Heavily mutated Omicron variantputs scientists on alert

Researchers are racing to determine whether a fast-spreading coronavirus variant poses a threat to COVID vaccines’ effectiveness.

Ewen Callaway

Nature | November 27, 2021

People wearing personal protective equipment pick up a suspected COVID-19 patient
Medics at an infectious-disease unit in South Africa, where a new strain of COVID is spreading quickly.Credit: Alet Pretorius/Gallo Images/Getty

Researchers in South Africa are racing to track the concerning rise of a new variant of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The variant harbours a large number of the mutations found in other variants, including Delta, and it seems to be spreading quickly across South Africa.

A top priority is to follow the variant more closely as it spreads: it was first identified in Botswana earlier this month and has since turned up in a traveller arriving in Hong Kong from South Africa. Scientists are also trying to understand the variant’s properties, such as whether it can evade immune responses triggered by vaccines and whether it causes more or less severe disease than other variants do.

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Want research integrity? Stop the blame game

Helping every scientist to improve is more effective than ferreting out a few frauds.

Malcolm Macleod

Nature | November 24, 2021

Most scientists reading this probably assume that their research-integrity office has nothing to do with them. It deals with people who cheat, right? Well, it’s not that simple: cheaters are relatively rare, but plenty of people produce imperfect, imprecise or uninterpretable results. If the quality of every scientist’s work could be made just a little better, then the aggregate impact on research integrity would be enormous.

How institutions can encourage broad, incremental improvements is what I have been working to figure out. Two things are needed: a collective shift in mindset, and a move towards appropriate measurement.

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Global warming to hit India the worst in Asia by 2070

Over 9 billion across the world likely to be exposed to annual average temperatures experienced only in the hottest deserts

Pulaha Roy

Down To Earth | November 23, 2021

Global warming to hit India the worst in Asia by 2070. Photo: iStock

For over 6,000 years, humans restricted their settlements to a climate niche or set of temperatures between 11 degrees Celsius and 15 degrees Celsius mean annual temperature. But global warming could trigger the next wave of migration — and at least 3 billion people would be affected by it by 2070. India would be among the worst-hit in Asia. 

A study by a group of researchers — called Future of the Human Climate Niche — projected that over 3 billion people, currently living in 0.8 per cent of the Earth’s surface that experiences average annual temperature of more than 29°C, would have to move to migrate to more places with suitable conditions.

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Karl Radek on China: Documents from the Former Secret Soviet Archives

Alexander Pantsov (ed)

Brill, Historical Materialism Book Series, Volume: 219, Leiden, 2020. 510 pp., €205 hb
ISBN 9789004232693

Reviewed by Fabian Van Onzen

Marx and Philosophy Review of Books | November 26, 2021

Sometimes, the greatest theoretical works come to us in the form of lectures rather than systemic books. This is the case with Karl Radek, whose lectures on the Chinese Revolution have recently been published by the Historical Materialism book series. Stenographic copies of Radek’s lectures given at the Communist University of the Toilers were discovered by Alexander Pantsov in the Soviet archives, which had been kept secret for over ninety years because of Radek’s involvement with the left-opposition. Along with other recent books such as Mao Zedong Thought by Wang Fanxi, Karl Radek on China provides us with important documents on how the left-opposition approached the Chinese Revolution.

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Toward a New World: Articles and Essays, 1901-1906

On the Psychology of Society; New World, and Contributions to Studies in the Realist Worldview

Bogdanov Library, Volume: 245/3
Historical Materialism Book Series, Volume: 245/3

Author: Alexander Aleksandrovich Bogdanov
Editor / Translator: David Rowley

BRILL

Cover Toward a New World: Articles and Essays, 1901-1906

Alexander Bogdanov (1873–1928) wrote the articles in this volume in the years before and during the Revolution of 1905 when he was co-leader, with V.I. Lenin, of the Bolshevik faction of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, and was active in the revolution and the struggle against Marxist revisionism. In these pieces, Bogdanov defends the principles of revolutionary Social-Democracy on the basis of a neutral monist philosophy (empiriomonism), the idea of the invariable regularity of nature, and the use of the principle of selection to explain social development. The articles in On the Psychology of Society (1904/06) discredit the neo-Kantian philosophy of Russia’s Marxist revisionists, rebut their critique of historical materialism, and develop the idea that labour technology determines social consciousness. New World (1905) envisions how humankind will develop under socialism, and Bogdanov’s contributions to Studies in the Realist Worldview (1904/05) defend the labour theory of value and criticise neo-Kantian sociology.

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Class Struggle and Resistance in Northern France and Belgium during the Second World War

Steve Cushion

The class struggle did not disappear during the Second World War following the occupation of Europe by the German armed forces. In northern France and Belgium a shop steward-based movement quickly emerged, mainly led by communist activists, that attempted to defend and advance wages and conditions and, above all access to sufficient food for working class families. In so doing, they organised an impressive series of strikes that involved nearly a quarter of a million workers and won some significant material gains although at the cost of severe repression with many activists being killed in prison or while resisting arrest. A significant number of these militants, when on the run from the forces of repression, fought back with armed attacks and sabotage. The hunted became the hunters.

The International Transport Workers’ Federation and Working Class Resistance to the Nazis

Merilyn Moos

The leadership of the trade unions and the social democratic parties of Europe did not play any significant role in the resistance to the growth and spread of fascism in the 1930s and 40s. The major exception to this pattern was the International Transport Workers’ Federation led by Edo Fimmen, which defied convention by organising illegal underground resistance groups amongst German seafarers, dockers and railway workers as well as bringing aid and solidarity to the republican forces during the Spanish civil war.

This pamphlet examines the connection between the class struggle and anti-fascist politics as well as the relationship between mass action and the armed struggle under a repressive regime. In so doing, we add a discussion of class into the historiography of the Second World War which, with a few exceptions, is dominated by an analysis based on an assumption of patriotism and class collaboration, and which explains the Nazis and other fascists as representing “evil”, without looking for the class interests they represented.

SOURCE: Journal of Historical Materialism