Daily Archives: April 18, 2020

The bodies of COVID-19 victims may be contagious, coroner’s case reveals – Livescience.com

Posted: April 18, 2020 at 7:14 pm

Even after death, COVID-19 could be contagious, a new report finds.

A forensic practitioner working in Bangkok, Thailand, most likely caught the virus from a deceased patient, according to the report, which was posted online April 11 as a preprint for the Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine.

The forensic practitioner later died of the virus, marking the first case on record of a "COVID-19 infection and death among medical personnel in a forensic medicine unit," the researchers wrote in the report.

Related: Latest COVID-19 news and US case counts

At the time the report was written on March 19, just 272 people in Thailand including the forensic practitioner and a nurse assistant had tested positive for the new coronavirus. Most of these cases were imported, meaning they weren't from community spread, the researchers wrote. So, it's unlikely that the forensic practitioner caught the new coronavirus outside of work or even from a patient at the hospital, the researchers wrote.

"There is [a] low chance of forensic medicine professionals coming into contact with infected patients, but they can have contact with biological samples and corpses," the researchers wrote in the report.

It's not surprising that the body of a recently deceased COVID-19 patient might be contagious, said Dr. Otto Yang, a professor in the Department of Medicine and the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

"Absolutely, a dead body would be contagious at least for hours if not days," Yang told Live Science in an email. "The virus will still be in respiratory secretions, and potentially still reproducing in cells that haven't yet died in the lungs."

COVID-19's longevity in the body can be problematic for people in the funerary industry. For instance, following reports that temples in Thailand were refusing to perform funeral services of COVID-19 victims, the head of Thailand's Department of Medical Services incorrectly announced on March 25 that the disease was not contagious in bodies after death, according to Buzzfeed News.

It's unclear, however, just how long the virus remains infectious in a dead body.

In light of this finding, forensic scientists should take a number of precautions while examining the remains of COVID-19 patients, the researchers said. For instance, forensic professionals should wear protective gear, including a protective suit, gloves, goggles, a cap and a mask, they wrote.

"The disinfection procedure used in operation rooms might be applied in pathology/forensic units too," they added.

Usually, pathogens that kill people don't survive long enough to spread to others after the person's death, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). "Human remains only pose a substantial risk to health in a few special cases, such as deaths from cholera or haemorrhagic fevers," such as Ebola, the WHO said.

Other illnesses that are contagious in human remains include tuberculosis, bloodborne viruses (such as hepatitis B and C and HIV) and gastrointestinal infections (including E. coli, hepatitis A, Salmonella infection and typhoid fever), according to the WHO.

Originally published on Live Science.

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Scientists spotted what might be the biggest hole ever recorded in the Arctic’s ozone layer – KDRV

Posted: at 7:14 pm

The Arctic's ozone layer developed a tear, which grew into a hole, and then a bigger hole. Now, it may be biggest hole the North Pole's ozone layer has ever incurred.

This hole in the Arctic ozone layer reached an area of over 620,000 square miles since it was first spotted in February, said Diego Loyola, a scientist at the German Aerospace Center, in a statement to the European Space Agency.

Ozone levels in the area have dropped steeply since then.

That's unusual for a few reasons. While holes in the ozone layer are reported every year in the Antarctic, where temperatures are much colder, no sizable holes in the ozone layer have been recorded in the Arctic since 2011.

Even researchers with the Copernicus Program, the European Union's Earth observation program, who first caught the hole say they aren't sure why it's so large.

"The ozone has been, in this layer, almost completely depleted," said Vincent-Henri Peuch, director of the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service.

Life on Earth relies on the ozone layer, which sits in the stratosphere between 9 and 22 miles above the Earth, to protect us from ultraviolet radiation, which is known to cause skin cancer and suppress the immune system. But human-made chemicals have been poking holes in it for years -- there's been a hole in the Antarctic ozone layer every year since 1985, when the first one was reported by the British Antarctic Survey.

There are a few conditions necessary to tear a hole in the ozone layer. Among them are chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), manufactured chemicals that have been phased out of consumer products after they were banned in 1996, and halons, formerly found in fire extinguishers, which accumulate in the atmosphere after they're emitted during human activity.

These chemicals can remain in the atmosphere between 50 and 100 years. Because of their longevity, the ozone layer isn't expected to fully heal until the end of the 21st century, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

When the Antarctic is cloaked in below-freezing darkness, polar vortexes can form -- those are swirls of stratospheric clouds that facilitate the reactions between CFCs and the ozone layer (holes typically form when the weather is -108.4 degrees Fahrenheit).

When conditions are right, and the first sunlight after winter arrives, the ozone breaks the CFC bond to release a chlorine atom, which can poke a hole in the ozone layer, according to NASA Ozone Watch.

It's much rarer for ozone holes to form in the Arctic, where the mountainous terrain at high altitudes makes it difficult for polar vortexes to form and sustain their power, Peuch said.

But the existence of this record-breaking hole means that conditions must have been right in the Arctic. Peuch said it's still not clear why this hole formed, though.

The level of ozone fell steeply in the affected area throughout February and March, Peuch said.

As a result, the UV radiation that has made it to the Earth's surface is slightly higher than usual. But because the hole occurred in the winter into early spring, the UV index reached a high of 5, which is unusually high for this region but fairly normal for much of the United States, which hovers around an index of 5 or 6, according to the EPA's monthly UV averages.

This hole doesn't pose a huge deal for humans, though, Peuch said. Because the UV radiation is mostly affecting northern Greenland, which he said is sparsely populated, and the exposure won't last long, the effects of this ozone hole are minor.

One area that is of concern, he said, is how this could affect ecosystems in the area.

"That I cannot tell, but for human health, it's fairly moderate," he said.

And the hole isn't permanent, either: Peuch said he expects it to begin to close as soon as next week.

Scientists spotted what might be the biggest hole ever recorded in the Arctic's ozone layer - KDRV

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Around the World: Stories from Frontline Nurses in the Philippines, Daniel Dae Kim on Making Hollywood More Diverse, and More – Asia Society

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We're bringing Asia Society directly to you! Learn, have fun, and explore as we continue to present and produce videos, family activities, interactive webcasts, and more.

Each week, we'll share a variety of videos, articles, webcasts, and more from around the web all curated by Asia Society Texas Center staff to reflect the broad interests and goals of our mission. On Mondays, explore Business and Policy topics through a selection of videos, podcasts, and articles.

ASIA SOCIETY POLICY INSTITUTE, April 21, 2020 The Indian government has taken some of the most drastic measures in the world to combat the spread of COVID-19 within the country. The government closed down India's borders, evacuated its citizens from epicenters around the world, and implemented a three-week national lockdown the largest lockdown in the world. To discuss the government's coronavirus response and the challenges ahead, the Asia Society Policy Institute is honored to host a discussion with India's Ambassador to the United States, Taranjit Singh Sadndhu.

Learn more about this webcast

ASIA 21, April 4, 2020 Asia 21 Young LeaderXyza Cruz Bacanireports on the unsafe working conditions for frontline nurses spearheading the Philippines' fight against COVID-19.

Read the article

January 16, 2020 Hollywood has been going through a transformation fueled by social media movements, streaming services, and an increasingly diverse audience. ProducerJanet Yangand actor and producerDaniel Dae Kimare among the fiercest activists within Hollywood, known for pushing boundaries and holding their own directors and employers to account. Kim and Yang discuss their work promoting fresh storytelling with diversity at its center not only for Asians and Asian Americans, but for women, people with disabilities, and many others.

Learn about this podcast

HONG KONG, December 12, 2018 During this luncheon dialogue,Laura Kubzansky, Lee Kum Kee professor of social and behavioral sciences;K. "Vish" Viswanath, Lee Kum Kee professor of health communication; andRonnie C. Chan, chairman of Hang Lung Group Ltd. explored the psychological factors and social conditions that help people maintain good health.

Learn more about this program

Business and Policy programs are endowed by Huffington Foundation. We give special thanks to Bank of America, Muffet Blake, Anne and Albert Chao, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Nancy Pollok Guinee, United Airlines, and Wells Fargo,Presenting Sponsors of Business and Policy programs; Nancy C. Allen, Chinhui Juhn and Eddie Allen, and Leslie and Brad Bucher, Presenting Sponsors of Exhibitions; Dr. Ellen R. Gritz and Milton D. Rosenau and Wells Fargo, Presenting Sponsors of Performing Arts and Culture; and Mitsubishi Corporation (Americas), Presenting Sponsor of the Japan Series. General support of programs and exhibitions is provided by The Brown Foundation, Inc., The Hearts Foundation, Inc., Houston Endowment, Inc., the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance, McKinsey & Company, Inc., National Endowment for the Arts, Texas Commission on the Arts, Vinson & Elkins LLP, and Mary Lawrence Porter, as well as Friends of Asia Society.

Though Asia Society is temporarily closed, we are dedicated to continuing our mission of building cross-cultural understanding and uplifting human connectivity. Using digital tools, we bring you content for all ages and conversations that matter, in order to spark curiosity about Asia and to foster empathy.

With 13locations throughout the world, Asia Society is the leading educational organization promoting mutual understanding and strengthening partnerships among the peoples, leaders, and institutions of Asia and West. Asia Society Texas Center executes the global mission with a local focus, enriching and engaging the vast diversity of Houston through innovative, relevant programs in arts and culture, business and policy, education, and community outreach.

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How Might Resveratrol and Red Wine’s Antiaging Properties Work? – Wine Spectator

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While numerous studies have teased at potential benefits of resveratrol, a polyphenolic compound found in red wine and many plants, scientists are still trying to understand its impact on the human body. In a recent study out of University College London, author Dr. Henry Bayele has found an interesting explanation for its potential as an antiaging substance. Dr. Bayeles team found that resveratrol can mimic the hormone estrogen in the human body to activate antiaging proteins called sirtuins, which may help prevent age-related health problems.

The study, published in Scientific Reports, explores dietary sirtuin-activating compounds (dSTACs), including resveratrol. Sirtuins have become a promising target for researchers interested in slowing the aging process. They are proteins produced by the body that appear to impact metabolism and protect against several conditions including obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases. Learning what spurs the body to produce sirtuins has been a common goal of longevity-focused scientists over the past two decades.

The interest in sirtuins started in 1999, when it was reported that the proteins activation can extend yeast lifespans by as much as 70 percent. The antiaging action of sirtuins appears to be conserved from yeast to mammals, stated a 2017 study published in Biogerontology. However, the complexity of their function increases with the complexity of the organism.

In the lab, Dr. Bayele and his team treated human liver cells in vitro with different types of compounds and found that resveratrol activated sirtuin signals through estrogen receptors by mimicking the hormone. Although estrogen is commonly defined as a female hormone, men and women both produce it, and it can help protect against the same things sirtuins prevent, such as heart disease.

Results also showed that resveratrol mimics estrogen in low doses, but becomes antiestrogenic in higher concentrations, consequently suppressing sirtuin signals. Excessive intake may in fact be counterproductive because, in high doses, the study found that resveratrol inhibited sirtuin activation of the estrogen receptors, Dr. Bayele told Wine Spectator. Therefore, the low doses of resveratrol found in a regular glass of red wine should be sufficient to activate the sirtuins. Simply put, for red wine or resveratrol to improve healthspan, less is more.

So whats a low dose? Dr. Bayele explains that a regular glass of table wine contains about 0.5 to 1 milligram of resveratrol. Of note, these concentrations are similar to those at which resveratrol behaves like estrogen to induce maximal sirtuin signaling through the estrogen receptors, he said.

Other dSTACs studied were better than resveratrol at activating sirtuins, such as isoliquiritigenin, which is found in licorice. According to Dr. Bayele, resveratrol has attracted the most attention due to its accessibility in red wine, combined with its demonstrable protection against metabolic, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases. It has been shown to increase lifespan in diverse organisms, he writes in the study.

While the research shows promise, the findings have yet to face human trials or long-term studies, and must be better understood before potential treatments can be developed. Dr. Bayele also warns that dSTACs are poorly soluble, and its difficult to determine how much are absorbed in the cell culture. His main takeaway is that wine lovers must also incorporate a healthy diet to improve healthy aging and prevent the onset of metabolic and age-related diseases.

In the case of resveratrol, Dr. Bayele says that when humans consume it, only small amounts are rapidly absorbed, while a large proportion gets metabolized in the small intestine, which complicates the validity of the data. In short, it is still unclear how resveratrol intake would affect sirtuin signaling in vivo, but Dr. Bayele is confident that these dietary compounds are hidden treasures.

While [resveratrols] role in aging/lifespan regulation remains controversial, Dr. Bayele writes, Its contribution to healthspan is not in doubt.

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It’s a little tough to truly feel free in a time of pestilence – The Japan Times

Posted: at 7:14 pm

No longer were there individual destinies; only a collective destiny, made of plague and emotions shared by all.

Many more people in Japan can identify that quote now than would have been the case two months ago. In 1947, when Albert Camus novel The Plague first appeared, it was interpreted allegorically. World War II had shattered the world. A plague seemed an all-too-fitting metaphor for mans bleak fate among the ruins.

Now, its no allegory. Shinchosha, the books Japanese publisher, told the Mainichi Shimbun in March of speeded-up print runs to meet demand that has risen nearly eightfold since February, when the COVID-19 virus was detected in Japan.

More than war, more than natural disaster, a plague reveals humanitys true nature, Kanazawa University political philosopher Masaki Nakamasa told the Asahi Shimbun in an interview published earlier this month. It symbolizes the unknown something to which we are eternally vulnerable.

Whats a plague? You cant see it, or touch it, or smell it, and suddenly its everywhere, having sprung from nowhere microbes killing us at will, languidly for now, in relatively small numbers, permitting us to hide if we have habitable hiding places, but who can say what ravaging virulence lies ahead?

Maybe itll peter out, leaving us shaken but resilient. Maybe not, and in a year, two years, life as we now know it will have altered out of recognition, in ways scarcely predictable. The unknown something is fearsome indeed.

Theres always an unknown something. On Sept. 11, 2001, it acquired a distinctively 21st-century cast, which in two short decades has taken us through a terrorist wave, technological revolution, economic recession, a longevity explosion, record-low birth rates, accelerated climate change, natural disasters, a nuclear meltdown, globalism, anti-globalism, populism, a rightwing authoritarian surge that puts democracy on the defensive and now plague.

The technological revolution turns reality virtual and intelligence artificial. It raises a stark question: Are we gaining control of our lives, or losing it? Before COVID-19, artificial intelligence was the reigning unknown something. It changes everything it touches, and it touches everything: how we live, how we work, whether well work, what well do instead of work if intelligent machines make us redundant, what it means to be human in a world ruled by (will it come to this?) superhumanly intelligent machines and so on. Endless questions, few answers. Does the future hold a place for me? Who can escape that question? Who can answer it?

An article in Shukan Shincho magazine earlier this month has nothing to do with artificial intelligence but much to do with technologys fearful tendency to abort its own promise.

Japan, the article says, is an agricultural chemical superpower. Data it cites from the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development show Japans use, exceeded only by South Koreas, soaring far above that of other developed countries. Insecticides known as neonicotinoids seemed especially effective when introduced in 1992. Between 2003 and 2014 their use, though under suspicion, regulation and outright ban elsewhere, doubled in Japan.

It was around 2003 that a phenomenon known as gakky hkai (classroom breakdown) began spreading. Elementary and junior high school kids in increasing numbers became restless, inattentive, defiant, violent. Teachers couldnt keep order. What was happening? Why this sudden corrosion of the most elementary discipline?

Might it have something to do with neonicotinoids? Researcher Junko Kimura-Kuroda thought it might. Her ongoing research doesnt prove a cause-and-effect relationship between increased use of the insecticides and a rise in developmental disorders among children, but the coincidence, she says, is at least suggestive. What are we eating, and whats it doing to us? The cost of abundance is high. How high? Nobody knows.

Civilization entails dependence on, and faith in, systems beyond our control. Advanced civilization entails extreme dependence. We dont grow our own food, we buy it. We dont die naturally when our bodies fail us, but under care decades later. Japan, aging faster and living longer than any society on Earth, present or past, is especially dependent on doctors, hospitals and pharmacists. What if the system breaks down? Shukan Post magazine this month imagines it happening. Its cracking already, it says, under the strain of COVID-19.

A 48-year-old man suffering from a slipped disc goes to his rehabilitation clinic for his biweekly appointment. He finds the clinic closed. A notice on the door explains: no masks, no disinfectant; hopefully, but not certainly, itll reopen within a month. If not, the patient is in trouble. Rehab aside, the prescription medication that accompanies it keeps the pain tolerable and permits him to walk. Without it, hes in a sorry state.

Let that one instance stand for many for all of us, in fact, medically dependent and, for now, not, since tomorrow any one of us may be.

Fear feeds fraud, which feeds fear, which feeds more, more skillful, more lucrative fraud. Such was Shukan Bunshun magazines angle in a report earlier this month.

The phone rings: Are you confident you wont catch coronavirus? No, of course not who is? Well, the caller has just the reassurance youre seeking: masks, health supplements, expert inspection of your home water supply, with installations to improve its purity, and so on. Go to this or that website, click here or there, send credit card information, admit us into your homes so one of us can rob you while the other distracts you with questions, or repairs, of what you have.

PS: If a caller invites you to invest in gold while the price is low and before the currency system collapses altogether pass. (Which is not to guarantee the system wont collapse.)

Japan is now under partial emergency rule. Nakamasa, the political philosopher, is worried. We tend to accept (government-imposed restrictions on our freedom), he tells the Asahi Shimbun, if theyre in the name of health and sanitation.

Camus, in The Plague, expressed a similar fear: They fancied themselves free, he wrote, and no one will ever be free so long as there are pestilences.

Big in Japan is a weekly column that focuses on issues being discussed by domestic media organizations. Michael Hoffmans latest book, Cipangu, Golden Cipangu: Essays in Japanese History, is now on sale.

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Mesenchymal Stem Cells Market 2020-2026: Analysed by Business Growth, Development Factors, Applications, and Future Prospects – Science In Me

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Chris Hall: Bill Morneau’s keeping his pandemic focus firmly on the near-term – CBC.ca

Posted: at 7:13 pm

Canada's finance minister says there was a point early in the progress of theCOVID-19 pandemic when he realizedthis crisis was going to be different and far more trying thanmost people were expecting.

At that point, saidBill Morneau,Italy had just imposed a national quarantine. The stock market had tumbled. It was clear Canada wouldn't be immune.

In an interview with CBC Radio's The House airing today,Morneau recalled the famous metaphor of the frog placed in a pot of water heat the water slowly enough and the frog staysput until it boilsto death.

"This is one of those moments when you're like the proverbial frog in the pot and it's getting hotter and hotter and hotter, Luckily, I think we jumped out before it got to boiling," he said. "But there were a few days when I wasn't so sure."

In the past month,Morneau's department has rolled out emergency benefits for people who have lost their jobs due to the continuing economic shutdown, interest-free loans for small businesses and a 75 per cent wage subsidy program meant to encourage employers to keep people on the payroll.

The program design and delivery hasn't been perfect. Those wage subsidies have yet to be delivered, and the government's been forced to adjust eligibility for the other measures to ensure people who need help can get it.

"We tried to be aggressive in getting measures out to support people and recognize that perfect was going to be the enemy of the good. We're actually ahead of most people in the implementation of those measures ... in terms of getting money into people's pockets," Morneau said in an interview airing today.

"Now we're trying to make sure for those peoplewho not by design but because we moved fast aren't properly supported,that we're coming out to support them, too."

It's been an intense challenge, he said but that's not the point.

"We needto remember there are a whole host of families out there who are dealing with someone in the family who's died. There are people in [their]80s who you and I know who are terrified," he said.

"So intense as it is for me, it's worse for a lot of people."

The numbers are staggering, especially when they offer only the most rudimentary snapshot of what Canadians are really going through.

A million jobs lost in March alone. More than 31,400 confirmed and presumptive cases as of Friday and 1,250 deaths.

Worse still, manyof those dying are older Canadians who were living in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Those deaths could have been prevented, said Margaret Gillis, president of the International Longevity Centre Canada, which advocates for the human rights of older people.

"It wasn't like we were without warning," she said in a separate interview on The House. "There have been issues with long-term care in our country for many years."

The good news is that the rate of infection appears to be slowing, at least in some parts of the country. That's ledto calls forgovernments to begin easing some of the restrictions now in place that have slowed the economy to a standstill.

Morneau said heisn't even considering that yet.

The finance minister used the word "crisis" six times in the interview underscoring his pre-occupation with the short-term challenges of assisting people who are struggling financially because of the pandemic.

Which explains why Morneau is reluctant to say how long he thinks these programs will need to continue, and why he's unwilling to join the governor of the Bank of Canada, Stephen Poloz, in predictingwhen the economy will rebound.

Poloz told the Commons finance committee on Thursday that in a best-case scenario, it would take the economy roughlya year to regain what it lost. Even then, the recovery is expected to be uneven as resource-intensive sectors await a rebound in other parts of the world.

"We are obviously hopeful that the impacts of the crisis are temporary," Morneau said. "What I don't know, what no one can know, is exactly how long that will be."

Caution. Prudence. These are things every finance minister wants to be known for.Morneau's not disagreeing with Poloz. He's not agreeing with him either.

"Right now, what I'm doing is making sure we don't tell people things we can't know well enough to be sure," he said. "So I don't have enough information at this stage to inform people what exactly the economy will look like in six months or in 12 months."

For now, Morneausaid, he'll continue to look at ways to support jobs and carry on refiningthose income support programs for those who can't work. He'll continue as he did Friday for the energy and cultural industries to offer assistance to sectors of the economy that have been disproportionately harmed by the downturn.

And Morneau and the government are giving every impressionthey're going to maintainthat focus for many weeks if not months into the future.

Also on this week's show:

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How UVM landed NHL assistant coach Todd Woodcroft for the men’s hockey gig – Burlington Free Press

Posted: at 7:13 pm

Todd Woodcroft instructs during a Winnipeg Jets practice.(Photo: Jonathan Kozub/Winnipeg Jets)

Soon after Kevin Sneddon announced his intentions to retire at the end of his 17th season in charge of the University of Vermont men's hockey team, athletic director Jeff Schulman heard from Noah Segall, theprogram's former director of operations.

As Schulman prepared to begin a national search to replace Sneddon, Segall tossed a name in the mix for consideration: Todd Woodcroft, a longtime NHL coach who has spent the last four seasonswith the Winnipeg Jets.

"He said you may want to take a look at this guy," Schulman said, "and it evolved from there."

More than two months later, and smack in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic that prolonged the process for the school and itsmost sought-aftercandidates, Schulman and UVM selected Woodcroft, 47, as the fifth Catamount coach in program history.

"I talked to several head coaches in college hockey including in our league who know Todd and feel like hes a really exceptional person and his background and international reputation for player and skill development indicated he was somebody we should really consider," Schulman said.

"We really felt like he was a great fit for UVM and where we want to move our program," said the fourth-year AD and 1989 alum of the hockey program.

More: Why NHL assistant coach Todd Woodcroft wanted the UVM men's hockey job

Todd Woodcroft instructs players during a Winnipeg Jets practice.(Photo: Jonathan Kozub/Winnipeg Jets)

Woodcroft was UVM's guy, its top choice, according to Adam Wodonof College Hockey News.And Woodcroft yearned for a situation that had presented itself in Burlington. The marriage seems like an ideal match for both parties: A coach on an upward trajectory to take the reins ofa programand a school hoping the right personcould spark a return to prominence after seven losing seasons this decade.

"This isnt just a good place," Woodcroft said Thursday during a phone interview, "this is a destination where you want to be."

Schulman: "When I really evaluated what I think our program needs and to take the next step and compete at a championship level, which is what our goal is, Todd is the best person to help make that happen."

On the surface, there are questions. UVM'sopening, the final vacancy out of the 60 Division I teams, went to a coach who has noNCAA background either as a player or as a member of a college staff. And despite a stacked resume, the UVM gig is also Woodcroft's first head-coaching assignment.

"I dont know if I consider myself a maverick in any way, but I also dont mind pushing up against the status quo," Schulman said. "Most of our candidates came from deep inside the college hockey world and Todd represented a pretty stark contrastin that regard.

"Ive never been a believer that there is one career path for a successful coach. For me, its more about the person and their core values and what they bring to the job."

More: UVM tabs Todd Woodcroft to lead men's hockey program

Jerry Tarrant, part of an alumni group that played a small rolein theinterview process, praised the decision.

"This is a bold move and I really respect it. There were a couple choices that were safe choices and nobody would havechallenged Jeff on it," said Tarrant, who played hockey with Schulman at UVM. "Having talked with this guy, I can see the allure of (Woodcroft). This one is so far out of the mainstream of what people thought was going to happen that it creates an even higher level of excitement."

Associate athletic director Joe Gervais, another UVM hockey alum, called it a "non-traditional hire." But the overwhelming reaction has been positive, and could be viewed as a sneaky-good hire when the time comes for judgement.

"Ive been part of a lot of searches over the years and theres never one candidate who has absolutely everything," Gervais said."Time will tell how good a hire it was, but we feel like he's a great person for the job right now."

Todd Woodcroft has been picked as UVM's next men's hockey coach.(Photo: Courtesy of Jonathan Kozub/Winnipeg Jets)

Woodcroft hasn't stepped foot into Gutterson Fieldhouse in about five years. And the COVID-19 crisis turned all formal interviews from in-person to video or phone conversations.

But that was only a minor setback thanks to modern technology.

Resuming after the pandemic delayed proceedings for a couple weeks, Woodcroft was impressed by UVM's pursuit and dogged preparedness.

"They were meticulous in their research about me. They did a marvelous job vetting me,"Woodcroft said. "It was an intense process,I felt like the character of Red in 'TheShawshank Redemption' at the parole hearings."

Woodcroft also noticed the longevity of the administrators and coaches he spoke with. Schulman and Gervais are each closing in on 30 years at their alma mater. Men's head basketball coach John Becker just wrapped his 14th season with the program.

"Thats the greatest testament to a school," Woodcroft said.

Schulman said they had to win over Woodcroft, too.

"A big part of this process was us selling Vermont to Todd," Schulman said."I think it became pretty clear as the process went along that this was a good fit on both sides."

And, of course, Woodcroft had to beat out a strong candidate field. Six others were formally interviewed; associate head coaches Ben Barr of Massachusetts and Jerry Keefe of Northeastern were the other two finalists, according to several media reports.

"There seems to be a real synergy between (Schulman) and Todd, two people who share a common vision of trying to bring the program back to prominence," said Jay Woodcroft, Todd's younger brother. "I think the way that he prepared and delivered in theprocess, he showed them how serious he was about theresponsibility."

Woodcroft was also sold on the team's potential. Sure, the Catamounts won just two games in Hockey East this winter, part of a66-136-37 record in conference play over the last decade. But the Toronto native and 1995 McGill graduate saw a group who played and skated hard.

"I watched some games (on film) and this was a team that never quit, they blockedshots for each other," Woodcroft said. "They were inso many one-goal games."

Todd Woodcroft instructs players during a Winnipeg Jets practice.(Photo: Jonathan Kozub/Winnipeg Jets)

Woodcroft has spent the last two decades with five NHL teams in various roles, most notably as a scout. He won a Stanley Cup with the Los Angeles Kings in 2012 as the team's primary European scout. He alsowas an assistant coach on gold-medal winning teams forCanada and Sweden at the 2004 and 2017 IIHF World championships, respectively.

Given his NHL experience, his teaching knowledge of the game "a cutting edge technician," his brother saidand the contacts he has amassed in North America and Europe, it was only a matter of time before a professional team or school offered Todd Woodcroft a head gig.

"Theres a reason the best players in the world gravitate toward him. Yes, hes dynamic and he has a magnetic personality but, most importantly, hes got the coaching chops," said Jay Woodcroft, a former NHL assistant coach who now leads the AHL's Bakersfield Condors. "Hes earned every opportunity, hes earned the right to work with the best people in the sport.

"Hes spent the last 20 years of his life preparing for this moment."

The key to unlocking the Catamounts' success is through recruiting, finding elite players, and Tarrant said Woodcroft appears to havethat ability.

"For me, I feel like recruiting is a very important part of the job, maybe the most important. I felt like he spoke to that," Tarrant said. "These kids will say, This is a guy who can get me ready to achieve my goal of playing in the National Hockey League. Thats a good reason to go to Vermont."

Naturally, Woodcroft's younger brother believes in him.

"He has an unmatched work ethic. When he sets his mind to something, hes a very driven person," Jay Woodcroft said."Thats why I think the University of Vermont not only got a great human being, but a very motivated and a very prepared hockey coach.

"Hes going to make it his mission for that program to succeed."

Contact Alex Abrami at 660-1848 oraabrami@freepressmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter:@aabrami5.

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10 things we’ve learned a decade after the Deepwater Horizon disaster – NationofChange

Posted: at 7:13 pm

Its been 10 years since flames engulfed the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers and triggering the largest accidental oil spill in U.S. history. The resulting 168 million gallons of oil that spewed into the water for 87 days killed thousands of birds, turtles, dolphins, fish and other animals.

The messy slick washed up on 1,300 miles of beaches, coated wetlands with toxic chemicals, imperiled human health, crippled the regions tourism sector and shut down fisheries costing nearly $1 billion in losses to the seafood industry.

In the years since, scientists have studied the far-reaching and longstanding ecological damages. And its clear that problems persist.

A decade later, what have we learned? Are we any closer to preventing a similar or worse catastrophe? Here are some of the takeaways.

Right from the start, industry downplayed the size and scope of the spill. The Unified Command formed to deal with the disaster consisted of officials from federal agencies, as well as representatives of BP the oil company responsible for the mess.

Independent analysis using daily satellite images from NASA done by the conservation technology nonprofit SkyTruth, along with Ian R. MacDonald, a professor of oceanography at Florida State University, found that the amount of oil gushing from the failed Macondo well was likely 20 times greater than what officials were claiming at the time. Scientists hoping to measure the flow directly at the seafloor were blocked.

The obfuscation came with a big cost. What followed was a series of under-engineered attempts to stop the flow of oil, wasting weeks of precious time as millions of gallons gushed into the Gulf, recalls John Amos, president of SkyTruth.

Research in the Gulf of Mexico following the Deepwater Horizon disaster also led to other findings about drilling in the region. Not surprisingly, the size of most spills is underreported.

This culture of misinformation doesnt emerge just during catastrophes, says Amos.

It turns out that slicks reported to the National Response Center were 13 times larger than provided estimates, according to research conducted by Florida State University and SkyTruth. And while companies can get in trouble for not reporting a spill, they dont get penalized if they incorrectly estimate the size of a spill, the analysis found.

And these spills are ongoing, with more than 18,000 reported in the Gulf since the mammoth 2010 disaster. While many of them are small, their cumulative impact is not.

A massive spill from a well that cant be plugged for months is truly troubling, but theres a worse scenario: a spill that cant be stopped at all. And that slowly unfurling disaster has already been underway it just wasnt widely known until researchers began investigating the Deepwater Horizon spill.

A hurricane in 2004 triggered an underwater mudslide in Gulf waters that sank an oil-drilling platform owned by Taylor Energy. The mess of pipes, still connected to wells but covered by a heap of sediment, resulted in a leak that continues to this day.

A study by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Florida State University in 2019 determined that the wells may be spewing 380 to 4,500 gallons of oil a day about 100 to 1,000 times more than the company has claimed.

After several attempts by Taylor Energy to cap the wells and contain the plumes didnt do the trick, in 2019 the U.S. Coast Guard stepped in to have a containment system installed to catch the oil before it disperses into the waters.

A deep-sea mudslide like the one that damaged the Taylor Energy platform could pose a threat to dozens of production platforms in the Gulf. Florida States MacDonald, who has been studying the leaking Taylor Energy site, believes such an event could happen again.

Triggered by earthquakes or hurricanes, underwater avalanches of sediment slip down the continental shelf moved by turbidity currents. And were not well prepared for understanding how and when it could reoccur.

Conducting studies to identify unstable slopes will improve our understanding of the seabed, he wrote in an op-ed for The Conversation. Better technology can make offshore infrastructure more durable, and informed regulation can make the offshore industry more vigilant.

Efforts that began in the aftermath of disaster should be termed spill response, and not cleanup, says Lois Epstein, an engineer and Arctic program director for The Wilderness Society.

Studies of previous spills have shown that oiled birds cleaned after spills usually fail to mate and suffer high mortality rates.

The use of booms, skimming, burning and the dumping of dispersants hasnt proven effective in containing large spills and seems to happen more to give the illusion that somethings being done, explains an article in Hakai Magazine.

During the Deepwater Horizon spill, only around 3% of the oil spilled was recovered from skimming, says Epstein. About 5% was burned off. And while dispersants decreased the volume of surface oil by about 20%, they increased the area over which the oil spread by nearly 50%.

Some advances have actually been made in improving the technology, but theres little incentive and no legal requirement for companies to upgrade their existing spill response equipment, says Epstein.

Some of the most concerning findings from post-spill research came from the depths of the sea.

Research in 2017 found that, the seafloor was unrecognizable from the healthy habitats in the deep Gulf of Mexico, marred by wreckage, physical upheaval and sediments covered in black, oily marine snow, wrote Craig McClain, the executive director for the LouisianaUniversities Marine Consortium, one of the scientists involved.

Its likely that millions of gallons of oil ended up on the seafloor because of a process known as marine oil snow where chemicals from burning oil, along with dispersants and other sediment in the water, adhere and sink.

For life at the bottom, that dirty blizzard was incredibly harmful.

The researchers noted that animals normally found in that deep-sea environment, such as sea cucumbers, giant isopods, glass sponges and whip corals, werent there. And many colonies of deep-sea corals hadnt recovered.

What we observed was a homogenous wasteland, in great contrast to the rich heterogeneity of life seen in a healthy deep sea, McClain explained. In an ecosystem that measures longevity in centuries and millennia, the impact of 4 million barrels of oil continues to constitute a crisis of epic proportions.

The spill caused problems at the surface too, including the longest known marine mammal die-off in the Gulf of Mexico, and experts say it could take many species decades to recover.

For example, a report from Oceana found that in the five years following the spill, 75% of bottle-nosed dolphin pregnancies failed. Endangered Brydes whales lost 22% of their already small population; 32% of laughing gulls in the Gulf died, and as many as 20% of adult female Kemps ridley sea turtles, already critically endangered, were killed in the spill.

Threatened populations of gulf sturgeon exposed to the oil experienced immune system problems and damaged DNA.Scientists found skin lesions on tilefish, Southern Hake, red snapper and other fish in the area near the blowout for two years after the spill.

Coastal wetlands, critical habitat for numerous species as well as an important buffer against storms, were also damaged.

Its believed that chemicals from the spill and dispersants have made their way from plankton up through the entire marine food chain.

There was nothing that happened with Deepwater Horizon that couldnt have been foreseen, says Mark Davis, a senior research fellow at Tulane University Law School and director of the Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy.

And that makes the policy and regulatory failures that enabled the disaster that much more painful.

In a 2012 study on the lessons learned from the disaster, Davis pointed to a long history in the Gulf of oil and gas development superseding risk assessment and planning. That was compounded by a cozy relationship between industry and its regulators in the Minerals Management Service.

The federal government has a stake in the financial success of oil and gas development, says Davis, and that doesnt provide much incentive for strict regulation.

In the fallout from the disaster, the Minerals Management Service was disbanded and was replaced with the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. But how much has really changed?

A story in E&E News found that problems still abound in the new agency and its fractious, demoralized and riddled with staff distrust toward its leadership.

Davis said dissolving the Minerals Management Service was needed, but hes not sure its achieved the needed improvements to regain public truth. The new agency is still too focused on not being a burden to exploration and production to really be a guardian of public/worker safety and environmental health, he says. And until we get our policies and legal architecture in line with the risks were running, were going to be very vulnerable.

Given the track record of the Trump administration on environmental policy, it should come as no surprise that the limited provisions made to improve safety and environmental health after the spill are being undone.

Last year the Interior Department changed its well-control rules to appease requests from industry. The rule change reduces the frequency of tests to key equipment such as blowout preventers, which sit at the wellhead at the ocean floor and are the last-ditch defense against massive gushers, explained Politico. It also allows drillers to use third-party companies instead of government inspectors to check equipment and gives them more time between inspections, among other things.

The ecological and human health imperatives for preventing another Deepwater Horizon or worse are important for Gulf communities and beyond.

In the past few years, the Trump administration has signaled that it wants to vastly expand offshore drilling, including lifting drilling bans in parts of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans. Itsa proposition that would lead to more spills and more greenhouse gas emissions at a time when its critical we reduce both.

His plan has been met with stiff opposition so far. But as the 10th anniversary of the Gulf disaster reminds us, were still on course to repeat one of our worst mistakes.

The takeaway here is that people learn, but institutions react, wrote Tulanes Davis. The Deepwater Horizon blowout may have taught many important lessons, but as yet, most of them are still unlearned by those most responsible.


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Deep Knowledge Group: Hungary Ranks as One of the Safest Countries Regarding Covid-19 Epidemic – Hungary Today

Posted: at 7:13 pm

Hong-Kong-based consortium Deep Knowledge Group has created a new COVID-19 related list, ranking various countries in terms of their safety and risk. According to the analysis, Hungary is among the countries handling the novel coronavirus epidemic the most effectively in Europe, with only Germany, Austria and Switzerland ahead on the continent.

The list ranks countries according to general safety and long term stability, and gives an idea of which countries citizens have the lowest likelihood of being infected, along with the lowest chance of COVID-19 mortality, and the highest likelihoods of recovery and positive health outcomes.

The countries were evaluated by taking into account numerous specific parameters, such as the timeline of restrictive measures that were introduced in the examined countries, how strict these are, travel restrictions, the scope of diagnostics, testing efficiency, and how well the hospitals are equipped.

Coronavirus: Where is Hungary in European Comparison?

Based on these factors, the analysis finds Israel to be the most effective country managing the COVID-19 crisis, with Germany second, and South Korea third. In addition to Germany, mostly Asian countries finished in the top ten, with the exception of Australia (4th) and New Zealand (6th).

Deep Knowledge Group is a Hong-Kong investment capital firm owned by a Moscow-based businessman named Dmitry Kaminsky, with business interests in the fintech, blockchain, and longevity industries. Kaminsky is a major investor, alongside the Russian government, in Russias flourishing longevity industry, which seeks to postpone the effects of human aging.

In the Top-40 Covid-19 safety list, Hungary was ranked 14th, right after Canada. In the European assessment, Hungary ranked fourth. The analysis found that only Germany, Switzerland (11th), and Austria (12th) managed to get ahead of us on the continent.

Unfortunately, some of the riskiest countries are also from Europe. In the COVID-19 Risk Ranking Framework Italy ranked first, the US second, while the UK was ranked third.

Featured photo by Zsolt Czegldi/MTI

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