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Coronavirus Update - Please Share
UPDATE 28 MARCH: WA Post reports more than 100,000 people in the United States have tested positive for the coronavirus, a world-topping caseload that has increased tenfold in the past week and a half, and that many experts predict will continue to rise for weeks or months.

The actual number of infections is almost certainly much larger because only a fraction of 1 percent of Americans have been tested, far behind countries such as South Korea and Italy.


ORIGINAL POST 4 MARCH: The Washington Department of Health (DOH) continues to report that the immediate risk of illness from the new coronavirus known as COVID-19 remains relatively low at this time. Even so, the potential public health threat posed by COVID-19 is high, both to the U.S., and globally.

The state’s Health Department continues to update the current risk and provides an overall assessment of the situation in our state, including the number of confirmed deaths and the number of people under public health supervision.

Get more details here

DOH has also established a call center to address questions from the public. If you have questions about what is happening in Washington, how the virus is spread, and what to do if you have symptoms, call 1-800-525-0127 and press #. Note: The DOH coronavirus hotline is experiencing high traffic and may be temporarily unavailable.

Health tips
There are steps people can take to reduce their risk of getting and spreading any viral respiratory infections. We encourage you to share these tips with your staff and students.

Health tips include:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces.
  • Stay at home and away from others if you are feeling ill.


For your convenience, we have attached a one-page handout from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that illustrates, with pictures, how to stop the spread of germs.

Poster to share

Is your device safe from ad-hackers?
Cybersecurity researchers discovered malware earlier this year that was draining people’s Android smartphones and ballooning their data bills by secretly racking up video play requests. The dicovery cast a spotlight on a big and growing problem for the mobile ad industry: sophisticated invalid traffic, or SIVT.

Digital ad fraud costs consumers, advertisers, and publishers billions of dollars per year. One estimate suggests that digital ad fraud will cost advertisers $44 billion globally in 2022, more than double the $19 billion estimated for 2018.

The problem is described more fully in the article linked below.

Read more...

USNIH reports progress in sickle cell disease treatment
NPR Reported 19 December: Scientists report progress using gene therapy to treat sickle cell disease, a common and devastating genetic blood disorder. New genetic technologies offer promise to treat it. Scientists are also renewed interest in older DNA techniques to help people with this common, devastating blood disorder.

One approach involves giving sickle cell patients' cells a new gene to compensate for the defective one, to make their bodies produce a healthy version of a protein called hemoglobin, and that's what red blood cells need to carry oxygen in the body. Another strategy is sort of similar to the CRISPR gene-editing approach that (a US patient) got; it involves using gene therapy to make cells produce a different kind of hemoglobin called fetal hemoglobin to make up for that defective hemoglobin.

Continue to NPR Source

Experts Provide Solutions to End Discriminatory Real Estate Practices
WASHINGTON—December 19, 2019—Following a Newsday investigation revealing widespread discrimination by Long Island real estate agents against people of color, the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) released a report this week offering a broad set of solutions to address discriminatory real estate and housing practices throughout the country.

The recommendations enumerated by the National Fair Housing Alliance receive strong support from the nation’s premiere civil rights leaders, real estate industry groups and Walter Mondale, co-author of the Fair Housing Act

“The problem of discrimination in real estate sales is not going away on its own and it is not exclusive to Long Island. It’s time for real estate associations and state and federal regulators to step up and implement actions that will fix what is clearly a broken industry,” said Lisa Rice, President and CEO of NFHA. “The number of housing discrimination complaints is at its highest in years. The good news is that we have the tools to make changes, but we need industry officials, real estate agents, and enforcers to be willing to use them.”

In the report, Fair Housing Solutions: Overcoming Real Estate Sales Discrimination, NFHA proposes a wide range of solutions for both the industry and governmental agencies, including:

  • Increasing funding for fair housing testing, education, enforcement, and research; Increasing the diversity of agents in the real estate business and establishing more offices in communities of color;
  • Improving the content and provision of training for real estate professionals on how to comply with both the letter and spirit of fair housing laws;
  • Improving fair housing investigations and instituting more serious sanctions against violators;
  • Preserving HUD’s 2013 Disparate Impact Rule; and
  • Reinstating HUD’s 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule.
Real estate sales discrimination in the United States is not new. For decades, government agencies and real estate boards explicitly sanctioned and even encouraged discrimination and racial segregation. NFHA’s previous multi-year, multi-city investigation revealed an 87 percent rate of racial steering, meaning that people were given listings or shown homes only in neighborhoods occupied predominantly by people of their own race. More than a decade later, Newsday’s “Long Island Divided” investigation found similar results, showing a disturbing lack of progress in the real estate industry. NFHA’s 2019 Fair Housing Trends Report documents that housing discrimination complaints in 2018 were at their highest level since NFHA began producing the report in 1995.

The following civil rights and industry leaders have given their support for the recommendations included in NFHA’s report.

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Security guard assault on teen characteristic of Brazilian racial history
Social media recently carried video footage of a black teenager being whipped by security guards at a supermarket in Brazil. Commentators asserted that the event was no surprise in a large country still tormented by legacy of slavery.

Source

White Supremacist Sentenced for Killing of Black Teen
In one of those times when justice prevails, it has been reported that a white supremacist who killed an Oregon teen in a hit-and-run attack has been found guilty of intentional murder and sentenced to life with a minimum term of almost 30 years.

ABC News Chicago reported that "Russell Courtier's sentencing came after jurors in March found Courtier, 40, guilty of murder, hit-and-run driving and the hate crime of second-degree intimidation in the death of 19-year-old Larnell Bruce, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

"Courtier and Colleen Hunt were in a Jeep driven by Courtier in August 2016 when he was encouraged by Hunt to drive into Bruce after the two fought outside a convenience store in the Portland suburb of Gresham, authorities have said. "

Search Google for more info

Useful Review of Uganda Politics and Economy
This is not news but does cover in useful detail the situation in Uganda in 2017.

Read the article

Black Home Ownership Lag Worst in Years – Market Watch
Market Watch reports "The home ownership rate has plunged since the (2008 financial) crisis, and blacks have disproportionately lost ground compared to other racial groups. The black homeownership rate stood at 42.3% in the second quarter, the Census Department said last week, while 72.2% of whites are homeowners, marking one of the biggest gaps by race in decades."

Source Article

Uganda Equator worth a visit

The equator that crosses through Uganda approximately 72 kilometers south of Kampala, along the Kampala – Masaka road, which has become a famous visit destination for visitors and tourists visiting Uganda. It has also become a booming hub made up of several craft shops and art galleries that sell souvenirs and handmade products about the equator including T-Shirts with words “I crossed the Uganda Equator”. Besides, there are nice restaurants with delicious food and good coffee.

The equator traverses the land and territorial waters of 14 countries and seven of them are in Africa. Uganda is one of the few countries in the world that the equator intersects. It must be noted that equator is one of the five notable circles of latitude on earth, the others are– the two polar circles and the two tropical circles – the tropic of cancer and the tropic of Capricorn. Fascinatingly, the equator is the only line of latitude that is a great circle.

While at the Equator, tourists have a chance to see an experiment of how water drains straight down at the Equator. You can stand on the Equator with one foot in the northern hemisphere and one in the southern hemisphere and be in both sides of the world. Because the Earth bulges at the Equator due to the effects of rotation, gravity is reduced. Thus one weighs about three percent less than normal, but of course upon leaving the Equator one's weight returns.

At the equator, the sun rises and falls quickly, with equal number of hours in day and nighttime. The weather and temperature around the equator is stable throughout the year making it a nice place to be at. Water runs down in sinks clockwise in the Northern hemisphere and counterclockwise in the Southern hemisphere and right on the line the water goes straight.

Scientists say that areas on the equator experience the quickest sunrises and sunsets. Since the sun rises and sets almost vertically throughout the year, the length of a day from `sunrise to sunset` at the equator is almost constant during the year. Each day is about 14 minutes longer than night because of atmospheric refraction.

March 21 and September 23 are equatorial equinox days where the sun rises and sets directly above the equator line at midday on these two days; you will not see your shadow because the line is straight up.
African art evades Africans as popularity, recognition increase
Writing in the NY Times, Chika Okeke-Agulu emphasized the dilemma of African art, which is being more appreciated and valued than ever, bringing record prices, at the same time it is becoming ever less available to the peoples of the continent. The need for national and regional museums to bring home-grown art to the public from whom it sprang is a key requirement for recycling Africa's creative talents into new generations.

(Thanks to JGC for calling this to our attention via Facebook.)

Read More

Training and arming classroom teachers as school guards; costly, bad idea
Donald Trump, ever our protector, has proposed arming 20% of school teachers as part-time guards. That's 600,000 teachers. We can evaluate the proposal superficially rather quickly (fearless analysis: this article has taken longer to write than DT has thought about the issue).

Average teacher salary in US (2014) is $56,383 plus benefits. With est. fringe of 25% = $70,000.

Average training period for a sworn police officer is six months; we might assume three months for limited-duty training. There is ample reason to doubt that police-training agencies could gear up for this effort, but we won't count that for now.

Cost of training = one-fourth of a teacher's annual salary plus cost of training a police officer. Averages $7,000 across the US. Total with three months teacher salary $18,500 approx. The trainees might reasonably ask for a bonus for giving up their summer vacation, but we won't count that.

Presumably the teachers accepting the risk would get combat pay, let's say 25% bonus for half their career span. Figure 25% of $70,000 for 20 years or $300,000. Of course that would raise their pensions by a commensurate amount; est. 10% rise in pension cost; we won't try to calculate that permanent cost either.

So to summarize.

  1. Initial costs
    • N/teachers (20% of 3,000,000), 600,000.
    • Initial training @ $15,500.
    • Training, first year (600,000 X $15,000), approx. $9.0 billion one time.
  2. Annual costs thereafter
    • Retraining est $2,000 + one month salary (5800/12), total @ $7,800.
    • Combat bonus, $15,000.
    • Total/teacher, $22,800.
    • All teachers (600,000), $13.7 billion.
    • Continuous training of recruits @ 600K x 1/40 = 15,000 recruits/yr @ $18,500, total $342 million/yr.
  3. Combined annual costs
    • Recruit training, $342M.
    • Armed teacher extra pay, $13.7B.
    • Min. total, $13.7B+342M=$14.022 billion per year, FOREVER, NOT including hiring more teachers when an unknown number are removed from classrooms to roam the halls at all times.
  4. Ten year program cost $9+14=$23 billion or $2.3 billion/year. That's $115 per adult (taxpayer). You might ask your local T-bagger how he feels about that.

Alternative

Ban and collect all "assault" weapons (define it yourself).

Government(s) might reimburse owners @ $400 each (currently advertised price of used AR-15 on 26 Feb 2018). (This is a good deal for most owners, whose guns are mostly hidden in closets, improperly maintained and rusting away.)

This would put a lot of money into circulation, almost entirely at a scale conducive to re-spending, which could be a boost to the economy, or perhaps equally to savings, which has lagged in recent decades.

If 10M are in circulation the one-time cost would be (400*10M)=$4 billion — about one-fifth of the armed-teacher plan — with no annual incremental cost.

To assuage anti-"Big Gub'mint" fears, there could be a federal license to carry with reasonable qualifications, e.g., an age limit; training requirement and certification; documentation while in possession; storage and protection obligations... Such a license might carry fees roughly equivalent to a passport, around $200 initially plus a periodic renewal. Further open and honest dialogue could work that out. Thus we protect the Second Amendment, as we should for a host of reasons.

Summary of Alternative

  • Less expensive
  • Radically reduces the likelihood of mass murder with assault rifles.
  • Losers: Gun manufacturers.
  • Winners: Everyone else.
  • We won't count those, either, but you might want to.

The nay-sayers are probably right that nothing can entirely eliminate the possibility of mass shootings, but this is about probabilities, not metaphysics, and imperfection is no excuse for inaction.

WA Secretary of State Cautions RE Non-profit Fraud Scheme
WA Secretary of State Kim Wyman is cautioning Washington business owners to be aware of a misleading and potentially fraudulent mailing that purports to be an official bill related to business registration requirements, according to a press release today from Washington Non-profits, a statewide service organization. Nonprofits are targets of this phishing scheme and we caution all nonprofits to be on the look out for this letter. As other states may be seeing the scam, too, we are reproducing the warning here.

"“We’'re working with the Attorney General’s Office – the agency that investigates and prosecutes consumer fraud – to see if further action should be taken to protect businesses in Washington,"” said Wyman, whose office includes the Corporations and Charities Division.

A mailing sent recently to an Edmonds business requested $121.86 be sent to an Olympia post office box by July 31. It warned that “your state annual report will not be filed until payment is received.” However, the mailing does not mention the Office of Secretary of State or include its logo, which can be found on all official correspondence.

Wyman added that any business owner who receives a registration-related bill from an unknown third-party company should contact the Attorney General’s consumer protection division or file an online complaint at atg.wa.gov/fileacomplaint.aspx.

Similar solicitations in the past several years have resulted in an investigation and legal action taken against the senders of the fraudulent letters. Businesses and charities in Washington can always verify their filing status with the Office of Secretary of State by visiting the website, sos.wa.gov/corps. Registration-related questions can be answered at (360) 725-0377 or e-mailed to corps@sos.wa.gov. Other states have similar provisions.

Press Release

Hurricane recovery business opportunities unequally spread
Hurricane Harvey left 77 dead, caused $200bn in damage and left thousands homeless, and the rebuilding will be the largest effort since New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. And the clear-up is proving equally dangerous. (After a report in The Guardian.)

A new report produced by the University of Illinois Chicago in conjunction with workers’ rights groups paints a startling picture of the inequity experienced by many of the immigrants doing the hard, often dangerous work of rebuilding. Many have experienced wage theft, the majority have had no safety training and workers are rebuilding without access to basic safety equipment.

Already, battle lines are being drawn between a vision of equitable reconstruction being driven by worker’s rights groups and their allies in the Houston government and a free market vision championed by the Trump administration and their Republican allies in the Texas state government.

More than a decade after Katrina, immigrant and workers groups say that they have learned the lessons of storm recovery and are applying them to a massive political movement being launched under the banner of Houston Rising Coalition.

“Black workers were primarily excluded from rebuilding efforts and had to fight their way in while immigrants workers, while included, suffered extraordinary exploitation” said Saket Soni, executive director of the National Guestworkers Alliance, who headed the New Orleans Workers’ Center after Katrina.

Original Source

Stone of Karegyeya Worth the Side Trip

In one of the Ugandan villages called Karegyeya in Kikoni parish, Ntungamo district along the Ntungamo – Rukungiri highway, there is a very tall and giant stone that is commonly known as “eibaare rya Karegyeya meaning the stone of Karegyeya” which according to the local residents has been in existence for over 100 years.

It is believed that the bachwezi or demi-gods once lived inside this stone and still inhabit it up to date. The surrounding communities claim that they used to see flames of fire burning at night but nobody could find any ashes in the morning and that the people could find there the food and money in the morning when no one knows who puts those things there.

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Christmas in Uganda

In Uganda, Christmas is called Sekukkulu. It is celebrated on the 25th of every December to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ.

During the Christmas season there is high movement of people from the city to their respective villages to share Christmas holiday joys with their families and friends. It is a joyful season, quiet and reflective holiday with very few decorations and lights spread over the city. This is a time to relax, reconnect with family, enjoy good meals, and make visits to old friends and relatives back in the village.

Continues...

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