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The Spill: Monkey Shortage

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COVID Vaccine Crisis: Test Monkey Shortage

Countries around the world are trying to come up with a vaccine to combat the Coronavirus. The quest is urgent, and many places – including the United States – are relaxing some of the regular guidelines in an effort to speed up the process. Finding an inoculation for a novel virus is difficult enough, but now researchers are scrambling because there is a shortage of monkeys, which are the main test subjects for such projects.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) previously reported the dwindling supply of primates in a 2018 report, but access has been further strained after China banned transporting and selling of wildlife after the COVID-19 outbreak, which some early claims say originated from wet markets. The report suggested establishing a “strategic monkey reserve” to be able to meet the demands in case of “unpredictable disease outbreaks,” but the suggestion was not followed. Then, in late 2019, the virus struck, making the demand for monkeys even greater.

The NIH financially supports seven primate centers in the country, but due to the shortage, the agency stabled the “Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines” initiative, which restricts who can have access to the monkeys.

Pros of Research Using Monkeys

Monkeys have similar immune and reproductive systems as humans, so testing vaccines and other medications on them has helped to develop important life-saving medications and immunizations without harming humans. They are also helpful in studying depression and other aliments humans suffer.

Cons of Research Using Monkeys

Animal activists complain of cruelty to the animals. No matter how humane researchers claim to be, the monkeys are still bred and used for the sole purpose of testing drugs and other research. For example, when studying depression, baby monkeys were put into small boxes with food and water and kept in isolation for six weeks at the University of Wisconsin, which was dubbed a “pit of despair.” Many of the test subjects became hostile and unsociable, and most did not recover.

The Violence Keeps Growing

For the past several months, our nation has become a battleground for civil unrest resulting in protests, riots, and looting. The situation is escalating instead of deflating, and some wonder if we will be able to find a peaceful solution. The three-month-long violence and destruction began after the death of George Floyd by a police officer and continues to grow.

In Kenosha, WI, Jacob Blake was shot seven times by the police. The victim did not die from the wounds. He allegedly raped a young girl and was reportedly at her home, in violation of a restraining order, when the shooting took place. This sparked riots in the area and also another shooting. In this second incident, a 17-year-old shot three people, killing two of them, in what many are calling self-defense. Kyle Rittenhouse had been in the area, armed with a gun, to reportedly protect local businesses from rioters. According to videos and eyewitness accounts, the youth was chased by several individuals, one of whom hit him with a skateboard.

Portland, OR, has seen ongoing violence since May and the death of George Floyd, with incidents becoming worse each week. Rioters have attempted to lock police officers in a building and burn it while they were still inside. Recently, 39-year-old Aaron “Jay” Danielson, a Trump supporter, was shot and killed by an Antifa member. Michael Forest Reinoehl, 48, admitted to being an Antifa member as well as to shooting the victim on Aug. 30.  On Sept. 3, federal law enforcement located Reinoehl in Lacey, WA, where a shootout ensued and the gunman was killed.

In New York, protesters showed up by the hundreds to protest police who had cuffed Daniel Prude and covered his head, pinning him to the ground until Prude lost consciousness. On Sept. 3, a vehicle drove into a Black Lives Matters protest, but thankfully no one was seriously injured.

Also in Portland, protesters have gathered around Mayor Ted Wheeler’s apartment complex, setting it on fire and defacing it with graffiti to the point that the mayor has announced he will move to a different location. Wheeler, like several other mayors of Democratic-ran cities where violence is out of control, has refused help from the National Guard to try and gain some kind of control.

Flying Cars? Maybe as Soon as 2023!

Are you ready for flying cars? There’s a good possibility that cars on a sky freeway may just be available by the time you are ready to drive. Wouldn’t that be something? SkyDrive Inc. in Tokyo, Japan may just have one ready by 2023.

The company announced it had just completed a successful manned test flight, the first of its kind, of the single-seater SD-03 prototype. It was operated by a test pilot and was able to lift off the ground and stay at an altitude of around six feet. The test vehicle looks similar to Luke Skywalker’s Land Speeder in Star Wars, but at this current early stage can not travel more than a few miles per hour. Currently, the SD-03 can only fly for about ten minutes. The goal is to have the flying car able to cruise at 40 MPH for up to 30 minutes at a time. A short flight to move passengers around the Kansai Airport in Japan is tentatively scheduled to start in 2023. Unlike the prototype, this one would be a two-seater.

“Of the more than 100 flying car projects currently underway globally, only a few have succeeded with manned flight,” Tomohiro Fukuzawa, head of the SkyDrive project, explained. Takumi Yamamoto, a Japanese car designer and also a SkyDrive stylist, said there are still a lot of hurdles to get over first. “There are many more constraints, limitations and regulations on the design of flying cars than standard road-going vehicles, but I hope I gave it some charisma amongst those restrictions,” he said.

One of the goals of flying vehicles is to help relieve congested traffic such as at airports and in traffic jams during rush hour. There is one thing to consider, though. Once flying cars become “the thing,” won’t that mean that the skyways will then become choked with other flying vehicles as well? Something to consider.

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