Lazy Caturday Reads


Cats on Strike, by Leah Saulnier the painting maniac

Happy Caturday, Sky Dancers!!

As if we didn’t have enough bad news, we are now dealing with another global health emergency. Monkeypox is spreading rapidly around the world and here in the U.S. Cases have been reported in multiple states, including Massachusetts, Maine, New York, Washington, DC, Michigan, Florida, Texas, Illinois, and California. As of two days ago, there were already nearly 2,000 reported cases in the U.S.

Apoorva Mandavilli at The New York Times: W.H.O. Declares Monkeypox Spread a Global Health Emergency.

For the second time in two years, the World Health Organization has taken the extraordinary step of declaring a global emergency. This time the cause is monkeypox, which has spread in just a few weeks to dozens of countries and infected tens of thousands of people.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the W.H.O.’s director general, on Saturday overruled a panel of advisers, who could not come to a consensus, and declared a “public health emergency of international concern,” a designation the W.H.O. currently uses to describe only two other diseases, Covid-19 and polio.

“We have an outbreak that has spread around the world rapidly through new modes of transmission, about which we understand too little, and which meets the criteria” for a public health emergency, Dr. Tedros told reporters….

The W.H.O.’s declaration signals a public health risk requiring a coordinated international response. The designation can lead member countries to invest significant resources in controlling an outbreak, draw more funding to the response, and encourage nations to share vaccines, treatments and other key resources for containing the outbreak.

It is the seventh public health emergency since 2007; the Covid pandemic, of course, was the most recent. 

The article discusses the controversy over how W.H.O. decides when to declare a health emergency. Some experts already think the agency waited too long on monkeypox.

Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy: Largest monkeypox study to date highlights new symptoms.

Many of the people infected in an international monkeypox outbreak experienced a single lesion or sore in their mouth or on their genitals, a departure from typical symptoms of the virus that could lead to clinicians to misdiagnose monkeypox as another sexually transmitted infection (STI).

Coffee with Henry 4, by Kazui Whitemoon

Coffee with Henry #4, by Kazui Whitemoon

That’s one of the main takeaways from the New England Journal of Medicine‘s (NEJM‘s) new international study of the current outbreak, which is the largest case-study on the virus.

“This truly global case series has enabled doctors from 16 countries to share their extensive clinical experience and many clinical photographs to help other doctors in places with fewer cases. We have shown that the current international case definitions need to be expanded to add symptoms that are not currently included, such as sores in the mouth, on the anal mucosa and single ulcers,” said Chloe Orkin, PhD, of the Queen Mary University of London, in a university press release.

The study included clinical observations from 528 confirmed infections at 43 sites from Apr 27 to Jun 24 of this year. The median incubation period is 7 days in this outbreak, and the median age of a case-patient was 38. No deaths occurred, but 70 patients (13%) required hospitalization.

In the study, authors share many patients are presenting to clinics and hospitals for pain management or difficulty swallowing. Single anal sores have been recorded in several cases. One in 10 people had only a single skin lesion in the genital area, and 15% had anal and/or rectal pain, a symptom not typically seen in other monkeypox outbreaks.

A total of 98% of the cases documented were in gay or bisexual men, and while monkeypox is not an STI, per se, the authors said 95% of transmissions documented occurred during sexual relations. Seventy-five percent of case patients are white, and 41% are HIV-positive.

CNN: CDC reports the first two monkeypox cases in children in the US.

Two cases of monkeypox have been identified in children in the United States, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.

The two cases are unrelated and probably the result of household transmission, the CDC said.

One case is a toddler who is a resident of California. The other is an infant who is not a US resident. Public health officials are investigating how the children were infected.

Both have symptoms but are in good health and receiving treatment with an antiviral medication named tecovirimat or TPOXX, which the CDC recommends for children under the age of 8 because they are considered to be at higher risk from infection.

Vicky Mount

Painting by Vicky Mount

Since the monkeypox outbreak began in May, most of the cases have happened among men who have sex with men. However, anyone can catch the virus through close skin-to-skin contact. In the case of children, the agency said this could include “holding, cuddling, feeding, as well as through shared items such as towels, bedding, cups, and utensils.”

The CDC says the Jynneos monkeypox vaccine is being made available for children through special expanded use protocols. The agency has also developed new guidance for health care providers about identifying, treating and preventing monkeypox in children and teens.

Dr. Jennifer McQuiston, deputy director of the CDC’s Division of High Consequence Pathogens and Pathology, said Friday that the cases in children were not surprising and that the US should be ready to respond to more.

Politico: Biden administration considering a public health emergency for monkeypox as cases swell.

U.S. health officials are discussing whether to declare a public health emergency for the monkeypox outbreak as they work to make treatments and vaccines available to more people.

The discussions come as the virus — which is endemic in West and Central Africa but unusual in the United States — continues to spread across the country. As of Thursday, there were 2,593 cases reported, up from 1,470 last week. The federal government announced Friday it has shipped over 300,000 doses of the vaccine to states and cities to control the outbreak.

“We’re looking at … what are the ways the response could be enhanced, if any, by declaring a public health emergency,” White House Covid response coordinator Ashish Jha told reporters during a briefing Friday.

Officials at the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are also working to make tecovirimat, the only treatment available for monkeypox (though only FDA–approved for smallpox), easier for physicians to prescribe to patients. A more streamlined process to get the antiviral is expected to be announced to providers next week.

The White House will also use a new research agenda, which was announced Thursday and consists of $140 million in ongoing projects, to study stretching limited monkeypox vaccine doses, find new testing methods and expand treatment options, three White House officials told POLITICO.

Lunch with cats, Pierre Bonnard, 1906

Lunch with cats, Pierre Bonnard, 1906

We haven’t talked much about the war in Ukraine lately, but it has caused a global food crisis. Yesterday Russian supposedly agreed to stop blocking shipments of grain, but the Ukraine and U.S. governments are skeptical that Russia will follow through. 

BBC News: Food crisis: Ukraine war: Deal signed to allow grain exports to resume by sea.

Ukraine and Russia have signed “mirror” deals which will allow Kyiv to resume exports of grain through the Black Sea.

The agreement will allow millions of tonnes of grain, currently trapped in Ukraine by the war, to be exported.

The world shortage of Ukrainian grain since Russia’s 24 February invasion has left millions at risk of hunger.

However, Kyiv refused to sign a direct deal with Moscow, and warned “provocations” would be met with “an immediate military response”.

Both sides attended the signing ceremony in Istanbul but did not sit at the same table. Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu signed Moscow’s deal first, followed by Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov signing Kyiv’s identical agreement.

The deal – which took two months to reach – is set to last for 120 days, with a co-ordination and monitoring centre to be established in Istanbul, staffed by UN, Turkish, Russian and Ukrainian officials. It can be renewed if both parties agree.

The blockade of Ukraine’s grain has caused a global food crisis with wheat-based products like bread and pasta becoming more expensive, and cooking oils and fertiliser also increasing in price.

In January 6 news, CNN’s Whitney Wild and Jeremy Herb broke a story yesterday on those missing Secret Service text messages: First on CNN: Secret Service identified potential missing text messages on phones of 10 individuals.

Secret Service investigators were scrutinizing the phones of 10 Secret Service personnel that contained metadata showing text messages were sent and received around January 6, 2021, but were not retained, two sources told CNN.

grandma-and-10-cats-in-the-bedroom, Linda Benton

Grandma and 10 cats in the bedroom, by Linda Benton

The scrutiny came after the Department of Homeland Security inspector general asked for the text records last year of 24 individuals at the Secret Service who were involved in January 6, but only one text had been produced. After the issue spilled into public view this month, the inspector general launched a criminal investigation into the matter, and lawmakers demanded answers from the Secret Service to go back and find out what happened to the texts that may have been deleted.

But the Secret Service’s internal investigation ground to a halt after a July 20 letter from the DHS inspector general informed the agency there was an ongoing criminal investigation, directing the Secret Service to stop its own probe.

Investigators had been working to determine whether the content of the text messages sent by the 10 personnel contained relevant information that should have been preserved, the sources said. Among the 24 Secret Service personnel under scrutiny, 10 other Secret Service personnel had no text messages, and three had only personal records, according to the sources.

The details of scrutiny of messages from 10 Secret Service personnel caps an extraordinary week of turmoil for the agency, which started with the inspector general

demanding answers about potential missing texts and led to a congressional subpoena and a criminal investigation into the matter.

There has to be a way to recover those text messages. I’m sure The Washington Post’s Carol Leonnig, author of a book on the Secret Service, is working her sources to find out more.

Dakinikat covered the final January 6 Committee hearing yesterday, but here are some more follow-up articles:

NPR: The Jan. 6 committee isn’t done. Expect more hearings, revelations and reports.

The House Select January 6th committee made clear they are going to resume hearings in September.

Republican Vice Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., opened the final summer hearing by noting the progress the committee has made, but she added that there’s now new evidence and more witnesses to consider.

“Doors have opened, new subpoenas have been issued, and the dam has begun to break,” Cheney said.

Already, in the buildup to Thursday’s presentation, select committee aides had hinted future hearings could be on tap.

Kim Haskins, psychedelic cat

Kim Haskins, psychedelic cat

And Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., told reporters recently that the committee could issue an initial report in September, followed by a final report later this year. The findings would be accompanied by hearings, he said.

“We’re just getting a significant amount of information,” Thompson said. And the new evidence “pushes the timetable out.” [….]

Cheney also noted in this week’s hearing that the panel will now return to its investigative mode for the next several weeks.

“Our committee will spend August pursuing emerging information on multiple fronts, before convening further hearings this September,” Cheney said….

With plans to issue their findings in the form of reports and more hearings, the committee is racing to address new evidence along the way.

For example, the panel is now looking into allegations that the Secret Service deleted text messages during a two-day period surrounding the Jan. 6 attack. Department of Homeland Security Inspector General Joseph Cuffari has claimed the messages were erased after a request by his office, while the Secret Service has denied these allegations, saying the deletions were part of a system migration.

The Hill: Jan. 6 panel shows few signs of slowing down despite midterm risks.

The select committee’s prime-time hearing on Thursday was widely expected to mark the end of a crucial phase in the panel’s probe of last year’s riot, capping six weeks of publicly aired testimony — almost all of it from Republicans — aimed at pinning culpability for the rampage squarely onto Trump’s shoulders.

But every new revelation seems to turn up as many questions as answers, and the panel has altered its schedule to accommodate what it calls a wave of new information in need of perusal. The arrival of new witnesses has been accompanied by successful committee efforts to fight stonewalling in the form of executive privilege claims, and the panel has recently issued new subpoenas for even more evidence.

“The dam has begun to break,” Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), vice chair of the select committee, said Thursday night. “We have far more evidence to share with the American people — and more to gather.”

The Owl and the Pussycat, 2009 by P J Crook

The Owl and the Pussycat, 2009 by P J Crook

With that in mind, the committee said it intends to use Congress’s long August recess to wade through the influx of new information, with designs to hold more hearings on its findings in September when lawmakers return to Washington. How many they’ll stage remains unclear, but the investigators are leaving themselves the flexibility to determine that schedule on the fly.

“We are pursuing many additional witnesses for testimony,” said Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), who participated in Thursday’s hearing remotely after testing positive for COVID-19 earlier in the week. “We will reconvene in September to continue laying out our findings.” [….]

“We’re not done. The information continues to come in. The evidence is continuing to flow in,” Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) told CNN heading into Thursday’s hearing. “So this is … not the end of the story.”

More interesting January 6 stories to check out, links only:

Vicky Ward on her blog yesterday: What Trump World Really Thinks About Last Night’s Jan. 6 Hearing.

Alan Feuer and Michael Schmidt at The New York Times: The Jan. 6 Panel After 8 Hearings: Where Will the Evidence Lead?

Ruth Marcus at The Washington Post: Now we know the truth on what Trump sought to obscure about Jan. 6.

David Siders at Politico: ‘His life was threatened.’ But Pence isn’t talking about it.

Isaac Stanley Becker and Josh Dawsey at The Washington Post: Hearings test Trump’s clout and GOP’s wish to ‘forget about Jan. 6’

Michelle Goldberg at The New York Times: The Myth of the Good Trump Official.

That’s it for me today. I hope you’re all having a terrific weekend!

33 Comments on “Lazy Caturday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Does anyone else feel more encouraged after the last hearing? I feel as if things may be looking up for a change. Of course there are crises all around the world, but I’m feeling a little more hopeful about saving democracy in the U.S. Things are going to keep coming out, drip, drip, drip.

    • bostonboomer says:

      • Beata says:

        I want to treat myself to a beautiful 1860’s house that is for sale in Switzerland Co., near Vevay, on the banks of the Ohio. Elegant and grand with gorgeous views of the river. Ah, in my dreams….

        Maybe I will settle for a root beer float.

        • quixote says:

          In my case I think it would be one of those perfect eclairs from an Austrian pastry shop. Actually maybe rather that than the house…

        • NW Luna says:

          Beata, I first read “Switzerland Co” as “Switzerland” — LOL! Yes, a nice Swiss cottage by the river, with a bakery nearby….

          But why not rootbeer floats too? My mom used to make rootbeer at home using rootbeer extract, yeast, sugar and water. She’d cap the bottles and put them up in a high cabinet for a few days to ferment. Once in a while there’d be a fearfully loud BANG! and rootbear foam would pour down from the cupboard. That was when we knew the bottles had been left to ferment just a little too long.

          • quixote says:

            That happened once to a friend of mine who made ginger beer. Only it soaked into the wood floor. In Hawaii. What a mess! Great ginger beer in the other bottles though.

          • Beata says:

            We had blackberries in our backyard when I was growing up. One summer, my older brother had the bright idea to make some blackberry wine. He left the bottles on the floor in his bedroom. This did not end well. It ended up on the ceiling. The stains never came out. It’s a good thing my mother had a sense of humor. She thought it was funny and an interesting design element ( she was an artist ).

          • Beata says:

            The ceiling didn’t get painted over until we sold the house a few years later to a family my mother called “a bunch of tight ass Mormons”.

          • quixote says:

            I think I see where you get your great attitude, Beata 😆

  2. bostonboomer says:

    • Enheduanna says:

      Holy smokes! That is wild.

      Love the kitty pictures as always BB. Hope everyone is cool and comfortable today. I am definitely encouraged with the J6 committee and I believe the pendulum will swing back our way eventually. We just need to stick our ground and not give up.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Thanks for the encouraging words. I’m glad you liked the cats. I looked for upbeat pics today.

  3. dakinikat says:

    The cat illustrations today are delightful!

  4. Enheduanna says:

    Prolly old news for ya’ll but I never get tired of hearing things like this:

  5. quixote says:


    “We have an outbreak that has spread around the world rapidly through new modes of transmission, about which we understand too little….”

    especially the “about which we understand too little” part very much justifies going on red alert about monkeypox.

    But I wonder if the sudden spread isn’t really down to new modes as it is the end of residual smallpox immunity from what used to be a near-100% vaccinated world population.

    I gather the cross-immunity, or whatever it’s called, isn’t perfect, but it may have been enough to suppress outbreaks. Until around now when the effects of the last shots have finally waned and enough people aren’t vaccinated against smallpox at all.

    • bostonboomer says:

      That is an interesting idea.

    • NW Luna says:

      We know about the main mode of transmission — mucous membrane contact in 95% of cases. Given fast, (relatively) cheap global travel and the predominant vectors being younger males with risky (from a public-health standpoint) behavior, it’s no wonder it’s spreading.

      Similar info from WaPo as in the NYT article BB posted above:

      Tedros said that one of the reasons he moved to declare a global health emergency is the potential for stanching the outbreak, which is overwhelmingly concentrated in men who have sex with men. “That means that this is an outbreak that can be stopped with the right strategies in the right groups,” Tedros said.

      Experts believe close contact during male-to-male sexual activity is a major driver of transmission in the ongoing outbreak. The virus spreads through other forms of skin-to-skin contact and in households through prolonged respiratory spread and the sharing of contaminated items. Authorities have also reported small numbers of women and children infected with monkeypox.

      Rosamund Lewis, technical lead for monkeypox at the WHO Health Emergencies Program, said monkeypox appears to be concentrated among men who have sex with men because they have more frequent social gatherings and participate in events involving intimate contact with multiple partners.

      • NW Luna says:

        And yes, I agree with quixote that the absence of smallpox vax in people born after 1971 (in the US) allows closely related viruses to run rampant. Guidelines say that for those who do need the smallpox vax — such as certain lab workers — to get re-vaxxed every 3 yrs. So who knows how well that childhood vax some of us got is still working.

    • Beata says:

      The outbreak among children is very concerning. Do we know if the two known cases in the US were spread from infected adults within the households? I hope we are not going to find that it is spreading in daycares or schools.

      • NW Luna says:

        What I’ve read is that the kids did have contacts who were infected. So far the info has been oddly vague as to how close the contacts were.

  6. NW Luna says:

    Russia has just bombed Odessa.

    Air raid warnings rang at about 11 a.m. with the sounds of explosions echoing across the city. The military’s southern command reported no casualties. It said air defense systems shot down two other missiles in the attack, which the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine described as “outrageous.”

    The strike threatens an agreement that diplomats had hailed less than 24 hours earlier as a breakthrough after months of negotiations. Friday’s deal, brokered by the United Nations and Turkey, would help lift a Black Sea blockade that exacerbated global hunger, especially in Africa and the Middle East.

    A keystone of the deal is Russia’s promise not to attack Odessa and two other ports involved in the shipments. The deal includes security assurances for both Ukraine and Russia, which agreed not to “undertake any attacks against merchant vessels and other civilian vessels and port facilities” tied to the initiative.

    “This proves only one thing: No matter what Russia says and promises, it will find ways not to implement it,” said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Why am I not surprised.

      • quixote says:

        Exactly. Russia, well, Putin, _wants_ global famine. It’s the only real weapon he has remaining. And the West seem to be idiots enough to let him keep going long enough to use it.

  7. NW Luna says:

    Fun kitty pics today! I think my favorite is the Coffee with Cat.