By Mike IsbellUniversity of GeorgiaWe passed the time by listening to Jerry and J.L. tell stories. Both could tell some tales, and I didn’t know which was lying and which wasn’t. Heck, they may have both been lying!But if you’re going to be sitting and waiting, you might as well be entertained.Jerry Payne, a retired entomologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, had come as part of a team from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to J.L. Anderson’s property to see and photograph a particular bluebird: a black bluebird.Bluebirds are sky blue, not black. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, at Cornell University, a leading authority on birds, has no record of a black bluebird ever being reported — ever!Bluebird countryJ.L.’s property was ideal for bluebirds: open space, with areas of cover. In other words, in the country. You can expect to see them in farming areas, in suburban developments bordered by wild spaces, near golf courses and cemeteries, playgrounds and parks. And along rivers and streams.The only bluebird you can expect to see here in the east is, appropriately, the eastern bluebird.Bluebirds are insect eaters. But when insects become scarce, the birds add berries and small fruit to their diet. They’re also cavity nesters, which means they look for a natural hole in a tree or a birdhouse for raising their families.As soon as we arrived at J.L.’s property and the nesting site, J.L. told us he hadn’t seen the male or the female bluebird that morning. Jerry reached up and put his hand inside the bluebird nest to check for young birds in the nest.Baby birds”There are baby birds in here,” Jerry said, “I can feel the tops of their heads.”So we hid ourselves from the nest and waited — and listened to Jerry and J.L.’s stories.It wasn’t long before someone said, “There’s an incoming bird,” and all eyes searched for the bird. It was the male bluebird, and it was blue. It landed on a dead tree branch near the nest and looked around for danger before entering the nest with an insect in its beak.In just a few seconds, the male shot out of the nest like a bullet and disappeared in search of more insects.”We’ve got an incoming bird,” someone said again. Only this time a black bird landed on the dead tree branch. “That’s it. That’s the female bluebird.” And sure enough, she was black! She had a huge moth or grasshopper with its wings expanded in her beak.Black bluebirdThe black bluebird sat for several minutes on the tree branch. And then she did something I hadn’t expected: she ate the insect herself. The whole thing!Then she flew off without entering the nest.But she returned shortly with another insect. This time she entered the nest to feed the young birds, and like the male bird earlier, flew out and disappeared.Needless to say, several cameras were clicking away. Who knows? It was a National Geographic moment. I just don’t know if we had any National Geographic photographers in the bunch.
By Faith PeppersUniversity of GeorgiaThis fall, the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences welcomed the largest student body in its history, said J. Scott Angle, CAES dean and director.“Georgia’s agricultural industry continues to grow and is still the largest industry in the state,” Angle said. “This creates a tremendous demand for a highly educated, well-trained workforce. Our unprecedented growth in student numbers will help us make strides toward meeting industry demand in the state and across the nation.”CAES currently has 2,002 students in all. Of those, 1,588 are undergraduates. The college’s previous record was 1,532 undergraduates, which was set in 1978. “Increased recruiting efforts on campus and at transfer institutions have helped us bring more students into our classrooms,” said Josef Broder, CAES associate dean for academics. “On campus, we are seen as a student friendly college that takes a personal interest in our students and one that offers majors that prepare students for their career goals.”The CAES priority admission process for transfer students has helped, too, Broder said. UGA limits the number of students can transfer into the university each year. Because of the high demand for CAES graduates and the college’s capacity to serve more students, transfer admissions continue to increase. “It has raised students’ hope, expectations and willingness to transferring to our college,” he said.The CAES majors with the most students are ones relating to biological science and animal science. “We’re living in the decade of the biological sciences,” Broder said. “Students are attracted to careers that nurture and enhance the health and environment of living organisms. Our biological and animal-related majors serve as excellent platforms for careers in the animal, human and environmental health.”Agricultural engineering, agribusiness, environmental management and horticulture majors continue to be popular. Agricultural and applied economics majors had a 156 percent increase in one year.The college had a 13 percent increase in graduate students this year. Poultry science had the largest increase in graduate students at 46 percent. An abundance of high-paying jobs are available to CAES graduates. CAES graduates had the third highest starting salaries in the workplace among UGA graduates, according to the 2007 UGA Career Center Graduate Survey. CAES graduates fell only slightly behind graduates from the Terry College of Business and the College of Environment and Design in the highest median starting income. “We live in a global economy and students should prepare themselves to work with other cultures and countries,” Broder said. “I would ask them to look beyond the seemingly glamour careers enjoyed by celebrities and consider majors in the applied sciences, leadership and service, to apply their many talents to solving problems of the living earth and its growing inhabitants.”
The Vermont Agency of Transportation today opened Route 108 through Smugglers Notch. It will remain open until Mother Nature forces us to close it again. The Vermont Agency of Transportation had closed Route 108 through Smugglers’ Notch because of icy conditions. VTrans annually closes this segment of Route 108 for the winter.
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renewables Now:The Danish parliament has approved a climate act that, among others, will pave the way for the establishment of two energy islands and an offshore wind farm of around 1 GW.The climate act sees the energy islands connecting 5 GW of offshore wind capacity by 2030, up from the 4 GW announced in May, and housing power-to-x technologies in the long term.One of the two islands is the natural land mass of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea, which has been selected to connect 2 GW. The other one will be an artificial structure in the North Sea with the capacity for 3 GW and at least 10 GW in the long term.The parliament has also given the green light to the development of an offshore wind project in the Hesselo zone in the Kattegat area between Denmark and Sweden. The project, the second of three offshore wind schemes envisioned in the 2018 Energy Agreement, is slated to be connected by 2027.The climate act, approved by a landslide, also includes plans for more charging stations for electric vehicles, energy efficiency improvements in the industrial sector, green power and more biogas, the Danish climate, energy and utilities ministry said.Denmark has a target to reduce its carbon emissions by 70% in 2030 compared to 1990 levels, and work towards reaching net-zero by 2050. Under the climate act, the government will be setting milestone targets every five years, each legally binding and with a ten-year perspective. An indicative milestone target will be defined for 2025 in the upcoming Climate Action Plan.[Sladjana Djunisic]More: Denmark cements plans for 5 GW of energy islands, 1 GW offshore wind Danish government approves plans for massive offshore wind build-out by 2030
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York This story was co-published with Politico.Since being seized in a raid in Pakistan in 2002, Abu Zubaydah has had his life controlled by American officials, first at secret sites, where he was tortured, and since 2006 in a small cell in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. And, thanks to one of the strangest, and perhaps most troubling, legal cases to grow out of the War on Terror, it appears he’s not going to be leaving anytime soon—which was exactly the plan the CIA always wanted. Not even his lawyers understand what’s transpired behind closed doors in a Washington, D.C., courtroom.In June of 2008, the Supreme Court ruled that detainees at Guantanamo had the right to challenge their imprisonment in federal court and that their cases should be handled “promptly” by the judicial system. The next month, lawyers for Abu Zubaydah, a detainee whose torture and waterboarding in secret prisons was among the most notorious of the Bush years, filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging his detention.The progress of that case has been anything but prompt. While more than 100 Guantanamo detainees have been released since then, and the military tribunals of even more high-profile detainees like 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed are moving forward in Guantanamo’s courtrooms, the federal judge hearing Zubaydah’s case has failed to rule on even the preliminary motions.The seemingly intentional inaction has left even experienced court observers baffled. Richard W. Roberts, the U.S. District court judge handling the suit, is not a particularly slow-moving judge. His median time for resolving entire cases is slightly over two years; Zubaydah’s initial plea has already been pending 6 years 9 months and 12 days.Because the entire file has been kept secret, it’s not possible to know why Roberts, who is the chief judge of the D.C. circuit, has let Zubaydah’s case languish. But this much is clear: Keeping Zubaydah from telling his story is exactly what the CIA wanted from the moment it began to torture him. And it’s exactly what they promised they’d do in 2002 during one of the darkest chapters of the War on Terror. (He was one of the first al-Qaeda suspects to face the harsh new regime implemented by the CIA following 9/11—a regime that FBI agents at the scene tried to prevent.)Soon after the agency’s contractors began their program of “enhanced interrogation” at the secret black site in Thailand – placing him in a coffin-size box; slamming him against wall; depriving him of sleep; bombarding him with loud music; as well as waterboarding – they sent an encrypted cable to Washington.The CIA interrogators said that if Zubaydah died during questioning, his body would be cremated. But if he survived the ordeal, the interrogators wanted assurances that he would “remain in isolation and incommunicado for the remainder of his life.”Senior officials gave the assurances. Zubaydah, a Saudi citizen, “will never be placed in a situation where he has any significant contact with others and/or has the opportunity to be released,” the head of the CIA’s ALEC Station, the code name of the Washington-based unit hunting Osama bin Laden, replied. “All major players are in concurrence,” the cable said, that he “should remain incommunicado for the remainder of his life.”The decision to hold Zubaydah “incommunicado” was disclosed by the Senate report on torture, which was released last December. But the judicial inaction on his case has received virtually no public attention.In all, Roberts has failed to rule on 16 motions, 13 of which have been filed by Zubaydah’s lawyers. Several of those allege misconduct by the government.Roberts’ judicial inaction runs the gamut: Zubaydah’s motion for an un-redacted copy of his own diary, which the government seized, has sat for six years without any ruling by the judge. His habeas corpus petition was sealed at the request of the government. Zubaydah’s lawyers filed to have it declassified. It remains classified.A lawyer with the Center for Constitutional Rights, which has been at the forefront of lawsuits to gain the release of Guantanamo detainees, says he has been baffled by the judge’s inaction. “It appears to be highly unusual,” says the lawyer, J. Wells Dixon, who has represented several Guantanamo detainees, but is not involved in the Zubaydah case. In contrast to Zubaydah’s case, Dixon said that 64 Guantanamo detainees who filed habeas petitions have seen their cases adjudicated.Rooted in English common law, the principle of habeas corpus is a cornerstone of the American legal system. In England, it served as a check on the king’s power to lock someone in the dungeon and throw away the key. Dixon noted that the Supreme Court has said habeas was designed to be a “swift and imperative remedy.”Yet Judge Roberts appears content to let Zubaydah’s case languish. Compared to his handling of other cases, the jurist has been anything but “swift” in Zubaydah’s case. For cases he closed in 2014, the median time from filing was 751 days, according to data assembled for ProPublica by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a nonprofit organization at Syracuse University. The longest any closed case had been on his docket was 1,651 days, according to TRAC. Zubaydah’s case has been pending for some 2,400 days, and it will be years before it goes to trial, if it ever does.There are few answers for why Zubaydah’s case has gone so far off track — and there’s nothing in Roberts’ background or recent behavior on the bench that would make him seem incapable of ruling if he desired. He was appointed to the court by President Bill Clinton in 1998 and has a fairly typical background for a federal judge: A Columbia law school grad, he rose through the ranks of the Department of Justice, working as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York and as principal assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia. He later spent three years as the chief of the criminal section at the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. Absent the apparently intentional aberration of the Zubaydah case, his court docket proceeds as normal in Courtroom 9 on the fourth floor of the U.S. District Courthouse on Pennsylvania Avenue NW.A spokeswoman for the federal district court declined to comment on the case.One possible clue about the judge’s failure to act may be found in a motion Zubaydah’s lawyers filed in 2010. They asked Roberts for access to any “ex parte filings,” which is evidence the government shows the court outside the presence of the other side’s lawyers.In other cases involving detainees, secret prisons, watch lists and challenges to domestic spying, the Justice Department has attempted to win dismissals by presenting classified evidence to judges in the secrecy of their chambers.A rare insight into how that tactic is deployed was made public by a federal judge in San Francisco in a lawsuit by a Malaysian woman who challenged her placement on the no-fly list. The government sought to dismiss the case on the grounds of national security. In a ruling on the motion, the judge, William H. Alsup, described what happened next: “A telephone call came into the court staff saying that a federal agent was on the way from Washington to San Francisco to show the judge confidential records about this case, all to be relied upon by the government in support of its motion to dismiss (but not to be disclosed to the other side). The officer would take back the records after the judge reviewed them and would leave no record behind of what he had shown the judge.”In that case, Alsup declined to receive the officials, although he did receive other ex parte filings in the case.It’s not clear whether Judge Roberts has received a comparable offer, and if so, how he reacted. But it’s unlikely that if such a meeting or meetings happened, the public would ever know—and likely that not even Zubaydah’s own lawyers would know about it, unless Roberts came forward as Alsup did.Although the case is an infamous one, it’s worth recalling the details of Abu Zubaydah’s custody in U.S. hands.He was captured in a joint Pakistani-CIA-FBI operation in Lahore, Pakistan, in March 2002, during which he was shot in the groin, leg and stomach. Severely wounded, Zubaydah lingered near death as the CIA, which wanted him alive for interrogation, flew in a top surgeon from Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. Later, Zubaydah was handcuffed, hooded, drugged and flown to Thailand, where the CIA was in the process of creating one of its first “black sites.” Initially interviewed by the FBI, Zubaydah cooperated. FBI Special Agents Ali Soufan and Steve Gaudin even held ice to his lips so he could receive fluids. Zubaydah told the agents that Khalid Sheik Mohammad was the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks and gave them further detailed information about him, including his alias—the news ricocheted across Washington and Zubaydah became a pawn in the capital’s power tussle between the FBI and the CIA.CIA Director George Tenet wasn’t satisfied with the progress on the interrogation. The agency was convinced that Zubaydah knew more, that he was a high-level al-Qaeda operative, and that he was withholding information about pending terrorist plots. Thus, Zubaydah became the guinea pig for what the Bush Administration called “enhanced interrogation techniques.” The FBI pulled its agents out of Thailand as the CIA’s plans for the prisoner became clear—but not before the agents got one final useful tip: Zubaydah pointed them to a name “Abu Abdullah al Mujahir” that eventually led agents to José Padilla, a would-be jihadist who was arrested in Chicago on May 8, 2002.Meanwhile, the CIA started in on Zubaydah. For 47 days, he was held in complete isolation, with only a towel. Then, shortly before noon on August 4, 2002, hooded security personnel entered his cell, shackled and hooded him, and removed his towel, leaving him naked. “So it begins,” a medical officer in Thailand cabled CIA headquarters about the first day’s session.Interrogators placed a towel around his neck, as a collar, and slammed him against a concrete wall. They removed his hood and had him watch while a coffin-like box was brought into the cell. The waterboarding started, “after large box, walling, and small box periods,” the medical officer reported. “NO useful information so far.” He added, “I am head[ing] back for a waterboard session.” During the waterboarding Zubaydah frequently vomited, made “hysterical pleas,” and experienced “involuntary leg, chest and arm spasms.”After a few days, some of the individuals involved in Zubaydah’s interrogation were deeply disturbed, to the “point of tears and choking up,” the team cabled Washington.Over the course of the interrogations, Zubaydah “cried,” he “begged,” he “pleaded,” he “whimpered,” the team in Thailand reported to headquarters in various cables. But he never gave the CIA information about plans for attacks in the United States. And in the end, the CIA “concluded that Abu Zubaydah had been truthful and that he did not possess any new terrorist threat information,” the Senate torture report says. He was not even a member of al-Qaeda.Yet even though the torture was over, Zubaydah’s ordeal was just beginning. For nearly a decade, he’s been shuttled around the world and held in legal limbo—even as hundreds of detainees have been transferred or released and court cases have moved forward for other suspected terrorists at Guantanamo.After the first media reports appeared about a CIA secret prison in Thailand, Zubaydah was moved to a secret site in Poland. A year ago, the European court of human rights ruled that Poland had been complicit with the United States in subjecting Zubaydah to “inhuman and degrading treatment,” and ordered Poland to pay him reparations. After losing an appeal, Poland paid Zubaydah 100,000 Euros, which Zubaydah has said he will give to victims of torture.Zubaydah, who was transferred from Poland to Guantanamo Bay in 2006, has not fared well with the American judicial system even as his lawyers have attempted to nudge the case forward to a conclusion.Much of the case remains wrapped in secrecy, meaning that his lawyers are unable to discuss or elaborate upon much of their work or knowledge of the case. Glimpses into it, though, are possible through the languishing court filings. Zubaydah’s lawyers have filed two motions that raise questions about the government’s conduct in the case. In 2010, they sought an “order prohibiting the government from obstructing petitioner’s investigation.” The court hasn’t ruled, and we don’t know what might have prompted this request because the documents are sealed. Similarly, three years ago, Zubaydah’s lawyers asked for sanctions against the government because of what they said was “the improper seizure” of documents “subject to the attorney-client privilege.” Again, Judge Roberts has yet to rule.Frustrated by the inaction in the case, Zubaydah’s lawyers filed a motion in January asking the judge to recuse himself for “nonfeasance.” It is an unusual motion. Judges are occasionally asked to recuse themselves because of conflicts of interest or bias, but not for simply failing to act. The government has filed its response, which is sealed, and the judge—perhaps not surprisingly, given the track record thus far—has not yet ruled.“We don’t take this step lightly,” said Joseph Margulies, one of Zubaydah’s lawyers. Margulies, an experienced criminal defense lawyer who has represented several Guantanamo detainees and is a professor at Cornell University School of Law, added, “I have never seen a case in which there has been this much judicial inaction. There has to be a remedy.”But there may not be. If Judge Roberts “ignores Abu Zubaydah’s case, there is very little we can do,” said Margulies. “The net effect is that the CIA wins.”ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for their newsletter.
continue reading » ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr In Part 2 of this series, we talked about establishing an information security policy, business continuity plan, and incident response plan.Here, we’re going to talk about the third and final point on your checklist for cybersecurity: establishing a new way of thinking. You can’t be cybersecure without being cybercompliant. Credit unions are held to a higher regulatory standard than other industries; therefore, it’s important to understand the baseline expectations and strive to evolve beyond them. There are multiple tools and manual processes available, which can be complex and resource-intensive, so be prepared. And remember, people are the weakest link and the strongest defense, so be sure to identify ways to strengthen your security culture.Let’s review.To get started on your cybersecurity journey, start with educating and testing your team. Make sure they have copies of the policies you have in place and ensure they understand them, especially fundamentals such as email and internet usage.Then, get prepared: create or verify your credit union’s written information security policy, business continuity plan, and incident response plan. Consider hiring a 3rd party for vulnerability assessment and penetration testing.
NAFCU’s Virtual Congressional Caucus kicks off in a little over a month and the agenda is quickly filling up with notable speakers including, NCUA Chairman Rodney Hood and Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Director Mark Calabria. NAFCU has revamped this year’s Congressional Caucus to ensure credit unions can remain politically active amid the coronavirus pandemic, although the event will no longer be held in person, the outstanding content attendees are used to is not changing.See who’s been added to the lineup:NCUA Chairman Rodney Hood is set to provide an update on the agency’s efforts and recent initiatives as credit unions work to serve their members in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. NAFCU has been working closely with Chairman Hood and the agency to provide relief for credit unions and Chairman Hood recently discussed the agency’s efforts to provide credit unions with flexibility during NAFCU’s Virtual State of the Industry event.FHFA Director Mark Calabria plays a critical role in housing finance reform initiatives. NAFCU has a strong relationship with him and works closely with the agency to ensure credit unions’ priorities, such as maintaining unfettered access to the secondary mortgage market, are addressed in housing finance reform efforts. During last year’s caucus, Calabria discussed the GSEs’ conservatorship and capital reserves in a conversation with NAFCU President and CEO Dan Berger. continue reading » ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr
Bourelle filed for divorce from Adams in October 2017, kess than two years after their February 2016 wedding. The roofer cited irreconcilable differences. In their divorce documents, Bourelle claimed that the pair had been “living separate lives” since August 21, 2017.“The date of separation is 1 year and 6 months from the date of their marriage,” the docs state. “They are now agreed and intend to live apart permanently.”After a stint on Underwood’s season, Adams went on to appear on season 6 of Bachelor in Paradise. While she had connections with Derek Peth and John Paul Jones, Adams was single by October 2019 when she and Jones called it quits for good. In August 2020, news broke that Adams was taking over for Clare Crawley on season 16 of The Bachelorette because the hairstylist fell in love with Dale Moss within the first two weeks of filming.- Advertisement – “It’s not hard at all [to talk about the divorce on The Bachelorette] because it’s definitely something that I’ve experienced in the past and it led me to today,” she told Us Weekly ahead of her November 2020 debut on the series. “But I don’t want it to define me because it doesn’t define me. It’s just something that I grew from and I learned from.”Adams added that her past relationship affected her journey as the Bachelorette.- Advertisement – – Advertisement – “Having been married before, I feel like … I’m not just going to do anything just to do something. I’m not going to do it because I feel like I need to or do this and that. I’m going to do it because it’s the right thing to do, and I’m excited and happy,” she told Us at the time. “If it were to happen, it’d be with the right sentiment.”Scroll through for more on Adams’ divorce: Before Bachelor Nation met Tayshia Adams, she was married to her college sweetheart, Josh Bourelle.“I actually married my first boyfriend, and I was with him for about six years or so. I guess I could, kind of, sense we weren’t doing very well,” Adams told Colton Underwood on season 23 of The Bachelor, which aired in 2019. “And I think that’s why I fought so hard just to try to do as much as I possibly could [to save the marriage].”- Advertisement –
Second surge As governments pray for an end to the economic strangulation of shutdowns, the race to develop a vaccine has been buoyed by experiments on monkeys that offered hope that humans can develop immunity to the virus. The US also pumped an additional $1 billion into the British pharmaceuticals group AstraZeneca to help fund the production of a vaccine.In the meantime, governments are testing ways to live with the dangers despite fears of a second wave of infections. Already a common sight in Spain, masks were officially made mandatory Thursday for anyone over the age of six in public places where social distancing is not possible.”The more tools we use, the better,” said Miguel Domingo, a 49-year-old architect talking his two dogs for a walk in Madrid, which is emerging from one of the toughest lockdowns. But the director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, Andrea Ammon, warned it was not a question of if there will be a second surge of infections but “when and how big”.”I don’t want to draw a doomsday picture but I think we have to be realistic. That it’s not the time now to completely relax,” she told Britain’s Guardian newspaper. The warning will be a tough pill to swallow for governments whose easing measures appear to have slowed the economic fallout from the pandemic, which has now “likely bottomed out” in the eurozone according to a survey by IHS Markit.In Denmark, the exit from lockdown picked up pace as museums and zoos began reopening Thursday and health officials said the spread of the virus was slowing.Cyprus also bounded into its second stage of de-confinement, lifting curfews and allowing outdoor restaurants, barber shops and beaches to open on the Mediterranean island, though airports and hotels remain closed. In reopened cafes, customers were seated outdoors with spacing between tables, while some ate with plastic face shields still on.Yet some experiments in adjusting to the new normal have gone awry.Not everyone was amused in Singapore by a yellow robot dog deployed to patrol a city park and monitor social distancing. The remote-controlled hound uses cameras to estimate the number of visitors and blasts out a message to remind joggers and walkers to stand at least one meter apart. “I think it’s really going to be chilling in a way — something is looking around and I’m not sure how it’s going to react to me when I go near it,” local resident Simon Neo told AFP. China’s ‘victory’ Trump, for his part, insists the US is “Transitioning back to Greatness” as states reopen at different speeds.His optimism was in sharp contrast to the bleak health situation in the country, which leads the world in cases and deaths.While daily death tolls are no longer on a steady incline, the losses are still punishing with more than 1,500 additional fatalities reported in 24 hours on Wednesday, bringing the total number in the US to more than 93,400.On the economic front, the latest figures out of the US showed the rate of unemployment slowing — but the total number of jobs lost since mid-March stood at an eye-watering 38.6 million. Trump, who is desperate to boost his political fortunes ahead of November elections, has also doubled down on his finger-pointing at China, who he blamed for “this mass Worldwide killing”. Beijing hit back, warning it would retaliate if the US goes forward with a sanction’s threat.Republican US Senators proposed legislation last week that would empower Trump to slap sanctions on China if Beijing does not give a “full accounting” for the outbreak that emerged in Wuhan late last year.”It is neither responsible nor moral to cover up one’s own problems by blaming others,” said China’s parliament spokesman Zhang Yesui.We “will make a firm response and take countermeasures based on the deliberation of these bills”, he said. Despite criticism of its initial handling of the virus, Beijing is determined to project a narrative of strength and success in reining in its own outbreak and coming to the aid of countries who have been hit far harder. Domestic cases are now down to a trickle, according to its official figures. In the latest symbol of normalization, the country held an opening ceremony Thursday for its biggest political event of the year — the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) — after months of delay over health concerns. Analysts say the gathering’s sessions will officially start Friday and be a chance for the party to reaffirm its “victory” over the virus. Global infections from the novel coronavirus passed five million on Thursday as cases surged in Latin America, signs of normal life returned to parts of Europe and the US and China kept up their blame game over the pandemic. The grim milestone comes after known cases of COVID-19 doubled in just one month, according to AFP data collected from official sources, with the death toll now topping 328,000 worldwide. While many hard-hit European countries have significantly curbed the contagion, Latin America is becoming a new hotspot with cases on the rise. Topics : In Brazil, far-right President Jair Bolsonaro continues to scorn experts’ advice on curbing the contagion as he presses regional governors to end stay-at-home measures. And like US President Donald Trump, he has promoted the use of anti-malaria drugs against the virus despite studies showing they have no benefit and could have dangerous side effects. Brazil logged the third-highest number of cases in the world after the US and Russia. Peru, Mexico and Chile have also seen steady increases in infections, with nurses in Lima warning that the health system is on the brink of collapse after cases and deaths tripled over the past three weeks. “It’s like a horror film,” Miguel Armas, a nurse at the Hipolito Unanue hospital in the capital Lima, told AFP.”Inside it seems like a cemetery given all the bodies. Patients are dying in their chairs [or] in their wheelchairs.”
Topics : Mexico, having hit over half a million official coronavirus cases and 55,000 deaths as the pandemic rages across Latin America, will help produce a vaccine that could be distributed in the region next year, authorities said on Thursday.President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has said the pandemic is losing force in Mexico, though the death toll of 55,293 stands as the world’s third highest, behind the United States and Brazil.Mexico’s health ministry on Thursday reported 7,371 new confirmed cases of coronavirus, bringing the total in the country to 505,751. The government has said the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases.In partnership with the Mexican and Argentine governments, pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca Plc said it plans to initially produce 150 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine in early 2021 and eventually make at least 400 million for distribution throughout the region.Lopez Obrador hailed the agreement as “good news” for Mexico and said he expected the country to still be suffering from the pandemic by the time the vaccine goes into production.Supporting Lopez Obrador’s argument that COVID-19 is waning in Mexico, the government’s head of epidemiology, Jose Luis Alomia, said on Wednesday that fewer tests were coming back positive.”It’s congruent with the decrease in overall cases we’ve seen in recent weeks” as some 47% of tests were coming back positive this week, compared to 53% to 54% three to four weeks ago, Alomia said.