News 16.04.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 16.04.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 16.04.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 16.04.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

AT THE PEAK of the coronavirus epidemic in America, hospitals needed to triage patients. Only the sickest were admitted. Others were sent home to self-monitor. One measure used to determine the severity of an individual’s illness was his blood-oxygen level. The devices typically employed to do this, known as pulse oximeters, are easy to use. They clip onto a fingertip like a clothes peg. Regrettably, they record some darker-skinned patients as being healthier than they really are. This may have resulted in people who needed hospital treatment being denied it.

Work published last year in the New England Journal of Medicine, which looked at more than 10,000 patients throughout America, suggested the pulse oximeters used overestimated blood-oxygen saturation more frequently in black people than white. A healthy human being has an oxygen saturation of 92-96%. In this work some patients who registered that level according to pulse oximetry had a true saturation (as recorded by the arterial blood-gas measure, a method which requires the actual drawing of blood) of less than 88%. For black participants this happened 12% of the time—three times the rate at which it occurred for white participants. As Michael Sjoding of the University of Michigan, the study’s leader, observes, this difference would also be the difference between being admitted to the hospital and being sent home.

Read the rest of this article at: The Economist

News 16.04.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 16.04.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The Motel El Encanto in Hermosillo, Mexico, served a lavish breakfast that John and Andra Patterson liked to eat on the tiled deck near their suite. The couple would discuss the day ahead over fresh pineapple and pan dulces while their 4-year-old daughter, Julia, watched the gray cat that skulked about the motel’s Spanish arches.

On the morning of March 22, 1974, the Pattersons’ breakfast chatter centered on their search for a permanent home. They were nearing their two-month anniversary of living in Hermosillo, where John was a junior diplomat at the American consulate, and the motel was feeling cramped.

After breakfast, Andra dropped John off at work. Because this was his first posting as a member of the United States Foreign Service, the 31-year-old Patterson had been given an unglamorous job: He was a vice consul responsible for promoting trade between the U.S. and Mexico, which on this particular Friday meant driving out to meet with a group of ranchers who hoped to improve their yield of beef.

At 11 a.m., Patterson grabbed the keys to a consular vehicle, a beige International Harvester truck, and headed downstairs. One of his co-workers, an administrative assistant named Luis Sánchez, saw him standing outside the building, chatting amicably with a mustached man in dark sunglasses and a blue suit. When Patterson got behind the wheel of the truck, his acquaintance climbed into the passenger seat.

An hour later, the clerk at the Motel El Encanto spotted the International Harvester traveling north on the broad boulevard that cuts through Hermosillo. He recognized Patterson as the driver: With his thick mop of sandy-brown hair and modish eyeglasses, the vice consul resembled an unkempt Warren Beatty. But the other man was unfamiliar to the clerk.

Around 2:30 p.m., Andra swung by the consulate to browse its library; she wanted to borrow some books before picking Julia up from school. She was immersed in that pleasant task when a secretary informed her that Elmer Yelton, the consul general, needed to see her right away.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

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The winning entries of the annual World Press Photo Contest ​have just been announced. This year, according to organizers, 74,470 images were submitted for judging, made by 4,315 photographers from 130 different countries. Winners in eight categories were announced, including Contemporary Issues, Environment, General News, Long-Term Projects, Nature, Portraits, Sports, and Spot News. World Press Photo has once more been kind enough to allow me to share some of this year’s winning photos here with you.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

News 16.04.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 16.04.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The last stranger Adriene Mishler hugged before the pandemic was a woman who may or may not have sideswiped her car. It was Friday, the 13th of March, and Mishler, a YouTube yoga celebrity with more than eight million subscribers, was driving back to her house in Austin, Texas. It was exactly a week after the city canceled the annual South by Southwest festival. A female driver in a tan or gold sedan scraped the side of Mishler’s vehicle and, instead of pulling over like a decent person, raced off. The yoga guru gave chase.

“I was not going to chew them out,” Mishler said a few weeks later, reflecting on the incident. “I didn’t give a [expletive] about exchanging insurance or anything — well, obviously I did.” But that wasn’t the point of catching the driver. The point was to have a conversation with that person about the importance of goodness and accountability at a time of global and local turbulence, and as Mishler pursued the driver, she plotted out the interaction in her head. She lost the car, then found it again as it turned into a parking lot outside a thrift store. Mishler parked and got out to examine the other car, which had damage in a location that aligned with where the accident occurred. She followed the woman inside.

“Hi, I’m so sorry to bother you, and this is going to sound really weird, but did you just hit a car 15 or 20 minutes ago?”

The woman’s eyes grew big, which Mishler initially took for a sign of guilt. But the woman denied it. And as soon as she spoke, Mishler could tell this person wasn’t the perp; she had accidentally followed someone else driving a similar car into the parking lot. Mishler was mortified and apologized. As they parted, the woman stopped her and said that she loved doing Mishler’s yoga videos. This is something that has happened with increasing regularity as the videos have exploded in popularity. The two women embraced. “Damn,” Mishler said in late April, reliving the hug. “Outside of my boyfriend, that’s probably the last person I was less than six feet away from.”

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

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News 16.04.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

For an empire that collapsed more than 1,500 years ago, ancient Rome maintains a powerful presence. About 1 billion people speak languages derived from Latin; Roman law shapes modern norms; and Roman architecture has been widely imitated. Christianity, which the empire embraced in its sunset years, remains the world’s largest religion. Yet all these enduring influences pale against Rome’s most important legacy: its fall. Had its empire not unravelled, or had it been replaced by a similarly overpowering successor, the world wouldn’t have become modern.

This isn’t the way that we ordinarily think about an event that has been lamented pretty much ever since it happened. In the late 18th century, in his monumental work The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776-1788), the British historian Edward Gibbon called it ‘the greatest, perhaps, and most awful scene in the history of mankind’. Tankloads of ink have been expended on explaining it. Back in 1984, the German historian Alexander Demandt patiently compiled no fewer than 210 different reasons for Rome’s demise that had been put forward over time. And the flood of books and papers shows no sign of abating: most recently, disease and climate change have been pressed into service. Wouldn’t only a calamity of the first order warrant this kind of attention?

It’s true that Rome’s collapse reverberated widely, at least in the western – mostly European – half of its empire. (A shrinking portion of the eastern half, later known as Byzantium, survived for another millennium.) Although some regions were harder hit than others, none escaped unscathed. Monumental structures fell into disrepair; previously thriving cities emptied out; Rome itself turned into a shadow of its former grand self, with shepherds tending their flocks among the ruins. Trade and coin use thinned out, and the art of writing retreated. Population numbers plummeted.

But a few benefits were already being felt at the time. Roman power had fostered immense inequality: its collapse brought down the plutocratic ruling class, releasing the labouring masses from oppressive exploitation. The new Germanic rulers operated with lower overheads and proved less adept at collecting rents and taxes. Forensic archaeology reveals that people grew to be taller, likely thanks to reduced inequality, a better diet and lower disease loads. Yet these changes didn’t last.

Read the rest of this article at: aeon

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M.