A Nation’s Shrinking Population and an Ebola Game Changer


Please click here for the Daily Pnut Week in Review. The highest scoring winner will be congratulated in next week’s Daily Pnut (unless they prefer anonymity) and mailed a book of their choosing from our book list. If there are multiple people who have perfect scores, then we’ll use a random generator to pick the winner. This online quiz is 10 short questions, and submissions must be made by 12pm EST Sunday, 5/20. Everything in the quiz has been covered in this week’s Daily Pnut. Good luck!


“I’m a greater believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.” – Thomas Jefferson

“Every day is lost in which we do not learn something useful. Man has no nobler or more valuable possession than time.” – Ibid.


A Game Changing Moment as Ebola Spreads to Congolese City: An outbreak of Ebola in the rural area of Bikoro, Democratic Republic of the Congo, was reported last week. More than 40 cases arose which were limited to the rural area. Now a new case has emerged in Mbandaka, a city of 1.2 million people less than 100 miles from Bikoro. The Deputy Director-General for Emergency Preparedness and Response for the World Health Organization (WHO) tweeted that the virus’s introduction to an urban area is a “game changer” and that “The challenge just got much much tougher.”

Mbandaka’s location is by the banks of the Congo River and is a vital travel hub. It and other regional water and land routes are being monitored as workers and epidemiologists try to identify anyone who may have come in contact with suspected Ebola cases. Congo’s Minister of Health said of the now confirmed case in Mbandaka: “We are moving to a new phase of the epidemic.”

Ebola mostly spreads through person-to-person contact, via bodily fluids or secretions, meaning that health workers and family members of infected people are at higher risk of infection themselves. An experimental vaccine proved hugely effective during a large-scale trial in Guinea in 2015. WHO gave the drug preliminary approval for non-trial use in April 2017. Global health experts are now rushing to get the vaccine into Congo.


– North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said the upcoming summit with President Trump might not happen if the US was seeking the type of denuclearization required of Libya’s leader Muammar Gaddafi, who agreed in 2003 to give up his nuclear program and was later killed by western-backed rebels. No, No, said Trump Wednesday, his administration wasn’t seeking a “Libya-model” denuclearization; it’d be “something where he’d (Kim) be there, he’d be in his country, he’d be running his country, his country would be very rich.” (BBC)

– George C. Scott taught dolphins to talk in The Day of the Dolphin (1973). Ukraine took it a step further and had a whole army of the gentle, intelligent sea mammals at the Crimean military dolphin center, trained and ready for deployment. That is, until Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, captured the dolphins, and apparently planned on retraining them. Now most are dead, and the Ukrainian government’s representative in Crimea claimed the dolphins died defending their country. (The Guardian)

– Some 600 porpoises, dolphins, and whales wash up on UK shores every year. Investigative scientists for the Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme(CSIP), at London’s Zoological Society, conduct post-mortems on more than a hundred of these marine mammals a year. They are not just trying to uncover what killed a particular porpoise, dolphin, or whale, but are also looking for clues about the state of our oceans, what are the biggest threats to marine life, and what humans can do to help. (BBC)

– Sexual violence is pervasive in Somalia. Most cases go unreported because of the accompanying stigma, and if victims do report, they are often met with a weak legal system that fails to appropriately punish the perpetrator. A Mogadishu-based organization, the Somali Women Development Centre, provides medical, psychological, and legal support to survivors of sexual violence. The Centre’s executive director says the number of reported cases of sexual violence involving children, some as young as four, is on the rise. (The Guardian)

More News Reads:


The Incredible Shrinking Nation: The US birthrate in 2017 fell to the lowest level since 1978, and the general fertility rate for women between the ages of 15 and 44 sank to its lowest level ever, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The results put the US further away from a viable replacement rate–the standard for a generation being able to replicate its numbers. The numbers seem to correspond with what the Census Bureau and others have been predicting for years: America’s population growth will increasingly depend on immigrants. (NPR)


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– It’s often thought that people seek refuge in temples to avoid the mania of modern day life. But be careful which temple one seeks solace in – a “Japanese monk sues temple saying workload gave him depression: Buddhist monk has backing of local labour bureau after he said he had to work sometimes for two months without a break.” Buddhist monks of the world, unite!

– Japanese workers, whether it be buddhist monks or rail operators, are behaving very naughtily even by their own standards these days. One “Japanese Rail Operator Says Sorry For ‘Inexcusable’ Departure 25 Seconds Early.” We wish to meet this operator and sternly ask: “Have you no sense of decency?” (NPR)

– The internet surely has no sense of decency. But once we were naive, and there was even a book published called The Wisdom of Crowds. In 2018 we know better and have observed that crowds, if anything, heighten the trollish aspects of a group’s inner id. Here’s another exhibit of crowds acting juvenile: “Thanks, Internet: Estonian Town Gets Cannabis Leaf as Its Emblem.” We are scratching our heads as to why any individual or organization crowd sources the internet for an answer. That is only asking for disaster. (NYT)

– Many things follow a cycle: the weather, life, and perhaps rage: “Why are we living in an age of anger – is it because of the 50-year rage cycle?” Apparently there is “a map of history in which you can see spikes of rage roughly every 50 years: 1870, 1920, 1970 (you have to allow a little wiggle room to take in the first world war and 1968). Cycles of violence are not always unproductive – they take in civil rights, union and suffragette movements.” (The Guardian)

– We seek novelty and a greater understanding of the world, but perhaps we should spend more time better understanding ourselves: “10 Things You Don’t Know about Yourself.” And here’s an essay on “Why we owe it to ourselves to spend quiet time alone every day.” (Scientific American and TED)

Weekend Reads:


“When angry count to ten before you speak. If very angry, count to one hundred.” – Thomas Jefferson

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