard mitigation strategies. National Academies Press. Tug Boat — https://ve42.co/Schweickart03

Schweickart, R. L., Lu, E. T., Hut, P., & Chapman, C. R. (2003). The asteroid tugboat. Scientific American, 289(5), 54-61.

Gravity Tractor 1 — https://ve42.co/Lu05 Lu, E. T., & Love, S. G. (2005).

Gravitational tractor for towing asteroids. Nature, 438(7065), 177-178.

Laser Ablation — https://ve42.co/Thiry14 Thiry, N., & Vasile, M. (2014). Recent advances in laser ablation modelling for asteroid deflection methods. SPIE Optical Engineering+ Applications, 922608-922608.

Yarakovsky Effect — https://ve42.co/Yara

DART Mission — https://ve42.co/DART

Nuclear 1 — https://ve42.co/Ahrens92

Ahrens, T. J., & Harris, A. W. (1992). Deflection and fragmentation of near-Earth asteroids. Nature, 360(6403), 429-433.

Nuclear 2 — https://ve42.co/Bradley10 Bradley, P. A., Plesko, C. S., Clement, R. R., Conlon, L. M., Weaver, R. P., Guzik, J. A., … & Huebner, W. F. (2010, January). Challenges of deflecting an asteroid or comet nucleus with a nuclear burst. In AIP Conference Proceedings (Vol. 1208, No. 1, pp. 430-437). American Institute of Physics. Researched and Written by Petr Lebedev, Jonny Hyman and Derek Muller 3D animations, VFX, SFX,

Audio Mixing by Jonny Hyman 2D animation by Ivàn Tello Intro animation by Nicolas Pratt With Filming by Raquel Nuno

Music from https://epidemicsound.com “Stellar Dance” “Orbit” “That Notebook” “What We Discovered” “Out of Poppies” “Handwriting” Images and video supplied by Getty Images

Megatsunami Scenario – La Palma Landslide


Naked Science – Jun 21, 2017

A slide from this mountain could kill millions of people in Europe and along Northern America’s eastern seaboard. Some eminent scientists warn that it’s purely a matter of time until it happens. This is the volcanic island of La Palma, 700 miles off the northwest coast of Africa. It’s a new-born baby island barely past its 4 millionth Birthday, created in the last stage of what geologists call the rock cycle.

Clip taken from the Naked Science documentary “Landslides”.

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