A COVID-19 particle is pictured in this image provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. – CDC/TNS/TNS
The U.S. has reported the highest number of new COVID-19 cases in the world over the last seven days, according to the World Health Organization. The U.S. saw 500,332 new cases (a 131% increase) the week ending July 25 compared with the previous week, the WHO said. The world at large saw 3.8 million new cases (an 8% increase) over the same time period. More troublingly, the number of deaths related to COVID-19 (more than 69,000) represented a 21% jump. “An average of around 540 000 cases were reported each day over the past week as compared to 490 000 cases reported daily the week before.
Is the world coming to an end? Why the coronavirus is simply the top of the iceberg – 10 deadly plagues claim
If weird Christian prophecies regarding the coronavirus and locust swarms are to be accepted, THE END OF THE WORLD is near. Here are some of the reasons why some Christian evangelists feel we are nearing the end of the world.
Since its emergence in China in 2019, Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has infected about 190.6 million individuals worldwide, prompting the World Health Organization to declare it a global pandemic (WHO). In recent months, a slew of conspiracy theorists and fringe Christian groups have flooded social media with dire predictions of the world’s fiery destruction.
“Don’t know how terrible the Coronavirus is going to be, in truth,” William R. Giersdof wrote on Twitter, “but there was some chapter in the Bible’s Book of Revelation where it talks about a substantial portion of humanity being wiped off by sickness and pestilence.”
“Doesn’t the Book of Revelation mention The Lamb smiting the Anti-Pope with #coronavirus?” someone other wondered.
“‘Beginning of Sorrows’ – Matthew 24:3-8,” a third Twitter user wrote.
“Wildfires in Australia… Coronavirus… Earthquakes in unusual places… Increased rage/murders all around the world… Hunger levels are increasing…
“And there are those who mock the Book of Revelation… #JesusIsComing.”
But why are people posting these odd end-of-the-world predictions?
The coronavirus is one of ten plagues currently afflicting the world, according to Christian evangelist Michael Snyder.
Armies of locusts, weird weather patterns, unprecedented flooding, massive earthquakes, unexpected volcanic eruptions, the coronavirus, African Swine Fever, H1N1 Swine Flu, H5N1 Bird Flu, and H5N8 Bird Flu are among the plagues.
The coronavirus should not be seen as a foretold end-of-the-world plague.
The Stream, Michael Brown
“All of a sudden, extremely bizarre things are starting to happen all across the world,” he wrote in an article for Technical Politics.
“Giant locust swarms are destroying entire regions, meteorologists are baffled by extraordinarily strange storms, earthquake and volcanic activity are both on the rise, and five incredibly terrible diseases are sweeping the planet.
“It’s been one thing after another so far in 2020, and many are wondering about what could happen if circumstances continue to escalate.”
However, there is no proof that any of these occurrences are apocalyptic or prophetic.
The Book of Revelation in the Bible depicts a series of events that will reportedly take place in the final days leading up to the Second Coming. “Brinkwire News in Condensed Form.”
Washington (CNN)Alabama Republican Gov. Kay Ivey on Thursday called out “the unvaccinated folks” for the rise in Covid-19 cases in her state, a remarkable plea at a time when many GOP leaders are refusing to urge people to get vaccinated even as Covid-19 cases surge in many parts of the country.”Folks are supposed to have common sense. But it’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks. It’s the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down,” Ivey told reporters in Birmingham.Alabama is the least vaccinated state in the country, with roughly 33.9% of residents fully vaccinated, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Average daily Covid-19 cases in Alabama are nearly double what they were a week ago, and more than four times higher than they were two weeks ago.
Asked by reporters Thursday about plans to issue a mask mandate or other restrictions now that Covid cases are starting to rise again in her state, Ivey replied, “The new cases of Covid are because of unvaccinated folks. Almost 100% of the new hospitalizations are with unvaccinated folks. And the deaths are certainly occurring with unvaccinated folks.”
“We’ve got to get folks to take the shot,” she continued, calling the vaccine “the greatest weapon we have to fight Covid.”Enter your email to sign up for CNN’s “What Matters” Newsletter.close dialog
On Thursday, Ivey insisted that she’s done “all I know how to do” in managing the situation. When asked what it would take to get more people to get shots, she replied, “I don’t know, you tell me.”Ivey ended the state’s mask mandate in April, at the time favoring personal responsibility rather than a government mandate. The CDC had announced in May that fully vaccinated people would no longer have to wear masks.But now with the Delta variant spreading, experts are saying vaccinated and unvaccinated people should wear masks in areas where Covid-19 cases are high but vaccination rates are low.Ivey on Thursday was asked by a reporter what it would take to implement a mask mandate, and replied that “I want folks to get vaccinated” and “why would we want mess around with just temporary stuff?”The governor said she received both doses of the Covid vaccine in December.
Not all Republicans are embracing McConnell’s vaccine push. Read what some had to say when asked this week“It’s safe, it’s effective, the data proves that it works, doesn’t cost anything. It saves lives,” she said.Asked about whether she would recommend children who are too young to be vaccinated wear a mask when they return to school, Ivey said that the decision would be left up to school districts.White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday that “we understand (Ivey’s) frustration” over pockets of vaccine resistance when asked about the Alabama governor’s comments and whether the Biden administration should take a sharper tone against unvaccinated people.”I don’t think our role is to place blame, but what we can do is provide accurate information to people who are not yet vaccinated about the risks they are incurring not only among on themselves, but also the people around them,” Psaki said.
Asked whether the federal government should issue vaccine mandates, Psaki replied, “What our role is and what we’re going to continue to do is make the vaccine available, we’re going to continue to work in partnership to fight misinformation, and we’re going to continue to advocate and work in partnership with local officials and trusted voices to get the word out.”In recent days — amid surges largely occurring in states former President Donald Trump won in 2020 — increasing numbers of Republicans and conservative media figures have called upon Americans to get the vaccine after months of declining to press the issue. But many Republican leaders still won’t say publicly whether they are vaccinated and Trump himself has cast the vaccine in political terms, suggesting people aren’t taking it because “they don’t trust (Biden’s) Administration.”
Washington (CNN)President Joe Biden participated Wednesday in the second CNN town hall of his presidency, taking questions from anchor Don Lemon and local residents in Cincinnati.As he did at his February town hall, Biden made a number of false or misleading claims. We haven’t been able to look into every single thing he said Wednesday night, but here is a rundown on some of his remarks.
Calling on Americans to get vaccinated against Covid-19, Biden said, “If you’re vaccinated, you’re not going to be hospitalized, you’re not going to be in the ICU unit and you’re not going to die.” In another exchange moments later, Biden said that even if vaccinated people do “catch the virus,” they are “not likely to get sick.”
Facts First: Biden’s second claim — that vaccinated people are “not likely to get sick” — was accurate. But the blanket promises in his first and third comments — that vaccinated people are simply “not going to be hospitalized,” “not going to die” and, even with the very contagious Delta variant, “not going to get Covid” — were inaccurate.Enter your email to sign up for CNN’s “What Matters” Newsletter.close dialog
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not endorse the definitive language Biden did. The CDC notes on its website that “vaccine breakthrough cases will occur, even though the vaccines are working as expected” and “there will be a small percentage of fully vaccinated people who still get sick, are hospitalized or die from Covid-19.”Experts emphasize that it is uncommon for fully vaccinated people to become seriously ill from Covid-19. CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said last Friday that more than 97% of Covid-19 patients hospitalized at present are unvaccinated; Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said on CNN on Sunday that 99.5% of Covid-19 deaths at the moment are of unvaccinated people. But that means, of course, that hospitalizations and deaths among the fully vaccinated do sometimes occur, as various US jurisdictions have reported in recent days.The CDC says that as of July 12 it had received reports of 1,063 deaths among vaccinated people with “breakthrough” cases, though it cautioned that 26% of these deaths were “reported as asymptomatic or not related to COVID-19.” The CDC said it had received reports of 5,189 hospitalizations among vaccinated people with “breakthrough” cases, though 28% were “reported as asymptomatic or not related to COVID-19.”White House press secretary Jen Psaki sought to clarify Biden’s statement that “you’re not going to get Covid if you have these vaccinations.””Well, what the science says is that 97% of hospitalizations are people who were unvaccinated,” Psaki said Thursday. “So yes, there are cases of individuals who are vaccinated, to be absolutely clear, who have gotten Covid — it is a very small percentage, and a small number of people, and those cases, the vast, vast, vast majority, are asymptomatic and they have, they have minor symptoms, which means that you are largely protected — that was the point he was trying to make last night.”
After he was asked by a citizen if he is concerned about higher prices, especially inflation in gasoline, automotive and food prices, Biden asserted that “the cost of an automobile, it’s kind of back to what it was before the pandemic.”Facts First: This is false, even with the wiggle room Biden granted himself with the phrase “kind of.” Because of challenges created by the Covid-19 pandemic, new car prices and used car prices are significantly higher today than they were before the pandemic, whether “before the pandemic” means mid-2019 or early 2020. Used car prices have experienced a particularly large increase.For new and used vehicles in US cities, the Consumer Price Index was about 20% higher in June 2021 than it was in January 2020 and about 19% higher than in June 2019. Used cars and trucks were up about 43% in cities since January 2020 and about 41% since June 2019.CNN Business senior writer Chris Isidore wrote Sunday that — according to Edmunds, a company that tracks auto prices — “the average new car transaction in June was just shy of the record $41,000 set in May, and up 10% from June 2019. The average used car price soared even more, rising 28% in that two-year period to reach a record $26,500.”Kelley Blue Book, which also tracks auto prices, reported this week that the average transaction price for a new light vehicle in the US was an all-time high of $42,258 in June 2021, not including applied consumer incentives. That’s up about 12% from June 2019 and about 9% from January 2020, according to Kelley Blue Book spokeswoman Brenna Buehler.Kayla Reynolds, industry intelligence analyst for Cox Automotive, which owns Kelley Blue Book, said in an email: “Historically tight new-vehicle inventory has helped push transaction prices higher throughout the past year. Incentives spending by the automakers has also dropped notably, and new-vehicle affordability hit a ten-year low in June.” Reynolds added that, given the global microchip shortage that is still affecting vehicle manufacturing, analysts at Cox Automotive “don’t expect new-vehicle inventory to return to normal levels until next year, and even then consumers can’t expect a significant price correction, only a slowing of price increases.”
Biden criticized the broad corporate use of “noncompete” clauses that restrict workers’ ability to leave for jobs at other companies. He said, “For example, you have over 600,000 people out there signing — 6 million people signing a — I better check the number — of — signing noncompete agreements. Not because they have … any secret, but because they were working for one fast-food restaurant, and they’re told they can’t get 10 cents more going across town, going to the other fast-food restaurant. Why? To keep wages down.”Facts First: Biden made very clear he wasn’t sure what the real number of workers was, but still the numbers he used were way off, according to his own administration’s previous estimates. Psaki told reporters on July 7 that noncompete agreements affect “over 30 million people” in the private sector. A White House document published on July 9, meanwhile, put the figure at “some 36 to 60 million workers,” citing an estimate from the Economic Policy Institute think tank.In a July 9 executive order, Biden asked the chair of the Federal Trade Commission to “consider working” with the rest of the commission to use its authority “to curtail the unfair use of non-compete clauses and other clauses or agreements that may unfairly limit worker mobility.”
An infrastructure letter
Talking about the ongoing Senate negotiations over a bipartisan infrastructure bill, Biden said he thinks the negotiators need only until Monday to resolve outstanding issues. He said, “You had up to 20 Republicans sign a letter saying, ‘We think we need this deal. We think we need this deal.’ “Facts First: If he was talking about the letter that was in the news the day he spoke, Biden exaggerated the extent of Republican support. According to Republican Sen. Rob Portman, 11 Republican senators sent a letter to Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in which they made clear they would vote no if Schumer held a procedural vote on Wednesday to advance the bipartisan infrastructure proposal but that they intended to vote yes if a vote were held next Monday. (Biden did say “up to 20,” not plain “20,” but 11 is so far away from 20 that the claim is at least misleading.)Biden might have gotten the letter to Schumer mixed up with a public statement Wednesday in support of the infrastructure talks, which was endorsed by 22 senators. But that statement, too, included the names of 11 Republicans — 10 senators and one House member.The Wednesday vote failed. Schumer has the right to call another vote on Monday or in the future.
The child tax credit
Touting his expansion of the child tax credit, which was part of the $1.9 trillion relief package he signed into law in March, Biden claimed, “It’s called the child tax credit. If you have a child under the age of 7, you get 300 bucks a month — 350 bucks a month. If you have a child under — between 7 and 17, you get a total of 200 bucks a month.”Facts First: Biden was inaccurate in two ways — both on the amount of the tax credit for the two age groups and on what the two age groups actually are.The age groups used to determine how much money families receive from the tax credit are: 1) ages 6 to 17 (not 7 to 17 as Biden said): 2) under 6 (not under 7 as Biden said).Eligible parents receive up to $250 per month for each child 6 to 17, not $200 as Biden said. They receive up to $300 a month for each child under 6; Biden originally cited this amount but then incorrectly boosted the figure to $350.
Biden’s initial vaccination goal
Biden said, “Now, by the way, remember when I first got elected, the issue was, well, I said I was going to do a million shots a week, and people said, ‘Biden can’t do that’ or ‘Biden team can’t do that.’ And it was 2 million.”
Facts First: Biden misspoke here. His initial goal — which some observers did indeed greet with skepticism — was 1 million Covid-19 shots a day, not 1 million shots “a week.” Specifically, Biden had set a target of 100 million shots in his first 100 days.Biden then raised the target to 200 million shots in his first 100 days. That goal was achieved.
New Data Leads To Rethinking (Once More) Where The Pandemic Actually Began
Audio will be available later today.
Back in May, a group of scientists — many at the top of the virology field — shifted the debate about the origins of COVID-19. They published a letter in the journal Science saying the lab-leak theory needs to be taken more seriously by the scientific community.
Given the current evidence available, the scientists wrote, the outbreak is just as likely to have originated from a laboratory — specifically the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which studies coronaviruses — as from an infected animal. “We must take hypotheses about both natural and laboratory spillovers seriously until we have sufficient data,” they concluded.
Now one of the scientists who signed that letter says new data has come to light. And that information, summarized in an online review, has changed his thinking.
“I do think transmission from another species, without a lab escape, is the most likely scenario by a long shot,” says evolutionary biologist Michael Worobey at the University of Arizona.
In fact, Worobey thinks, the most likely scenario, given the current information, is that the pandemic began at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, even though the World Health Organization says it’s unlikely to have started there. “The data are very consistent with it starting at the market — very consistent,” Worobey says.
A Sherlock Holmes in the world of pandemics
Over the past decade, Worobey has become a bit like the Sherlock Holmes of pandemic origins. His work has helped explain how the 1918 flu emerged and how HIV came to the U.S. earlier than people thought. “It got to New York City pretty darn early, probably around 1970, 1971, somewhere in there,” Worobey told NPR in 2016.
During the coronavirus pandemic, Worobey has been studying how SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes the disease COVID-19, spreads around densely populated cities such as Wuhan, China, where the outbreak is thought to have begun. Using this information, he built computer simulations to model how SARS-CoV-2 may have transmitted through Wuhan early in the outbreak, before doctors detected the first cases, likely in December 2019. The models could estimate key aspects of the early outbreak, such as when the first case occurred, how long the virus spread in the city before doctors noticed it and how many cases were in the city at that point.Article continues after sponsor message
A few months ago, Worobey says, his models couldn’t differentiate between the lab-leak theory and the alternative theory — that the virus jumped directly from an animal into people. Both theories were consistent with the data. “So I was on that Science letter,” he says, “asserting that more investigation is needed of both possibilities.”
Then two new pieces of information came to light. First, Woroby started to look more closely at the geography of early known COVID-19 cases — cases that occurred in December 2019. He took data from the World Health Organization’s report from March and plotted the date on a map if where people with confirmed cases lived in Wuhan.
Why the location of the market and the lab matters
Then he did something that the WHO didn’t: He added to the map the location of the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market and the Wuhan Institute of Virology, where scientists studied bat coronaviruses. “It’s a very simple thing to do,” Worobey says. “But it really paints a pretty clear picture, right?”
The dots show the cases starting right near the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market and then radiating out from there. “The Huanan market seems like the bull’s-eye of this outbreak. It’s pretty extraordinary.”
What about cases near the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), which is more than 10 miles from the market? “There are no cases around the WIV,” Worobey says. “If the outbreak did start in the lab, the bottom line is, it would be odd for it not to be spreading from there rather than from elsewhere.”
The other piece of data, which helped shift Worobey’s thinking, concerns the products sold at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market. Was there anything at the market that has been previously known to spread SARS coronaviruses?
Since the pandemic began, the Chinese government claimed the vendors at the market didn’t sell any illegal wildlife. “They said the market was operating completely legally,” says biosecurity expert Gigi Gronvall at Johns Hopkins University. “And just on the face of it, you just know, that’s not correct.
“And lo and behold, it’s not,” she adds.
Last month, researchers published a study showing that the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market was one of four markets in Wuhan selling illegal wildlife, including palm civets and raccoon dogs, which are both known to spread SARS-CoV-2. Scientists believe civets triggered the first SARS coronavirus pandemic, in 2003.
The researchers, from China West Normal University in Nanchong, surveyed 17 markets across Wuhan between May 2017 and November 2019. They found more than 47,000 live animals across 38 different species for sale, including 31 species protected under Chinese law.
This new information about the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, along with the maps and modeling data, don’t prove an animal origin for the pandemic by any means, Gronvall says. Nor do they disprove the lab-leak theory, she says: “There are lots of pieces to still fill in, but this report [from Worobey and his colleagues] ties a lot of the pieces together that say, ‘There is a really credible story for an animal origin of SARS-CoV2.’ “
What we do know — and still don’t know — about cases
Now, of course, all the data presented to support Worobey’s hypothesis come with caveats — big caveats. The Chinese government tightly controlled and managed the information coming from China, especially information concerning the early days of the pandemic. The reported COVID-19 cases in December 2019 are only a small fraction of the actual number circulating in Wuhan at the time. The government refuses to release the raw data for patients in 2019 or allow researchers to search for even earlier cases through the analyses of blood bank samples or epidemiological interviews.
In addition, the Huanan market sits in the middle of a densely populated part of the city, where many elderly people live, points out Alina Chan, a molecular biologist at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Mass., who has promoted the lab-leak theory online.
“There are many more people living north of the river, and there are a lot of elderly folk living there in a lot of care homes there,” said Chan, as she showed me a population density map of Wuhan, published in February 2020. “So it doesn’t surprise me that the early outbreak doesn’t map to the [WIV] lab. People don’t live at the labs.”
But, Worobey says, a closer look at the population density in Wuhan indicates the early cases aren’t in the densest part of the city. “It is certainly worth considering the degree to which population densities might play a role in explaining early cases,” Worobey wrote to NPR in an email. “But there does seem to be a pattern in the early data … of considerable numbers of cases both to the north and south of the Huanan Market, whereas the large patch of really high numbers of elderly people in Wuhan is in the very southern extent of the central cluster shown.”
Furthermore, he notes, the earliest known cases skewed young. The highest number of cases occurred in people ages 29 to 49 and then in people ages 50 to 65. The vast majority were under 65, a study found.
And so, given the data available right now, he believes the most likely scenario is that the pandemic started at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, not the lab. “It does seem a pretty weird coincidence that [a big outbreak occurs] at one of four places in Wuhan that sells things like civets and raccoon dogs, which are the likely suspects as intermediaries to SARS-CoV-2.”
But if new data comes to light tomorrow, his thinking may shift again, Worobey says. That, in many ways, is the way science works.
A Biden administration source revealed to Fox News on Saturday that the very public callout of Facebook followed months of frustration with the platform for failing to stamp out “dangerous” information about the vaccinations that have spread online.
The White House has been seeking help from Facebook and other social media sites since February on stopping misinformation from going viral, such as the myth that getting the shot will cause infertility.
While Facebook has made positive public statements on how they’ve partnered with the government and taken aggressive action to curb vaccine misinformation, the White House believes that the Big Tech company has fallen short.
“They’ve been withholding information on what the rules are, what they have put in place to prevent dangerous misinformation from spreading [and] how they measure whether it’s working,” a Biden administration official told Fox News.
The tensions reached a boiling point amid the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant, vaccine hesitancy among young people and polls showing the majority of unvaccinated people believe myths about the vaccine.
As coronavirus cases are on the rise and vaccination rates have slowed in the United States, the White House launched this week an effort to crack down on misinformation, starting with a warning from U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on Thursday that bogus information about coronavirus is an “urgent threat” to public health.
“We’re flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation. We’re working with doctors and medical experts…who are popular with their audience with accurate information,” she said. “So, we’re helping get trusted content out there.”
Biden took the effort one step further Friday by claiming inaction by Facebook and other platforms to take down false information is costing people their lives to a preventable illness.
“The only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated, and they’re killing people,” Biden said.
The White House comments drew a quick rebuke from Facebook.
And while the White House is having a public spat with the Big Tech giant, some Republicans and critics are accusing the White House of being too cozy with Facebook in their efforts to take down posts they deem as problematic.
“Democrats are all about the First Amendment except when they don’t like what’s being said,” Rep. Lance Gooden, R-Texas, told Fox News Saturday. Gooden just recently formed a House caucus aimed at reining in Big Tech.
Trillions of dollars poured into rescuing economies around the world from the Covid-19 crisis have been spent in ways that worsen the climate crisis and harm nature because governments have failed to fulfil promises of a “green recovery” from the pandemic.
Only about a tenth of the $17tn in bailouts provided by governments since the start of the pandemic was spent on activities that reduced greenhouse gas emissions or restored the natural world, according to analysis from Vivid Economics, published on Thursday.
About $3tn was spent in ways that would increase greenhouse emissions and harm the natural world, outweighing the $1.8tn spent globally on green projects, such as renewable energy and low-carbon transport.Advertisement
He said: “Definitely governments could have done better. They’re spending public money on things that harm the public. It’s just shocking and impossible to justify. In some instances it would also have been cheaper to make better decisions.”
Renewable energy, for instance, is cheaper than fossil fuels for power generation in most parts of the world, while the cost of electric vehicles has also dropped rapidly.
Few governments had taken account of the impacts of nature, and in some cases they loosened environmental regulations, such as legal restrictions on logging and the need for environmental impact assessments for developments, citing Covid-19 as the reason, with little justification.
Beyer added: “We did not see a sufficient shift to green spending. It’s hard to be optimistic when you look at the evidence about how much climate change and nature have really not been considered in public spending decisions.”
Economic stimulus spending had a negative environmental impact in 20 of the 30 countries that Vivid surveyed. The EU as a whole, Denmark, France, Spain and Germany, all made a strong show by turning more of their stimulus spending to environmentally beneficial ends. But some leading economies did not act so well; China and India spent far more on projects that would harm the climate and nature, such as coal-fired power plants. Russia came bottom of the league in terms of the harm caused by its stimulus.https://interactive.guim.co.uk/uploader/embed/2021/07/covid-stimuluschart/giv-825CHiFc3pWmF3n/
The picture in the UK was “mixed”, said Beyer. The British government brought forward a 10-point plan, including investments in offshore wind energy and low-carbon innovations. However, ministers scrapped the green homes grant, a programme to help insulate housing, after only six months and following a litany of failures.
The US stimulus has also been altered, with political wrangling over Joe Biden’s planned $2tn package having reduced the amounts to be spent on “green” job creation in areas such as renewable energy. Beyer said the full impacts of the US spending plans were not yet clear.
Brian O’Callaghan, lead researcher on the Oxford University Economic Recovery project, said analysis by the Oxford Global Recovery Observatory had found more than 560 examples of environmentally positive spending. He said there was still uncertainty over what would happen to stimulus spending, especially in view of the new variants of Covid-19.
“Despite lacklustre green investment to date, there remain strong opportunities for governments to jump on to green industry transitions to bring economic recovery alongside environmental progress,” he said.
Vaccine programmes would help countries further shift their spending to a long-term focus, which would help with green investment, O’Callaghan said. “Policymakers must consider how green incentives can be integrated to traditionally neutral spending – for instance, requiring new hospitals to have the highest standards of energy efficiency, requiring new schools to be 100% powered by renewables, or mandating that all government-funded construction follows green procurement standards.”
Edward Barbier, professor of economics at Colorado State University and author of a landmark report on the 2008-09 financial crisis, which found about 16% of the stimulus then was “green”, agreed. He said: “It is understandable that some of this additional stimulus [for Covid-19] is less green than anticipated. But for it to be environmentally harmful and damaging to nature is inexcusable and ultimately will make many worse off for failing to head off the looming climate crisis and other global environmental risks.”
He urged the G20, whose ministers and leaders will discuss the recovery from Covid alongside the climate crisis in meetings ahead of the Cop26 climate talks in November, to step up their efforts.
“At some point, we need to transition from stimulating the existing ‘brown’ economy and implement long-term investment and pricing reforms to create the infrastructure, innovation and incentives for the green economy we want and urgently need.
“The major economies of the G20 must take the lead on such a global strategy. As this report shows, they are failing so far to do so. It is imperative that the G20 take up this challenge immediately and begin formulating a post-Covid green recovery strategy as a collective priority.”
SINGAPORE – The sale and slaughter of live turtles and frogs at wet markets in Singapore has been banned since December.
The move came after a joint appeal by wildlife rescue group Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres), and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), to raise the safety and welfare standards of live animals sold for food.
In response to queries from The Straits Times in June, the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) confirmed on Wednesday (July 14) that the sale and slaughter of live frogs and turtles at market stalls has been banned following a review conducted in consultation with the National Parks Board and National Environmental Agency (NEA).
Said SFA: “While the public health risks posed by such slaughtering activity are low, SFA and NEA started phasing out slaughtering and sale of live frogs and turtles at market stalls since June 2020 to further reduce the risk and improve environmental hygiene and food safety.”
Earlier in March, a World Health Organisation-led research mission concluded that the virus most likely spread from animals to humans either directly from a bat or through another mammal possibly sold at the market, where live and dead animals such as weasels, civets, and bats are sold as food.
Animal welfare groups welcomed the ban, which followed an investigation by Acres at wet market stalls last March. It found that live animals were slaughtered in close proximity to the meat sold to the public, which Acres said posed a serious risk of disease transmission.
Ms Anbarasi Boopal, co-chief executive officer of Acres, lauded the new rules as a “progressive step” and called for improved hygiene and welfare of live animals sold as food at other food and beverage establishments.
She said: “At some coffee shops, we have observed that stallholders keep live animals in close proximity to where people are eating.”
More can also be done to curb the sale of live, wild-caught, Asiatic soft-shell turtles (Amyda cartilaginea), which cannot be kept as pets in Singapore but are imported for consumption, added Ms Anbarasi.
According to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora Trade Database, Singapore was the top importer of live, wild-caught, Asiatic soft-shell turtles from Indonesia in 2019, with over 18,200 turtles. It is not known how many of these were re-exported.
Acres has also rescued many of these fresh-water turtles that were released at beaches by members of the public who were unaware that their act of kindness leads to a “slow painful death”, said Ms Anbarasi.
Presley actually recorded the song twice, the first time as part of his personal recordings while he was serving in the Army, then again for professional release in the 1970s, Vallis said.
“You can hear that he’s trying to emulate Sanford’s sound,” Vallis said. “You know, most people I know want to impersonate Elvis, and here Elvis was trying to impersonate him.”
Clark recorded several other songs in the 1950s and 1960s that saw minor success before he left the music business to work in construction, though he occasionally recorded in later decades on his own label, Desert Sun Records.
Sanford is survived by his wife, Marsha, and several children.
The claim: Spike protein of COVID-19 vaccines is causing new Delta variant
In recent weeks, many states began relaxing coronavirus restrictions as COVID-19 cases dropped and vaccination rates crept toward President Joe Biden’s target of partially vaccinating 70% of American adults by July 4.
But some on social media are claiming cases fromthe new strain aren’t due to the virus but shedding from COVID-19 vaccines.
“The new ‘vARiAnT’ is nothing more than the VX spike pr0teins inf*cting those vxd and unvxd,” claims a tweet shared in a June 27 Instagram post. Both Twitter and Instagram accounts are owned by the same user, who USA TODAY has reached out to for comment.
Neither is possible. The COVID-19 vaccines simply help the body develop immunity against the virus, including against the Delta variant. Get the Checking the Facts newsletter in your inbox.
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Vaccine spike proteins cannot cause disease on their own
Vaccine shedding can occur in rare cases with some types of vaccines, but not with the ones currently available for COVID-19.
“As none of the current COVID-19 vaccines authorized for emergency use in the USA contain live SARS-CoV-2 virus, viral shedding is not an issue for these vaccines,” Dr. Matthew Laurens, an infectious disease specialist and vaccine researcher at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, previously told USA TODAY.
The vaccines authorized in the U.S. contain instructions for the spike protein either in the form of messenger RNA (a type of genetic code ordinarily used by our bodies to make proteins) or via a weakened cold virus stripped of its ability to replicate.
Regardless of the delivery system, the spike protein cannot cause disease on its own.
When a coronavirus enters your body, usually through breathing in virus-laden droplets from other infected people, the infection unfolds like this: The virus binds to a protein on the host cell surface, enters the host cell, replicates, destroys the host cell as new viral particles are made and dumped into the bloodstream.
Delta variant is more contagious, but vaccines do help
Emerging in India this year, the Delta variant is the newest variant of concern – what the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is calling a group of coronavirus strains that appear to be more transmissible and result in more severe disease – especially for those who haven’t been vaccinated, experts say.
This poses a grave concern and threat to poor countries with little to no vaccines, as well as vulnerable areas in the southern U.S. where vaccination rates severely lag behind the Northeast and West Coast.
“A variant like (Delta) that has more transmissibility will lead to more hospitalizations and more deaths among a population that has low vaccination coverage,” Dr. Henry Walke, director of the CDC’s division of preparedness and emerging infections, told NBC News.
The key protection against this contagious strain is being fully vaccinated.
A May study from the U.K.’s Public Health England showed two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were 88% effective against symptomatic disease from the Delta variant, and even more successful at preventing hospitalization and death. The study, however, found one dose of the Pfizer vaccine was only 33% protective.
We rate the claim that the spike protein of the COVID-19 vaccines is the cause of the new Delta variant FALSE, based on our research. The Delta variant is a genetically unique version of COVID-19 that was not created by vaccine shedding. Vaccine shedding is a real phenomenon for other vaccines, but it is not possible with the currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines since they do not contain live virus. The spike protein contained in the COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. is not at all capable of causing disease by itself.