• Uber Drivers Say a ’Racist’ Algorithm Is Putting Them Out of Work | Time

    Uber drivers stage a protest outside the company’s London HQ during a 24-hour strike action demanding better rates per mile with no fixed rate trips, reduction in Uber’s commission to 15%, an end to the use of allegedly “racist” facial identification software and reinstatement of unfairly deactivated drivers on Oct. 6 2021 in London, England. Wiktor Szymanowicz—Barcroft Media/Getty Images

    By Eloise Barry / London
    October 12, 2021 6:24 PM EDT

    Abiodun Ogunyemi has been an Uber Eats delivery driver since February 2020. But since March he has been unable to work due to what a union supporting drivers claims is a racially-biased algorithm. Ogunyemi, who is Black, had submitted a photograph of himself to confirm his identity on the app, but when the software failed to recognize him, he was blocked from accessing his account for “improper use of the Uber application.”

    Ogunyemi is one of dozens of Uber drivers who have been prevented from working due to what they say is “racist” facial verification technology. Uber uses Microsoft Face API software on its app to verify drivers’ identification, asking drivers to submit new photos on a regular basis. According to trade union the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) and Uber drivers, the software has difficulty accurately recognizing people with darker skin tones.

    In 2018, a similar version of the Microsoft software was found to fail one in five darker-skinned female faces and one in 17 darker-skinned male faces. In London nine out of 10 private hire drivers identify as Black or Black British, Asian or Asian British, or mixed race, according to Transport for London data. This poses a potential issue for those who work for Uber.

    In an email to TIME, an Uber spokesperson said that its facial verification software is “designed to protect the safety and security of everyone who uses the Uber app by helping ensure the correct driver is behind the wheel.” A Microsoft spokesperson said in an emailed statement: “Microsoft is committed to testing and improving Face API, paying special attention to fairness and its accuracy across demographic groups. We also provide our customers with detailed guidance for getting the best results and tools that help them to assess fairness in their system.”

    ‘Racist’ algorithm

    Last week around 80 Uber drivers and protestors gathered outside the ride-hailing app’s London headquarters in Aldgate to waving placards reading “Scrap the racist algorithm” and “Stop unfair terminations,” to protest about the software’s role in disproportionately leading to terminations of drivers of color, among other concerns.

    Ogunyemi—who was unable to attend the protest because he is based in Manchester—has three children, and since March he says his wife has taken on full-time work to support the family. Even so, he has fallen into arrears on loan and mortgage payments, he says.

    Uber Eats delivery driver Abiodun Ogunyemi says his account was suspended after Uber’s facial recognition software failed to verify his photo. (Courtesy)

    The delivery driver, who until recently had a 96% customer rating, had run into difficulties with the automatic facial identification software before. Drivers are given the option of submitting their pictures to a computer or an Uber employee for review and Ogunyemi often had to wait for additional human verification after submitting his photos. When Uber rejected his picture in March, he says, the situation turned into “a nightmare.”

    After his appeal of Uber’s decision was rejected, Ogunyemi asked to speak to someone more senior, but his request was denied, he says. IWGB has since stepped in for Ogunyemi, sending evidence to Uber on his behalf. Last month, he received a message from Uber saying his account had been reactivated and that his photo had initially been rejected by a member of staff due to “human error.” Yet, when Ogunyemi tried to access his account, he was asked to upload another picture for verification. He immediately submitted a new photo, which was denied. His account remains blocked.

    “Every single day that I cannot work has a negative impact on my family,” he told TIME in a phone call. “My kids need to go to school, I need to give them pocket money. I need to pay for their bus pass.”

    Uber’s spokesperson said that its system “includes robust human review to make sure that this algorithm is not making decisions about someone’s livelihood in a vacuum, without oversight,” but did not address Ogunyemi’s case.

    Ogunyemi says he knows of five other drivers, all of whom are Black, who have had their accounts terminated because of issues with facial identification. IWGB says that 35 drivers have reported similar incidents to the union.

    Driver identity concerns

    Uber began using the problematic software after it was stripped of its license to operate in London in November 2019 amid safety concerns. Authorities found that more than 14,000 trips had been taken with 43 drivers who had used false identities. There were 45,000 Uber drivers licensed in London at the time. A year later, Uber won an appeal to have its license reinstated, but promised to root out unverified drivers by using regular facial identification procedures.

    Last week it was reported that an unnamed Black British Uber driver is taking the company to court alleging indirect race discrimination because the facial recognition software was preventing him from working. According to the driver’s claim, he submitted two photos of himself, which were rejected by the platform. The IWGB, which is supporting his claim alongside Black Lives Matter U.K., said his account was later deactivated and he received a message saying: “Our team conducted a thorough investigation and the decision to end the partnership has been made on a permanent basis.” The message also said that the matter was “not subject to further review.” The ADCU is also taking legal action against Uber over the dismissal of a driver and a courier due to the software failing to recognize them.

    In the U.S., a similar case was taken to a Missouri court in 2019, filed under civil rights law. The plaintiff, William Fambrough, claimed he was forced to lighten the photos he submitted for immediate verification, since he worked “late nights” for Uber and the software could not identify his face in “pitch darkness.” The company said the photos were fraudulent and his account was suspended. Fambrough’s claim was ultimately unsuccessful.

    According to Professor Toby Breckon, an engineer and computer scientist at Durham University, England, facial recognition software is designed for well-lit photos. He says that people with lighter skin tones tend to be more easily recognized by the software, even in badly-lit environments. The data on racial bias in Uber’s software is “particularly bad,” although there is currently no software without a racial bias, Breckon says. His team of researchers, who are working to reduce racial bias in facial recognition algorithms, has found that skin tone is not the only factor: the technology equally struggles to identify a variety of facial features and hair types.

    Read more: Artificial Intelligence Has a Problem With Gender and Racial Bias. Here’s How to Solve It

    At the London protest, drivers expressed anger about the dismissal of their colleagues, which some believed was a symptom of systemic racism within the company. George Ibekwe, an Uber driver whose account was suspended after a customer complained that he had argued with another driver during the trip, told TIME that he believed racism was at play when his account was suspended without further investigation. Uber’s spokesperson did not comment on Ibekwe’s case.

    “I haven’t had any criminal record in my life,” he said. “It is totally devastating. It affects me personally, financially, and mentally.” Without an income, he says he has been forced to claim unemployment benefits.

    Another driver at the protest, who asked not to be named, claimed he was terminated after a customer complained he was “staring” at them. He said there was “no evidence, no investigation, and no interview” before his account was suspended.

    Uber’s spokesperson did not comment about these allegations when asked by TIME.

    Uber drivers’ rights

    Uber drivers have long fought against worsening pay (despite rising fares) due to higher service fees, and unsafe working conditions. In February, the British Supreme Court ruled that Uber drivers must be treated as workers, rather than self-employed, entitling them to earn a minimum wage and take paid vacation leave. The ruling was the culmination of a long-running legal battle over the company’s responsibility to its drivers. Similar efforts are underway in other countries around the world, including Spain, the Netherlands, and South Africa, while in California, legal wrangling over ride-sharing drivers’ rights is ongoing.

    According to Alex Marshall, president of IWGB, the U.K. Supreme Court ruling has opened the door to drivers suing Uber on the basis that the company has failed to protect them from discrimination. He says that since the tribunal alleging indirect race discrimination against a driver was launched, “Uber seem to be slightly on the backfoot.”

    “We’re sending off emails [about facial identification errors], and we’re hearing decisions getting overturned a lot quicker than in the past,” he says.

    The outcome of the upcoming court case may have major implications for Uber’s facial identification processes, and could set a precedent for use of the technology. “We’re seeing this movement growing,” Marshall says. “We’re seeing the power switch back to the drivers and we’re going to keep fighting.”

    Ogunyemi will be watching the other drivers’ tribunals closely and says he is considering whether to approach a lawyer himself. “It’s been six months since I’ve been out of work,” he says. “I have tried everything humanly possible to reason with Uber. I am not going to sit around any longer waiting for them.”




    South African Uber drivers join global push for worker rights: lawyers


    #Uber #Rassismus

  • Singapore’s dengue ’emergency’ is a climate change omen for the world - CNN

    As climate change worsens and the planet heats up, mosquito-borne diseases like Zika, chikungunya and dengue will likely continue to spread and have an ever greater impact on human health and well being.

    The important question now, experts say, is whether politicians and policy-makers — the ones who will need to make the changes to slow climate change and prepare for its consequences — will see the impact of mosquito-borne diseases on human health and act.

    #santé #arbovirus #arthropodes #climat

  • Long COVID could become Finland’s largest chronic disease, warns minister | Reuters

    “Long COVID”, where symptoms of COVID-19 persist for months after an initial infection, could be emerging as a chronic disease in Finland, Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Krista Kiuru said on Friday.

    Speaking at a news conference, she referred to a Finnish expert panel’s summary of more than 4,000 international studies which showed one in two adults and around 2% of children may experience prolonged symptoms connected to COVID-19.


  • Quand est-ce que l’Union Européenne va cesser de s’opposer à la levée de la propriété industrielle sur les brevets des vaccins ? (cela peut être limité aux pays pauvres, sur lesquels les labos ne feront de toute façon jamais les profits qu’ils font dans les pays riches).
    Les dons de vaccins ne seront jamais suffisants, et l’Afrique du Sud a les usines pour fabriquer ces vaccins.

    Biden a demandé cette levée de la propriété industrielle sur les brevets des vaccins :


    Actes criminels sur les populations migrantes, accaparement des vaccins, et refus de céder la propriété industrielle des vaccins aux pays pauvres :


    #covid #Union-Européenne #Barbarie #Multinationales #Pharmacie

  • Covid-19 : on vous explique pourquoi le nouveau variant détecté en Afrique du Sud est considéré comme « une menace majeure » - ladepeche.fr

    Le variant B.1.1.529 présente un nombre « extrêmement élevé » de mutations et « nous pouvons voir qu’il a un potentiel de propagation très rapide », a déclaré le virologue Tulio de Oliveira, lors d’une conférence de presse en ligne chapeautée par le ministère de la Santé. Son équipe de l’institut de recherche KRISP, adossé à l’Université du Kwazulu-Natal, avait déjà découvert l’année dernière le variant Beta, très contagieux.

    #SARS-CoV2 #variants

    • C’est vraiment pas d’chance s’il y a des variants et si ça casse toute la dynamique positive mise en place par nos zélites. Comme dit l’autre, en même temps, c’est pas que c’est un échec, c’est que ça n’a pas marché.

      Le coup de la 3ème dose pour continuer à avoir le pass, j’avoue, hier soir, ça m’a rendu grognon. Parce que pour le coup, je voyais arriver la 4ème et 5ème dose... alors même que le monde de la recherche semble s’être totalement désintéressé du sujet.

    • Nouvelle souche virale. Thread by Pr_Logos

      1/ Nouvelle souche virale. Thread.
      Le mutant du Botswana, B.1.1.529, a 32 points de mutation à la protéine Spike. C’est beaucoup, et ça ouvre la possibilité qu’il soit mal reconnu par le système immunitaire…

      C’est le scenario redouté pour cet hiver.

      3/ Si le graphique du Financial Times est correct, c’est un monstre. Une transmissibilité accrue d’un facteur gigantesque.


    • C’est pas pour se faire peur. C’est juste pour dire qu’on en parle depuis des mois. Comme l’aérosolisation dont la première étude explicite sur le sujet date du printemps 2020. Ou le Delta, dont la Grande Bretagne parle depuis Mars-Avril 2021.

      Notre super-équipe de vainqueurs, ils ont décidé que le pire de cette crise, c’était de porter le masque. Et que la meilleure récompense qu’ils pouvaient nous faire, c’était de ne plus nous « obliger » à le porter. Et le pire, c’est qu’ils y croient eux même. Heureux de pouvoir recevoir du monde dans les palais, sans masques ni distanciation.

      Ils ne se rendent pas compte de la violence du contre-choc que cela représente, d’avoir décidé de faire croire que c’était terminé cet été, d’avoir décidé que tout le monde pouvait faire comme si on pouvait tout refaire comme avant... et là, au bout d’un petit mois de vie « quasi-normale », constater que rien n’est résolu, et que même, d’ailleurs, ça va être encore pire, parce que « business as usual », on n’a toujours pas investi dans la santé, car c’est aux copains du privé de le faire et qu’en fait, on a continué à désinvestir, comme dans l’enseignement, d’ailleurs. On radote. Je radote. On ne cesse de répéter la même chose. Et il faut faire la 3ème dose, sinon couic, plus de vie sociale. J’ai envie de dire « pourritures ». J’ai des envies de batte de baseball et de pétage de genoux. Mais faut pas le dire. Faut juste le faire. Comme les flics qu’on envoie dans les Caraïbes, pour faire comprendre qu’il n’y a pas d’alternatives, faut laisser l’eau ne pas couler, faut laisser le chlordécone tuer les gens sans punir les coupables, faut laisser la misère, parce que. On radote. Et ils se serrent les coudes. Autour de Hulot, autour de Darmanin, autour de DSK. Jusqu’à ce qu’ils puent trop, et alors on les envoie à Cnews, où le patron nous emmerdent tous de très haut, nous les puritains qui ne supportons plus les prédateurs, à la Ma*, à la Mo*, à la Ze*. Où le patron les héberge et les met au boulot, protégé par des cordons de CRS, comme hier à la Guillotière à Lyon, provocation obscène sous protection policière. On radote. Et on s’y complait. On continue à faire comme s’il n’y avait pas de solution. Voter ? Non. Ils sont tous pareils. Ils sont trop. Pas assez. On radote.

    • Apparemment, on parlait aussi de reprise épidémique depuis 2 mois. Mais là encore, les épidémiologistes auto-proclamés se sont fait surprendre par l’effet de surprise. Fulgurant (qu’ils disaient) ...


      Pourquoi le rebond épidémique automnal 2021 va être plus long à percevoir que l’an dernier ?
      Petit thread pour éviter les mauvaises surprises dans les semaines à venir...
      Tout d’abord pourquoi s’attendre à un rebond !?
      A] Rentrée scolaire sans vaccination des enfants et sans sécurisation sanitaire des établissements
      B] Rentrée « socio-économique » avec densité+++ dans les transports, entreprises, commerces...
      C] ↘ des activités de plein air et retour dans les espaces clos à une période de l’année où leur aération tend à ↘
      D] Persistance du variant Delta hautement transmissible au sein d’une pop majoritairement immunisée via vaccination donc sans immunité mucosale...
      Alors pourquoi un rebond plus long à percevoir que l’an dernier ?
      A] Vaccination et ↘↘ des formes symptomatiques d’infection.
      En moyenne, les études récentes montrent une ↘ de 78% des formes symptomatiques d’infection induites par Delta
      Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
      CDC provides credible COVID-19 health information to the U.S.
      Cela signifie que la fréquence des formes d’infection conduisant le plus souvent à un dépistage, est ~4,5x plus faible que l’an dernier à la même période (avant vaccination).
      Ce n’est qu’un ordre de grandeur car Delta est plus virulent que les variants antérieurs...
      Cette estimation ne tient pas compte non plus de l’atténuation immunitaire au cours du temps.
      C’est donc simplement un ordre de grandeur grossièrement estimé sur la seule efficacité vaccinale issues des données en « vie réelle ».
      B] Vaccination et ↘↘ du dépistage
      Les motivations d’un dépistage sont triples :
      – infection symptomatique (maladie)
      – obligation réglementaire (pass, voyage...)
      – enquête de contact tracing
      Avec désormais 64% de la population complètement vaccinée, nous avons au moins 64% de la population chez qui le dépistage s’est effondré :
      avec 4,5x moins de maladie chez les vaccinés, le recours au dépistage est au moins 4,5x faible...
      L’obligation réglementaire de dépistage est levée du fait de la vaccination, ce qui réduit encore le recours au dépistage.
      Enfin, même si les vaccinés sont censés être inclus dans le contact tracing, l’ampleur du dépistage y est anecdotique (tracing déficient en France)...
      Ainsi, on observe un fort ralentissement de l’activité de dépistage, malgré le pass sanitaire et les millions d’éligibles tjs pas vaccinés (ce qui interroge d’ailleurs sur l’application réelle de ce pass sanitaire)
      On ne peut donc plus percevoir un rebond épidémique précocement via les indicateurs virologiques car l’activité de « testing » est désormais monopolisée par les asymptomatiques non-vaccinés qui valident leur pass sanitaire via des tests réguliers (cf. BEH)
      Il va donc falloir attendre un impact de ce rebond sur la morbi-mortalité (↗ des formes symptomatiques, ↗ de la tension hospitalière...).
      Et pour cela il va au moins falloir attendre une circulation virale ~4,5x plus forte que celle qui « sonnait l’alerte » avant 💉
      En reprenant le Re observé avec la vague estivale 2021 (Delta), on peut estimer ce retard à la détection.
      Cet été le Re a atteint 1,68.
      Avec une telle dynamique, le nombre de cas DÉTECTÉS double tous les ~7 à 10j...
      Pour avoir une ↗ de ~4,5x sur le nombre de cas détectés, il faut donc un délai de ~19 jours.
      Ceci nous permet d’estimer grossièrement le « retard » à l’alerte...
      Si avant la vaccination il fallait environ 3 semaines pour commencer à percevoir l’effet d’un évènement sur la progression épidémique, il faudrait désormais au moins 21+19 = 40 jours pour avoir la même perception !...
      Tout ceci sous réserve que le Re soit au moins aussi fort que cet été, et que le recours au dépistage en cas d’infection symptomatique reste au même niveau (ce qui n’est pas garanti avec le déremboursement prochain des tests)...
      Donc pour percevoir le rebond induit par la rentrée du 01/09/2021, il faudrait au moins attendre jusqu’au 12/10/2021...
      C’est ballot, on dérembourse les tests à partir du 15/10 ! 😅
      L’allègement des mesures sanitaires est annoncé pour mercredi (décisions du Conseil de Défense), alors qu’on n’est même pas à la moitié de la période « critique » de surveillance épidémiologique post-rentrée !
      Après >20 mois de pandémie, et la répétition inlassable des mêmes erreurs de relâchement quand il faut au contraire renforcer la prévention pour maintenir les bons résultats, et quand revient sans cesse le discours du « retour des jours heureux », il y a de quoi être agacé+++
      Nous avons les tests, nous avons 4 vaccins efficaces+++, nous avons l’expérience de 20 mois décuplée par autant de pays qui ont été concernés, nous avons « l’habituation » aux mesures barrières, nous avons la connaissance des modes de transmission...
      Avec tout ça, il serait légitime d’espérer ne pas avoir de nouveau rebond...
      Encore faut-il tenir compte de ces données et les exploiter à bon escient.

    • #B.1.1.529 : c’est la désignation scientifique du nouveau variant. Pour le grand public, il a été baptisé variant « nu » (de la lettre ν de l’alphabet grec correspondant au n de l’alphabet latin)

      Sur Twitter, il est qualifié d’horreur, de cauchemar absolu : 5 fois plus transmissible que « delta » et surtout possibilité d’échappement immunitaire.
      Les états membres de l’UE (dont la France) ferment leurs aéroports aux vols en provenance d’Afrique australe.
      Les indices boursiers plongent, tout comme le prix du baril de brent ...



      C’est la #panique ...

      A une échelle proche : 4 cas détecté en Israël (dont un en provenance du Malawi), et un cas détecté en Belgique.
      On n’ose imaginer combien sont passés sous les radars ...

      La constellation des mutations de B.1.1.529 (il y en a plus d’une trentaine sur le spicule) est une galerie des horreurs, avec de multiples mutations associées à des gains en transmissibilité ou en échappement immunitaire.


      Took a look at the spike mutations in B.1.1.529 this evening, and colour coded them (details below)...there is...not much green.🧵 Image
      First the obviously bad stuff (red): nine mutations seen in previous VOCs. There’s a lot of overlap already among VOCs (convergent evolution), but this variant has an unprecedented sampling from mutations previously seen in Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta separately.
      In orange are three mutations that are probably meaningful biological changes for the virus, but not previously seen in VOCs. Two from VUI level lineages that likely had modest advantages over original virus, and E484A which is at a key site in the receptor binding domain.
      Next eleven things seen rarely or never before (blue) that may be functional and just new to us, or may be a side-effect of whatever process led to so many mutations in this lineage (i.e. either neutral or mildly deleterious). Need more data on these.
      In green is just D614G, which has been fixed in all SARS-CoV-2 since early 2020.
      Finally, three shades of purple which are new (not in previous VOCs) but have some other data to suggest they may be functional. First is a deletion/substitution/insertion hotspot in the N terminal domain, that may be further remodelling the protein structure there.
      Then there’s a group of 4 nearby substitutions (3 in the space of 5 amino acids) that have not been seen before, but are so close together that I doubt its coincidence. They are also very close to the (previously conserved) binding site of sotrovimab, a therapeutic antibody. Image
      Finally S477N and Q498R, predicted in an experimental evolution paper to substantially increase ACE2 binding together with N501Y, but only seen in the wild separately or rarely. Seeing this full combination now (along with everything else) is grim.
      SARS-CoV-2 variant prediction and antiviral drug design are enabled by RBD in vitro evolution - Nature Microbiology
      Evolution of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein receptor-binding domain in vitro recapitulates SARS-CoV-2 variant emergence and produces an effective antiviral spike receptor-binding domain variant.
      There are also multiple (possibly funcitonal) mutations in genes other than spike: notably R203K and G204R in nucleocapsid, which were recently shown to be key in increasing transmissibility, and are present in all VOCs to date.
      So the mutation profile is bad (as @PeacockFlu and others have already pointed out). We don’t yet know how they act together, or how a virus with so many changes will behave.
      We need to learn more, fast. To end on a hopeful note, it’s mind-blowing how quickly we’ve got this far. Kudos to @Tuliodna et al for getting this out, and setting the global scientific community onto experiments to answer more of these questions. Let’s get to work.



    • D’après ce que j’ai entendu, l’Afrique du Sud est LE réservoir à variant planétaire en raison de la quantité d’immuno-déprimés en mesure de pratiquer un affinage longue durée du virus. Ils ont en particulier le plus haut taux de malades du VIH sans traitement.

      On peut toujours essayer de couper les ponts [aériens] directs avec eux, mais les voyages business ou tourisme indirects vont continuer à transporter du variant frais à travers le monde, j’imagine.

    • De toute façon, je pense que le mal est fait. Ce nouveau variant s’est déjà diffusé au niveau mondial. Perso, ça fait une semaine que j’ai vu passer l’info. Une semaine à mon humble niveau d’information. Combien de semaines précédentes se sont écoulées avant que l’alerte soit lancée ?

    • Quand est-ce que l’Union Européenne va cesser de s’opposer à la levée de la propriété industrielle sur les brevets des vaccins ? (cela peut être limité aux pays pauvres, sur lesquels les labos ne feront de toute façon jamais les profits qu’ils font dans les pays riches).
      Les dons de vaccins ne seront jamais suffisants, et l’Afrique du Sud a les usines pour fabriquer ces vaccins.

      Biden a demandé cette levée de la propriété industrielle sur les brevets des vaccins :


      Actes criminels sur les populations migrantes, accaparement des vaccins, et refus de céder la propriété industrielle des vaccins aux pays pauvres : UNION EUROPÉENNE = UNION BARBARE.

  • La siderúrgica mexicana AHMSA explora el Capítulo 11 para la unidad minera
    La siderúrgica mexicana Altos Hornos de México (AHMSA) confirmó el jueves que está explorando la posibilidad de solicitar la protección por bancarrota del Capítulo 11 bajo la ley estadounidense para su subsidiaria Minera del Norte

  • Des revues scientifiques soutiennent l’affirmation selon laquelle le vaccin Covid de Pfizer pourrait provoquer une maladie neurodégénérative mortelle (Janet Phelan)

    C’est pour cela que vacciner toute la population (et les enfants) est de la PURE folie (à moins qu’ils aient des objectifs cachés), déjà on ne vaccine pas pendant une pandémie, et deuxiemement nous n’avons aucun recul sur ces vaccins, c’est donc totalement démentiel de les administrer (quasiment de force) à l’ensemble de la population mondiale.

    Par Janet Phelan

    Un article récent publié dans la revue scientifique Microbiology and Infectious Diseases affirme que le vaccin Pfizer Covid à ARNm pourrait contenir des prions à l’origine de la maladie neurodégénérative mortelle, parfois appelée maladie de Creutzfeldt-Jakob ou maladie de la "vache folle". L’article, intitulé "COVID-19 RNA Based Vaccines and the Risk of Prion Disease", a été publié en janvier (...)

    #En_vedette #Actualités_internationales #Actualités_Internationales

    • Fact Check-No evidence that Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine causes Alzheimer’s disease | Reuters

      As of this article’s publication, the COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech has not been shown to cause Prion diseases or neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS). Experts say a paper circulating online does not provide legitimate evidence otherwise.

      In late April 2021, conservative outlets such as The Gateway Pundit (here) and National File (here) published stories on a paper linking Pfizer’s vaccine for the novel coronavirus to neurodegenerative diseases. Facebook posts sharing screenshots from these outlets can be seen here and here .

      Titled “COVID-19 RNA Based Vaccines and the Risk of Prion Disease,” the paper in question, published in a journal called ‘Microbiology and Infectious Diseases’ in January, was authored by “J. Bart Classen, MD.”

      Classen has, over several years, published papers and articles opposing the use of vaccines (here) and his work has been shared by vaccine sceptics such as Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (here).

      The paper’s central claim is that Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine “contains sequences believed to induce TDP-43 and FUS to aggregate in their prion-based conformation leading to the development of common neurodegerative [sic] diseases.” In other words, he says certain “letters” in RNA code in the vaccine have the potential to trigger changes to the way particular human proteins (namely TDP-43 and FUS) fold, making them cause disease (here).

      According to experts consulted by Reuters, as of this fact check’s publication, evidence does not support this claim.

      A Pfizer spokesperson said: “There is no evidence” when asked by Reuters whether its mRNA COVID-19 vaccine had the potential to lead to Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.

      The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine uses new messenger RNA (mRNA) technology, which contains brief genetic instructions for human cells to temporarily manufacture proteins that mimic a small part of the novel coronavirus. The presence of those viral proteins spurs the immune system into action. No actual virus is contained in the vaccines (here).

      Prions are misfolded brain proteins that can cause mad cow disease or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, Creutzfeldt Jakob disease, or CJD, chronic wasting disease in deer and elk, and scrapie in sheep (here).

      These infective agents are also a rare but important cause of dementia, and scientists say the process involved in these diseases - in which prion proteins change shape and stick together to form polymers that damage the brain - is also what happens in common dementias such as Alzheimer’s, and in Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases (here).

      Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, in which patients progressively lose their ability to think and care for themselves. Current drugs only treat symptoms (here).

      Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a rare neurologic disorder mainly affecting the nerve cells responsible for controlling voluntary muscle movement such as walking or talking. It has no cure, and gets worse over time until it eventually leads to death, most often from respiratory failure (here).

      Having reviewed the paper, which is less than three pages long and provides only three sentences describing its methodology, Dr Albert Hofman, a clinical epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (here), told Reuters by phone that the paper provides no evidence for the author’s findings, which he described as “untenable.

      Hofman also stressed that those at greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s, namely individuals over 60, are also at greater risk of becoming seriously ill with COVID-19. Their vaccine need is therefore most urgent, he said, echoing the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s statements (here).

      According to the U.S. Alzheimer’s Association, currently available COVID-19 vaccines are safe for those living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias (here).

      Dr Irina Skylar-Scott, a neurologist at Stanford Hospitals and Clinics who specializes in Alzheimer’s and other disorders of cognition and behavior (profiles.stanford.edu/242780), told Reuters by phone that Classen’s claims were “overreaching to say the least,” noting that neither TDP-43 nor FUS, the two proteins he discusses, are associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

      Skylar-Scott said she knew of no evidence linking any of the COVID-19 vaccines to Alzheimer’s, and emphasized that Alzheimer’s patients are particularly vulnerable to the novel coronavirus because the infection may put their cognition at risk.

      Once they become ill, they don’t recover always to their prior mental baseline,” Skylar-Scott said of Alzheimer’s patients, a high-risk population she said would benefit from COVID-19 vaccination.

      As for ALS, the ALS Association says on its website that it continues to consult with ALS medical specialists nationwide and remains “encouraged by the safety and efficacy data” of the vaccines thus far (here).

      Citing data from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs showing veterans with ALS are three times more likely to die of COVID-19 than veterans without ALS, a Feb. 4 letter from the ALS Association to the U.S. Department of Health says “people with ALS should receive the COVID-19 vaccine at the earliest possible phase” (here).

      ALS takes away the ability to walk, speak, swallow and, eventually, to breathe. Most people with ALS die from respiratory failure, a circumstance that is severely exacerbated by COVID’s respiratory effects,” the letter reads.

      Dr Brian Appleby, a neurologist at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine who specializes in both prion disease and Alzheimer’s (here), told Reuters by phone that there is no evidence mRNA vaccines cause neurodegenerative diseases, and that the journal article in question uses the term prion disease “quite loosely” to refer to other protein misfolding disorders.

      In isolation, it seems to be speculative,” Appleby said, noting that there was “no experimental model per se associated with the study” and that there is “certainly no data from the vaccine makers that this is a concern.

      The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s briefing documents for both the Pfizer vaccine (here) and the Moderna vaccine (here), which also uses mRNA technology, do not mention anything about the development of neurodegenerative diseases during clinical trials that involved tens of thousands of volunteers.

      A CDC spokesperson told Reuters via email that it “is aware of no evidence to date that vaccination contributes to the development of prion-related disease or neurodegenerative diseases like ALS and Alzheimer’s.

      It is worth noting that the last paragraph of Classen’s paper says: “Many have raised the warning that the current epidemic of COVID-19 is actually the result of an [sic] bio-weapons attack released in part by individuals in the United States government,” while citing two sources authored by Classen himself. The same claim has been espoused by larger “plandemic” conspiracy theories that Reuters has debunked here , here and here .

      As reported here by USA Today, Classen proposed in 1999 that the influenza vaccine caused type 1 diabetes (here), a claim disproved by the Johns Hopkins Institute for Vaccine Safety here .

      When reached for comment via email, Classen told Reuters: “You should leave the scientific criticism to scientists” (which Reuters has done throughout this article) and that Reuters was “not qualified to criticize my work.” He did not provide further evidence or comment on his paper’s findings.

      Reuters reached out to both Microbiology and Infectious Diseases and SciVision, the paper’s journal and publisher, respectively, for comment but did not receive a response.

      It’s hard to believe this paper stood up to the peer-review process,” Dr David Irani, a professor of neurology at the University of Michigan Medical School (here), told Reuters via email.

      Echoing Appleby, Irani said that the paper’s author “provides no detail regarding how his analyses were conducted and no actual data for his readers to evaluate for themselves.

      Irani noted that the paper was “rife with ambiguous phrases such as ‘may cause’ and ‘the potential to’ that heighten its speculative tone,” describing the discussion as “straying into areas that are completely unfounded” as Classen “heavily references his own prior publications in a way that identifies him as an anti-vaccine advocate rather than an objective scientific investigator.

      Experience over the last 9 months has certainly taught us that mRNA vaccines against COVID-19 can cause side effects in some individuals, but there is absolutely no evidence linking them to neurodegenerative disease,” Irani concluded.

      False. As of this article’s publication, there is no evidence that mRNA COVID-19 vaccines lead to prion disease, Alzheimer’s, or ALS.

    • Many have raised the warning that the current epidemic of COVID-19 is actually the result of an bioweapons attack released in part by individuals in the United States government [10,11].
      10. Classen JB. COVID-19, MMR vaccine, and bioweapons. Diabetes & its Complications.2020; 4: 1-8.

      11. Classen JB. Evidence supporting the hypothesis that the 2019 epidemic of E-vaping acute lung injury (EVALI) was caused in part by COVID-19. Diabetes & Complications. 2020; 4: 1-2.

      COVID-19 RNA Based Vaccines and the Risk of Prion Disease, J. Bart Classen, MD

  • Crosses in Arizona desert mark where ’American dream ended’ for migrants

    The brightly-colored crosses that #Alvaro_Enciso plants in the unforgiving hard sand of Arizona’s #Sonoran_desert mark what he calls ‘the end of an American dream’ - the places where a migrant died after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

    The bodies of nearly 3,000 migrants have been recovered in southern Arizona since 2000, according to the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner. Aid group Humane Borders, which sets up water stations along migrant trails, said that may be only a fraction of the total death toll, with most bodies never recovered.

    Humane Borders, in partnership with the medical examiner’s office, publishes a searchable online map, which marks with a red dot the exact location where each migrant body was found.

    It was that map and its swarms of red dots that inspired Enciso, a 73-year-old artist and self-described ‘reluctant activist,’ to start his project.

    “I saw this map with thousands of red dots on it, just one on top of the other,” he told Reuters at his workshop in Tucson in September. “I want to go where those red dots (are). You know, the place where a tragedy took place. And be there and feel that place where the end of an American dream happened to someone,” he said.

    The red dots of the map are represented by a circle of red metal Enciso nails to each cross, which he makes in his workshop. He decorates the crosses with small pieces of objects left behind by migrants, which he collects on his trips to the desert.

    With temperatures topping 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius), Alvaro and his two assistants, Ron Kovatch and Frank Sagona, hauled two large wooden crosses, a shovel, jugs of water and a bucket of concrete powder through the scrubby desert south of Arizona’s Interstate 8, weaving through clumps of mesquite trees and saguaro cacti.

    They used a portable GPS device to navigate to a featureless patch of rocky ground - the place where the remains of 40 year-old Jose Apolinar Garcia Salvador were found on Sept. 14, 2006, his birthplace and cause of death never recorded.

    They planted another cross for a second person who was never identified, one of 1,100 recovered from Arizona’s deserts since 2000 whose names are unknown.

    Enciso, who left Colombia in the 1960s to attend college in the United States, considers the crosses part art project and part social commentary. He would like to see an end to migrant deaths in the desert and a change in U.S. immigration laws.

    “We cannot continue to be a land, a country that was created on the idea that we accept everybody here. We have broken the number one rule of what America is all about,” he said.



    #migrations #frontières #désert #mourir_dans_le_désert #Mexique #USA #Etats-Unis #décès #morts #commémoration #croix #désert_de_Sonora #mémoire

  • Reinsurers set to bear brunt of costs for Suez Canal grounding | Reuters

    Ship Ever Given, one of the world’s largest container ships, is seen after it was fully floated in Suez Canal, Egypt March 29, 2021.
    REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany/File Photo

    Reinsurers are set to foot most of the bill for the grounding of the ship that halted traffic in the Suez Canal, industry sources said, with payouts expected to run into hundreds of millions of dollars.

    International supply chains were thrown into disarray when the 400 metre (430 yard) Ever Given ran aground in the canal on March 23, with specialist rescue teams taking almost a week to free the vessel.

    Around 400 vessels were affected by the canal’s closure, which led to some having to divert around Africa to get supplies to global markets.

    Ships typically have protection & indemnity (P&I) insurance, which covers third party liability claims including environmental damage and injury. Separate hull and machinery (H&M) policies cover vessels against physical damage.

    Alan Mackinnon, chief claims officer with UK Club, the Ever Given’s P&I insurer, said it expected a claim against the ship’s owner from the canal authorities for possible damage to the canal and for loss of revenues, and separately claims for compensation from some of the owners of the delayed ships.

    I expect we will get a claim from the Egyptian authorities quite soon and the claims from the other shipowners will trickle in over the coming months,” Mackinnon told Reuters.

    Suez Canal Authority chairman Osama Rabie said last month that losses and damages from the Ever Given blockage could reach around $1 billion, but that the actual amount would be calculated after the investigations, though it was unclear when this would be completed.

    The UK Club will cover the first $10 million of P&I losses.

    Beyond that, the wider pool of P&I insurers will cover up to $100 million, at which point re-insurers such as Lloyd’s of London step in for up to $2.1 billion of claims. P&I insurers would contribute for part of a further $1 billion of cover.

    When asked if claims could reach the upper levels of cover at $2.1 to $3.1 billion, UK Club’s Mackinnon said “we are confident we are not in that territory at all.

    This is not an existential moment for the P&I sector. It may be a large claim but we are structured to deal with large claims.

    Analysts at DBRS Morningstar said that total insured losses “will remain manageable given the relatively short period of time that the canal was blocked.

    Lloyd’s of London last week said the incident would likely result in a “large loss” for the commercial insurance and reinsurance market of at least $100 million.

    Yumi Shinohara, deputy manager of the fleet management department with Japan’s Shoei Kisen, the owner of Ever Given, said it had not received any compensation claims yet.

    Container ships of the Ever Given’s size usually have H&M insurance limits of $100-$140 million, brokers say.

    An insurance source in Tokyo, who declined to be named, said the three Japanese H&M insurers would pay for salvage costs and any repair fees for the hull. Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance, the main Japanese hull insurer for the vessel, declined to comment.

    Other insurance sources said the Japanese hull underwriters would also spread their exposure with re-insurers.

  • Let us rebuild Beirut’s port in less than three years, says France’s CMA CGM | Reuters

    FILE PHOTO: A view shows the site of the August 4 explosion at Beirut port, Lebanon February 18, 2021.
    REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir/File Photo

    French container shipping group CMA CGM is pursuing a plan to rebuild Beirut’s port within three years, despite political deadlock in Lebanon that has prevented decisions on the port since a blast last August, a company executive said.

    A chemical explosion at the port killed 200 people and destroyed entire neighbourhoods, deepening Lebanon’s worst political and economic crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.

    CMA CGM’s plan, first outlined to Lebanese authorities in September, envisages the reconstruction of damaged docks and warehouses, along with port expansion and digitalisation, at a total cost estimated at $400 million to $600 million, Joe Dakkak, general manager CMA CGM Lebanon, said on Saturday.

    Our offer remains on the table,” he told Reuters. “Our project is a realistic one because the situation is urgent.

    On Friday, German companies presented a separate multi-billion-dollar plan to rebuild Beirut’s port and neighbouring districts, confirming a previous report by Reuters.

    Dakkak said the German initiative was more focused on longer-term real-estate development but CMA CGM would be willing to contribute to the port part of that project if invited to.

    CMA CGM is controlled by the French-Lebanese Saade family and the group joined French President Emmanuel Macron in relief efforts in Beirut following the explosion last summer.

    The French government is not part of CMA CGM’s reconstruction plan, Dakkak said, adding French companies and financial institutions had shown interest, and that the Lebanese state would have a role through a public-private partnership.

    As well as devastating the bulk section of Beirut port, last year’s blast destroyed equipment in the container terminal. This has doubled waiting time for vessels, adding to longstanding inefficiencies at the port, according to Dakkak.

    CMA CGM is the leading shipping operator at Beirut port, accounting for 60% of volumes, and remains a candidate in partnership with Swiss-based MSC for the concession to run the container terminal, Dakkak said.

    It has been told a tender process to run the container terminal, held up by the political crisis, will be relaunched in two weeks, he added.

  • Iran cargo ship attacked in Red Sea - Al Arabiya TV | Reuters

    An Iranian cargo ship has come under attack in the Red Sea, Al Arabiya TV reported on Tuesday, quoting unnamed sources, and semi-official Iranian news agency Tasnim said the vessel was targeted by a limpet mine.

    Al Arabiya cited the sources as saying the vessel was attacked off the coast of Eritrea and was affiliated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, but provided no evidence to support the assertion.

    Tasnim identified the ship as the Iran Saviz. “The vessel Iran Saviz has been stationed in the Red Sea for the past few years to support Iranian commandos sent on commercial vessel (anti-piracy) escort missions,” it reported.

    Reuters could not independently verify the report. Iranian officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

    It was the latest in a reported series of attacks on Israeli- and Iranian-owned cargo ships since late February in which the two arch-enemies accused each other of responsibility.
    There have been three other reported attacks on Iranian- or Israeli-owned shipping since Feb. 25.

    On March 25 a cargo ship owned by an Israeli company was damaged by a missile in the Arabian Sea in what was suspected to be an Iranian attack, according to a senior Israeli security official. The ship was able to continue its journey, he said.

    Two weeks before, Iranian state media quoted an Iranian investigator as saying Israel was highly likely to have been behind an explosion that caused a small fire on an Iranian container ship in the Mediterranean.

    Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz declined to comment directly at the time but said Iran regularly sent weapons to its proxies in the region.

    On Feb. 26, Netanyahu blamed Iran for an explosion aboard an Israeli-owned vehicle-carrier ship in the Gulf of Oman. A U.S. official said the blast ripped holes in both sides of its hull and an Israeli official said limpet mines were used. Iran denied responsibility.

  • Dutch cargo ship adrift off Norway after dramatic rescue of crew | Reuters

    Dutch cargo ship Eemslift Hendrika lists as its crew is evacuated in stormy weather off the coast of Norway in the North Sea, April 5, 2021 in this still image obtained from social media video. Joint Rescue and Coordination Centre (JRCC) South-Norway via REUTERS

    OSLO (Reuters) - Emergency response teams scrambled on Tuesday to prevent a Dutch cargo ship adrift in the North Sea from sinking and causing an oil spill off Norway’s coast after the crew had to be evacuated in stormy weather.

    Footage released by the Norwegian Rescue Coordination Centre showed some of the 12 crew members jumping into the sea late on Monday from the badly listing Eemslift Hendrika before being rescued by helicopter. Others were hoisted directly from the deck.

    All were brought to safety, but the ship has continued to drift towards land. It is currently some 74 km (40 miles) off the Norwegian coast.

    The wind is expected to gradually shift the vessel to a course parallel to the shore, giving the salvage operation more time, Hans Petter Mortensholm of the Norwegian Coastal Administration told Reuters.

    Our calculations now indicate a window of opportunity to act, lasting until just after midday on Wednesday,” he said. “The risk of pollution is our main concern.

    The Hendrika has around 350 tonnes of heavy oil and 50 tonnes of diesel in its tanks, the Coastal Administration said.

    Smit Salvage, a subsidiary of the Dutch marine services company Boskalis, told Reuters it had been contracted to try saving the ship and was mobilising a team to send to Norway later on Tuesday.

    Safety permitting, Smit would seek to get its own crew on board the Hendrika and link the vessel to a so-called anchor handling tug, a powerful ship built to move rigs for the oil industry.

    Getting her onto a tow line and to a calmer location, that is the goal,” Smit Salvage spokesman Martijn Schuttevaer said.

    A Norwegian coastguard vessel is on standby in the area and could also be used for towing purposes, the Coastal Administration said.

    Built in 2015 and registered in the Netherlands, the 111.6 metre (366 feet) Eemslift Hendrika is a yacht transport vessel, carrying smaller boats on its deck, according to Monaco-based Starclass Yacht Transport, which markets the ship’s services.

    One of the smaller vessels strapped to the deck fell off in the storm, the Coastal Administration said.

  • Exclusive: Germany to propose Beirut port reconstruction with ’strings attached’ - sources | Reuters

    A view shows the site of the August 4 explosion at Beirut port, Lebanon February 18, 2021.
    REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir/File Photo

    Germany will next week present a multi-billion-dollar proposal to Lebanese authorities to rebuild the Port of Beirut as part of efforts to entice the country’s politicians to form a government capable of warding off financial collapse, two sources said.
    According to two diplomatic sources with knowledge of the plans, Germany and France are vying to lead reconstruction efforts. Berlin will on April 7 outline its proposal, which the diplomats said would in principle include support from the European Investment Bank (EIB), to help fund the clearing of the area and reconstruction facilities.

    An EIB spokesman said it was aware of the proposal put forward by the port of Hamburg and its consultancy team for the reconstruction of the port of Beirut and surrounding areas.

    However, there currently is no financing offer by the EIB. Any EIB financing would be subject to due diligence and have to follow the Bank’s usual processes for such operations,” he said.

    It would also need to comply with the EIB’s procurement guidelines, environmental and social standards, he said.

    The Bank stands ready to support the Lebanese people and reconstruction efforts as part of Team Europe and alongside its partners, the international community and all stakeholders.

    One of the sources estimated EIB funding could be in the range of 2 billion to 3 billion euros.

    Germany’s ambassador to Lebanon, Andreas Kindl, confirmed a proposal would be made next week to redevelop Beirut port and nearby areas. The plan had been drawn up by several private companies who would hold talks in Beirut to present it, he said.

    Consultancy firm Roland Berger, which Kindl and the diplomatic sources said had been involved in putting the plan together, did not respond to requests for comment.

    The two diplomatic sources said Lebanon’s political elite first need to agree on the make-up of a new government to fix public finances and root out corruption, a condition which donors, including the International Monetary Fund, are also insisting on before they will unlock billions of dollars in aid.

    This plan is not going to come without strings attached,” said one of the sources. “Germany and France want first to see a government in place committed to implementing reforms. There is no other way around it and this is good for Lebanon.
    The sources put the project cost at anywhere between $5 billion to $15 billion, and said it could create as many as 50,000 jobs.

    The Lebanese official said France and French ports and container shipping group CMA CGM were also interested in the reconstruction project.

    One of the diplomatic sources said that France had sent several missions, including one in March that included CMA CGM, that showed an interest in playing a role in the reconstruction. That mission focused on specific clear-up operations rather than a broader redevelopment, however, the source said.

    The French foreign ministry and CMA CGM declined to comment.

    The Lebanese official put the onus for getting the project underway on the Europeans agreeing who would be the lead.

    This is a European decision at the end of the day, because they have to decide on it among themselves. Then when it comes to it, the Lebanese government can go ahead,” the official said.

  • Suez Canal must upgrade quickly to avoid future disruption -shipping sources | Reuters

    Egypt’s Suez Canal must move quickly to upgrade its technical infrastructure if it is to avoid future shipping disruption, shipping industry sources said, as the major trade route tries to bounce back from a costly six-day closure.

    International supply chains were thrown into disarray on March 23 when the 400-metre-long (430-yard) container ship Ever Given ran aground in the canal, with specialist rescue teams taking almost a week to free her after extensive dredging and repeated tugging operations.

    Egypt will get two new tugboats, one next week and one in August, Suez Canal Authority (SCA) chairman Osama Rabie said after the ship was finally freed, as well as taking the biggest dredger in the Middle East and arranging for a further five new Chinese tugboats.

    But shipping industry sources said specialist equipment and associated procedures have long struggled to keep up with the ever increasing size of commercial vessels.

    The average size of most vessels has increased exponentially over the last 15 years. The ability to salvage these bigger ships has not,” said Peter Townsend, a marine insurance industry veteran.

    The issue is getting containers off essentially a 20-storey high building at sea.

    Michael Kingston, an international shipping specialist and an adviser to the United Nation’s International Maritime Organization, flagged such problems in 2013, three years before the MSC Fabiola container ship ran aground, also blocking traffic for days.

    The obvious way to lighten a vessel ... is to take the containers off. They had no way of doing it. No equipment was readily available,” he said of the Ever Given incident.

    The SCA says the canal can safely take vessels of the Ever Given’s size - with a maximum capacity of 20,000 TEU (20-foot containers) - even in rough weather.

    As well as bigger tugboats, dredgers and offloaders, stricter guidelines on how ships transit the canal are needed, the industry sources said. Those could include using tugs to assist large vessels, or only permitting transit during daylight hours.

    Of course, there are many lessons learned from the (Ever Given) incident. Of course we have the capabilities,” the SCA’s Rabie said.

    Visiting the canal this week, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said: “We have to give a strong message to the world that the Suez Canal ... can transport world trade at this rate or more.

    It was not clear yet if the Canal would opt to extend a second channel south of the one that Egypt opened in 2015 at a cost of $8 billion along a 70-km portion of the waterway. Such an extension would allow traffic to continue flowing even if a ship were grounded.

    An expansion for the southern section of the canal can be under consideration,” said Sisi. “It’s up to the technical people. We don’t want to take measures just due to extraordinary situations.

  • Egypt Suez Canal Authority May Seek $1Bln ’Ever Given’ Ship Crisis Compensation - Bloomberg

    • ‘This is the right of the country,’ says Canal Authority chief
    • Ship blockage caused the nation to lose revenue, says SCA

    Egypt said it may seek around $1 billion in compensation after a giant container vessel blocked the Suez Canal for almost a week and roiled shipping markets.

    The figure is a rough estimate of losses linked to transit fees, damage to the waterway during the dredging and salvage efforts, and the cost of equipment and labor, the Suez Canal Authority’s chief executive officer, Osama Rabie, said late Wednesday to local television channel Sada Elbalad.

    He did not specify who the Canal Authority would seek compensation from.

    This is the right of the country,” Rabie said, adding that the incident hurt Egypt’s reputation. “This country should get its due.

    The 400-meter-long Ever Given ship, owned by Japan’s Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd., ran aground on March 23 in the southern part of the canal and was freed six days later.

    Taiwan’s Evergreen Marine Corp., the vessel’s charterer, said Thursday it’s not responsible for delays of any cargo it was transporting.

    There is almost no chance that we will be sought to pay compensation,” Evergreen Marine President Eric Hsieh said at a briefing in Taipei.

    Shoei Kisen will discuss compensation with the Canal Authority, but will refrain from giving details for now, according to a spokesperson.

    Bitter Lake
    The ship and its cargo are currently in the Great Bitter Lake, roughly halfway along the canal.

    While they could be held in Egypt if the matter of compensation goes to court, such a scenario is unlikely, Rabie said.

    It may take until Friday night or Saturday to clear the backlog of hundreds of ships that built up while the canal was shut, Rabie said in a separate interview with Egyptian television.

    • Suez blockage may lead to large reinsurance claims, broker Willis Re says | Reuters

      FILE PHOTO: A view shows Ever Given container ship in Suez Canal in this Maxar Technologies satellite image taken on March 29, 2021.
      Satellite image ©2021 Maxar Technologies/Handout via REUTERS

      The blockage of the Suez Canal is likely to lead to large reinsurance claims, adding to upward pressure on marine reinsurance rates, James Vickers, chair of reinsurance broker Willis Re International, told Reuters.

      Formal investigations began this week into how the giant container ship Ever Given ran aground in the canal, shutting down shipping in the major global waterway for almost a week.

      The incident and its impact on hundreds of ships delayed in the canal would be a “large loss” for insurance market Lloyd’s of London, its chairman Bruce Carnegie-Brown said this week, while Fitch Ratings said global reinsurers were likely to face hundreds of millions of euros of claims.

      Vickers also said reinsurance losses were “not going to be a small amount of money”. The blockage was the latest in a growing number of man-made disasters leading to reinsurance losses, on top of a list of natural catastrophes in the past year, he said.

      Reinsurers help insurers cover claims for major events such as hurricanes, in return for part of the premium. Reinsurers typically raise rates after they experience large losses.

      Even before the Suez incident, the marine market “didn’t need much encouragement to keep going in an upward direction”, Vickers said.

      Global marine reinsurance rates were generally seeing “high single digit” percentage point increases, Willis Re said in its April reinsurance renewals report on Thursday.

      Marine reinsurance premiums have been rising for the past few years after several years of falling rates, as Lloyd’s of London and other firms have cut back on loss-making lines, reducing competition. The COVID-19 pandemic has also put upward pressure on reinsurance rates across the board.

      Elsewhere, the U.S. property reinsurance market has been hit by a number of catastrophes including Winter Storm Uri in the United States in February, with rates up by as much as 25% in April, the report showed.

  • Italy approves new decree to keep cruise ships out of Venice lagoon | Reuters

    FILE PHOTO: MSC Magnifica cruise ship passes in the Giudecca Canal in Venice, Italy June 9, 2019.
    REUTERS/Manuel Silvestri/File Photo

    Italy’s government has ruled that large cruise ships and container vessels must not pass close to Venice’s historic centre and should instead dock in a different location to preserve the famed lagoon.

    A decree approved late on Wednesday called for public consultations on building a terminal outside the lagoon where passenger vessels over 40,000 tons and container ships can berth without passing in front of Saint Mark’s square.

    In the meantime, large boats must dock at the industrial Marghera Port, far from the Grand Canal.

    Anyone who has visited Venice in recent years has been shocked to see these ships, hundreds of metres long and as tall as apartment buildings, passing through such fragile places,” Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said on Thursday.

    Venice residents have been urging governments for years to ban large ships from the lagoon and concerns were heightened after the Costa Concordia, a 114,500 tonne liner, sank off the Tuscan island of Giglio in 2012, with the loss of 32 lives.

  • Un porte-conteneurs s’échoue et bloque le canal de Suez - Nice-Matin

    Un porte-conteneurs géant s’est échoué dans le canal de Suez après avoir été déporté par une rafale de vent, a annoncé mercredi la compagnie maritime qui l’opère, et le trafic maritime s’est arrêté sur l’une des routes commerciales les plus fréquentées du monde.

    • analyse de la situation de l’Ever Given


      Je reprends ici mes différentes réponses à ce tweet :
      #1 - Causes :
      J’ai pas d’info, mais d’expérience, une erreur humaine est très peu probable (rien ne l’indique ici). L’environnement ne peut pas créer ça tout seul. Il ne reste qu’un problème mécanique.
      Ça impliquerait que le contrôle de la manœuvre du navire soit perdue : soit avarie de barre, soit perte totale de la propulsion, soit un moteur (principal ou prop d’étrave) qui s’emballe de façon incontrôlée - rare).
      #2 - Dégâts au navire
      Ces bateaux sont costauds, et le bulbe (à l’avant) peut être écrasé sans couler le bateau. Les berges du canal ne sont pas rocheuses, d’ailleurs. Donc la coque va sûrement « pas trop mal » dans le sens où le bateau n’est pas coulé sur place.

      Par contre il est bien monté sur la berge (cf l’assiette, visible à la ligne de flottaison). Donc il est possible que certains apparaux de coque à l’avant soient touchés (prises d’eaux, etc). Si la réfrigération est bouchée par exemple, c’est vite la galère pour les moteurs.
      Plus grave : à la poupe, si les hélices ou le gouvernail se sont trop rapprochés de la berge ou du fond, ça pue. Notamment si on voile une ligne d’arbre ou une mèche. Ça peut signifier un passage au bassin rapidement après déchargement.
      #3 - situation des autres navires
      Le canal est fait pour gérer des zones d’attentes aux deux extrémités et le long de ses berges internes. Les bateaux vont donc accoster ou mouiller (et l’autorité du canal va donc facturer un max). Rien de bien inquiétant techniquement.
      #4 - évolution probables
      Il faut éviter à tout pris le déchargement sur place. D’abord parce que l’idée d’alléger le bateau pourrait le faire chavirer, et que ce n’est pas nécessaire. Ensuite parce qu’il n’y a pas d’infrastructures pour le faire.
      Il faudrait commencer par couler du béton armé sur les berges, puis faire venir d’immenses grues, et 10000 camions pour décharger. Ou tout faire par l’eau. Rien de simple.
      Le mieux est donc de contrôler l’étanchéité de la coque (par plongeurs et/ou de l’intérieur), de dégager le bulbe (coucou le ptit tractopelle), puis de procéder au déséchouage.

      Ce qui sera sûrement choisi, c’est une manœuvre ou l’on remorquera par le cul du navire, en tirant dessus avec un gros remorqueur, pendant que deux remorqueurs (minimum) seront en pousseurs sur l’avant de chaque bord, et un dernier en remorque inverse côté cul, pour freiner.

      Une fois déséchoué, j’imagine que le navire sera remorqué (avec ou sans aide de sa propre propulsion) vers l’extrémité du canal (Port Saïd).
      Là, des réparations et vérifications seront entreprises. Si besoin, des containers seront déchargés (si besoin d’une immobilisation longue)

      C’est sûrement le moment où la Suez Canal Authority procèdera à une très généreuse facturation (déjà qu’en temps normal, ça douille …). Le Canal est l’une des principales ressources du pays (surtout en ces temps de disette touristique).

      #5 - Plus grave ?
      Oui, toujours possible, même si rien ne l’indique encore. C’est déjà assez grave (et rare), mais ne sera pas un phénomène majeur pour le commerce mondial.
      Si le canal devait être bloqué plus d’une semaine par exemple, chacun d’entre nous devrait ressentir rapidement notre dépendance au canal (pétrole du Golfe et produits chinois en tout genre : tout passe par là !).
      Voilà. N’hésitez pas si vous avez d’autres questions !
      Ah et si vous voulez de l’accident plus grave, et plus débile (= impardonnable erreur humaine selon moi), n’hésitez pas à retrouver mon thread sur le Helge Ingstad ici :

    • À noter, en milieu d’après-midi, Le Monde (et d’autres médias) présentaient l’affaire comme étant en voie de règlement. On en trouve la trace dans la formulation initiale de l’adresse de l’article… (Le canal de Suez bloqué [plusieurs heures] à cause d’un cargo échoué en travers)
      et dans la formulation hybride du chapeau (_s’était retrouvé
      , plus que parfait)

      Le canal de Suez bloqué à cause d’un cargo échoué en travers

      Le porte-conteneurs «  Ever Given  » s’était retrouvé en travers du canal reliant la mer Rouge à la Méditerranée, bloquant toute circulation. Le retour à la normale n’était pas acquis en milieu de journée.

      L’article expliquait que le navire avait été amarré parallèlement à la berge.

    • Suez Canal Block: How to Dislodge a 200,000 Ton Ship From a Canal Wall - Bloomberg

      When you can’t shift a ship that’s stuck fast into the wall of a canal that’s vital to world trade, there’s only one thing to do: call the salvage guys.

      The Ever Given container ship — a 200,000-ton behemoth — has been blocking what is arguably the world’s most important waterway, the Suez Canal, since Tuesday morning.

      The struggle to dislodge it is now turning the world’s attention to the work of SMIT Salvage, a legendary Dutch firm whose employees parachute themselves from one ship wreckage to the next, saving vessels often during violent storms. The company is synonymous with some of the most daring naval salvages, including lifting a sunken Russian nuclear submarine in 2001, and removing fuel from inside the Costa Concordia cruise ship after it ran aground in Italy in 2012.

      SMIT, a unit of Royal Boskalis Westminster NV, is one of the companies appointed by Ever Given’s owner to help move the vessel. The first job will be to work out exactly how entrenched in the wall the ship is, said Boskalis spokesman Martijn Schuttevaer.

      A digger clears the area around the bow of the stuck Ever Given container vessel in the Suez Canal on March 25.
      Source: Suez Canal Authority

      It will be critical to inspect the vessel and how deeply it is lodged in the embankment,” Schuttevaer said. “The question is how solidly she has been grounded.

      The answer to that question will dictate what comes next. The salvors could have to find a way to lighten the vessel’s enormous weight so that it can be pulled to a less obstructive position. At the moment, it’s blocking the path of more than 100 vessels.

      The canal handles something like 10% of seaborne trade, spanning everything from finished goods to oil, gas, and dry-bulk commodities. And those cargoes aren’t flowing while the Ever Given is stuck.

      The process of making the ship lighter means removing things like the ballast water, which helps keep ships steady when they’re at sea. Fuel will probably have to be unloaded too, Schuttavaer said.

      The stuck Ever Given container ship in the Suez Canal on March 25.
      Source: Suez Canal Authority

      In a worst-case scenario, it could be that some of the carrier’s containers — usually filled with everything from furniture to televisions — may have to be taken off. How long that process lasts would depend on how much equipment is around to do the heavy lifting. It can often involve flying in helicopters to remove the crates one by one.

      SMIT was due to fly an 8-person team in at dawn Thursday local time to board and inspect the vessel and the grounding. A big part of the initial underwater assessment is how much the banks slope at that point in the canal. Japan’s Nippon Salvage Co. has also been hired to assist in the re-floating, according to a person familiar with the matter.

      Such teams are usually led by a salvage master, often a former captain or someone with knowledge of the industry, but can also include divers, welders and crane operators, according to Joseph Farrell III, director of business development at Resolve Marine, another company that offers salvage services. He declined to comment specifically on the Ever Given.

      Stern Test
      Pictures now seen across the globe of the vessel spread fully across the canal, point to the first major hurdle. It ran aground both at the front and at the back, almost perpendicular to the canal walls. That’s leaving very little room to simply tow it away from either end, SMIT says.

      For now, the focus is on dredging around the vessel. The canal authority has dispatched two of its dredgers, the Mashor and the 10th of Ramadan, to remove sand from underwater before rescuers attempt to pull it. From the shore, excavators are also working around the vessel. Western shipping experts who analysed photos of the Ever Given calculated that her protruding bulb was as much as 5 meters buried into the canal wall.

      The container vessel MV Ever Given blocks the Suez Canal on March 24.
      Source: Planet Labs Inc. via AP Photo

      Not everything in the grounding has been bad news. One thing that’s likely to make the process easier is that the ship has gotten itself stuck in sand, rather than rock. More malleable material around the Ever Given should make for a slightly smoother escape.

      There are already tug boats around the ship working to help with its removal, but with such a giant vessel, bigger ones with more horsepower are usually needed. Crews are hoping that periods of higher tide over the next few days will be conducive to helping free the Ever Given.

      Until then, the world’s commodity and maritime markets — and the world trade they serve — will be left hanging, waiting on the professionals to help shift a 200,000-ton ship.

      There’s only a few companies in the world that do what we do,” said Farrell. “It’s a challenge, the container ships are always the biggest jobs.

    • Suez Canal could be blocked for weeks by ’beached whale’ ship | Reuters

      A huge container ship blocking the Suez Canal like a “beached whale” may take weeks to free, the salvage company said, as officials stopped all ships entering the channel on Thursday in a new setback for global trade.

      The 400 metre Ever Given, almost as long as the Empire State Building is high, is blocking transit in both directions through one of the world’s busiest shipping channels for oil and refined fuels, grain and other trade linking Asia and Europe.

      Late on Thursday, dredgers were still working to remove thousands of tonnes of sand from around the ship’s bow.

      The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) said earlier that nine tugs were working to move the vessel, which got stuck diagonally across the single-lane southern stretch of the canal on Tuesday morning amid high winds and a dust storm.

      We can’t exclude it might take weeks, depending on the situation,” Peter Berdowski, CEO of Dutch company Boskalis, one of two rescue teams trying to free the ship, told the Dutch television programme “Nieuwsuur”.

      A total of 206 large container ships, tankers carrying oil and gas, and bulk vessels hauling grain have backed up at either end of the canal, according to tracking data, creating one of the worst shipping jams seen for years.

      The blockage comes on top of the disruption to world trade already caused in the past year by COVID-19, with trade volumes hit by high rates of ship cancellations, shortages of containers and slower handling speeds at ports.

      The world’s number one line A.P. Moller Maersk said it was considering diverting vessels around Africa’s Cape of Good Hope, adding five to six days to the journey between Asia and Europe. It said time-sensitive cargo could be sent on trains and airplanes, although no decisions had yet been made.

      The SCA, which had allowed some vessels to enter the canal in the hope the blockage could be cleared, said it had temporarily suspended all traffic on Thursday. Maersk said in a customer advisory it had seven vessels affected.

      Berdowski said the ship’s bow and stern had been lifted up against either side of the canal.

      Explainer: How a giant container ship is blocking the Suez Canal
      It is like an enormous beached whale. It’s an enormous weight on the sand. We might have to work with a combination of reducing the weight by removing containers, oil and water from the ship, tug boats and dredging of sand.

      Dredging work to remove 15,000-20,000 cubic metres of sand surrounding the bow continued after dark on Thursday, in coordination with the team from Boskalis subsidiary Smit Salvage, the SCA said.

      The dredging work, which began on Wednesday evening and has involved two dredgers, aims to return the ship to a draft of 12-16 metres at which it could be refloated, the authority said.

      (Graphic: Suez blockade - )

      Japanese shipowner Shoei Kisen apologised for the incident and said work on freeing the ship, which was heading to Europe from China, “has been extremely difficult” and it was not clear when the vessel would float again.

      Another official with knowledge of the operation said that was likely to take days. “If you end up in the scenario that you have to remove cargo then you are looking at a time consuming exercise,” he said, declining to be named.

      A higher tide due on Sunday may help the rescue efforts.

      However, the Egyptian meteorological authority is also warning of a “disruption of marine navigation” due to an expected sea storm on Saturday and Sunday, with winds forecast to reach up to 80 kph (50 mph) and waves up to 6 metres high along the Red Sea and the Gulf of Suez.

      Roughly 30% of the world’s shipping container volume transits through the 193 km (120 mile) Suez Canal daily, and about 12% of total global trade of all goods.

      Slideshow ( 5 images )

      Every port in Western Europe is going to feel this,” Leon Willems, a spokesman for Rotterdam Port, Europe’s largest, said. “We hope for both companies and consumers that it will be resolved soon.

      Consultancy Wood Mackenzie said the biggest impact was on container shipping, but there were also a total of 16 laden crude and product oil tankers due to sail through the canal and now delayed.

      The tankers were carrying 870,000 tonnes of crude and 670,000 tonnes of clean oil products such as gasoline, naphtha and diesel, it said.

      Russia and Saudi Arabia are the top two exporters of oil through the canal, while India and China are the main importers, oil analytics firm Vortexa said. Consultancy Kpler said the canal accounted for only 4.4% of total oil flows but a prolonged disruption would complicate flows of Russian and Caspian oil to Asia and oil from the Middle East into Europe.

      The impact on oil prices has been limited so far as the destination of most oil tankers is Europe, where demand is currently weaker due to a new round of lockdowns. [O/R]

      The deputy managing director of Germany’s BDI industry association, Holger Loesch, expressed concern, saying earlier shipping holdups were already affecting output, especially in industries depending on raw materials or construction supplies.

      About 16% of Germany’s chemicals imports arrive by ship via the Suez canal and the chief economist for the association of German chemicals and pharmaceuticals producers VCI, Henrik Meincke, said they would be affected with every day of blockage.

      The owner and insurers face claims totalling millions of dollars even if the ship is refloated quickly, industry sources said on Wednesday. Shoei Kisen said the hull insurer of the group is MS&AD Insurance Group while the liability insurer is UK P&I Club.

    • Canal de Suez : le navire débloqué ce samedi soir ? - Monde - Le Télégramme

      Le porte-conteneurs est bloqué depuis mardi dans le canal de Suez.
      Photo EPA

      Le navire qui empêche la navigation sur le canal de Suez depuis mardi pourrait être débloqué ce samedi soir, a déclaré son propriétaire.

      Yukito Higaki, le propriétaire du porte-conteneurs qui obstrue depuis mardi le canal de Suez, a dit avoir bon espoir que le navire soit débloqué dès ce samedi soir, alors que des jours voire des semaines étaient précédemment évoqués. « Nous sommes en train d’éliminer les sédiments, avec des outils de dragage supplémentaires », a déclaré vendredi Higaki, le président de la compagnie japonaise Shoei Kisen. Il a dit espérer un déblocage du Ever Given pour « demain (samedi) soir », c’est-à-dire dans la nuit de samedi à dimanche au Japon. « Le navire ne prend pas l’eau. Il n’y a aucun problème avec ses gouvernails et ses hélices. Une fois qu’il aura été renfloué, il devrait pouvoir fonctionner », a ajouté le dirigeant.

      10 % du commerce maritime international
      La société mandatée pour le « sauvetage » de l’Ever Given s’était auparavant montrée plus prudente, évoquant « des jours voire des semaines » pour assurer le déblocage du navire et la reprise du trafic sur le canal qui voit passer 10 % du commerce maritime international, selon des experts.

      Depuis mercredi, l’Autorité égyptienne du canal de Suez (SCA) tente de dégager ce navire de plus de 220 000 tonnes et d’une longueur équivalente à quatre terrains de football, coincé dans le sud du canal, à quelques kilomètres de la ville de Suez. Une opération menée vendredi par la SCA avec l’aide de remorqueurs « n’a pas réussi », a indiqué la Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM), compagnie basée à Singapour qui assure la gestion technique du navire. « Deux remorqueurs (égyptiens) supplémentaires de 220 à 240 tonnes » doivent arriver d’ici dimanche pour une nouvelle tentative, selon cette société.

    • Mega-ship in Suez Canal moved ’80%’ in right direction

      The Ever Given was turned away from the bank of Suez Canal on Monday, raising hopes it could be soon be refloated

      la poupe a pu être dégagée, semble-t-il.
      il va falloir hâler fort en arrière pour dégager la proue (et le bulbe, bien planté…)

    • MV Ever Given Partially Refloated in Suez; Ship Still Blocking Canal – gCaptain

      Screen shot shows the position of the MV Ever Given following reports that the ship had been refloated. Taken Mar 23, 04:17 UTC.
      Credit: VesselFinder.com

      The giant container ship blocking the Suez Canal has been at least partially refloated, the first step toward getting one of the world’s most important trade arteries moving again.

      The Ever Given was successfully refloated at about 4:30 a.m. local time in Egypt and the vessel is currently being secured, maritime services provider Inchcape Shipping Services said in an email. It followed a new attempt to dislodge the ship involving 10 tug boats, according to the Suez Canal Authority.

      There was no immediate clarity on the crucial question of when traffic in the canal will restart. The ship has a damaged hull and it’s not clear how soon it will be able to clear the way for other vessels to pass.