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Interior Sec. Zinke Orders Native American Activist to 'Be Nice'
During a tour of the heavily contested Bears Ears National Monument in Utah on Monday, U.S. Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke pointed a finger at monument supporter Cassandra Begay and told her to "be nice" after she repeatedly questioned the secretary about not spending more time talking with tribal leaders as part of his monuments review.
Begay, a tribal liaison with the group Peaceful Advocates for Native Dialogue & Organizing Support, described the encounter as "condescending and unnecessarily aggressive."
Footage of the incident shows Begay among a throng of Bears Ears monument supporters crowding around Zinke. At one point, the Native American activist asks the secretary, "When are you going to meet with the tribal leaders? It's kind of unfair that you've only met with them for one hour, sir. Is there a reason why you're not listening to them more?"
Zinke turns around, juts his finger at Begay and says, "Be nice."
"I'm so nice," Begay responds.
"Be nice," Zinke repeats. "Don't be rude. Thank you."
"I was scared, and my heart was racing," Begay said in a press statement following the encounter. "It felt condescending and unnecessarily aggressive. I have no idea why asking a simple question to somebody who is on a listening tour would react so aggressively."
As EcoWatch reported, the 1.35-million acre Bears Ears National Monument is one of the first targets under President Trump's recent executive orders to review 27 national monuments established by prior presidents.
Zinke is on a four-day tour of Utah to inspect two monuments, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante. The Bears Ears monument, created by President Obama last year, has sparked a fierce debate between Republican lawmakers and conservationists.
GOP lawmakers have accused President Obama, who designated more monuments than any other president, of abusing the Antiquities Act to protect land from fossil fuel development. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and Utah's congressional delegation led by Congressmen Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz and Senators Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee have launched a campaign to abolish national monuments.
Notably, the interior secretary is touring Bears Ears with monument opponents, Gov. Herbert, Rep. Bishop and San Juan County commissioners.
But conservationists and tribal supporters of the Bears Ears monument worry that stripping away the designation could leave the environment and sacred lands vulnerable.
"Bears Ears is much more than the preservation of sacred sites and of the environment. It is also the story of our resilience and survival. It is a site of resistance and of restitution," James Singer, a Navajo and Democrat candidate running to unseat Sen. Hatch, said. "I urge Secretary Zinke to stand with us to protect the sacred so that our future generations will continue to walk in harmony."
The secretary has met twice with members of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, which represents the Hopi, Navajo, Ute Indian Tribe, Ute Mountain Ute and Zuni. The group considers many sites within Bears Ears sacred and has complained that Zinke's time with them was insufficient, according to E&E News. Other monument supporters have also criticized Zinke's lack of a public forum and for allegedly refusing to meet with them.
"Tribes are trying to have a voice but every week Utah congressional delegates are claiming that there are no tribes in San Juan county and that no locals support the monument, however there are three tribes in San Juan county and 40-60 percent of its residents support the monument," Begay stated. "We need Secretary Zinke to meet with tribal leaders, who can identify burial sites, ceremonial sites, historic areas, medicinal herbs, and antiquities throughout the monument."
Zinke told reporters Tuesday that he has not made up his mind about whether Bears Ears should remain a monument or if its borders should be shrunk or expanded. He has until June 10 to report back to Trump.
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A central player in the fight against the novel coronavirus is our immune system. It protects us against the invader and can even be helpful for its therapy. But sometimes it can turn against us.
How does our immune system react to the coronavirus?<p>The coronavirus is — like any other virus — not much more than a shell around genetic material and a few proteins. To replicate, it needs a host in the form of a living cell. Once infected, this cell does what the virus commands it to do: copy information, assemble it, release it.</p><p>But this does not go unnoticed. Within a few minutes, the body's immune defense system intervenes with its innate response: Granulocytes, scavenger cells and killer cells from the blood and lymphatic system stream in to fight the virus. They are supported by numerous plasma proteins that either act as messengers or help to destroy the virus.</p><p>For many viruses and bacteria, this initial activity of the immune system is already sufficient to fight an intruder. It often happens very quickly and efficiently. We often notice only small signs that the system is working: We have a cold, a fever. </p>
Is there an immunity? How long does it last?<p>The good news is that it is very likely there is an immunity. This is suggested by the proximity to other viruses, epidemiological data and animal experiments. Researchers <a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.03.13.990226v1" target="_blank">infected four rhesus monkeys,</a> a species close to humans, with SARS-CoV-2. The monkeys showed symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, developed neutralizing antibodies and recovered after a few days. When the recovered animals were reinfected with the virus, they no longer developed any symptoms: They were immune. </p><p>The bad news: It is not (yet) known how long the immunity will last. It depends on whether a patient has successfully developed neutralizing antibodies. Achim Hörauf estimates that the immunity should last at least one year. Within this year, every new contact with the virus acts as a kind of booster vaccination, which in turn might prolong the immunity.</p><p>"The virus is so new that nobody has a reasonable immune response," says the immunologist. He believes that lifelong immunity is unlikely. This "privilege" is reserved for viruses that remain in the body for a long time and give our immune system a virtually permanent opportunity to get to know it. Since the coronavirus is an RNA (and not a DNA) virus, it cannot permanently settle in the body, says Hörauf.</p><p>The Heidelberg immunologist <a href="https://www.klinikum.uni-heidelberg.de/immunologie/immunologie" target="_blank">Stefan Meuer</a> predicts that the novel coronavirus will also mutate like all viruses. He assumes that this could be the case in 10 to 15 years: "At some point, the acquired immunity will no longer be of any use to us because then another coronavirus will return, against which the protection that has now been formed will not help us because the virus has changed in such a way that the antibodies are no longer responsible. And then no vaccination will help either."</p>
How can we take advantage of the antibody response of the immune system?<p>Researchers are already collecting plasma from people who have successfully survived an infection with SARS-CoV-2 and are using it to treat a limited number of patients suffering from COVID-19. The underlying principle: <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/coronavirus-drugs-can-antibodies-from-survivors-help/a-52806428" target="_blank">passive immunization.</a> The studies carried out to date have shown positive results, but they have usually been carried out on only a few people.</p><p>At best, passive immunization is used only when the patient's own immune system has already started to work against the virus, says Achim Hörauf: "The longer you can leave the patients alone with the infection before you protect them with passive immunization, the better." Only through active immunization can one be protected in the long term. At the same time, it is difficult to recognize the right point in time.</p><p>PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests are currently used to find out whether a person is infected with the coronavirus. With the help of PCR, it is not possible to tell whether or not there is reproducible viral RNA; it is just a proof of whether the virus is still present, dead or alive. A PCR test cannot tell us whether our immune system has already intervened, i.e. whether we have had contact with the virus in the past, have formed antibodies and are now protected. Researchers are therefore working on tests that check our blood for the presence of antibodies. They are already in use in Singapore, for example, and are nearing completion in the USA. With the help of these tests, it would finally be possible to gain an overview <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/corona-confusion-how-to-make-sense-of-the-numbers-and-terminology/a-52825433" target="_blank">of the unclear case numbers.</a> In addition, people who have developed antibodies against the virus could be used at the forefront of health care, for example. An "immunity passport" is even under discussion.</p>
Is it possible to become infected and/or ill several times with the coronavirus?<p>"According to all we know, it is not possible with the same pathogen," says Achim Hörauf. It is possible to become infected with other coronaviruses or viruses from the SARS or MERS group if their spike proteins look different. "As far as the current epidemic is concerned, it can be assumed that people who have been through COVID-19 will not become ill from it for the time being and will not transmit the virus any further," he says.</p>
How long before you're no longer contagious?<p>A study <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2196-x" target="_blank">carried out on the first coronavirus patients in Germany</a> showed that no viruses that are capable of replication can be found from day eight after the onset of symptoms, even though PCR can still detect up to 100,000 gene copies per sample. This could change the current quarantine recommendations in the future.</p><p>According to the Robert Koch Institute, patients can currently be discharged from hospital if they show two negative PCR samples from the throat within 24 hours. If they have had a severe case of the disease, they should remain in domestic isolation for another two weeks. For each discharge, whether from hospital or home isolation, they should have been symptom-free for at least 48 hours.</p>
Why do people react differently to the virus?<p>While some people get off with a mild cold, others are put on ventilators or even die of SARS-Cov-2. Especially people with <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/coronavirus-who-is-particularly-at-risk-and-why/a-52710881" target="_blank">pre-existing conditions</a> and older people seem to be worst-affected by the virus. Why? This is the hottest question at the moment.</p><p>It will still take a very, very long time to understand the mechanistic, biological basis for why some people are so much more severely affected than others, virologist Angela Rasmussen told <em>The Scientist</em>. "The virus is important, but the host response is at least as important, if not more important," her colleague Stanley Perlman told the magazine.</p><p>Stefan Meuer sees a fundamental survival principle of nature in the different equipment and activity of our immune systems: "If we were all the same, one and the same virus could wipe out the entire human species at once. Due to the genetic range, it is quite normal that some people die from a viral disease while others do not even notice it. "</p><p>Achim Hörauf also suspects immunological variants that could be genetically determined. Since interstitial pneumonia is observed with the coronavirus, the focus is probably on an overreaction of the immune system. However, it is also possible that each person affected may have been loaded with a different dose of the virus, which in turn leads to different outcomes. And finally, it makes a difference how robust the body and lungs are: Competitive athletes simply have more lung volume than long-time smokers. </p>
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