Don’t Breathe: There’s a life form that doesn’t require oxygen

From the realm of the really cool:

Henneguya salminicola is a species related to jellyfish, a multicellular animal that does not need oxygen to live.

H. salminicola is a parasite that lives in fish.  It’s harmless to people, but leaves white spots on the fish it infects.

Animal that doesn’t need oxygen to survive discovered

24 February 2020

by Michael Le Page

Breathing oxygen is seen as a fundamental characteristic of multicellular animals, but we have found at least one that can’t do it.

“It has lost the ability to breathe oxygen,” says Dorothee Huchon at Tel Aviv University in Israel. It remains a mystery how this animal, a parasite that infects salmon, gets the energy it needs without oxygen, she says, but it probably steals it from its host.

All plants and animals were thought to use oxygen to generate a fuel called adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which powers cellular processes. The generation of ATP from oxygen takes places in structures called mitochondria.

Each mitochondrion has its own tiny genome that is separate from the main genome in the cell nucleus. But when Huchon and her colleagues sequenced the DNA of Henneguya salminicola, which is related to jellyfish, they thought they had made a mistake because they found no mitochondrial DNA at all.

Further studies confirmed the finding. When the team stained H. salminicola with a blue fluorescent dye that binds to DNA, no DNA was visible in cells outside the nucleus. By contrast, when they stained a closely related parasite, blue dots corresponding to mitochondrial genomes were visible outside the nucleus.

So while the cells of H. salminicola have structures that look like mitochondria, they can’t make the enzymes needed to use oxygen to produce ATP. “These are not true mitochondria,” says Huchon.

Age Out: Is this ‘The Plague’ in real life?

In their latest attempt to incite panic and sell ad space, the talking heads on Chicken Noodle News (CNN) are rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of mass deaths in countries with less developed health care systems.  You can almost see the glint in their eye, hoping that much of the population in countries like Iran will be wiped out.  But given that about 80% of Iran’s population is under 54 years old, that’s unlikely.  It’s times like this I’m glad I live on an island that can isolate itself.

COVID-19 is peculiar in who it affects the most and least.  The average age of those who die is 75, and the vast majority of those who died were over 50 and had other health issues (e.g. diabetes, cancer, heart conditions, etc.).  Those least affected have been children under 10, youths under 20, pregnant women and women in general.  I have not seen any mention of deaths among pregnant women and those under age 20, and reports said less than 200 children worldwide were sick.  It makes you wonder if there’s something specific about age and resistance to the disease.  Medical staff in China who contracted the disease and died were younger (in their 30s), but they were constantly exposed and in close proximity, on top of working 16+ hours per day without days off since they began working.

If COVID-19 becomes a worldwide pandemic, it’s likely not poor countries or countries with large populations of young people that will be hardest hit.  Rather, those with aging populations and “first world lifestyles” will likely suffer the most.

Study of 72,000 COVID-19 patients finds 2.3% death rate

Stephanie Soucheray | News Reporter | CIDRAP News | Feb 24, 2020

Researchers from China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention today describe the clinical findings on more than 72,000 COVID-19 cases reported in mainland China, which reveal a case-fatality rate (CFR) of 2.3% and suggest most cases are mild, but the disease hits the elderly the hardest.

The study, published in JAMA, is the largest patient-based study on the novel coronavirus, which was first connected to seafood market in Wuhan, China, in December, and has since traversed the globe.

Death rate in critically ill: 49% or higher

A total of 72,314 COVID-19 cases, diagnosed through Feb 11 were used for the study. Of the 72,314 cases, 44,672 were classified as confirmed cases of COVID-19 (62%; diagnosis based on positive throat swab samples), 16,186 as suspected cases (diagnosis based on symptoms and exposures only), 10,567 as clinically diagnosed cases (from Hubei province only, diagnoses based on symptoms, including lung x-ray), and 889 as asymptomatic cases (diagnosis by positive test result but lacking typical symptoms).

“Most cases were diagnosed in Hubei Province (75%) and most reported Wuhan-related exposures (86%; ie, Wuhan resident or visitor or close contact with Wuhan resident or visitor,” the authors said.

Eighty-seven percent of patients were aged 30 to 79 years (38,680 cases). This age-group was the most affected by a wide margin, followed by ages 20 to 29 (3,619 cases, or 8%), those 80 and older (1,408 cases, or 3%), and 1% each in ages less than 10 and 10 to 19 years.

Of the confirmed cases, 1,023 patients—all in critical condition—died from the virus, which results in a CFR of 2.3%. The CFR jumped considerably among older patients, to 14.8% in patients 80 and older, and 8.0% in patients ages 70 to 79. Among the critically ill, the CFR was 49.0%.

A smaller study today based on 52 critically ill patients at a Wuhan hospital confirms this finding. Thirty-two of the 52 critically ill patients (61.5%) died, and older age and acute respiratory distress syndrome were correlated with mortality.

The authors of the smaller study also found that 30 (81%) of 37 patients requiring mechanical ventilation had died by 28 days.

I’m mostly joking when I ask if this is “The Plague” come to life.  Mostly.

Schadenfreude Felt: I wonder what Winnie The Pooh will say now

Winnie the Pooh (a/k/a Xi Limping, as he limps from one crisis to another) has manipulated the WHO and UN to prevent Taiwan from having information on COVID-19.  Taiwan has been getting information third hand from the US’s CDC.

The mass murdering regime in Beijing continues to fumble, mishandle and make the coronavirus situation worse.  Prisons in three different provinces have reported at least 500 cases of COVID-19.  Given the dictatorship’s attitude towards human rights (“you are property of the state and disposable”) and the appalling conditions in China’s prisons, I doubt they will receive any medical care.  I would not put it past them to lock the doors and leave everyone to die.

On Friday, came the first sign of hope: a company named Adimmune has announced they are developing a vaccine based on the COVID-19 virus.  Care to guess which country Adimmune is based in?  Click to read more….

[Read more…]

The Boy Scouts: Now as financially bankrupt as they are morally

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) have declared financial bankruptcy to go along with their moral bankruptcy, having paid over US$150 million in compensation to victims since 2017.  Unlike the catholic cult or fundamentalist christian churches in the US, they lack the finances to continue paying victims, and they lack the political, judicial, jurisdictional and criminal connections to hide their crimes.

Documents coming out of the BSA show that they have covered up and been aware of sexual abuses by adult men from the very beginning of the BS, one hundred years. Over 7800 names are in the lists (source: BBC link below).  The BSA did the same things the catholic church did: call in favours to threaten and silence victims, pay hush money, and worst of all, move sexual predators from one troop to another instead of kicking them out.

BBC: Boy Scouts of America: Why is it filing for bankruptcy?

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has filed for bankruptcy as it faces increasing legal costs over sexual abuse cases.

A spokesman said the move would make sure that the organisation would be kept running and that compensation would be paid to victims.

The group has more than two million members across the United States but the membership has been declining.

Chief executive Roger Mosby said in a statement: “The BSA cares deeply about all victims of abuse and sincerely apologises to anyone who was harmed during their time in scouting.

“We are outraged that there have been times when individuals took advantage of our programs to harm innocent children.”

Predictably, that guttersnipe and gutter trash Tony Perkins is repeating fictions after the BSA’s collapse:

Tony Perkins: The Boy Scouts of America collapsed because they gave in to ‘LGBT activists’

In an op-ed published at the Family Research Council’s website this Tuesday, FRC president Tony Perkins delved into what he sees as the culprit for the recent “collapse” of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) — a collapse that was one of the “saddest, most predictable ‘I-told-you-so’ moments of our generation,” according to him.

Perkins is referring to the recent Associated Press report that says the BSA announced its filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection amid a wave of sexual abuse lawsuits.


“The Scouts spent years in court just for the freedom to stick to their moral code,” Perkins writes. “They won — but to the organization’s dismay — the battle didn’t end. Waves of LGBT activists kept coming. The pressure built and built until finally, in 2013, under the leadership of Rex Tillerson, headquarters gave into the lie that compromise would be their salvation. Seven years later, the irony is: there’s nothing left to save.”

Is he stupid enough to believe 20 years of atheists and LGBTQIA people “brought down the BSA!” and not a century of pedophilia and rape? Does he arrogantly believe anyone besides MAGAts are stupid enough to listen to him?

As per usual, the ignorant and dishonest cast aspersions.  An adult male raping a boy does not “demonstrate homosexuality”, it demonstrates that a predator sought out and had access to boys because he had no access to girls.  The adult relationships of pedophiles indicates their sexual orientation, not the children’s genitalia.  Fifty percent of children are girls, yet they make up two-thirds of the victims.  Pedophilia is a crime of access and availability.

My “parents” were lazy when it came to anything they didn’t directly benefit from, so I was never involved in the BS of Canada.  Knowing what we do now, I’m glad I never was.

WHO Understands: If you owe someone, they own you

Well, this explains a lot:

The WHO refuses to share medical information with Taiwan.

The WHO’s social media “staff” are Chinese nationals.

The WHO and ICAO (a UN body) are silencing and banning any criticism of China’s policies.

The current “director general” of the World Health Organization was appointed in 2017, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of Ethiopia.

China “invested” in Ethiopia, buying and building massive infrastructure.

In 2018, China “forgave” Ethiopia’s interest free loan debt.

Clearly, the mass murderers in Beijing have learned the US’s playbook very well (e.g. weaponizing the IMF).

Who’s your debtor?


Age Gracefully: Five years or fifty three?

Sunday marks my 53rd birthday.  I’m also celebrating it as the fifth anniversary of my transition, though I usually do that at New Year’s. I don’t remember the exact date that I said, “I have to transition or I’m going to die,” all that matters is that it happened.

I wrote a mini-autobiography (with songs) on facebook.  I won’t repost it here because it’s too long (a main post, thirteen comments and fourteen video links).  However, everything on the post is “public” so those not logged in can read it (as far as I know), you just can’t react.  I limit comments to my friends list due to harassers and “chasers”.

Though it’s only five years out of fifty three and seems like a short time, the distance I’ve come is amazing: starting out close to a mental breakdown; tentative steps in experimenting with makeup, clothes and wigs; going public; socializing and making friends; living openly full time (aside from work).  The only downer about my time since coming out is that I can’t take HRT.  I did for a few weeks about two years ago, but it put such a strain on my heart I ended up on heart medication for eight months.  (Better, now.)

Out of curiosity, I looked up famous people born on the same day.  Many I’m glad to be associated with, and one, I’m like…aiyah!  No, no, no!  The first name is my favourite of the bunch, though I’ve watched the entirety of “The Doctor’s” career.

Famous people I like sharing the day with:

1953 – Roberta Williams (games designer for Sierra Online)

1955 – Janice Dickinson (who helped convict Bill Cosby)

1957 – LeVar Burton (and 2335 – Geordi Laforge on Star Trek)

1964 – Christopher Eccleston (Dr. Who, 28 Days Later, Cracker)

1973 – Cathy Freeman (Australian olympian)

1975 – Vanina Ickx (race driver)

1979 – Valentino Rossi, aka “The Doctor” (MotoGP 7x World Champion, 115 career wins)

It is just me, or does Valentino Rossi look like Krusty the Clown from The Simpsons?

People I’m okay to share the same birthday with:

1951 – William Katt (Greatest American Hero, Carrie)

1952 – James Ingram (singer, who sadly died last month)

1959 – John McEnroe

1960 – Peter “Pete” Willis (guitarist, Def Leppard)

1961 – Andy Taylor (guitarist, Duran Duran)

1958 – Tracy Lauren Marrow (aka Ice-T)

Those I’m embarrassed to have the same birthday:

1935 – Sonny Bono

1942 – Kim Jong-Il

Here are some notable historical events from February 16:

1881 – The Canadian Pacific Railway is incorporated and operating. Without the promise of a national railway in 1871, the western half of Canada (BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Yukon) would have joined the yanquis. Instead, Canada became a coast-to-coast nation.

1959 – Fidel Castro becomes Prime Minister of Cuba

1968 – In Haleyville, Alabama, the first 9-1-1 emergency telephone system goes into service.

1978 – The first computer bulletin board system is created (CBBS in Chicago, which I mentioned a month ago).

1985 – Hezbollah is founded.

2005 – Russia ratifies the Kyoto Protocol, becoming law.

[Read more…]

How Diseases Taxi: Taiwan’s first COVID-19 death was a cab driver

A cab driver is the first Taiwanese citizen or resident to die from COVID-19.   He is the ninteenth known patient.

While it is important to find out who he caught it from, it’s also important to find out who was in his cab afterward.  Did he pass it on to others?  That could be difficult if there were no in-car video camera.  Some cabs take payment by credit card or Easy Card (metro cards for bus and subway), but even those who do ususally use cash.

Unfortunately, the title is cringeworthy.  It’s not the “Wuhan virus”:

WUHAN VIRUS/Taiwan reports first death from coronavirus infection (update)

Taipei, Feb. 16 (CNA) Taiwan on Sunday reported the nation’s first death from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), a 61-year-old male living in central Taiwan, according to the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).

The patient, who had Hepatitis B and diabetes, had not traveled overseas recently and no known contact with COVID-19 patients, according to Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC. The authorities are still working to determine how the man became infected.

“This could be Taiwan’s first community transmitted case,” Chen noted. The man is the nation’s 19th confirmed coronovirus patient.

CNA has learned the unidentified man was a taxi driver who had many customers that regularly travel to and from China, Hong Kong and Macau.

The health authorities are now checking the man’s phone records, medical records and CCTV footage of his travel history within the country in order to determine how he was infected with the deadly virus.

Multiple sources will tell you diseases are never be named after people or places because of the inherent racism and judging of people from that area.  Calling it the “Wuhan virus” plays into anti-China racism, just as “Zika”, “Hanta” and “Ebola” names do.

The PRC has taken the step of destroying paper currency from the Wuhan area.  Do they know something they’re not telling?  (Warning: South China Morning Post – link above – is a known PRC mouthpiece.)

Venn Diagram Vent: When whining goes wrong

As a foreigner living abroad, other foreigners can be very embarrassing, and not just those involved and murder and the drug trade.

A foreigner living in Taiwan who calls himself “the salty egg” is infamous for his “blog” full of his ignorance, sexism, racism and all-round stupidity.  But his latest post, “The Whiny Women of Taiwan”, take’s the pig’s blood cake.  I won’t quote it, read it at your own (white) peril.

I wrote a rebuttal, The Whiny White Males In Asia, advice for any white male considering life abroad and isn’t married.

My experience over eighteen years in Asia is that White Males who date women in country fall into these categories:

1) Lonely: The ones who want to meet women. Desperately. As I tell people, “If you can’t go three days without having a conversation, don’t live abroad.” Never get involved because you have a short term need for attention.

2) Proselytizers: Religious fanatics who view it as a “right” and “duty” to spew religion in other people’s countries. I’ve heard of some who “date, impregnate and vacate”, running away from children and legal responsibilities.

3) Incels: Those who couldn’t get a date at home go abroad, ignorantly believing that women in these countries can’t spot a loser. Trust me, women are smart everywhere.

4) Abusers: Those who hope that because they aren’t as awful as local men (in countries where Intimate Partner Violence is still common) they will somehow be more attractive.

5) Mail Order Bride Takeout: Unscrupulous companies used to matchmake women who wanted to emigrate with men who can’t get dates at home or women won’t date them. Some of those Mite Whales started going abroad to find women themselves.

6) “Yellow Fever”: The subtle racism of fetishizing a country, culture and language (e.g. weeaboos).

While the Venn Diagram of these groups is far from being a circle, there is a LOT of overlap (e.g. 2&6, 3&4&5, etc.). I knew a fundy who married a Korean woman, took her back to his country and physically and mentally abused her.

Bottom line:

1) Every country is pretty much the same except for basket cases like North Korea, China, Somalia, Zimbabwe and the US.

2) People in other countries don’t act, they react. If you’re nice, they’ll be nice. If you’re a jerk, they won’t talk to you. Nobody is obligated to kiss your posterior.

3) People are smart everywhere, except for those blinded by propaganda (i.e. those who think another country is a utopia of “freedumb”). Be honest about your country’s flaws.

4) If you’re white, never claim “racism” while abroad. First off, racism requires systematic oppression by government and every other system within a country. Second, the way white people are treated in non-white countries is far better than how they would be treated if they visited yours. They would never yell “speak my language!” at you but your country wouldn’t hesitate to do that if they visited yours.

This is not the be-all-and-end-all list, and I’ve probably got a few things wrong.  But if you do consider living abroad, be sure of your motivations and have realistic expectations.  And as I said near the top: If you can’t go three days without having a conversation, don’t live abroad because that often happens in a country where you don’t speak the language.  Clingy and needy people tend not to last, or take up bad habits.  I knew an Irishman in South Korea who got involved with the moonie cult, and seen many turn to heavy drinking.

Date And Predate: Valentine’s day sucks

A public service announcement:
In December, people are told “participate or shut up” in a commercialized event.  In May, woman are labelled “barren” and “failures” if they don’t have any sprog to participate in that commercialized event.  And in February, people are labelled “failures” for not having a romantic or sexual relationship nor a marriage during another commercialized event.
Your worth isn’t determined by whether you have someone at home to have sex with. It’s determined by how you treat others and the quality of your character. Loving yourself is all you need, don’t let corporations dehumanize you while selling products.
Some anti-valentines songs for you, this and in the comments.
“She Don’t Love Nobody”, by Nick Lowe
(written by John Hiatt, lyrics below)


[Read more…]

Music Rules: Black Sabbath, fifty years on

It’s shocking to think it was fifty years ago, but Black Sabbath unleashed their debut album on February 13, 1970.  Raise your fists and show me your horns.  The video below is a playlist of the full album.

Black Sabbath invented Heavy Metal, and their first album had all the common elements except for speed.  Ozzy Osbourne’s operatic vocals, Tony Iommi’s heavy and memorable riffs and virtuoso guitar solos, Geezer Butler’s bass performing melodies and replacing rhythm guitar, and Bill Ward’s thundering bass drums.  But most importantly, they had the songs. From the beginning, they were creating classics that still stand up fifty years later.

Some people hate Heavy Metal, and that’s okay.  Nobody’s forcing anyone to listen to other people’s choices…except the majority that listen to the same top 40 pablum and record companies that want to sell it.

The Tough Guy Cowers: Duterte folds like a cheap mask

Updates on the Novel Coronavirus (nCoV):


The WHO and ICAO are still allowing Chinese nationals to dictate policy.  Why?


Philippine president and so-called “tough guy” Duterte has ordered the murders of 12,000 involved in the drug trade within the Philippines during his temporary hold on power.  And yet it only took one phone call from Xi Limping (an intentional spelling, as he limps from one crisis to another) for Duterte to start licking Xi’s boots, quivering in his own.

Duterte now tows Beijing’s line, referring to Taiwan as “part of China” and falsely inferring that people from Taiwan pose the same risk as those in the mass murdering dictatorship.  No one will be allowed to travel from Taiwan to the Philippines, whether Taiwanese national or foreigner.  There are still only 16 cases of nCoV in Taiwan, and no deaths, while the Philippines have nearly 400 (doubling since yesteday) and at least one confirmed death.

On the bright side, If it breaks out in the Philippines as it did in China, at least it won’t be Taiwan’s fault.

Taiwan hits out at China virus travel bans

Taiwan on Tuesday (Feb 11) hit out at countries that “confuse” it with China after the Philippines became the latest to impose a travel ban on the island over the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

Despite its cultural links and close proximity to China, Taiwan moved swiftly against the outbreak and currently has just 18 confirmed cases of the new virus.


Late on Monday, the Philippines confirmed its current travel ban for China was being expanded to Taiwan under the so-called “one China” policy.

Beijing views Taiwan as its own territory – part of a “one China” – and has vowed to eventually take the island, by force if necessary.

Taiwan’s foreign ministry on Tuesday described that decision as “wrong and unilateral”.

“To confuse Taiwan with China has caused troubles for our side and in the international community,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou told reporters.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has worked in recent years to warm ties with China in search of trade and investment.


There are now over 1000 dead in China, 43000 infected.  Taiwan still has few infections and no deaths, because its government and medical system are acting professionally, unlike China’s which is becoming Stalinesque.

Two “senior officals” in Hubei province (read: party apparatchiks) were fired on Tuesday.  They were likely know-nothing hacks given the jobs as rewards, and firing them intended to give the perception that the government is in control. Unfortunately, they are being replaced by apparatchiks from Beijing, whose only ability to yell louder threats at doctors for not magically fingding a cure.

If Limping were smart, he would let doctors run the show.  But instead, like Stalin, Limping is blaming the generals for his own incompetence and corruption.

China fires two senior Hubei officials over coronavirus outbreak

China has fired two senior officials in Hubei, the highest-ranking yet to be sacked, as Beijing asserts its control after the deadly coronavirus outbreak – with local officials appearing to be bearing the blame.

State media said that Zhang Jin, the Communist party chief of the health commission in hardest-hit Hubei province, and Liu Yingzi, its director, were both fired. They will be replaced by a national-level official, Wang Hesheng, the deputy director of China’s national health commission.

The sackings come days after a wave of public anger aimed at the government after the death of a Wuhan doctor who was punished for trying to warn friends and colleagues about the new virus. Li Wenliang, who succumbed to the virus last week, has become a martyr for many and a lightning rod for criticism of the Chinese state’s instinct to suppress information.

Chinese authorities appear to be ramping up a campaign of punishing local officials for the epidemic, which has now claimed more than 1,000 lives.


Metal Heads: The one in Louisiana is empty

I am an old school fan of anything loud played on guitars (read: I’m old and I grew up hearing it).  Whether it’s Prog Rock (Rush, Yes), Hard Rock (UFO, Golden Earring) Glam (The Sweet, Queen), Heavy Metal (Iron Maiden, Motorhead), Thrash and Speed Metal (Anthrax, Megadeth, early Metallica), Punk (The Damned, Art Bergmann / Young Canadians), Industrial (KMFDM, Skinny Puppy) or any other, I’ll listen.

But aside from Mercyful Fate, the genres of Black Metal and Death Metal never appealed to me.  Maybe the musicality is there, but I don’t hear it and I don’t like the overall sound of the genre nor the topic matter (i.e. “death”, “burial”, “afterlife”, “war”, “hopelessness”, etc.).  But even if I didn’t mind, the number of Black and Death Metal bands that tread into white supremacism and satanism put me off.  (That’s not to infer that all such groups can be defined that way.  I’m just not inclined to sift through drek to find the good stuff.)

Which leads me to a stupid kid from Louisiana, an “aspiring Black Metal artist” who decided the way to make himself famous in the Death Metal scene was to burn down churches in Black communities.  Instead, he was charged with hate crimes, pled guilty and will serve a long prison sentence.  Now watch, a Black Metal band will probably write a song about him….

Fortunately, no one was injured in any of the attacks.  These were arsons, not bombings, and no one was inside at the time of the fires.  Would it shock you to learn he’s the son of a white cop?

Holden Matthews: Man admits burning churches to raise ‘black metal’ profile

Holden Matthews, 22, admitted to starting the fires to raise his profile as a “black metal” musician, prosecutors said.  He burned three Baptist churches in the Opelousas area over 10 days beginning in late March 2019.  He faces 10 to 70 years in jail when he is sentenced on 22 May.  On Monday, Matthews entered several guilty pleas for federal and state charges.  The three churches Matthews admitted to torching had predominantly African-American congregations.


Matthews, the white son of a local sheriff deputy, set fire to those churches “because of the religious character of those buildings”, they said.


Each church was razed to the ground by the fires Matthews lit, prosecutors said. No-one was injured, as it was the middle of the night.  During his plea hearing, Matthews said he specifically targeted those churches. He did so because he sought to emulate church burnings carried out by black metal music fans in Norway in the 1990s.

If your response is, “They’re just churches,” do me a solid and go away permanently.

To quote The Damned’s “I Just Can’t Be Happy Today”:

“They’re closing the schools / They’re burning the books

The church is in ruins / The priests hang on hooks

The radios on ice / The telly’s been banned

The army’s in power / The devil commands”

Taiwan Left Out: WHO is really this stupid

That’s not a question, it’s a statement: The WHO is really this stupid.  The death toll, as I write, jumped to over 800, from 300 just a few days ago.

For weeks, since the coronavirus became an issue, the WHO has refused to give Taiwan ANY medical information on the virus – not the treatment, not the spread.  Their attitude has been, “we HAVE given it to Taiwan’s government, in Beijing”.  Taiwan has been getting information third hand from other countries because asking Beijing would be pointless – they appear to be as clueless about the coronavirus as they were about the spread of HIV/AIDS.  In 2000, they arrested the doctors who blew the whistle, doctors who tried to protect the public with the facts. As I’m sure most have heard, Dr Li Wenliang, the doctor who told the world about the crisis, has died from the virus while continuing to care for patients.  And now the mass murderers in Beijing are trying to erase Li’s name from the public record.

Wuhan doctor who was reprimanded for trying to warn of coronavirus dies from infection

Ophthalmologist Dr Li Wenliang – reported to have been aged 34 – died on Thursday, according to state-run tabloid Global Times.

He was among eight people reprimanded by police in December for “rumour-mongering” over the SARS-like virus, though he was hailed as a “whistleblower” in state media posts reporting his passing.


Local authorities eventually apologised to Li, but – in January – he contracted the virus whilst he was treating a woman with glaucoma, according to the BBC. “Today nucleic acid testing came back with a positive result, the dust has settled, finally diagnosed,” he wrote last Thursday on the Twitter-like Weibo platform.

The regime is also taking violent action against people suspected of being infected, in scenes reminiscent of “The Walking Dead” TV series.

Taiwan’s government is very much on top of things.  A map of “hot zones” around nothern Taiwan are publicly available (where people with symptoms or carriers have reported going) and health care system is responding quickly.  Thus far there have been sixteen reported cases, but no deaths.  H1N1 has come back and killed thirteen, but none yet from the coronavirus.

Taiwan confirms 3 more Wuhan virus cases, bringing total to 16

Three more Taiwanese were confirmed infected with the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) late Thursday, just several hours after the country reported two new cases earlier in the day.

Of the three new cases, two are a married couple, both in their 50s, who transited through Hong Kong from Taiwan on Jan. 22 for Italy on vacation with two other family members, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said.

Taiwan is having a shortage of face masks, limiting purchase to Taiwanese citizens or foreigners with valid medical cards.  Mainland Chinese have been trying to buy them and export them to the mainland, but Taiwanese companies responded by printing the Taiwan flag on them.

Hong Kong’s medical workers are threatening to go on strike if Hong Kong doesn’t close the border with China.  Some may see this as using the virus to protect Hong Kong’s sovereignty, but given Beijing’s murderous actions of the past year, who can blame them?

Coronavirus: Hong Kong medics tell gov’t to offer more support or face mass resignations

Medical sector strike organisers have urged the Hospital Authority to offer staff more support to handle the coronavirus outbreak or face mass resignations.

The strike, led by the newly-formed Hospital Authority Employees Alliance (HAEA), began on Monday. Thousands of public healthcare workers have demanded the Hong Kong government close its remaining border crossings with mainland China in a bid to stop the spread of the virus. All travellers from the mainland will be required to enter quarantine for 14 days from Saturday onwards.

There have been over 28,000 confirmed cases of new infections worldwide and over 560 deaths – including one in Hong Kong, according to official figures. The novel virus was first detected in Wuhan, China, and resembles the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which killed more than 300 people in Hong Kong in 2003.

The HAEA hosted an information stand outside the Prince of Wales Hospital to receive questions about the strike from residents.

“The government is impotent – only Hong Kong people can save themselves! Close the border fully now!” participants chanted.


[There is an update in the post on February 12. – Rhi]

The Philippines is taking reasonable precautions:

Taiwanese need to provide travel history to enter the Philippines

Taipei, Feb. 4 (CNA) From Saturday, Taiwanese wishing to visit the Philippines will be asked to provide a recent travel history when applying for a visa following the extension of a travel ban on foreign travelers who have been to China or its special administrative regions within the last three weeks, according to the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO).

All foreign travelers – – regardless of nationality — who have visited China, Hong Kong or Macau with the last 21 days will be barred from entering the Philippines, MECO said. [Emphasis mine. – Rhi]

On Sunday, Filipino authorities banned all travelers from China, Hong Kong, and Macau, one day after a Chinese national from Wuhan — ground zero of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak — died in the Philippines, becoming the first fatality outside China.


Vietnam took unreasonable measures against Taiwan until money changed their minds.  They intended to ban all Taiwanese and resident foreigners in toto until Taiwan’s government said, “Well, if we’re unsafe, then so are your airplanes.  We’ll keep them here until the virus passes.”  Grounded airplanes lose money every hour, and Hanoi knows it.

Vietnam reverses Taiwan flight ban after causing chaos

Taipei, Feb. 1 (CNA) Taiwan’s Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) has confirmed that Vietnam has withdrawn its previous announcement that it was imposing a ban on flights with Taiwan to keep the threat of spreading coronavirus at bay.

Vietnam’s civil aviation authorities announced a ban on all flights to and from China, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan for a period of 90 days that was to take effect Saturday.


But the Vietnamese civil aviation authority did a quick about face, reversing the ban on flights with Taiwan, according to both the CAA and VietJet Air, which had three planes at Taoyuan International Airport waiting to return to Vietnam after the ban took effect.

It was not immediately clear if Vietnam was only lifting the ban for Taiwan and not the other three countries and territories.

Vietnam’s initial move came amid growing concern over the outbreak of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2018-nCoV) in Wuhan, China, in December 2019 that has ballooned into 11,791 confirmed cases and 259 deaths in China as of Friday.

Outsourced: Is the coronovirus a pangolin-demic?

There have been accusations that the coronavirus began with bats (and attempted racist insinuations about mainland China’s eating habits), but scientists may now know either the source or at least the “potential intermediary host” as they call it: the pangolin.

Scientists identify pangolin as possible coronavirus host

The endangered pangolin may be the link that facilitated the spread of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) across China, Chinese scientists said on Friday.


After testing more than 1,000 samples from wild animals, scientists from the university found the genome sequences of viruses found on pangolins to be 99 per cent identical to those on coronavirus patients, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Friday.

The pangolin is considered the most trafficked animal on the planet and over one million have been snatched from Asian and African forests in the past decade, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

They are destined for markets in China and Vietnam, where their scales are used in traditional medicine – despite having no medical benefits – and their meat is bought on the black market.

The country which eats bear paws and bear bile soup is eating pangolins.  And using pangolins in “traditional medicine” which helped decimate rhino populations.  How is it “traditional” if the animal isn’t a native species?

If this is the answer, that’s a good thing.  But as we have a knack for doing, we created our own problems.  Again.


Running Gag: This job posting is a joke

A job posting for a Taiwan-based factory appeared this week in multiple places. A company is seeking factory workers to put together components, and the ad targets Philippine people (most of whom speak English fluently) with college educations.

Taiwanese people and foreigners have been mocking it for its sexism, low pay and ludicrous working conditions. The posters and company are so shameless that they have made no attempt to change the posting or address the criticisms.  And yet the sad truth is, many Filipinas will be lining up and to apply for it.

The pay is underwhelming, to say the least.  By law, the minimum wage in Taiwan is NT$23,100 per month (US$765, C$1018).  NT$23,800 is PHP40,000.  That might do well in the Philippines, but here it’s barely enough to survive, even if contract workers live in dorms (which they usually do).  Most company dorms have curfew, so the employees usually do little more than work 5-6 days per week, shop for food on Saturdays and then party on Sunday afternoons.  (I’ve been to a couple of these Sunday matinee bars, they’re loud and wild.)

Earn as much as NT23, 800 or P40+++ plus OVERTIME!!!

The “qualifications” are a mixed bag.  Some make sense (e.g. no Colour Vision Deficiency, if working with transistors or other colour coded items; no sweaty hands, if working in a moisture sensitive environment), while others are utterly ludicrous (e.g. how do tattoos affect working?).  Do I need to tell you that “no left handers” made me roll my eyes?


  • 20-30 years old / female
  • 157 cm above in height
  • Weight limit is proportion to height
  • With related factory experience
  • College graduate
  • Good in math
  • 20/20 vision no colorblind
  • No sweaty hands / no lefthanded
  • No tattoo

The body judgement and the potential for sexual harassment is what irked most people.

A screen shot of the original job posting and full text of the ad are below the fold.

[Read more…]