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Celerity's Journal
Celerity's Journal
August 30, 2021

This new antibody can stop all COVID-19 strains, including new variants, experts say

A new antibody theory can reportedly neutralize all COVID-19 strains and coronavirus, paving the way for stopping COVID-19


This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the virus that causes COVID-19. NIAID-RML via Associated Press

A team of researchers may have found an antibody that can neutralize all known novel coronavirus strains, including the developing variants. GlaxoSmithKline and Vir Biotechnology recently conducted a huge collaborative study by scientists and developed a new antibody therapy, called Sotrovimab. During the project, they discovered a new natural antibody “that has remarkable breadth and efficacy,” according to the Berkeley Lab.

The scientists reportedly discovered a new antibody, called S309, which “neutralizes all known SARS-CoV-2 strains — including newly emerged mutants that can now ‘escape’ from previous antibody therapies — as well as the closely related original SARS-CoV virus,” according to a press release from the Berkeley Lab. Structural biologist Jay Nix, who was involved with the project, said the antibody can potentially stop all coronaviruses similar to COVID-19.

The researchers want to do more tests with the antibodies using hamsters. They hope to give it prophylactically but it’s unclear when that would be. “And, due to the unique binding site on mutation-resistant part of the virus, it may well be more difficult for a new strain to escape,” he said in a release from Berkeley Lab. The information about the antibody was published in the journal Nature.

A similar study recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine said that researchers found “high-level, broad-spectrum” antibodies in blood samples from SARS outbreak survivors in 2003, as I explained for the Deseret News. Back in 2020, scientists at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine discovered “the smallest biological molecule” that “completely and specifically neutralizes” the novel coronavirus, too, as I wrote for the Deseret News. The scientists developed a drug, called Ab8, that would be used as a preventative measure against COVID-19, according to Fox News.


August 29, 2021

The author of this tweet died tonight, as a result of covid-19.


One less MAGAt to spread mass-murder under the cover of a political stance.

RIP you fucking shitehawk.
August 28, 2021

Government set to ban single-use plastic plates and cutlery in England


Single-use plastic plates, cutlery and polystyrene cups could be banned in England under plans to further cut environmentally damaging waste. A public consultation on banning the items will be launched in the autumn, with the aim of businesses using more sustainable alternatives and cutting polluting plastic litter. Each person uses 18 single-use plastic plates and 37 single-use plastic items of cutlery each year in England, according to figures from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Thanks to the durability of plastic, items used for a few minutes can last for centuries in landfill or as litter in the countryside or ocean, it warned. Around the world, more than one million birds and more than 100,000 sea mammals and turtles die every year from eating plastic waste or getting tangled in it. The proposals follow a ban of microbeads in rinse-off personal care products, reducing the number of plastic bags being used and restricting the supply of single-use plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds. Defra said the latest plans would build on the success of those measures and form part of the Government’s commitment to prevent all avoidable plastic waste by the end of 2042.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “We’ve all seen the damage that plastic does to our environment. It is right that we put in place measures that will tackle the plastic carelessly strewn across our parks and green spaces and washed up on beaches. “We have made progress to turn the tide on plastic, banning the supply of plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds, while our carrier bag charge has cut sales by 95% in the main supermarkets. “Now we are looking to go a step further as we build back greener. These plans will help us stamp out the unnecessary use of plastics that wreak havoc with our natural environment.”

Jo Morley, head of campaigns at City to Sea, said: “We welcome the news that the Government are taking steps to tackle some of the most polluting single-use items. This is a much-needed move, that we as campaigners have been calling for, along with thousands of our supporters and members of the public. “We need now to take a leading role in banning unnecessary single-use plastics to see real benefits for the nation’s and the world’s wildlife.”

August 28, 2021

Germany's Social Democrats are polling ahead of Merkel's bloc for the first time in 15 years


The upcoming election in Germany has now become even more unpredictable. Voters are heading to the ballot box on Sept. 26 and the latest poll, carried out by Forsa, shows support for the Social Democratic Party, SPD, increased to 23% of the vote. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative alliance of the CDU/CSU, meanwhile, dipped to 22%. It is the first time in 15 years that the SPD has overtaken the CDU/CSU alliance in the polls. The SPD has been the junior coalition party in the wider government led by Merkel, who is retiring from politics after 16 years in power.

The SPD has been in coalition with the conservatives in the past, a notion that was typically seen as a negative among its supporters for being unable to push ahead with its agenda. However, this now appears on track to change. Led by chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz, Germany’s Social Democrats has seen the party’s popularity improve in the wake of the country’s worst natural disaster in decades. Torrential rainfall last month resulted in almost 200 deaths and hundreds more injured as disastrous flooding devastated property and plantations. Another poll, conducted by INSA, had shown on Sunday the SPD neck-and-neck with the CDU/CSU.

The last time the SPD was the leading party in Germany’s coalition government was back in 1998, when they joined forces with the Green party. “Some CDU/CSU leaders have reacted with harsh attacks on Scholz’s alleged agenda of big spending and tax hikes,” Carsten Nickel, deputy director of research at consultancy firm Teneo, said in a note on Wednesday. “The substance of these claims is questionable, but they do suggest that Laschet’s already nervous alliance is taking the threat very seriously,” Nickel said.

Armin Laschet is the leading conservative candidate who hopes to replace Merkel in the chancellery. Laschet’s popularity has been questioned on several occasions, including when the CDU/CSU were choosing their main candidate for the upcoming election. At the time, some CDU members criticized the overall decision to headline the vote with Laschet rather than with Markus Soder, prime minister of the region of Bavaria. German media reported Wednesday that 70% of CDU/CSU supporters want to replace Laschet with Soder.


August 28, 2021

Casual - Amazing

August 27, 2021

Dancing with the Stars will feature a same-sex dancing pair for the first time. History, made.

JoJo Siwa Makes History As First Competitor With a Same-Sex Dance Partner on DWTS


Grab your gold medals and glitter bows: The first stars have been announced to hit the dance floor. ABC announced pop star JoJo Siwa and Olympian Suni Lee as the first contestants for the 30th season of Dancing With the Stars, and they’re already making waves. For the first time ever, there will be a same-sex couple competing for the mirror ball trophy. During the Dancing With the Stars TCA panel, executive producer Andrew Llinares revealed that Siwa will be paired with another female dancer for the competition.

Upon revealing the news, Siwa said, “I think it’s cool. I think it breaks a wall that’s never been done before. I think it’s really special that I get to share with the world that you can love who you love, but now you can dance with who you want to dance with.” Siwa came out earlier this year through an Instagram Story post of her wearing a “Best Gay Cousin Ever” T-shirt.

Suni Lee won gold for the all-around gymnastics during this year’s Tokyo Olympics and made history as the first Hmong American Olympian to win. The dancing competition is judged by ballroom experts Len Goodman, Carrie Ann Inaba, Bruno Tonioli, and Derek Hough, who was a former dancer on the show.

Hosted by Tyra Banks of Top Model fame, the series will premiere on Monday, September 20, at 8 p.m. ET, but the remaining celebrity contestants will be announced on Good Morning America on September 8. The series has featured a number of newsworthy stars, including Carole Baskin, cast member of everyone’s quarantine binge-watch Tiger King. As Siwa and Lee practice their dance moves for the competition, they probably won’t need to practice continuing to make history.

August 27, 2021

Texas house advances sweeping voting restrictions bill

Bill comes amid nationwide Republican effort to restrict voting
Democrats attempted to block bill by walking out last month


The Texas house of representatives advanced a sweeping elections bill that would prohibit 24-hour and drive-through voting, block election officials from sending out absentee ballot applications, set new restrictions on providing assistance to voters, impose new identification requirements on mail-in ballots, and give more leeway to partisan poll watchers at voting sites.

The bill – which advanced on a 79-37 mostly party-line vote – is set for final passage on Friday. It will then move to the Texas senate, which has already passed a similar version. The senate can either concur with the house legislation or produce a final version using a conference committee. After that, it will go to the desk of the Texas governor, Greg Abbott, who is likely to swiftly approve it.

The legislation comes amid a nationwide effort by Republicans, who control state government in Texas, to enact legislation that imposes new restrictions on voting access. The Texas bill exploded into the national spotlight after Democrats in the state legislature repeatedly blocked it by walking out of the state legislature, denying Republicans the ability to move forward with legislative business. The standoff, which lasted a little over a month, ended last week when enough Democrats returned to the state capitol to allow the process to move forward.

Many of the provisions in the Texas bill are aimed at Harris county, Texas’ most populous county, and home of Houston, a Democratic stronghold. Harris county election officials took several steps to make voting amid the pandemic easier. Those measures included adopting drive-through and 24-hour voting. The majority of voters who used both processes in 2020 were either Black, Hispanic or Asian, according to an estimate by the Texas Civil Rights Project. About 127,000 people used the process.

August 27, 2021

U.S. Supreme Court ends CDC's pandemic residential eviction moratorium


The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday ended the pandemic-related federal moratorium on residential evictions imposed by President Joe Biden's administration in a challenge to the policy brought by a coalition of landlords and real estate trade groups. The justices, who in June had left in place a prior ban that expired at the end of July, granted a request by the challengers to lift the moratorium by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that was to have run until Oct. 3.

The challengers argued that the law on which the CDC relied did not allow it to implement the current ban. "It strains credulity to believe that this statute grants the CDC the sweeping authority that it asserts," the court said in an unsigned opinion. "If a federally imposed eviction moratorium is to continue, Congress must specifically authorize it," the court added. The three liberal justices on the court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority, all dissented.


The White House said it was disappointed by the decision and urged states, local governments, landlords and Cabinet agencies to "urgently act" to help prevent evictions. The high court had signalled in June that it thought the moratorium was on shaky legal ground, and that such a policy needed to be enacted by Congress rather than being imposed unilaterally by the executive branch. The CDC first issued a moratorium in September 2020 after a prior one approved by Congress expired, with agency officials saying the policy was needed to combat the spread of COVID-19 and prevent homelessness during the pandemic.

Under political pressure from Biden's fellow Democrats, his administration on Aug. 3 implemented a somewhat narrower eviction moratorium three days after the prior one expired. Liberal Justice Stephen Breyer said in a dissenting opinion that the outcome of the case was not as clear cut as the majority suggested and that the court was not justified in ending the moratorium so quickly at a time when COVID-19 cases are surging. "The public interest strongly favors respecting the CDC’s judgment at this moment, when over 90 percent of counties are experiencing high transmission rates," Breyer wrote.


read more

August 27, 2021

What We Know About ISIS-K (Islamic State Khorasan), The Group Behind The Kabul Attacks


The group known as ISIS-K had long planned attacks on American personnel and others. That's one reason why President Biden said he wanted to limit the duration of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. On Thursday, this regional affiliate of the Islamic State struck at the heart of Kabul, setting off an explosion outside Hamid Karzai International Airport and another at the nearby Baron Hotel. The attacks killed dozens of Afghan civilians and at least 13 U.S. service members. Here's what is known about the group, which reportedly has claimed responsibility for Thursday's bombings:

What is the Islamic State affiliate?

The Islamic State Khorasan formed in late 2014 and operates as an ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Khorasan is a historical term for a region that includes present-day Afghanistan and parts of the Middle East and Central Asia. The group is also known as ISIS-K or IS-K. The founding members included militants who left both the Afghan Taliban and the Pakistani Taliban. "ISIS had sent representatives to both Pakistan and Afghanistan. They were essentially able to co-opt some disaffected Pakistani Taliban and a few Afghan Taliban [members] to join their cause," Seth Jones, an Afghanistan specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said on NPR's All Things Considered. In a 2015 video, the group's leader at the time, Hafiz Saeed Khan, and other top commanders pledged their allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, then the Islamic State's leader, and declared themselves administrators of a new ISIS territory in Afghanistan. The regional affiliate governed with a strict interpretation of Islamic law and used violent enforcement tactics, such as carrying out public executions, killing tribal elders and closing schools, according to the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University. Khan was killed in 2016 during a U.S. drone attack. Baghdadi died in 2019 after he set off an explosive vest during a raid by U.S. forces.

How is the Islamic State group tied to the Taliban?

The two are actually enemies, as Biden noted in his televised address Thursday. Since its founding, the Islamic State affiliate has been at odds with the Taliban, which now control Afghanistan. "Their goal really is an Islamic emirate, and they are a competitor of both al-Qaida and the Taliban," said Jones of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Many Taliban militants defected to join the Islamic State affiliate, and the two groups fight for resources and territory. Their differences are also ideological, according to the Stanford center. "The hostility between the two groups arose both from ideological differences and competition for resources. IS accused the Taliban of drawing its legitimacy from a narrow ethnic and nationalistic base, rather than a universal Islamic creed," the center said. As The Associated Press has reported, as the Taliban sought to negotiate with the United States in recent years, many of those opposed to talks switched over to the more extremist Islamic State. The Taliban condemned the blasts outside the airport Thursday and said the U.S. controlled the area where the attacks occurred. Biden turned the focus back to the Taliban on Thursday, saying, "It is in the interest of the Taliban that ISIS-K does not metastasize."

How big of a threat is ISIS-K in Afghanistan?

As of 2017, the U.S. military estimated that it had killed 75% of the Islamic State affiliate's fighters, including some of its top leaders. The Center for Strategic and International Studies counted almost 100 attacks by the group in Afghanistan and Pakistan by 2018, and hundreds of clashes with U.S., Afghan or Pakistani forces. Monitors of U.N. sanctions believe the affiliate has around 2,000 fighters in eastern and northern Afghanistan but also noted that the group has had to "decentralize" after significant territorial losses. But in a Pentagon briefing following the attacks Thursday, Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the head of U.S. Central Command, said that "the threat from ISIS is extremely real" and that there were other active threats against the airfield in Kabul. According to the Congressional Research Service, the group has claimed responsibility for a string of high-profile attacks, including the May bombing of a girls' school in Kabul. But Thursday's attacks also could reveal holes in the Taliban's abilities. "What this does show, by the way, is that Taliban's counterintelligence and counterterrorism capabilities actually are somewhat limited," Jones said on All Things Considered. "They were not able to identify or stop the attack."


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