DAILY DOSE: Fear and loathing in North Korea; The sudden demise of a Mars rover.


North Korean Top Dog KJU has expressed his displeasure with how his officials have responded to the Covid-19 outbreak in the country. Per Reuters, “North Korean leader Kim Jong Un slammed his country’s response to its first confirmed COVID-19 outbreak as immature, accusing government officials of inadequacies and inertia as fever cases swept the country, state media reported on Wednesday. North Korea reported 232,880 more people with fever symptoms, and six more deaths after country revealed the COVID outbreak last week. It did not say how many people had tested positive for COVID-19. Presiding over a politburo meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party on Tuesday, Kim said the ‘immaturity in the state capacity for coping with the crisis’ increased the “complexity and hardships” in fighting the pandemic, according to KCNA.” There are probably a whole lot of paranoid government officials right now. https://reut.rs/37WcC8i


One of the most annoying developments of modern technology is putting a camera in every person’s pocket. But sometimes, it’s a blessing in disguise. Thanks to ubiquitous cameras and the wonders of YouTube, elephant researchers have been able to verify something spectacular. Per Science, “The videos recorded several compelling scenes, the team reports today in Royal Society Open Science: Elephants patting a deceased family member with their trunks or attempting to revive it with kicks, and gathering, vigillike, near its remains… Some of the videos also captured rarer behaviors, never before described in detail. In multiple clips, adult elephants use their trunks to pat their still-living friends on their heads; in another, a calf snuggles up to its dying mother, who had become ensnared in viscous mud. In five videos, adult female elephants scooped up deceased calves with their trunks and carried them through the forests for days, possibly weeks, at a time.” This is proof of the old photographer’s adage that the best camera is the one you have on you. https://bit.ly/3yFHBR8


Since the discovery of the mysterious Denisovan, it has been believed that they did not manage to migrate to the farthest reaches of Asia and southeast Asia. New evidence has now called that assumption into question. Per Nature, “A fossilized tooth unearthed in a cave in northern Laos might have belonged to a young Denisovan girl that died between 164,000 and 131,000 years ago. If confirmed, it would be the first fossil evidence that Denisovans — an extinct hominin species that co-existed with Neanderthals and modern humans — lived in southeast Asia. The molar, described in Nature Communications on 17 May1, is only the second Denisovan fossil to be found outside Siberia. Its presence in Laos supports the idea that the species had a much broader geographic range than the fossil record previously indicated.” Denisovans were first identified in 2010, when scientists sequenced DNA from a fingertip bone found in Denisova cave in Siberia, and showed that it belonged to a previously unknown species of ancient human2. Subsequent genetic studies3,4 have revealed that millions of people from Asia, Oceania and the Pacific Islands carry traces of Denisovan DNA. https://go.nature.com/3wDEvdE


Another NASA Mars rover is set for retirement due to dust covering its solar panels. Per the Associated Press, “A NASA spacecraft on Mars is headed for a dusty demise. The Insight lander is losing power because of all the dust on its solar panels. NASA said Tuesday it will keep using the spacecraft’s seismometer to register marsquakes until the power peters out, likely in July. Then flight controllers will monitor InSight until the end of this year, before calling everything off. ‘There really hasn’t been too much doom and gloom on the team. We’re really still focused on operating the spacecraft,’ said Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Bruce Banerdt, the principal scientist. Since landing on Mars in 2018, InSight has detected more than 1,300 marsquakes; the biggest one, a magnitude 5, occurred two weeks ago.” https://bit.ly/38CuFRl

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

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