The Vancouver Canucks confirm a variant of the COVID-19 virus is responsible for the outbreak that has ravaged the team.
“As of today, 25 individuals have tested positive and the source infection is confirmed a variant — full genome sequencing by [B.C. Centre for Disease Control] will be required to determine which specific type,” reads the statement from the team.
So far, 21 players and four staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. An additional player is considered a close contact.
Earlier, the chief medical health officer for Vancouver Coastal Health told CBC News that officials had traced how the virus first gained a foothold in the team.
“The cluster at the Vancouver Canucks … we do know how the virus entered that community,” said Dr. Patricia Daly. “We don’t provide details of any cases.”
The Canucks statement said the source is “a single individual obtained in a community setting, which has since been identified by public health as a public exposure location.”
“Rapid spread of infection throughout the team indicates a link between contacts and the primary case.”
Forward Adam Gaudette was the first member of the team to test positive for COVID-19 and was pulled off the ice mid-practice on March 30.
Defenceman Travis Hamonic followed the next day and the NHL postponed the Canucks game against the Calgary Flames that evening.
Five more games have since been postponed as the virus spread among players and staff.
With the team having played just 37 of 56 regular season games, it’s unclear what the remainder of the season will bring.
An NHL spokesperson said “a 56-game season is still the focus” but if necessary, the league has some flexibility on scheduling the opening of playoffs.”
The prolonged layoff while battling the virus could be another blow to Vancouver’s already precarious playoff hopes.
Heading into Wednesday night, the Canucks (16-18-3) trailed Montreal by eight points for the final playoff spot.
“The health and safety of players, staff, families and the greater community remains the utmost priority,” said the Canucks.
“This is a stark reminder of how quickly the virus can spread and its serious impact, even among healthy, young athletes.
All staff and players remain in quarantine, according to the team.
The Chinese government’s actions in Xinjiang have violated every single act prohibited by the United Nations Genocide Convention — including one that forbids killing members of a group — says a new independent report drafted by dozens of experts in human rights, international law and genocide studies.
Released Tuesday by the Montreal-based Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights and a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, the report contains a legal analysis that concludes China “bears state responsibility for an ongoing genocide” against the Uighurs, an overwhelmingly Muslim minority group.
“China, as a state, is committing acts of genocide against the Uighurs with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, the group as such, as exemplified by state-orchestrated mass internment, forced birth prevention and campaigns of eradication,” Yonah Diamond, legal counsel for the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights and a principal author of the report, said in a press release.
That damning conclusion follows years of other reports from media, academic and UN experts that have accused China of imprisoning over a million Uighurs in concentration and “deradicalization” camps and targeting them for forced labour, sexual violence, population control methods and sweeping surveillance.
The Chinese government has denied accusations of human rights abuses. The Chinese ambassador to Canada has accused his country’s critics of fabricating the “lie of the century.”
The report includes input from a number of Canadian human rights experts, including former cabinet ministers Lloyd Axworthy, Allan Rock and Irwin Cotler, as well as former ambassador to the UN Yves Fortier and University of Ottawa human rights professor John Packer.
WATCH | China accidentally releases report on forced relocation, retraining of Uighurs
A Chinese government report, unintentionally made public, outlines how Uighurs and other minorities were forcibly relocated and retrained for new jobs in what’s considered an attempt to dilute their culture and reduce populations. 2:00
1948 Genocide Convention
Article II of the UN Genocide Convention, adopted in 1948, defines genocide as acts committed “with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.”
The convention includes a list of five acts that constitute genocide: killing members of a group; causing serious bodily or mental harm; creating conditions meant to force the physical destruction of the group; forcibly transferring children to another group; and imposing measures that prevent births.
The researchers say a review of public and leaked government communications, eyewitness testimony and open-source research methods offers evidence that Chinese state institutions have engaged in all five actions. China is a party to the convention, along with over 150 other countries.
According to the report, between one and two million people have been forcibly detained in over a thousand internment-style camps across Xinjiang since 2014. That’s when the Chinese government launched a campaign supposedly targeting terrorism in the region, but which critics have said was a cover for smothering Uighur dissent.
The report says many prominent Uighur leaders have been selectively sentenced to execution, while other elderly Uighurs have died during long stints in prison. Imprisoned Uighurs have faced torture, harsh interrogations and other cruel treatment.
Uighur women have been subjected to forced intrauterine device insertions and abortions and have been injected with medication that halts their menstrual cycles, the report says.
“China is a highly centralized state in full control of its territory and population, including [in Xinjiang],” the report reads. “The persons and entities perpetrating the above-indicated acts of genocide are all state agents or organs — acting under the effective control of the state — manifesting an intent to destroy the Uighurs as a group.”
Liberals reluctant to use genocide label
The release of the report comes two weeks after the House of Commons voted overwhelmingly to declare China’s actions against Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang a genocide. While backbench Liberal MPs joined their opposition colleagues in that vote, cabinet ministers abstained.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government have been reluctant to use the word genocide, arguing that more evidence from independent investigations is needed.
A House of Commons subcommittee said in an October report that China’s campaign against the Uighurs meets the definition of genocide after hearing testimony from several Uighur witnesses who gave first-hand accounts of atrocities.
The Trump administration accused China of committing genocide and other crimes against humanity in January, a position the Biden administration has maintained.
A spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau’s office told CBC News the department is aware of the report and will be reviewing it closely.
“We remain deeply disturbed by the troubling reports of human rights violations in Xinjiang. Canada takes allegations of genocide very seriously,” said Christelle Chartrand.
“We will continue to work in close collaboration with our allies to push for these to be investigated through an international independent body and for impartial experts to access the region so that they can see the situation firsthand and report back.”
Earlier this year, the federal government announced a new regulation meant to ensure that Canadian companies are not complicit in human rights abuses or the use of forced labour in Xinjiang. But the measures stopped short of imposing “Magnitsky-style sanctions” on Chinese officials, something called for by the opposition Conservatives.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole today urged the Liberal government to join MPs in calling China’s actions genocidal. He renewed his call for sanctions and for the relocation of the 2022 Winter Olympics out of Beijing.
Ever since the RTX 3080 and RTX 3090 launched, they’ve been nearly impossible to find. Sometimes, an OEM builder will have stock if you’re buying a new system, even if cards aren’t available in-channel, but that doesn’t seem to be the case right now.
Origin PC’s shipping time increases from 14-16 days to 29-31 days if you want an RTX 3080. Maingear doesn’t give a specific date, but says “Lead times are currently extended for systems with RTX-3000-series cards.” Maingear already has a separate “Shipping times may be delayed from the following stated lead time due to COVID-19” and an estimated 3-4 week shipping window, but evidently the company felt the need for a second disclaimer.
A different way to get a handle on the situation is to check ProShop.de. The German company has been publishing periodic updates on everything related to Ampere GPU sales, including how many cards its customers have ordered, how many GPUs it has ordered from manufacturers, when those cards are expected to arrive, and how many GPUs have already shipped.
According to ProShop, it breaks its categories down as follows:
Customer orders: Number of current customer orders, which have yet to be delivered. Orders that have been canceled at this point are not included. Ordered from mfr: Number of graphic cards Proshop has ordered from the manufacturer. Incoming cards: Confirmed number of graphic cards to be delivered by the manufacturer to Proshop asap. Received: Total number of graphic cards received from manufacturers and shipped to customers by Proshop since launch. This doesn’t include the 3070-series, which launch on October 29.
I screenshotted ProShop’s figures on October 12, and again on October 21, added up the differences in the figures, and built a chart to show them. I should note that there are places in the original data where, instead of a number, ProShop lists “15th” or “7th.” These dates appear to correspond to when a GPU will be available for customer order, when ProShop can order it from the manufacturer, when the cards will ship to ProShop, or when ProShop will ship them itself.
Data by ProShot, 10-21-2020
The chart below contains raw figures for each category based on ProShop’s published data for 10-12 and 10-21, along with two categories I added. Fulfillable Orders is the percent of total orders that ProShop could fill on each date if it had every GPU listed as “Incoming” along with every GPU listed as “Received.” “% Mfr Supply” examines the same question, but uses the total number of cards ProShop ordered as opposed to the total number it received.
We see a few interesting things here. First, overall availability as a percentage of total customer orders is higher. This is only true because of a large number of RTX 3080s in the “Incoming” column — if we confine ourselves solely to the “Received” column, availability has only increased from 9 percent to 11 percent. If we remove the “Incoming” column from manufacturing data, GPU availability has gotten worse.
The reason I’m presenting the data this way is that GPUs on their way to the store are functional cards effectively “on the market.” The growth in “Incoming” shipments could mean that AIBs are finally able to ship some hardware.
The fact that ProShop has been unable to get allocation for weeks suggests that Samsung’s 8nm yields might be part of the problem. There were rumors months ago that Nvidia had limited its orders to Samsung out of concern that the company wouldn’t be able to manufacture enough good die. This squares with other rumors we’ve heard expressing doubts regarding Samsung’s 8nm process. It could also explain why Nvidia is rumored to be moving some production back to TSMC. DigiTimes wrote last week that Nvidia was getting a substantial discount on Samsung’s 8nm process, but that the GPU designer still wants to diversify its offerings to get around Samsung’s yield problem.
So, is Nvidia lying when it says that demand is the reason there are no RTX 3000 GPUs to be found, and that this situation will persist through the end of 2020 and possibly into 2021? It certainly looks as though there are supply problems in the mix, too, but the number of GPUs ProShop has ordered suggests that demand is genuinely sky-high. Nobody wants to sit on several thousand GPUs they can’t sell. Even Nvidia admitted during the Ampere unveil that Turing had not been the hit it was hoping for, in terms of uptake, which means there’s a lot of pent-up demand in the market.
ProShop has data on the RTX 3070 as well, but I deliberately didn’t discuss it. That GPU hasn’t launched yet, and it’s possible that there will be a wave of late shipments out to stores to boost inventory. As always, keep in mind that data like this, however thorough, is a snapshot of a single store. We do not know what these figures look like for Amazon or Newegg, where the ratios could be entirely different. Nvidia has admitted that these GPUs will be in short supply through the end of the year. There might appear to be a supply problem because Nvidia is prioritizing the largest channel distributors, but the fact that boutique builders can’t get cards all that easily, either, suggests more to the story. The rumors of low yields on Samsung 8nm and the rumors that Nvidia will return to TSMC all point in the same direction.
This is not the first time we’ve seen foundries struggle to get yield on a part (assuming that’s what’s happening), and both AMD and Nvidia had a terrible time shipping cards in 2016. It’s not unusual to see these kinds of problems at the beginning of a launch. Hopefully, they’ll resolve more quickly than anticipated.
At least 49 active cases of COVID-19 have been linked to a wedding held earlier this month in Calgary.
It comes as Alberta hits its highest case numbers ever — 3,138 active cases, 998 of which are in Calgary.
The wedding featured a large number of Albertans from different households, Alberta Health spokesperson Tom McMillan said.
Aggressive contact tracing is underway to identify anyone who may have been exposed and ensure they are isolating and getting tested, and anyone at risk is being contacted directly by Alberta Health Services.
McMillan said Alberta Health can’t comment on specifics about individual cases due to patient confidentiality, but he did say it’s not yet clear what led to the level of exposure and that an investigation is underway.
Reminder that ‘this virus is still here’
Several recent outbreaks in Calgary have been linked to social gatherings, he said, adding that no one should attend a gathering if they have even mild symptoms or are awaiting test results.
“This is a reminder to all Albertans that this virus is still here and any social gathering carries a risk of exposure. This is true for both planned events, like wedding receptions, or informal get-togethers in a house or community space,” McMillan said.
WATCH | How difficulties in contact tracing are hampering Alberta’s attempts to control the spread of COVID-19
COVID-19 cases are rising in Alberta, and officials say difficulties with contact tracing could hamper the province’s ability to slow the spread. 3:49
“It is also important that organizers of social gatherings do everything possible to comply with the public health guidance in place, including ensuring that there is enough space for physical distancing between cohorts, following gathering size restrictions and avoiding sharing food and utensils.”
Dr. Craig Jenne, an infectious disease expert with the University of Calgary, said based on the high transmission numbers, he would consider this event a “superspreader.”
“Although 49 cases may not seem like a huge number, we have to keep in mind that these people have perhaps had continual contact with others after the wedding … if each person passes [COVID-19] on to two, three, four other people, we may be looking at an event that has now led to 200, 300 or more cases in the community. And again, each of those cases has the potential to spread it further,” he said.
WATCH | What settings are a higher risk for COVID-19 transmission?
Two infectious disease doctors answer viewer questions about high-risk settings for COVID-19 transmission and how data about transmission could help people make decisions about how to live their lives. 6:11
“We also have to keep in mind that many of these gatherings … probably have a significant number of people that are in at-risk groups — older parents, grandparents.”
Jenne said while it’s worth looking at whether guidelines like physical distancing, mask-wearing and attendance numbers were followed, ultimately, having large indoor gatherings right now simply isn’t safe.
“The virus doesn’t really care that you wore a mask until you sat down at the table … you have 100 people eating in the same room and multiple people at tables, this really creates an opportunity for the virus to move around,” he said.
The Philippine president has said he has no problem with being held responsible for the many killings under his anti-drugs crackdown, adding that he was ready to face charges that could land him in jail, though not charges of crimes against humanity.
President Rodrigo Duterte’s televised remarks Monday night were among his clearest acknowledgement of the prospects that he could face a deluge of criminal charges for the bloody campaign he launched after taking office in mid-2016. Nearly 6,000 killings of drug suspects have been reported by police but rights watchdogs suspect the death toll is far larger.
“If there’s killing there, I’m saying I’m the one … you can hold me responsible for anything, any death that has occurred in the execution of the drug war,” Duterte said.
‘I have no problem’
“If you get killed it’s because I’m enraged by drugs,” the tough-talking president said. “If that’s what I’m saying, bring me to court to be imprisoned. Fine, I have no problem. If I serve my country by going to jail, gladly.”
At least two complaints for crimes against humanity and mass murder in connection with Duterte’s campaign are being examined by an International Criminal Court prosecutor, who will determine whether there is enough evidence to open a full-scale investigation.
Duterte responded to the complaints by withdrawing the Philippines from the world tribunal two years ago in a move that human rights groups said was a major setback in the country’s battle against impunity. The ICC prosecutor has said the examination into the drug killings would continue despite the Philippine withdrawal.
Duterte asked Monday when did “drugs become humanity?”
Says drugs a security threat
He framed his remarks by portraying the drug menace as a national security and public threat like the decades-long communist insurgency that the government is obligated to quell.
“If this is allowed to go on and on and if no decisive action is taken against them, it will endanger the security of the state,” said Duterte, a former government prosecutor.
“When you save your country from the perdition of the people like the NPAs and drugs, you are doing a sacred duty,” he said, referring to communist New People’s Army insurgents.
There are 1.6 million drug addicts in the Philippines, Duterte said, citing statistics from an anti-narcotics agency. The figure is much smaller than the 4 million addicts that he cited the police as reporting early in his presidency to justify his crackdown.
Police have reported at least 5,856 drug suspects have been killed in raids and more than 256,000 others arrested since the start of the crackdown. Human rights groups have accused authorities of considerably under reporting the deaths.
Duterte said drug killings that did not happen during police operations should not be blamed on him, adding those deaths may have been set off by gang rivalries or settling of scores.
There have been widespread suspicions of extrajudicial killings in the crackdown, allegations that Duterte and the police deny. In 2018, a court convicted three police officers of murdering a 17-year-old student after witnesses and a security video disproved their claim that the suspect was shot after violently resisting, a common reason cited by police officers after drug suspects are killed.
He Jiankui dropped off the radar shortly after the announcement. Many speculated that he had been arrested by the Chinese government, and now we know what became of him. He Jiankui has been convicted of “illegal medical practice” and sentenced to three years in prison along with 3 million yuan ($ 429,000) fine. He’s also banned from working in reproductive medicine for life. Two co-authors of the paper have also been sentenced in the case. Zhang Renli will spend two years in prison, and Qin Jinzhou has been sentenced to 18 months.
The CRISPR/Cas9 system has been heralded as a groundbreaking tool for editing DNA. The system comes from bacterial cells, allowing scientists to make precise cuts in DNA. Cas9 is a restriction enzyme — a protein that can cut DNA. Scientists can guide Cas9 to the right part of a genome using CRISPR DNA sequences. Researchers have used CRISPR in the lab to neuter disease-carrying mosquitoes, halt HIV replication inside cells, and engineer bacteria that can eat plastic. Editing the human genome with the intention of producing living, breathing people is regarded as irresponsible by most of the medical community when there is still so much we don’t know about the possible side effects.
That didn’t stop He Jiankui, who published his paper last year along with 10 co-authors. The team introduced mutations into the CCR5 gene, which codes for a protein (also called CCR5) on the surface of white blood cells. This protein is important in immune system signaling, but it’s also the route by which HIV infects cells. There are millions of people with CCR5 mutations that make them immune to HIV, and He Jiankui introduced that mitation into embryos. The twin girls born in 2018 are allegedly healthy and have no other genetic abnormalities.
The announcement of the sentence is also the first time Chinese authorities have confirmed the existence of a third gene-edited baby. He Jiankui claimed shortly after the initial announcement that another woman was due to deliver another designer baby in the coming months. So, there are now three genetically engineered people growing up in China, and the consequences of that are still unclear.
As Syrian forces push further into Kurdish-held territory, capturing the border town of Manbij, the United Nations is warning Turkey it could be held responsible for executions of captured Kurdish fighters and a politician by an affiliated armed group, saying the acts may amount to war crimes.
The UN human rights office said it had documented civilian casualties caused by airstrikes, ground-based strikes and sniper fire each day since the Turkish offensive began in northeastern Syria a week ago.
Turkey and its Syrian rebel allies launched a military offensive into Kurdish-held parts of the northeast, saying it aims to defeat the Kurdish YPG militia, which Turkey sees as terrorists for its links to separatists.
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) accused Turkey-backed fighters of killing a Kurdish politician in an ambush on a road in northern Syria on Saturday. A Turkey-backed rebel force denied the killing and said it had not advanced that far.
UN human rights spokesperson Rupert Colville said video footage appeared to show executions of three Kurdish captives carried out by Ahrar al-Sharqiya fighters, a rebel group affiliated with Turkey, on the highway between Hasaka and Manbij on Saturday.
The UN had received reports that Hevrin Khalaf, a Kurdish politician, was executed on the same highway by the same group on the same day, he said, adding that summary executions may amount to war crimes.
“Turkey could be deemed responsible as a state for violations by their affiliated groups as long as Turkey exercises effective control of these groups or the operations in the course of which those violations occurred,” Colville told a news briefing.
“We urge Turkish authorities immediately to launch an impartial, transparent and independent investigation and to apprehend those responsible, some of whom should be easily identifiable from the video footage they themselves shared on social media.”
UN war crimes investigators would follow up on all incidents, Colville added.
At least four civilians, including two journalists, were killed and dozens injured when a convoy was hit by a Turkish air strike on the Syrian town of Ras al Ain on Sunday, Colville said.
The UN human rights office had reports of alleged air and ground strikes on five health facilities by Turkish forces and affiliated groups. It had reports of attacks on civilian infrastructure, including power lines, water supplies and bakeries, he said.
Turkish authorities have reported 18 civilians were killed in Turkey, including a nine-month-old baby, by cross-border mortar and sniper fire by Kurdish fighters, he said.
Syrian forces take Kurdish-held Manbij
The UN warning came as Syrian government forces entered the centre of the once Kurdish-held northern town of Manbij, about 30 kilometres south of the Turkish border, and raised the national flag, Syrian state media say.
A video released by SANA showed some people gathered in the main square waving Syrian flags Tuesday morning.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces had left the area at the height of the civil war, leaving it to the Kurdish groups.
The flashpoint area housed U.S. troops who patrolled the region since 2017 to deter a confrontation between Turkey and Kurdish fighters.
This is our nightmare scenario.– Made Ferguson, Mercy Corps’ Syrian deputy country director
The Kurdish Hawar News Agency said American troops left the town on Tuesday morning moving southeast about 35 kilometres toward the Tishrin Dam on the Euphrates river.
On Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his military was ready to begin moving into the city.
One Turkish soldier was killed and eight others were wounded on Tuesday after Kurdish fighters defended their position in Manbij, Turkey’s Defence Ministry said. At least 15 fighters had been “neutralized” in retaliation, the ministry said.
Near the different border town of Ras al Ayn, Turkish artillery were pounding suspected Kurdish positions as Turkey’s military incursion entered its seventh day.
Russian-backed Syrian forces pushed into Kurdish-held territory after U.S. troops withdrew — setting up a potential clash with Turkey’s forces and threatening the lives of those caught in the middle. 1:39
An Associated Press journalist reported heavy bombardment of targets in the countryside of Ras al Ayn, days after Turkey announced it had captured the town. Turkish jets also carried out at least one airstrike.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor, reported Kurdish fighters had retaken the town.
On Monday, Erdogan defended Turkey’s offensive in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, calling on the international community to support the initiative or “begin admitting refugees” from Syria.
Humanitarian crisis looms
The Kurdish-led administration in northern Syria says humanitarian conditions are getting worse by the day since Turkey began its invasion last week.
Tuesday’s statement warned humanitarian assistance is much needed after international organizations stopped their activities and withdrew their employees.
The region’s semi-autonomous administration said there is a lack of medical equipment and medicines after “most of the medical centres stopped functioning.”
The administration called on the United Nations, the Arab League and the European Union to “intervene quickly and provide medical, logistical and humanitarian assistance to the displaced to avoid the humanitarian crisis.”
The U.S.-based Mercy Corps said nearly 130,000 have been forced to flee the region.
“This is our nightmare scenario,” said Made Ferguson, the aid organization’s deputy country director for Syria.
“There are tens of thousands of people on the run and we have no way of getting to them. We’ve had to pull our international staff out of northeast Syria,” Ferguson said. “We just cannot effectively operate with the heavy shelling, roads closing, and the various and constantly changing armed actors in the areas where we are working.”
Kurdish mayors detained
Turkish police detained four mayors from a pro-Kurdish party in dawn raids, widening a crackdown since Ankara launched its incursion into northern Syria, state media and the party said on Tuesday.
The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) mayors of the Kurdish-majority Hakkari, Yuksekova, Ercis and Nusaybin, districts near Turkey’s borders with Syria and Iraq, were detained over terrorism links, the HDP and Anadolu news agency said, without elaborating.
Erdogan and his government accuse the HDP of being linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group, and thousands of its members have been prosecuted for the same reason, including its leaders. The HDP denies such links.
While most of Turkey’s opposition parties have backed the operation, the HDP has called for it to stop, describing it as an “invasion attempt.” HDP said the operation was an attempt by the government to drum up support amid declining public backing.
The HDP said 151 of its members, including district officials, had been detained over the past week since Turkey and its Syrian rebel allies launched the assault.
Last week, Turkish police launched criminal investigations into the HDP’s co-chairs over their criticism of the military operation and started probes into more than 500 social accounts over “terrorist propaganda” criticizing the offensive.
Authorities launched similar investigations after each of Turkey’s two previous cross-border operations into Syria. More than 300 people were detained for social media posts criticizing Turkey’s offensive into northern Syria in January 2018.
China is to blame for much of the increase in illegal ozone-depleting substances (ODS) since 2013, according a study published by the journal Nature on Thursday, with domestic companies accused of violating a global production ban.
About 40 to 60 per cent of the global rise in the prohibited ozone-destroying refrigerant trichlorofluoromethane (CFC-11) since 2013 could be attributed to the industrial provinces of Shandong and Hebei in northern China, researchers from Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and Britain’s University of Bristol said.
After studying atmospheric data from South Korea and Japan, they estimated CFC-11 emissions from eastern mainland China during the 2014-17 period were around seven million kilograms per year higher than they were from 2008 to 2012.
The Ministry of Ecology and Environment did not respond immediately to a request for comment on Thursday.
CFC-11, once used in refrigerators and air conditioners, is one of the chemicals banned under the Montreal Protocol, a treaty to protect the earth’s ozone layer by phasing out all global CFC production by 2010. CFC-11 in the atmosphere declined substantially until 2012, but has since rebounded.
China ratified the treaty in 1991 and said last year it has already eliminated as much as 280,000 tonnes of annual ODS production capacity and was speeding up efforts to phase out other ozone-damaging chemicals.
But a report last year by the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) claimed that dozens of Chinese companies were still using the banned CFC-11 in the production of polyurethane foam.
“Because it’s very effective at what it does, however, there have been rogue users of old supplies and rogue producers who flout international agreements that their governments have signed up to,” said Ian Rae at the University of Melbourne’s school of chemistry, who was a technical adviser to the Montreal Protocol.
China launched a special campaign to inspect 3,000 foam manufacturers across the country last year and promised to punish any violations of the Montreal treaty. It said in March that, as part of the crackdown, it had shut down two manufacturing spots that produced CFC-11.
SpaceX had been behind several “wow, this is the future” moments in recent years, but it didn’t get there without a few failures. SpaceX has lost rockets in flight and on the launchpad, but there’s one failure for which it is not to blame. According to a new government report, it was not SpaceX’s fault that an expensive top-secret spy satellite failed to reach orbit earlier this year. The blame lies with aerospace firm and long-time government contractor Northrop Grumman.
We don’t know a great deal about the Zuma satellite. All we can say for certain is that the government had some secret plans for the device, but it didn’t reach orbit. Following the Jan. 7 launch, skywatchers were unable to locate the satellite in orbit. The government later confirmed the spacecraft had been lost. There was much finger-pointing at first, but SpaceX contended that its Falcon 9 rocket performed flawlessly. The new analysis apparently backs that up.
The secret spy satellite was designed and constructed by Northrop Grumman, and some estimates peg the total cost somewhere above $ 3 billion. The satellite was destined for low-Earth orbit, which is not a problematic launch for SpaceX. It launches (and lands) rockets when deploying payloads in low-Earth orbit all the time.
In its report, the government points to a cause many in the aerospace industry suspected back in January: a faulty payload adapter. Like the satellite, that adapter was designed and produced by Northrop Grumman. The adapter was mounted to the top of SpaceX’s rocket and was supposed to release Zuma into space once it reached the correct location. That apparently didn’t happen.
Falcon 9 landing after Zuma launch.
Zuma reportedly features sensitive equipment that could have been damaged by vibration, so Northrop Grumman designed the adapter to release very gently from the rocket. It sounds like that release was a bit too gentle because the satellite remained stuck to the second stage. The company reportedly tested the payload adapter three times on Earth, but it didn’t perform as intended in freefall. The rocket dragged the satellite down into the atmosphere, causing it to break up.
So, SpaceX is probably in the clear, but Northrop Grumman could be facing more scrutiny. In addition to the loss of Zuma, the company has fallen far behind on completion of the James Webb Space Telescope. It’s the primary contractor, and potential design issues recently pushed the satellite’s launch back yet again to mid-2020.
Jupiter is a very different planet than Earth, but scientists at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center think they’ve unraveled a mystery on the solar system’s largest planet that could affect how we understand the weather patterns here. For decades, scientists have puzzled over an atmospheric jet stream on Jupiter called the quasi-quadrennial oscillation (QQO) that reverses direction roughly every four Earth years. A new model developed at Goddard points to gravity waves in Jupiter’s atmosphere as the cause, and we might have a similar mechanism on Earth.
We don’t have the QQO here on Earth, but we have a smaller version called the quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO). The QBO describes air currents between the lower stratosphere and the edge of the troposphere (where we live). Every 28 months or so, these currents flip direction between eastward and westward. Jupiter is much larger than Earth, and it rotates faster. However, fluid dynamics should operate the same everywhere in the universe, and that makes the larger atmospheric patterns on Jupiter a potentially good test bed to understand what’s happening on Earth.
On Jupiter, the QQO covers a massive swath of the planet, so NASA needed long-term observations covering a similarly large surface area to develop a model. Researchers used the Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) in Hawaii, which was equipped with a high-resolution instrument called the Texas Echelon Cross Echelle Spectrograph (TEXES). This allowed the team to collect atmospheric data from Jupiter for five years between 40 degrees north to 40 degrees south latitudes.
The IRFT was able to probe deep vertical slices of Jupiter’s atmosphere and return vastly clearer data. The team found that the QQO extended far into Jupiter’s stratosphere. With data covering such a wide area of Jupiter’s atmosphere, several types of atmospheric effects were ruled out as major contributors to the QQO. That left one main culprit: gravity waves. The model from Goddard uses gravity waves produced by convection lower in Jupiter’s atmosphere to simulate QQO changes in the stratosphere. The model is reportedly a very good match for real-world observations.
So, how does this relate to Earth and the QBO? Gravity waves have been considered as a driver of changes in this atmospheric pattern, and the results from Jupiter strengthen the case. Scientists suspect several other effects contribute to changes in the QBO, but this study gets us closer to the answer. It could also help us understand the atmospheres of other planets, even those in distant solar systems.