In U.S.-China Phase 1 trade deal, enforcement may end in ‘We quit’ – Reuters

The Trump administration is touting the U.S.-China Phase 1 trade deal’s dispute settlement and enforcement mechanism as the major difference between the 86-page agreement unveiled on Tuesday and past pledges by Beijing to change its trade practices.

Source: In U.S.-China Phase 1 trade deal, enforcement may end in ‘We quit’ – Reuters

Make Your Own Oat Milk At Home

Almond milk presents serious problems to the ecology: see our post about how the almond industry is devastating bees. Soy milk’s popularity slid down as soy’s effects on hormones, and its mostly GMO origins, are now known.  Rice milk has almost no nutrients, or flavor, to justify its price. What’s the solution, then?
Voilá, oat milk.
Oats have plenty of minerals and vitamins, but it’s not known at this time how much of that goodness remains in oat milk. Oat milk also has more carbs and less protein than dairy milk. Still, it’s nut- soy-, and dairy-free.  It’s also gluten-free, if it’s a brand that’s certified gluten-free. And it tastes good.

Are you looking at the cartons of oat milk in the grocery store? Examine the label and see if the brand suits your needs. Commercial oat milks often have added sugar. However, they have the advantage of being fortified with vitamin D and vitamin A; sometimes vitamin B12, riboflavin and calcium as well. 

If you decide to go with home-made, you’ll be pleased to see how little time it takes to make it. It’s a boon if you’re allergic to nut and nut-based milks. And naturally, making it yourself saves money.  You can flavor or sweeten it if you wish. A couple of pitted, chopped dates, vanilla extract, maple syrup or good honey can provide the slight sweetness most of us expect in milk.
There’s some difference of opinion as to whether the oats should be soaked ahead of time. Those who are in favor of soaking explain that oats contain phythic acid, which disrupts the absorption of minerals in your food. (Not all the food you eat over the day, only what you’re eating while drinking oat milk; and not all the minerals and vitamins in that meal either.)
Others say that phythic acid, present in many grains and pulses, including wheat, shouldn’t be a concern to people eating an otherwise balanced diet that includes a large variety of produce, including the occasional meat or dairy meal. In other words, strict vegans may prefer to soak the oats. It’s up to you! And the last word on the topic: phythic acid is destroyed in cooking, so don’t bother soaking if you’re planning on baking or cooking with oats.
Home-Made Oat Milk
Yield: 3 cups
Water to soak the oats, if desired 
1 cup rolled oats
3 cups filtered water
1 pinch sea salt
Optional: 2 pitted, chopped dates or 1 teaspoon honey, and/or 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
If pre-soaking, cover the oats in plenty of filtered water for 1 hour or overnight. Longer is better to soften the oats and remove phythic acid. 
Rinse the oats very well after soaking, to prevent a slimy, cooked-oats texture. Discard the soaking and rinse water.
Put the oats, 3 cups of fresh water, sea salt and optional flavoring in a blender. Blend 1 minute.
Strain the blended mass through a clean kitchen towel or cheesecloth folded into several layers.
Keep the oat milk refrigerated up to 5 days.
The milk may separate. Shake it up and it’ll be fine.
Image of home-made oat milk via

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Neanderthals dived for shells to make tools, research suggests


Study adds weight to claims that stereotype of knuckle-headed Neanderthals is wrong

Neanderthals went diving for shells to turn into tools, according to new research, suggesting our big-browed cousins made more use of the sea than previously thought.

The study focuses on 171 shell tools that were found in a now inaccessible coastal cave in central Italy, known as the Grotta dei Moscerini, which was excavated in 1949. Dating of animal teeth found within layers alongside the shell tools suggest they are from about 90,000 to 100,000 years ago – a time when only Neanderthals are thought to have been present in western Europe.

Continue reading…

Taiwan CDC Upgrades Response To nCoV-2019 Threat



In China, it is called Chūnjié. In Vietnam it is celebrated as Tết Nguyên Đán ; the Feast of the First Morning. Tết for short.  And in Korea they call it Seollal.

By whatever name, the Lunar New Year is undoubtedly the most important holiday in all of Asia, which each year sees hundreds of millions of people travel – mostly from big cities, back to their birthplace – to spend revered time with family.

Chunyun, or the Spring Festival travel season, begins about 15 days before the Lunar New Year (Jan 25th this year) and runs for about 40 days total, during which time more than 2 billion passenger journeys will be made (mostly via crowded rail and bus) across Asia.

And while we normally monitor these mass migrations carefully – particularly during years when avian flu is prevalent in China – this year the last minute emergence of a novel coronavirus in Wuhan City, China has added yet another layer of concern. 

While the official mantra remains `no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission’, it is still very early days in this outbreak, there are obvious gaps in our knowledge and understanding of this virus (and its source), and similar coronaviruses have demonstrated varying degrees of transmissibility.

Which is why, despite the lack of `clear evidence’ of human transmission, public health entities like the WHO, CDC, Hong Kong’s CHP, and Taiwan’s CDC are all (rightfully) treating this outbreak as a credible threat. 

While none of this guarantees that this emerging coronavirus is about to embark of a world tour, the special circumstances of Chunyun make whatever public health actions that are taken over the next few weeks all the more important.  

Today Taiwan’s CDC has posted two updates.   The first upgrades – as of today – `Severe Special Infectious Pneumonia” to a Class 5 legal infectious disease.

The Department of Disease Control has listed “Severe Special Infectious Pneumonia” as a Class 5 legal infectious disease since January 15, 2020

Release Date: 2020-01-15

he Department of Disease Control has officially listed “Severe Special Infectious Pneumonia” as the fifth category of statutory infectious diseases since today, in order to strengthen the surveillance and prevention of severe special infectious pneumonia, improve the alertness of the people and medical institutions, and help Grasp the source of the epidemic and infection and related risk factors in time to stop the spread of the epidemic and reduce the risk of infection by people. In addition, in the morning (1/15) press release, two cases were tested that met the definition of “Fever Pneumonia Cases in the History of Travel in Wuhan, China.” One named H1N1 influenza virus was positive, all of them have been excluded; 9 suspected cases have been reported so far, all have been excluded.

The CDC reminds that if a suspected case meets the definition of a case when it is diagnosed by a medical institution, it must be notified to the competent health authority within 24 hours. The health unit will conduct isolation treatment, epidemic investigation, autonomous health management and contacts for the suspected case. Preventive measures such as health monitoring. Relevant definitions of disease notifications, processing procedures for suspected notification cases, methods for sample inspection and submission, and related prevention and control guidelines will be updated in a timely manner as the epidemic situation is announced and posted on the SACD Global Information Network “Severe Special Infectious Pneumonia” Epidemic Prevention Zone (http: // / Home> Special Topics on Infectious Diseases and Epidemic Prevention> Infectious Diseases Introduction> Class 5 Legal Infectious Diseases> Severe Special Infectious Pneumonia). 

The CDH stated that it is now in the season of respiratory diseases such as influenza and pneumonia, and urged those who plan to visit the local area and nearby areas to avoid entering and exiting traditional public markets, hospitals and other public places, and contact with wild and livestock animals. Implement personal protective measures such as washing hands with soap and wearing a mask; if fever or flu-like symptoms occur within 14 days of returning to China, you should proactively notify the air traffic control and quarantine staff, wear masks as required, and take the initiative to inform doctors of their travel history and occupation , Contact history and cluster situation (TOCC) for timely diagnosis and notification of physicians. For related information, please refer to the CDC website (, or call the toll-free epidemic prevention line 1922 (or 0800-001922) for inquiries.

A second, longer statement was published today indicating that until proven otherwise, Taiwan’s CDC will prepare as if this novel coronavirus is transmissible from human-to-human. 

The Department of Disease Control has not ruled out the possibility of human-to-human transmission of the new coronavirus, and relevant control measures have been developed based on the situation that the virus may be transmitted from human to human and have been completed.
Release Date: 2020-01-15

The World Health Organization says that the new type of coronavirus may have limited human-to-human transmission in 2019; the Office of Disease Control and Administration has stated that the possibility of human-to-human transmission has not been ruled out for the virus, and that human-to-human transmission may be considered for related control measures, so people with respiratory symptoms are reminded Surgical masks should be worn, and the public is urged to avoid crowded and poorly ventilated places as much as possible. It is recommended to wear masks when going in and out of these places, but it should generally not be infected beyond 1 meter. Please don’t panic.

At present, a response team has been organized to develop guidelines for surveillance, quarantine, inspection, epidemic investigation, medical infection control, and case management. Expert meetings, county and city health bureau meetings, inter-ministerial coordination meetings, and unwarned random inspection of hospital infection control have been held. As a result, these preventive measures are developed under the condition that the virus may be transmitted from person to person, and continue to collect information about the disease and virus, consult the experts of infectious diseases, review and correct the preventive measures at any time, and supervise the implementation of various actions.

The CDC has been notified by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. As of January 15, 2020, 41 cases of pneumonia caused by new coronavirus infection have remained, including 6 severe cases and 1 death, and 7 cases have been discharged from hospital. Among the confirmed cases, a few patients denied that they had visited the South China Seafood Market and had only been exposed to similar cases. There was also a family gathering as a husband with a history of exposure and a wife without a case, but no community transmission was found; at present, a limited number of people cannot be ruled out. It is possible, but it cannot be ruled out that the family group has a common source of infection to be clarified. In addition, some environmental examinations in the South China Seafood Market detected 2019-nCoV. Lu Fang also conducted preliminary investigations in other markets, and no clues related to the source of the infection have been found. Although suspected cases have been reported from other neighbouring countries, only one case has been imported from Thailand outside of Wuhan, China.

Continuously strengthened surveillance of epidemic conditions and border control measures. Inbound fever travelers from international and small three-way ports have been asked about Wuhan’s travel history and health assessments. In addition, since December 31, 2019, the boarding and quarantine of direct flights from Wuhan started, and 25 flights have been carried out, with a total of 2,742 passengers and crew members. So far, there are 9 cases that meet the “Fever Pneumonia Cases of Wuhan Tourism History in China”, 7 of which have been ruled out, and the other 2 tests, there are currently no confirmed cases of new coronavirus in China in 2019.

The CDA once again called for the approach of the Spring Festival travel season. If fever or flu-like symptoms occur within 14 days of returning to China, you should proactively inform the aviation management and quarantine staff, wear masks according to instructions, and proactively inform physicians of their travel history, occupation, and contact. History and group situation (TOCC) for timely diagnosis and notification by physicians. For related information, please refer to the CDC website (, or call the toll-free epidemic prevention line 1922 (or 0800-001922) for inquiries.

Some human-to-human transmission isn’t surprising in Wuhan

A couple of people have asked me lately if they should be worried about the novel Wuhan coronavirus. Which got me to thinking. Much of what we sciencey types chat about online can quickly get – or just start off as – too technical for the general public. And sometimes that may leave them with a sense that things are more worrying than we think they are. One thing that concerns folks, is how fast this emerging virus is spreading. So I put down a few thoughts which I hope are broadly understandable. If not – ask questions below.

To say that there is *no* human-to-humsn (h2h) transmission during the very early or discovery phase of an emerging disease is to use language that is too strong. It may lead to doubt in the narrator or the story because it doesn’t feel right or might develop a false sense of security.

It makes a kind of natural sense that a virus which infected a human after exposure to an animal source, would be able to infect a human if projected from a human source. It may not do that frequently but it is quite possible that it can do that under suitable circumstances.

If the virus replicates in the lower airways rather than the upper airways like a common cold virus (think of the larynx as a boundary line), it can be less easy for us to breath, cough, drip or sneeze it out for someone else to pick up. So spread is more limited. But spread is far from impossible.

As yet, we know ZERO about where in the human body this virus replicates. We also know just as little about where it might replicate within the market animal(s) it is presumed to have been in. Or in a possible reservoir animal that the virus may naturally occur in.

Routinely, when testing for respiratory viruses, we sample from the upper airways but lower airway samples are recommended by the World Health Organization for more serious cases of illness associated with the detection of this new coronavirus. And these were the types of samples that permitted Chinese researchers to first identify the novel virus.

Some have said (perhaps a little late) that we should not be surprised to see some h2h spread. That is because of those suitable circumstances I mentioned earlier. They include close contact through caring for the sick person, picking up the virus from contaminated surfaces and items in shared environments & infection after prolonged contact

These are three things which all occur among families and this is where we can see an otherwise poorly h2h transmitting virus jump between humans. And this fits in with the a suspected family-related instance of h2h transmission of the novel Wuhan coronavirus identified thus far. The same occurs with MERS (the disease) and MERS-CoV.

We can also see h2h transmission in healthcare facilities if the healthcare workers get exposed before instituting suitably protective protocols. Nurses and doctors have close and prolonged exposure to sick patients. One reason we may not have seen this in Wuhan could be a very good use of such protocols.

Infection by close contact or contact with contaminated surfaces is pretty self-explanatory. Prolonged exposure may occur through repeated exposure to small doses of a virus such that our immune system cannot contain the virus and an infection takes hold, becoming ill.

So should you be worried if you live somewhere other than Wuhan and visit a market containing live or freshly killed animals of all shapes and sizes or their component parts? Not at this stage based on the info we have to hand.

That isn’t a lot of info though and things may change.

What we know is that the virus isn’t causing widespread pneumonia. What little h2h transmission there has been, is not continuous. Could the virus be causing milder respiratory illnesses? It doesn’t seem like it is based on observations of the 760 contacts in Wuhan, China. 187 of them have already been released from quarantine without showing any symptoms for two weeks. That’s good news.

It seems like something delivered the virus to human airways probably from animals at the Huanan seafood (and other animals) market. That animal may be at one more other markets but remains unfound. The recently reported case in a traveller from Wuhan who arrived in Thailand had not visited the Huanan seafood market. This suggests the suspected animal source may have been sold at more than one market. There seems to be limited h2h transmission, even associated with close contact so the other option, h2h transmission in the community, seems less likely.

So now we wait for more information. That info will take time to get together. So more patience is required. But to be clear, China has put these findings together and reported on them in record time. Faster than I think most other countries would have.

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La Sagrada Família .. another breathtaking masterpiece of Barcelona

Sometimes places mesmerize you . Capture you … and sometimes they take your breath away… Gaudí , one has to confess is never an overrated architect when it comes to his creations of many sites in Barcelona . La Sagrada Família basilica , the yet unfinished structure over a hundred year by all means charms the visitor and takes him to this unbelievable splendid place of a genius … how creative and innovative and daring one can be???? This is Gaudí on his continuous perfection img_1423.jpg?resize=640%2C853&ssl=1img_1433.jpg?resize=640%2C853&ssl=1img_1438.jpg?resize=640%2C853&ssl=1img_1439.jpg?resize=640%2C853&ssl=1img_1442.jpg?resize=640%2C853&ssl=1img_1441.jpg?resize=640%2C853&ssl=1img_1440.jpg?resize=640%2C853&ssl=1img_1443.jpg?resize=640%2C853&ssl=1img_1446.jpg?resize=640%2C853&ssl=1img_1447.jpg?resize=640%2C853&ssl=1img_1451.jpg?resize=640%2C853&ssl=1img_1455.jpg?resize=640%2C853&ssl=1img_1458.jpg?resize=640%2C853&ssl=1img_1457-1.jpg?resize=640%2C853&ssl=1img_1456.jpg?resize=640%2C853&ssl=1img_1452.jpg?resize=640%2C853&ssl=1img_1459.jpg?resize=640%2C853&ssl=1img_1460.jpg?resize=640%2C853&ssl=1img_1465.jpg?resize=640%2C853&ssl=1img_1470.jpg?resize=640%2C853&ssl=1img_1468.jpg?resize=640%2C853&ssl=1img_1474.jpg?resize=640%2C853&ssl=1img_1473.jpg?resize=640%2C853&ssl=1img_1472.jpg?resize=640%2C853&ssl=1img_1475.jpg?resize=640%2C853&ssl=1img_1477.jpg?resize=640%2C853&ssl=1img_1476.jpg?resize=640%2C853&ssl=1img_1479.jpg?resize=640%2C480&ssl=1img_1478.jpg?resize=640%2C853&ssl=1img_1482.jpg?resize=640%2C853&ssl=1img_1481.jpg?resize=640%2C853&ssl=1img_1480.jpg?resize=640%2C853&ssl=1img_1487.jpg?resize=640%2C853&ssl=1img_1486.jpg?resize=640%2C853&ssl=1img_1491.jpg?resize=640%2C853&ssl=1img_1490.jpg?resize=640%2C853&ssl=1img_1489.jpg?resize=640%2C853&ssl=1img_1488.jpg?resize=640%2C853&ssl=1img_1501.jpg?resize=640%2C853&ssl=1img_1496.jpg?resize=640%2C853&ssl=1img_1497.jpg?resize=640%2C853&ssl=1img_1493.jpg?resize=640%2C853&ssl=1