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February 11: Sun Explosion causes blackouts, Wolves Immune to Cancer, China in trouble (Recap ep265)

In this week’s Recap, Marcello talks about some massive explosions in the sun that have caused blackouts near Australia and Asia similar to what they called the Carrington event in 1859; Mutan wolves that roam in the Chernobyl exclusion zone have been found to have some cancer-resilient genomes that could help humans fight cancer; China’s central bank has injected the financial system with liquidity to stimulate production growth.

As China’s central bank unleashes liquidity into the financial system to prod growth, banks are now chasing factories with cheap loan offers. But squeezed out by bigger rivals, smaller firms are unwilling to take on loans to finance new business, in what economists see as a broken link in China’s increasingly inefficient monetary policy. Investment by private companies, which according to state officials provide 80% of urban jobs, fell -0.4% last year, while state investment rose +6.4%.
China’s consumer prices fell at their steepest pace in more than 14 years in January, while producer prices also dropped, ramping up pressure on policymakers to do more to revive an economy low on confidence & facing deflationary risks. The world’s 2nd-biggest economy has been grappling with slowing prices since early last year, forcing policymakers to cut interest rates to spur growth, even as many developed economies were focused on taming stubbornly high inflation. Data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed on Thursday that the consumer price index (CPI) fell -0.8% in January from a year earlier, after a 0.3% drop in December.
The European Union’s climate change monitoring service said on Thursday that the world just experienced its warmest January on record, marking the first 12-month period in which temperatures averaged more than 1.5C (2.7F) above pre-industrial times. Already 2023 was the planet’s hottest year in global records going back to 1850, as human-caused climate change & El Nino, the weather pattern that warms the surface waters in the eastern Pacific Ocean, pushed temperatures higher. The previous warmest January was in 2020, according to the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) records which go back to 1950.
Mutant wolves that roam the human-free Chernobyl Exclusion Zone have developed cancer-resilient genomes, that could well be key to helping humans fight the deadly disease. The wild animals have managed to adapt & survive the high levels of radiation that have plagued the area after a nuclear reactor at the Chernobyl power plant exploded in 1986, in the world’s worst nuclear accident. Humans left the area after the explosion leaked cancer-causing radiation into the environment & a 1,000-square-mile zone was abandoned to prevent further human exposure. In the nearly 38 years since the nuclear disaster, wildlife has returned to the area, including packs of wolves that seem to be unaffected by the chronic exposure to the radiation.
King Charles of the United Kingdom has been diagnosed with cancer it has been announced. The 75-year-old monarch has returned to London from Sandringham to begin treatment immediately. It is not connected with his recent surgery & is not prostate cancer, but medics spotted it when he underwent his medical procedure for an enlarged prostate. The King’s diagnosis will pose serious questions for the working of the monarchy, with fewer working members of the royal family & the Princess of Wales out of action, due to abdominal surgery until after Easter.
Spanish farmers blocked traffic on several major highways & burned tires on Tuesday, joining colleagues in other European countries protesting against high costs, bureaucracy & competition from non-EU nations. Spain’s Agriculture Ministry announced Tuesday it will distribute an extra 269M Euros ($289M) in aid to nearly 140K farmers to help alleviate the impact of the long-running drought & the war in Ukraine.Over the past few weeks, farmers in European countries including Germany, France & Belgium have held protests that sometimes turned violent.

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