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The New York Times: “The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said about 18.5 million people have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, and that about 3.2 million people had been fully vaccinated. The federal government said Sunday that it had delivered about 41.4 million doses to states, territories and federal agencies. The shipments, which came after a record-setting race to develop, study and approve a vaccine, have marked a turning point in the pandemic at a time when deaths and cases continue to set records. But federal health officials recently acknowledged that the vaccine rollout had had a slower-than-expected start and said they did not have a clear understanding as to why only a portion of the doses shipped across the nation had made it into arms. This table shows how many shots have been distributed and the percentage of those doses that have been used, as well as how many people in each jurisdiction have received at least one shot…”
Fast Company: “For a glimpse of how the Biden Administration plans to govern, look no further than the White House website. The new site has lots of negative white space and is designed to be accessible to everyone from Spanish speakers to citizens with vision impairments. “WhiteHouse.gov ends up being the front page of the federal government,” says White House director of digital strategy Rob Flaherty, whose team would like users to consider WhiteHouse.gov a digital front door. It’s a stark contrast from the previous administration’s site, which used gold accents along with dark blue and white. Under President Donald Trump, a Spanish version of the site was removed (which the Biden administration reinstated). As for navigation: The Trump-era site put zero effort into making content easy to find and visually compelling. On a page about former U.S. presidents, the Trump site opted for a list rather than a visual grid with images. The design matters because the White House website is a place for people to learn about the administration and its agenda. It’s also a place for people to find jobs. Flaherty says some of its most trafficked pages are about the history of the White House and biographical information…The site introduces new features like high-contrast dark mode and large text options, which are both important for legibility and are especially important for users with visual impairments. It brought back a Spanish language version of the site, retired by the Trump administration, and features new details like inclusive pronoun dropdowns for its contact menu. Flaherty’s team also conducted a content audit. “We took down anything that gave the wrong impression of what our administration is about,” he says…”
“The New York Times: “Electric vehicles are better for the climate than gas-powered cars, but many Americans are still reluctant to buy them. One reason: The larger upfront cost. New data published Thursday shows that despite the higher sticker price, electric cars may actually save drivers money in the long-run. To reach this conclusion, a team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology calculated both the carbon dioxide emissions and full lifetime cost — including purchase price, maintenance and fuel — for nearly every new car model on the market.They found electric cars were easily more climate friendly than gas-burning ones. Over a lifetime, they were often cheaper, too…
Source: carboncounter.com by the MIT Trancik Lab | Note: The chart shows data for new cars, SUVs and other models that retail for $55,000 or less. The most fuel efficient trim for each car is included and additional trim levels are shown for cars over $35,000 if they have a lower fuel economy rating than other trims shown (they are less efficient) by at least 4 miles per gallon.”
Iris Luckhaus – “In Germany, the wearing of medical masks, i.e. FFP2 or surgical masks, became mandatory yesterday. Since I don’t think anyone will check certifications in public, this means that everything except cloth masks is allowed. I’d like to explain how masks work, how filter and fit determine their efficiency, and why a cloth mask ban doesn’t really make much sense to me. Furthermore, I’d like to point out solutions for a more responsible, safe and sustainable use of medical masks. One of these solutions could be wearing a cloth cover over medical masks, or double masking…I’ve studied clothing design with a focus on patterns, but worked mainly as an illustrator since. Last spring, I intended to sew a couple of masks for friends and family, so I tested all the patterns I could find. None of them fitted properly, so I used what I learnt to invent my own. Surprisingly, the first attempt was a perfect fit – gapless / fog-free, with space to breathe / speak and even reliably staying in place! To help others, I published the pattern, and ever since, the “Luckhaus Hybrid Mask” is enthusiastically sewn by volunteers and partners from all over the world. Meanwhile, I’ve helped countless makers, created a pictorial, customizations, instant masks and an infographic for mask tying. My expertise is pattern making, not material science, but after spending a lot of time reading and discussing studies and articles, I’ve learned a bit about how masks work. On this basis, I am writing here, to the best of my knowledge. The recent representation of cloth masks in German media vexes me. It is claimed that cloth masks “do not filter” or that “all air escapes to their sides”, whereas medical masks are presented as perfect protection, under all conditions. From what I know, that’s simply wrong – and making medical masks mandatory just doesn’t make sense to me…” [h/t Rachel Royece}
Via LLRX – Pete Recommends – Weekly highlights on cyber security issues, January 23, 2020 – Privacy and security issues impact every aspect of our lives – home, work, travel, education, health and medical records – to name but a few. On a weekly basis Pete Weiss highlights articles and information that focus on the increasingly complex and wide ranging ways technology is used to compromise and diminish our privacy and security, often without our situational awareness. Four highlights from this week: This Site Published Every Face From Parler’s Capitol Riot Videos; DHS Gets Sued Over Its Social Media Surveillance Tactics; Lost Passwords Lock Millionaires Out of Their Bitcoin Fortunes; and The risks of DDoS attacks for the public sector.
ZDNet – “Google Search on mobile is getting a new look that attempts to showcase the company’s 22 years of experience in organizing all the world’s information. The redesign of the Google mobile search experience aims to bring information into focus and make text easier to read with edge-to-edge to results and a more rounded design. Design is one of those aspects of tech that many people don’t even pay attention to, yet at the same time some small changes can reshape the whole experience, especially for an app that’s used by over a billion people. In the coming days Google is planning to roll out an update to the mobile experience on search that aims to make it easier and faster for people to find the information they want. The five key ideas behind the redesign include bringing information into focus, making text easier to read, creating more “breathing room” via edge-to-edge results, using more color to attract the reader’s eye to important information, and making the interface look more “Googley” or, in other words, with more rounded edges that reflect Google’s circle-centric logo…The changes reflect Google’s efforts to make search faster on a mobile device. A sample image it showed indicates Google will place descriptors inside colored pill-shaped bubbles. For example, a search for a humpback whale will display shortcuts to the overview, characteristics, sounds, and videos above images of the marine mammal. Plus there’s a new bell icon if users want to get alerts about a subject…”
OneZero/Medium: “…Now 20 years later — Wikipedia’s birthday — nearly 300,000 editors (or “Wikipedians”) now volunteer their time to write, edit, block, squabble over, and scrub every corner of the sprawling encyclopedia. They call it “the project,” and they are dedicated to what they call its five pillars: Wikipedia is an encyclopedia; Wikipedia is written from a neutral point of view; Wikipedia is free content that anyone can use, edit, and distribute; Wikipedia’s editors should treat each other with respect and civility; and Wikipedia has no firm rules. Behind the site itself is the Wikimedia Foundation, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that takes care of the servers, fundraising, legal challenges, and many initiatives that advance the project. Its most essential task: delicately handling volunteer editors, about 40,000 of whom are most active on English Wikipedia and more than 500 of whom have active “admin” status, which allows them to wield powers such as blocking and editing protected pages. It is not perfect. There is trolling. There are vandals. There is bullying of “newbies” by editors. And there are imposters who edit not for the greater good but to serve the greed, vanity, or ambition of self-interested (sometimes paying) parties. And, yes, there are many, many weak and thinly sourced articles (only about 40,000 out of the site’s 6 million entries meet the higher standard of being “good articles”). There is also a gender imbalance within the domain of Wikipedia — in English Wikipedia, more than 80% of editors are men and just 18% of biographies are about women. Regardless, Wikipedia is now a cornerstone of life online. How many wives did King Henry VIII have?…Why did people wear bearskin shoes? Wikipedia has all the answers. So on the 20th anniversary, OneZero asked the individuals who made Wikipedia what it is today how it all started…”
The New York Times – “The coronavirus pandemic in the United States has raged almost uncontrollably for so long that even if millions of people are vaccinated, millions more will still be infected and become ill unless people continue to wear masks and maintain social distancing measures until midsummer or later, according to a new model by scientists at Columbia University. The arrival of highly effective vaccines in December lifted hopes that they would eventually slow or stop the spread of the disease through the rest of the population. But vaccines alone are not enough, the model shows. And if precautions like working remotely, limiting travel and wearing masks are relaxed too soon, it could mean millions more infections and thousands more deaths….”
The New York Times – “We should all be thinking about the quality of our masks right now. New variants of the coronavirus continue to emerge, and one in particular is cause for pressing concern in the United States because it’s so contagious and spreading fast. I wrote about the steps you can take to better protect yourself. The bottom line is that you should keep taking the same pandemic precautions you always have, but do a little better. The new variant spreading in the United States appears to latch onto our cells more efficiently. (You can find a detailed look inside the variant here.) The mutation in the virus may mean it could take less virus and less time in the same room with an infected person for someone to become ill. People infected with the variant may also shed larger quantities of virus, which increases the risk to people around them. That’s why the quality of your mask is more important than ever. You can read about the latest research urging a well-fitted two- or three-layer mask. Or you can keep the masks you’ve been using and just double-mask when you go to the store or find yourself spending time with people from outside your household. You can read more about double-masking here. One big advantage of double-masking that I’ve found is that it creates a better fit and closes the gaps around the edge of your mask. I like layering my masks. When I walk the dog or exercise outdoors, I wear a regular mask to comply with area mask rules. When I want more protection for short errands, I wear a better mask. When I’m in a taxi or on a train, I double-mask…”
CRS Legal Sidebar – Capitol Unrest, Legislative Response, and the Bill of Attainder Clause, January 22, 2021: “On January 6, 2021, a crowd gathered on the U.S. Capitol grounds, breached police barriers, entered and occupied portions of the Capitol building, and clashed with law enforcement.The incident resulted in at least five deaths, dozens of injuries, and damage to federal property. Members of Congress and the Vice President, who were counting electoral votes for the 2020 presidential election, were forced to evacuate in response to the unrest. Following the incident, some Members of Congress and other commentators have called for accountability for the individuals directly involved in the incident, as well as for others, potentially including elected officials, who may have incited or supported the unrest. Many of those calls for accountability raise complex legal issues. As a recent CRS Legal Sidebar explains, the incident may implicate numerous provisions of existing criminal law. In addition, on January 13, 2021, the House of Representatives impeached President Donald Trump for incitement of insurrection based on the events of January 6. Lawmakers and commentators have also explored imposing liability under other legal authorities, including by passing new legislation or seeking to bar certain individuals from holding office under Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment. This Legal Sidebar addresses one of the more novel issues that these proposals may raise. The Bill of Attainder Clause prohibits Congress from enacting legislation that inflicts punishment on an individual basis without a judicial trial. This Sidebar provides an overview of the Bill of Attainder Clause and presents certain related legal considerations for Congress as the legislature responds to the Capitol unrest…”
On January 20, 2021 – “The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) …launched the Donald J. Trump Presidential Library website, which provides information on archived White House websites and social media accounts, as well as information on access to the records of the Trump Administration. Under the Presidential Records Act, the National Archives receives all records of the Trump Administration, which will be preserved in NARA facilities in the Washington, DC, area, and access to those records will be provided through the Donald J. Trump Presidential Library, controlled and administered by the National Archives. The Trump Library will be part of the National Archives’ Presidential Libraries system, which, under the Presidential Libraries Act, established a system of privately constructed and Federally maintained Presidential Libraries, going back to President Hoover’s administration. NARA’s Presidential Libraries promote understanding of the Presidency and the American experience. They preserve and provide access to historical materials, support research, and create interactive programs and exhibits that educate and inspire. Regardless of whether a former President decides to build and donate an archival research facility and museum to NARA under the Presidential Libraries Act, the National Archives maintains the collection of Presidential records created by the Presidential administration as a Presidential Library. The Trump Library will be the fifteenth Presidential Library operated by the National Archives…”
See also Next Gov – “…According to a case study ArchiveSocial published after-the-fact, it had “processed more than 10 million social media records and transferred more than 450 exports comprising over four terabytes of data—all in less than eight weeks.” The Trump administration generated more than 20 terabytes of social media data, NARA’s statement confirmed. Those are just one of dozens of types of Trump-centered presidential electronic records the agency is currently collecting and curating…” [h/t Pete Weiss]
WSJ [paywall] – Doctors answer questions about preparing for the Covid-19 vaccine: “…Will you get a record of your vaccination? Adults will receive a vaccination card that includes the lot number and name of the administered vaccine along with a reminder to get their second dose. Those going for their second dose will need to bring this card with them. Your vaccination data is also recorded by the vaccine provider and stored electronically, Dr. Boom says. Later, you may need your vaccine document for work or travel purposes…” [This feature is powered by text-to-speech technology.]
See also this guide from Sarasota Memorial Hospital – COVID-19 Vaccines: What You Need to Know
Bahnemann, Greta, Michael Carroll, Paul Clough, Mario Einaudi, Chatham Ewing, Jeff Mixter, Jason Roy, Holly Tomren, Bruce Washburn, and Elliot Williams. 2021. Transforming Metadata into Linked Data to Improve Digital Collection Discoverability: A CONTENTdm Pilot Project. Dublin, OH: OCLC Research. https://doi.org/10.25333/fzcv-0851.
“The project was designed to help the OCLC team and the pilot participants better understand the following questions:• How divergent are the descriptive data practices across the institutions using CONTENTdm, and what tools are needed to make that assessment? • Can a shared and extensible data model be developed to support the differing needs and demands for a range of material types and institution types? • What is the right mix of human attention and automation to effectively reconcile metadata headings to linked data entities? • What types of tools can help extend the description of cultural materials to subject matter experts? • After metadata from different institutions and collections is transformed, are there new discovery tools that can help researchers find new—or previously hidden—connections through a centralized discovery system?• What are the institutional and individual interests in the paradigm shift of moving to linked data?…”
Tech Transparency Project: “Facebook suspended President Trump following the mob attack on Congress. But the platform allowed organizing for the pro-Trump rally, as well as the spread of conspiracy theories and militant extremism that drove the rioters. Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg made headlines for saying the mob attack on the U.S. Capitol was “largely organized” on other platforms, suggesting Facebook had done better than others at taking down dangerous content.
Not only is that assertion false, according to research by the Tech Transparency Project (TTP), but it ignores the fact that Facebook spent the past year allowing election conspiracies and far-right militia activity to proliferate on its platform, laying the groundwork for the broader radicalization that fueled the Capitol insurrection in the first place.
For months, TTP has watched extremist groups use Facebook to organize and incite members, fueled by President Trump’s baseless allegations of voter fraud and a “rigged” election. Despite Facebook’s new move to suspend Trump’s account and other recent actions, the militant movement it allowed to flourish for so long threatens to continue its campaign of violence heading into President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, and beyond. For TTP, one of the first signs of mounting danger came from “boogaloo” groups, which we reported in April were using Facebook to prepare for a second civil war, often citing conspiratorial fears about coronavirus lockdowns. Members of private boogaloo groups flagged by TTP later engaged in real or attempted violence—an ominous warning of how online radicalization can spin out of control. But that was just the beginning. Since last fall, TTP has documented numerous instances of domestic extremists discussing weapons and tactics, coordinating their activities, and spreading calls to overthrow the government on Facebook, up to and including the mob attack on the Capitol, which left at least five people dead. Much of the activity took place in private Facebook groups—insulated communities that allow people to organize out of the public eye while still having access to a large online following. Here are some of the key takeaways from that research…”
Politico Nightly: “…This will be the largest mass adult vaccination campaign in U.S. history. And it requires two doses. There is no process to make sure that everyone who got their first dose can and will come back for their second doses. There is no central database tracking who got the vaccine and which one they got. Ideally, Hotez said, there would be one federal registry that would track that information, but right now providers largely have to depend on those who got a first dose to remember to get a second shot.
Many patients are struggling to even get a first appointment and there’s no guarantee that they will be able to come back a second time. “Anytime you have a two-dose regimen, some people aren’t going to come back,” said Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.
Finding people to administer doses, especially in rural or remote locations without health care providers, is also shaping up to be a major obstacle. About 20 states, including West Virginia and North Dakota which have led the country in distributing vaccines, have activated the National Guard to help with vaccine distribution. But in order to meet the pace of 2 to 3 million doses a day, states would need a plan to bring back retired health care workers or train others to administer the vaccine. Some are doing this, even bringing on vets and dentists, but more workers are needed…”
Executive Action – National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness January 21, 2021 (200 page PDF): “The National Strategy provides a roadmap to guide America out of the worst public health crisis in a century. It outlines an actionable plan across the federal government to address the COVID-19 pandemic, including twelve initial executive actions issued by President Biden on his first two days in office: The National Strategy is organized around seven goals: 1. Restore trust with the American people. 2. Mount a safe, effective, and comprehensive vaccination campaign. 3. Mitigate spread through expanding masking, testing, data, treatments, health care workforce, and clear public health standards. 4. Immediately expand emergency relief and exercise the Defense Production Act. 5. Safely reopen schools, businesses, and travel while protecting workers. 6. Protect those most at risk and advance equity, including across racial, ethnic and rural/urban lines. 7. Restore U.S. leadership globally and build better preparedness for future threats. To execute on the National Strategy, the White House will establish a COVID-19 Response Office responsible for coordinating the pandemic response across all federal departments and agencies. Through implementation of the National Strategy, the United States will make immediate progress on the seven goals. To monitor outcomes, the National Strategy includes the creation of publicly accessible performance dashboards, establishing a data-driven, evidence-based approach to evaluating America’s progress in the fight against COVID-19…”
“…Sec. 2. Immediate Action to Require Mask-Wearing on Certain Domestic Modes of Transportation. (a) Mask Requirement. The Secretary of Labor, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Secretary of Transportation (including through the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)), the Secretary of Homeland Security (including through the Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Commandant of the United States Coast Guard), and the heads of any other executive departments and agencies (agencies) that have relevant regulatory authority (heads of agencies) shall immediately take action, to the extent appropriate and consistent with applicable law, to require masks to be worn in compliance with CDC guidelines in or on:
(ii) commercial aircraft;
(iv) public maritime vessels, including ferries;
(v) intercity bus services; and
(vi) all forms of public transportation as defined in section 5302 of title 49, United States Code…”
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to address the disproportionate and severe impact of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) on communities of color and other underserved populations, it is hereby ordered as follows: COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force…There is established within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) a COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force (Task Force)…”
Educase Review: “Along with interlibrary loans and book purchases on demand, a high-use and routinely expected service that academic libraries provide to faculty is the course reserves section. In anticipation of students who will be seeking course materials, instructors arrange with their library to acquire this vital educational content and make it available for short loan periods. Even as the 21st century has greatly shifted the delivery of course learning content from print to digital, hard-copy reserves—featuring textbooks, DVDs, lab manuals, and other miscellaneous items like rock collections and break-apart skeletons—remain deeply embedded in library service offerings. Yet the COVID-19 pandemic and the move to remote learning are contributing to the demise of reserves, at least for print textbooks. We should embrace this change…”
Executive Order on Establishing the COVID-19 Pandemic Testing Board and Ensuring a Sustainable Public Health Workforce for COVID-19 and Other Biological Threats – “It is the policy of my Administration to control coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) by using a Government-wide, unified approach that includes: establishing a national COVID-19 testing and public health workforce strategy; working to expand the supply of tests; working to bring test manufacturing to the United States, where possible; working to enhance laboratory testing capacity; working to expand the public health workforce; supporting screening testing for schools and priority populations; and ensuring a clarity of messaging about the use of tests and insurance coverage…”