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Monthly Archives: May 2021

New Covid-19 Alarm Bells in the UK, Ridiculous or Not?


See large image . . . . . .

Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding is sounding a Covid alarm in the UK.

According to Dr. Ding, #B16172 is now becoming the newly dominant variant in the UK, replacing and outpacing even the previously faster reigning variant #B117 which was already 50% more contagious than original strain. B16172 is just that much more faster.


Source: Dr. Duncan Robert

Source : Mish Talk

中國央行上调外汇存款准备金

什么是外汇存款准备金?

所谓的外汇存款准备金,指的就是金融机构按照规定,将其吸收的外汇存款按照一定的比例交给中国人民银行存储,类似于存款准备金率。

而外汇存款准备金率是指,金融机构交给中国人民银行的外汇存款准备金与其吸收外汇存款的比率。

外汇存款准备金率调整历史?

从2005年1月15日起,金融机构外汇存款准备金率统一调整为3%。

2006年8月,外汇存款准备金率从3%上调至4%。

2007年5月外汇存款准备金率由4%提高至5%。

2021年6月15日起,外汇存款准备金率由5%上调至7%。

上调外汇存款准备金率的意义?

截止20 21年4月底,外币存款余额10,000亿美元,如果按照此次增加2%的外汇存款准备金,那就意味着6月15日起,金融机构要多交存到央行合计200亿美元。

2021年以来,人民币兑美元中间价累计升值2.4%,即期汇率累计2.6%,离岸人民币兑美元汇率累计升值2%。

而上调外汇存款准备金率,主要是为了抑制近期过热的人民币增值,未来人民币汇率将实现双向波动,央行也将坚持浮动汇率制度的立场。

直接利用上调外汇存款准备金,说明央行对外汇波动调整呈现多样化,同时对外汇市场自身交易行为影响相对较小。

总之,央行是为了收紧国内美元流动性,减少美元供给,从而达到缓解人民币升值的压力,打破汇率单边升值的预期,让人民币保持在一个相对稳定的水平。


Source : 163.com


Source : Bloomberg

Why China’s Mysterious Stealth H-20 Bomber Could Be a Real Threat

Mark Episkopos wrote . . . . . . . . .

The latest edition of Modern Weaponry — a magazine published by Chinese state-owned defense giant Norinco—contains four computer-generated images of the upcoming Xian H-20 (轰-20) bomber. The pictures confirm the bomber’s internal weapons bay, flying wing design, and dark grey radar-absorbent coating, according to the South China Morning Post. These are the first renderings of the H-20 bomber to be published by a semi-official source. Although the images don’t tell anyone anything that they didn’t already suspect based on prior leaks and a brief promotional clip, they do confirm some of the core concepts informing the H-20 bomber’s design.

As with its U.S. B-21 Raider and Russian PAK-DA counterparts, China’s next-generation bomber will prioritize stealth performance and deep penetration capabilities over raw speed and maneuverability. The latest details reaffirm that the H-20 bomber is not being developed as a technical successor to China’s workhorse Xian H-6, itself a license-built variant of the Soviet Tu-16 heavy bomber. Rather, the H-20 bomber is set to drastically expand China’s threat projection capabilities against its U.S. adversary. The new bomber “will be able to strike targets a long distance away, perhaps in the second island chain and beyond,” military expert Jon Grevatt explained to the South China Morning Post. “That means it would threaten U.S. assets and interests in the Asia-Pacific. If the aircraft becomes operational, it has the potential to be a game-changer,” he added.

The second island chain commonly refers to the space between Japan and Micronesia. In Chinese military doctrine, the waters and territories off China’s east coast are divided into three interlinked regions, or “chains”—Beijing’s island chain concept is adapted from U.S. Cold War-era strategic thinking. The H-20 can threaten U.S. assets operating in the second chain, notably including the American military bases in Guam, in ways that China’s People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) previously could not. Even more alarmingly for Washington, the H-20 bomber would place Beijing within striking distance of the third island chain that starts roughly at the Aleutian Islands and extends beyond Hawaii.

The H-20 bomber’s specifications remain under wraps, though current industry insider speculation points to a payload of around twenty to forty-five tons and an operational range of 8,500 to 12,500 kilometers. The bomber is all but guaranteed to fly at subsonic speeds and is widely believed to carry as many as four next-generation hypersonic cruise missiles, but the full extent of its arsenal remains unclear. Earlier estimates speculated that the H-20 bomber may be powered by the Russian NK-321 engine, but more recent reporting points to an upgraded variant of China’s domestically produced WS-10 engine as a likelier possibility.

In keeping with the PLAAF’s focus on investing in next-generation toolkits, the H-20 bomber will likely boast extensive electronic countermeasures features and information processing capabilities similar to the F-35 fighter jet’s sensor fusion.


Source : National Interest

Study: COVID-19 Has No Credible Natural Ancestor

An explosive new study claims that Chinese scientists created COVID-19 in a Wuhan lab, then tried to cover their tracks by reverse-engineering versions of the virus to make it look like it evolved naturally from bats.

The paper’s authors, British Professor Angus Dalgleish and Norwegian scientist Dr. Birger Sørensen, wrote that they have had ‘prima facie evidence of retro-engineering in China’ for a year – but were ignored by academics and major journals.
Dalgleish is a professor of oncology at St George’s University, London, and is best known for his breakthrough creating the first working ‘HIV vaccine’, to treat diagnosed patients and allow them to go off medication for months.

Sørensen, a virologist, is chair of pharmaceutical company, Immunor, which developed a coronavirus vaccine candidate called Biovacc-19. Dalgleish also has share options in the firm.

The shocking allegations in the study include accusations of ‘deliberate destruction, concealment or contamination of data’ at Chinese labs, and it notes the silencing and disappearance of scientists in the communist country who spoke out.

The journal article, exclusively obtained by DailyMail.com and slated for publication in the coming days, is set to make waves among the scientific community, as the majority of experts have until recently staunchly denied the origins of COVID-19 were anything other than a natural infection leaping from animals to humans.

The paper’s authors, Norwegian scientist Dr. Birger Sørensen (left) and British Professor Angus Dalgleish (right) said initial attempts to publish their findings had been rejected by major scientific journals

While China has tried to insist the virus originated elsewhere, academics, politicians and the media have begun to contemplate the possibility it escaped from the WIV – raising suspicions that Chinese officials simply hid evidence of the early spread

While analyzing COVID-19 samples last year in an attempt to create a vaccine, Dalgleish and Sørensen discovered ‘unique fingerprints’ in the virus that they say could only have arisen from manipulation in a laboratory.

They said they tried to publish their findings but were rejected by major scientific journals which were at the time resolute that the virus jumped naturally from bats or other animals to humans.

Even when former MI6 chief Sir Richard Dearlove spoke out publicly saying the scientists’ theory should be investigated, the idea was dismissed as ‘fake news.’

Over a year later, leading academics, politicians and the media finally flipped, and have begun to contemplate the possibility that COVID-19 escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China – a lab where experiments included manipulating viruses to increase their infectiousness in order to study their potential effects on humans.

This week, President Joe Biden ordered the intelligence community to re-examine how the virus originated, including the lab accident theory.

The announcement followed the revelation that a previously undisclosed intelligence report had been made to the White House, claiming that several researchers at the Wuhan institute were hospitalized with illness in November 2019. The document was uncovered this week by the Wall Street Journal.

US health officials have also come under fire for allegedly funding researchers’ controversial and risky experiments at the Wuhan lab.

A ‘GenBank’ table included in the paper lists various coronavirus strains, with the dates they were collected and then when they were submitted to the gene bank, showing a delay of several years for some +13
A ‘GenBank’ table included in the paper lists various coronavirus strains, with the dates they were collected and then when they were submitted to the gene bank, showing a delay of several years for some

One diagram of the coronavirus shows six ‘fingerprints’ identified by the two scientists, which they say show the virus must have been made in a lab

A second diagram showed how a row of four amino acids found on the SARS-Cov-2 spike have a positive charge that clings to human cells like a magnet, making the virus extremely infectious

Now, Dalgleish and Sørensen have authored a new study, which concludes that ‘SARS-Coronavirus-2 has no credible natural ancestor’ and that it is ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ that the virus was created through ‘laboratory manipulation’.

In the 22-page paper which is set to be published in the scientific journal Quarterly Review of Biophysics Discovery, the scientists describe their months-long ‘forensic analysis’, looking back at experiments done at the Wuhan lab between 2002 and 2019.

Digging through archives of journals and databases, Dalgleish and Sørensen pieced together how Chinese scientists, some working in concert with American universities, allegedly built the tools to create the coronavirus.

Much of the work was centered around controversial ‘Gain of Function’ research – temporarily outlawed in the US under the Obama administration.

Gain of Function involves tweaking naturally occurring viruses to make them more infectious, so that they can replicate in human cells in a lab, allowing the virus’s potential effect on humans to be studied and better understood.

Dalgleish and Sørensen claim that scientists working on Gain of Function projects took a natural coronavirus ‘backbone’ found in Chinese cave bats and spliced onto it a new ‘spike’, turning it into the deadly and highly transmissible SARS-Cov-2.

One tell-tale sign of alleged manipulation the two men highlighted was a row of four amino acids they found on the SARS-Cov-2 spike.

In an exclusive interview with DailyMail.com, Sørensen said the amino acids all have a positive charge, which cause the virus to tightly cling to the negatively charged parts of human cells like a magnet, and so become more infectious.

But because, like magnets, the positively charged amino acids repel each other, it is rare to find even three in a row in naturally occurring organisms, while four in a row is ‘extremely unlikely,’ the scientist said.

‘The laws of physics mean that you cannot have four positively charged amino acids in a row. The only way you can get this is if you artificially manufacture it,’ Dalgleish told DailyMail.com.

Their new paper says these features of SARS-Cov-2 are ‘unique fingerprints’ which are ‘indicative of purposive manipulation’, and that ‘the likelihood of it being the result of natural processes is very small.’

‘A natural virus pandemic would be expected to mutate gradually and become more infectious but less pathogenic which is what many expected with the COVID-19 pandemic but which does not appear to have happened,’ the scientists wrote.

‘The implication of our historical reconstruction, we posit now beyond reasonable doubt, of the purposively manipulated chimeric virus SARS-CoV-2 makes it imperative to reconsider what types of Gain of Function experiments it is morally acceptable to undertake.

‘Because of wide social impact, these decisions cannot be left to research scientists alone.’

During a Senate hearing on Wednesday, White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci admitted he was not certain US funding for researchers at the Wuhan lab was not spent on controversial and risky Gain of Function experiments.

‘How do you know they didn’t lie to you and use the money for gain of function research anyway?’ Louisiana Senator John Kennedy asked Fauci.

‘You never know,’ he replied, but added that scientists at the lab are ‘trustworthy’.

National Institutes of Health director Dr. Francis Collins told the hearing that US-funded scientists at the lab ‘were not approved by NIH for doing gain of function research.’

In another striking claim contained in the research paper, Dalgleish and Sørensen say they have evidence that after the pandemic began, Chinese scientists took samples of the COVID-19 virus and ‘retro-engineered’ it, making it appear as if it had evolved naturally.

They said they were suspicious of a raft of new strains suddenly entered into gene databases by predominantly Chinese scientists early in 2020, years after they were recorded as being collected.

‘We think that there have been retro-engineered viruses created,’ Dalgleish told DailyMail.com. ‘They’ve changed the virus, then tried to make out it was in a sequence years ago.’

In their paper, Dalgleish and Sørensen also pointed to ‘deliberate destruction, concealment or contamination of data’ in Chinese labs and noted that ‘Chinese scientists who wished to share their knowledge have not been able to do so or have disappeared.’

‘It appears that preserved virus material and related information have been destroyed. Therefore we are confronted with large gaps in data which may never be filled,’ they wrote.

‘Strains ‘popped up’ after January 2020 are not credible… For a year we have possessed prima facie evidence of retro-engineering in China in early 2020.’

In January last year DailyMail.com revealed that scientists had been warning about the risk of deadly pathogens escaping from the Wuhan lab since it was opened in 2017.

China installed the first of a planned five to seven biolabs designed for maximum safety in Wuhan in 2017, for the purpose of studying the most high-risk pathogens, including the Ebola and the SARS viruses.

Tim Trevan, a Maryland biosafety consultant, told the science journal Nature that year, when the lab was on the cusp of opening, that he worried that China’s culture could make the institute unsafe because ‘structures where everyone feels free to speak up and openness of information are important.’

In fact, the SARS virus had ‘escaped’ multiple times from a lab in Beijing, according to the Nature article.

US State Department officials visited the Wuhan institute in 2018 and sent two official warnings back to DC alerting the government to poor safety there, according to the Washington Post.

Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory, housed at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, was China’s first lab to be rated biosafety level 4, the most secure classification.

But Sørensen said that he believes the virus escaped from lower security areas of the institute, where he believes Gain of Function research was performed.

‘We have seen lab leaks and we know it’s happening. We also know from the reports we’ve seen, that coronavirus is worked on in Biosafety Level 2 or 3 labs. If they do Gain of Function in such labs, what do you expect?’ he said.

In February 2020 a molecular biomechanics researcher at South China University of Technology, Botao Xiao, published a paper claiming ‘the killer coronavirus probably originated from a laboratory in Wuhan,’ highlighting safety issues at the institute.


Source : Daily Mail

Space Plane Startup Promises One-Hour Rides to Anywhere on Earth

Lizette Chapman wrote . . . . . . . . .

Traveling in a space plane is a lot like traveling in a regular plane, except for the middle part. After reaching cruising altitude, the pilot hits the rocket boosters and blasts the aircraft to the edge of space at more than 9,000 mph, or about 12 times the speed of sound. The plane travels at that speed for about 15 minutes, then glides against the atmosphere to slow itself down, cruising back to Earth to land at a conventional airport.

Venus Aerospace Corp., a startup pursuing a hypersonic space plane, is aiming to use this technique to ferry people from Los Angeles to Tokyo in about an hour. The company was started by two former Virgin Orbit LLC employees: Sarah “Sassie” Duggleby, a code-writing launch engineer, and her husband, Andrew, who managed launch, payload, and propulsion operations. They became fascinated by hypersonic travel after missing Sassie’s grandmother’s 95th birthday party because the flights were too long from Japan, where they were living at the time. So they left Virgin last June to build their own space plane.

Venus now has 15 employees, most veterans of the space industry, and has received investment from venture capital firms including Prime Movers and Draper Associates. “Every few decades humans attempt this,” says Andrew Duggleby, in a tacit acknowledgment of the idea’s repeated failure. “This time it will work.”

The Dugglebys say their space plane will differ from past efforts because it has a more efficient engine, allowing it to handle the extra weight that comes with having the wings, landing gear, and jet engines that enable takeoffs and landings similar to a passenger airplane. Jack “2fish” Fischer, a former NASA astronaut who’s reviewed Venus’s plans, says the initial blast of acceleration “throws you back in your seat” but soon disappears because “you get going so fast that you don’t even feel it anymore.”

Still, flights aren’t imminent. The shape of the aircraft is a work in progress, and the company will begin testing three scale models this summer. The Dugglebys, who’ve secured a small research grant from the U.S. Air Force and are pursuing additional funding from the Department of Defense, expect the project to take a decade or more.

Once the technology is worked out, Venus will still have to figure out the business, which consists of finding passengers willing to pay a premium to get halfway around the globe quicker. “This is for regular people,” Sassie Duggleby says. But past attempts at superfast flight, such as the Concorde, which traveled at twice the speed of conventional aircraft, and Aerion Supersonic, which promised travel between any two spots on Earth in three hours, didn’t last. Jesse Klempner, a partner at McKinsey & Co.’s aerospace and defense practice, says there’s a limit to people’s impatience: “It hasn’t been proven that the vast majority of humanity will pay a lot for an hour of time.”


Source : Venus Aero

Video: Catalytic Converter Stolen? Here’s Why.

Catalytic converter theft is on the rise, and that’s partly because of their chemistry.

Watch video at You Tube (5:40 minutes) . . . .

Humour: News in Cartoons

9 Ways to Maximize Progress When Recovering from a Stroke

For years, neurologists believed that survivors of stroke had a six-month window to recover. After that, they would be stuck with whatever physical and cognitive limitations they had. That view has changed dramatically. “Because of neuroplasticity—the ability of the brain to form new neural pathways after other pathways have been disrupted—patients can keep regaining function,” says Amy Towfighi, MD, associate professor of neurology at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine.

While patients may not regain all abilities they had before the stroke, they can recover. “The single most important predictor of recovery is the severity of the initial stroke,” says Larry B. Goldstein, MD, FAAN, chair of the neurology department at the University of Kentucky. Time is also crucial: “Clot-busting drugs such as tPA and clot-retrieval procedures can dramatically improve stroke-related deficits, but they need to be used as soon as possible after the onset of symptoms,” Dr. Goldstein emphasizes.

Most stroke survivors experience the most rapid recovery during the first few weeks and plateau after about three months, but “individuals can recover over much longer periods, even if rehabilitation is delayed,” says Dr. Goldstein.

Stroke rehabilitation is “the next frontier in the field,” says Ralph L. Sacco, MD, FAAN, chair of neurology at the Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami. “We’ve made amazing progress with acute stroke treatment, so much so that the amount of disability is less, and recovery is better,” he says. “And there is clear evidence that physical rehabilitation and speech and cognitive therapy do make a difference.”

Here’s what specialists recommend to maximize progress after a stroke.

Start rehab immediately.

A 2017 study in the journal Stroke found that patients who started intensive rehabilitation three days after being admitted to the hospital had the best outcomes. “The frequency and intensity can maximize the benefit,” says Dr. Goldstein. “Patients can rewire networks and trails in the brain with the right kind of rehabilitation and practice,” says A.M. Barrett, MD, FAAN, executive director of the Center for Visual and Neurocognitive Rehabilitation at the Atlanta VA Healthcare System.

Keep up with physical therapy.

“In an ideal world, patients would be able to continue with physical, occupational, and speech therapy so they could reach their full potential,” says Dr. Towfighi. “The key to recovery is practicing tasks over and over.” Insurance typically pays for only a limited number of sessions, but doing physical therapy exercises on your own, several times throughout the day, can make a significant difference.

Try telehealth.

“Telemedicine works well to guide therapy during the pandemic,” Dr. Goldstein says. A 2018 study in the Journal of Medical Internet Research found no differences in quality of life and improvement between stroke patients who did rehabilitation through video calls and those who did them in person. “The American Stroke Association can help patients and their families navigate the insurance system and craft a plan that is at least partially covered by insurance, whether outpatient or community-based,” says Dr. Barrett.

Incorporate other types of therapy.

Experts also recommend gait and balance training to avoid falls, as well as speech and occupational therapy. “Improvement in speech tends to take longer, but I’ve seen progress years after the initial stroke,” says Dr. Sacco.

Treat depression.

A major roadblock to adjusting to life after stroke is depression. A study in JAMA Psychiatry found that depression in stroke patients was three times as high as in the general population. Brain changes brought on by stroke can contribute to depression, as can going from being completely independent to relying on others. “It’s important for people to get support, whether they see a therapist or focus on things they want to strive for in the future,” Dr. Barrett says. Some studies suggest that treating all stroke patients—not just those known to be depressed—with antidepressants may improve functional movement and even paralysis, along with their quality of life. “Whether or not every stroke patient should be given antidepressants, it’s clear that those who do have depression will benefit from medication,” says Dr. Barrett.

Take the tougher path.

The tendency to avoid doing things that are difficult is counterproductive after a stroke. For example, a patient with limited mobility in one hand who uses only the stronger hand will never strengthen the weaker hand. A rehabilitation technique known as constraint-induced movement therapy is designed to isolate the weaker limb. Patients put their strong limb in a splint and intensively use the weaker limb for many hours a day for several weeks. “It’s hard work,” Dr. Barrett says, “but we’ve seen people progress 20 years after a stroke.”

Embrace technology.

“There are a variety of novel approaches that can supplement stroke rehabilitation therapy,” says Dr. Goldstein. One option is robotic therapy, which allows for remote rehabilitative treatments—for instance, harnesses and braces that use artificial intelligence to correct gait, which have been helpful during the pandemic and for patients who can’t travel.

Reframe expectations.

Although life may change after a stroke, patients can continue with favorite activities but do them in a new way. “It means finding the right therapy, the right equipment, and the right kind of support,” says Dr. Barrett.

Set objectives.

Establish small and realistic short-term goals, says Dr. Towfighi, co-author of What You Must Know About Strokes. “When we work with patients, we ask them, ‘What has meaning for you? What would give you a sense of accomplishment?’ Motivation can help drive the recovery.”


Source: Brain and Life

Scientists Find New Way of Predicting COVID-19 Vaccine Efficacy

The early immune response in a person who has been vaccinated for COVID-19 can predict the level of protection they will have to the virus over time, according to analysis from Australian mathematicians, clinicians, and scientists, and published today in Nature Medicine.

The researchers from UNSW’s Kirby Institute, the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, and the University of Sydney have identified an ‘immune correlate’ of vaccine protection. This has the potential to dramatically cut development times for new vaccines, by measuring neutralising antibody levels as a ‘proxy’ for immune protection from COVID-19.

“Neutralising antibodies are tiny Y-shaped proteins produced by our body in response to infection or vaccination. They bind to the virus, reducing its ability to infect,” says Dr Deborah Cromer from the Kirby Institute.

“While we have known for some time that neutralising antibodies are likely to be a critical part of our immune response to COVID-19, we haven’t known how much antibody you need for immunity. Our work is the strongest evidence to date to show that specific antibody levels translate to high levels of protection from disease.”

The researchers analysed data from seven COVID-19 vaccines to examine the how the response measured soon after vaccination correlated with protection. They then used statistical analysis to define the specific relationship between immune response and protection. Their analysis was remarkably accurate and was able to predict the efficacy of a new vaccine.

Dr Cromer said that this finding has the potential to change the way we conduct COVID-19 vaccine trials in the future.

“Antibody immune levels are much easier to measure than directly measuring vaccine efficacy over time. So, by measuring antibody levels across the range of new vaccine candidates during early phases of clinical trials, we can better determine whether a vaccine should be used to prevent COVID-19.”

Vaccine boosters likely to be required within a year

Another crucial application of this analysis is its ability to predict immunity over time. The researchers predict that immunity to COVID-19 from vaccination will wane significantly within a year, with the level of neutralising antibodies in the blood dropping over the first few months following infection or vaccination.

“Vaccination works very well to prevent both symptoms and severe disease in the short to medium term, but efficacy is predicted to decline over the first few months for most of these vaccines,” says Dr David Khoury, also from the Kirby Institute.

“However, it is very important to understand the difference between immunity against infection and protection from developing severe disease. Our study found that a 6-fold lower level of antibodies is required to protect against severe disease. So even though our analysis predicts that we will start losing immunity to mild infection in the first year after vaccination, protection from severe infection should be longer lived,” says Dr Khoury.

“But ultimately, for optimal protection against moderate disease and transmission of COVID-19, these findings suggest we may be looking at annual vaccine boosters, just like what we have with the flu vaccine.”

Applying the model in the real word

A major global challenge is the evolution of the virus and the emergence of new variants. There is a growing concern, based on laboratory studies, that antibodies developed against the dominant strains are less effective at neutralising these new variants.

“An added advantage of our work is that allows us to predict how protective an immune response will be against different variants,” says Professor Jamie Triccas from the University of Sydney’s Marie Bashir Institute and Faculty of Medicine and Health.

“This analysis shows a very good correlation between the immune response – which is very easy to test for – and the efficacy of a vaccine in preventing infection, which is incredibly hard to test for. This means we can predict how protective an immune response will be against different variants, without having to determine efficacy against each variant in large and costly clinical trials.

“This work can facilitate decision making by providing the necessary data much earlier on in the vaccine development pipeline and in a far more efficient way.”

A limitation of this study is that it analyses the relationship between early immune responses to infection and vaccination and protection from infection (the data that is currently available), and uses this relationship to project how immunity will change in the future and in the response to different viral variants. Future studies should aim to confirm these predictions as data becomes available.


Source: Kirby Institute

In Pictures: 1964 Maserati Sebring Series 1

Source : Bring A Trailer