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How to Help the Victims of the Nepal Quakes

Nepal and neighboring countries have once again been rattled by a massive earthquake. Survivors of both quakes are now in dire need of food, water and shelter.

Credit: CNN / YouTube

If you’re wondering what you can do to help, we recommend donating to these five trusted charities who have established a presence in Nepal.

Waves for Water – Focusing on providing clean water via filtration to communities around the world, Waves for Water mobilized an urgent clean ­water disaster relief initiative in response to the earthquake. At least 400 clean-­water filtration systems have been donated, which can provide up to 40,000 quake victims with access to clean water, almost immediately.

Operation USA – This organization is working closely with the Children’s Hospital in Kathmandu to distribute medical aid to rural areas. 95% of donations go straight to relief efforts. You can text “AID” to 50555 to donate $10.

Seva Foundation – This U.S.-based nonprofit is at the forefront of treating blindness. With over three decades of experience working in Nepal, the organization set up an emergency relief fund to help clinics and hospitals located throughout the epicenter.

ActionAid USA – Having a strong relationship with various women’s rights organization across the U.S., this organization is currently working with a team of 70 people in Nepal to distribute food, water and health care needs. 90% of donations go to relief efforts. To make a donation click here.

GlobalGiving – This charity fundraising website that has set up a fund specifically for Nepal relief efforts. It has routed donations to 26 different aid groups in Nepal in an effort to help first responders and provide water, clothing and medical equipment. 85% of donations go to relief efforts. To make a donation of $10, text “GIVE NEPAL” to 80088.

If you wish to donate to other organizations consider visiting Charity Navigator, a leading resource for evaluating the work of nonprofits. The organization has posted a list of highly-ranked charities that have mounted relief operations in Nepal.

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China Is Using Anal Swabs To Test For COVID-19 – Could This Be The Future Of Testing?

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China Is Using Anal Swabs To Test For COVID-19 – Could This Be The Future Of Testing?

Although the Coronavirus pandemic originated in the Chinese province of Wuhan at the end of 2019 – and the country was hit hard by the outbreak – China seemed to successfully get a handle on the health crisis quicker than most countries. However, that tide seems to be shifting as the country struggles with one of its largest COVID-19 outbreaks yet.

It could be argued that Chinese citizens also endured some of the most draconian measures meant to curb the virus’ spread: entire cities were placed under strict lockdowns, drones were used to enforce curfews, entire communities were forced into testing centers.

But now they face a new indignity: the addition of anal swabs.

China rolls out rectal testing to help stop a spike in new infections.

Chinese officials have introduced the new protocol and it’s been met with widespread discussion and some outrage. Some Chinese doctors say the science is there. Recovering patients, they say, have continued to test positive through samples from the lower digestive tract days after nasal and throat swabs came back negative.

An anal swab test means inserting a cotton-tipped swab about 3-5cm (1-2 inches) into the rectum, which is then sent to a lab to be tested for the virus. They are analyzed in the same way as the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) coronavirus tests taken from the nose or throat.

“If we add anal swab testing, it can raise our rate of identifying infected patients,” Li Tongzeng, an infectious-disease specialist at Beijing You’an Hospital, said on state-run broadcaster China Central Television Sunday. 

Yet for many, the anal tests seems to be a step too far.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, China has been willing to take draconian measures to halt the spread of the coronavirus, even at enormous inconvenience to its population. In the early days of lockdowns, health officials sometimes sealed apartment buildings to keep people from leaving. Millions were rounded up for overnight flash-testing drives, with people forming lines in the streets in darkness.

Even Chinese doctors who support the new tests said the method’s inconvenience meant it made sense for use only in select groups, such as at quarantine centers.

“Everyone involved will be so embarrassed,” one user in Guang­dong province said Wednesday on ­Weibo, a Chinese social media platform. In a Weibo poll, 80 percent of respondents said they “could not accept” the invasive method.

Thanks to this dummy, you can get a look for yourself.

The healthcare worker dips the swab in a saline solution – standard practice for this methodology – and then inserts the cotton-end into the rectum. The swab is inserted an inch or so to get the best results, and then gives it a nice little twist for good measure before pulling out and putting it in a plastic sample tube.

The new testing guideline comes just over a year after the virus began spreading rapidly in the country.

It’s been more than a year since the virus started circulating widely in China. The country has seen ups and downs in its battle against the pandemic with the situation right now being among the worst.

However, officials are further worried about the upcoming Lunar New Year, often called the world’s largest annual migration. Some 3 billion trips are made over the holiday during a non-pandemic year, which means even a single silent coronavirus case could rapidly leapfrog across the nation.

For its part, China is hoping to vaccinate 50 million people before the holiday period begins, but that’s only 4% of the population, far too low a rate to prevent mass transmission.

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Trump Won’t Shut Up About Acing A Cognitive Test, But Just How Difficult Is The Test?

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Trump Won’t Shut Up About Acing A Cognitive Test, But Just How Difficult Is The Test?

Looking back at my days back in school, I remember plenty of kids who bragged about their IQ results or how they’re smarter than everyone else. They wanted everyone to know they were a genius and that they had the hard data to prove it. I don’t remember ever taking an IQ test and I was always skeptical of those kids who said they were. I mean who’s parents had the time to be dragging their kids off to tests that in reality mean very little?

So when Trump claimed in an interview this week that he “aced” a “very hard” cognitive test, I couldn’t help but look back at my high school days. But I also wondered, “How hard could this mysterious cognitive test really be?”

Well, here’s a hint: it’s ridiculously easy.

Trump says he aced a cognitive test but what exactly does that mean?

On Fox News Sunday, in an interview with Chris Wallace, President Trump bragged about acing a test that proves just how incredible and smart he is. There’s only one issue – it’s not an IQ test and it’s not meant to be difficult unless you suffer from a cognitive disability.

Also, once again Trump blatantly lied about the test and what it is. He said he “answered all 35 questions correctly” on the Montreal Cognitive Assessment, which actually has just 30 questions. That means the president was giving himself credit for filling out the top five lines of the test: his name, education, sex, date of birth and the current date.

Though this shouldn’t come as a surprise from a president who has uttered more than 20,000 falsehoods or mischaracterized claims since taking office. Though with this particular case, it’s more likely that he’s misrepresenting about how hard they were, in order to look “smarter” than Joe Biden.

The claim came during an interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace – which was full of other interesting tidbits.

Not even including the whole cognitive test topic, Trump’s Sunday interview with Fox News was a doozy. Chris Wallace – the only slightly less bias anchors at the network – didn’t give Trump the softball interview that he was probably expecting.

Wallace challenged Trump on everything from his poor performance in polls regarding the November election – including one from Fox News itself – to his poor handling to the Coronavirus pandemic and racial inequality.

So what is this test Trump claims to have done so well at?

The test is called the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA), and was created by the neurologist Dr Ziad Nasreddine in 1996. The test was created to help diagnose cognitive difficuties in those experiencing some form of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Therefore, if you’re not suffering from either of those conditions then the test is literally meant to be easy.

Talking to MarketWatch, the test’s creator stressed that the test “is supposed to be easy for someone who has no cognitive impairment.” He also added that this is not an IQ test and has no bearing on how skilled a person is. Sorry to break it to you Donald.

However, Trump is right about the start of the test being very easy. But when it comes to the last five questions, his claim that they’re “very hard” is unsettling (although not surprising) in what it reveals about his relationship with reality.

Here are a few examples of questions on the test, how well can you do?

Lets start off right where the test starts off: with these simple activities meant to demonstrate your cognitive abilities. It’s not challenging at all, unless, of course, you’re suffering from a cognitive disability.

The first question involved drawing a line between numbers and their equivalent letters (1 to A, A to 2, 2 to B and so on). Then you have to draw a cube, and a clock at 10 past 11. I will say it took me a minute to understand exactly what I had to do here – blame it on not seeing an actual clock in probably years – but once I realized what I needed to do, it was done in a few seconds. Didn’t require no bigly geniusness to get it done.

This is supposedly the hardest part – according to Trump.

In Trump’s interview with Wallace, the president bets Wallace that he “couldn’t even answer the last five questions” of the test. But for a mentally healthy person, the last five questions should be as simple as the rest.

The fifth-to-last question on the test asks you to repeat a sentence out loud, before naming as many words as you can starting with F. In the following “abstraction” section, you have to spot the similarity between different objects such as trains and bicycles (modes of transport), or a watch and a ruler (measuring devices).

Next, you have to recall the random words that were included in the earlier memory section. This may be the part that’s easiest to trip over. And finally, for the orientation part of the test, you have to … say what the date is.

The now infamous elephant question.

If you’re lucky enough to not have any cognitive impairment, this part is also easy. There are three drawings – a lion, rhino and camel. As mentioned, there are a few versions of the test with very minor differences – for example, the test Fox News showed during the interview had an elephant on it (you can see it here), but the latest test has a rhino instead.

If you’re interested in trying out more questions of the test, you can find the full version here.

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