My Saturday News Dump

Sorry to say there will be no news dump today…..(psyche)….April’s Fool!

Let’s all get excited that the weekend begins and I can smother that desire once and for all with news that does nothing to expand the human condition.

The big news is that on Thursday Pres. Trump has been indicted on ?….it has not been announced.

On the home front….we have been getting our garden ready with peppers, zucchini, radish, lettuces, cucumbers and okra…..along with our herbs.

Now you decide which of those two was more important.

I live on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and our major industry, before casinos, was seafood both shrimp, crab and oysters…..the huge oil spill killed the shrimping and now the oyster industry has died.

Mississippi has a rich history in the oyster industry, but that industry appears to be on the brink of collapse. A story in ProPublica details the steep decline over the last two decades or so, pointing out that the number of companies licensed to process oysters in the state has dropped from 13 in 2004 to three in 2022. And it’s not because of consolidation—the reason is far more basic. “If you don’t have oysters, you can’t sell them” is how Jennifer Jenkins, manager of Crystal Seas Seafood, puts it. The number of oysters in the Mississippi Sound has plunged thanks to a slew of factors, starting with the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, followed by a huge BP oil spill five years later. Another major factor that may not be as obvious also is at play: federal protocols to prevent flooding.

For example, the Army Corps of Engineers opened the Bonnet Carre Spillway in 2011 for more than 40 days to ease Mississippi River flooding. The huge volume of freshwater released into the Sound reduced its salinity and killed an estimated 85% of its oysters. The state, meanwhile, has spent millions attempting to rebuild oyster reefs, unsuccessfully. One $10 million project involved spraying a limestone mixture at 12 sites in 2013, but up to 90% of the mixture sank uselessly into the mud. A 2021 follow-up study found zero adult oysters at the dozen sites. The story by Anita Lee details all of the above and suggests part of the solution might be opening up more of the Sound to private leaseholders—oyster fishermen—to let them manage it instead of slow-moving government entities. Generally speaking, that has worked in neighboring Louisiana. Read the full story.

Covid is basically under control ….but we are not out of the woods…..

More than six years ago, news of a newly discovered drug-resistant “killer fungus” started making the rounds in the US, and scientists hoped to “contain and stop the spread” of it. Now, a concerning development, as the CDC notes that the possibly fatal fungus has been charging through health care facilities around the country, reports NBC News. A new CDC study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine on the fungus—a yeast called Candida auris that especially affects older people and those with weakened immune systems—found that not only is the number of people with an infection from the fungus spiking at an “alarming rate,” but the number of those carrying C. auris is also rising. The New York Times has the numbers: In 2019, state and local health departments reported about 500 cases of the fungal infection.

By 2021, that had reached nearly 1,500—a 200% increase. Although the study itself didn’t include 2022’s numbers, a CDC website noted that last year saw 2,377 cases. C. auris is now found in more than half of the nation’s states, with Nevada, Florida, California, Texas, Illinois, and New York seeing the highest concentrations, per the CDC site. The fatality rate of C. auris patients is also concerning: The CDC says about half of those who become infected die, though researchers acknowledge they aren’t able to point to the fungus itself as the main cause of death, as those who die often have other medical issues. Then there’s the fact that the fungus is highly resistant to various drug classes, including echinocandins. Per the Times, health officials say “if resistance to echinocandins becomes more common as the germ evolves, C. auris could become extremely difficult, if not impossible, to treat.”

Scientists believe that the fungal infection may have worsened during the pandemic due to attention and resources being directed toward COVID, and because medical professionals’ personal protective gear, which C. auris clings to, was changed out less often due to shortages. None of this means that fighting the fungus is a lost cause, as there has been progress on stopping the spread in New York and Illinois. And Dr. Waleed Javaid, an epidemiologist at Mount Sinai, says that patients who contract the infection are typically “extremely ill individuals” with other issues. “We don’t want people who watched The Last of Us to think we’re all going to die,” he tells NBC.

Then there is the space thing.

Personally I cannot see how space is any one person’s or corporation’s to exploit…..since we all share the space it should be for the benefit of the population of this planet…..but that is just me….

Humans boldly going into space should echo the guiding principle of Captain Kirk’s Star Trek crew by resisting the urge to interfere, researchers have said, stressing a need to end a colonial approach to exploration.

Nasa has made no secret of its desire to mine the moon for metals, with China also keen to extract lunar resources – a situation that has been called a new space race.

But Dr Pamela Conrad of the Carnegie Institution of Science said the focus should shift away from seeking to exploit discoveries.

Speaking ahead of a panel event on Saturday on the ethics of space exploration at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting in Washington DC, she said: “If we were willing to seize that as not just a possibility, but an imperative then oddly enough, the Star Trek series and culture becomes a prime directive for how we could explore space: seeking not to interfere.”

Here is something for you foodies out there….

When a single meatball gets its own museum exhibit, you know it’s something special. In this case, it’s a mammoth meatball—or rather “an approximation of mammoth meat,” as CNN reports. The sample wasn’t taken from woolly mammoth remains discovered in Arctic permafrost. Instead, the muscle protein was grown in a lab. Scientists used a genome database to identify the DNA sequence for mammoth myoglobin—a protein that gives meat its texture, color, and taste—and after filling in gaps in the sequence with information from the genome of an elephant, “inserted the synthesized gene into a sheep muscle cell, which was then cultured, or grown, in a lab,” per CNN.

It was the work of Vow, an Australian cultivated meat company that hopes “to transition a few billion meat eaters away from eating [conventional] animal protein to eating things that can be produced in electrified systems” as a way to combat climate change and environmental destruction and ideally eliminate animal slaughter, CEO George Peppou tells the Guardian. The company has explored the potential of dozens of existing species and hopes to have its version of Japanese quail available on menus in Singapore this year. But first, it decided to embark on what CNN calls “a wonderfully wacky publicity stunt.”

The result is 400 grams of mammoth meat—or “lab-made lamb mingled with a tiny amount of mammoth DNA,” per CNN. There’s just one mammoth gene out of 25,000 sheep genes, as project leader Ernst Wolvetang of the University of Queensland tells the outlet. So what does it taste like? No one knows. Though cultured meat is supposed to replicate the taste of conventional meat, “we were hesitant to immediately try and taste because we’re talking about a protein that hasn’t existed for 5,000 years,” James Ryall, Vow’s chief scientific officer, tells CNN. “I’ve got no idea what the potential allergenicity might be” so it’s “not going to go up for sale.” Instead, it was being unveiled Tuesday at Amsterdam’s NEMO Science Museum, where creators hope to peak diners’ interest.

Now you are all caught up….go out and enjoy your weekend with the knowledge that I am watching and reading.

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”


2 thoughts on “My Saturday News Dump

  1. I might give Mammoth Meat’ a miss, just in case of some ancient allergy.
    Thanks for reminding me about the killer fungus, that had completely dropped off the news here. The last time I read about it on a British newspaper website, it only mentioned North America, claiming we had no cases in the UK.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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