DAILY DOSE: Need to monitor earthquakes? Citizen science FTW; But Tinder FTW? Not so much.


China’s Zero-Covid strategy is being tested with small outbreaks spreading across the country. The latest is in Jilin. Per the Associated Press, “China banned most people from leaving a coronavirus-hit northeastern province and mobilized military reservists Monday as the fast-spreading “stealth omicron” variant fuels the country’s biggest outbreak since the start of the pandemic two years ago. The National Health Commission reported 1,337 locally transmitted cases in the latest 24-hour period, including 895 in the industrial province of Jilin. A government notice said that police permission would be required for people to leave the area or travel from one city to another.” The elephant in China’s public health policy room is: When does shutting down cities and industry become so economically harmful that it becomes unfeasible? If the outbreaks continue spreading and increasing, the day of reckoning won’t be far off.  https://bit.ly/3wlTpab 


The Covid-19 pandemic has upended just about every aspect of society. A recent report indicates that the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have had a tangibly negative impact on refugee women, particularly when it comes to violence. Per Futurity, “Due to multiple intersecting dimensions of identity, including gender, migrant status, religion, age, and others, migrant and refugee women and girls faced unique barriers and risks as a result of lockdown measures and gaps in education, according to the report. According to the report, which focused on migrant women and children in Italy, researchers found that physical distancing measures increased feelings of loneliness for girls and women who, due to their migration status, already faced limited support networks.” The social impact of modern day lockdowns and quarantines will be the subject of unending research moving forward. https://bit.ly/3I8vfSz


The people over at FierceBiotech pull together fantastic annual lists that summarize the state of the industry pretty succinctly. In the latest installment looking back at 2021, they list the Top 10 pharmaceutical company R&D budgets for the year. According to the article, “The Swiss pharma landed in the No. 1 slot with a budget of 14.8 billion Swiss francs ($16.1 billion), a 14% increase over 2020. Total revenue for the year was 65.9 billion Swiss francs ($71.4 billion), meaning Roche threw 23% of its haul at R&D. This was a massive spend even by Roche’s industry-topping standards.” New York based Pfizer managed second place with a 47% rise to $13.8 billion for 2021. Covid-19 played a role in most of the increases seen last year. https://bit.ly/3wd8NVU


After the tragic earthquake that hit Haiti in 2010, seismometers were placed around the island nation’s borders (it shares the island with the Dominican Republic) in order to better predict the next big one. Unfortunately, they were very costly and anyone who knows anything about the country knows that resources can often be a major problem. That’s where citizen science swooped in for the win. According to a paper in Science, “A network of citizen seismometers installed in 2019 provided near-field data critical to rapidly understand the mechanism of the mainshock and monitor its aftershock sequence. Their real-time data define two aftershock clusters that coincide with two areas of coseismic slip derived from inversions of conventional seismological and geodetic data. Machine learning applied to data from the citizen seismometer closest to the mainshock allows us to forecast aftershocks as accurately as with the network-derived catalog. This shows the utility of citizen science contributing to the understanding of a major earthquake.” That’s good stuff and shows how a combination of science and activism can benefit society. https://bit.ly/3Jb7N8t


Western companies have been lining up to pull out of Russia, even so-called transit providers that connect local ISPs around the world. It was supposed to result in the cyber-isolation of the country. Recent reports indicate that it’s just not happening. According to Ars Technica, “… so far, that hasn’t happened, researchers from network intelligence firm ThousandEyes said on Friday. Network metrics show that connectivity continues as it has historically… There are several reasons for this. One is that the exit of a single transit provider from a country the size of Russia—or two providers, in this case—doesn’t have enough of an impact to degrade overall service. Another reason is that both Lumen and Cogent continue to provide transit services to the outposts of major Russian ISPs as long as those outposts aren’t located inside Russia.

‘Despite the notion that some US-based transit providers would ‘disconnect’ Russia from the Internet—no single transit provider severing ties with Russian ISPs would achieve such an aim,’ members of the ThousandEyes Internet research team wrote. ‘That said, many transit providers, both US-based and non US-based, continue to connect their global customers to one another—that may include providing transit to and from Russian users via major Russian ISPs located at exchange points not on Russian soil.’” https://bit.ly/34Fww5S


Another report in Ars Technica highlights how Westerners are using different apps to get around the Firewall the Russian government has constructed around the country during this time of conflict. One episode recounts how people are using Tinder. According to the article, “René has nothing to do with the invasion of Ukraine. The 34-year-old lives more than 1,000 km away in Nuremberg, Germany. He has no family there, and he’s never been to the country. But when Russia invaded, he wanted to help. So on the dating app Tinder, he changed his location to Moscow and started talking to women there about the war.

‘I had a conversation with a girl who said [the invasion] is only a military operation and the Ukrainians are killing their own people and stuff like that, so I got into an argument with her,’ says René, who asks not to share his surname because he doesn’t want his clients to know about his activism.” That said, he also had many people thanking him for delivering the information. Unfortunately, Tinder wasn’t a big fan. The company subsequently suspended René’s account for his information-sharing activities. https://bit.ly/3tXqeHy

Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.

IMAGE CREDIT: Makenson Charles and Matiado Vilme/VOA.

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