Friday Squid Blogging: An MRI Scan of a Squid's Brain

This paper is filled with brain science that I do not understand (news article), but fails to answer what I consider to be the important question: how do you keep a live squid still for long enough to do an MRI scan on them?

As usual, you can also use this squid post to talk about the security stories in the news that I haven’t covered.

Read my blog posting guidelines here.

Posted on February 7, 2020 at 4:11 PM129 Comments


Mike M February 7, 2020 4:41 PM

It sounds like they’re using known features of the squid’s anatomy and dye stains to essentially perform image stabilization.

SpaceLifeForm February 7, 2020 5:30 PM

They are put in a small jar of seawater.

The Shadow Knows. It’s always in Beta.


“Because the deadline for the Nevada app was later, Shadow’s Nevada app was still in beta testing, and that testing identified some errors that were being fixed.”

[Pure FBS. But, you know that]

Mark Diamond February 7, 2020 9:11 PM

As far as I can see, the answer to the question “how do you keep the squid still?” is contained in the supplementary material on Methods. The answer appears to be that you “sacrifice” (i.e., kill) the squid before doing the MRI. It is, after all, a plain MRI and not a functional MRI. The actual sentence in the methods section says ” Animals were anesthetized in cold seawater mixed with 2% MgCl2 (Chem-Supply, Australia) and sacrificed by an overdose of MgCl2 prior to the histological preparation of neural tracing and magnetic resonance imaging of the squid brain (Chung and Marshall, 2017).”

Enrico February 8, 2020 9:50 AM

RE: Data Junkies

For a physicist in you, information (data) is a physical thing. It can not be separated from a carrier — whether it is a stone tablet, a piece of paper, or bunch of electrons or photons. So basically, the second law of thermodynamics applies. Each time an analyst request more data to learn something new (reduce entropy) the total entropy (unknown) within the organization increases. In turn, they have to analyze more, request more data, and so on — ad infinitum. Actually, until something hits a wall of a limited resource. Resources are always limited.

It is a good mental model to have. Note that, with this model, even a data-hungry organization which has no new customer transactions will have exponential data growth — until it hits a resource limit, usually the bank account.

Think that this problem can be tackled only by spreading awareness, not by fiat.


SpaceLifeForm February 8, 2020 11:06 AM

Hubris, defined


SpaceLifeForm February 8, 2020 2:11 PM


As Clive noted, 3 weeks. Not 2 weeks.


As the contagion spread and flooded his ICU, the doctor observed that three weeks seemed to determine the difference between life and death.

SpaceLifeForm February 8, 2020 3:40 PM


I crunched some numbers.

The number tide needs to change real fast.

It is seriously bad.

Bat[redacted] crazy bad.

Based upon the numbers…

At this time, most of those infected, will die.

They are NOT recovering.

Their immune system is overwhelmed.

I say this based upon official numbers and leaked numbers.

It’s not good.

I’m certain R-nought is over 4.

It looks way worse than H1N1.

I wish I had something positive to say about this situation, but I do not.

iamPACTrue February 8, 2020 4:03 PM

Really, electromagnetic (MRI, and otherwise) scanning can be physically dangerous; there are no assurances. Nobody anywhere ought to be scanning anything alive; the health risks and damages are guaranteed.

We need new stand downs on this topic of bioscanning, even and especially for SQUIDs.

Super Quantum Interference Device = SQUID

SpaceLifeForm February 8, 2020 6:20 PM

‘You don’t have permission to shut down this computer.”


Expect more updates for win7, rsn.

And next month also.

Clive Robinson February 8, 2020 6:55 PM

@ SpaceLifeForm,

I say this based upon official numbers and leaked numbers.

From the article you posted it looks like I was right about the confirmation by test kit after triage.

Piecing other bits of info together it looks like it is “tip of the iceberg” to the extream with the test kits not actually picking the virus up in fully symptomatic patients that get counted instead as pneumonia not nCoV.

Best guess is considerably less than half of those who went to hospital with symptoms got past the reception, of those probably considerably less than 20% had direct contact with the Market and more than half showed no virus by the test kit…

So 0.5 x 0.2 x 0.5 = 5% at best got confirmed. But worse only 10-15% of those infected in the general population have actually had symptoms sufficiently bad to visit hospital. Which lets be generous and say it was 1/5th then 1:100 of the actually infected have been confirmed…

So with ~37k confirmed in China today with ~800 succumbed and ~2.5k survived. We could actually have be looking at over 3 million infected if not for quarantine precautions limiting the spread if the early diagnostic criteria had been kept with.

I guess we are just going to wait and see what comes out in future reporting…

Paul Zhang February 8, 2020 9:40 PM

The squid was not kept alive:

Animals were anesthetized in cold seawater mixed with 2% MgCl2 (Chem-Supply, Australia) and sacrificed by an overdose of MgCl2 prior to the histological preparation of neural tracing and magnetic resonance imaging of the squid brain (Chung and Marshall, 2017). [emphasis added]

Biologists have a wonderful sense of humor, though I’m slightly annoyed the methods were buried in the supplemental info PDF.

Sed Contra February 9, 2020 12:50 AM



That explains why the more one works late, the less one gets done.

And if we had a big entropy meter, we could always tell if we were being hacked.

Gabriel February 9, 2020 6:30 AM

@Mark Diamond: LOL! Advise to people: If you ever need to have an MRI done, be careful to get the functional one

Clive Robinson February 9, 2020 9:21 AM

@ Anders,

There’s already for some time wiki article
with official data from National Health Commission

The resulting web page is not internaly self consistant.

For instance Confirmed UK cases are “4” with no deaths or recoveries.

But further down the page they have it as “three”.

Of note is that the Third UK case was infected in Singapore, went to France and infected atleast Five people there. This Fourth UK confirmed case apparently had contact with the Third UK case.

What has not been said is where the contact between Three and Four took place, or if Four is one of the Five in france.

If contact was in the UK then the Third UK has infected 6 people…

This would mean that the R0 is potentialy way higher than the original estimate.

Which might account why UK advice is in effect,

    “Self quarantine and phone for medical assistance, and do not go to a Dr or Hospital specialists will come to you.”

But further the first graph they have up is only marginaly helpfull.

For best interpretation by eye or by ruler and pencil it should be “log of the number of people” against “linear for time” (they do have such a graph but it does not have survival rates). Also there should be “first derivitive” –rate of change– graphs that show the rate of change daily against a running average over the preceding double/half rate period.

myliit February 9, 2020 10:48 AM

“The Chinese doctor who warned the government about a possible coronavirus outbreak has died after contracting the virus while working at Wuhan Central Hospital. Thirty-four-year-old ophthalmologist Li Wenliang warned his fellow medical workers about coronavirus on December 30. He was then investigated by police and accused of “making false comments.” His death has sparked a wave of anger and outrage in China, where the hashtag “We want freedom of speech” went viral on Chinese social media site Weibo this week. The death toll from the coronavirus has now topped 630 people in China, with more than 31,000 confirmed cases worldwide. The central Chinese government has ordered officials in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, to round up and quarantine all infected residents. Residents are being ordered to report family members who show symptoms of the virus to authorities. Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer Laurie Garrett says, “China is doing things that really no other nation on Earth could do” to contain the spread of the virus, including quarantining tens of millions of people. We spoke with Garrett just days before the whistleblower doctor died.”

Grima February 9, 2020 1:00 PM

@llog re: “arrogant squid” – In my neck of the woods (or puddle) that is a synonym for CPO [g, d &r]

lurkrr February 9, 2020 2:55 PM


But this is bad. Just like from some kind of horror movie.

It seems like the old jia system set up 2000 years ago in the Han dynasty, using groups of households to “keep an eye” on each other, and keep down central government’s cost of maintaining a “stable” society. It might seem horror to us, but it’s ingrained in their society, just another tool of government brought out and dusted for a new event. The NYT article showed that distrust of people from outside your village, or even your own who have foolishly travelled afar, is alive and well in modern China.

SpaceLifeForm February 9, 2020 3:28 PM

@ Clive, MarkH, Anders,

What I have been paying attention to:

The ratio (died) / (died + recovered)

Even that ratio is bad for official numbers, which we have no reason to trust.

The ratio ‘appears’ to be improving on the official numbers.

The ratio of the leaked numbers are absolutely horrible.

Worse than Black Death horrible.

Clive Robinson February 9, 2020 3:36 PM

@ Anders,

Whilst the bored pander pictures are accurate, the author of the piece has it wrong in a couple of ways.

Firstly whilst they are overworked the real reason they do not eat or go to the toiletvduring a shift is shortages of Individual Protective Equipment (IPE) cloathing and masks. If they take them off they have to go back on shift without any IPE…

The marks by the way are due more to the eye protection googles than the surgical masks. In effect the person puts on the sergical mask pulls up the hood of the “bunny suit” pulls the draw strings tight to hold the lower part of the mask tight to the face, then put on their glasses if they wear them then the googles on top quite tightly as this holds the top of the surgical mask against the face and also holds the hood of the noddy suit tight to the uper cheeks and forehead.

I’ve had similar facial marks and injuries over the years, it first started when “wearing the green” and doing a ten day NBC chemical warfare excercise. I know just how much it hurts, especially as you have to put iodine on the open wounds or the “fullers earth” decon powder… The only advantage I had is that the S6 resperator[1] was a much better fit to the face so took longer to work up the marks, lesions and other injuries. In later jobs wearing Hazmat bunny suits and masks through respirators and even forced air helmets you always ended up with atleast marks on the face from the mask/bunny or head from the straps etc.

Also we know the Chinese frontline medical staff are not just overworked they are emotionaly and physically exhasted. Because atleast one youngish Dr has droped dead with a heart attack from exhaustion after 10days working without rest due to lack of staff.

[1] Being a left handed shot I got stuck with the S6 “gasperator” long after others had been issued the S10[2] even though I was in the shooting team. When I finally got the S10 it was a disaster because they never sorted out the eye glasses for me… And although I could see further than the end of the long barrel I used, I eventually had to get a L2A2 SUIT sight for the SLR for competitions… Because being a lefty I could not use the SA80’s due to it’s bl@@dy stupid design… As for the SA80 Mk1 it was a “real bag of b@@locks” and of more use as a club than a rifle, it had a complicated webbing harness that amongst other things pushed against the magazine release button… Thankfully I managed to avoid getting issued with it for various reasons, my prefrence being to be able to kill the enemy at long range or through brick walls with a single shot rather than do the equivalent of throw pebbles at them when you can count the spots on their nose, it kind of has longer life expectancy…


SpaceLifeForm February 9, 2020 3:52 PM


Thinking ahead here…

If (I hope not, of course), this does become a full-blown Pandemic, what are the best responses, options?

It was nearly two weeks ago that I said to shutdown international flight.

Did not happen.

TPTB are not thinking.

What are the options, strategies, to deal with a Pandemic?

Which are useful?

Which are worthless?

MarkH February 9, 2020 4:31 PM


If I understand correctly, the present U.S. policy with respect to travel is that persons who have recently been in China and are not U.S. citizens are not permitted to enter.

U.S. citizens who have recently been in China are admitted, and are subject to screening and possible quarantine.

As of this morning, 12 U.S. cases have been confirmed.

At present, very few fatalities (perhaps 2) have been confirmed outside of China.

As far as U.S. medical response goes, doctors are instructed to ask patients with typical virus symptoms about recent travel to China, or contact with others who have traveled.

There’s supposed to be nCoV testing for any patient with a “China connection,” and recommended isolation at home pending examination and test results.

These measures may prove more than adequate, but it’s too early to know. I think it very likely that if there will be an explosive growth of cases outside of China, we’ll see it first in countries with very high rates of Chinese citizen travel — especially those with poor medical infrastructure.

Meanwhile, about 12,000 people have died so far in the U.S. from the current flu season.

SpaceLifeForm February 9, 2020 5:15 PM

I may have had it exactly backwords, wrt to SARS exposure.

It may be that one previously exposed to SARS, may not have helped on the antibody front.


Taipei, Feb. 9 (CNA) Experts have blamed a form of systemic inflammatory response syndrome called “cytokine storm” for killing some novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV)-infected patients who were not very sick in the early stage of infection but eventually died of multiple organ failure, according to Chinese media reports.

SpaceLifeForm February 9, 2020 5:38 PM

@ Clive

Which might account why UK advice is in effect,

“Self quarantine and phone for medical assistance, and do not go to a Dr or Hospital specialists will come to you.”

Since med staff in CN are being infected, and dying.

The last place you want to go, is hospital.

When you are not ill.

Staph may get you.

And, because 2019-nCoV is so virulent, they don’t want possibly infected people to infect hospital.

It’s bad.

Clive Robinson February 9, 2020 6:29 PM

@ SpaceLifeForm, Anders, MarkH,

The ratio (died) / (died + recovered)

Does not look very good even though recovered is starting to climb. Because it’s not yet 10% of confirmed, which means it’s still fairly useless as is the died at not even 2%, when died+recovered > 0.5 recorded, then we will start to have an idea of what is going on.

Provided of course recorded is in any way accurate, that as I’ve said before I’m doubtfull about.

But the info from the Dimond Princess should give pause for thought, theres 3,700 people on board in the “at risk” age range, and sofar 64 in the equivalent of issolation quarantine have tested positive in Japanese testing labs.

Whilst that is only 1.7% of the at risk group population it’s quite alarming as they are effectively in physical issolation. It suggests either high degree of infection with long gestation period, or high degree of infection by easy airborn infection path…

We will have to wait and see how many more test positive, or become symptomatic befor testing positive.

From what has been said about the way people die, it’s their immune system getting out of whack. The details I’ve seen are few but it sounds an awful lot like the later stages of sepsis, which is not at all pleasant.

Effectively there is no vaccine or medication to fight the virus yet, nor may there ever be in human life span terms[1]. Thus all Drs can do currently is ease the symptoms and complications, with the hope your body can make it through by it’s self.

Which kind of brings us to,

If … this does become a full-blown Pandemic, what are the best responses, options?

As individuals or as societies?

From the individual perspective the first thing to note, is if you are not infected then a facemask of the sort most people are wearing is going to be more of a hinderence than a help and potentialy more likely to cause you to become infected (once you are infective a face mask will still not save you but it will reduce how much of the virus you spread around)

Your best stratagy short term is “self issolation” but you need to stock up on food and water and flu medications (that are preferably paracetamol free[2]) as well as the likes of dioralyte[3] and certain vitimins and minerals[4] and keep as far away from other people as possible.

What there is no clear guidence on is the use of “antinflamitories” the likes of asprin are known to, when used in small quantities daily, improve the outcome of those with cardio vascular issues. Likewise other cardio vascular drugs that can help support your body and oxygen uptake abilities. Nor is there anything I’ve seen on Gamma Globulin injections for those in the at risk groups, though they are saying you must get your flu and pneumonia shots.

Good old fashioned “hard soap” for frequent washing of hands and some form of medical hand loation (free of all that crap that bugs enjoy). As for alcohol gel, well unless it’s around 75% alcohol it’s not likely to work very well, below 60% forget it. Hot water and hard soap is what’s going to get it off of you and kill it. Likewise disinfectants and bleaches.

One of the only advantages for a non infected person to wear a face mask and goggles is “hand to face” transfer. Apparently we habitually touch our faces upto every three minutes or so. Thus anything on your hands ends up on your face, in your eyes nose or mouth… A half mask and goggles breaks that transfer path as do full face masks and respirators. It’s why frequent hand washing is recommended as it reduces the chance of transfering contaminated particles and fluids.

If you live in city accomodation such as blocks of flats the issue of contaminated air arises. The more dense the housing the worse this is. There are ways you can make air filtration units using wet filters and disinfectants or bleaches in essence they are half a dozen or more plastic meash screens down which water with disinfectant or bleach added flows however this causes them to get into the air, thus you need a second filter using activated charcoal ot similar to absorb the chemicals. I’ve seen industrial and NBC filters that work this way built for cold war bunkers and the like. but they are not something you can just knock up in a back room and you have to watch out for other nasties that like moist environments. Many such filter systems disappeared after the outbreak of Legionairs Disease

However it has been pointed out to me that certain new water filters use “nanopore technology” and will remove very small particulates including some bacteria and viruses and should work just as well with air as they do water. I’ve no idea if the idea is sound or not, thus I would not be tempted to try it.

Whilst HEMPs filters are used in hospitals for cleaning air, like face masks they are not upto the job of cleaning out viruses from air.

The best thing to do is give yourself lots of space and free flowing air.

As in many things in life individual needs are often in conflict with societal needs.

If we were farm animals we would run a “cull” on infected animals. If a cow tests positive for a variety of diseases it’s a “captured bolt gun” shot to the head and dump the carcus as quickly as possible on a funeral pyre or in an incinerator… Whilst both shocking and brutal it’s a known to work method of infection control. But one which we hope will never be used on humans.

However the other methods of disease spread control are realy not that disimilar in effect. To ensure quarantine is maintained you need as small a perimiter as possible, this means a high density environment. Thus packing people in makes human to human transfer not just very likely but inevitable, thus any infection in a quarantine area will spread like wild fire through the enclosed occupents. When they get sick you segregate them wait for them to die then it’s a quick trip to the crematorium. Those that are immune or survive the infection get to go home eventually. The advantage for society is that it weeds out infection vectors fairly easily.

Untill an antivirus or medication becomes available, bad as it sounds and harmfull as it is it’s societies best way to deal with a seriously infectious disease.

Theres not much more to be said on the matter unless you can find a way to keep sick people outside of a given perimeter so those inside remain disease free. Again societies best oprion is to kill anyone who tries to get in (prevention realy does not work with desperate people as the various “boat people” have shown).

That’s the cold hard logic behind how you protect the greater part of society from disease… Like a cancer you cut out the diseased and dispose of them…

[1] Another coronavirus that readily infects humans year on year is “The common cold” and as far as I’m aware people have been searching for a cure or vaccine for that for well over sixty years or about a human life time when they started looking.

[2] It’s all to easy to accidently overdose on paracetamol, and not all over the counter medications also include the protective enzyme to stop / reduce liver damage.

[3] Dioralyte is a collection of salts and minerals and flavouring you make into a drink that helps with the side effects of diarrhoea dehydration. The point is diarrhoea or not it helps protect you from the loss of minerals and salts which can occure for other reasons.

[4] Health food and similar shops including chemists and pharmacies carry bottles of vitimins in various formulations. Some do “flu /cold mixes” whilst there is little research on them keeping Vitimin C levels up apparently has the nod from many Drs. Also consider in issolation and quarantine, your calcium and more importantly vitimin D levels will suffer as can iron, and that there is no disagrement on, it is not good for you so you definately should top those up, especially as your normal food sources of them are likely to be in short supply or unavailable.

justina February 9, 2020 8:53 PM

@SpaceLifeForm, Clive


When you are not ill.

Staph may get you.

I think it’s spelled “staff”. They’re always more or less on strike, agitating for gun control, civil commitment, and more security to keep patients from escaping the Animal Farm.

Oops, that was George Orwell, author of 1984, but wasn’t there a certain national socialist workers’ party in Germany in the 1930s, the time of the Great Depression in the U.S.?

And now they’re at it again, CDU, CSU in Europe, Mitt Romney, the Mormons in Utah, you name it, with all the Bible-thumping Christian rhetoric they can muster, putting people away, banning guns, locking them up, quarantining people for mental illness or refusing government mandated vaccination shots.

Auschwitz 2.0 in America. It’s not just E.U., and I don’t really care for the way modern Poles sarcastically apologize for the conduct of their white supremacist skinhead grandparents and great-grandparents.

Wesley Parish February 9, 2020 10:32 PM

@usual suspects

Yet Another Side-Channel Exploit Discovered

Boffins from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Shamoon College of Engineering in Israel have come up with yet another TEMPEST-style attack to exfiltrate data from an air-gapped computer: leaking binary signals invisibly by slightly modulating the light coming off its monitor.


The researchers who developed this screen illumination scheme, Mordechai Guri, Dima Bykhovsky, and Yuval Elovici, have done previous side channel transmission work: exploring ultrasonic data leakage (MOSQUITO), an escape route for Faraday-caged computers (ODINI); computer-smartphone data exchange via electrical fields (MAGNETO); acoustic signaling using fan modulation (FANSMITTER); and covert signaling via keyboard lights (CTRL-ALT-LED), among other techniques.


Even if all these requirements are met, this isn’t a quick process: Guri, Bykhovsky, and Elovici managed to exfiltrate the bit sequence ‘1010101010101010’ from a 19-inch display at a bitrate of 5 bit/sec using a camera six meters from the screen.

Let ElReg’s editors have their say on it: To be honest, it was the impracticality and inefficiency that first attracted us to this otherwise cunning exfiltration.

Meanwhile. back at the ranch:

People with a longer memory might remember the infamous 1970s dawn raids in New Zealand on alleged overstayers – targeting Polynesians preferentially, though apparently people from the UK also often overstayed their visas – but weren’t targeted.

Sherman Jay February 9, 2020 11:14 PM

Yes, the coronavirus has great potential of developing into a pandemic.

And, yes, most world governments (I’m pointing at the u.s. and Holland especially) are doing a completely incompetent job of preventing it from spreading in their countries. Too little, too late.

And, yes, the seasonal flu is spreading like mad in the u.s. However, with all the melodramatic MainStreamMedia hype about the number of cases, I’ve not been able to find significant info on WHY.
Is it:
– a large number of knuckeldragging anti-vaxxers and complacent ignorant people not bothering to be vaccinated?
– is it that the formulation of the vaccine is not a good match for the current strains and therefore ineffective in protecting people?

Sherman Jay February 9, 2020 11:34 PM

Oops. In my haste I mis-keyed, meant to key ‘knuckle-draggers’ (hope that doesn’t make me one).

MarkH February 10, 2020 1:12 AM

@Wesley Parish:

If malware has inferred bits of a secret key — say, from a timing side-channel attack — then that low bit rate might be completely adequate.

Clive Robinson February 10, 2020 4:09 AM

@ Wesley Parish,

With regards,

    yet another TEMPEST-style attack to exfiltrate data from an air-gapped computer: leaking binary signals invisibly by slightly modulating the light coming off its monitor.

Not new at all.

The UK Cambridge labs developed an optical TEMPEST attack from the intensity of a computer display, that used the intensity reflection off of a wall or similar. They used a telescope and image intensifier and got enough bandwidth to reproduce near static screen contents from outside the building. This was around the same time they came up with the TEMPEST soft fonts to reduce the high frequency content in font characters to make such attacks more difficult for the attackers.

As for using the intensity of the light as a direct side channel I’ve talked about that for about the same length of time.

One of the people at the Cambridge labs came up with the idea of using a (45 degree rotated) square of coloured dots to send an authentication code. The dot could be red green blue etc to make a 2bit code for each dot. This would then be picked up by a handheld device with a camera in it.

As I was actively thinking about the authetication issue with bank transactions and “putting a human in the comms path” I’d thought about using some kind of “on screen code” which would not require a human to type in the equivalent of about 512bits.

As part of that thinking I’d been looking at how to attack a visable optical path with a covert side channel[1]. Well you can look it up but it’s been known since early experiments in colour television that the human eye is realy quite insensitive to “colour intensity” but reasonably ok with average or grey scale intensity.

Put simply if I put two red dots up on a computer screen a short distance appart on a light grey or white background you can change the intensity of the dots by more than enough for a camera to pick up but a human eye will not.

I pointed this out to the person at the Cambridge lab and after a little back and forth I think they realised that it was a viable attack method…

So all this latest person has done is re-hash a couple of old ideas and come up with a proof of concept that is noticably a lot worse than the original ideas and demonstrations…

And people wonder why I talk about “energy gapping” not “air gapping”… They obviously don’t realise I’ve been around the TEMPEST/EmSec block quite a few times a quater of a century or more ago, as an independent researcher even though I do mention it from time to time 😉

[1] For the same reason @Bruce makes comments about how it’s easy for someone to design an encryption algorithm they can not break… It’s the same with all new security ideas, if you can not see ways to break them you probably lack sufficient experience to be making them. The real trick is as @Bruce calls it “thinking hinky” that is the ability to look at a security system and have a feel for where the weaknesses and faults are and be able to demonstrate how they would be exploited.

MarkH February 10, 2020 7:07 AM

@Sherman Jay:

It’s surely a psychological phenomenon, that chronic losses become normalized.

In the U.S., thousands die every year from handgun violence and air pollution from burning coal; tens of thousands die from second-hand tobacco smoke. Most people seem to shrug it off; it’s just life, you know?

But when a few foreigners — with extra skin pigmentation, no less! — cause smaller numbers of deaths, then it’s mass hysteria and shredding of the U.S. constitution.

For the past 15 years or so, annual U.S. flu deaths have run in the range of roughly 45,000 to 70,000. It’s just life, you know. As far as I’m aware, this year’s flu season is on track to be well within that range.

In my layperson understanding, there’s no practical way to stop the spread of flu. In that respect, it’s like the common cold. Even if public health experts had everything their way, flu would still sweep the world annually as it has done for many, many years. It’s a normal, and unavoidable, pandemic.

Because the mix of strains is different each year, and new strains often appear, each year’s vaccines are reactive to what has been “seen in the wild” several months before the start of flu season, so the vaccine is never perfectly matched to the epidemic.

Flu vaccines typically are between 50% and 80% effective. This is actually better than it sounds, because (a) herd immunity multiplies the life-saving value of partially effective vaccines IF enough people use them, and (b) when vaccinated people contract flu, the resulting illness is usually reduced in intensity by the patient’s vaccine-activated antibodies.

These vaccines are probably a very important reason why flu deaths per unit of population have decreased by roughly 70 percent since I was born. The vaccines have become more and more accessible: usually free to people with health insurance (and not very expensive for the uninsured), and available at many locations (for example, most grocery stores with in-store pharmacies can vaccinate for flu).

It would surely help a lot if more people used flu vaccine, but the annual pandemics wouldn’t stop.

myliit February 10, 2020 7:48 AM

Regarding striving for a more secure, verified, auditable, in real time or other, election- Or election popcorn eaters
I heard , iirci & imo, potentially a great idea on a c-span call in talk show, which went something like:

“Turn the surveillance state into a live streaming election result counting mechanism”

Questions/Comments (Off the top of my head (“‘ottomh’”)

1) live stream:
A) paper ballots
B) processing
C hardware auditing
D software auditing
E) tampering vulnerable points
F) in close to real time identify non-matching, or potentially non-matching, results
G) and so on

2) Would propaganda value of the above, ie. generate doubt in elections, in general, offset any advantages, and if so, how could that be mitigated.

3) Assume autocrats, or would be, or soon to be, autocrats control/or will control the intelligence, military, and law enforcement states, etc., if not Facebook, Google, etc., and buy oppo research or propaganda from anywhere on the blue planet.

4) Other

Clive Robinson February 10, 2020 7:51 AM

@ MarkH, Shetman Jay,

It’s surely a psychological phenomenon, that chronic losses become normalized.

And been around long enough for despots, tyranys and psychopaths not just to notice but make memorable comment on, as have saints.


    When Saint and sinner agree there has to be something fundemental at work.

Or so reason some,

In fact the Dr reasons it rather more than just a numbing to numbers, but is infact a reaction against the numbers, thus whilst one is tragic as few as ten cause active disregard if not hostility.

He puts this down to protecting against emotional overload.

I think he is looking at the modern effect of an underlying ancient cause. Thus my view is he should look a little deeper and a lot further back in mans evolution. That is I think from a logical perspective it is due to a form of primative self protection mechanism much like fight or flight. That is you instinctively measure your own capabilities or odds against the number or type of opponent, and engage or retreat appropriately.

That is if you come across one injured or sick person it’s generally in your interest to help them as this makes others more likely to help you when you are sick or injured.

However if you see five or ten injured or sick people it means that in all probability there is something that you can not immediately see/comprehend that caused it. Which you subconciously realise you probably can not defend against. Thus it’s in your own interest to be somewhere else as quickly as possible lest what ever it is or what follows on attacks and kills you.

Even today we know that a pile of dead, or dying things will quickly rot, and where there is rot there is usually disease that will harm or kill us, hence just about what ever culure you look at in the world has “death rituals” and simiar “waste rituals”.

Thus my fealing is it is these survival mechanisms kicking in at a sub concious level.

But there is always the problem of how to tell, that is what test can be devised to apply to sufficient people to rule in or rule out any given hypothesis…

Clive Robinson February 10, 2020 8:54 AM

@ myliit,


In section one you talk about what are all “auditable” processes.

The problem is very very fee people recognise what an audit actually is and it’s limitations.

As with any process auditing can be a sequential or parallel process. To be truely effective for voting an audit has to be both,

1, Fully parallely audited.
2, Fully self auditing.

Only the piece of paper gets even remotely close to the level of audit required.

No sequential process can due to the field of view limitation.

That is you can only inspect one item at a time, and anything outside your field of view is unauditable at that time thus fully mutable.

To see why lets say I’ve ten or twenty ballot boxes with paper balot slips in them. Each box is sealed with a lock and a tamper evident string and hard wax seal.

You look at the boxes and see that they are all locked and the seals are unbroken.

Thus you start with the first box, you break the seal and unlock the box and tip out the ballot slips. You sort and count the ballot slips and record the results on your tally sheet.

You then move onto the second box. But due to various constraints you put the sorted ballot slips back in the box held by rubber bands etc and move it out of the way. And at some point out of sight.

This alows a person to take any of the boxes you are not counting, and count the slips in another box. They can also keeping the same number of slips in the boxes swap slips around such that votes for their favoured candidate end up in the box you have not yet seen and votes for a rival get swapped with the votes in the box you have seen and counted to keep both the total number of slips in the bundles the same and the same number of bundles in the box you have seen.

As you go through each box the same trick is pulled, all the totals for slips, bundles and boxes remain the same what is changed is the numbers on your tally sheet that has always been in your sight.

It does not matter how you automate the audit process this problem remains. In fact when you add a computer it just gets worse because of three things,

1, A computer can only see the contents of one memory location at a time.

2, A computer has no perception of time.

3, A computer can only act in the way it has been instructed to act, thus likewise it can only tell you what it has been instructed to tell you.

Thus consider two CPU’s connected to the same block of memory. One is going through the memory byte/word by byte/word doing a count or a checksum. The second CPU can thus move a record from the counted/checksumed side and swap it with a record from the unchecked side. The first CPU has no idea this has been done. Even if the records are self authenticating by crypto-hash etc as it’s valid records being moved it has no way to onow it is double or triple counting some records and not counting other at all.

Even if you encapsulated the records in some kind of serial numbered armour the basic vote for candidate A is identical to all other candidate A votes. As having a serial number on the basic vote is considered very dangerous you could do the vote swapping prior to the armouring process. Or if that’s not possible you could pull a number of other tricks on the first CPU and there is nothing the program on the first CPU can do to stop this happening because it can not detect it because,

1, It’s a serial process.
2, It’s view is very limited.

I just wish people would wake up to these kind of issues and realise there is no way to have a provably secure vote via hardware or software means.

Thus arguing about “authentication” and “auditing” such machines is “blowing smoke” it simply can not be done reliably

And we have known this since befor Turing did his seminal paper back in the 1930’s.

The best we can do is have a “probabalistic level of security against external threats” the problem being we can not defend against internal threats or threats that occure below the CPU ISA level in the computing stack. In fact we may not even be able to see such threats in a purely serial process.

That is the reality of the situation, and it will quite happily go on underneath any live streaming event if you wanted to do so because of,

1, Limit of view.
2, Computers will tell you what they have been instructed to tell you.

So no live streaming as an idea is a bust.

MarkH February 10, 2020 10:03 AM


Thanks for the netgear exploit link. Though I’m very far from an expert, I was among those who supposed that the exposed private key was unlikely to lead to a practical exploit.

Rashid’s article is very educational for me.

Anders February 10, 2020 2:45 PM

MarkH February 10, 2020 4:29 PM

An article which may be of interest to those following the epidemic:

Its author, Dr Gabriel Leung, is an infectious disease epidemiologist and dean of medicine at the University of Hong Kong.

Members of his research team, along with many other investigators of the epidemic, will participate in a WHO meeting tomorrow for the purpose of gathering what is known about the outbreak.

Note well this excerpt:

In 2003, during the early days of the SARS outbreak, the medical community got the math wrong. At first, we believed that case fatality hovered between 2 percent and 3 percent. It took two pages of longhand algebra, written in Oxford, England, coded into a computer in London and then applied to data from Hong Kong, to get it right. The actual case fatality for Hong Kong was staggering: 17 percent.

Within a week, Dr Leung’s team, along with several others, will be making their best estimates of the underlying Case Fatality Rate. If the results of the several analyses converge, it may offer a better picture of how deadly 2019-nCoV actually is.

It seems to me that because press accounts have been showing the raw ratio (which I call gross CFR), some folks may have jumped to the conclusion that the leading public health authorities are likely to mistake this raw number for the actual impact of the virus.

My presumption has been quite the opposite: the understanding of epidemiology available to the WHO and the U.S. CDC is probably the best on Earth, and these men and women are capable of doing math.

Surely they’re aware of past mistakes, and surely they don’t intend to repeat them. They’re not software engineers! 😉

mYliit February 10, 2020 5:08 PM

Disinformation and Coffee

“The Billion-Dollar Disinformation Campaign to Reelect the President
How new technologies and techniques pioneered by dictators will shape the 2020 election …

One day last fall, I sat down to create a new Facebook account. I picked a forgettable name, snapped a profile pic with my face obscured, and clicked “Like” on the official pages of Donald Trump and his reelection campaign. Facebook’s algorithm prodded me to follow Ann Coulter, Fox Business, and a variety of fan pages with names like “In Trump We Trust.” I complied. I also gave my cellphone number to the Trump campaign, and joined a handful of private Facebook groups for MAGA diehards, one of which required an application that seemed designed to screen out interlopers.

The president’s reelection campaign was then in the midst of a multimillion-dollar ad blitz aimed at shaping Americans’ understanding of the recently launched impeachment proceedings. Thousands of micro-targeted ads had flooded the internet, portraying Trump as a heroic reformer cracking down on foreign corruption while Democrats plotted a coup. That this narrative bore little resemblance to reality seemed only to accelerate its spread. Right-wing websites amplified every claim. Pro-Trump forums teemed with conspiracy theories. An alternate information ecosystem was taking shape around the biggest news story in the country, and I wanted to see it from the inside.

The story that unfurled in my Facebook feed over the next several weeks was, at times, disorienting. …”

“Tomorrow on FRESH AIR, my guest will be journalist McKay Coppins. His new article in The Atlantic, “The Disinformation War,” is about how the Trump campaign is using Facebook and other social media to disseminate propaganda and misinformation and why Coppins says the Trump campaign may be the most extensive disinformation campaign in U.S. history. He’ll also tell us about the campaign’s efforts to discredit and dismantle mainstream media. I hope you can join us.”

Today’s Fresh Air was about Coffee, 35:51, and Tea.

MarkH February 10, 2020 5:10 PM


And, because 2019-nCoV is so virulent, they don’t want possibly infected people to infect hospital. It’s bad.

Surely this epidemic is a humanitarian disaster, but possibly it’s not as dangerous moving forward as it seems.

I’ve been “pushing back” against the worst-case projections; I hope you won’t take it personally, which is surely not my intention.

I’d like to revisit a few observations/interpretations I’ve made in previous comments:

  1. In a fast-spreading epidemic, the region where it starts is in the worst possible situation. When this all began, doctors didn’t know:

• that they were faced with a new disease
• how dangerous it was
• how to test for it
• disease characteristics essential to proper medical response

By the time the picture started to clarify, probably more than 100 people had already become infected … perhaps quite a lot more than that. And by that time, they were already suffering an overload of their medical treatment systems.

Perhaps a few neighboring countries with large volumes of travel to and from China also had too many cases before they knew what was going on.

But all the rest of the planet is forewarned and forearmed, and in a much better posture to respond.

  1. 2019-nCoV is not some magical agent able to leap tall buildings at a single bound. The present medical understanding (all being subject to revision, because it’s early days yet) is that person-to-person transmission works like many other coronaviruses, primarily via expelled droplets. The range of contamination is roughly 2 meters. People are probably more likely to become infected by touching contaminated surfaces, than by inhalation; simple hand-washing is expected to be a highly effective prophylactic. The virus appears to survive only a few hours on surfaces, and after 24 hours has virtually “self-disinfected.”

Except for the poorest regions, every medical center has the training and supplies to protect medical staff from this kind of transmission.

The medical personnel infections in China were very likely because they didn’t yet know what they were dealing with (see above), and will probably not happen again in any numbers in any industrialized country.

I modestly suggest that the UK policy of “isolate at home” isn’t based on fear of medical people getting sick, or hospitals and clinics getting any more contaminated than they already are.

Rather, it’s needlessly risky to have someone potentially sick with 2019-nCoV coughing away in a waiting room, where they may infect other patients.

Even worse, if their travel to a medical facility takes them in a bus, taxi, subway (underground), or crowded sidewalk.

Having medicos come to a patient’s house is a perfectly sensible precaution, not an indication that it’s an out-of-control situation.

It’s very important to understand that CFR and R0 (rate of spread) are neither constants, nor independent variables.

We can “boil down” the mission of public health authorities thus:

A. Devise diagnosis and treatment protocols to minimize CFR, and

B. Set up regimes of screening and isolation to minimize R0.

If R0 < 1, then the epidemic is dying down.

SpaceLifeForm February 10, 2020 5:49 PM


@ Clive, All

“when died+recovered > 0.5 recorded, then we will start to have an idea of what is going on.”

We will not for a while because China is fudging the numbers.

Their official numbers are officially worthless now.

They are now under-reporting recorded cases because they are saying that a person who tests positive but has no symptoms, is therefore not a confirmed case.

At this point, all official china numbers should be disregarded for purposes of models.

A JAMA Study found that 41% of the first 138 patients diagnosed at one hospital in Wuhan, China, were presumed to be infected in that hospital.


WHO is WORTHLESS. Gonna have a meeting.

World Dream passengers and crew disembark.

Diamond Princess confirmed infected at 135 at last check. 20 American.

I unfortunately think that it may become a death ship because of the ventilation system.

If that occurs, we will not get good numbers for purposes of models for outside world.

A confined environment like a cruise ship is not ‘real world’. Of course, neither is hospital.

myliit February 10, 2020 5:57 PM

“ The epidemic control efforts unfolding today in China—including placing some 100 million citizens on lockdown, shutting down a national holiday, building enormous quarantine hospitals in days’ time, and ramping up 24-hour manufacturing of medical equipment—are indeed gargantuan. It’s impossible to watch them without wondering, “What would we do? How would my government respond if this virus spread across my country?”

For the United States, the answers are especially worrying because the government has intentionally rendered itself incapable. In 2018, the Trump administration fired the government’s entire pandemic response chain of command, including the White House management infrastructure. In numerous phone calls and emails with key agencies across the U.S. government, the only consistent response I encountered was distressed confusion. If the United States still has a clear chain of command for pandemic response, the White House urgently needs to clarify what it is—not just for the public but for the government itself, which largely finds itself in the dark. …

In the spring of 2018, the White House pushed Congress to cut funding for Obama-era disease security programs, proposing to eliminate $252 million in previously committed resources for rebuilding health systems in Ebola-ravaged Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. Under fire from both sides of the aisle, President Donald Trump dropped the proposal to eliminate Ebola funds a month later. But other White House efforts included reducing $15 billion in national health spending and cutting the global disease-fighting operational budgets of the CDC, NSC, DHS, and HHS. And the government’s $30 million Complex Crises Fund was eliminated.”

In addition, Laurie Garrettt had two episodes on Democracy Now. Search Garrett above, for a link to her at Democracy Now.

Clive Robinson February 10, 2020 6:51 PM

@ Anders,

The “DoJ spokes person” concerned has absolutly no credibility.

All this has achived is,

1, Wave a flag in an election year.

2, Let the insurance companies and Equifax off of the hook.

Why the latter because Barr had made it a “military act” which nearly all insurance policies have an exemption for. Likewise Equifax’s gross probably criminal negligence to secure data on individuals who’s consent it had never requested, by giving them the excuse of “what could we do against a super-power” or some such nonsense. We know Equifax had received notification of the problem with the library, Equifax’s development teams knew they used the library, but for some cost or other resource based reason Equifax failed to take “reasonable action”[1].

But also why the former, well it’s never going to get to court whilst that DoJ spokes person is in office or his boss, who he lick-spittles for.

Thus there is no way any evidence if there even is any will be tested legaly, so any old accusation can be made up in any way the chose. Much like we saw with the extradudicial killing of an accredited diplomat on a peace mission the US did not like (See Mike Pompeo’s repeated excuses said in his lick-spittle manner for his boss that were all demolished within minutes of his saying them…).

But one thing few will think about, the US is accusing people in china of committing an act in China. If they have evidence submisable in court how was it obtained? The answer should be obvious by exactly the sort of means they are making accusations about. So “kettle calling the pot black” with the certain knowledge that it was the US IC that started the electronic spying…

The point is most countries that can spy on other nations, even the “Holier than thou” USA spy on who ever they can. Most countries sensibly don’t say anything about it as they know just how stupid that’s going to be. The US however tries false arguments about what it does and does not do. Heck not only have the NSA been caught out spying on foreign commercial organisations, they’ve been caught out spying on dommestic commercial organisations. The excuse if any is ever given is that the commercial organisations are controled some how by a foreign state or some such inanity…

The simple fact is that China has repeatedly caught the US spying on it’s commercial organisations including leading edge technical companies and banks, because the Great Firewall of China works in both directions. The way it was done was by the NSA putting implants in US equipment that Chinese companies had purchased. The Chinese repeatedly asked the US to “cease and desist” such activities and it fell on “Exceptionalist ears” in the US State Dept, eventually China passed legislation banning US ICT equipment in certain commercial areas China regards as relevant to it’s National Security. Their country their legislation and established good reason to do so, note that China did not wave any big flags about it or openly tell other countries to do the same. Just a plain simple measured piece of legislation in response to an acknowledged and persistant threat.

However this made those with “Exceptionalist ears” and ageing mentality table thumping mad. Hence a whole load of unsupported or unfounded allegations against Chinese Companies followed, big flags were waved, other nations were told not to use the equipment and then blackmailed if they did not “jump to” on the US line.

So the question you have to ask is “Who’s throwing the toys out of the pram in a fit of peak & foot stamping”, thus is being laughed at by other first world nation leaders and politicians…

[1] In the case of criminal negligence, “reasonable action” is not based on “the average man riding on a Clapham Omnibus” –which is where the reasonableness test supposadly arose from– but that of a “domain specialist” at the required level. Thus if Equifax did not employ domain specialists at the required level or if they did, yet somehow knowingly prevented the domain specialist carrying out “reasonable actions” then lets just say Equifax’s defence in court would have made interesting reading. But what the DoJ spokesman has done with his little speech is handed Equifax a “Defence on a plate”.

SpaceLifeForm February 10, 2020 7:18 PM

@ R-naught

They should all install the app, and then report that they had contact with Xi Jinping.

Clive Robinson February 10, 2020 7:24 PM

@ SpaceLifeForm,

A confined environment like a cruise ship is not ‘real world’. Of course, neither is hospital.

No but a ship in lockdown is very very like a hospital in many ways.

Worse/better depending on the way you look at it the cruise ship like a hospital has a “low risk group” and a “high risk group”. That is Drs/nurses/NAs ~= to ship staff. Hospital “at risk group” are elderly and with desieses of affluence and age ~= cruise ship passangers.

I realy hope that it does not turn into a death ship, I found out today that a friends parents in law are on that ship and I happen to know and like them, so fingers crossed.

SpaceLifeForm February 10, 2020 7:43 PM


@ MarkH

I have learned from an informed source, that I am completely wrong. Problem solved.

“The virus … typically that will go away in April,” he told reporters at the White House, adding: “The heat, generally speaking, kills this kind of virus.”

Curious February 11, 2020 4:00 AM

(“Personal Data of All 6.5 Million Israeli Voters Is Exposed”)

“A software flaw exposed the personal data of every eligible voter in Israel — including full names, addresses and identity card numbers for 6.5 million people — raising concerns about identity theft and electoral manipulation, three weeks before the country’s national election.”

“Explaining the ease with which the voter information could be accessed, Ran Bar-Zik, the programmer who revealed the breach, explained that visitors to the Elector app’s website could right-click to “view source,” an action that reveals the code behind a web page.”

“That page of code included the user names and passwords of site administrators with access to the voter registry, and using those credentials would allow anyone to view and download the information. Mr. Bar-Zik, a software developer for Verizon Media who wrote the Sunday article in Haaretz, said he chose the name and password of the Likud party administrator and logged in.”

myliit February 11, 2020 4:08 AM

@Clive Robinson

”Only the piece of paper gets even remotely close to the level of audit required.“

I enjoyed your story about moving around valid ballots and field of view issues.

“live streaming [counting ballots] as an idea is a bust.”

Ottomh, I’m inclined to agree with you, but I still wish there was a way to use the “surveillance state” to improve elections. Perhaps someone will think of a way to do that.

Regarding auditing US elections I found these links: , pdf, 16 pages

Iirc, there was an episode on The Good Wife that involved a van load of missing paper ballots.

I like the saying: When I die, please bury me in Louisiana or Illinois so I can keep on voting. Sadly, it used to be more funny, especially in light of more recent voter roll tampering or potential tampering.

MarkH February 11, 2020 4:09 AM

@SpaceLifeForm, re informed source:

Ok, that’s it. I’m putting my affairs in order, and buying a burial plot.

Clive Robinson February 11, 2020 5:16 AM

@ Curious,

(“Personal Data of All 6.5 Million Israeli Voters Is Exposed”

Incompetence or design?

It looks way to much like realy bad incompetence, which to many people these days indicates design, due to the “over egging the pudding principle”. Same as that simple Phone App that was not a Shadow of what it should have been.

Ever get the feeling someones heating your bath water, whilst you are still in it?

But even an old cynic like myself is begining to see the “Once is chance, twice is coincidence, thrice is enemy action” being applied here.

After all what better way to get away with manipulating a major election than to make other minor election manipulations, thus build up an Orwellian “fall guy”… Because “we don’t re-run elections”…

I guess the thing to do is get a large bowl of popcorn and park oneself in the comfy chair and ponder the question of “Who will be blaimed?”.

Last time it started with some strange report by an Ex UK Spook, that somehow got funding from both parties, but was never used by either of them. So with that failure the Spook ran around shouting “liar liar pants on fire” or similar and made a lot of noise attractrd a lot of attention but basically did not go anywhere. But as in all good musicals you got that “opening number” that gives a taste of each song to come…

Then there was the Hillary stole from Bernie story and the Democrats lept into “ferrit in a sack mode” As she who should have been saintly sudenly discovered others had not just been readong her mail but pointing out what a naughty naughty girl she had been, just lraving secrets all over the place…

So the Democrats then blaimed everyone else including the Russians. And they still appear to be stuck on this same song sheet.

But with the DoJ “Walrus of lug” doing his turn on the mic yesterday, what’s the betting it will also include the Chinese or now with this Israeli news Iran?

So what’s the odds North Korea will also get included around about September?

But that leaves the Silicon Valley Mega-Corps out of it. After all the Psycho-Zee does make a nice target for gavel wielding dais-dwelling politicos, Apple is in the cross hairs of the DoJ(okers) and the Feebies. Somehow way beyond expectation Alphabet is keeping it’s self out of US spotlights… Surely someone is going to work them into the plot again, and shake out a little loose change in fines at the same time.

As the old saying has it “You could not make it up…” but hey the Roman’s got “Bread and Circuses for free”, so what’s to stop the rest of us having a little entertainment out of it 😉

Clive Robinson February 11, 2020 7:29 AM

@ SpaceLifeForm,

I have learned from an informed source…

Is this the same one who tweeted Everythings OK we are ontop of it, or something similar?

So mid April huh.

Let me see that is say 90days away. So with the current doubling up rate being every 6 days that’s a 2^(90/6) increase. Or 32768 times a probable 50,000 cases, so just a mere 1,638,400,000 or aproxomately one quater of the worlds population infected by mid April and a two week time to die…

Or if you prefer look around your friends and family and count them and every fourth one will be gone by May day…

As that is a simple power growth, I guess we should be taking a look at things that would force the rise back down.

In theory the Chinese have a little over 100million in lockdown, which is bigger than a European country or about 1.4% of the worlds population I guess the death of 1.4% compared to 25% sounds a lot better. But in that 1.4% is much of China’s “Manufacture for Export” which if it was lost would make the Great Depression look almost trivial.

So we need to look outside of China for solutions that can be put into China. An approved anti-virus like any other new medication is a year away at least. Even though a computer generated antivirus has already been designed within two weeks after the virus genome was mapped, it’s in effect compleatly untried.

We could in theory get the required level of production of it up and running within two months if the green light is pushed… But that’s not going to happen in the West. But if things do get out of control in China, they might go straight to “human trials” without patient concent etc.

I’ve been told two things are already happening there,

1, Door to door temprature checking.

2, Draging people with tempratures away at the point of machine gun.

How much of that is true I don’t know, but it has been on Government Bio-Warfare actions lists since the begining of the cold war, if not longer.

It’s the balance between interests of self-v-society, which I’ve mentioned before.

If you look on it as a line between self and society the two end points are, As an individual your best bet is to self issolate with two or three months of supplies a sizable distance from others and ensure that distance in some way (hiding / point of a gun). From societies point of view anyone who shows symptoms straight to the crematorium.

One thing that is obvious is that there is not enough land or food for the self issolation to work at a national or global level, and probably not regional either.

One of the more dense European areas with a mix of city athrough suburban housing is Brussels however at something like five and a half thousand people per square km it’s population denisty is an average bench mark to population density in Europe.

But with access and services only about one third of the area is actually habitable. Which means each person gets about an eight by eight meter area (aprox 670Sqft).

However take Manila in the Philippines, it’s population density is fourty six thousand or over eight times as many in the same area. Thus in effect a place where people are always going to be within spitting distance of each other, certainly sneezing or coughing distance…

But if you look at the Wikipedia page,

Living in certain parts of France or New Jersey in the US puts you in the top fifty world wide and almost as bad with population densities in the twenty to twenty six thousand range…

Thus some tough decisions may have to be made “for the good of society”… Some of the most frightening words you can ever hear if you are not an “elite 1%er or politician”…

Curious February 11, 2020 8:38 AM

I thought I had already posted this already earlier today in this very thread.

Washington Post has an article (presumably a recent article, but it is behind a paywall so I don’t really know) apparently about

(“The CIA secretly bought a company that sold encryption devices across the world.”)

Something, something Crypto AG, don’t know if anything other than that.

gordo February 11, 2020 9:51 AM

@ Clive Robinson,

Ever get the feeling someones heating your bath water, whilst you are still in it?

Reportage on some recent “heats of the moment”:

The state party’s phones were jammed. Users on the website 4chan had publicly posted the election hotline number and encouraged one another to “clog the lines.” The party’s volunteer phone operators also had to deflect calls from television news reporters in search of caucus results that were hours overdue.

One floor below, representatives from the seven presidential campaigns competing in Iowa waited in a room with no windows, no food, no water and no information. They took turns trying to call state party officials in search of information.

On a conference call with the campaigns later that night, Price struggled to explain the information blackout. He said the problems stemmed from party officials having to collect three sets of data from all precincts for the first time.

“You always had to calculate these numbers, all we’re asking is that you report them for the first time,” Jeff Weaver, Sanders’ closest adviser, said he told Price on the call. “If you haven’t been calculating these numbers all along, it’s been a fraud for 100 years.”

Price ended the call.

Cross-posted here:

MarkH February 11, 2020 10:38 AM


Thanks for posting the WaPo link! The lengthy article has today’s date, and I had not seen it. It’s a gem, and would be of interest to many readers here.

TL;DR: Crypto AG was the world’s leading international vendor of crypto equipment from the late 40s until recent years when encryption software running on general-purpose equipment became dominant.

U.S. intelligence organizations, and those of other friendly states as well, participated in varying degrees with Crypto AG to ensure access to confidential communications of not-so-friendly states, many of which bought Crypto AG systems.

In one form or another, these relationships continued from the mid 50s until the dissolution of Crypto AG in 2018.

The evolving relationship started with a request to withhold the strongest systems from certain governments (honored by founder Boris Hagelin, who was very pro-American) and culminated in Crypto AG being wholly owned by the U.S. CIA.

This has come to light by dint of disclosure of classified histories of the program by the CIA and BND (German intelligence service):

it is exceedingly rare, if not unprecedented, to glimpse authoritative internal histories of an entire covert operation. The Post was able to read all of the documents, but the source of the material insisted that only excerpts be published.

“It was the intelligence coup of the century,” the CIA report concludes. “Foreign governments were paying good money to the U.S. and West Germany for the privilege of having their most secret communications read by at least two (and possibly as many as five or six) foreign countries.”

From 1970 on, the CIA and its code-breaking sibling, the National Security Agency, controlled nearly every aspect of Crypto’s operations — presiding with their German partners over hiring decisions, designing its technology, sabotaging its algorithms and directing its sales targets.

Then, the U.S. and West German spies sat back and listened.

The crypto-geeks here will be hungry for some technical perspective:

[the 1950s] were “the Dark Ages of American cryptology,” according to the CIA history. The Soviets, Chinese and North Koreans were using code-making systems that were all but impenetrable. U.S. spy agencies worried that the rest of the world would also go dark if countries could buy secure machines from Hagelin.

As technology advanced and integrated circuits became available, NSA analyst Peter Jenks saw how the potential for strong encryption might be subverted:

If “carefully designed by a clever crypto-mathematician,” he said, a circuit-based system could be made to appear that it was producing endless streams of randomly-generated characters, while in reality it would repeat itself at short enough intervals for NSA experts — and their powerful computers — to crack the pattern.

Two years later, in 1967, Crypto rolled out a new, all-electronic model, the H-460, whose inner workings were completely designed by the NSA.

The Post reports that the NSA didn’t take the “blunt instrument” approach:

The NSA didn’t install crude “back doors” or secretly program the devices to cough up their encryption keys.

But the manipulation of Crypto’s algorithms streamlined the code-breaking process, at times reducing to seconds a task that might otherwise have taken months. The company always made at least two versions of its products — secure models that would be sold to friendly governments, and rigged systems for the rest of the world.

The acquisition of Crypto AG was kept secret by the usual shenanigans available to those with great wealth:

A Liechtenstein law firm, Marxer and Goop, helped hide the identities of the new owners of Crypto through a series of shells and “bearer” shares that required no names in registration documents. The firm was paid an annual salary “less for the extensive work but more for their silence and acceptance,” the BND history says.

A delicious irony was that the targets of the surveillance were actually paying the Western intelligence agencies to spy on them:

All the while, Crypto generated millions of dollars in profits that the CIA and BND split and plowed into other operations.

@M: The compromise of Crypto AG may have been widely known in recent years (I seem to remember having read about it) … but apparently, it was a well-kept secret in the preceding decades.

Before today, the details of the compromise were not publicly available.

SpaceLifeForm February 11, 2020 2:55 PM


This is reminding me of two different experiences I observed years back.

Because, I pay attention to small details.

The experiences are about ants.

The first was my observation about chemical trails laid down by ants when then find food. By careful observation. I suspected it was a chem trail, by watching one ant find the food, and then observe many more ants follow the same random path. Later, it was confirmed that is actually how it works. My lab was just a sidewalk.

My second experience was about a very large ant colony, in a confined space.

The confined spacce was not really accessible without destroying infrastructure.

But, it was a huge nest. You could tell from traffic analysis.

So, poison was placed at the ingress/egress points. I do not recall what the poison was, I do not believe it is available today.

But, then, over the next week or so, I observed worker ants dragging dead ants out of the nest.

Then it stopped.

SpaceLifeForm February 11, 2020 4:13 PM


Some positive news


SpaceLifeForm February 11, 2020 5:04 PM

Blindsided. Never saw this coming. LOL.

Actually, I am not laughing.

This is indicative of things.

But, I saw this coming. More next month.


February 11, 2020—KB4537813 (Security-only update)

Applies to: Windows 7 Service Pack 1, Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1, Windows Embedded Standard 7 Service Pack 1, Windows Embedded POSReady 7, Windows Thin PC

SpaceLifeForm February 11, 2020 6:51 PM

So, WHO had their meeting.

And, the best they could do was a new name?


What were they doing weeks ago? Nothing.

Clive Robinson February 12, 2020 1:09 AM

@ Curious, ALL,

I thought I had already posted this already earlier today in this very thread.

Yes and No…

You did it in a different Squid thread, and I posted a long reply from memory to you there,

Like you I have not read the WashPo article[1]. However there are snipits around on the Internet from people posting about it and the German ZTE TV station coverage.

Thus my reply to you was from memory of Crypto AG’s misdeeds and cover ups that became public over the years.

@ Bruce, ALL,

Now the secret ownership of Crypto AG is out, perhaps it’s time for people to collect the Crypto AG backdoored paperwork and equipment and analyse it in depth.

Because under the old proverb[2]

    As a dog surely returneth to it’s vomit, a fool returneth to his folly

Various IC or LEO entities will try exactly the same thing again or a slight variations thereof, if they think we have –as the ICT Sec industry almost always does– “forgotten our history”[3].

I guess most know the saying about not learning from history… Well it’s fairly clear over a few short years that the ICT Sec industry has repeatedly “relived” it’s past, and as an industry we realy should “grow up” otherwise we will never be taken seriously, which means we will always fail.

[1] Like you I have not subscribed to WashPo and thus I get the “die in darkness” header at the top of a blank page rather than the article. As I’ve mentioned here before of that two line header the second line of which I guess is the WashPo’s “motto” does ironically amuse me 😉

[2] They don’t get much older 😉 For those that don’t know where it comes from it’s Proverbs 26:11.

[3] If you don’t believe me about the ICT Sec industry forgetting it’s history ask people about what is sometimes refered to as “Crypto Wars I” or look at the “BadBIOS” technical details that played out on this very blog, even though Lenovo had been caught using one of the underlying technical tricks to put persistant malware on their consumer grade laptops. As far as ICT history goes the “red cover” second edition of @Bruces book is all that most can remember. Even the older “Pink Shirt book” with it’s trademarked pose of Norton is now unknown by most, but is still a very usefull refrence book.

Clive Robinson February 12, 2020 2:12 AM

@ Gordo,

Reportage on some recent “heats of the moment”:

Hmm the “Sanders” comment kind of says a lot…

I’m thinking the heat has moved from under the bath to under the chairs. And certain persons are playing musical chairs, to avoid getting that “burnt brown-n-crispy” look…

As for the previous run, I’m guessing there are going to be renewed “questions arising” about,

1, Peoples ability to count.
2, Their ability to keep records.
3, Their ability to follow instructions.
4, Their ability to calculate.
5, Their ability to communicate.
6, Their probity and honesty.

Oh and that applies not just to the caucuses but finance as well.

Lets just say Joseph Stalin made some observations that are very applicable…

Clive Robinson February 12, 2020 2:49 AM

@ SpaceLifeForm, MarkH,

At least 500 Wuhan medical staff infected with coronavirus (3 deceased)

From the UK news one of the nCoV victims (a man from Hove) went to see their Dr in Brighton… The so called “Third person / victim” on the list of coronavirus infected. Is also apparently a “Super Spreader”, the result of the visit atleast one of the people at the practice so far has become another “person” on the UK list.

Apparently two of the people on the UK list are Drs… So that might account for the twitchyness of the UK NHS and the advice to “self issolate and call not visit”. Oh and that twitchyness is not going to have been lessened by the “60% of global population” prediction by Prof Gabriel Leung, Chair of public health medicine at Hong Kong University[1]…

You can read more at,

h ttps://

[1] Which makes my back of the envelop calculation of 25% by mid April the other day, based on the little we publically know[2], kind of look tame…

[2] A comment from a well known twitter source claimed it would all be over by April apparently due to warmth… So with an aproximate ten days for incubation that’s 90days. With a double up time of 6days that would be 2^(90/6) or 32768 times the current number of “at risk group”[3] already assumed of 50,000 people.

[3] I use the term “at risk group” because these are the percentage of the total number of people in China not just infected, but have also become symptomatic sufficiently serverly for them to have been hospitalised and at significant risk of dying, but also actually tested (we know others are probably dying from it but they are recorded as pneumonia patients not nCoV). Which as we know is a realy quite small fraction. Worse China has also changed their definition so that “Typhoid Mary” types or “infected by asymptomatic” people are not included in the numbers…

Clive Robinson February 12, 2020 8:24 AM

@ Thoth,

Intel with its usual gifts that simply keeps giving endlessly

And it’s not even Valentine’s Day yet 😉

I guess there are so many Intel vulnerabilities these days that there are just not enough “High Days and Holidays” to try and hide behind…

That said does Intel realy care?

It’s a question others have been asking more of of late. Intel is loosing Market Share to AMD and other chip families. However at around 10% of market share AMD is the most prominent rival (as Intel pretends not to play in other market areas using different chip families where it got trounced).

It’s said that AMD has cash reserves between 1 and 1.5 billion USD but Intel has something like ten times that at 12billion USD. But whilst AMD’s is growing along with it’s business, Intel appear to be “flogging the family silver” and other assets and achieving the opposit of growth…

Thus the argument is that Intel will start a price war with AMD and put them out of buisness or atleast certain market segments (business laptops/servers) regard as their monopoly.

Personally I think Intel would be unwise to do so, they’ve lost legal fights with AMD in the past and AMD is more “agile”. Thus a very good chance that any victory Intel might get would be pyhric or marginal.

We don’t know who is going to have their feet under the Whitehouse desk this time next year, and Intel are well over due a look at by an anti-competition Judge or similar who might do to Intel what Federal Judge Harold H. Greene did to AT&T, in the Washington District court based on a DoJ antitrust suit based on section two of the Sherman Antitrust Act.

Even if it’s not done in the US Europe could have a similar effect…

But being broken up might be good for Intel, the Baby Bells flourished and IBM who just avoided the same fate by the skin of it’s teeth, did not exactly flourish. So you never know what might happen.

However some analysts think Intel price cutting against AMD would be good for consumers… Not realy, they would only marginally benifit for the short period whilst Intel was trying to drag AMD down. If Intel succeeded, you can guarentee that the prices would go up a lot and stay high whilst the market stagnated due to lack of investment in inovation, or Intel went after other markets.

If however Intel got broken up then yes that would be good for consumers not just in the short term but the long term as well.

JonKnowsNothing February 12, 2020 9:15 AM

@Clive Robinson

We don’t know who is going to have their feet under the Whitehouse desk this time next year.

The list is rather short. Even shorter on one side than the other.

However, regardless of which short sits at the desk, nearly every executive selected has a serious turnabout after moving from a hopeful, to a wannabe, to a candidate, to elected. This turnabout happens as they get more “details” from government agencies commensurate with their likelihood of winning the whole enchilada.

What that means in plainer language is: They scare the S**T out of them.

This is done by revealing lots of info that the rest of us do not have. Since the effect of this disclosure can be seen in nearly every resident of the place, it might not be a good policy to hope that Good Policy will happen.

Clive Robinson February 12, 2020 11:33 AM

@ SpaceLifeForm,

So, WHO had their meeting. And, the best they could do was a new name?

You are not the only one to think this… “my wingman” who dares to have javascript, cookies, and such like enabled showed my some YouTube videos from a UK Dr, John Campbell, he posts about twice a day on nCoV or COVID-19 as WHO have collectively decided to call it.

He has several concerns,

Firstly is that China are now saying it’s actually airborn not dropplet (so masks are going to be ineffective). So it probably will become a pandemic.

China has split the figures into two groups “confirmed” and “suspected” which puts the number to around 70,000 cases in total.

China also publish a severe cases number which is around 7500 by now. Which means that in the “at risk” or “hospitalised” group between 11% and 17% are severe cases needing specialist support etc.

As for WHO he has noticed that they have failed to take any action over flights in or out of China or other developing disease hot spots. Which suggest WHO is taking “economic” considerations into account, potentially over medical ones…

He has also noted that Youtube are sensoring, that is those who mention what is now called CVID-19 are at the very least being “demonitized” whilst other Youtubers say that some channels have just “disappeared” entirely…

He has worked through an example jiven in the Lancet journal. And this tends to suggest,

Incubation period upto two weeks infectious period during incubation 50-80% of incubation period. When symptomatic and infectious upto four weeks.

So my math indicates quarantine should be three weeks “total issolation” five weeks or longer if not total issolation. Which is a heck of a lot longer than the current two weeks.

R0 is around 2.8 but a UK man is known to have infected atleast 8 even following the guide lines for self quarantine etc.

MarkH February 12, 2020 1:55 PM

@Clive, SpaceLife:

  1. Whether this virus spreads more like a typical cold, or like measles, is among the most important questions facing epidemiologists. My impression is that the exact purpose of the WHO meeting was for medical investigators to discuss the data they’ve gathered and analyses they’ve conducted, in order to improve the understanding of such questions.

For what it’s worth, R0 of measles is close to ten.

The distinction (in my very ignorant layperson understanding) is between viruses spread only by wet droplets — I suppose, because they don’t survive when dry — and viruses which can infect a person inhaling dry virus particles suspended in air, rather like dust.

The latter category — of which measles is an example — spreads far more easily, and respiratory masks are ineffective against them.

1a. As far as I can work out, there is no clear word yet from Chinese authorities as to the mode of transmission between people. That it could be via dry airborne nuclei appears to be speculation about possibilities by two Chinese officials.

  1. The WHO, like a variety of sister UN agencies, functions primarily in the realms of gathering and disseminating information; bringing together expertise from diverse regions; the establishment of norms and standards, and the like.

Although it has some theoretical legal powers via the International Health Regulations, it has no “teeth.” The IHR are implemented, or not implemented as the case may be, by the laws and governments of each participating state.

The primary role of the WHO is advisory and consultative. If I understand correctly, WHO can’t stop airline flights to or from anywhere, on its own say-so.

Any reticence on the part of WHO to recommend travel bans may be explained in terms of its mission. In the past, medically unjustified travel bans have been seen to impose needless economic damage, to undermine the respect and authority accorded to public health organizations, and worst of all to hinder medical response in epidemic zones. In other words, excessive travel bans can actually kill a lot of people.

Another thing WHO must take into account, is the dreadful pandemic people have been worrying about for decades now: some zoonosis which actually does spread like measles with a very high case fatality rate, capable of killing perhaps hundreds of millions.

When an outbreak can be managed by lesser measures, a panicky over-reaction travel ban could trigger deep distrust, with the consequence that people will fail to act when the great crisis comes. Scientists working on the prediction of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions — necessarily with great uncertainty — are painfully aware of that “crying wolf” could wreck their efforts to save lives.

Being that a core purpose of the meeting was for international investigators to compare notes … what were people expecting?

That they would announce they’ve got all the answers?

A collaborative estimate of CFR adjusted for the very steep growth rates (and other confounding factors in the data) should come out in a few days.

I expect that other critical results — like the modes of transmission between people — will be publicized, as soon as they become clear.

What WHO surely DOESN’T want to do, is publish a load of uninformed speculation.

SpaceLifeForm February 12, 2020 4:03 PM

Win7 patches showing up:


Curiously, appears random so far.

Slow rollout?

SpaceLifeForm February 12, 2020 4:55 PM

@ Thoth

I think there is more to this story.

There are some dots to connect.

Think: backdoors buried in silicon.

From your link:

According to a security advisory published on Tuesday, CSME is subject to a firmware vulnerability, found internally by Intel’s security team, which if exploited allows local threat actors to launch escalation of privilege, denial of service, and information disclosure attacks.

[yes, they may have found that problem after they got a heads-up from NSA]

A medium-severity security issue, CVE-2020-0560, has also been flagged by Intel — but the company will not be issuing a patch. This bug affects the Intel Renesas Electronics USB 3.0 driver and permits privilege escalation on all versions.

“[Intel] recommends that users of the Intel Renesas Electronics USB 3.0 driver uninstall it or discontinue use at their earliest convenience,” the tech giant says.

[Dot: Privilege Escalation]
[Dot; Intel blames driver, not silicon]
[Dot; This goes back to win7 which NSA uses]

MarkH February 12, 2020 6:51 PM

The Challenges of Processing Biometric Passport Data

The passport for a 101 year old Italian citizen was scanned using a smartphone app related to the status of non-UK citizens remaining in the UK after Brexit.

The app interpreted his birth year as 2019, instead of 1919.

As he was presumed to be an infant, the app instructed that his parents must attend in order to identify him …

gordo February 12, 2020 8:51 PM

@ Clive Robinson,

Hmm the “Sanders” comment kind of says a lot…

The “Sanders” comment aside, nonetheless quite a history.

The Annals of Iowa
Volume 46 Number 8 (Spring 1983) pps. 618-635
The Evolution of the Iowa Precinct Caucuses
Hugh Winebrenner

IOWA’S emergence as a weather vane in presidential politics is a recent development. Prior to 1972, the Iowa caucuses were just another electoral event in the middle of the national caucus and primary schedule. When the Iowa Democratic party decided to schedule their caucuses in January rather than March or April, they began a chain of events which resulted in the caucuses becoming a national phenomenon.

The Iowa caucuses have evolved from the early scandal-plagued days of the nineteenth century to their present position of national prominence. In those early days, small groups of individuals attempted to control the local parties by limiting participation in the caucuses. Throughout the early twentieth century various state legislatures enacted measures which brought the previously unregulated caucuses under the rule of law. In the last decade the Iowa Republican and Democratic parties made a number of changes in the conduct of the caucuses which eventually brought them national media attention far in excess of what might be expected for state parties electing so few delegates to their respective national conventions.

See also:

How the Iowa caucus results will actually work — and why 2020’s could be more confusing than ever
There won’t be one set of results but three.
By Andrew Prokop Updated Feb 3, 2020

The political world is waiting with bated breath to see who will win the Iowa Democratic caucuses. But there’s another surprisingly murky question: How will we even decide who wins?

myliit February 13, 2020 5:54 AM


“The app interpreted his birth year as 2019, instead of 1919.

As he was presumed to be an infant, the app instructed …”

Oh great, now I have something else to worry about.

Btw I liked the photos in your link.

From your link:

“ While the mistake seemed like a small computer bug, it was not a small mistake because the computer system “only recognised the last two digits of his year of birth”, Assuntino continued….”

Iirc by law a national law enforcement data base on this side of the pond is allowed to be inaccurate. For example, it makes sense for snitches, spooks, infiltrators, etc., not to have their cover blown.

I remember one time talking to a (imo a professional, smart, skeptical) cop. Based on SSNs, names, or addresses, or some thing, she/he kept getting imo weird results.

As she looked at his screen, I could ‘t see it, and talked to me I kept telling him that his/her database “is fvcked up.

By his/her expression iirc it appeared to me that he/she wasn’t believing much of the screen either.

myliit February 13, 2020 6:16 AM

@gordo, Clive Robinson, Curious

Based on the popcorn crunching Iowa primary, and its propaganda or voter suppression potential! I am waiting for the partial recount, or whatever, and “expert” forensics, or whatever… Regardless I look forward to more noteworthy information, as I cook more popcorn, but not noise or stories about incompetence.

In other words, is there a there there.

See billion-dollar disinformation campaign above.

myliit February 13, 2020 6:46 AM

Regarding current Coronavirus stuff

It is costly to shut down, car factories, computer/phone/etc. factories, pharmaceutical plants, etc., for a lack of precursors or parts, of course.

Behind the obvious propaganda value (or to stoke nationalism) in both the east and west, and in between, I suspect the east and west have been maintaining expert back-channels all along regarding this Coronavirus. That’s my guess anyway.

I welcome being shown that my guess is wrong.

Clive Robinson February 13, 2020 12:23 PM

@ mylit,

With regards,

    For decades after Watergate, the White House treated the Justice Department with the softest of gloves, fearful that any appearance of political interference would resurrect the specter of Attorney General John Mitchell helping President Richard M. Nixon carry out a criminal conspiracy for political ends.

It could also be argued fairly easily that “Whilst the cat has been away…” and this is the squeaking of the fat mice who have had free run and basically been acting like psychopaths with no checks and balances for most of this century so far.

But to claim politicians have been “hands off” is not true by a long chalk, they have not just passed overly broad legislation on the basis of what the DoJ has asked for, Presidents of both stripes have pushed hard for tougher sentencing and significant cost savings. The result of which has been if you are innocent and don’t except the first plea offer they will keep piling the charges on, lie to “Grand Juries” and then manipulate you into bankruptcy thus have no real representation befor it gets to court. The prosecutors collect their promotion “browny points” not just for money and a better desk/office but eventual elected/political office. They also keep those political sponsors who own prisons on the gravey train, thus will get funding for their election campaigns…

So whilst I strongly disagree with what Billy “the walrus” has done. I have absolutly no sympathy what so ever for the prosecutors who’s cosy little arangments have had a tiny little knock back, some realy deserve the equivalent of what the 30year pile in Hercules’s 5th labour got.

Clive Robinson February 13, 2020 2:07 PM

@ mylit,

I suspect the east and west have been maintaining expert back-channels all along regarding this Coronavirus.

Of all the UN agencies WHO is regarded as the least political and most constructive / uniting.

As for China, it appears they have been quite honest in their reporting, when you get a translation of what they mean.

The reason they’ve under reported is as I suspected,

1, Only those considered for hospitalisation (possibly 20% of symptomatic cases).

2, That have been “tested” with a kit (of which they did not have or had to few of so had to triage their use) are considered “confirmed”.

3, Those “suspected” were unsupprisingly lower at the start than now simply because the medical staff did not have diagnostic experience for COVID-19 because it was both new and had unusual ranges of symptoms.

The shortage of test kits is not exactly supprising either and other countries such as Japan have the same issue, as does Cambodia.

Apparently the big bone of contention at WHO is “droplet-v-aerosolised”. Two Chinese representatives have said they believe it’s,”aerosolised” and not “droplet” without giving stringent backup evidence (again not surprising at this stage).

The difference is majorly important because the quarantine proceadures many are using “assume dropplet” not “aerosolised”.

However if you look at what is happening on the Cruise Ship Diamond Princess, the figures suggest the two Chinese representatives looks valid. That is even though passengers are being physically issolated which should prevent dropplet infection, the infection numbers have been rising. The implication of this is an either or both of,

1, The incubation period is greater than 14days.

2, The infection can be by aerosol.

The reason for the second conclusion is to do with the “sealed cabin” issue which means shared ventilation and air circulation[1].

But whilst people are being removed from the Dimond Princess, you have to consider what a financial burden falls on the country in which they are disembarked. It’s not just heakth care it’s dealing with waste and a whole raft of decontamination processes. Which is why another cruise ship has been repeatedly denied port entry, though one country was happy to provide fuel, food other stores and medicines. Apparently Cambodia has offered to alow disembarkation at one of their ports, but some think they do not have the required level of fascilities to deal with several thousand potentially seriously ill people should they become symptomatic (it’s doubtfull Cambodia yet has sufficient test kits let alone medical support).

But if the Chinese representatives are correct, we have a very significant problem. Abyone who has spent even a moderate amount of time in a closed environment with an infectious person suchvas a boat, plane, train, coach or even modern building like a hotel, hospital or office block is now potentially infected.

So whilst WHO can not order the stop of international travel, their apparent lack of concern over it may be extreamly costly. Not just politically but in human lives in what could turn into a global epidemic, not just a pandemic (two continents).

When you add in that some have been released from quarantine after 14 days of being asymptomatic, and that the asymptomatic but infective period of a super spreader could be upto 21days we have an issue we need to resolve but currently insufficient data to count as proof…

Hopefully China’s existing home issolation and new “Door to Door symptom checking” policy will start to fill in the data gaps.

However China has another resource thus triage issue. They lack oxygen supplies for what is effectively HyperBaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) to reduce the effects of hypovolimic shock and potential organ failure. But still there is insufficient information on “Anti-inflammatories” which is kind of annoying as they could help limit or even prevent some of the feedback mechanisms that have caused some critical problems.

[1] As there are two people on that cruise that I know through a friend, you will appreciate it is a matter of concern to me.

MarkH February 13, 2020 2:33 PM

Clive offers an exceedingly alien (in the literal meaning of that word) perspective on the U.S. DOJ.

Prosecutorial zeal/aggressiveness is perfectly orthogonal to whether prosecution (or refraining from prosecution) is a tool for a King to smite his personal enemies and to shield his hired thugs.

For anyone who cares a whit about democracy, this is an objectively titanic blow.

SpaceLifeForm February 13, 2020 3:30 PM

@ myliit

“Behind the obvious propaganda value (or to stoke nationalism) in both the east and west, and in between, I suspect the east and west have been maintaining expert back-channels all along regarding this Coronavirus. That’s my guess anyway.”

Well, now China has magically changed their criteria again this week, with a huge jump.

It may not about a propaganda or natonalism, but about market manipulation.

With media help. Shorting stock.

lurker February 13, 2020 3:35 PM

The Eyes of Darkness, Dean Koontz, 1981
A virus called Wuhan-400, thanks to Sth. China Morn. Post https ://

SpaceLifeForm February 13, 2020 3:53 PM

Testing test kits and test of kit fails.

I’ve always called that QA. And should not have to happen by end-user.

ht tps://

“… that it wasn’t working as expected, specifically some public health labs at states were getting inconclusive results and what that means is that test results were not coming back as false positive or false negatives, but they were being read as inconclusive,”

SpaceLifeForm February 13, 2020 4:12 PM

@ lurker

Interesting find.

I would try to read the article but their website is horribly overloaded these days by local traffic. Not a surprise.

And, no reason to make the situation worse for those trying to get current news.

Those in the area need up-to-date news.

So, please, don’t contribute to a inadvertent DOS via long-lived sockets.

SpaceLifeForm February 14, 2020 1:51 PM

@ Anders

Leaked numbers have not been updated in over a week. Possible explanation. The leakers are infected or deceased themselves.

As I noted the ratio of
(dead) / (dead + recovered)
is horrible.

The ratio is so bad that I do want to disclose. Otherwise, I would be accused of fearmongering.

We have to hope the ratio is specific to China region via ACE2, pre-existing health conditions, and air polution levels in China.

Videos and still shots confirm bad.

The official China numbers are worthless.

When three dead children are put into the same body bag, what does that say?

SpaceLifeForm February 14, 2020 2:45 PM

@ Anders

That figure from the link fits a curve from earlier leaked numbers. May be low.

Unfortunately, very bad trend. Bad curve.

If the trend holds, it may double by 2020-02-20. Except, there can not be that many crematoriums. So, the rate from the leaks may flatline if the crematoriums are 24×7.
Which is what the reports say.

The number we need: Recovered.

From article, 1.5 million confirmed coronavirus cases in China is more accurate than the official numbers.

Move the decimal point one place to the right, and probably getting closer to reality of number infected. Maybe.

But, the numbers are telling us that around 5k are dying every day in China.

Unfortunately, it does look exponential so far.

lurker February 14, 2020 5:36 PM

Up to two thirds of global population could become infected: Ira Longini, WHO adviser, & Gabriel Leung HK Uni; Bloomberg, as quoted in my daily dead tree news.

Clive Robinson February 14, 2020 9:46 PM

@ Lurker, SpaceLifeForm,

Up to two thirds of global population could become infected

So what?

The same or more is true of the common cold and seasonal flu.

When you understand what the Chinese reported figures are all about, –and the authorities over there are quite honest about it– then you can make some basic assumptions and work them backwards.

Confirmed cases are by the PCR test kits. As these are a resource they are subject to a whole load of constraints. As I’ve mentioned before the Chinese have done the logical thing with a limited resource in the face of sudden demand,

1, Apply triage rules to use.
2, Try to increase supply.

Untill the second gets to the point that supply exceads demand the first logicaly should apply.

In short the only patients that were confirmed were those in the most need of hospital critical care support.

However having sufficient kits does not resolve the resource issue. Because the kits have to be processed in a lab by qualified personnel, this is not something that can be ramped up quickly. We know this from Japan where the authorities there say they can not test all of the people onboard the Diamond Princess… Which is actually realy critical, because it would give us the answer to the most critical question,

    Transmission, droplet or aerosol?

If it’s by droplet we can constrain the spread by achivable and socially acceptable quarantine means. If aerosol then “not a snow ball’s chance in hell”. The reason with droplet transmission gravity in effects limits a persons infective radius to about 2meter. With aerosol it’s how far can the wind carry it before it ceases to be viable, and that could be fifty miles or more… Self quarantine in a house would not work to “contain” it’s spread only “slow” it.

But on early assumptions I estimated about 1/6th of the worlds population would be infected by mid April based on the confirmed number and the exponential doubling rate of around 6 days.

But working the figures backwards on other information about other coronaviruses I concluded that there are potentially about 2 million infected people in China or about 2% of the population in the confinment zone. Official sources are more conservative ad say around 500,000-800,000 with 650,000 being what they consider most likely.

Remember that R0 is assumed to be about 2.6 but is known to be as high as 8 or more in some confirmed cases, it needs to be below one and stay that way untill it dies out. This figure is based on many things not just the RNA virus viability but the environment population density and the number of people that are transitory and over what distance. Oh and if infection is by aerosol the wind and weather.

But one thing to note, some are talking about “warm weather” significantly reducing COVID-19’s viability… Don’t get your hopes up on that, have a look at the tempratutes in Singapore where the RNA virus is spreading.

Speaking of RNA, it’s many times more likely to mutate than DNA, one other hope that people are talking about is that the virus will weaken in some way. The only way for that to happen is by mutation and that is a random effect so it’s just as likely to get stronger in some way as it is to weaken…

One thing people are not talking about is that for the virus to spread it needs live vectors to incubate in. No live humans presenting their mucosa to viable virus RNA and it’s game over for the virus…

Your mucosa are accessible via your major orifices top and tail. Protect those and you won’t get infected. The main step in infection is from hand to mucosa, that is it gets on your hand via a door handle or some such and you then touch yours or somebody elses mucosa. Tests in the past suggest the average person touches their face near the mouth, nose or eyes every three minutes. Thus whilst a mask is usless at stopping the virus being breathed in, it might well reduce the incidence of hand to mucosa transmission, as would wrap around eye protection or full face type masks and shields. That said there are no figures on if the virus is sexually transmissible or not, but it would be wise to play safe. Likewise cut out other social contact such as the various forms of kissing, hugging and even shaking of hands.

But what is scaring people is the “OMG we’re going to die” aspect…

Look at it this way only a bit over a thousand people have “officialy” died of the virus or it’s complications. This is out of some 70,000 of the most critically effected people out of probably two million actual cases. So the death rate could be less than 0.05%. A horse with odds of 1 in 2000 you would probably not bet on winning, it’s only when you say it’s 3,856,734 people out of the world population of 7,713,468,000 does it sound vaguely scary.

SpaceLifeForm February 15, 2020 1:35 PM

There is a report from 2-3 days ago, pure rumour of course, that US IC estimates over 100k dead.

That number also fits the curve from the earlier leaked numbers.

ACE2 may be biggest factor wrt recovery.

A couple, in Toronto, are in home isolation.

They test positive, but have no symptoms.

Clive Robinson February 15, 2020 7:16 PM

@ SpaceLifeForm,

They test positive, but have no symptoms.

Which is perhaps the scariest of the early findings.

You can be infectious but asymptomatic for atleast ten days.

Worse you can be infectious and if young, fit healthy, non smoker not living in a smog ridden environment then your your symptoms could be as little or less than just a dry cough.

Apart from babies to be and newly born where they have infectious mothers there is no evidence appearing in medical joirnals about children and young adults…

Nearly all the “Kit Confirmed” cases are in the first identified “at risk group” which is older adults with diabetes or other cronic condition, and is more male than female. What has not been said is if they are habitual smokers but it is likely there is a causal relationship as smoking reduces not just your respitory system, it also adversly effects the immune system.

People who know rather more than I do about virology and respitory diseases have indicated that the rumour going around about the Chinese or Assian people being genetically more suceptable is unconfirmed, and the polution figures in China and Assia in general could easily account for any differences. Apparently flu deaths in the US have a correlation to not just poverty effected diet but environmental polution, not just in the air but drinking water and localy grown produce.

There is some good news in that of the nine UK patients all but one have survived and have passed the two clear test kit tests. The other is apparently still “receiving medical care”. So in the UK the survival rate is 89%

However what on earth is going on in Japan with the Diamond Princess cruise ship is begining to begger belief… What excuse the Japanese authorities are going to give about their apparent desire to not do anything to prevent the infection spreading further on the ship we have yet to hear. But one thing is clear a close confinment area with shared ventalation is not an effective quarantine method.

lurker February 16, 2020 4:36 PM


…the rumour going around about the Chinese or Assian people being genetically more suceptable is unconfirmed…

are there any rumours (far too early for solid evidence) that an annual flu shot confirms any immunity? Immunisation for annual flu is almost unheard of in Chinese and Asian populations…

Clive Robinson February 16, 2020 5:00 PM

@ lurker,

Whilst I can not say anything about the flu vaccine (other than I can get it for free but don’t due to previous “adverse reactions”).

What I can say is that those who’s line of work is respritory virology indicate that any suceptability difference can be accounted for by “Environmental Polution” and the bad habit of smoking.

Some have pointed at US annual flu and cold statistics from healthcare that show correlations with not just smoking, polution in the environment but socioeconomic standing including diet and sq ft of home space per person…

Put simply anything that makes you stressed in any way weakens your immune system, and as viri are in effect “opportunist” any weakness they land on the exploit.

SpaceLifeForm February 16, 2020 5:08 PM

@ Clive

“However what on earth is going on in Japan with the Diamond Princess cruise ship is begining to begger belief..”

Interesting. Many Americans that could have disembarked, decided to stay onboard.

Logical decision?

Perhaps they decided, why go thru another 2 weeks of hell.

Clive Robinson February 16, 2020 8:34 PM

@ SpaceLifeForm,

With regards the Diamond Princess,

Logical decision?

Suicidal decision would be my answer.

There are 3.7k “Souls on board” (SOBs) crew and passengers.

Thr Japanese have only tested about 1k of these and over a third of those test positive.

It beggers belief that the original asymptomatic infectious person who got off at Hong Kong infected all of those people.

Therefor infection must be occuring on the ship right now and has been since before that sole asymptomatic person got off.

Thus the people on that ship are not in quarantine they are “in a Petri-dish” awaiting their turn to be tested infectious or become infected and symptomatic enough to be tested. As most of those passangers are in the “at risk group” their probability of becoming infected if they stay is probably more than 66% (or more simply it will rise to the natural immunity cohort what ever size it might be).

We don’t know what the infecting route is but,

1, Crew.
2, Food.
3, Air-con.
4, Balcony to Balcony.
5, Excercise privileges.

Would be the list to draw up, but it’s increasingly looking like it’s “airborne”

But with regards,

Perhaps they decided, why go thru another 2 weeks of hell.

If they think they will avoid more quarantine, they’d better set their thinking straight, no matter how long they stay on that ship they are going into atleast another two weeks possibly even three when they get off. Unless of course they are already sick, in which case a month in a hospital if they survive OK or longer if the disease causes secondary injuries (and the furnace for those that don’t survive).

If they get off that ship alive and apparently uninfected they are going to go directly into quarantine when they get repatriated. Their home nation would have to be moronicaly stupid not to shove them in “individual issolation”…

The reasons,

1, Those disease kits are not reliable with a very low level of infection.

2, What is happening on the ship suggests the virus there may probably be “airborne”…

The problem with the kits, is all they realy do in laymans terms is multiply up the RNA in the sample taken and then the test is run on the multiplyed RNA using testing in a not to disimilar way a DNA sample is done at a crime lab.

The problem is a very low signal to noise ratio in the sample is still going to be a low signal to noise ratio no matter how many times you multiply it. The only way to avoid that is with a quite refined system that only multiplys the signal not the noise by some very selective process. But even then you still need a minimum amount of virus RNA for your sample to have any or sufficient in it for the test to work…

However as far as we are aware a single viable RNA virus is all it takes for you to “eventually” become infective… Which is why they do the test twice a few days appart, which is where the second problem arises. Testing that way would be fine if in the time between tests they could guarantee you don’t become infected and start the incubation cycle.

Whilst that is possible in a proper medical / issolation facility, the ship is obviously not even close. That is, the ship is, as far as logic is concerned, for those inside it, an “infection site” not a “quarantine site”. Unless naturally immune they are going to get infected. It’s a “Not if but when” senario…

Thus all staying on board means is you are significantly risking being infected for absolutly no gain what so ever… With now more than 10% of the passengers infected you would have thought the penny would have dropped that in old parlance they are on “a plauge ship” or more politly a “death ship”.

And yes knowing a couple of people on board I want them off, along with all the other passengers and crew, in real quarantine which that ship is most definitely not.

JonKnowsNothing February 17, 2020 2:24 AM

News report of false negative after quarantine:

Concerns have been raised over the possible spread …. among hundreds of passengers who disembarked from a cruise ship … one of them was confirmed to have the disease following a second test … an 83-year-old passenger has since tested positive

News reports of recovery:

“I am also pleased that eight of the nine individuals who tested positive for coronavirus have now been successfully treated and discharged from hospital,” said Matt Hancock, the health secretary.

So… Millions would like to know exactly WHAT is this “Successful Treatment”? Particularly the thousands confined to Plague Houses and treatment consisting of “Bring out your Dead”.

fwiw: I saw a minor reference that 14 days may not be long enough and they are considering 30-41 days. Some folks have put in that much time but their ‘isolation’ protocols were less than what’s needed and they got reset. A reset happened at the isolation unit in San Diego CA USA where a false negative released someone into the “clean” population. That person got sent back into full isolation and the rest reset to day 0.

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(url fractured to prevent autorun)

SpaceLifeForm February 17, 2020 2:24 PM

14 of the Americans that left Diamond Princess tested positive, asymptomatic.

This was revealed just before they boarded the planes in Japan.

Clive Robinson February 17, 2020 4:36 PM

@ SpaceLifeForm,

14 of the Americans that left Diamond Princess tested positive, asymptomatic.

“so far” out of more than 300 who have left the ship yesterday to be repatriated.

Much as I had hoped otherwise, the maths made it inevitable, and in all probability the number of those who test positive will rise, probably doubling.

When they get back to the US however the level of health care they should receive is certainly going to be better than they would have received on the ship. Also probably better than they would receive in Japan that has a health care system already under strain.

To put it bluntly these people are a political nightmare / opportunity, thus likely to recieve the best healthcare or as close to it that America can offer.

So if they are not smokers and they have no comorbities that are not under control then the chances are that they will all survive the COVID-19 even though they are mostly in the “at risk group”.

But the still unknown question is “Sequelae”, that is other side effects of having had the disease that become either chronic or life threataning in the short or long term.

Clive Robinson February 17, 2020 6:01 PM

@ JonKnowsNothing,

Millions would like to know exactly WHAT is this “Successful Treatment”?

Well it looks like the virus will not kill you, but the side effects can cause death if not treated.

Put overly simply, the virus causes inflammation which causes the release of fluid. The result of this is dependent on where in the body the fluid is released and how much of it.

Most of us know from insect bites/stings that the inflammation they cause gives rise to the fluid which distends the flesh causing swelling thus preasure on blood vessels and either white or red discolouring. But it reduces blood flow thus oxygen reaching cells at normal levels which can cause the cells to die (necrosis)

Well fluid from inflammation does not have to be in the flesh, it can also fill up the tiny air sacks (alveolus) in your lungs. With the result that the blood does not get oxygenated there. With sufficient fluid build up your lung efficiency drops to below a point where the insufficiently oxygenated blood going to organs has insufficient ogygen and they start to fail and can give rise to “total organ failure” and death.

There are four things that can be done,

1, Reduce the inflammation.
2, Increase oxygen in the lungs.
3, Reduce the organs need for oxygen.
4, Oxygenate the blood outside the body.

The first can be done with steroids, but these have the downside of impairing the immune system. What I’ve been trying to find out is if prophylactic doses of Non Steroid Anti Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin will help. Also other drugs such as metformin that help reduce blood sugar (sugar in the blood impairs oxygination).

The second method is to raise the amount of oxygen in the lungs. Ordinary air has around 17% oxygen, but due to the respiration process the oxygen in the lungs is quite a bit lower than that. Oxygen therepy starts with those itchy nasal cannulas and about 2lt/min flow of oxygen. It rises through the use of masks to the partial preasure and full preasure Hyperbaric oxygen treatment. As long as the organs receive sufficient oxygen the patients immune system can carry on fighting the infection.

The third method is about what is sufficient oxygen for the organs. As a rough rule of thumb the lower the human body temprature is the less oxygen is required to maintain life. Thus inducing hypothermia is used in the likes of heart and lung surgery to reduce the bodies need for oxygen. I have absolutly no idea if it would help or not, but I have a feeling not, because you are slowing the metabolic rate which will also effect the immune system.

Which brings us onto the fourth method, which is external oxygination of the blood. Again done fairly often in heart surgury with a “heart and lung” machine.

That as far as I know covers the current available options.

Put simply the only treatment currently, successful or otherwise is “support the body whilst the immune system does it’s job”…

Which brings us to another issue which is the triage of resources. If this does turn into a pandemic, hope you catch it early or not at all. Because it will be first come first served for Intensive Therapy/care Unit places and later just hospital beds and later still care in the community…

The simple truth is, if this does become an epedemic –in a country even in the best of first world countries– that people who could quite easily survive with medical treatment at a given level will die because resources will not be available at that level…

Thus as an ITU/ICU bed becomes available, somebody has to make the hard choice of who best to give it to and in all probability it will be calculated on likelyhood of recovery, expected remaining life, expected quality of life and the dread “economic viability”. So young fit male employed with no socialy undesirable habits (smoking drinking etc) is likely to get to the head of the que (unless Stale White Male politico/civil servant is in the same hospital, if they are then they might just push a live one out to make way…).

Clive Robinson February 17, 2020 6:25 PM

@ SpaceLifeForm, ALL,

Don’t forget about that other cruise ship…

The one that was turned away from port after port…

That Cambodia finally let dock.

Well the pasangers disembarked, and went their own way to where ever they wanted to go…

One was tested in another country and found to be positive.

However, apparently 99 have flown back to the Netherlands and just gone home…

I’m kind of thinking the Dutch authorities realy have dropped the ball on that one…

The maths would suggest that upto ten of those passangers will test positive, if they ever get tested before becoming symptomatic. But I suspect that they will be out shopping etc to get food in as you do after you’ve been away for a week or three… And infecting all those other “old folks” they know and have lunches out with etc. Lets hope a shop assistant does not become infectious but asymptomatic as they go about dealing with other customers, puting product out on shelves “pulling forward” at quiet times etc or breathing over the cooked meat and cheeses the Dutch like a lot…

JonKnowsNothing February 20, 2020 10:39 AM


Now that some folks are getting off their petri-dish cruise ships they are starting to encounter new logistical problems returning to their home/countries.

Once you disembark from a cruise ship the cruise line no longer has any legal responsibility towards you or getting you home again.

This is a slight variation of the boarding-pass block scam used by airlines in cooperation with LEOs. You pay your ticket, you pass thru the scanners, you arrive at the gate, you are given a boarding pass but when you try to physically get on the plane you are pulled aside. You do not get a refund, you do not get a flight, you forfeit any monies paid because the airlines no longer have to do that once you have your boarding pass.

In the case of cruise ships it’s at any point you disembark, official leave the boat.

So, folks are having to deal with being ill, possibly being ill, not ill, still getting exposed and not being able to get on a flight home due to various travel restrictions by different countries.

Additionally, there is another problem lurking and that’s who is going to pay for their health care and travel? Countries and Health Insurance firms have separate rules for in-country and out-of-country health care. Not to mention the cost of quarantines.

In USA some health insurances, would not cover the costs at all or they have upper boundary life-time limits on expenditures. USA health care is not cheap to start with and there has been nothing really discussed about who is footing the bills for the USA travelers now in 2 or 3 military detention-quarantine bases.

Some of this applies to other situations where you might get disembarked due to Acts of God and War which are all exclusionary clauses. You have to get home the best you can, you might not be able to cart your luggage with you, you may not be able to get a flight (to anywhere), you may not have the correct travel documents (because you expected to return to a location where you didn’t need them). No one is going to come to help you, there are no Meet n Greet Welcome Wagons in such cases.

They are refugees at best and illegal immigrants (sans visa) otherwise, and we pretty much know how refugees are treated and what happens to illegal immigrants.

Maybe folks on these boats have enough cash to rent their own air-ambulances but that’s unlikely to be the case for all of them.

Clive Robinson February 20, 2020 1:47 PM

@ JonKnowsNothing,

Once you disembark from a cruise ship the cruise line no longer has any legal responsibility towards you or getting you home again.

Not quite true, the word “voluntarily” applies. If you are put off by the Captin or removed by authorities a whole different set of rules apply. At the very least you come under “consular services” for your “home nation” (which might not be your place of residence, such as a British Passport holder living in Europe).

It’s complicated and courts have clipped the wings of travel companies many times for playing the “not on board” game.

Technically you are still the responsability of the transport organisation untill you voluntarily cross from air/sea side to land side. That is if you are standing on the dock you are still at sea untill customs and immigration have let you into their country, which they should not do if your papers are not in order (though you claim to be a refugee if you do not have papers).

This has in the past given rise to some very peculiar things happening, one of the more recent in peoples minds would be Ed Snowden at Moscow airport, when the USA terminated his travel authority (passport) making him a statless person (technically illegaly under International law but the US even though on the UN Security Council did not put a signiture on various International agrements because they are “exceptional”).

Abother alledgedly made statless had two films made about them which where “Tombés du ciel” and a decade later “The Terminal”, the latter being an American film staring Tom Hanks is more well known even though it was in effect “only loosely” based on the stay at France’s Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport by Mehran Karimi Nasseri. Who for nearly two decades (1988-2006) was held in the airports Terminal 1, surviving on the good nature of airport staff and the kind charity of travelers making their own way through the airport. His actual story is some what weird –he effectively tried claiming to being a British knight of the realm– and the last I heard he was living in a charitable shelter in France, after finally being admitted to France on “health grounds”.

JonKnowsNothing February 20, 2020 6:37 PM


re: Travel home: via “very least you come under “consular services” for your “home nation””.

There maybe some that get a taxi cab via this method but there are loads of folks who do not. In fact “consular services” mean almost nothing and are about as helpful as that declaration on many passports.

For a whole lot of folks stranded not just due to COVID 19 but for many other reasons such as economic collapse of the booked transportation provider or the incoming fury of hurricanes as in New Orleans or Puerto Rico, you are going to be On Your Own and phoning home will not bring ET to help you out.

In USA there was a shooting incident at a cruise ship docking port in Florida. Folks were hustled away to safety (good). Then they were put back onto transportation and returned to the dockside where they were dumped off (bad). That was all the travel they got, not even transportation to the airport (their scheduled pickups and flights of course missed).

There are thousands of folks on these ships and a lot of jostling happened trying to get transport to the airports or hotels or other locations before what little ground travel there was disappeared.

Folks had to haul their baggage and sleep in shelters. Their flights were missed and they had to rebook and repay. As the disruption caused a cascade of failures in the transportation network, it took multiple days to arrange travel home.

It maybe that some got a “consular services” services ride home, but not the folks I know who were there. They were lucky not to get shot and they had the money to pay for new flights.

In the case of the folks stuck in the wrong place with COVID19 I hope they are getting a better reception than those in Ukraine and that somehow they will all get home safe again.

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A plane with 45 Ukrainians and 27 foreign nationals … included nationals from Belarus, Kazakhstan, Argentina, Ecuador, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic and Panama.

(url fractured to prevent autorun)

Clive Robinson February 24, 2020 8:27 AM

@ Apokrif,

Depriving a person from their right to travel (as may happen, for instance, to defendants on bail)

You are making a false assumption.

If somebody is in your jurisdiction then you have the right under due legal judgment to deprive them of their liberty in various measures.

Outside of your jurisdiction you have no right what so ever to deprive someone of their liberty which includes their freedom of movment.

It’s why we have the extradition process and international arrest warrants. You make a request to the authorities of the jurisdiction the accused is in. As part of that you have to supply sufficient evidence for the authorities in that jurisdiction to present to their legal system to take action.

If the evidence you present is treated as credible by the authorities in that jurisdiction they may or may not take action against the suspect, that is part of the rights of a sovereign nation.

Only that jurisdictions appointed law officers can actually detain the suspect and take them into custody. Anyone else faces the possability of being prosecuted for “unlawful detention” or even “kidnapping”.

You need to lookup why the likes of “rendition” etc are illegal under international law. The UN Rapporteur has produced several documents over the years, you can go and look them up.

JonKnowsNothing February 24, 2020 10:43 AM

@ Apokrif

You may have confused two items: Stateless vs Citizenship

def Stateless:

In international law, a stateless person is someone who is “not considered as a national by any state under the operation of its law”. … many people who are stateless have never crossed an international border. … there are about 12 million stateless people in the world.

def Citizenship:

Citizen is the status of a person recognized under the custom or law as being a legal member of a sovereign state or belonging to a nation. The idea of citizenship has been defined as the capacity of individuals to defend their rights in front of the governmental authority.

There are numerous governments using both definitions to drive their particular agendas. Sometimes it’s done to exclude groups: A IN / B OUT. Sometimes it’s done to prevent acknowledgement of a group: No A Allowed / All A OUT.

One of the distinctions is being able to “defend their rights”. Once stateless, you have no rights. There are many people in the world with this issue. There are no representative or legal redresses.

It is also required by the majority of governments that you carry proof of your transit ability. In today’s world, governments have enormous difficulty in processing people that do not have transit ability and/or have to apply as refugees.

Any passport can be canceled by any government at any time. Some have entry requirements and some also have exit requirements.

Also, there is, in the USA, a 100 mile distance from every border where you are technically stateless. When crossing from Canada you pass through a “no man’s land” where you are neither in Canada nor in the USA. Until you are passed into the USA, you are stateless and no USA or Canadian laws are active. The USA maintains this state extends to 100 miles inside the USA defined borders, so that even if you are passed through the customs check point, the authorities have the right to treat you as if you did not.

Also, if you are in another country, you can have your citizenship revoked, which means you no longer have redress. Windrush is an example and there are many others. In Australia and other countries they have enacted laws that state if you have an inherited citizenship there are some things you cannot do, like be a member of their government. These inherited citizenships, often called dual citizenship, are sometimes of very distant relationships. Some countries who had large diasporas grant citizenship to any decedents. It’s quite a show Down-Under to find out that some of their major important members of their parliament aren’t Aussies at all. In the USA we have citizenship rights by birth. Which is why the Prime Minister of England: Boris Johnson had a problem: he was born in the USA. He relinquished his US Citizenship. Evidently, he wasn’t aware of it, having left the USA at 5yo, until he got a tax demand of the USA Internal Revenue Service.

Having to prove your citizenship is another current method of making people stateless. Common documents such as birth certificates, baptismal or religious documents may not be accepted. The demands vary from country to country.

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Petty crook Ugarte boasts to Rick of “letters of transit” obtained by murdering two German couriers. The papers allow the bearers to travel freely around German-occupied Europe and to neutral Portugal, and are priceless to the refugees stranded in Casablanca.

(url fractured to prevent autorun)

JonKnowsNothing February 24, 2020 11:06 AM

@ Apokrif

To Continue: Also, if you are in another country, you can have your citizenship revoked, which means you no longer have redress.

To revoke a citizenship, does not have to be done while you are in another country. It is just an easier case to see the “stateless” status.

Countries can and do revoke citizenship while you are residing inside the same country. ex: You live in Country A, you have citizenship in Country A, citizenship is revoked. You are now stateless inside your previous country.

You can then be deported to a country where you have inherited citizenship. ex: Your great great grandparents came from Country Z. You inherited their citizenship rights to Country Z. You are deported to Country Z.

In a large number of countries it is illegal to revoke citizenship and render someone stateless. If a country can find an inherited citizenship, then they can revoke your current one without violating that prohibition.

In the USA, it is easier to revoke Naturalized Citizens (someone not born in the USA) by using the “good character” section of the citizenship process. Even trivial infractions, or more serious ones from years ago can result in citizenship loss.

The other common one is “public charge”. This section defines if someone may need to use public social support services. Health care, welfare, drug treatment, housing support, unemployment assistance or any other social service. Some illnesses will prevent you from being accepted at all but if you get sick and use public services after citizenship you can have it revoked years after the fact. ex: You apply and are admitted at citizen to country D. You are free of debt, illness and pass all other requirements at the time. Economics change and 30 years later you have a Depression and maybe admitted to hospital or receive disability payments. Anytime after this you might lose your citizenship and be deported for being a “public charge”.

It’s an interesting development internationally.

JonKnowsNothing February 24, 2020 11:11 AM

forgot to add in:

Just because your have inherited citizenship rights, does not mean that the inherited country has to accept you as a citizen. Normally there are applications and verifications required.

ex: You are citizen of country X, your citizenship is revoked. You have inherited right to country M. Country M does not recognize you as a citizen. You are now stateless.

Chris February 24, 2020 12:15 PM

An intresting project doing ANPR with Raspberry, very impressive




MarkH February 25, 2020 4:21 AM

Re citizenship …

Clive is correct that a treaty signed by most countries forbids the withdrawal of citizenship, if it will render a person stateless.

Where the wheels of his reasoning come off the rails, is in criteria for withdrawal of citizenship. He wrote that Australia terminated Assange’s citizenship when it failed to defend him against legal proceedings in other countries.

I’m confident that this is false. States choose a variety of responses when their citizens get into legal trouble abroad, ranging from “this will have serious diplomatic consequences!” through “our embassy will monitor the proceedings” to complete indifference.

If you read travel information from the U.S. Department of State, their blanket warning is essentially, if you get in legal trouble outside the U.S., inform our consulate and we’ll do what we can, but you’re mostly on your own.

I know of no case in which a person was adjudicated to have lost citizenship, because his state of nationality didn’t “go to bat” for him when he was accused of crimes abroad. If anybody knows of such a ruling, please post it here!

The UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights calls for freedom of movement both within and between states. It is an aspirational document, not law. Although there are freedom of movement treaties between various states or groups of states, I’m aware of no broad international law requiring states to issue passports to all citizens.

In reality, there are a variety of barriers erected by most states to the acquisition of passports, and most states reserve the authority to revoke a passport at any time.

Again, I know of no case in which refusal to issue a passport, or revocation of a passport, has in and of itself been ruled to be a withdrawal of citizenship. If anybody knows of such a case, please post it here!

I think a substantial argument could be made that a person has lost citizenship if his country of nationality refuses to admit him. In the case of Snowden, the U.S. offered him a one-way travel document for entry to the U.S. (which courtesy he declined); in the case of Assange, Australia recently issued a new passport for him, and announced that it would welcome his return.

Clive Robinson February 25, 2020 6:28 AM

@ MarkH,

Where the wheels of his reasoning come off the rails, is in criteria for withdrawal of citizenship. He wrote that Australia terminated Assange’s citizenship when it failed to defend him against legal proceedings in other countries.

You are the only person to mention Julian Assange on this thread and he is not germain to the comments made above yours.

As for your Statment, we have discussed this before and as pointed out at the time it was reported by others that the reason Australia had not reissued his passport was because Australia considered he was not entitled to one as he was not a citizen.

The fact that Australia now consider him a citizen is for them to explain. But based on their previous behaviour I would not be surprised if he declined to have anything what so ever to do with Australia.

As others have indicated in the past Australia is even more likely to hand him over to the US than the UK is. Perhaps you might want to consider he was aware of what Australia had plans to do thus why he sought nationality in another nation.

But before you do consider what it is he is being accused of and why many believe it’s entirely politically motivated and driven by the US mantra of “Exceptional” that is they have rights over the world but the world has no rights of it’s own or over the US.

It’s an attitude you find in school playgrounds where bullies pick on those who are not as strong as the bullies clique makes them appear to be. Just remember that on occasions the bully finds out the hard way that those they pick on are as strong as they are as an individual in some respect and will turn around and fight on their own terms. Sadly bullies tend not to learn, instead they go on licking their wounds stopping them healing and bully as many others as they can in the strange belief this makes them look strong all the while living in fear of the next person who fights back.

MarkH February 25, 2020 9:00 AM


I brought up Assange as a second example of making assertions about citizenship (as I understood what you wrote at the time), for which I could find no legal basis.

You wrote above, “Australia considered he was not entitled to one as he was not a citizen.” I have found no evidence of that … can you provide a citation?

On an earlier occasion, I recall that you wrote that Assange had renounced his citizenship. I have found no evidence of that (despite a lengthy web search) … can you provide a citation?

Note well that even if Assange had made a public declaration to that effect, it would not affect his status under Australian law.

When Assange’s requests for assistance from his home country were denied, his lawyers called that response (or perhaps, non-response) an “Australian declaration of abandonment.” But a “declaration of abandonment” is not a legal form: as I explained above, failure of a state to defend a citizen abroad has never (to my knowledge) been interpreted as termination of citizenship.

As I explained above, failure to issue or renew a passport, or even cancellation of a passport while abroad, is also not (in itself) termination of citizenship. [As far as I know, his previous passport expired simply by the passage of time. If he applied for a new passport and was denied, I haven’t read about that. But either case wouldn’t in itself affect his citizenship.]

If, hypothetically, Assange had expressed a wish to return to his home state, and Australia had refused to issue a travel document for him, then in my layperson opinion a case could be made that his citizenship had terminated. As far as I have been able to discover, this has not happened.

I deeply understand the pain and frustration felt by so many about Assange’s predicament, and his treatment by the world’s governments.

My feelings about a case, however passionate, don’t determine the law. Laws are determined by constitutions, treaties, statutes, court precedents (and a degree of custom in common law countries); their application is determined by legal authorities in light of the facts and circumstance of the case.

If I were Emperor of the Universe, I would change quite a lot of laws, I can assure you! As I happen not to sit on such a throne, my aim is discern actual law, not the ideal I suppose it should be.

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