Bose's first gaming headset is now available for pre-order

The Bose QuietComfort 35 II Gaming Headset is a hybrid take on the genre, designed for intense gaming, traveling, and more.       
Load more
Read full article on:
Tampa Airport becomes first to offer COVID-19 testing to all passengers
You get a COVID test – you get a COVID test – everyone gets a COVID test! Passengers traveling through Tampa International Airport will be able to get tested for the coronavirus, regardless of what airline they’re traveling with. This reportedly makes Tampa the first air hub to make testing so accessible for travelers. Testing...
Berlin Film Festival recognizes founder’s Nazi propaganda past
Alfred Bauer had close ties to the country's Nazi regime.
Jim Carrey's Latest Trump Painting Features Flaming Swastika-Shaped Hair and Hitler
"Trump's allegiances couldn't have been any clearer in that debate if his hair were on fire—and it was. #BidenHarris #TeamHuman #GoliathWillFall," Jim Carrey tweeted on Wednesday.
Mark Hamill Says Last Night's Debate Was Worse Than the 'Star Wars Holiday Special'
"It was quite entertaining, at least it was over after 1.5hrs not like some Star Wars films of late!!" one Twitter user responded to Hamill's tweet.
Germaine de Randamie: Amanda Nunes was 'exposed' in our 'boring' title fight
Germaine de Randamie still believes 10 months later that Amanda Nunes took the easy way out of their title fight at UFC 245.        Related StoriesUFC on ESPN 16's Josh Culibao out to prove he's not 'fat' and 'sloppy' fighter from debutCharles Jourdain still 'flamboyant,' but made key changes ahead of UFC on ESPN 16Eddie Alvarez: Justin Gaethje's style is tailor made for Khabib Nurmagomedov
NFL postpones Pittsburgh Steelers-Tennessee Titans game after positive COVID-19 tests
The Tennessee Titans' game against the Pittsburgh Steelers will be delayed after four players tested positive for COVID-19.
From China to France, Media Dismayed at 'Chaotic' and 'Childish' Presidential Debate
Op-ed writers from media outlets in France, Spain, Italy, China and Russia were shocked by the tone of the debate between President Donald Trump and the Democratic contender, Joe Biden.
The best laptops for students of 2020
The best laptops for students
'I welled up with tears': Jon Bon Jovi on George Floyd's death, Colin Kaepernick and new album '2020'
Jon Bon Jovi is more fearless and outspoken than ever on new album "2020" (out Friday), which addresses Trump, gun violence and Black Lives Matter.
Today's Electoral College is nothing like the Founders' vision
Robert Alexander writes that the Electoral College has never operated exactly as the Framers intended and that controversy over the body has only grown as two of the last five US presidential elections have resulted in outcomes where the person receiving the most votes across the country did not capture the presidency.
China reportedly mulling antitrust probe into Google
Google is reportedly staring down the barrel of an antitrust probe from China. Beijing is investigating whether Google leveraged the dominance of its Android operating system for smartphones to stifle competition, according to Reuters. China began looking into Google’s practices after complaints from Huawei, which has been put on a blacklist by the Trump Administration...
Kentucky AG seeks delay in release of grand jury recordings
The Kentucky attorney general is seeking a one-week delay in the release of the grand jury recordings in the Breonna Taylor case to protect the interest of witnesses, particularly private citizens named in them, according to a report. In the motion filed in court Tuesday, AG Daniel Cameron’s office wants to “redact personal identifiers of...
Subway Sandwiches Have Too Much Sugar to Be Classified as 'Bread'
The Supreme Court of Ireland ruled that the bread in Subway sandwiches cannot be legally defined as bread.
Coronavirus Cases Are Now Rising in 28 States
Several states in the east of the country, including New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, reported an increase in new infections in recent weeks.
Republicans in Congress say Trump should have directly condemned white supremacists at presidential debate
Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., said Trump "should have been very clear" in denouncing white supremacists during Tuesday's debate in Cleveland.
UK, Canada sanction Belarus over ‘rigged’ election, treatment of protesters
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has been sanctioned by Canada and the United Kingdom as massive protests continue in the country over an election which is has been widely viewed internationally as rigged. The two countries have accused Lukashenko’s government of human rights violations in the crackdown of protesters demonstrating against what they believe was a...
Jon Bon Jovi on how his experiences inspired the album '2020'
Jon Bon Jovi urges people to volunteer in his band's new single "Do What You Can" from the album "2020."
Kentucky attorney general seeks delay in release of grand jury recordings in Breonna Taylor case
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron has asked for a one-week delay in the release of the grand jury recordings in the Breonna Taylor case.
Malta says Prince George can keep shark tooth from David Attenborough
Malta changed its mind.
MLB playoffs live updates: Best postseason day ever? Eight games on tap Wednesday
Major League Baseball's playoffs continue with eight games Wednesday. Four AL teams can advance, while the four NL series get underway.
Florida's top city for Cuban exiles goes to bat for GOP in 2020: 'Trump Town'
The city of Hialeah, outside Miami, is known for its Cuban American community of working families, tight incomes and friendships among neighbors -- and as the election nears, many say they're leaning strongly toward voting for President Trump.
'The Bachelorette' cast: A boy band manager, chef and more set to woo Clare Crawley
"The Bachelorette" has got a whole new crop of handsome suitors who will be competing for Clare Crawley's heart. Find out who's in the cast, here!
This Overlooked Variable Is the Key to the Pandemic
There’s something strange about this coronavirus pandemic. Even after months of extensive research by the global scientific community, many questions remain open.Why, for instance, was there such an enormous death toll in northern Italy, but not the rest of the country? Just three contiguous regions in northern Italy have 25,000 of the country’s nearly 36,000 total deaths; just one region, Lombardy, has about 17,000 deaths. Almost all of these were concentrated in the first few months of the outbreak. What happened in Quito, Ecuador, in April, when so many thousands died so quickly that bodies were abandoned in the sidewalks and streets? Why, in the spring of 2020, did so few cities account for a substantial portion of global deaths, while many others with similar density, weather, age distribution, and travel patterns were spared? What can we really learn from Sweden, hailed as a great success by some because of its low case counts and deaths as the rest of Europe experiences a second wave, and as a big failure by others because it did not lock down and suffered excessive death rates earlier in the pandemic? Why did widespread predictions of catastrophe in Japan not bear out? The baffling examples go on.I’ve heard many explanations for these widely differing trajectories over the past nine months—weather, elderly populations, vitamin D, prior immunity, herd immunity—but none of them explains the timing or the scale of these drastic variations. But there is a potential, overlooked way of understanding this pandemic that would help answer these questions, reshuffle many of the current heated arguments and, crucially, help us get the spread of COVID-19 under control.By now many people have heard about R0—the basic reproductive number of a pathogen, a measure of its contagiousness on average. But unless you’ve been reading scientific journals, you’re less likely to have encountered k, the measure of its dispersion. The definition of k is a mouthful, but it’s simply a way of asking whether a virus spreads in a steady manner or in big bursts, whereby one person infects many, all at once. After nine months of collecting epidemiological data, we know this is an overdispersed pathogen, meaning that it tends to spread in clusters, but this knowledge has not yet fully entered our way of thinking about the pandemic—or, our preventive practices.[Read: Herd immunity is not a strategy]The now-famed R0 (pronounced as “r-naught”) is an average measure of a pathogen’s contagiousness, or the mean number of susceptible people expected to become infected after being exposed to a person with the disease. If one ill person infects three others on average, the R0 is three. This parameter has been widely touted as a key factor in understanding how the pandemic operates. News media have produced multiple explainers and visualizations for it. Movies praised for their scientific accuracy on pandemics are lauded for having characters explain the “all-important” R0. Dashboards track its real-time evolution, often referred to as R or Rt, in response to our interventions. (If people are masking and isolating or immunity is rising, a disease can’t spread the same way anymore, hence the difference between R0 and R.)Unfortunately, averages aren’t always useful to understand the distribution of a phenomenon, especially if it has widely varying behavior. If Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos walks into a bar with 100 regular people in it, the average wealth in that bar suddenly exceeds $1 billion dollars. If I also walk into that bar, not much will change. Clearly, the average is not that useful a number to understand the distribution of wealth in that bar, or how to change it. Sometimes, the mean is not the message. Meanwhile, if the bar has a person infected with COVID-19, and if it is also poorly ventilated and loud, causing people to speak loudly at close range, almost everyone in the room could potentially be infected—a pattern that’s been observed many times since the pandemic begin, and that is similarly not captured by R. That’s where the dispersion comes in.There are COVID-19 incidents in which a single person likely infected 80 percent or more of the people in the room in just a few hours. But, at other times, COVID-19 can be surprisingly much less contagious. Overdispersion and super-spreading of this virus is found in research across the globe. A growing number of studies estimate that a majority of infected people may not infect a single other person. A recent paper found that in Hong Kong, which had extensive testing and contact tracing, about 19 percent of cases were responsible for 80 percent of transmission, while 69 percent of cases did not infect another person. This finding is not rare: Multiple studies from the beginning have suggested that as few as 10 to 20 percent of infected people may be responsible for as much as 80 to 90 percent of transmission, and that many people barely transmit it.This highly-skewed, imbalanced distribution means that having an early run of bad luck with a few super-spreading events, or clusters, can produce dramatically different outcomes even for otherwise similar countries. Scientists looked globally at known early-introduction events, in which an infected person comes into a country and found that in some places, such imported cases led to no deaths or known infections, while in others, they sparked sizable outbreaks. Using genomic analysis, researchers in New Zealand looked at more than half the confirmed cases in the country and found a staggering 277 separate introductions in the early months, but also that only 19 percent of introductions led to more than one additional case. A recent review shows that this may even be true in congregate living spaces, such as nursing homes, and that multiple introductions may be necessary before an outbreak takes off. Meanwhile, in striking contrast, in Daegu, South Korea, just one woman, dubbed Patient 31, generated more than 5,000 known cases in a megachurch cluster.[Read: The pastors already planning to rebel against future shutdowns]Unsurprisingly, SARS-CoV, an earlier novel coronavirus and the previous incarnation of SARS-CoV-2 that caused the 2003 SARS outbreak, was also overdispersed in this way: The majority of infected people did not transmit it, but a few super-spreading events caused most of the outbreaks. MERS, another coronavirus cousin of SARS, also appears overdispersed, but luckily, it does not—yet—transmit well among humans.This kind of behavior, alternating between being super infectious and fairly noninfectious, is exactly what k captures, and what focusing solely on R hides. Samuel Scarpino, an assistant professor of epidemiology and complex systems at Northeastern, told me that this has been a huge challenge, especially for health authorities in Western societies, where the pandemic playbook was geared toward the flu—and not without reason, because pandemic flu is a genuine threat. However, influenza does not have the same level of clustering behavior.We can think of disease patterns as leaning deterministic or stochastic: In the former, an outbreak’s distribution is more linear and predictable; in the latter, randomness plays a much larger role and predictions are hard, if not impossible, to make. In deterministic trajectories, we expect what happened yesterday to give us a good sense of what to expect tomorrow. Stochastic phenomena, however, don’t operate like that—the same inputs don’t always produce the same outputs, and things can tip over quickly from one state to the other. As Scarpino told me, “Diseases like the flu are pretty nearly deterministic and R0 (while flawed) paints about the right picture (nearly impossible to stop until there’s a vaccine).” That’s not necessarily the case with super-spreading diseases.Nature and society are replete with such imbalanced phenomena, some of which are said to work according to the Pareto principle, named after the sociologist Vilfredo Pareto. Pareto’s insight is sometimes called the 80/20 principle—80 percent of outcomes of interest being caused by 20 percent of inputs—though the numbers don’t have to be that strict. Rather, the Pareto principle means that a small number of events or people are responsible for the majority of consequences. This will come as no surprise to anyone who has worked in the service sector, for example, where a small group of problem customers can create almost all the extra work. In cases like those, booting just those customers from the business or giving them a hefty discount may solve the problem, but if the complaints are evenly distributed, different strategies will be necessary. Similarly, focusing on the R alone, or using a flu-pandemic playbook, won’t necessarily work well for an overdispersed pandemic. Hitoshi Oshitani, a member the National COVID-19 Cluster Taskforce at Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare and a professor at Tohoku University who told me that Japan focused on the overdispersion impact from early on likens his country’s approach to looking at a forest and trying to find the clusters, not the trees. Meanwhile, he believes, the Western world was getting distracted by the trees, and got lost among them. To fight a super-spreading disease effectively, policy makers need to figure out why super-spreading happens, and they need to understand how it impacts everything, including our contact-tracing methods and our testing regimes.There may be many different reasons a pathogen super-spreads. Yellow fever spreads mainly via the mosquito Aedes aegypti, but until the insect’s role was discovered, its transmission pattern bedeviled many scientists. Tuberculosis was thought to be spread by close-range droplets until an ingenious set of experiments proved that it was airborne. Much is still unknown about the super-spreading of SARS-CoV-2. It might be that some people are super-emitters of the virus, in that they spread it a lot more than other people. Like other diseases, contact patterns surely play a part: A politician on the campaign trail or a student in a college dorm is very different in how many people they could potentially expose compared with, say, an elderly person living in a small household. However, looking at nine months of epidemiological data, we have important clues to some of the factors.In study after study, we see that super-spreading clusters of COVID-19 almost overwhelmingly occur in poorly ventilated indoor environments where many people congregate over time— weddings, churches, choirs, gyms, funerals, restaurants, and such—especially when there is loud talking or singing without masks. For super-spreading events to occur, multiple things have to be happening at the same time, and the risk is not equal in every setting and activity, Muge Cevik, a clinical lecturer in infectious diseases and medical virology at the University of St. Andrews and a co-author of a recent extensive review of transmission conditions for COVID-19, told me.[Read: I have seen the future—and it’s not the life we knew]Cevik identifies “prolonged contact, poor ventilation, [a] highly infectious person, [and] crowding” as the key elements for a super-spreader event. Super-spreading can also occur indoors beyond the six-feet guideline, because SARS-CoV-2, the pathogen causing COVID-19, can travel through the air and accumulate, especially if ventilation is poor. Given that some people infect others before they show symptoms, or when they have very mild or even no symptoms, it’s not always possible to know if we are highly infectious ourselves. We don’t even know if there are more factors yet to be discovered that influence super-spreading. But we don’t need to know all the sufficient factors that go into a super-spreading event to avoid what seems to be a necessary condition most of the time: many people, especially in a poorly ventilated indoor setting, and especially not wearing masks. As Natalie Dean, a biostatistician at the University of Florida, told me, given the huge numbers associated with these clusters, targeting them would be very effective in getting our transmission numbers down.Overdispersion should also inform our contact-tracing efforts. In fact, we may need to turn them upside down. Right now, many states and nations engage in what is called forward or prospective contact tracing. Once an infected person is identified, we try to find out with whom they interacted afterward so that we can warn, test, isolate, and quarantine these potential exposures. But that’s not the only way to trace contacts. And, because of overdispersion, it’s not necessarily where the most bang for the buck lies. Instead, in many cases, we should try to work backwards to see who first infected the subject.Because of overdispersion, most people will have been infected by someone who also infected other people, because only a small percentage of people infect many at a time, whereas most infect zero or maybe one person. As Adam Kucharski, an epidemiologist and the author of the book The Rules of Contagion, explained to me, If we can use retrospective contact tracing to find the person who infected our patient, and then trace the forward contacts of the infecting person, we are generally going to find a lot more cases compared with forward-tracing contacts of the infected patient, which will merely identify potential exposures, many of which will not happen anyway, because most transmission chains die out on their own.The reason for backward tracing’s importance is similar to what the sociologist Scott L. Feld called the friendship paradox: Your friends are, on average, going to have more friends than you. (Sorry!) It’s straightforward once you take the network-level view. Friendships are not distributed equally; some people have a lot of friends, and your friend circle is more likely to include those social butterflies, because how could it not? They friended you and others. And those social butterflies will drive up the average number of friends that your friends have compared with you, a regular person. (Of course, this will not hold for the social butterflies themselves, but overdispersion means that there are much fewer of them.) Similarly, the infectious person who is transmitting the disease is like the pandemic social butterfly: The average number of people they infect will be much higher than most of the population, who will transmit the disease much less frequently. Indeed, as Kucharski and his co-authors show mathematically, overdispersion means that “forward tracing alone can, on average, identify at most the mean number of secondary infections (i.e. R)”; in contrast, “backward tracing increases this maximum number of traceable individuals by a factor of 2-3, as index cases are more likely to come from clusters than a case is to generate a cluster.”Even in an overdispersed pandemic, it’s not pointless to do forward tracing to be able to warn and test people, if there are extra resources and testing capacity. But it doesn’t make sense to do forward tracing while not devoting enough resources to backward tracing and finding clusters, which cause so much damage.Another significant consequence of overdispersion is that it highlights the importance of certain kinds of rapid, cheap tests. Consider the current dominant model of test and trace. In many places, health authorities try to trace and find forward contacts of an infected person: Everyone they were in touch with since getting infected. They then try to test all of them with expensive, slow, but highly accurate PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests. But that’s not necessarily the best way when clusters are so important in spreading the disease.PCR tests identify RNA segments of the coronavirus in samples from nasal swabs—like looking for its signature. Such diagnostic tests are measured on two different dimensions: Is it good at identifying people who are not infected (specificity), and is it good at identifying people who are infected (sensitivity)? PCR tests are highly accurate in both dimensions. However, PCR tests are also slow and expensive, and they require a long, uncomfortable swab up the nose at a medical facility. The slow processing times means that people don’t get timely information when they need it. Worse, PCR tests are so responsive that they can find tiny tiny remnants of coronavirus signatures long after someone has stopped being contagious, which can cause unnecessary quarantines.Meanwhile, researchers have shown that rapid tests that are very accurate for identifying people who do not have the disease, but not as good at identifying infected individuals, can help us contain this pandemic. As Dylan Morris, a doctoral candidate in ecology and evolutionary biology at Princeton, told me, cheap, low-sensitivity tests can help mitigate a pandemic even if it is not overdispersed, but they are particularly valuable for cluster identification during an overdispersed one. This is especially helpful because some of these tests can be administered via saliva and other less-invasive methods, and be distributed outside medical facilities.In an overdispersed regime, identifying transmission events (someone infected someone else) is more important than identifying infected individuals. Consider an infected person and their 20 forward contacts—people they met since they got infected. Let’s say we test 10 of them with a cheap, rapid test and get our results back in an hour or two. This isn’t a great way to determine exactly who is sick out of that 10, because our test will miss some positives, but that’s fine for our purposes. If everyone is negative, we can act as if nobody is infected, because the test is pretty good at finding negatives. However, the moment we find a few transmissions, we know we may have a super-spreader event, and we can tell all 20 people to assume they are positive and to self-isolate—if there is one or two transmissions, it’s likely there’s more exactly because of the clustering behavior. Depending on age and other factors, we can test those people individually using PCR tests, which can pinpoint who is infected, or ask them all to wait it out.[Read: The plan that could give us our lives back]Scarpino told me that overdispersion also enhances the utility of other aggregate methods, such as wastewater testing, especially in congregate settings like dorms or nursing homes, allowing us to detect clusters without testing everyone. Wastewater testing also has low sensitivity; it may miss positives if too few people are infected, but that’s fine for population-screening purposes. If the wastewater testing is signaling that there are likely no infections, we do not need to test everyone to find every last potential case. However, the moment we see signs of a cluster, we can rapidly isolate everyone, again while awaiting further individualized testing via PCR tests, depending on the situation.Unfortunately, until recently, many such cheap tests had been held up by regulatory agencies in the United States, partly because they were concerned with their relative lack of accuracy in identifying positive cases compared with PCR tests—a worry that missed their population-level usefulness for this particular overdispersed pathogen.To return to the mysteries of this pandemic, what did happen early on to cause such drastically different trajectories in otherwise similar places? Why haven’t our usual analytic tools—case studies, multi-country comparisons—given us better answers? It’s not intellectually satisfying, but because of the overdispersion and its stochasticity, there may not be an explanation beyond that the worst-hit regions, at least initially, simply had a few unlucky early super-spreading events. The cities that were vulnerable are not pure luck: Dense populations, older citizens, and congregate living, for example, made cities around the world more susceptible to outbreaks compared with rural, less dense places and those with younger populations, less mass transit, or healthier citizenry. But why Daegu in February and not Seoul, despite the two cities being in the same country, under the same government, people, weather, and more? As frustrating at it may be, sometimes, the answer is merely where Patient 31 and the megachurch she attended happened to be.Overdispersion makes it harder for us to absorb lessons from the world because it interferes with how we ordinarily think about cause and effect. For example, it means that events that result in spreading and non-spreading of the virus are asymmetric in their ability to inform us. Take the highly publicized case in Springfield, Missouri, in which two infected hairstylists, both of whom wore masks, continued to work with clients while symptomatic. It turns out that no apparent infections were found among the 139 exposed clients (67 were directly tested; the rest did not report getting sick). While there is a lot of evidence that masks are crucial in dampening transmission, that event alone wouldn’t tell us if masks work. In contrast, studying transmission, the rarer event, can be quite informative. Had those two hairstylists transmitted the virus to large numbers of people despite everyone wearing masks, it would be important evidence that, perhaps, masks aren’t useful in preventing super-spreading.Comparisons, too, give us less information compared with phenomena for which input and output are more tightly coupled. When that’s the case, we can check for the presence of a factor (say, sunshine or Vitamin D) and see if it correlates with a consequence (infection rate). But that’s much harder when the consequence can vary widely depending on a few strokes of luck, the way that the wrong person was in the wrong place sometime in mid-February in South Korea. That’s one reason multi-country comparisons have struggled to identify dynamics that sufficiently explain the trajectories of different places.Once we recognize super-spreading as a key lever, countries that look as if they were too relaxed in some aspects appear very different, and our usual polarized debates about the pandemic are scrambled, too. Take Sweden, an alleged example of the great success or the terrible failure of herd immunity without lockdowns, depending on whom you ask. In reality, although Sweden joins many other countries in failing to protect elderly populations in congregate-living facilities, its measures that target super-spreading have been stricter than many other European countries. Although it did not have a complete lockdown, as Kucharski pointed out to me, Sweden imposed a 50-person limit on indoor gatherings in March, and did not remove the cap even as many other European countries eased such restrictions after beating back the first wave. (Many are once again restricting gathering sizes after seeing a resurgence.) Plus, the country has a small household size and fewer multigenerational households compared to most of Europe, which further limits transmission and cluster possibilities. It kept schools fully open without distancing or masks, but only for children under 16, who are unlikely to be super-spreaders of this disease. Both transmission and illness risks go up with age, and Sweden went all online for higher-risk high-school and university students—the opposite of what we did in the United States. It also encouraged social-distancing, and closed down indoor places that failed to observe the rules. From an overdispersion and super-spreading point of view, Sweden would not necessarily be classified as among the most lax countries, but nor is it the most strict. It simply doesn’t deserve this oversize place in our debates assessing different strategies.Although overdispersion makes some usual methods of studying causal connections harder, we can study failures to understand which conditions turn bad luck into catastrophes, and we can also study sustained success because bad luck will eventually hit everyone, and the response matters.The most informative case studies may well be those that got hit by terrible luck early on, like South Korea, and yet managed to bring about significant suppression. In contrast, Europe was widely praised for its opening early on, but that was premature; many countries there are now experiencing widespread rises in cases and look similar to the United States in some measures. In fact, Europe’s achieving a measure of success this summer and relaxing, including opening up indoor events with larger numbers, is instructive in another important aspect of managing an overdispersed pathogen: Compared with a steadier regime, success in a stochastic scenario can be more fragile than it looks.Once a country has too many outbreaks, it’s almost as if the pandemic switches into “flu mode,” as Scarpino put it, meaning high, sustained levels of community spread even though a majority of infected people may not be transmitting onward. Scarpino explained that barring truly drastic measures, once in that widespread and elevated mode, COVID-19 can keep spreading because of the sheer number of chains already out there. Plus, the overwhelming numbers may eventually spark more clusters, further worsening the situation. As Kucharski put it, a relatively quiet period can hide how quickly things can tip over into large outbreaks and how a few chained amplification events can rapidly turn a seemingly under-control situation into a disaster. We’re often told that if Rt, the real-time measure of the average spread, is above one, the pandemic is growing, and that below one, it’s dying out. That may be true for an epidemic that is not overdispersed, and while an Rt below one is certainly good, but it’s misleading to take too much comfort from a low Rt when just a few events can reignite massive numbers. No country should forget South Korea’s Patient 31.That said, overdispersion is also a cause for hope, as South Korea’s aggressive and successful response to that outbreak—with a massive testing, tracing, and isolating regime—shows. Since then, South Korea has also been practicing sustained vigilance, and has demonstrated the importance of backward tracing. When a series of clusters linked to nightclubs broke out in Seoul recently, health authorities aggressively traced and tested tens of thousands of people linked to the venues, regardless of their interactions with the index case, six feet apart or not—a sensible response, given that we know the pathogen is airborne.Perhaps one of the most interesting cases has been Japan, a country with middling luck that got hit early on and followed what appeared to be an unconventional model, not deploying mass testing and never fully shutting down. By the end of March, influential economists were publishing reports with dire warnings, predicting overloads in the hospital system and huge spikes in deaths. The predicted catastrophe never came to be, however, and although the country faced some future waves, there was never a large spike in deaths despite its aging population, uninterrupted use of mass transportation, dense cities, and no formal lockdown.It’s not that Japan was better situated than the United States in the beginning. Similar to the U.S. and Europe, Oshitani told me, Japan did not initially have the PCR capacity to do widespread testing. Nor could it impose a full lockdown or strict stay-at-home orders; even if that had been desirable, it would not have been legally possible in Japan.Oshitani told me that in Japan, they had noticed the overdispersion characteristics of COVID-19 as early as February, and thus created a strategy focusing mostly on cluster-busting, which tries to prevent one cluster from igniting another. Oshitani said to me that he believes that “the chain of transmission cannot be sustained without a chain of clusters or a megacluster.” Japan thus carried out a cluster-busting approach, including undertaking aggressive backward tracing to uncover clusters. Japan also focused on ventilation, counseling its population to avoid places where the three C’s come together: crowds in closed spaces in close contact, especially if there’s talking or singing—bringing together the science of overdispersion with the recognition of airborne aerosol transmission as well as presymptomatic and asymptomatic transmission.Oshitani contrasts the Japanese trifecta, nailing almost every important feature of the pandemic early on, with the Western response, trying to eliminate the disease “one by one” when that's not necessarily the main way it spreads. Indeed, Japan got its cases down, but kept up its vigilance: When the government started noticing an uptick in community cases, it initiated a state of emergency in April and tried hard to incentivize the kinds of businesses that could lead to super-spreading events, such as theaters, music venues, and sports stadiums, to close down temporarily. Now schools are back in session in person, and even stadiums are open—but without chanting.It’s not always the restrictiveness of the rules, but whether they target the right dangers. As Morris put it, “Japan’s commitment to ‘cluster-busting’ allowed it to achieve impressive mitigation with judiciously chosen restrictions. Countries that have ignored super-spreading have risked getting the worst of both worlds: burdensome restrictions that fail to achieve substantial mitigation. The U.K.’s recent decision to limit outdoor gatherings to six people while allowing pubs and bars to remain open is just one of many such examples.”Could we get back to a much more normal life by focusing on limiting the conditions for super-spreading events, aggressively engaging in cluster-busting, and deploying cheap, rapid mass tests—that is, once we get our case numbers down to low enough numbers to carry out such a strategy? (Many places with low community transmission could start immediately.) Once we look for and see the forest, it becomes easier to find our way out.
Disney producing 'Lion King' prequel helmed by Oscar-winner Barry Jenkins
Following the live-action remake of "The Lion King," Disney is doubling down by forging ahead with a sequel helmed by Oscar-winning "Moonlight" director Barry Jenkins.
Portland-area sheriff says he 'will never' support Donald Trump after president claims endorsement during debate
Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese quickly shut down President Donald Trump's claim that he had endorsed the president Tuesday.
San Diego police probe claim that officer’s Instagram mocked memorial for man he fatally shot
An officer accused of posting a photo on social media belittling a memorial for a man he fatally shot is under investigation by the San Diego Police Department and has been suspended without pay, officials said. The department ordered a review of officer Jonathan Lucas after fielding questions about the incident, Sgt. Matthew Botkin told...
Neanderthal genes are a liability for virus patients, study says
A study identifies a cluster of genes that are linked to a higher risk of hospitalization and respiratory failure in patients who are infected with the virus.
Trump was the interrupter-in-chief at Tuesday’s debate. It wasn’t close.
Trump was responsible for more than three-fourths of the interruptions Tuesday night. And to be clear, it was against the rules to interrupt.
As the Election Looms, Investors See Uncertainty. They Don’t Like It.
The stock market has been on a tear for much of 2020, but there is now more volatility as investors worry about the outcome of the presidential vote.
Opinion: The next presidential debate needs a Trump timeout room
Tuesday's debate between Trump and Biden could have used a mom -- someone who knows how to exert some discipline over a heedless child.
The West’s Animals Can’t Survive This
When Jon Gallie awoke in his Washington home to find his phone brimming with texts and voicemails, he felt dread. The Pearl Hill Fire had exploded overnight, and would soon destroy dozens of buildings in Douglas County. Gallie’s messages, however, didn’t concern his property. They were about his rabbits.Gallie, a biologist at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, is tasked with stewarding the Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit, the smallest rabbit in North America, and one of the rarest in the world. Brachylagus idahoensis is an unpretentious creature, a grapefruit-size ball of beige fur that spends its life nibbling sagebrush and cowering from hawks. In the late 1990s, the rabbit’s population crashed, compelling scientists to eventually capture the survivors and launch a breeding program. Today, several hundred rabbits scamper across three designated recovery areas—the most fruitful of which lay in the Pearl Hill Fire’s path.[Read: The United States has become a disaster area]At dusk, after the fire had moved on, Gallie ventured into the burn. He found only dune and dust, the sagebrush burned to ash. The next night, he told his colleagues the grim news: Perhaps half of the world’s remaining Columbia Basin pygmy rabbits had been baked or asphyxiated.“We lost not only the animals, but the entire recovery area,” an exhausted Gallie told me a couple of weeks later. “It took everything we’ve worked on for years and basically vaporized it in one night.”The Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit is, in theory, just the sort of critter that should garner national headlines: adorable, endangered, utterly dependent on us for its survival. And yet this may well be the first you’re reading of its plight. When Australia ignited last winter, by contrast, wildlife dominated the news: Global outlets mourned the estimated 3 billion creatures that fires killed or displaced, The New York Times ran a front-page photo of a flame-silhouetted kangaroo, and journalists wrote so many stories about mittens for burnt-pawed koalas that animal rehabbers were overwhelmed by donations. Now that America is the country in flames, though, animal coverage has been sparse. Although domestic livestock and pets occasionally crack the fire news cycle, the media has spilled little ink over the fate of their wild counterparts.Perhaps it’s because we prize the distant over the proximate, the peculiar over the commonplace: Wombats seem precious, coyotes expendable. Still, in Oregon, state biologists are fretting about mountain goats, which may have struggled to escape fast-moving burns along narrow cliff faces. In Washington, officials claim that the Pearl Hill Fire cost the state anywhere from 30 to 70 percent of its remaining sage grouse. Deer have been incinerated, porcupines torched.Yet focusing on individual losses obscures a larger, population-level truth: Wildlife is exquisitely adapted to thrive alongside fire. In California alone, prehistoric blazes, both lightning-sparked and Native-lit, toasted anywhere from 4.4 to 11.9 million acres annually—far more than have burned in this “record-setting” year. These blazes trigger ecological chain reactions of wondrous complexity. Wood-boring beetles swarm dead trees in charred “snag forests” to lay their eggs, which hatch into larvae that attract black-backed woodpeckers, which drill cavities that furnish nests for bluebirds and nuthatches. Native bees drone in sunlit meadows; warblers flit between new shrubs. When dead trees topple, they shelter snakes and rodents, which feed hawks and owls.[Read: The West has never felt so small]Fire, in other words, isn’t a biodiversity crisis. Rather, it’s the absence of fire—the burgeoning “fire deficit” exacerbated by Smokey Bear’s dogma of suppression—that has been the true catastrophe for wildlife. In California’s Sierra Nevada, the birds in most precipitous decline are those, such as the olive-sided flycatcher, that rely on fire to regenerate habitat. “These areas that are dominated by dead trees, areas that people mistakenly think are destroyed, are ecological treasures,” Chad Hanson, an ecologist and the director of the John Muir Project, told me.We humans, too, have been imperiled by a century of overzealous firefighting. Managed and prescribed burns, or “good fire,” can help preempt town-swallowing “megafires” by creating what the reporter Elizabeth Weil has described as “a black-and-green checkerboard” of varying flammability. Wildlife biologists likewise celebrate this mosaic, which is formed by different burn intensities, or “pyrodiversity.” One 2018 study, for instance, found that although adult black-backed woodpeckers foraged in severely burnt areas, their offspring hung out in still-living trees nearby, perhaps because the canopy served as a shield from hawks. The needs of woodpeckers and humans might thus be aligned: We are both creatures of pyrodiversity.Historically, the fire mosaic protected animals by allowing for refugia, fire-resistant spots that shelter wildlife during burns and in their aftermath. Refugia come in many forms: They can be talus slopes or snowfields, beaver ponds or old-growth forests. Nearly all of them are becoming scarce. California has drained 90 percent of its wetlands in the past century, while Oregon has cut down a similar proportion of its old growth, edging out rare creatures such as the red tree vole and the spotted owl. As climate-fueled fires burn larger and hotter, refugia, and the pyrodiversity they encourage, may become rarer still.[Read: The most important number for the West’s hideous fire season]“We celebrate the birth of young forests, like the birth of any child, but we’re also worried about the old,” Meg Krawchuk, a pyrogeographer at Oregon State University, told me. “We lost so many of them in the past, and fire is nibbling away at them now.”Refugia aren’t just becoming scarcer; they’re also harder to reach. When you’re hemmed in by people, even the act of fleeing fire puts you in harm’s way: The California Department of Fish and Wildlife recently warned that bobcats, cougars, and bears may become roadkill as they seek unburned habitat. The problem, says Bev Law, a professor emeritus at Oregon State, is that we have failed to adequately protect the corridors that wildlife need to navigate fragmented landscapes—not only immediately after fires, but as climate change rearranges their niches in the longer term. “Animals need escape routes, but there’s been a huge loss of connectivity between intact forests,” Law says.Human settlement, as Gallie told me, is a “preexisting condition” that makes otherwise resilient species vulnerable. Our roads, our sprawl, our farms, our clear-cuts: They are all comorbidities. Take the Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit, which has been hopping across Washington’s wind-blasted sagebrush steppe for millennia. The rabbits endured thousands of fires in their evolutionary history, hunkering down in burrows as the flames passed overhead and, later, feasting on the rejuvenated sagebrush. But now agriculture and development have devoured 80 percent of the steppe since the mid-1800s, squeezing rabbits into tiny recovery areas. In that context, a single fire can pose a threat—a natural force in an unnatural world.Given enough time and space, though, even the pygmy bunnies could still benefit from the Pearl Hill Fire. Elsewhere in Washington, Gallie has observed high rabbit numbers in areas with lots of old sagebrush stumps. When he asked some locals about the source of the stumps, they told him it was a fire, way back in the 1980s.“It shows us that there’s light at the end of the tunnel,” Gallie said. “It’s just that the tunnel is 30 years long.”
'We're coming for it all:' Cardinals return to normalcy after daunting season heading into playoffs against Padres
Normalcy, at last: The Cardinals call it a miracle they even reached the postseason, and as long as they're here, they plan to hang around.
As coronavirus curbs Nepal’s festivals, devotees fear gods’ anger
KATHMANDU, Nepal — The revered living goddess is not leaving her temple this year. The old palace courtyard packed with hundreds of thousands of people each year during the Indrajatra festival is deserted, the temples are locked and all public celebrations are banned by the government to curb the coronavirus. Autumn is the festival season...
Op-Ed: We're gonna need a mute button to survive the presidential debates
In the history of American presidential debates, there never has been a spectacle of imprecations and interruptions like Tuesday night's prize fight.
Relative details horrific moment son finds mom after she was struck by stray bullet
A relative recalled the horrifying moment a teenager found his mother bleeding to death in their Queens apartment, moments after she was struck in the head by a stray bullet inside her bedroom early Wednesday. Angel Gabriel, 14, burst through the bedroom door of his family’s third-floor apartment on 34th Avenue to find his mom,...
Joe, Interrupted
There’s a story that Donald Trump tells, in The Art of the Deal, about playing with his brother Robert when they were kids. Each boy had his own set of blocks. Then Donald decided—in a whim that he suggests portended his future career—to turn the toys into a real-estate property. “I ended up using all of my blocks, and then all of his, and when I was done, I’d created a beautiful building,” Trump writes. “I liked it so much that I glued the whole thing together. And that was the end of Robert’s blocks.”I thought of that story last night, as President Trump, having long since graduated to other forms of perfidy, met former Vice President Joe Biden in an event that was sold as a “debate” but was in practice one more parable about Trump’s great appetite for destruction. Over the course of the event, the president refused, once again, to condemn white supremacists. He told a far-right group known to engage in armed violence at protests to “stand back, and stand by.” He insulted Hunter Biden, before a national audience, to the father of Hunter Biden. As usual, Trump weaponized his words. But he also wreaked havoc through the words that were not said: Trump interrupted both Joe Biden and the event’s moderator, Chris Wallace, at nearly every turn. He used this rare moment of mass attention not to communicate with a weary public, but instead to sow empty chaos. He filibustered his own debate. The whole thing was a “shitshow,” CNN’s Dana Bash said, correctly. It was an insult to the memory of the more than 200,000 Americans who have died of COVID-19. It was an insult to the Americans who took time out of their hectic lives to listen to the men who seek to lead them. It was Donald Trump, taking the building blocks of a democracy and making them unusable for anyone else.[Read: Do you speak Fox?]Interruption is such a familiar form of disrespect. To be interrupted—in a meeting, in a casual conversation, on a presidential-debate stage—is to be told, with blunt efficiency, that your voice is not as important as the voice of the person who is talking over you. It is to be informed, through the prevention of the words you are trying to utter, that you matter just a little bit less. Welcome to the club, Joe and Chris. The water’s warm, and deeply condescending. Many women, last night, remarked on the ugly intimacy of it all. (Hillary Clinton—who was interrupted by Trump 51 times during a single presidential debate in 2016—was one of them.) But Trump, while he was interrupting Biden and Wallace, was also interrupting the notion of debate itself. He was rejecting the rules he had agreed to. This was one of Donald Trump’s defining traits—his conviction that the rules, whether they relate to taxes or debate questions or human decency, do not apply to him—playing out in real time. “President Trump acted as the abuser tonight,” MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace (no relation) said, “and Chris Wallace was among the abused.”In that sense, the interruptions worked as their own empty messages. Much of Trump’s speech doubles as promises made to the people inclined to admire him: You, too, could be rich, or pretend to be. You, too, can insult other people and dismiss their indignation as political correctness. You, too, can do what you want, when you want, because you have defined political freedom as social impunity. So Trump’s bulldozing and steamrolling had a certain inverse eloquence. The interruptions broke the rules of the debate, and delighted in the breaking. They gratified Trump’s delusions of dominance. They spoke to Americans who share Trump’s conviction that destruction is a means to power.And through the interruptions, the president attempted to change the terms of the debate itself, from the words that were spoken to the words that were not. Shortly after the event concluded, the Trump campaign–led Twitter account @TrumpWarRoom tweeted, Chris Wallace only interrupted Joe Biden 15 times. Wallace interrupted President Trump 76 times! #Debates2020 The account did not mention that Trump was the evening’s interrupter in chief. What it did do, though, was suggest that interruption itself was the appropriate metric for assessing the debate’s outcome. It tried to turn the event into another allegory of media bias—in this case, a Fox News anchor’s favoring the Democratic candidate. This was another way of breaking the rules.I could feel Wallace’s helplessness, in the face of all this, pulsing through the TV screen. And I could feel the familiar frustration of not being heard—of realizing that the conversation you think you’re a part of is not a conversation at all, but a monologue that has been aimed at your general direction. “You’re going to have—gentlemen!” Wallace said at one point, driven to self-interruption as crosstalk overtook the debate. (He added: “I hate to raise my voice!”) At another point: “The country would be better served if we allow both people to speak with fewer interruptions. I’m appealing to you to do that.” At another: “Mr. President. Your campaign agreed that both sides would get two-minute answers, uninterrupted … Why don’t you observe what your campaign agreed to as a ground rule?”[Read: Trump is building a dystopia in real time]But Wallace knew why. Many of those watching knew why. If you have no words to offer, absent words become a strategy. If you have nothing to add to the conversation, you might try to exit the conversation. A democracy is, at its core, a discussion; the person leading this one is failing even at the level of dialogue itself. At the end of the evening, the pollster Frank Luntz convened a focus group of independent voters from swing states. He asked them to sum up the performances of each candidate using only one word or phrase. Among the assessments the voters offered of Biden were “better than expected,” “definitely more professional than Trump,” “competent,” “coherent,” “leader,” “attentive and rehearsed,” “showed restraint and compassion,” “humanity and integrity,” “predictable,” “presidential.” Among the reactions they offered for Trump: “horrid,” “chaotic,” “unpolished,” “unhinged,” “bully,” “arrogant,” and “un-American.”
5,000 pets found dead in boxes at Chinese shipping depot
A local rescue group says only about 250 rabbits, guinea pigs, cats and dogs were saved from the huge shipment, likely victims of the online pet trade.
Best bets for Week 4: Just pick against the NFC East
The NFC East is a combined 2-10-0 against the spread this year, the worst showing of any division through three weeks since at least 2007.
Mac Davis, country singer known for writing popular Elvis Presley hits, dead at 78
Country musician Mac Davis, known for writing enduring Elvis hits like "A Little Less Conversation" and "In the Ghetto," has died at age 78.
Side by side yet worlds apart
Elizabeth Nourse’s 1891 painting is so tender, so probing, so lacking in ego that it shames any attempt to find words for it.
Kevin Young Named Director Of National Museum Of African American History And Culture
"I am eager to engage further directions in the museum's mission, embracing our digital present and future while furthering conversations around Black history, art, liberation and joy," Young says.
Senate panel advances Homeland Security secretary nominee along party lines
Chad Wolf's nomination to be Homeland Security secretary moved ahead Wednesday, following a party-line vote by the Senate Homeland Security Committee.
Comey defends Russia investigation as 'essential' despite missteps
Former FBI Director James Comey defended the Russia investigation in heated testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Another Titans player tests positive for coronavirus; this week’s game likely to be played
The NFL regards the lack of a wider outbreak on the Titans as a positive sign that Tennessee can play the Steelers in Week 4.
U.S. intel "not sufficiently adapted" to address China threat, report says
The U.S. must shift areas of focus and realign the resources it has dedicated to addressing the strategic threat from China, a House report concluded.
What Happened to Shanann Watts? 'American Murder' Spoilers Tell Full Story of Her Tragic Death
The documentary relies heavily on the mother's social media posts.
Commentary: How L.A.'s small-theater community is fighting for its life
The economic devastation of the pandemic is taking a profound toll on L.A.'s small theaters. Camaraderie, and action, are easing the pain.
Greenland Ice Sheet on course to lose ice at fastest rate in 12,000 years, study finds
The projected melting would dump huge quantities of freshwater into the sea, raising global sea levels and disrupting ocean currents.