From The Alpha and the Omega - Chapter Eight
by Jim A. Cornwell, Copyright © 1995, all rights reserved
"Global Environment 2020 APRIL-JUNE"

    This file is attached to http://www.mazzaroth.com/ChapterEight/2014-2017.htm from Astronomical Events To Appear Between 2014 Through 2017 A.D. - Chapter Eight by Jim A. Cornwell, Copyright 1995, all rights reserved.
    This link will return you to Astronomical Events To Appear Between 2014 Through 2017 A.D.
    Or return to Global Environment 2020 January-March or continue to Global Environment 2020 July-September

Global Environment 2020 APRIL-JUNE

2020 World Disaster and Environmental Issues


4/1/2020 Latest on the spread of the coronavirus around the world
Refrigerated tractor trailers that can be used by hospitals for makeshift morgues are seen, during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
outbreak, in Icahn Stadium parking lot on Randall's Island in New York City, U.S., March 31, 2020. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
    (Reuters) U.S. President Donald Trump and his top healthcare advisers urged Americans to follow strict social distancing measures ahead of a tough two weeks that could lead to at least 100,000 deaths from the coronavirus in the United States.
DEATHS, INFECTIONS
* More than 851,000 people have been infected across the world and over 42,000 have died, according to a Reuters tally.
* For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread, open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.
* U.S.-focused tracker with state-by-state and county map, open https://tmsnrt.rs/2w7hX9T in an external browser.
EUROPE
* The number of confirmed cases in Germany has risen to 67,366 and 732 people have died of the disease. Cases rose by 5,453, compared with the previous day, while the death toll climbed by 149.
* The number of deaths in Italy, which will extend nationwide lockdown measures at least until the Easter season, could be underestimated in official figures, its national health institute said.
* The European Unions executive warned Hungary that emergency measures must not undercut democracy.
* President Emmanuel Macron has pledged to make France self-sufficient in protective masks by year-end and learn lessons from the coronavirus emergency.
* As Englands death toll rose 29%, some police officers have been criticised for overzealous lockdown response.
* A 12-year-old girl died in Belgium of coronavirus, the health ministry said on Tuesday as local media reported she was Europes youngest victim.
* The peak of Switzerlands coronavirus epidemic could stretch into later this spring or summer, the government said.
* Norway for the first time saw a day-to-day decline in the number of admissions to hospitals due to coronavirus infections.
* Belarus reported its first death.
AMERICAS
* U.S. health officials said on Tuesday they are discussing whether to recommend the general public wear face masks as a way to prevent transmission of the new coronavirus, but that it was too soon to take that step.
* The captain of the U.S. aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt, in a blunt letter, has called on Navy leadership for stronger measures to save the lives of his sailors and stop the spread of the coronavirus aboard the huge ship.
* Canadas death toll jumped by 35% in less than a day, officials said, and the major province of Quebec said it was running low on key medical equipment.
* Mexicos health ministry on Tuesday registered 1,215 cases of the coronavirus, up from 1,094 the day before.    It also said 29 people died in Mexico, up from 28 a day earlier.
* Twenty-eight students who returned to Texas after spring break at Mexicos Cabo San Lucas beach resort have tested positive for coronavirus.
* Nearly 30 medical workers at a hospital in northern Mexico have been infected with coronavirus.
* Brazils president said hunger is just as big a threat as COVID-19, again playing down the seriousness of the outbreak during a news conference.
* Ecuadorean authorities said they would improve corpse collection, as delays left families with relatives bodies in their homes for days in some cases.
* El Salvador registered its first death from the coronavirus.
ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
* China reported a fall in new confirmed cases, with almost all cases imported from overseas.    It had 36 new cases on Tuesday, the National Health Commission said on Wednesday, down from 48 a day earlier.    Another 130 asymptomatic cases were reported, with a total of 1,367 such cases under observation as of March 31.
* Thailand confirmed 120 new cases and two more deaths, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 1,771 and 12 fatalities.
* Japan remains on the brink of a state of emergency as the rate of coronavirus infections continues to increase in the country, its top government spokesman said on Wednesday.
* India had 1,238 active cases and 35 deaths as of Tuesday evening.
* India sealed off headquarters of a Muslim missionary group and ordered an investigation into accusations it held religious meetings that officials fear may have infected dozens of people.
* Afghan authorities have quarantined 16 health workers as Afghans fleeing hard-hit Iran have helped spread the virus in the border province of Herat.
* The Philippines recorded its largest daily increase in deaths and infections, as it ramped up testing with the arrival of thousands of kits from abroad and opened new laboratories.
* Malaysias stay-at-home order has prevented major daily spikes in infections, the government said, but the World Bank warned its economy would shrink this year for the first time in more than a decade.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Lagos, Africas largest city, ground to a halt on Tuesday as it and the Nigerian capital Abuja entered a two-week lockdown.br> * Tunisia ordered the release of 1,420 prisoners.
* Iran considered tougher curbs as its death toll climbed to almost 2,900 on Tuesday.
* Dubai said it would help its state-run Emirates airline and enforced a full lockdown on a district famous for its gold and spice markets.
* The South African government is sending testing teams to the countrys townships.
* Ethiopia has postponed parliamentary elections scheduled for August.
* Sierra Leone confirmed its first case, and Tanzania its first death.
ECONOMIC FALLOUT
* Asian stocks clung to gains, helped by a bounce in Australian shares, but risks for equities remain large as the coronavirus pandemic rattles the underpinnings of the global economy.
* Reports measuring U.S. economic activity are likely to be very bad in the first half and the unemployment rate could rise above 10% due to efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank President Loretta Mester said on Tuesday.
* Japans business confidence soured to levels not seen since 2013, a closely watched survey showed, as the pandemic hit sectors from hotels to carmakers and pushed the economy closer to recession.
* South Koreas factory activity fell at its fastest pace in 11 years in March, a private sector survey showed, as the pandemic paralysed global demand and supply chains.
* South Korean exports slipped in March as the virus ravaged the global economy and supply chains although solid chip demand provided a rare bright spot as lockdowns across the world forced millions to use telecommuting technology.
* A G20 coronavirus plan will address the risk of debt vulnerabilities in low-income countries and deliver financial aid to emerging markets.
* U.S. Republican lawmakers signalled caution over Democratic plans to prepare another large spending bill to battle the pandemic, even as President Donald Trump called for $2 trillion in spending, this time on infrastructure.
* The pandemic is threatening to disrupt Argentinas debt restructuring talks with creditors, raising the prospect of a default and a downgrade, ratings agencies and bondholders told Reuters.
* Italys business lobby Confindustria said the pandemic will translate into a serious recession in 2020, biting as much as 6% off gross domestic product.
* The German government is planning to extend support for mid-sized companies, government sources said on Tuesday.
* A coronavirus resurgence may scupper forecasts of a recovery in air passenger demand by the end of the year and strong growth in 2021, the chief economist of a global airline trade body warned.
* Britains top banks they would suspend dividend payments after pressure from the regulator, saving their capital as a buffer against expected losses from the economic fallout from the coronavirus.
(Compiled by Sarah Morland, Milla Nissi, Aditya Soni and Uttaresh.V; Editing by Tomasz Janowski, William Maclean, Sriraj Kalluvila)

4/1/2020 Europe to launch coronavirus contact tracing app initiative by Douglas Busvine
FILE PHOTO: The ultrastructural morphology exhibited by the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which was identified as the cause of
an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China, is seen in an illustration released by the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. January 29, 2020. Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM/CDC/Handout via REUTERS
    BERLIN (Reuters) European scientists and technologists will launch a joint initiative on Wednesday to support the use of digital applications in the fight against coronavirus while complying with the regions tough privacy laws.
    The Pan-European Privacy Preserving Proximity Tracing (PEPP-PT) brings together 130 researchers from eight countries to develop applications that can support contact tracing efforts within countries and across borders.
    These will become more important in containing future flare-ups in COVID-19, the flu-like illness caused by coronavirus, once country-wide lockdowns have succeeded in flattening the curve of the pandemics spread.
    Our goal is to provide a backbone for the digital core components of the global fight against COVID 19, said Hans-Christian Boos, founder of business automation company Arago and a member of a digital advisory council to the German government.
    The PEPP-PT platform others can build on includes an anonymous and privacy-preserving digital proximity tracing approach, which is in full compliance with GDPR and can also be used when traveling between countries.
    The GDPR, or General Data Protection Regulation, is the European Unions privacy rulebook that sets strict limits on the processing of personal data, making it difficult, for example, to use smartphone location data to fight COVID-19.
    A more promising route is to track connections made between peoples smartphones using Bluetooth, a communications technology where handshakes between devices can be logged and used to alert those who have come into close proximity with someone who tests positive.
    That is the approach behind the TraceTogether app launched by Singapore to support its so-far successful public health response to coronavirus that has kept COVID-19 infections in the hundreds.
    More than 851,000 people worldwide have contracted COVID-19 with 42,053 dying from it, according to a Reuters tally on Wednesday. Italy has been hardest hit, with 12,428 fatalities.
UK PLANS
    Britain, which has left the European Union, was poised to launch its own digital contact tracing initiative, according to reports.
    The UK contact tracking app, which will operate on an opt-in basis, would be released either just before or just after a lockdown is lifted, Sky News reported https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-govt-set-to-release-contact-tracking-app-which-detects-nearby-virus-carriers-11966243 on Monday, citing several people with close knowledge of the project.
    Even if Britain does go it alone, its researchers including from the Oxford Big Data Institute have made a major contribution towards assessing the potential value of digital contact tracing to keep a lid on coronavirus.
    Boos will hold a news briefing at 11 am (0900 GMT) together with Marcel Salathe, head of the Digital Epidemiology Lab at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, who has cited the Oxford research as a valuable guide.
    Thomas Wiegand of the Technical University of Berlin and head of the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute (HHI) will also take part.
    The HHI said on Monday that Germany was weeks away from lanching a smartphone app that could track close-proximity Bluetooth handshakes between devices, making it possible to warn those at risk of infection.
    German government sources say the app could be launched on or around April 16 as part of a series of steps to ease social restrictions.
(Reporting by Douglas Busvine, editing by Louise Heavens and Keith Weir)

4/1/2020 Chinese scientists seeking potential COVID-19 treatment find effective antibodies by Martin Quin Pollard
A scientist works in the lab of Linqi Zhang on research into novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) antibodies for possible use
in a drug at Tsinghua University's Research Center for Public Health in Beijing, China, March 30, 2020. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
    BEIJING (Reuters) A team of Chinese scientists has isolated several antibodies that it says are extremely effective at blocking the ability of the new coronavirus to enter cells, which eventually could be helpful in treating or preventing COVID-19.
    There is currently no proven effective treatment for the disease, which originated in China and is spreading across the world in a pandemic that has infected more than 850,000 and killed 42,000.
    Zhang Linqi at Tsinghua University in Beijing said a drug made with antibodies like the ones his team have found could be used more effectively than the current approaches, including what he called borderline treatment such as plasma.
    Plasma contains antibodies but is restricted by blood type.
    In early January, Zhangs team and a group at the 3rd Peoples Hospital in Shenzhen began analysing antibodies from blood taken from recovered COVID-19 patients, isolating 206 monoclonal antibodies which showed what he described as a strong ability to bind with the virus proteins.
    They then conducted another test to see if they could actually prevent the virus from entering cells, he told Reuters in an interview.
    Among the first 20 or so antibodies tested, four were able to block viral entry and of those, two were exceedingly good at doing so, Zhang said.
    The team is now focused on identifying the most powerful antibodies and possibly combining them to mitigate the risk of the new coronavirus mutating.
    If all goes well, interested developers could mass produce them for testing, first on animals and eventually on humans.
    The group has partnered with a Sino-U.S. biotech firm, Brii Biosciences, in an effort to advance multiple candidates for prophylactic and therapeutic intervention, according to a statement by Brii.
    The importance of antibodies has been proven in the world of medicine for decades now, Zhang said.    They can be used to treat cancer, autoimmune diseases and infectious diseases.
    The antibodies are not a vaccine but could potentially be given to at-risk people with the aim of preventing them from contracting COVID-19.
    Normally it takes around two years for a drug even to get close to approval for use on patients, but the COVID-19 pandemic means things are moving faster, he said, with steps that would previously be taken sequentially now being done in parallel.
    Zhang, who posted the findings online, hopes the antibodies can be tested on humans in six months.    If they are found to be effective in trials, actual use for treatment would take longer.
    Other experts urge caution.
    Theres a number of steps which will now need to be followed before it could be used as a treatment for coronavirus patients, Hong Kong University infectious disease specialist Ben Cowling said when the finding was described to him by Reuters.
    But its really exciting to find these potential treatments, and then have a chance to test them out.    Because if we can find more candidates, then eventually well have better treatment, Cowling said.
(Additional reporting by Roxanne Liu; Editing by Kim Coghill; Editing by Tony Munroe, Kate Kelland and Kim Coghill)

4/1/2020 Tommy the robot nurse helps keep Italy doctors safe from coronavirus by Flavio Lo Scalzo
A robot helping medical teams treat patients suffering from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is pictured at
a patient's room, in the Circolo hospital, in Varese, Italy April 1, 2020. REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo
    VARESE, Italy (Reuters) He doesnt wear a mask but he is helping save lives from coronavirus just the same.    Meet Tommy, the robot nurse.
    Tommy is one of six new robots helping flesh-and-blood doctors and nurses care for coronavirus patients at the Circolo Hospital in Varese, a city in the northern Lombardy region that is the epicenter of the outbreak in Italy.
    Its like having another nurse without problems related to infection, said Doctor Francesco Dentali, director of intensive care at the hospital.
    The child-size robots with large blinking eyes are wheeled into rooms and left by a patients bedside so doctors can look after others who are in more serious conditions.
    They monitor parameters from equipment in the room, relaying them to hospital staff.    The robots have touch-screen faces that allow patients to record messages and send them to doctors.
    Most importantly, Tommy and his high-tech teammates allow the hospital to limit the amount of direct contact doctors and nurses have with patients, thus reducing the risk of infection.
More than 4,000 Italian health workers have contracted the virus treating victims in Italy and 66 doctors have died.
    The death toll in Italy, the worlds hardest hit country in terms of deaths, topped 13,000 on Wednesday, more than a third of all global fatalities.
    Using my abilities, medical staff can be in touch with the patients without direct contact, Tommy the robot, who was named after a son of one of the doctors, explained to a visiting reporter on Wednesday.
    It takes a while for patients to realize that, given the enormity of the task of combating coronavirus and the toll it is taking on overworked medical staff, robots may be just what the doctor ordered.
    You have to explain to the patient the aim and function of the robot, Dentali said.
    The first reaction is not positive, especially for old patients.    But if you explain your aim, the patient is happy because he or she can speak with the doctor, he said.
    The robots also help the hospital limit the number of protective masks and gowns staff have to use.
    These days, they are a scarce resource, said Doctor Gianni Bonelli, the hospitals director.
    The shortage of masks has been one of the biggest problems dogging the national health system since the contagion surfaced at the end of February.
    The national commissioner for the emergency has said it will take Italy at least two months to become self-sufficient in producing protective masks.
    Tommy and his fellow robot nurses have one more advantage they are not subject to exhaustion.    A quick charge of batteries and they are back at work in the ward.
(Writing by Philip Pullella; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

4/2/2020 World food prices fall sharply in March because of coronavirus, oil slump: U.N
FILE PHOTO: Tomatoes are on display for sale at a regional market in Laprade, France July 18, 2019. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau
    ROME (Reuters) World food prices fell sharply in March, hit by a drop in demand tied to the coronavirus pandemic and a plunge in global oil prices, the United Nations food agency said on Thursday.
    The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) food priceindex, which measures monthly changes for a basket of cereals,oilseeds, dairy products, meat and sugar, averaged 172.2 points last month, down 4.3% on February.
    The price drops are largely driven by demand factors, not supply, and the demand factors are influenced by ever-more deteriorating economic prospects, said FAO Senior Economist Abdolreza Abbassian.FAO also slightly increased its forecast for cereal production, predicting a crop totalling some 2.721 billion tonnes in 2019, up from a previous forecast of 2.719 billion and some 2.4% higher than the 2018 crop.
    FAOs sugar price index posted the biggest fall, down 19.1% from the previous month.    The drop was triggered by a reduction in consumption linked to the virus lockdowns seen in many countries, and lower demand from ethanol producers due to the recent dive in crude oil prices, the Rome-based agency said.
    The vegetable oil price index slumped 12%, pushed down by sliding palm oil prices which was linked to a plunge in crude mineral oil prices and growing uncertainty over the impact of coronavirus on the market.
    Oil prices have fallen by more than half during the past month, which catalyzes a large downward impact on biofuels, which are an important source of demand in the markets for sugar and vegetable oils, said FAO analyst Peter Thoenes.
    The dairy price index dropped 3%, driven by declining quotations and slowing global import demand for skim and whole milk powders, while the meat index fell by 0.6%.
    The cereal price index fell 1.9%, with rice prices bucking the downward trend, rising for the third month running, buoyed by stockpiling spurred by concerns over the pandemic and reports that Vietnam might introduce export bans.
    FAO said Vietnam had since downplayed the reports.
    While FAO lifted its forecast for 2019 world cereal production, its estimate for 2020 wheat production remained unchanged at 763 million tonnes, close to last years record level.
    (This) coupled with ample inventories, will help shield food markets from turmoil during the coronavirus storm, FAO predicted.
(Reporting by Crispian Balmer)

4/2/2020 Latest on the spread of the coronavirus around the world
A barricade is placed around a playground in Central Park, during the coronavirus disease
(COVID-19) outbreak, in New York City, U.S., April 1, 2020. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
    (Reuters) The World Health Organization (WHO) voiced deep concern on Wednesday about the rapid escalation and global spread of the coronavirus.    In the next few days, we will reach 1 million confirmed cases and 50,000 deaths worldwide, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
DEATHS, INFECTIONS
* More than 935,000 people have been infected across the world and over 46,900 have died, according to a Reuters tally.
* For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread, open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.
* U.S.-focused tracker with state-by-state and county map, open https://tmsnrt.rs/2w7hX9T in an external browser.
EUROPE
* Confirmed cases in Germany have risen to 73,522, while 872 people have died of the disease.    Cases rose by 6,156, compared with the previous day and the death toll climbed by 140.
* Italy will extend lockdown restrictions to April 13, as data from this week suggests a slowdown of growth in total cases, though its national health institute says official death toll could be underestimated.
* Cases in Spain topped 100,000 on Wednesday, and two planes with protective equipment arrived to restock an overloaded public health system.
* France became the fourth country to pass the 4,000 coronavirus deaths threshold.
* Britain said it would ramp up the number of tests amid widespread criticism that it was doing far too few.
* Switzerland no longer faces shortages in coronavirus testing, its top health official dealing with the pandemic said on Wednesday.
* Measures to limit the outbreak in the Netherlands appear to have halved the rate of infection but need to be continued to be really effective, a top health official said.
* Russian President Vladimir Putin is taking precautions to protect himself, as Moscow launched a smartphone app designed to track people who have been ordered to stay home.
* Russia sent the United States medical equipment on Wednesday to help fight the coronavirus pandemic, a public relations coup for Putin.voluntary quarantine rules, President Tayyip Erdogan said.
* European scientists and engineers will launch an initiative to support the use of digital contact tracing applications.
AMERICAS
* U.S. President Donald Trump said he was considering a plan to halt domestic flights to coronavirus hot spots inside the United States.
* The Pentagon is looking to provide up to 100,000 body bags for use by civilian authorities.
* U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she wants to virus-proof the November election by including funding to boost voting by mail in the next pandemic response plan, as confirmed cases in the country climbed to 186,101 and while deaths rose to 3,603.
* The governor of New York cracked down even harder on public gatherings, calling residents who disregarded stay-at-home rules selfish as Californias governor warned his state will run out of hospital beds by next month.
* Canadas death toll jumped by 35% in less than a day and Quebec said it was running low on key medical equipment.
* An indigenous woman in a village deep in the Amazon rainforest has contracted the coronavirus.
* Mexico said on Wednesday it had registered 37 deaths, up from 29 a day earlier.    It also said the total tally of cases rose to 1,378 from 1,215 the previous day.
* Panama on Wednesday reported 1,317 coronavirus cases, an increase of 136 cases, and 32 deaths.
* Cuba suspended arriving international flights and asked all foreign boats to withdraw from its waters.
* Nearly 30 medical workers at a hospital in northern Mexico have been infected.
ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
* Singapore suffered its fourth coronavirus-related death on Thursday, a day after the city-state reported a record number of new cases that took its total infections to 1,000.
* Australias most populous state said police enforcement of restrictions on personal movement would last three months, as the number of new cases continued to slow.
* Israels health minister and his wife were diagnosed with the coronavirus and are in isolation following guidelines.
* Mainland China reported dwindling new infections on Wednesday and for the first time disclosed the number of asymptomatic cases, which could complicate how trends in the outbreak are read.
* Japan will ban entry to foreigners from 73 countries and ask everyone arriving from abroad to begin quarantine.
* India scoured mosques to trace people who attended a Muslim gathering in New Delhi that later emerged as a hotspot.
* The rate of new infections in Malaysia appears to be slowing amid month-long curbs on movement, a senior health official said.
* A team of Chinese scientists has isolated several antibodies that it says are extremely effective at blocking the ability of the virus to enter cells.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Irans president said the U.S. had missed an opportunity to lift sanctions on his country, though he said the penalties had not hampered Tehrans fight against the virus, which has killed more than 3,000 people and infected close to 48,000.
* Ugandan doctors accused the government of endangering the lives of those in medical emergencies by requiring that all seek permission to secure transportation to hospitals.
* Egypt has ramped up efforts to fight the coronavirus, ordering manufacturers to channel medical protective equipment to public hospitals.
ECONOMIC FALLOUT
* Asian shares were pinned down, haunted by the rising U.S. coronavirus death toll, and with investors braced for more signs of economic pain in the worlds largest economy ahead of another likely record week of jobless claims.
* Light vehicle sales in the United States fell nearly 27% in March, compared with a month earlier, data released by an automotive research group showed on Wednesday.
* Ratings agency Moodys downgraded its outlook for Australias banking system to negative from stable as the coronavirus is expected to hit profitability.
* Mexicos economy is forecast to contract by as much as 3.9% in 2020, the finance ministry said on Wednesday, in an annual economic report used to guide the budget, adding that the numbers incorporated a drastic impact from coronavirus.br> * Indias manufacturing activity expanded at its slowest pace in four months in March and is likely to get worse as demand and output take a hit from the coronavirus outbreak, a private survey found.
* Factories fell quiet across much of the world in March as the coronavirus pandemic paralysed economic activity, with evidence mounting that the world is sliding into deep recession.
* Chinas ports and shipping firms are bracing for a second wave of supply chain disruptions that may be deeper and more prolonged than during the countrys lockdown.
* The European Commision proposed a short-time work scheme modelled on Germanys Kurzarbeit programme to help people keep their jobs.
* Italy plans to spend another $11 billion to guarantee debt and liquidity for professionals and companies hit by the crisis.
* Switzerland is preparing to expand an emergency liquidity programme for businesses, as banks have already lent out more than half of the $20.70 billion set aside for state-backed loans.
* U.S. restaurants asked the White House and congressional leaders for at least $325 billion in aid.
(Compiled by Sarah Morland, Milla Nissi, Aditya Soni and Uttaresh.V; Editing by Tomasz Janowski, William Maclean, Sriraj Kalluvila)

4/3/2020 Doctors turn to plasma to combat COVID-19 - Experimental process underway in NY, Houston by Elizabeth Weise and Mark Johnson, USA TODAY
    In New York and Houston, pints of straw-colored convalescent plasma have dripped into the veins of five U.S. coronavirus patients.    Hundreds more there and across the nation are set to follow.
    Whether the plasma, derived from the blood of people who recovered from COVID-19, will help them fight off the devastating disease caused by the new coronavirus that has killed thousands of Americans is unknown.    In less than three weeks, the effort to find out has gone from an idea to a worldwide program organized entirely by medical researchers.
    Like so much about the desperate efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, its seat-of-the-pants medicine.    Doctors dont know whether it will work but hope to find out in weeks, not the years it typically takes for studies to yield answers.
    Our treatments began on Saturday, said Ania Wajnberg, an internist at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City who directs its serum antibody program.    Only four days before that, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration began allowing researchers to request emergency authorization to test whether the plasma will help.
    Plasma is the almost clear liquid that remains after red and white blood cells and platelets are removed from blood.    It contains disease-fighting antibodies.
    A paper published March 27 in the Journal of the American Medical Association described a test of convalescent plasma on five critically ill patients in Shenzhen, China.
    Methodist Hospital in Houston began recruiting plasma donors Friday and gave the first plasma transfusions to a COVID-19 patient the following day.
    The plasma is collected from patients who recovered from COVID-19.    Each donates a pint of blood. The red and white blood cells are separated and put back into the donors bloodstream while the blood plasma, rich with virus-fighting antibodies, is kept aside.
    The donor and the patient must be from compatible blood types, and the plasma is tested for multiple diseases, including COVID-19, HIV and hepatitis, to ensure it cant transfer them.
    Though convalescent plasma (from the blood of people convalescing, or recovered, from a disease) has been used successfully in outbreaks of other diseases, such as polio, measles and mumps, its by no means a slam-dunk.
    The therapy showed promising results in two small Chinese studies last month.
    For now, plasma therapy is one of few options for doctors when critically ill patients dont have much time, said Eric Salazar of Houston Methodist Hospital and Research Institute.
    Almost all of the people who learned they are positive for antibodies to the virus and eligible to donate plasma have offered to do so.
    Thats been a bright spot in all this, everybody wants to help. Its nice to see, Wajnberg said.
Convalescent plasma therapy is time-consuming, expensive and difficult to deploy on a large scale. ICAHN SCHOOL OF MEDICINE AT MOUNT SINAI

4/3/2020 Latest on the spread of the coronavirus around the world
FILE PHOTO: Medical staff, wearing protective suits and face masks, work at the intensive
care unit for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients at Ambroise Pare clinic in Neuilly-sur-Seine near Paris,
as the spread of the coronavirus disease continues in France, April 1, 2020. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
    (Reuters) The U.S. economy likely shed jobs in March, abruptly ending a historic 113 straight months of employment growth as stringent measures to control the coronavirus shuttered businesses and factories, confirming a recession is underway.
    For a photo slideshow from the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic, click:
https://www.reuters.com/news/picture/on-the-frontlines-of-the-coronavirus-pan-idUSRTS36NY6
DEATHS, INFECTIONS
* At least 1 million case were reported on Thursday, with infections in the United States totaling 240,000, accounting for 24% of cases worldwide and 40% of the 74,300 cases reported in the past day, according to a Reuters tally.
* For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread, open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.
* U.S.-focused tracker with state-by-state and county map, open https://tmsnrt.rs/2w7hX9T in an external browser.
EUROPE
* The coronavirus death count in France surged to nearly 5,400 people on Thursday after the health ministry began including nursing home fatalities in its data.
* The death toll in Italy has climbed by 760 to 13,915, as the head of the European Commission apologised to the country for a lack of solidarity from Europe in tackling its coronavirus crisis.
* Britains health minister promised a tenfold increase in the number of daily tests, as a poll said more than a half of Britons think the government was too slow to order a lockdown.
* At least 570 people have died in nursing homes in Frances eastern region, suggesting the national death toll could be far higher than thought.
* Switzerlands government said it was still far too early to relax measures.
* Spains death toll exceeded 10,000 after a record 950 people died overnight, but health officials noted a slowdown in proportional daily increases in infections and deaths.
* Portugal extended its state of emergency by another 15 days.
* Greece has quarantined a migrant camp after 20 asylum seekers tested positive, its first such facility hit since the outbreak.
* President Vladimir Putin prolonged until April 30 a paid non-working period across Russia, which has reported 3,548 cases and 30 deaths.
AMERICAS
* U.S. President Donald Trump said he underwent a second coronavirus test on Thursday, using a new diagnostic that produced a result in less than 15 minutes, and it determined he has not been infected.
* Morgues and hospitals in New York City, the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, bent under the strain on Thursday, struggling to treat or bury casualties.
* An ocean liner forced by the coronavirus to languish at sea since mid-March pulled into a South Florida port on Thursday, after authorities settled plans for the vessel and its sister ship to dock and most passengers to come ashore.
* The coronavirus crisis is beginning to do something the city of San Francisco has been unable to accomplish for years move homeless people off the streets and into shelters, including some of the citys now-empty hotels.
* A record 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, and another four states told residents to stay at home orders which now affect more than 80% of Americans in 39 states as cases in the country rose to 213,144, with the death count at 4,513.
* Canada faces a critical week in fighting the coronavirus, a senior official said, as the death toll jumped 21% to 127.
ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
* Australian officials closed internal borders on Friday and warned people to stay home over the upcoming Easter holiday as the country seeks to capitalise on a further fall in the rate of new coronavirus cases.
* The Japanese government said on Friday it has told regions that have suffered the most serious outbreaks of coronavirus to save hospitals beds for severely ill patients, while keeping others with milder symptoms at home or in hotels.
* Chinas commerce ministry pledged its support to help foreign invested firms in the country get back to work in the face of disruptions in global supply chains.
* After blocking the entrance to their village with logs, half the people of Jemeri fled into the surrounding forest in fear as the coronavirus spread in Malaysia, infecting the first indigenous Orang Asli person.
* Australias healthcare system should be able to cope with the coronavirus pandemic based on its current trajectory, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday. [nS9N2B904R]
* Mainland China logged fewer new infections, but measures restricting movement were tightened in some areas due to a fear of more imported cases.
* India will pull out of a three-week lockdown in phases, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said as officials battle to contain the countrys biggest cluster of infections in New Delhi.
* Indonesias coronavirus death toll rose to 170, passing South Korea as the country with the highest number of recorded fatalities in Asia after China.
* WHO expects the number of cases in Malaysia to peak in mid-April, saying there are signs of a flattening of the infection curve.
* Singapore suffered its fourth death, a day after it reported a record number of new cases that took its total to 1,000.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Saudi Arabia imposed a 24-hour curfew in the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina, while other Gulf Arab states locked down districts with large migrant worker populations.
* Iraq has thousands of confirmed COVID-19 cases, many times more than the 772 it is has publicly reported, according to three doctors closely involved in the testing process, a health ministry official and a senior political official.
* Hackers linked to the Iranian government have attempted to break into the personal email accounts of staff at the World Health Organization, sources told Reuters.
* Turkeys tourism minister said he expected flights to return to normal by the end of June, as the country planned to step up measures if the virus keeps spreading and people ignore voluntary quarantine rules.
* A United Nations agency has negotiated a humanitarian corridor to keep food aid flowing in southern Africa after most countries shut borders.
ECONOMIC FALLOUT
* World equity markets climbed on Thursday on the back of a surge in risky assets like oil, offsetting concerns over an increasing death toll from the pandemic. [MKTS/GLOB]
* China has ample policy tools to stabilizes economic growth, and the impact of the coronaries outbreak is likely to be temporary, the central bank said on Friday.
* Malaysias central bank said on Friday the economy could shrink by as much as 2% or grow 0.5% this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, in what would be its worst economic performance in more than a decade.
* Chinas recovery from the coronavirus outbreak may hold investable lessons for the rest of the globe, according to fund managers who are closely watching and have begun cautiously buying in the worlds second-biggest economy.
* Developing Asias already slowing economic growth is set to weaken even more sharply this year, hit by the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic before it bounces back strongly next year, the Asian Develpoment Bank (ADB) said on Friday.
* The Trump administration said it was allocating $25 billion in emergency funding grants to public transportation systems.
* The World Bank said its board of executive directors approved an initial $1.9 billion in emergency funds for coronavirus response operations in 25 countries, and said it was moving quickly on projects in 40 additional countries.
* Years after Japan made a cautious recovery from its long deflationary spell, the worlds third-largest economy may be headed back into a cycle of falling prices.
* Global financial regulators said they are in talks with governments to allow key staff at financial firms to work on site to keep markets open.
* The European Commission proposed measures to protect the EU economy, including a short-time work scheme and easier access to funds for farmers and fishermen.
(Compiled by Sarah Morland, Milla Nissi, Aditya Soni, Uttaresh.V and Sherry Jacob-Phillips; Editing by Tomasz Janowski, William Maclean, Sriraj Kalluvila)

4/3/2020 What you need to know about the coronavirus right now
FILE PHOTO: A health worker wearing a protective gear takes a break during transfer operations of patients infected with
coronavirus disease (COVID-19) from Strasbourg to Germany and Switzerland, France March 30, 2020. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
    (Reuters) Heres what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
Big data on lock-downs
    Google data published yesterday reveal some interesting geographical differences on how the coronavirus outbreak has and has not changed peoples behaviours.
    Its reports cover 131 countries and show to what extent visits to shops, parks and workplaces dropped in March, when many governments issued stay-at-home orders.
    In Italy, one of the countries hardest hit by the virus, visits to retail and recreation locations, including restaurants and movie theaters, plunged 94%. Reflecting the severity of the crisis there, grocery and pharmacy visits dropped 85% and park visits were down by 90%.
    In California, the first U.S. state to implement a statewide lockdown, visits to retail and recreation locations dropped by half.    By contrast, Arkansas, one of the few states without a sweeping lockdown, has seen such visits fall 29%, the lowest for a U.S. state.
Masking up
    As mentioned here earlier this week, one effect of the pandemic has been how the reluctance of many Westerners in particular to the wearing of masks has broken down. Now the Trump administration looks set to join local U.S. officials in advising Americans to wear masks when venturing out, after the U.S. death toll this week rose by 1,000 in a single day for the first time.
    Speaking at a White House briefing, Deborah Birx, a member of Trumps coronavirus task force, said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would in the coming days add a recommendation on masks to its guidelines.    But Birx said Americans should not develop a false sense of security that masks mean full protection.
Coronavirus cases pass the million mark
    There are now over a million official cases of coronavirus, and more than 53,000 deaths as of 0200 GMT on Friday, according to a Reuters tally.    It took 76 days from Jan. 10 for the first 500,000 cases of coronavirus to be reported.    That figure doubled in the next 8 days.
    Infections in the United States total 240,000, Europe accounts for more than half of cases, East Asia has almost 100,000 and the Middle East has reported over 80,000.
    France alone reported more than 1,300 deaths in the last day, when it began including previously unreported fatalities from nursing homes, bringing its total toll to nearly 5,400.
(For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread, open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.)
    Carbon emissions drop the most since WW2.    Will it last?
    Carbon dioxide emissions could fall by the largest amount since World War Two this year as the coronavirus outbreak brings economies to a virtual standstill, according to Rob Jackson, the chair of the Global Carbon Project, a network of scientists providing benchmark emissions data.
    Experts warn that without structural change, the emissions declines caused by coronavirus could be short-lived and have little impact on the concentrations of carbon dioxide that have accumulated in the atmosphere over decades.
(Compiled by Karishma Singh and Mark John; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

4/4/2020 How the coronavirus job cuts played out by sector and demographics by Dan Burns
Colorized scanning electron micrograph of an apoptotic cell (red) infected with SARS-COV-2 virus particles (yellow), also known as novel coronavirus,
isolated from a patient sample. Image captured at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility (IRF) in Fort Detrick, Maryland. National Institute
of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH/Handout via REUTERS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT - RC2NXF9J3OFK
    (Reuters) The job losses suffered in March as the U.S. economy shut down in the face of the novel coronavirus pandemic were widespread but still were disproportionately felt in a handful of employment sectors and by women, the young and the less educated.
    In all, 701,000 jobs were reported lost last month, the Labor Department said on Friday, but even that massive number the largest since the financial crisis 11 years ago did not capture the true depth of the losses because the monthly survey was conducted too early in March.
    Still, it shows that even in the earliest stages of the business closures that have since spread across the country, the cuts were most heavily felt in industries such as hotels, restaurants and education as the travel industry shut down, bars and eateries closed their doors, and day care centers shuttered, all in the aim of limiting the spread of the disease.
    And, perhaps ironically in the middle of a health crisis, the health care sector was among the most afflicted as providers of nearly any service apart from acute care for sufferers of COVID-19, the lung ailment caused by the novel coronavirus, suspended operations and stopped seeing patients.
    The following charts offer a picture of how Marchs job losses certain to be revised higher and followed by even larger cuts in April played out across various industries and demographic groups.
    Graphic: Which sectors lost jobs in March? https://reut.rs/2wP4ynv
    The leisure and hospitality sector shed 459,000 jobs 65% of all the positions lost in March.    The loss, the largest monthly decline in the sector ever, effectively wiped out two years of employment gains in the industry.
    The largest share of that came at restaurants and bars, which slashed 417,000 jobs.
    Around 76,000 health and education jobs were eliminated led by 29,000 cuts at dentists and physicians offices and another 19,000 at day care centers.
    The federal government sector stood out as a rare example of net job gains last month, thanks to the addition of 17,000 temporary workers for the 2020 census.
    Graphic: Unemployment across age and race https://reut.rs/346fk4K
    The unemployment rate shot up to 4.4% from a half-century low of 3.5%, the largest one-month increase in the jobless rate since 1975.
    By race or ethnicity, the largest increases were seen among Asians and Latinos, with increases of 1.6 percentage points each, nearly twice the overall increase of 0.9 percentage point.    Both whites and African Americans saw their rates rise at the same pace as the national rate, although the unemployment rate now for blacks at 6.7% is 65% higher than for whites at 4%.
    The youngest workers were also the most likely to lose work in the early stages of the shutdown.
    The unemployment rate for teenagers rose by 3.3 percentage points to 14.3% and for those between 20 and 24 years old by 2.3 points the most since 1953 to 8.7%.
    By contrast, unemployment for those in the 25-to-34-year-old age bracket rose by just 0.4 percentage point to 4.1%.    The jobless rate for workers aged 45 to 54 rose 0.7 percentage point to 3.2%, the lowest rate for any age group.
    Graphic: Unemployment across gender and education https://reut.rs/3aGQlr7
    Workers with lower levels of education also found themselves thrown out of work at a higher rate in March.
    The rate for workers without a high school diploma jumped by 1.1 percentage points to 6.8%, the highest in nearly three years.
    For people with a college degree, meanwhile, the jobless rate rose by 0.6 percentage point to 2.5%.    Still, it was the largest monthly increase in the rate for that demographic since the Labor Department began tracking it in the early 1990s.
    And finally, there was a notable gender gap in the unemployment rate increase last month.    The jobless rate for men rose by 0.7 percentage point, while the rate for women rose 0.9 percentage point, perhaps explained by their greater representation in the hardest-hit employment sectors such as hospitality and health care.
    The overall rate for both sexes over the age of 20 now stands at 4%.
(Reporting by Dan Burns; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

4/5/2020 At-home test uses blood to determine if a person has been exposed to COVID-19 by OAN Newsroom
Photo via lemonxscan.com.
    A new finger-pricking test may enable people to test for COVID-19 without leaving their homes.    Los Angeles based company Scanwell Health has created a kit, which will allow people to send a scanned blood test to doctors with their phones.
    Testing for COVID-19 has proven to be a major challenge in the U.S., read a statement from the company.    We are partnering with Lemonaid Health to offer the first fully at-home solution for testing for novel coronavirus.
    Before getting tested, individuals will first have to describe their symptoms to a doctor online to see if they meet the testing criteria put forward by the CDC.
    The test takes 15 minutes to complete and uses a drop of blood, which medical professionals will examine for antibodies.    Doctors will then notify users of their results within a few hours.
A kit used to get a sample from a patient for testing of Covid-19 is displayed at a newly opened free testing site operated by United Memorial Medical Center Thursday, April 2, 2020, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
    According to Scanwell, their test can also detect if someone had the virus after theyve already recovered.
    The really big advantage of the serology test is that, unlike the PCR test which is traditionally being used, this test can also detect infections that occurred months ago, explained Dr. Jack Jeng.
    The company is currently waiting for approval from the FDA after applying for Emergency Use Authorization.    The earliest theyll likely get the green light from the government is in two months.

4/5/2020 Factbox: Latest on the spread of the coronavirus around the world
People are seen in front of a closed church at Piazza Duomo on Palm Sunday, following the coronavirus
disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Catania, Italy April 5, 2020. REUTERS/Antonio Parrinello
    (Reuters) Global cases of the new coronavirus have passed 1 million and more than 64,000 people have died, a Reuters tally showed on Sunday, in a pandemic that has hammered the world economy.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* Reuters tally of reported cases and deaths.
* For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread, open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.
* U.S.-focused tracker with state-by-state and county map, open https://tmsnrt.rs/2w7hX9T in an external browser.
AMERICAS
* The United States enters one of the most critical weeks so far in the coronavirus crisis with the death toll exploding in New York, Michigan and Louisiana and some governors calling for a national order to stay at home.
* Over 321,000 people have tested positive and more than 9,100 have died in the United States, according to a Reuters tally.
* Brazils lower house of Congress approved a constitutional amendment for a war budget to separate coronavirus-related spending from the governments main budget and shield the economy as the country surpassed 10,000 confirmed cases.
EUROPE
* Italys health minister outlined plans for broader testing and beefed-up health services as part of a package of measures that would follow a future easing of the countrys lockdown.
* Britain will have to impose further restrictions on outdoor exercise if people flout lockdown rules, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said.
* Queen Elizabeth will call on Britons to take on the disruption caused by the outbreak with good-humored resolve when she makes an extremely rare address to rally the nation on Sunday.
* The rate of new infections and deaths in Spain slowed again as the country, one of the worst hit by the pandemic, began its fourth week under a near-total lockdown.
. * Parisians have been warned not to succumb to the tempting sunny spring weather and to remain indoors.    The coronavirus has killed 7,560 in France.
* Pope Francis marked a surreal Palm Sunday in an empty St. Peters Basilica, urging people living through the pandemic not to be so concerned with what they lack but how they can ease the suffering of others.
ASIA
* Mainland China reported 30 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, up from 19 a day earlier as the number of cases involving travelers from abroad as well as local transmissions increased, highlighting the difficulty in stamping out the outbreak.
* India is restricting the export of most diagnostic testing kits, as coronavirus cases topped 3,350 on Sunday.    The country has imposed a three-week nationwide lockdown.
* Australian health officials said they were cautiously optimistic about the slowing spread of the coronavirus but warned social distancing restrictions are to stay in place for months.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* About 20 million jobs are at risk in Africa as the continents economies are projected to shrink this year due to the impact of the pandemic, according an African Union (AU) study.
* Dubai imposed a two-week lockdown and Saudi Arabia sealed off parts of the Red Sea city of Jeddah as Gulf states tightened measures in big cities to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
* Franciscan friars wearing surgical masks and gloves made house calls in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, delivering olive branches to Christians who are self-isolating.
ECONOMIC FALLOUT
* Most Middle Eastern stock markets ended lower on Sunday, with Dubai leading the losses, on mounting fears of a deep recession due to the coronavirus pandemic.
* The Bank of England will not resort to irreversibly printing money in order to fund a surge in government spending as it tries to shield Britains economy, its governor Andrew Bailey said on Sunday.
* The job losses suffered in March as the U.S. economy shut down were widespread but still were disproportionately felt in a handful of employment sectors and by women, the young and the less educated.
SPORTS
* FIFA is getting ready to deal with complaints and appeals over wage cuts for players, producing guidelines for clubs and football bodies looking to cut costs during the stoppage caused by the pandemic, an internal document seen by Reuters showed.
(Compiled by Frances Kerry)

4/6/2020 Forest fire near Chernobyl stirs deposited radioactive material
    MINSK, Belarus A forest fire is burning in the evacuated area around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and is causing elevated radiation levels, authorities said Sunday.    The blaze has spread to about 250 acres, said Yehor Firsov, head of Ukraines state ecological inspection service.    The emergency services ministry said 130 firefighters and two planes were laboring to put out the fire.    It said radiation levels had increased at the fires center. The blaze is within the 1,000-square-mile Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.

4/6/2020 Researchers develop potential vaccine - Pittsburgh team reports successful tests in mice by Mark Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel USA TODAY NETWORK
    A potential vaccine for COVID-19 has been developed and tested successfully in mice, researchers reported Thursday.
    Wed like to get this into patients as soon as possible, said Andrea Gambotto, associate professor of surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and co-author of a paper announcing the vaccine in the journal EBioMedicine.
    As far as reaching clinical trials, we would like to think a month, give or take.    Maybe two months.    We just started the process, said co-author Louis Falo, a professor and chairman of the Department of Dermatology at the University of Pittsburgh.
    Thursdays announcement, more than three months into a pandemic that has killed 50,000 people and sickened almost 1 million worldwide, presents an urgent challenge to government regulators, who must weigh how much to speed up the vaccine approval process.
    Vaccines often take years to receive approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.    Yet on March 16, the first four healthy volunteers in Seattle received a different potential COVID- 19 vaccine, made by a company called Moderna and administered in a small clinical trial at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute.
    Though the vaccine being tested in Seattle uses a new, faster but untested technology, the one developed in Pittsburgh employs the same technique used in flu shots.    The Pittsburgh vaccine uses lab-made viral protein to build a persons immunity to the virus.
    Tests in mice found that the vaccine spurred a wave of virus-fighting antibodies within two weeks.
    That a vaccine generates an immune response is an important first step in determining which vaccines should move forward, but is only the first of many steps.
    David OConnor, the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health
    There are many, many vaccine candidates in various stages of testing, said David OConnor, professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.
    OConnor said showing that a vaccine generates an immune response is an important first step in determining which vaccines should move forward, but is only the first of many steps along the way to a useful vaccine.    This paper shows some of this first step data.
    The potential COVID-19 vaccine follows up on research Gambotto and Falo did in December 2003 when they were poised to proceed to clinical trials with a vaccine for another coronavirus, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.    At the time, the journal Nature reported, SARS vaccines speed toward clinic.
    But the outbreak had already waned.    The World Health Organization declared SARS contained in July 2003.
    SARS CoV-2 is teaching us that it is important to react and (follow) all the way through, Gambotto said.    Yes, it was a mistake not to test the vaccine back then.
    The Pittsburgh researchers developed a vaccine to treat Arabian camels for another coronavirus, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
    Gambotto said they adapted techniques they had developed for previous coronaviruses to create one specifically designed for the virus that causes COVID-19.
    The Pittsburgh researchers call their vaccine PittCoVacc.

4/6/2020 Cyclone pounds Vanuatu, levelling buildings, amid virus shutdown by Byron Kaye
Cyclone Harold brings strong winds in Luganville, Vanuatu April 6, 2020, in this still image
obtained from a social media video. Courtesy of Adra Vanuatu/Social Media via REUTERS.
    SYDNEY (Reuters) A powerful tropical cyclone made landfall on the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu on Monday, witnesses said, levelling buildings in a country already in a state of emergency due to concerns about the coronavirus.
    Cyclone Harold approached Sanma province, an island north of the capital Port Vila, with winds of up to 215 km (133 miles) per hour about 1 pm local time (0200 GMT), as the country of 276,000 people bunkered down.
    There were no immediate reports of injuries.    The cyclone was upgraded to a Category 5 as it approached, the highest category.
    There is lots of damage in Sanma, they lost lots of buildings, said Jacqueline de Gaillande, CEO of Vanuatu Red Cross, by telephone from the capital Port Vila where the cyclone was expected to hit overnight.
    The province of Sanmar sits on the biggest of Vanuatus 80 islands and is home to its second-most populous city, Luganville, where photos circulated on social media purported to show buildings flattened by the storm.
    We dont know if we can provide any supports to the island because we are not allowed to travel inter-island and we are waiting for the government to make that decision, added de Gaillande, referring to travel restrictions associated with the coronavirus.
    Vanuatu has reported no cases of the new coronavirus but has nonetheless declared a state of emergency, banned most international and domestic air travel and limited public gatherings to five people as it tries to prevent a local outbreak of the flu-like illness that has infected nearly 1.3 million people and resulted in about 70,000 deaths globally.
    The Pacific region has recorded about 60 confirmed cases of the illness and one death, in Guam, according to media reports.
    The Australian Broadcasting Corp reported that Vanuatu officials had relaxed social distancing rules over the weekend because of concern about the cyclone.    Vanuatus National Disaster Management Office was not immediately available for comment on Monday.
    A day earlier, Solomon Islands police said they retrieved five bodies in their search for 27 people who were swept off a ferry by the cyclone as it passed over the country.
    The MV Taimareho set sail early on Friday in strong winds with 738 passengers including crew and the captain on board.    Police said the missing were believed to have fallen off during heavy seas.
    Vanuatu, and the province of Sanma in particular, was hit hard in 2015 by the Category 5 Cyclone Pam that pummelled the capital Port Vila and other islands.
(Reporting by Byron Kaye; editing by Richard Pullin)

4/6/2020 L.A. County hits 3-week streak in good quality air as stay-at-home order lessens countywide traffic by OAN Newsroom
Few cars occupy the Arroyo Seco Parkway toward downtown Los Angeles during rush hour, Thursday,
April 2, 2020, in Los Angeles, during the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
    Many Angelenos are getting a breath of fresh air as Los Angeles seems to be losing its infamous smog.
    The South Coast Air Quality Management District recently reported a three-week streak of good quality air across the county.    Officials inside the South Coast AQMD have said this could be related to the countywide safer-at-home order, which is meant to complement Californias stay-at-home orders.
    And people are asking, is that due to the fact that people are arent driving as much, theyre staying at home? said Philip Fine, Deputy Executive Director for the South Coast AQMD.    And some of the other activity, human activities that cause emissions, have been diminished and weve been looking at that.
    The countywide order came two-days after California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) issued the state-wide stay-at-home order on March 19.    South Coast AQMD officials believe this has slowed down freeway traffic.    They estimated that car traffic is down by one-third and truck traffic is down by around 20 percent.
    However, officials arent fully convinced the air quality is directly related to the decrease in traffic.    They also cited recent cool and wet weather, which they believe may also be influencing air quality.
    And under those conditions, those are the days where we typically see very good air quality days, Fine explained.    So its been very hard to tease out the different impacts of perhaps the reduced emissions that we expect to see under these conditions and the weather, the impact of the weather.
    Meanwhile, the L.A. County safer-at-home order is expected to end April 19, but officials are predicting it could be extended to May.    Clean air advocates hope once the order is lifted, Angelenos will continue to work remotely and be cautious about taking long distance trips.
Light traffic is seen on California 110 with the city skyline in the background Thursday, April 2, 2020,
in Los Angeles. California is in its second week of a statewide lockdown, where schools and nonessential
businesses are closed and the governor has ordered people to stay home. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
    Even though it is also important to see people face to face, maybe we wont have to take as many car and plane trips in order to have those conversations, said Bill Magavern, Policy Director for the advocacy group Coalition for Clean Air.

4/7/2020 COVID-19 patients rush to join study by Marilynn Marchione, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    COVID-19 made Dr. Jag Singh a patient at his own hospital.    His alarm grew as he saw an X-ray of his pneumoniachoked lungs and colleagues asked his wishes about life support while wheeling him into Massachusetts Generals intensive care unit.
    When they offered him a chance to help test remdesivir, an experimental drug that has shown promise against some other coronaviruses, it did not even cross my mind once to say no, said Singh, a heart specialist.
    Coronavirus patients around the world have been rushing to join remdesivir studies that opened in hospitals in the last few weeks.
    Interest has been so great that the U.S. National Institutes of Health is expanding its study, which has nearly reached its initial goal of 440 patients.    The drugs maker, California-based Gilead Sciences, is quickly ramping up its own studies.
    I would enroll my family in a heartbeat if the need arose, said Dr. Libby Hohmann, who placed Singh and nearly 30 others at Mass General in the NIH.    To have no approved medicines for COVID- 19 now is kind of terrifying, she said.
    For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, which can include fever and cough but sometimes pneumonia requiring hospitalization.    The risk of death is greater for older adults and people with other health problems.     Remdesivir is given through an IV.    Its designed to interfere with an enzyme that reproduces viral genetic material.
    In animal tests against SARS and MERS, diseases caused by similar coronaviruses, the drug helped prevent infection and reduced the severity of symptoms when given early enough in the course of illness.    Its farther along in testing than many other potential therapies and the current studies could lead to regulatory approval.
    Gilead has given remdesivir to more than 1,700 patients on a case-by-case emergency basis, but more people ultimately will be helped if the company does the needed studies to prove safety and effectiveness, chief executive Dan ODay wrote in a recent letter to the public.
    Theres so much anxiety about the disease that the patients are quite interested and no one offered the chance has refused, said Dr. Arun Sanyal, the study leader at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.
    The first patient he enrolled was a previously healthy middle-aged man who had an out-of-state visitor a few days before his symptoms began.    What started as mild illness escalated to profound shortness of breath requiring supplemental oxygen.
    At University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, Dr. Grace McComsey has enrolled roughly half a dozen patients.
    Were seeing more and more younger people, like 30, really sick, she said.
    The NIH study is the most rigorous test.    It compares remdesivir to placebo infusions, and neither patients nor doctors know who is getting what until the end of the study. Besides the U.S., its open in Japan, Korea and Singapore.
A vial of the investigational drug remdesivir is visually inspected at a
Gilead Sciences manufacturing site in the United States. GILEAD SCIENCES VIA AP

4/7/2020 All you Pollution and Greenhouse Gases Green New Deal Idiots leave the U.S. alone and go after the countries who are the polluters which you can see in the image below.

4/7/2020 Cyclone Harold tears through Vanuatu, bears toward Fiji
Severe damage is pictured in the aftermath of a storm in Pentecost, Vanuatu, March 7, 2020
in this picture obtained from social media. WATAS CELAC /via REUTERS
    MELBOURNE (Reuters) Tropical Cyclone Harold lashed the South Pacific island of Vanuatu for a second day on Tuesday, ripping off roofs and downing telecommunications, and was moving towards Fiji where it is expected to slightly weaken.
    The powerful cyclone made landfall on Monday in Sana province, an island north of Vanuatus capital Port Vila, with winds as high as 235 kilometres an hour (146 miles per hour) knocking out communications overnight, according to reports by the governments disaster and weather bureaus.
    The province of Sana sits on the biggest of Vanuatus 80 islands and is home to its second-most populous city, Luganville, where photos circulated on social media purported to show buildings flattened by the storm.
    The winds blew roofs off houses, tore down trees and destroyed a council building in Luganville, which has a population of 16,000, according to a Radio New Zealand report.
    Vanuatus National Disaster Management Office said in a social media post that officials were expected to survey the area later in the day to assess the damage.
    Gusts were expected to drop to 110 km per hour (68 mph) as the system tracks south east away from Vanuatu later on Tuesday, and approaches Fiji, Vanuatus weather bureau said.
    Fijian authorities issued a tropical cyclone alert for some of its southern islands.
    Cyclone Harold is expected to skirt the main island of Viti Levu, coming around 230 km from the main transport hub of Nadi, about 6:00 a.m on Wednesday (1800 GMT Tuesday), Fijis weather bureau said.
    The alert was in force for islands further south including Lomaiviti and the Southern Lau Group.    A strong wind warning and damaging heavy swell warnings are in place for the country. Fijis meteorological bureau also warned of the risk of flash floods.
(Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

4/7/2020 Largest supermoon of 2020 rises on a world battling COVID-19
The Pink Supermoon rises over the Shard skyscraper in London in an astronomical event that occurs when the moon is closest to the Earth
in its orbit, making it appear much larger and brighter than usual, in London, Britain, April 7, 2020. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
    (Reuters) The largest, brightest supermoon of 2020 rose in the night sky on Tuesday over hushed cities, stilled factories and countries in lockdown due to the novel coronavirus that has killed tens of thousands worldwide.
    If the moon is within 10% of its closest distance to the earth at the moment of full moon, it is considered to be a supermoon, according the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London.
    Aprils full moon will be the closest supermoon of 2020, and it is also known as the Pink Moon after the pink flowers that start to appear in the fields this month in some places.
    Watching in Beijing was local resident Ding Linlin, who said: The epidemic situation in China is getting better and better.    This [moon] may represent something good Im happy when I see it.
    Mainland China reported no coronavirus deaths on Tuesday for the first time since the pandemic began and a drop in new cases, a day before the central city of Wuhan, where the virus emerged late in December, was set to lift its lockdown.
    In Spain, where the virus is still raging and 743 people died in the last day to take the death toll to almost 14,000, residents of the capital Madrid clapped for health workers from their balconies and windows beneath the supermoon.
(Reporting by Reuters staff; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

4/7/2020 Factbox: Latest on the spread of the coronavirus around the world
Two people gesture as they lean out of their window after the applause in honour of healthcare workers,
amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in downtown Ronda, southern Spain, April 7, 2020.
Placard reads: "Cheer up! Your efforts are our pride". REUTERS/Jon Nazca
    (Reuters) The number of confirmed infections of the novel coronavirus exceeded 1.34 million globally and the death toll crossed 76,000, according to a Reuters tally as of 1400 GMT.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread, open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.
* U.S.-focused tracker with state-by-state and county map, open https://tmsnrt.rs/2w7hX9T in an external browser.
EUROPE
* The pace of coronavirus deaths in Spain ticked up for the first time in five days on Tuesday, with 743 people succumbing overnight, but there was still hope the national lockdown might be eased soon.
* Doctors in Lombardy, Italys worst-hit region, denounced local officials for their handling of the crisis and said the mistakes they made should be a lesson for everyone.
* British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was set to spend a second night in intensive care on Tuesday, while his foreign minister led the governments response.    Cabinet Minister Michael Gove said he was self isolating as a family member has symptoms.
* In the Swiss Armys biggest call-up since World War II, thousands of soldiers have been sent to support health workers, while hundreds have been confined to barracks after potential exposure.
* France has officially registered more than 10,000 deaths from coronavirus infections on Tuesday, becoming the fourth country to go beyond that threshold.
* Norway will ease some restrictions, its prime minister said.
* Finland will start tracking the spread in its population with randomised antibody tests.
* Vietnam donated 550,000 face masks to five European countries on Tuesday.
* Irelands chief medical officer said he did not expect to be able to recommend a lifting of severe restrictions by April 12.
* Czech lawmakers approved keeping the country under the state of emergency until April 30, a shorter extension than the government had sought.
AMERICAS
* New York state is nearing a plateau in number of patients hospitalized, Governor Andrew Cuomo said, while total infections in the country rose to 374,329, with the death toll reaching 12,064.
* President Donald Trump accused the World Health Organization of being too focused on China and issuing bad advice during the coronavirus outbreak.    He also accused the U.S. Health Departments inspector general of having produced a fake dossier on American hospitals suffering shortages.
* Wisconsin voters faced long lines at limited polling locations on Tuesday during the states presidential primary and local elections.
* Canada needs to do more to persuade Washington not to block medical supplies from flowing across the border, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.
* Mexicos health ministry warned that the country was facing a shortage of doctors as it seeks to ramp up hospital care. * El Salvador warned that security forces had been ordered to enforce quarantine orders more rigorously.
ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
* Mainland China reported no deaths for the first time since the pandemic began, and a drop in new cases, a day before the city of Wuhan, where the virus emerged, is set to lift its lockdown.
* Indias 21-day lockdown is set to end next week but several state leaders have called for an extension or only a partial lifting of restrictions.
* Japan declared a one-month state of emergency in Tokyo and six other prefectures, and rolled out a nearly $1 trillion stimulus package.
* Australias chief medical officer said researchers were analysing data to help the government plot a recovery, after lockdown measures bought it some time.
* Philippines extended its lockdown and home quarantine measures until the end of April.
* Indonesia approved a request by the Jakarta administration to impose further large-scale social restrictions on the capital.
* India will allow limited exports of an anti-malaria drug that U.S. President Donald Trump has touted as a potential weapon in the fight against the virus.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Most Middle Eastern countries are seeing worrying daily increases in cases but the region still has a chance to contain its spread, a senior WHO official said.
* The coronavirus could eventually infect between 10,000 and 200,000 people in Saudi Arabia, the kingdoms health minister said. [nL8N2BV5HT]
* Egypt will ban any public religious gatherings during the holy Muslim fasting month Ramadan starting in around two weeks.
* South Africas main health workers union planned to challenge the government in court on Tuesday over shortages of protective gear for frontline staff.
ECONOMIC FALLOUT
* World stock markets posted sharp gains on Tuesday on signs of progress in curbing the spread of the novel coronavirus in both Europe and the United States. [MKTS/GLOB]
* Euro zone finance ministers hope to agree on measures worth half a trillion euros to finance recovery from the coronavirus, a discussion that has sown divisions.
* The Trump administration asked Congress for an additional $250 billion in emergency economic aid for small U.S. businesses reeling from the pandemic.
* U.S. job openings fell in February, suggesting the labor market was losing momentum even before stringent measures to control the outbreak shuttered businesses.
* Latin American assets extended their recovery into a second session on Tuesday, as risk assets were propped up by hopes that the coronavirus outbreak had peaked in several hotspots.
* Slovenia will post a high budget deficit and public debt will increase this year, the Fiscal Council said on Tuesday.
* Portugal will boost its credit lines for struggling businesses to 4.2 billion euros on Wednesday, after it was bolstered by a state aid package from the European Commission.
* Japan will sell a record amount of extra bonds this fiscal year, worth more than $165 billion, straining the industrial worlds heaviest debt burden.
* Thailand approved measures worth $58 billion on Tuesday.
* Nearly 140 campaign groups and charities urged the IMF and World Bank, G20 governments and private creditors to help the worlds poorest countries through the crisis by cancelling debt payments.
* The IMF said it was considering Nigerias request for $3.4 billion in emergency financing to combat the impact of the pandemic.
(Compiled by Milla Nissi, Aditya Soni and Uttaresh.V; Editing by Tomasz Janowski and Arun Koyyur)

4/7/2020 WHO warns against easing coronavirus measures too early
FILE PHOTO: A logo is pictured outside a building of the World Health Organization (WHO) during an executive board
meeting on update on the coronavirus outbreak, in Geneva, Switzerland, February 6, 2020. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
    GENEVA (Reuters) The World Health Organization has no blanket recommendation for countries and regions for easing measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, but urged them not to lift them too early, a spokesman said on Tuesday.
    One of the most important parts is not to let go of the measures too early in order not to have a fall back again, said WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier in a virtual briefing.
    Its similar to being sick yourself if you get out of bed too early and get running too early you risk falling back and having complications, he added.
(Reporting by Emma Farge; Editing by Jon Boyle)

4/7/2020 Robots replace Japanese students at graduation amid coronavirus
FILE PHOTO: Ipads attached to 'newme' robots replacing graduating students' presence at a ceremony,
wear graduation gowns and hats in Tokyo, Japan March 28, 2020. BBT UNIVERSITY/Handout via REUTERS.
    TOKYO (Reuters) Spring graduation ceremonies in Japan have been cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic, but students at one school were able to attend remotely by controlling avatar robots while logged on at home.
    The robots, dubbed Newme by developer ANA Holdings, were dressed in graduation caps and gowns for the ceremony at the Business Breakthrough University in Tokyo.
    The robots faces were tablets that displayed the faces of the graduates, who logged on at home and controlled the robots via their laptops.
    One by one, the robots motored toward the podium to receive their diplomas.    School staff clapped and said congratulations! as University President Kenichi Ohmae placed the diplomas on a rack mounted on the robots midsection.
    I think this is truly a novel experience to receive a certificate in a public area while I am in a private space, Kazuki Tamura said via his computer avatar when receiving his masters degree diploma.
    The university hopes its approach can be adopted by other schools looking to avoid mass gatherings.
    Reflecting the human world, however, the school limited the ceremony to just four graduates so that the robots could practice social distancing amid the pandemic.
(Reporting by Hideto Sakai and Akiko Okamoto; Writing by Chris Gallagher; Editing by Giles Elgood)

4/8/2020 Cyclone Harold flattens homes, brings injuries in Fiji by Byron Kaye
The roof of a temple is blown off as strong winds rage through Sigatoka, Viti Levu, as Cyclone Harold batters the
island nation of Fiji, April 8, 2020, in this still image taken from social media video. Jash Ram via REUTERS
    SYDNEY (Reuters) A powerful tropical cyclone battered the South Pacific island nation of Fiji on Wednesday, witnesses said, destroying buildings and causing injuries in Suva, the capital, pressuring a population already bracing for the coronavirus outbreak.
    Cyclone Harold, its strength ranked in the highest category of five, passed over Fijis south at about midday, levelling homes and snapping communications links in the archipelago, which has adopted curbs on movement to rein in the virus.
    Weve seen reports of injuries, Vasiti Soko, the director of the National Disaster Management Office, said by telephone.
    As to the number, as well as the intensity, of the injuries, thats yet to be ascertained.
    There were no immediate reports of deaths, but about 10 houses in Suva were reported destroyed, Soko added.
    Flooded streets, wild winds and ruined buildings on the countrys main island home to Suva featured in unverified video images and photographs circulated on social media.
    Emergency officials were scrambling to establish contact with the southern island of Kapavu, after the storm severed communications with it, Soko added.
    The ferocious storm has cut a path through the Pacific, which is already on high alert for an outbreak of the flu-like virus that has infected 1.4 million people globally and killed 82,000.
    Although Fiji has just 15 infections and no deaths, Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama has banned unnecessary gatherings of more than 20 people, among other curbs.br>     Bainimarama urged all Fijians to stay indoors unless told to evacuate.
    Our evacuation centres are safe, they are sanitised and monitored to ensure they do not surpass capacity, he said in In a social media posting on Wednesday.
    Those under quarantine due to the threat of coronavirus will not mix with others.
    The cyclone, which has killed dozens in the Solomon Islands before destroying buildings in Vanuatu, was expected to make its way to Tonga within days, weather forecasters said.
(Reporting by Byron Kaye; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

4/9/2020 Giant, string-like creature spotted off Australian coast by Ndea Yancey-Bragg USA TODAY
    Scientists on a research vessel spotted a giant creature that has been compared to a mass of silly string floating off western Australia.
    The Schmidt Ocean Institute shared a video of the Apolemia, a type of siphonophore, on Twitter Monday that was captured during an expedition of the deep-sea Ningaloo Canyons.    Although its unclear exactly how long the animal is, the pilot of a remotely operated vehicle used lasers to determine the size of the siphonophores outer ring and estimated it was 154 feet long based on its diameter.
    We think its the longest animal recorded to date, Carlie Wiener, director of marine communication at the institute, told USA TODAY.
    Siphonophore are deep-sea predators related to jellyfish and corals that catch prey including tiny crustaceans, fish and even other siphonophores in their curtain of stinging cells, according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute.    Wiener said the gelatinous colony is made up of thousands of individuals, specialized clone bodies that work together.    The video was taken March 16 at a depth of about 2,070 feet while researchers from the Western Australian Museum were diving, Wiener said.    Researchers on the Schmidt Ocean Institutes ship Falkor finished a monthlong expedition during which they completed 20 dives and, pending genetic confirmation, may have discovered up to 30 new species.
    There is so much we dont know about the deep sea, and there are countless species never before seen, Wendy Schmidt, co-founder of Schmidt Ocean Institute, said in a statement.    The Ningaloo Canyons are just one of many vast underwater wonders we are about to discover that can help us better understand our planet.
    Wiener said the team has been broadcasting live connections from the ship to provide children stuck at home with science content to learn from.

4/9/2020 Factbox: Latest on the spread of the coronavirus around the world
Two people gesture as they lean out of their window after the applause in honour of healthcare workers, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
outbreak, in downtown Ronda, southern Spain, April 7, 2020. Placard reads: "Cheer up! Your efforts are our pride". REUTERS/Jon Nazca
    (Reuters) The number of confirmed infections of the novel coronavirus were reported to have exceeded 1.47 million globally and the death toll crossed 87,700, according to a Reuters tally as of 0200 GMT.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread, open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.
U.S.-focused tracker with state-by-state and county map, open https://tmsnrt.rs/2w7hX9T in an external browser.
EUROPE
Europes governments need to support each other to adopt the best policies, European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said in a letter to an Italian daily.
European Union governments piled pressure on the Netherlands to unblock half-a-trillion euros of economic support ahead of a meeting of finance ministers, with Italy saying the very future of the EU was at stake.
Italy may start lifting some restrictions by the end of April provided the slowing trend continues, its prime minister told the BBC on Thursday, but the easing can only be gradual.
Total cases in Germany rose by 4,974 in the past 24 hours to 108,202 on Thursday. The death toll rose by 246 to 2,107.
Hungary registered more than 100 infections in an elderly peoples home in Budapest.
Spains number of daily coronavirus deaths slowed on Thursday after two days of increases as 683 people succumbed in 24 hours, taking the total to 15,238, the health ministry said.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson spent a third night in intensive care but is improving as his government prepares to review its most stringent shut down in the peacetime history.
Malta announced its first death on Wednesday.
AMERICAS
Efforts to push a further $250 billion of aid for small businesses through the U.S. Congress stalled as top Democrats said they would back the measure only if it was coupled with a similar amount for hospitals and local governments.
Some coronavirus patients who would have been admitted into the emergency department at a New York hospital are being sent home with oxygen-monitoring devices as the citys medical system struggles to reserve resources.
The United States will seize exports of key protective medical gear until it determines whether they should be kept in the country, federal agencies announced on Wednesday.
Ecuadors president called for an investigation into how local authorities handled the bodies of coronavirus victims in Guayaquil, the epicenter of the countrys outbreak.
Mexico registered 396 new cases, bringing the countrys total to 3,181 with 174 deaths.    Its deputy health minister said Mexico might have 26,500 people infected with the virus.
Peru extended its state of emergency for two more weeks to April 26.
Honduras will extend its national curfew to April 19. [nL2N2BX02U
ASIA
Chinese doctors at a key coronavirus hospital in Wuhan said they have been using HIV drug Kaletra since January and believe it is beneficial, despite a previous study that said it was ineffective.
Local schools in Shanghai will reopen starting April 27, a senior education official said.
Tokyo has more than 180 new cases on Thursday, the highest daily jump, Japanese media reported.
Australian police said they have taken the black box of a cruise ship which disembarked hundreds of infected passengers in Sydney, as part of a homicide investigation into the countrys deadliest infection source.
Indian and Pakistani troops in Kashmir are engaged in their most frequent cross-border fighting of at least two years, official data shows, even as they battle surging outbreaks.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
A lockdown kept the streets of Jerusalem and other Israeli cities nearly empty on the Jewish Passover holiday, which typically draws crowds of people.
Political and physical divisions in the West Bank and Gaza have induced two very different responses, with a strict lockdown in the first and crowds milling about freely in the second.
Ethiopia and Liberia declared states of emergency, a day after cases on the continent surged past 10,000.
A South African public sector union withdrew a court case against the government over shortages of protective gear for frontline health workers.
Somalia registered its first death.
ECONOMIC FALLOUT
Global shares rose on Thursday on hopes the pandemic was nearing a peak and expectations of more economic stimulus, while expectations of a deal to cut oil production bolstered crude prices. [MKTS/GLOB]
Investment funds should not face enforcement action by national regulators for failing to meet reporting deadlines during the crisis, the European Unions markets watchdog said.
A decision by Indias supreme court to make testing for coronavirus free places an unfair financial burden on medical firms and could see a reduction in testing, said business leaders and health experts.
Britains economy was almost stagnant in the three months to February, before the coronavirus crisis escalated and pushed the country into what is likely to be a historic recession, official data showed on Thursday.
Irelands unemployment rate more than trebled to 16.5% at the end of March, the states statistics office said on Thursday, ahead of a likely further surge this month.
Denmarks economy could shrink by up to 6% this year and the country faces the darkest chapter in its economic history, its finance minister said.
Switzerlands government will look at temporarily changing its bankruptcy laws to protect companies hit by cash-flow problems and mounting debts during the crisis.
Mexico will apply looser liquidity rules on banks to help them weather the outbreak, the central bank said.
Dubai told all government agencies to slash spending and freeze hiring until further notice, according to an official document seen by Reuters.
The fallout from the coronavirus could push around half a billion people into poverty, Oxfam said on Thursday.
(Compiled by Sarah Morland, Milla Nissi, Aditya Soni and Uttaresh.V; Editing by Tomasz Janowski, Arun Koyyur and Anil DSilva)

4/9/2020 Italian hospital introduces robot aides to help monitor patients by OAN Newsroom
A coronavirus patient under treatment in the intensive care unit uses the touch screen of a robot at
Ospedale di Circolo hospital, in Varese, Italy, Wednesday, April 8, 2020. Six robots help healthcare professionals
assist Covid-19 patients, one robot for every two patients to maximize monitoring and assistance. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
    A hospital in northern Italy is turning to automated help in the fight against coronavirus.    According to recent reports, six robots have been introduced to a hospital in one of the hardest hit regions of the country.
    Dubbed Tommy the robots are allowing doctors to remotely monitor patients, while focusing on those in more serious condition.    The head of the company that oversees the hospital said the robot allows hospital staff to more effectively use its protective gear, but also allows a closer relationship to patients in isolation.
    The robots have a strong impact, which depends on the age of the patients, explained Gianni Bonelli, CEO of Sette Laghi Health Authority.    young patients react wellthose who are a bit older are initially a bit surprised, but then they get used to them when they see theyre helpful.
    Patients can use the robot to communicate with their doctors who have said the assistant is like having a nurse that doesnt risk infection.    More than 4,000 Italian health workers have reportedly contracted coronavirus and more than 60 doctors have died from the infection.

4/9/2020 Factbox: Latest on the spread of the coronavirus around the world
People queue to pick up fresh food at a Los Angeles Regional Food Bank giveaway of 2,000 boxes of groceries, as the spread
of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Los Angeles, California, U.S., April 9, 2020. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
    (Reuters) Global cases of the new coronavirus have shot past 1 million with more than 54,000 fatalities, a Reuters tally showed on Friday, as death tolls soared in the United States and western Europe while the world economy nosedived.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* Reported cases have surpassed 1.03 million globally and nearly 54,500 people have died, according to a Reuters tally.
* For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread, open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.
* U.S.-focused tracker with state-by-state and county map, open https://tmsnrt.rs/2w7hX9T in an external browser.
EUROPE
* Spain overtook Italy for the first time for the number of confirmed cases, but the overnight death toll fell from the previous day.
* Switzerlands government boosted its powers to force firms to make more critical medical supplies.
* Scientific advisers to the Italian government said a reliable antibody blood test to find out who has already had the virus would give a better picture of Italys epidemic and could possibly be identified within days.
* The southerly region of Chechnya became the first in Russia to introduce a night curfew.
* Cases in Irelands nursing homes have increased four-fold in the space of a week.
* British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was remaining in isolation with mild symptoms, seven days after he was confirmed to be infected.    Britains health minister said the curve of deaths could peak on Easter Sunday. Queen Elizabeth will make an extremely rare address to the nation on Sunday.
* French high-school students have had their graduation exam, the baccalaureat, canceled for first time since it was instituted two centuries ago under Napoleon.
* It is too early for Germany to lift restrictions on peoples movement despite signs that the virus may be spreading at a slightly slower pace, Chancellor Angela Merkel said.
* Latvia reported its first death.
AMERICAS
* In New York, the U.S. state hardest hit by the coronavirus, the total death toll was around the same as that on 9/11, when nearly 3,000 people, most of them at New York Citys World Trade Center, were killed in attacks on the United States.
    Another hot spot, Louisiana, reported that the number of its deaths related to COVID-19 rose from 310 at noon on Thursday to 370 at noon on Friday.
* Total U.S. virus cases jumped to 239,279, while deaths rose to 5,443.
* Canadian officials blasted a move by President Donald Trump to block 3M Cos export of N95 respirator masks for use by doctors and nurses as the daily death toll jumped by almost 20%, with total infections nearing 12,000.
* Brazilians are increasingly against President Jair Bolsonaros handling of the outbreak and overwhelmingly support officials he has attacked for advocating social distancing measures, two polls showed.
ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
* The top official in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus was first identified, warned residents to stay vigilant and avoid going out, even as the latest data showed a decline in new cases in mainland China and no new infections in the city.
* Confusion reigned in some Hong Kong pubs and bars after authorities ordered a two-week closure, with many food outlets uncertain if the latest restrictions applied to them.
* The U.S. sounded the alarm about a surge in cases in Japan, adding to a chorus of prominent domestic voices who have called for more decisive action.
* Taiwan and the United States discussed how to get closer coordination between the island and the World Health Organization during the outbreak, drawing a rebuke from China.
* Pakistani Muslims at a Karachi mosque clashed with baton-wielding police trying to enforce new curbs on gatherings to prevent Friday prayers and contain infections.
* The number of funerals in Jakarta rose sharply in March, a development the governor of Indonesias capital city said suggested that deaths from the new coronavirus may be higher than officially reported.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* More than 2 million workers in Turkey have lost their jobs due to containment measures, the main opposition party said, as the government moved towards tightening curbs on movement.
* Israel locked down an ultra-Orthodox Jewish town badly affected by the virus.
* A United Nations official voiced concern over prisoners after reports of unrest in jails in countries including Iran, one of the worst hit in the world.
* Coronavirus has infected more than 3,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa and killed about 100, prompting some of the worlds poorest countries to shut land and sea borders.
ECONOMIC FALLOUT
* Global stock markets sank on Friday following more signs that the COVID-19 pandemic would take a massive toll on economic growth. [MKTS/GLOB]
* The global recession that economists polled by Reuters say is under way due to the coronavirus pandemic will be deeper than thought a few weeks ago, although most are clinging to hopes of a swift rebound.
* The pandemic has brought the global economy to a standstill and plunged the world into a recession that will be way worse than the global financial crisis a decade ago, the head of the International Monetary Fund said.
* The impact of the coronavirus, and for some the oil market crash, are putting at least half a dozen countries at risk of having their debt downgraded to a junk rating.
* The U.S. economy shed 701,000 jobs in March, ending a historic 113 straight months of employment growth, while U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Congress will work on another relief bill, with healthcare topping the list of priorities.
* Britains economy looks set for a slump that in the short term could be deeper than during the depression of the 1930s.
(Compiled by Sarah Morland and Milla Nissi; Editing by Tomasz Janowski, William Maclean, Nick Macfie, Kevin Liffey and Sriraj Kalluvila)

4/10/2020 String from Neanderthals is discovered by Malcolm Ritter, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    NEW YORK It looked like a white splotch on the underside of a Neanderthal stone tool.    But a microscope showed it was a bunch of fibers twisted around each other.
    Further examination revealed it was the first direct evidence that Neanderthals could make string, and the oldest known direct evidence for string-making overall, researchers say.
    The find implies our evolutionary cousins had some understanding of numbers and the trees that furnished the raw material, they say.    Its the latest discovery to show Neanderthals were smarter than modern-day people often assume.
    Bruce Hardy, of Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, and colleagues report the discovery in a paper released Thursday by the journal Scientific Reports.
    The string hints at the possibility of other abilities, like making bags, mats, nets and fabric, they said.
    It came from an archaeological site in the Rhone River valley of southeastern France, and its about 40,000 to 50,000 years old.    Researchers dont know how Neanderthals used the string.

4/10/2020 Latest on the spread of the coronavirus around the world
People queue to pick up fresh food at a Los Angeles Regional Food Bank giveaway of 2,000 boxes of groceries, as the spread
of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Los Angeles, California, U.S., April 9, 2020. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
    (Reuters) The number of confirmed infections of the novel coronavirus were reported to have exceeded 1.52 million globally and the death toll rose above 89,400, according to a Reuters tally as of 0200 GMT.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread, open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.
* U.S.-focused tracker with state-by-state and county map, open https://tmsnrt.rs/2w7hX9T in an external browser.
EUROPE
* Spains prime minister warned that nationwide confinement would likely last until May even though he said the worst should soon be over and the death toll slowed. [nL5N2BX1XU]
* The Italian government is planning to extend its lockdown until May 3, two trade union sources told Reuters on Thursday after meeting ministers. [nL5N2BX6SI]
* British Prime Minister Boris Johnson left intensive care on Thursday evening as he continues to recover from COVID-19, but he remains under close observation in hospital. [nL5N2BX1J1]
* The British government defended its early handling of the outbreak after a Reuters investigation found its scientific advisers were too slow to communicate their growing concerns. [nL5N2BX6U6]
* Britain urged its citizens to stay at home over the coming Easter holidays, amid fears that the pull of wanting to see family and friends over the Christian holy day could undermine efforts to stop the virus spread. [nL5N2BX75I]
* Social distancing measures have helped Germany to slightly slow the spread of the coronavirus, Chancellor Angela Merkel said. [nL5N2BX6HO]
* The number of confirmed infections in Germany rose by 5,323 in the past 24 hours to 113,525 on Friday, climbing for a fourth straight day, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed. [nL5N2BY09C]
* Russia reported a record one-day rise in cases, pushing its tally to more than 10,000. [nL5N2BX2C7]
* The Czech Republic plans to roll out a system of quickly tracking and isolating contacts of people with the virus to eventually allow the lifting of blanket restrictions. [nL8N2BV7IY]
* Slovakia closed off several Roma settlements in the eastern part of the country after reports of virus clusters in five of them. [nL5N2BX1J7]
* Bulgarias prime minister said the countrys Orthodox churches and temples will be open for traditional Palm Sunday and Easter services despite the outbreak. [nL5N2BX4Z9]
AMERICAS
* Americans must resist the impulse to ease social-separation measures at the first glimpse of progress now being seen in the coronavirus battle, state government and public health leaders warned.    Meanwhile, total cases topped 459,000, with the death toll reaching 16,400. [nL2N2BX18X] [nL2N2BX2QZ]
* The Trump administrations top economic officials said they believe the U.S. economy could start to reopen for normal business in May. [nL1N2BX006]
* Canadas coronavirus death toll is set to soar from more than 500 currently to as high as 22,000 by the end of the pandemic, health officials said, while the economy lost a record 1 million jobs last month. [nL2N2BX0TI]
* Lockdowns in Brazils largest cities are beginning to slip, according to new data this week seen and analysed by Reuters, with more people leaving their homes as President Jair Bolsonaro continues to criticize the measures. [nL5N2BX5WU]
* Chile will start handing out certificates to people who have recovered from the coronavirus that will exempt them from adhering to quarantines or other restrictions. [nL2N2BX1OY]
* Mexico has recorded its first two deaths of pregnant women from the coronavirus as the number of fatalities reached 194, the health ministry said on Thursday. [nL2N2BY00A]
ASIA AND THE PACIFICb
* China will allocate more resources to prevent the spread of the virus from its land borders, as the country still faces risks of a comeback after new clusters are identified in some regions. [nB9N2AU00X]
* Mainland China reported on Friday 42 new coronavirus cases, including 38 cases involving travellers from overseas. [nB9N2BA02R]
* Tokyo and Japans central government resolved a high-profile feud over what businesses should shut down during a month-long emergency to fight the coronavirus, the citys governor said.    The number of cases in Japan rose to 5,548 on Thursday, public broadcaster NHK said. There have been 108 deaths. [nL3N2BX2IJ]
* India claimed initial success in its fight against the epidemic, saying it would have been hit with 820,000 cases by next week had it not imposed a nationwide lockdown. [nL3N2BX36A]
* Vietnam said more than 1,000 healthcare workers and 14,400 others linked to an outbreak at a Hanoi hospital have tested negative. [nL3N2BX30S]
* Singapore confirmed 287 new infections on Thursday, its biggest daily increase yet, with more than 200 of them linked to outbreaks in dormitories for foreign workers. [nL3N2BX3DK]
* Indonesia reported its biggest daily jump in deaths on Thursday, while neighbouring Malaysia had its second-lowest daily increase since a partial lockdown was imposed on March 18. [nL3N2BX2M1]
* Australian police said they have taken the black box of a cruise ship which disembarked hundreds of infected passengers in Sydney, as part of a homicide investigation into the countrys deadliest infection source. [nL3N2BX0VP]
* South Koreans Daegu city, which endured the first large coronavirus outbreak outside of China, on Friday reported zero new cases for the first time since late February, as new infections across the country dropped to record lows. [nL3N2BY0C5]
* Thailand reported 50 new cases and the death of a 43-year-old woman on Friday. [nL3N2BY0Z2]
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* South Africas President Cyril Ramaphosa extended a lockdown by two weeks to the end of April. [nL5N2BX73G]
* A South African public sector union withdrew a court case against the government over shortages of protective gear for frontline health workers. [nL5N2BX0VC]
* All Botswanas parliamentarians including the president will be quarantined for two weeks and tested, after a health worker screening lawmakers for the virus tested positive. [nL5N2BX54R]
* Lebanon extended its almost month-long shutdown by another two weeks until April 26. [nL5N2BX4W2]
* Political and physical divisions in the West Bank and Gaza have induced two very different responses, with a strict lockdown in the first and crowds milling about freely in the second. [nL8N2BT0LT]
* Yemen reported its first coronavirus case in Hadhramaut Governorate, the supreme national emergency committee tweeted. [nL5N2BY0A5]
ECONOMIC FALLOUT
* The pandemic will turn global economic growth sharply negative in 2020, triggering the worst fallout since the 1930s Great Depression, with only a partial recovery seen in 2021, the head of the International Monetary Fund said. [nL2N2BX01Y]
* A partisan skirmish in the U.S. Senate cut short a Republican effort to speed $250 billion in new small business assistance. [nL2N2BX17T]
* The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits in the last three weeks has blown past 15 million, with weekly new claims topping 6 million for the second straight time. [nL1N2BW0WZ]
* The U.S. Federal Reserve rolled out a broad, $2.3 trillion effort to bolster local governments and small and mid-sized businesses. [nL2N2BX0J1]
* The White House is expected to announce soon formation of a second coronavirus task force, this one devoted to getting the economy going again when the time is right. [nL2N2BX19M]
* The Bank of England has agreed temporarily to finance government borrowing if funds cannot immediately be raised from debt markets. [nL5N2BX1BN]
* The French government more than doubled the expected cost of its coronavirus crisis measures, pushing the budget deficit and national debt to record levels. [nL5N2BX640]
* European Union finance ministers agreed on Thursday on half-a-trillion euros worth of support for their coronavirus-battered economies but left open the question of how to finance recovery in the bloc headed for a steep recession. [nL5N2BX1SA]
* U.S. President Donald Trump said airlines could receive details this weekend about the terms of a $32 billion payroll grant to offset the impact of the pandemic, which sources told Reuters has received around 275 applicants.[nL2N2BX235]
* Trump said he has directed his agriculture secretary to expedite help to farmers, especially small farmers, hurt by the economic disruption. [nL2N2BY018]
* Chinas factory gate prices fell the most in five months in March, with deflation deepening and set to worsen in coming months as the economic damage wrought by the pandemic at home and worldwide shuts down many countries. [nL3N2BX1KW]
* The pandemic has pushed 51 Japanese companies into bankruptcy with a spike in new cases seen in April, Tokyo Shoko Research said on Friday. [nL3N2BY123]
(Compiled by Sarah Morland, Milla Nissi, Aditya Soni and Subhranshu Sahu; Editing by Tomasz Janowski, Anil DSilva and Arun Koyyur)

4/10/2020 Global coronavirus death toll hits 100,000, cases over 1.6 million by Cate Cadell
FILE PHOTO: Healthcare workers transfer the body of a deceased person onto a stretcher
at Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York, April 8. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
    (Reuters) The number of deaths linked to the novel coronavirus reached 100,000 on Friday, as the tally of cases passed 1.6 million, according to a Reuters tally.
    The first death came in the central Chinese city of Wuhan on Jan. 9.    It took 83 days for the first 50,000 deaths to be recorded and just eight more for the toll to climb to 100,000.
    The toll has been accelerating at a daily rate of between 6% and 10% over the past week, and there were almost 7,300 deaths globally reported on Thursday.
    The death toll now compares with that of Londons Great Plague in the mid-1660s, which killed an estimated 100,000 people, about a third of the citys population at the time.
    But it is still far short of the so-called Spanish flu, which began in 1918 and is estimated to have killed more than 20 million people by the time it petered out in 1920.
    The novel coronavirus is believed to have emerged in a Wuhan market where wild animals were sold late last year.    It quickly spread through China and around the world.
    Much remains to be determined about it, including just how lethal it is. Estimates vary widely.
    Fridays figures 100,000 deaths of out 1.6 million cases would suggest a fatality rate of 6.25% but many experts believe the actual rate is lower given that many mild and asymptomatic cases, when infected people dont show symptoms, are not included in case totals.
    Some countries, including Italy, France, Algeria, the Netherlands, Spain and Britain are reporting that more than 10% of all confirmed cases have been fatal.
    One of the largest studies of the fatality of the disease, involving 44,000 patients in China, put the rate at about 2.9%.
    The same study reported that 93% of recorded fatalities were people over the age of 50, and more than half were over 70.
    Despite that, there are growing numbers of young adults and teenagers included in the global toll.
    While North America now accounts for more than 30% of cases, Europe has reported a disproportionate number of fatalities, as countries with older populations like Spain and Italy have been severely affected.
    Southern Europe alone accounts for more than a third of global deaths, despite recording just 20% of cases.
    In many countries, official data includes only deaths reported in hospitals, not those in homes or nursing homes.
    Interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus: open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser
(Reporting by Cate Cadell; Editing by Robert Birsel and Lisa Shumaker)

4/13/2020 What you need to know about the coronavirus right now
A man wearing a protective mask walks past P.S. 87 William Sherman School during the outbreak of the coronavirus
disease (COVID-19) in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 12, 2020. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon
    (Reuters) Heres what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
Restarting crucial industries
    India is planning to restart some crucial manufacturing to ease the difficulties of the poor, despite expectations it will extend a 21-day lockdown beyond April 15, two government sources said.
    Spain lifts restrictions on some businesses on Monday after shutting down all non-essential operations nearly two weeks ago.    This will allow businesses that cannot operate remotely, including construction and manufacturing, to reopen.    The move has been criticised by some as risking a resurgence in the spread of the virus.
Patients testing positive again     The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Saturday that it was looking into reports of COVID-19 patients testing positive again after clinically recovering from the disease.
    South Korean officials had reported on Friday that 91 patients cleared of the new coronavirus had tested positive again.    Jeong Eun-kyeong, director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told a briefing that the virus may have been reactivated rather than the patients being re-infected.
Russian border becomes Chinas new frontline
    Chinas northeastern border with Russia has become its new frontline in the fight against a resurgence in the epidemic, as new daily cases rose to a six-week high.
    Half of the imported cases from the daily tally involved Chinese nationals returning home from Russias Far Eastern Federal District through border crossings in the Heilongjiang province.
Widespread testing needed
    The United States needs to ramp up testing for the coronavirus as the White House considers when and how to lift stay-at-home restrictions and lockdowns triggered by the pandemic, U.S. health experts said on Sunday.
    Diagnostic testing determines if somebody is infected with the virus and antibody testing shows who has been infected and is therefore immune.    Both will be important in getting people back into the workplace and containing the virus as that happens, the experts said.
Ghosts patrol streets to keep Indonesians indoors
    An Indonesian village on Java island has summoned up ghosts to help it persuade locals to stay indoors during the coronavirus outbreak.
    The ghosts are in fact villagers dressed up as pocong, ghostly figures wrapped in white shrouds with powdered faces and kohl-rimmed eyes.
    We wanted to be different and create a deterrent effect because pocong are spooky and scary, said Anjar Pancaningtyas, head of a village youth group that coordinated with the police on the unconventional initiative.
    In Indonesian folklore, pocong represent the trapped souls of the dead.
(Compiled by Karishma Singh)

4/13/2020 Second storm of locusts threatens Africas food supply by OAN Newsroom
In this photo taken Tuesday, March 31, 2020, a swarm of desert locusts flies in Kipsing, near Oldonyiro,
in Isiolo county, Kenya. Weeks before the coronavirus spread through much of the world, parts of Africa were already
threatened by another kind of plague, the biggest locust outbreak some countries had seen in 70 years, and now the
second wave of the voracious insects, some 20 times the size of the first, is arriving. (Sven Torfinn/FAO via AP)
    A new wave of locusts have touched down in Africa, in turn, putting millions at risk of starvation and illness.
    According to reports Monday, billions of young desert locust arrived in multiple African countries in what locals are calling the biggest outbreak in 70 years.    The first batch came in February just as the coronavirus began to plague the country.
    Residents are now scrambling to kill off as many as possible before they consume their food supply by ruining the crops and causing livestock to fall ill.    The supply of pesticides has slowed due to restrictions caused by the health pandemic.
    They are being a menace, eating our grass and even getting to our manyattas.    When the animals eat the grass where the locusts have defecated, they fall ill and some even die.    When we slaughter our livestock, we find locust faces in their stomachs.    Without a doubt, I think they are affecting our health, animals health and the environment as well. Samuel Lentorol, resident Africa
    The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has doubled its aid to the country to help combat this unprecedented threat.

4/13/2020 At least 12 dead after series of tornadoes hit south by OAN Newsroom
A home had its roof torn off after a tornado ripped through Monroe, La. just before noon on Sunday, April 12, 2020
causing damage to a neighborhood and the regional airport. (Nicolas Galindo/The News-Star via AP)
    At least 12 people are dead after major storms and tornadoes ravaged several southern states.    Officials confirmed Sunday the storms left significant structural damage to buildings in Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas.
    Nearly two dozen homes in Monroe, Louisiana were damaged after a major storm passed through the area.    Trees, power lines and a building at the areas regional airport were also toppled by strong winds and rain.
    Officials are now worried people who are stuck inside during the coronavirus pandemic will come to the affected areas to see the damage.
In this photo provided by Rep. Ralph Abraham, R-La., he is seen talking on his phone in front of a destroyed hangar
and damaged planes at Monroe Regional Airport in Monroe, La., Sunday, April 12, 2020. (Dianne Abrams via AP)
    We are dealing with widespread destructionone of the main problems that we have or concerns is that we have people from other areas coming into this area to do it to view the damage and we do ask that people stay at home, said Chief Reggie Brown of the Monroe Police Department.    We do have the stay-at-home order that is in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic that were facing, but in addition to that we asked them to stay home to allow emergency crews to be able to come in and do their job to be able to start the recovery process as it relates to the cleanup.
    Several other southern states, including Georgia, Tennessee and South Carolina, are also under tornado warning.

4/13/2020 Fire raging near Ukraines Chernobyl poses radiation risk, say activists by Margaryta Chornokondratenko and Alexander Marrow
An aerial view shows a forest fire in the 30 km (19 miles) exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear
power plant, Ukraine, April 12, 2020, in this still picture taken from video. Reuters TV/via REUTERS
    KIEV/MOSCOW (Reuters) A huge forest fire in Ukraine that has been raging for more than a week is now just one kilometre from the defunct Chernobyl nuclear power plant and poses a radiation risk, Greenpeace Russia warned on Monday, citing satellite images.
    Ukraines Emergency Situations Service said it was still fighting the fires, but that the situation was under control.
    Video footage shot by Reuters on Sunday showed plumes of black smoke billowing into the sky and trees still ablaze, with firefighters in helicopters trying to put out the fires.
    Aerial images of the 30 km (19 mile) exclusion zone around the plant, site of the worlds worst nuclear accident in 1986, showed scorched, blackened earth and the charred stumps of still smouldering trees.
    The Emergency Situations Service said radiation levels in the exclusion zone had not changed and those in nearby Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, did not exceed natural background levels
    Greenpeace Russia said the situation is much worse than Ukrainian authorities believe, and that the fires cover an area one thousand times bigger than they claim.
    On April 4 Ukrainian authorities said the blaze covered an area of 20 hectares, but Greenpeace cited satellite images showing it was around 12,000 hectares in size at that time.
    According to satellite images taken on Monday, the area of the largest fire has reached 34,400 hectares, it said, adding that a second fire, stretching across 12,600 hectares, was just one kilometre away from the defunct plant.
    Ukrainian officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment on those claims.
    Rashid Alimov, head of energy projects at Greenpeace Russia, said the fires, fanned by the wind, could disperse radionuclides, atoms that emit radiation.
    A fire approaching a nuclear or hazardous radiation facility is always a risk, Alimov said.    In this case were hoping for rain tomorrow.
    Chernobyl tour operator Yaroslav Yemelianenko, writing on Facebook, described the situation as critical.
    He said the fire was rapidly expanding and had reached the abandoned city of Pripyat, two kilometers from where the most highly active radiation waste of the whole Chernobyl zone is located.    He called on officials to warn people of the danger.
    Satellite images taken by NASA Worldview and seen by Reuters showed the two fires had extended far into the exclusion zone.
    The fires, which follow unusually dry weather, began on April 3 in the western part of the exclusion zone and spread to nearby forests.
    Police say they have identified a 27-year old local resident who they accuse of deliberately starting the blaze.
    It remains unclear if the person, who has reportedly confessed to starting a number of fires for fun, is partly or fully responsible.
(Reporting by Margaryta Chornokondratenko and Alexander Marrow; Additional reporting by Dmitry Turlyun; Writing by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Andrew Osborn and Jan Harvey)

4/14/2020 Forest fire around defunct Chernobyl nuclear plant put out, Ukraine government says
FILE PHOTO: Burned trees are seen after a forest fire outside the settlement of Poliske located in the 30 km
(19 miles) exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, Ukraine April 12, 2020. REUTERS/Stringer
    KIEV (Reuters) A huge blaze that tore through forests around the defunct Chernobyl nuclear plant has been put out, Ukrainian officials said on Tuesday, saying hundreds of emergency workers had used planes and helicopters to douse the flames.
    Environmental activists had warned on Monday that the fire, near the site of the worlds worst nuclear disaster in 1986, posed a radiation risk.
    Chernobyl tour operator Yaroslav Yemelianenko, writing on Facebook, had described the situation as critical, saying the fire had reached the abandoned city of Pripyat, two kilometres from where the most highly active radiation waste of the whole Chernobyl zone is located.
    But Ukrainian authorities said on Tuesday that though they had registered short-term spikes in Caesium-137 particles in the Kiev area to the south of the plant, radiation levels remained within normal limits overall and did not require additional protection measures. [L5N2C1279]
    There is no open fire, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.    It added that there was a slight smouldering of the forest floor however.
    President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has promised transparency on the issue and will meet the head of the emergency services later on Tuesday.    Society must know the truth and be safe, he said in a statement late on Monday.
    The fire, one of several which followed unusually dry weather, began on April 3 in the western part of the exclusion zone and spread to nearby forests.
    Police say they have identified a 27-year old local resident who they accuse of deliberately starting the blaze.
    It remains unclear if the person, who has reportedly confessed to starting a number of fires for fun, is partly or fully responsible.
(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; writing by Matthias Williams; Editing by Andrew Osborn)

4/14/2020 Onslaught of tornadoes kills over 30 in South - Storm systems push ahead toward East Coast by Susan Miller and Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
    The East Coast braced for an onslaught of severe weather Monday after a harrowing Easter night that saw people huddled in basements, closets and tubs as tornadoes raged across the South, leaving more than 30 dead.
    Destructive winds, tornadoes and flooding were possible Monday, the Weather Channel said, one day after at least 39 reported tornadoes pounded several states.
    The possibility of severe thunderstorms stretched from northern Florida into parts of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast through Monday afternoon or evening, the Weather Channel said.
    A tornado watch was posted for Monday afternoon for a large portion of the Mid-Atlantic, which included the Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia metro areas. Over 25 million people live where the tornado watch was in effect, the National Weather Service said.
    By later in the afternoon and evening Monday, it was possible the storm system would extend farther into the Northeast.
    The toll from the storms so far is staggering: Eleven people were killed in Mississippi, nine were found dead in South Carolina, eight died in northwest Georgia, and two in Tennessee. Others died under falling trees or in collapsed buildings in Arkansas and North Carolina.
    In Mississippi and Louisiana, the dangerous system spawned at least 13 radar-confirmed tornadoes Sunday that damaged up to 300 homes and buildings.    More than 60,000 customers were without power across the two states.
    The Chattanooga, Tennessee, area and several counties in northwest Georgia appeared to take the brunt of the destruction.     Murray County, Georgia, Fire Chief Dewayne Bain told WAGA-TV that two mobile home parks were severely damaged.
    Five people were killed and five others hospitalized; another person was killed when a tree fell on a home in Cartersville, Georgia, the station reported.
    At least 14 people were hospitalized in the Chattanooga area, where searchand-rescue teams from at least 10 fire departments were going door-to-door responding to more than 300 emergency calls, the fire department said.
    The fierce storm system caused flooding and mudslides in mountainous areas overnight and knocked out electricity for nearly 1.3 million customers in a path from Texas to Maine, according to poweroutage.us.    The National Weather Service recorded hundreds of reports of trees down across the region, including many that punctured roofs and downed power lines.
    Fatalities were reported across four counties in Mississippi, according to local authorities.    Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves declared a state of emergency.
    This is not how anyone wants to celebrate Easter Sunday, Reeves said on Twitter.    As we reflect on the death and resurrection on this Easter Sunday, we have faith that we will all rise together.
Elaine Powell speaks on her phone as she surveys damage to her boyfriends property in Carson, Miss., on Monday. ROGELIO V. SOLIS/AP

4/14/2020 Latest on the spread of the coronavirus around the world
A man wearing a protective mask walks on an empty street during the coronavirus disease
(COVID-19) outbreak in Mexico City, Mexico April 12, 2020. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
    (Reuters) More than 1.92 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 120,670 have died, according to a Reuters tally.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread, open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.
* For a U.S.-focused tracker with state-by-state and county map, open https://tmsnrt.rs/2w7hX9T in an external browser.
EUROPE
* Britains economy could shrink by 13% this year due to the governments coronavirus shutdown, its deepest recession in three centuries, the countrys budget forecasters said.
* The UKs true death toll from the coronavirus far exceeds estimates previously published by the government, according to broader official data that include deaths in the community such as in nursing homes.
* The European Commission plans to narrow controls on the export of coronavirus protective equipment to just a single product masks as well as exempt the countries of the western Balkans from the restrictions.
* France said its total death toll from COVID-19 infections rose above 15,000, becoming the fourth country to exceed that threshold after Italy, Spain and the U.S.
* Spain and Austria allowed partial returns to work on Tuesday but Britain, France and India extended lockdowns to rein in the new coronavirus.
* Cycling teams are gearing up for the Tour de France to be held in August rather than the usual July, after French President Emmanuel Macron said big public events would be halted until mid-July.
AMERICAS
* U.S. deaths from the coronavirus topped 25,400 on Tuesday, doubling in one week, according to a Reuters tally, as officials debated how to reopen the economy without reigniting the outbreak.
* Canadas economic shutdown will last for weeks more to ensure that measures to fight the coronavirus are working, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, while the countrys death toll from the outbreak rose more than 12%.
* President Donald Trumps May 1 target for restarting the economy is overly optimistic, his top infectious disease adviser said.
* Apple Inc said it would release data that could help inform public health authorities on whether people are driving less during lockdown orders to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
* Nurses at a public hospital hit by Mexicos worst coronavirus outbreak were told by their managers not to wear protective masks at the start of the epidemic to avoid sowing panic among patients, nurses and other medical workers said.
ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
* China approved early-stage human tests for two experimental vaccines as it battles to contain imported cases, especially from Russia. * Taiwan on Tuesday reported no new cases for the first time in more than a month, in the latest sign that its early prevention methods have paid off.
* Malaysian authorities have begun using COVID-19 antibody rapid tests kits to supplement laboratory tests as the number of cases in the country grow, a senior health official said.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* A first solidarity flight of medical supplies from the World Health Organization landed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for distribution in Africa.
* Turkey passed a law that will allow the release of tens of thousands of prisoners to ease overcrowding in jails and protect detainees.
* Irans death toll was approaching 4,700 on Tuesday, following eased restrictions on travel within provinces.
* Iraq has suspended the licence of the Reuters news agency after it published a story saying the number of confirmed cases in the country was higher than officially reported.
* Sudan will impose a three-week lockdown on the capital Khartoum after 10 more cases were discovered on Monday.
* Namibian borders will remain closed and a partial lockdown in force for a further two-and-a-half weeks until May 4, President Hage Geingob said.
* Uganda extended its lockdown by an extra three weeks until May 5.
ECONOMIC FALLOUT
* Equity markets rallied globally as Chinese trade data defied expectations of a deep downturn as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, igniting hopes that world economies can soon recover. [MKTS/GLOB]
* The global economy is expected to shrink by 3.0% this year which will be the steepest downturn since the Great Depression, the International Monetary Fund said.
* Major international creditors have agreed to suspend debt payments owed by the poorest countries this year, Frances finance minister said on Tuesday.
* Boeing Co reported another 75 cancellations for its 737 MAX jetliner in March, as the coronavirus crisis worsened disruptions from the grounding of its best-selling jet.
* Around 80% of Portuguese companies still operating or temporarily shut due to the coronavirus outbreak reported a sharp drop in their revenues, at times exceeding 75%, a survey showed.
(Compiled by Sarah Morland and Milla Nissi; Editing by Arun Koyyur, Tomasz Janowski and Anil DSilva)

4/14/2020 Isolated within isolation: keeping out coronavirus in the frozen Antarctic by Aislinn Laing and Cassandra Garrison
A view of Fildes bay sector with bases of chilean Air Force and Navy, along with Russian base Bellighausen, Antarctica,
Chile April 13, 2020. Picture taken April 13, 2020. Courtesy of Chilean Antarctic Institute-INACH/Handout via REUTERS
    SANTIAGO/BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) In the frozen and desolate expanse of Antarctica, Alejandro Valenzuela Pena is used to a feeling of isolation. Now, however, that has taken on a new meaning as the only continent still free from the coronavirus looks to keep the pandemic out.
    The global spread of the disease, with almost 2 million cases and 120,000 deaths, has put the Antarctic region into lockdown, with researchers hunkering down in their bases and tourist visits canceled.
    We are trained to live in isolation, but now with this special condition that has presented itself, we are isolated within isolation, said Valenzuela, 41, who is the maritime governor of Chiles Antarctica territory.
    Speaking by phone from the Escudero military base in Bahia Fildes, the extreme southwest of King George Island, Valenzuela said his 100-person naval crew was grappling with self-isolation but that early moves to lock things down had helped.
    The bases closed up in time, he said.    Boats had stopped arriving in early March and flights by the end of the month, he added.    Since then weve been really isolated, with no contact.
    That has meant an end to some of the activities that normally help pass the time amid the blistering cold.    Intra-base ping pong and basketball tournaments had been canceled.
    Were taking it in our stride, safe in the knowledge that our families are well and that so far things here in Antarctica have gone well, Valenzuela said.
SEALS AND PENGUINS
    Antarctic tourism, which has grown rapidly in recent years, ground to a halt weeks ago as outbreaks aboard cruise ships hit headlines and governments put travel restrictions in place.
    Now, the bases house skeleton crews of researchers and military staff accompanied only by elephant seals and penguins, and surrounded by thousands of miles of icebergs and snow plains.
    Argentina, which has around 170 scientific and military personnel remaining on Antarctica, has limited visitors to its bases except for the delivery of vital supplies. Staff were given virus protection guidelines as early as Feb. 1.
    Argentina was one of the first countries in the world to take action on the coronavirus, said Daniel Filmus, Secretary of the Malvinas, Antarctica and the South Atlantic.
    Dr. Alexandra Isern, Head of the U.S. National Science Foundations Antarctic Sciences Section, said measures like frequent hand-washing were already commonplace on Antarctic bases.    In an often cramped living space, illnesses can spread fast.
    We have always maintained robust public hygiene and health protocols to combat sickness in close quarters, she said, adding that the U.S. stations were well equipped to manage issues related to COVID-19.
    The increased social distancing, however, has eliminated the few friendly gatherings researchers normally enjoy, with no more visits between colleagues at Russian, Chinese, Korean and Uruguayan bases on King George island.    Social dinners, sporting events and weekend skiing outings have been canceled.
    Even a souvenir shop attached to the Russian military base that sold cuddly toy penguins and t-shirts emblazoned with Russian President Vladimir Putins face, where tourists would buy postcards to mail from the nearby Chilean base, was shut down as a potential source of cross-contamination.
RESEARCH PUT ON ICE
    For countries doing research on Antarctica, the coronavirus crisis could seriously impact the progress of scientific study, officials said.
    As the pandemic develops there will no doubt be implications for the next austral summer field season, said Stephanie Short, head of the U.S. National Science Foundations (NSF) Antarctic Infrastructure and Logistics Section.
    Short said NSF flights to Antarctica were only operating to bring back staff members not needed for the upcoming winter season.
    We will continue to work closely with our medical advisers before future deployments take place, she said.
    Major global conferences for Antarctic decision-making have also been canceled as borders have closed and large gatherings banned.    That includes a May meeting in Helsinki and another in Hobart, Australia that had been planned for July.
    Peter Convey, a professor with the British Antarctic Survey, warned the disruption to scientific operations could interrupt crucial monitoring of climate change markers and the continuity of long-term sampling.
    Its incredibly important science and you need people on the ground taking those measurements, maintaining equipment, he said.    If we cant get the people in, we cant do it, logistically we cant support it.
(Reporting by Aislinn Laing in Santiago and Cassandra Garrison in Buenos Aires; Editing by Adam Jourdan and Rosalba OBrien)

4/15/2020 What you need to know about the coronavirus right now
A man wearing a protective face mask rides a bicycle, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Milan, Italy April 9, 2020. REUTERS/Daniele Mascolo
    (Reuters) Heres what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
Throwing the baby out with the bathwater
    At the height of a global pandemic, U.S. President Donald Trump has halted funding to the World Health Organization, saying it had promoted Chinas disinformation about the coronavirus that likely led to a wider outbreak than would have otherwise occurred.
    The United States is the biggest overall donor to the WHO, contributing more than $400 million in 2019, roughly 15% of its budget.
    Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he sympathised with Trumps criticisms, but said the WHO does a lot of important work and Australia was not going to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Stay off Zoom, Google Hangouts, StanChart chief tells staff
    Standard Chartered Chief Executive Officer Bill Winters told managers in a memo last week not to use Zoom Video Communications during the coronavirus pandemic due to cybersecurity concerns, becoming the first global bank to make such a directive.
    He also warned against using Alphabet Incs Google Hangouts platform for virtual gatherings.
    Neither service has the level of encryption included in rival platforms offered by the likes of Cisco Systems, Microsoft Corp or Blue Jeans Network, industry experts said.
Worst economic conditions since Great Depression
    The global economy is expected to shrink by 3.0% during 2020, marking the steepest downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s, the International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday.
    The IMF, in its 2020 World Economic Outlook, predicted a partial rebound in 2021, with the world economy growing at a 5.8% rate, but said its forecasts were marked by extreme uncertainty.
False claim: 5G telecoms masts help to spread coronavirus
    Britains biggest free-to-air broadcaster ITV came under fire on Tuesday after veteran producer Eamonn Holmes said no one knew whether a conspiracy theory that 5G masts help spread the novel coronavirus was true or not.
    What I dont accept is mainstream media immediately slapping that down as not true when they dont know its not true, he said on the     This Morning show on Monday.
    Its very easy to say it is not true because it suits the state narrative.
    The conspiracy theory, which scientists, phone companies and the British government say is completely untrue and without any basis in fact, has spread across social media. Some telecoms masts in Britain have been attacked and engineers abused.
Losing a year of school
    Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday urged teachers to return to classrooms across the country, stressing the risk that children from disadvantaged families in particular faced losing a year of education.
    The education of our children hangs in the balance, he said in a video address posted on his official Facebook page. New Zealand PM takes a paycut
    New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, government ministers and public service chief executives will take a 20% pay cut for the next six months to help mitigate the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
    This is where we can take action and that is why we have, Ardern said.
(Compiled by Karishma Singh)

4/15/2020 Latest on the spread of the coronavirus around the world
A healthcare worker is seen at the emergency center at Maimonides Medical Center during the outbreak of the
coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S., April 14, 2020. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
    (Reuters) More than 1.97 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 128,445 have died, according to a Reuters tally as of 02:00 GMT on Wednesday.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread, open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.
* For a U.S.-focused tracker with state-by-state and county map, open https://tmsnrt.rs/2w7hX9T in an external browser.
AMERICAS
* U.S. deaths from the coronavirus topped 28,300, according to a Reuters tally, as officials debated how to reopen the economy without reigniting the outbreak.
* U.S. President Donald Trump halted funding to the World Health Organization over its handling of the pandemic, drawing condemnation from infectious disease experts.
* New York City revised its official COVID-19 death toll sharply higher to more than 10,000, to include victims presumed to have perished from the lung disease but never tested.
* Canadas economic shutdown will last for weeks more to ensure that measures to fight the coronavirus are working, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, while the countrys death toll crossed 900.
* Apple Inc said it would release data that could help inform public health authorities on whether people are driving less during lockdown orders to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
* Nurses at a public hospital hit by Mexicos worst coronavirus outbreak were told by their managers not to wear protective masks at the start of the epidemic to avoid sowing panic among patients, nurses and other medical workers said.
* There have been 126 confirmed cases of the coronavirus among oil and gas workers in Brazil, including 74 people who were recently on offshore oil platforms.
EUROPE
* Britains economy could shrink by 13% this year due to the governments coronavirus shutdown, its deepest recession in three centuries, the countrys budget forecasters said.
* The UKs true death toll from the coronavirus far exceeds estimates previously published by the government, according to broader official data that include deaths in the community such as in nursing homes.
* The European Commission plans to narrow controls on the export of coronavirus protective equipment to just a single product masks as well as exempt the countries of the western Balkans from the restrictions.
* A lowering in the number of new coronavirus cases in Germany is probably due to less testing over Easter and the outbreak is not yet contained, a top health institute cautioned.
* France said its total death toll from COVID-19 infections rose above 15,000, becoming the fourth country to exceed that threshold after Italy, Spain and the U.S.
* Spain and Austria allowed partial returns to work on Tuesday but Britain, France and India extended lockdowns to rein in the new coronavirus.
* Cycling teams are gearing up for the Tour de France to be held in August rather than the usual July, after French President Emmanuel Macron said big public events would be halted until mid-July.
ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
* China reported a decline in new confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the mainland, although an increasing number of local transmissions in its far northeast bordering Russia remained a concern.
* Doctors say authorities in one of Indias most populous states are slowing down the detection of coronavirus cases with a cumbersome, bureaucratic testing process that is putting health workers at risk.
* Pakistan announced a two-week extension to the nationwide shutdown, but said some industries would reopen in phases.
* Taiwan on Tuesday reported no new cases for the first time in more than a month, in the latest sign that its early prevention methods have paid off.
* Malaysian authorities have begun using COVID-19 antibody rapid tests kits to supplement laboratory tests as the number of cases in the country grow, a senior health official said.
* New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, ministers in her government and public service chief executives will take a 20% pay cut for the next six months.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* A first solidarity flight of medical supplies from the World Health Organization landed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for distribution in Africa.
* Turkey passed a law that will allow the release of tens of thousands of prisoners to ease overcrowding in jails and protect detainees.
* Irans death toll was approaching 4,700 on Tuesday, following eased restrictions on travel within provinces.
* Iraq has suspended the licence of the Reuters news agency after it published a story saying the number of confirmed cases in the country was higher than officially reported.
* Sudan will impose a three-week lockdown on the capital Khartoum after 10 more cases were discovered on Monday.
* Namibian borders will remain closed and a partial lockdown in force for a further two-and-a-half weeks until May 4, President Hage Geingob said.
* Uganda extended its lockdown by an extra three weeks until May 5.
ECONOMIC FALLOUT
* Asian share markets took a breather as warnings of the worst global recession since the 1930s underlined the economic damage already done even as some countries tried to re-open for business. [MKTS/GLOB]
* The global economy is expected to shrink by 3.0% this year which will be the steepest downturn since the Great Depression, the International Monetary Fund said.
* Major international creditors have agreed to suspend debt payments owed by the poorest countries this year, Frances finance minister said on Tuesday.
* A measure of Australian consumer sentiment collapsed in April to a 30-year low.
* Chinese airlines reported a total loss of 33.62 billion yuan ($4.8 billion) in the first quarter.
* Nearly 95% of Colombian businesses surveyed by the chamber of commerce guild have seen sales drop more than 50%.
* Boeing Co reported another 75 cancellations for its 737 MAX jetliner in March, as the coronavirus crisis worsened disruptions from the grounding of its best-selling jet.
(Compiled by Sarah Morland, Milla Nissi and Ramakrishnan M.; Editing by Tomasz Janowski, Anil DSilva and Arun Koyyur)

4/15/2020 Hong Kong? Bushfires? Whats been happening on the biggest non-coronavirus stories of the year
FILE PHOTO: A man who arrived from Hubei province crosses the Jiujiang Yangtze River Bridge near a checkpoint in Jiujiang, Jiangxi
province, China, as the country is hit by an outbreak of a new coronavirus, January 31, 2020. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo
    (Reuters) The year started with protests, bushfires and a missile strike.
    New Years Day saw another huge pro-democracy rally in Hong Kong; bushfires in Australia destroyed more than 18 million hectares of forest and left at least 34 dead; while a U.S. missile killed Irans top general and triggered a retaliatory strike that accidentally downed a Ukrainian airliner.
    Those stories seem to belong to a different time. Back then, the outbreak of an unknown virus in China was notable, but by no means the biggest headline.    Fifteen weeks later there seems to be only one story in the world.
    Despite the virus, those earlier stories have rumbled on.    Here is a quick catch-up on the biggest headlines from the weeks before everything changed:
PROTESTS IN HONG KONG
Headline, Jan. 2: Hundreds arrested in Hong Kong in New Years Day protests police
The story now: Within weeks of a massive rally on Jan. 1, Hong Kongers began adopting social distancing to fight the coronavirus. Smaller pro-democracy protests in February and March focused on the Hong Kong governments decision not to fully close the border with mainland China, and the administration later banned tourist arrivals.        A survey for Reuters shows that even as rallies have paused due to the pandemic, support for the protesters has grown while confidence in the governments handling of the COVID-19 crisis is low.
BUSHFIRES IN AUSTRALIA
Headline, Jan. 3: Bushfires rage out of control across southeast Australia
The story now: Heavy rain in February extinguished most fires, and on March 31 the NSW Rural Fire Service declared the end of the states most devastating bushfire season.    Scientists assessing the impact of the fires on threatened species have had to shut down their research due to the coronavirus crisis. Prime Minister Scott Morrison was criticised for his performance during the bushfires and his stronger handling of the pandemic has improved his standing with voters.
UNITED STATES AND IRAN
Headline, Jan. 3: Irans Soleimani and Iraqs Muhandis killed in air strike militia spokesman
The story now: The Jan. 2 strike, which killed Irans top military leader, heightened tensions in the Middle East and led to Iran shelling bases hosting U.S. troops in Iraq and accidentally shooting down a Ukrainian plane, killing all 176 aboard. Within weeks, Iran had become the first country outside China to see large numbers infected with the coronavirus.    In late March, Tehran asked Washington to lift sanctions to help it contain the outbreak, while refusing Washingtons offer of humanitarian aid. President Hassan Rouhani has also said Iran will respond further to Americas assassination of Major-General Qassem Soleimani, while the U.S. State Department said Iranian-backed militia remained a significant threat to U.S. forces in Iraq.
HARVEY WEINSTEIN TRIAL
Headline, Jan. 11: Weinstein rape trial opens with clashing portrayals of ex-Hollywood producer
The story now: A jury on Feb. 24 found former Hollywood mogul Weinstein guilty of sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi and raping former actress Jessica Mann.    Two weeks later Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison.    On April 10, he was charged in Los Angeles with a third sexual assault. Weinsteins spokesman said in April that the former producer had no symptoms of the coronavirus, two weeks after a report that he had tested positive.
CARLOS GHOSN ESCAPES JAPAN
Headline, Jan. 14: Exclusive: Im happy he did it: In Beirut, wife of fugitive Ghosn slams Japanese justice
The story now: Former auto executive Carlo Ghosn, who smuggled himself out of Japan on Dec. 29, eventually reaching his home country of Lebanon, continues to deny Japanese accusations of financial misconduct.    Tokyo is pushing Beirut to hand him over, but Ghosn insists on a trial in Lebanon. Unable to leave the country thanks to an international arrest warrant, he is, according to a recent interview, spending time skiing and working on a book. The two companies he once led are struggling with the massive economic hit caused by the pandemic: Japans Nissan Motor Co Ltd is looking to downsize to survive, while Frances Renault may sell some of itself to Mitsubishi.
CHINA-U.S. TRADE DEAL
Headline, Jan. 15: China, U.S. sign initial trade pact but doubts and tariffs linger
The story now: The January trade deal saw Beijing promise to boost purchases of U.S. goods and services by $200 billion over two years and Washington agree to roll back tariffs.    Since then, the global pandemic, which started in China, has hurt progress on trade, not least because much of the world has shut down.    A push by some U.S. business leaders and lawmakers for Washington to cut import tariffs on Chinese goods to ease economic pain from the coronavirus was rejected by the Trump administration.    The President has blamed Beijing and the Chinese virus for the crisis, while U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has accused Beijing of an intentional disinformation campaign that includes blaming the United States for starting the disease.    Beijing has sought to use the pandemic to win greater influence in Europe and elsewhere, while urging more talks with Washington.
TRUMP BATTLES IMPEACHMENT
Headline, Jan. 16: Trump impeachment trial opens as watchdog faults White House on Ukraine
The story now: Voting mostly along party lines, the U.S. Senate on Feb. 5 acquitted President Donald Trump of two impeachment charges.
Trump celebrated with a pair of caustic, freewheeling speeches and has gone after those he blames for the trial.    On April 3 he said he was firing the inspector general of the U.S. intelligence community, an official involved in triggering the impeachment probe.    Trump blamed the impeachment trial for distracting him in the early days of the coronavirus crisis.
HARRY AND MEGHAN RENOUNCE ROYAL TITLES
Headline, Jan. 18: Harry and Meghan to drop titles and retire as working royals
The story now: After formally giving up their jobs as working royals at the end of March, Britains Prince Harry and his wife Meghan moved to the Los Angeles area.    In early April it was reported that they had filed trademark requests in the United States suggesting they intended to set up a new charity called Archewell.
CRISIS AT BOEING
Headline, Jan. 21: Boeing warns of new 737 MAX delay, now sees mid-year return to service
The story now: The planemaker has spent months updating the 737 MAX to address issues believed to have helped cause two crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that killed 346 people within five months.    In March, Reuters broke the news that Boeing plans to restart 737 MAX production by May. But the coronavirus has made its plans a lot more uncertain.    Airlines have reduced schedules and companies have begun cutting orders for the plane.
KOBE BRYANT DIES
Headline, Jan. 26: NBA great Kobe Bryant and daughter among nine killed in helicopter crash near Los Angeles
The story now: Bryant was buried in February with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna near the familys southern California home, according to their death certificates.    He was posthumously named to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in early April. The 2019-20 NBA season, meantime, was suspended in early March because of the pandemic.
BREXIT
Headline, Jan. 31: Brexit day: Britain quits EU, steps into transition twilight zone
The story now: Formal negotiations on a trade deal between Britain and the European Union have been postponed due to the pandemic.    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the EUs chief negotiator Michel Barnier tested positive for the virus. Britain however seems determined to keep to the December timetable for a final deal.
DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE RACE
Headline, Feb. 4: Buttigieg has narrow Iowa lead on Sanders, Biden lags in Democratic race
The story now: The first few primaries and caucuses were split between Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg, with former Vice President Joe Biden struggling to make a mark. The entrance into the race of billionaire Michael Bloomberg had little impact.    Biden won South Carolina and a few other states in late February and cleaned up on Super Tuesday. His last challenger, Sanders, dropped out last week.
A NEW VIRUS IN CHINA
Headline, Jan. 3: China seeks to identify cause of mystery pneumonia infecting 44
The story now: The virus has spread around the globe, infecting some 2 million people, killing more than 115,000, and forcing governments into unprecedented spending to tackle the fastest fall in global economic demand for more than a century.
(Writing by Simon Robinson; Editing by Giles Elgood)

4/16/2020 Factbox: Countries pondering an easing of coronavirus curbs
FILE PHOTO: People work on a construction site at the street during a lockdown amid the coronavirus
disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Ronda, southern Spain, April 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jon Nazca/File Photo
    (Reuters) Various countries around the world are wondering when and how to ease coronavirus lockdowns, though the World Health Organization (WHO) is warning that should be done slowly and only when there is capacity to isolate cases and trace contacts. Following is a summary of steps taken or considered by the most affected nations.
(For an interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus: open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.)
EUROPE
ITALY, with the most COVID-19-linked deaths in Europe, is keeping the lockdown largely in place although it lifted restrictions on two categories of shops stationers and childrens clothes on April 14.
In SPAIN, construction and manufacturing sectors returned to work on April 13, but the government has said the nationwide confinement in force until April 26 would likely last until May.
FRANCE and BRITAIN, the two other European countries with more than 10,000 deaths, both plan to extend current measures.    President Emmanuel Macron said schools and shops would gradually re-open from May 11, but restaurants, hotels, cafes and cinemas would remain shut for longer.    British Health Minister Matt Hancock said on April 16 it was too early to lift the lockdown.
GERMANY, Europes largest economy, will allow stores of up to 800 square metres (8,611 square feet), car dealers and bike shops, to reopen from April 20, while schools will reopen on May 4.
AUSTRIA let non-essential shops of up to 400 square metres (4,306 square feet), DIY shops and garden centres reopen on April 14. Shopping malls, hairdressers and larger stores should reopen from May 1, unless infections accelerate.    Restaurants and hotels could reopen in stages from mid-May.
DENMARK, one of the first European countries to shut down, reopened care centres and schools for children in first to fifth grade on April 15. All other curbs apply at least until May 10.
POLAND, scheduled to have a presidential election on May 10, will gradually lift lockdown measures from April 19. The easing will include shops but borders will remain closed until May 3.
UNITED STATES, CANADA & LATIN AMERICA
The UNITED STATES, which has the worlds highest infections and deaths, is inching toward a gradual resumption of business. President Donald Trump has cited May 1 as a target, but a 50-state patchwork of policies is likely, with many state governors forming regional alliances to coordinate actions.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, whose state is the hardest hit, said on April 15 he would begin with reopening the most essential businesses and those with the lowest infection risk.
Some governors have warned there was no return to a pre-pandemic normal until a vaccine becomes available.
CANADA will keep non-essential businesses shut for several more weeks, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on April 14, and the nations most populous province Ontario extended for another 28 days its shutdown that was due to expire on April 23.
Lockdowns are set to continue in BRAZILs largest cities and most states, with Sao Paulo extending its social distancing measures until April 22 and Rio de Janeiro until April 30, despite the health ministrys suggestion that states with less than 50% of occupancy in health systems could loosen rules.
ARGENTINAs lockdown has been extended until April 26, but the government is considering widening the list of essential services to allow some businesses back.
MEXICO, bracing for the spread of the coronavirus to accelerate, is widely expected to extend the shutdown of schools and non-essential businesses beyond April 30.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
IRAN, the regions worst-hit country, lifted a ban on travel within provinces on Sunday, while restrictions on trips between provinces end on April 20.    Businesses seen as lower risk reopened from Saturday outside Tehran and will reopen from April 18 in the capital.
SAUDI ARABIA has halted year-round pilgrimages to Mecca and extended a nationwide lockdown indefinitely this week.
EGYPT, the Arab worlds most populous nation, extended a curfew until April 23, closed places of worship, schools and tourist sites and banned public religious gatherings in the holy month of Ramadan, starting late April.
ISRAEL keeps stay-at-home orders for all except those who work in vital industries, and said any exit strategy will be slow and responsible.
SOUTH AFRICA has extended a complete lockdown until the end of April and said key sectors could be reopened gradually under strictly controlled conditions.
NIGERIA extended the lockdown of the states of Lagos, Abuja and Ogun until April 27, exempting only critical workers, including those selling food, water and medicine. Most large African nations so far have no plans to ease restrictins.
ASIA-PACIFIC
CHINA earlier this month lifted the lockdown of Wuhan, where the outbreak began. On April 15, the citys vice mayor said it aimed to fully restore rail, flight and freight operations by the end of April. Prevention measures remain elsewhere, including Beijing.
INDIA is under lockdown until May 3, but the government will allow some industries, such as farming and construction in rural areas, to open after April 20.
PAKISTAN, which extended its shutdown on April 14 by two weeks, said some industries would reopen in phases, starting with construction and export industries, such as garments.
In JAPAN, a month-long state of emergency is in force in cities since April 7, but the government has refrained from nationwide business closures for fear of damaging the economy.
SOUTH KOREA, lauded for controlling its outbreak, has urged to follow social distancing until at least April 19.
TAIWAN, another example of a successful early response, has avoided full lockdown but continues to promote social distancing.
SINGAPORE, which saw cases spike recently after early success in containment, aims for schools and most workplaces to reopen on May 4.
NEW ZEALAND has no immediate easing plans with schools, restaurants, cafes and gyms shut and its borders closed.
    Similar social distancing rules that have closed businesses and confined people to their homes remain in place in AUSTRALIA with no definite end date announced.
(Compiled by Tomasz Janowski from contributions by Reuters bureaux; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

4/16/2020 Latest on the spread of the coronavirus around the world
A man is seen wearing a protective face mask at a bus station as the spread of coronavirus
disease (COVID-19) continues in London, Britain, April 15, 2020. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
    (Reuters) Reported cases of the coronavirus crossed 2.05 million globally and more than 136,600 people have died, according to a Reuters tally as of 0200 GMT on Thursday.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread, open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.
* For a U.S.-focused tracker with state-by-state and county map, open https://tmsnrt.rs/2w7hX9T in an external browser.
AMERICAS
* Total confirmed cases in the United States stood at 636,604 and deaths at 30,885, according to the latest Reuters tally.
* Hospitalisations fell for a second day in New York, showing signs that the hardest-hit U.S. state is gaining some control over the outbreak, Governor Andrew Cuomo said.
* U.S. President Donald Trumps move to halt funding to the WHO over its handling of the pandemic prompted condemnation from world leaders.
* U.S. Senate Democrats unveiled a $30 billion plan to vastly increase nationwide testing for the coronavirus.
* Mexico reported 448 new cases and 43 new deaths, bringing the total to 5,847 cases and 449 deaths.
* Haiti has decided to reopen its key textile industry next week, suggesting the nation had escaped the worst of the pandemic by imposing early on a state of emergency.
* A two-month-old baby born to Warao indigenous refugees from Venezuela has tested positive, the mayors office in the Brazilian city of Manaus said on Wednesday.
EUROPE
* WHO said countries that ease restrictions should wait at least two weeks to evaluate the impact, as some European countries including Spain and Austria have begun small-scale steps to reduce severe lockdowns.
* Nearly 700 sailors assigned to the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulles naval group have tested positive for the coronavirus, the armed forces ministry said.
* Britains virus outbreak is probably peaking, but it is too early to start relaxing restrictions, officials said.
* Northern Ireland will keep coronavirus restrictions in place for another three weeks, First Minister Arlene Foster said.
* Spains prime minister promised more testing to try to build on a decline in daily deaths.
* Belgium has extended measures to control the spread of the coronavirus to May 3, with a slight easing of restrictions to allow home improvement stores and garden centres to open.
* A 106-year-old great-grandmother, thought to be the oldest patient in Britain to beat the novel coronavirus, was discharged from hospital to applause from nurses and health workers.
* Portugals virus curve has flattened but the good news is not enough for the country to lift lockdown measures and reopen its economy, government ministers said.
ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
* China reported 46 new cases in the mainland, the same as a day earlier. Total cases stand at 82,341 as of Wednesday.
* U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pressed Chinas top diplomat on the need for full transparency and information sharing regarding the coronavirus outbreak.
* Japan urged its citizens to stay home, as media reports warned that as many as 400,000 could die without urgent action, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe came under pressure to hand out more cash.
* Australian prime minister urged schools to reopen after Easter holidays so students do not lose a year of education and parents can work.
* India has agreed to sell hydroxychloroquine tablets to Malaysia, with New Delhi partially lifting its bar on exports of the anti-malarial drug.
* South Korea proposed a second supplementary budget for this year worth 7.6 trillion won ($6.2 billion) to fund cash payments promised to low- and middle-income families to ease the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
* Australias Crown Resorts Ltd said it has stood down about 95% of its employees due to the suspension of gaming and other non-essential services at its Melbourne and Perth resorts.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Qatar detained dozens of migrant workers and expelled them last month after telling them they were being taken to be tested for the new coronavirus, human rights group Amnesty International said.
* Irans president said the outbreak had not hit the farm sector and citizens did not need to worry about food supplies.
* Yemens war-scarred hospitals are marshalling resources to face the outbreak which has yet to make clear inroads in the country, with the little testing that has been done uncovering just one case.
ECONOMIC FALLOUT
* World stock markets fell, while bonds and the dollar held on to hefty gains, after a coronavirus-driven plunge in U.S. retail sales and factory production and increasing gloomy economic outlooks for Asia. [MKTS/GLOB]
* Economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak will cost Illinois $7.3 billion in revenue for the current and next fiscal year, Governor J.B. Pritzker said on Wednesday.
* Japanese business confidence plunged to fresh decade lows in April as firms reported widespread damage from the pandemic, the Reuters Tankan survey showed.
* Finance officials from the G20 major economies are set to finalise an agreement for some 76 countries to have debt payments worth a combined $20 billion suspended.
* Canadas economy shrank a record 9% in March from February, Statistics Canada said in a flash estimate.
* The Bank of Canada on Wednesday said the outbreak was set to trigger the biggest ever near-term domestic slump but expressed optimism the economy might be able to start reopening by June.
* U.S. electricity demand last week plunged to a near 17-year low as government travel and work restrictions caused businesses to shut, according to analysts and the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) trade group.
* Harley-Davidson Inc said it had temporarily laid off most of its global production employees and implemented salary cuts in a bid to lower costs.
* Countries in the Middle East and Central Asia region will see a contraction this year bigger than the one seen during the 2008 global financial crisis and the 2015 oil price shock, the International Monetary Fund said.
* Africa is expected to reverse an economic contraction next year as containment measures are eased, the IMF said, but the impact will be felt for years to come.
(Compiled by Sarah Morland, Devika Syamnath and Uttaresh V.; Editing by Tomasz Janowski, Nick Macfie, Anil DSilva and Arun Koyyur)

4/16/2020 U.N. warns economic downturn could kill hundreds of thousands of children in 2020 by Michelle Nichols
FILE PHOTO: Egyptian clown Ahmed Naser, performs to entertain and help children to put on face masks as a
preventive measure amid concerns about the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Darb Al-Ban district
at Islamic Cairo, Egypt April 13, 2020. Picture taken April 13, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany/File Photo
    UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) Hundreds of thousands of children could die this year due to the global economic downturn sparked by the coronavirus pandemic and tens of millions more could fall into extreme poverty as a result of the crisis, the United Nations warned on Thursday.
    The world body also said in a risk report that nearly 369 million children across 143 countries who normally rely on school meals for a reliable source of daily nutrition have now been forced to look elsewhere.
    We must act now on each of these threats to our children, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said.    Leaders must do everything in their power to cushion the impact of the pandemic.    What started as a public health emergency has snowballed into a formidable test for the global promise to leave no one behind.
    The new coronavirus, which causes the respiratory illness COVID-19, first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year. So far it has infected more than 2 million people killing some 138,000 in 213 countries and territories, according to a Reuters tally.
    Compared with adults, children infected with the coronavirus are less likely to have symptoms and more likely to have a mild illness, U.S. and Chinese studies have found.
    But the U.N. report warned that economic hardship experienced by families as a result of the global economic downturn could result in an hundreds of thousands of additional child deaths in 2020, reversing the last 2 to 3 years of progress in reducing infant mortality within a single year.
    With businesses shut down and more than a billion people told to stay home to avoid spreading the virus, the International Monetary Fund has predicted the world would this year suffer its steepest downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
    The United Nations said an estimated 42 million to 66 million children could fall into extreme poverty as a result of the coronavirus crisis this year, adding to the estimated 386 million children already in extreme poverty in 2019.
    The U.N. report on children also said 188 countries have imposed countrywide school closures, affecting more than 1.5 billion children.
    The potential losses that may accrue in learning for todays young generation, and for the development of their human capital, are hard to fathom, it said.    More than two-thirds of countries have introduced a national distance learning platform, but among low-income countries the share is only 30 percent.
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Tom Brown)

4/16/2020 Opportunities for self-driving delivery robot companies grow during lockdown by OAN Newsroom
Photo of Amazons Scout robot, via Amazon.com.
    Robot delivery service providers have said theyre seeing opportunities explode during the coronavirus pandemic.    With more and more people under lockdowns, restaurants and grocery stores are relying on delivery services to reach their customers.
    Some of these businesses have turned to self-driving robots with mobile mapping technology to limit person-to-person contact. Some devices have the ability to travel up to four miles while being monitored on a smartphone.
    Literally, its like the highlight of peoples day when they get a robot.    Its so fun and funny, just exciting and different.    Its a great distraction. Tracy Stannard, Co-owner of Broad Branch Market
    According to reports, delivery robots were extensively used during the quarantine period in China.
    One customer noted someone still has to handle the bags, saying he was going to disinfect his purchases once he got them home.

4/16/2020 San Diego company working to develop COVID-19 vaccine by OAN Newsroom
FILE This March 16, 2020 file photo shows vials used by pharmacists to prepare syringes used on the first day
of a first-stage safety study clinical trial of the potential vaccine for COVID-19, the disease caused by the
new coronavirus, at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
    A San Diego based biotech company has joined the race to develop a coronavirus vaccine.    Sorrento Therapeutics is in the process of creating three vaccines and is hoping to have at least one ready by the end of the year.
    In the effort to more quickly resolve the global COVID-19 crisis, our company has initiated a rapidly accelerated program for the identification of potent neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus antigens, that may be used for either treatment or prophylaxis, stated CEO Dr. Henry Ji.
    According to reports, one of the vaccines will help train a persons immune system to attack COVID-19.    Another will use a protein to prevent the virus from binding onto healthy cells.
    The company is aiming to get FDA approval to start clinical trials as soon as possible.
    We have all the tools, all the platforms, and the manufacturing facility in places, so we can easily apply our technology and expertise onto this COVID-19, added Dr. Ji.
    Sorrento Therapeutics is also working to develop an antibody test, which would show if a person was infected without knowing it and has since recovered.

4/17/2020 New fires fanned by strong winds flare near Chernobyl in Ukraine
FILE PHOTO: An aerial view shows a forest fire in the 30 km (19 miles) exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear power
plant, Ukraine, April 12, 2020, in this still picture taken from video. Video taken April 12, 2020. Reuters TV/via REUTERS
    KIEV (Reuters) New fires broke out in the area around the defunct Chernobyl nuclear plant on Thursday, fanned by heavy winds that have made it harder to put out the blaze, Ukrainian officials said.
    Emergency workers managed several days ago to contain an initial bout of fires that tore through forests around the site of the worlds worst nuclear disaster in 1986.    Ukrainian authorities have played down any radiation risk.
    The state emergency service said three new fires had broken out but were not large-scale and not threatening.
    The radioactive background in Kiev and the Kiev region is within normal limits, Volodymyr Demchuk, director of the Emergency Response Department, said in a video statement.
    He said more than 1,000 people were involved in trying to extinguish the fires.
    Emergency workers used planes and helicopters to put out the earlier blaze this week but heavy winds prevented them from doing so on Thursday, Deputy Interior Minister Anton Gerashchenko was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying.
    The April 26, 1986 Chernobyl disaster in then-Soviet Ukraine was triggered by a botched safety test in a reactor and sent clouds of nuclear material across much of Europe.
    The plant and the abandoned nearby town of Pripyat have become a tourist draw, especially since a critically acclaimed U.S. television miniseries about the accident aired last year.
    The Chernobyl site is currently shut as part of a nationwide lockdown to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
(Reporting by Ilya Zhegulev; Writing by Matthias Williams; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

4/17/2020 Air pollution clears during lockdown by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
    Air pollution has dropped by 30% in the big cities of the Northeast over the past few weeks as the coronavirus pandemic worsened and people stayed home, according to NASA satellite data.
    Cities such as Washington, Philadelphia, New York and Boston have seen significant improvement in air quality similar to the improvements in Italy and China during prior coronavirus lockdowns, AccuWeather said.
    Nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which is primarily emitted from burning fossil fuels for transportation and electricity generation, can be used as an indicator of changes in human activity, according to NASA. With people staying home and not driving their cars, air pollution has declined in a big way.
    Other major cities that saw recent major drops in NO2 levels included Cleveland, Detroit, Buffalo and Pittsburgh, according to AccuWeather.
    Though variations in weather can cause variations in the monthly averages, in the Northeast, March 2020 showed the lowest monthly atmospheric nitrogen dioxide levels of any March on record.
[As I noted above who you should go after is seen on:
4/7/2020 All you Pollution and Greenhouse Gases Green New Deal Idiots leave the U.S. alone and go after the countries who are the polluters which you can see in the image below.
]

4/17/2020 NASA says air pollution down by 30% in Northeast by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
    Air pollution has dropped by 30% in the big cities of the Northeast over the past few weeks as the coronavirus pandemic worsened and people stayed home, according to NASA satellite data.
    In fact, cities such as Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York City and Boston have seen significant improvement in air quality similar to the improvements in Italy and China during prior coronavirus lockdowns, Accu-Weather said.
    Nitrogen dioxide ( NO2 ), which is primarily emitted from burning fossil fuels for transportation and electricity generation, can be used as an indicator of changes in human activity, according to NASA.    With people staying home and not driving their cars, air pollution has declined in a big way.
    Other major cities that saw major drops in NO2 levels included Cleveland, Detroit, Buffalo, New York, and Pittsburgh, according to AccuWeather.
    Though year-to-year variations in weather can cause variations in the monthly averages for individual years, in the Northeast, March 2020 showed the lowest monthly atmospheric nitrogen dioxide levels of any March on record, which spans the past 15 years.
    This led to speculation that the virus had actually saved more lives than it took.    According to Paul Monks of the University of Leicester, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that about 3 million people die each year from ailments caused by air pollution and that more than 80% of people living in urban areas are exposed to air-quality levels that exceed safe limits.
    Stanford Universitys Marshall Burke also noted in March that the reductions in air pollution in China caused by this economic disruption likely saved 20 times more lives in China than have currently been lost due to infection with the virus in that country.
    However, in the U.S., the trade-off has been steep.    These recent improvements in air quality have come at a high cost as communities grapple with widespread lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders as a result of the spread of COVID- 19, NASA said.
    The data NASA released should be used with caution, Accuweather said.    One reason is that NO2 levels recorded by satellites arent necessarily the exact same as levels found at the ground level.
    NASA also said in its report that further analysis is needed to determine the true amount that nitrogen dioxide levels have changed and whether it is associated with changes in pollutant emissions or is just a natural variation.

4/17/2020 Newly found planet may be Earths relative by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
    Astronomers have discovered a planet nearly the same size as Earth that orbits in its stars habitable zone, where liquid water could exist on its surface, a new study said.
    The presence of liquid water also indicates the planet could support life.
    This newly found world, Kepler- 1649c, is 300 light-years away from Earth and orbits a star that is about one-fourth the size of our sun.
    Whats exciting is that out of all the 2,000-plus exoplanets that have been discovered using observations from the Kepler Space Telescope, this world is most similar to Earth both in size and estimated temperature, NASA said.
    An exoplanet is a planet outside our solar system.
    This intriguing, distant world gives us even greater hope that a second Earth lies among the stars, waiting to be found, said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASAs science mission directorate in Washington, D.C.
    Although NASA said that there are other exoplanets estimated to be closer to Earth in size and others may be closer to Earth in temperature there is no other exoplanet closer to Earth in both of these values that also lies in the habitable zone of its system.
    This newly revealed world is only 1.06 times larger than our own planet.    Also, the amount of starlight it receives from its host star is 75% of the amount of light Earth receives from our sun meaning the exoplanets temperature may be similar to our planets, as well.
    But unlike Earth, it orbits a red dwarf.    Though none have been observed in this system, this type of star is known for stellar flare-ups that may make a planets environment challenging for any potential life.
    Scientists discovered this planet when looking through old observations from the Kepler Space Telescope, which the agency retired in 2018.
    The more data we get, the more signs we see pointing to the notion that potentially habitable and Earth-size exoplanets are common around these kinds of stars, said study lead author Andrew Vanderburg, a researcher at the University of Texas-Austin.
    The study was published Wednesday in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
A comparison of Earth and Kepler-1649c, an exoplanet that is only 1.06 times Earth's radius. NASA/AMES RESEARCH CENTER/DANIEL RUTTER

4/17/2020 Megadrought emerging in West - Drought might be worse than any in 1,200 years by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
    Fueled in part by human-caused climate change, a megadrought appears to be emerging in the western U.S., a study published Thursday suggests.     In fact, the nearly-20-year drought is almost as bad or worse than any in the past 1,200 years, scientists say.     Megadroughts defined as intense droughts that last for decades or longer once plagued the Desert Southwest.    Thanks to global warming, an especially fierce one appears to be coming back: We now have enough observations of current drought and tree-ring records of past drought to say that were on the same trajectory as the worst prehistoric droughts, said study lead author A. Park Williams, a bioclimatologist at Columbia University, in a statement.    This is a drought bigger than what modern society has seen.
    Scientists say that about half of this historic drought can be blamed on manmade global warming.    Some of the impacts today include shrinking reservoirs and worsening wildfire seasons.
    Since temperatures are projected to keep rising, it is likely the drought will continue for the near future or fade briefly only to return, researchers say.
    The study covers an area stretching nine states from Oregon and Montana down through California, New Mexico and part of northern Mexico.
    Daniel Swain, a UCLA climate scientist who wasnt part of the study, called the research important because it shows evidence that human-caused climate change transformed what might have otherwise been a moderate long-term drought into a severe event comparable to the megadroughts of centuries past.
    Williams said that because the background is getting warmer, the dice are increasingly loaded toward longer and more severe droughts.    We may get lucky, and natural variability will bring more precipitation for a while."
    Williams said the region could stay dry for centuries.    Thats not my prediction right now, but its possible.
    Naturally occurring western megadroughts have taken place before.    Most of the USAs droughts of the past century, even the 1930s Dust Bowl that forced Oklahomans and others from the Plains, were exceeded in severity and duration multiple times by droughts during the preceding 2,000 years, the National Climate Assessment said.
    The difference now, of course, is the western USA is home to more than 70 million people who werent here for the previous medieval megadroughts.    The implications are far more daunting.
The study was published Thursday in the peer-reviewed journal Science.
Contributing: The Associated Press
Fueled in part by human-caused climate change, a megadrought appears to be emerging, a study published Thursday suggests. TONY GUTIERREZ/ AP

4/17/2020 South Koreas Boditech Med producing COVID-19 test kits which measure antibodies by OAN Newsroom
An employee holds up an antibody test cartridge of the ichroma COVID-19 Ab testing kit used in diagnosing the coronavirus
for a photograph on a production line of the Boditech Med Inc. in Chuncheon, South Korea, Friday, April 17, 2020.
Boditech Med recently started exporting its antibody-based virus test kits to various countries. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
    Demand is growing for tests made in South Korea that can assess how bad a persons coronavirus infection is.
    According to reports Friday, Boditech Med said its test kits can measure how many antibodies to the virus are in a patients system.
    Experts have said they can measure the changes in a persons antibody level with this information, which would show how far the illness has advanced.
    Their kits are reportedly in high demand from several countries, including the U.S., because they can accurately tell if someone is fully recovered.
    For the United States, the purpose of using our test kit is not to diagnose potential patients, but to test those who have recovered from the virus to determine whether they have built up their immune system enough to return to work, explained Lee Jae-Ho of Boditech Med.
    Earlier this week FEMA announced South Korea will be sending 750,000 COVID-19 tests to the U.S. following an appeal by President Trump.

4/18/2020 Latest on the spread of the coronavirus around the world
A bus driver wearing face masks is seen during the outbreak of the coronavirus
disease (COVID-19) in New York City, U.S., April 17, 2020. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon
    (Reuters) Reported cases of the coronavirus have crossed 2.23 million globally and 151,657 people have died, according to a Reuters tally as of 0200 GMT on Saturday.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread, open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.
* For a U.S.-focused tracker with state-by-state and county map, open https://tmsnrt.rs/2w7hX9T in an external browser.
AMERICAS
* The U.S. coronavirus crisis took a sharp political turn as President Donald Trump lashed out at four Democratic governors over their handling of the pandemic after having conceded that states bear ultimate control of restrictions to contain the outbreak.
* U.S. coronavirus deaths topped 35,400 on Friday, rising by more than 2,000 for the fourth day in a row, according to a Reuters tally, as some states announced timetables for lifting restrictions aimed at blunting the pandemic.
* Better-than-expected social distancing practices have led an influential research model to lower its projected U.S. coronavirus death toll by 12%, while predicting some states may be able to safely begin easing restrictions as early as May 4.
* Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei said a large number of migrants on a deportation flight to Guatemala from the United States this week were infected with the coronavirus, adding that U.S. authorities had confirmed a dozen cases.
* The United States has asked China to revise new export quality control rules for protective equipment needed in the outbreak so they are not an obstacle to timely supplies, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department said.
* New York Governor Andrew Cuomo launched a blistering attack on President Donald Trumps response to the coronavirus crisis, accusing him of passing the buck to the states and favoring big business over communities hardest hit.
EUROPE
* Deaths from the COVID-19 epidemic in Italy rose by 575 on Friday, up from 525 the day before, while the number of new cases declined slightly and scientists warned that infections were now mainly happening among family members.
* Doctors and health workers criticised the British government for suggesting that gowns used to protect them while treating coronavirus patients could be re-used, as supplies run low across the country.
* Russia said its death toll from the novel coronavirus had risen to 313, an overnight increase of 40, as it posted a new record daily jump in new cases.
* France said there was no evidence so far of a link between the new coronavirus and the work of the P4 research laboratory in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the current pandemic started.
ASIA-PACIFIC
* Japan, alarmed by rising coronavirus deaths and the spectre of the collapse of the medical system, is scrambling to expand testing with drive-through facilities and general practitioners helping to collect samples.
* Singapores health ministry confirmed 942 more coronavirus infections, a new daily record, the vast majority of which are among migrant workers living in dormitories.
* Chinas National Health Commission reported 27 new confirmed coronavirus cases on April 17, up from 26 the day earlier, according to data published on Saturday.
* Taiwan will put 700 navy sailors into quarantine after three cases of the new coronavirus were confirmed among sailors who had been on a goodwill mission to the Pacific island state of Palau, the government said on Saturday.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* The Nigerian presidents chief of staff, Abba Kyari, died on Friday after contracting the new coronavirus, two presidency spokesmen said on Twitter.
* Irans death toll from the new coronavirus rose by 73 in the previous 24 hours to reach 5,031 on Saturday, health ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpour said on state TV.
* Saudi Arabias grand mufti said Muslim prayers during Ramadan and the Eid al-Fitr feast should be performed at home if the outbreak continues.
* Israel is heading off shortages of disposable surgical masks by mass-producing washable versions sized to fit everyone from children to bearded men.
* African leaders, the IMF and the World Bank appealed for rapid international action to help African countries respond to the coronavirus pandemic that will cause the continents economy to shrink by 1.25% in 2020, the worst reading on record.
* Dubai has extended by one week a 24-hour-a-day curfew imposed as part of a sterilisation drive to control the spread of the coronavirus, the government said in a Twitter post.
ECONOMIC FALLOUT
* Canada will invest C$2.5 billion ($1.8 billion) in measures to help the hard-hit oil and gas industry during the coronavirus outbreak, which has killed 1,250 people in the country, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.
* Global stocks rallied on President Donald Trumps plans to revive the coronavirus-hit U.S. economy and a report about a clinical trial for a potential drug to treat COVID-19.
* Gold dropped about 2% on Friday after President Donald Trumps new guidelines to re-open the U.S. economy and encouraging early data related to a potential COVID-19 treatment drove investors towards riskier assets.
* Some moderate Democrats key to their partys control of the U.S. House of Representatives are urging Speaker Nancy Pelosi to move quickly to replenish a fund to help small businesses hurt by the coronavirus pandemic, saying other party priorities can wait.
* Chinas economy contracted for the first time on record in the first quarter as the coronavirus shut down factories and shopping malls and put millions out of work.
(Compiled by Sarah Morland and Devika Syamnath; Editing by William Maclean)

4/19/2020 Latest on the spread of the coronavirus around the world
An employee prepares a take away order at a fast food restaurant as the spread of coronavirus disease
(COVID-19) affected local business in Roanoke, Virginia U.S., April 18, 2020. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
    (Reuters) Reported cases of the coronavirus have crossed 2.33 million globally and 159,818 people have died, according to a Reuters tally as of 2000 GMT on Sunday.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread, open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7in an external browser.
* For a U.S.-focused tracker with state-by-state and county map, open https://tmsnrt.rs/2w7hX9Tin an external browser.
AMERICAS
* Governors in U.S. states hardest hit by the novel coronavirus sparred with President Donald Trump over his claims they have enough tests and should quickly reopen their economies as more protests are planned over the extension of stay-at-home orders.
* The U.S. death toll from the novel coronavirus rose to more than 40,000 on Sunday, the highest in the world and almost double the number of deaths in the next highest country Italy, according to a Reuters tally.
* U.S. lawmakers are very close to an agreement on approving extra money to help small businesses hurt by the coronavirus pandemic and could seal a deal as early as Sunday, congressional and Trump administration officials said.
* The number of people with the new coronavirus in Canada is trending in the right direction but strict physical distancing will need to stay in place, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Sunday.
* Chile reported on Sunday that there were more than 10,000 people in the country with the coronavirus, the third-highest tally in Latin America, as the disease ravages the economy of the worlds top copper producer.
* Peru reported over 15,000 cases of coronavirus on Sunday, the second-highest tally in Latin America, as the disease continues to ravage the economy of the worlds No. 2 copper producer.
EUROPE
* President Vladimir Putin said that Russian authorities had the coronavirus crisis under full control and that everything would work out with Gods help, even as the country on Sunday registered a record daily rise in cases of the new virus.
* Italy said on Sunday that deaths from the coronavirus pandemic rose by 433, the lowest daily tally in a week, and the number of new cases slowed to 3,047 from a previous 3,491.
* Ireland is highly unlikely to allow large gatherings this year and the cocooning of people over 70 years old in their homes may persist for quite a while, Health Minister Simon Harris said.
* A delivery of protective equipment for British health workers that was due on Sunday from Turkey has been delayed, a British government official said, as medics on the frontline of the coronavirus outbreak increasingly report shortages of gear.
* Britain is not considering lifting the lockdown imposed almost four weeks ago to control the coronavirus outbreak given deeply worrying increases in the death toll, a senior minister said.
* Germanys confirmed coronavirus cases have risen by 2,458 to 139,897, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Sunday.    That was lower than a 3,609 increase reported on Saturday.
*Pope Francis called for an all-embracing vision of the world after the Covid-19 crisis, saying moving on without global solidarity or excluding sectors of society from the recovery would result in an even worse virus.
ASIA-PACIFIC
* China reported 16 new coronavirus cases but no deaths while authorities remained on guard against a major resurgence and monitored the spread of cases in Heilongjiang province.
* Australia added to growing pressure on China over its handling of the novel coronavirus, questioning its transparency and demanding an international investigation into the origins of the virus and how it spread.
* South Korea extended its social distancing policy for another 15 days but offered some relief for churches and sporting fixtures, as it reported just eight new coronavirus infections, the lowest in two months.
* Indonesias death toll from the new coronavirus has likely reached 1,000, nearly double the official figure of 535, Indonesian Doctors Association (IDI) chairman Daeng Faqih was quoted saying.
* Pakistan has lifted restrictions on congregational prayers at mosques, but put in place a host of safety conditions to avert the further spread of the coronavirus in the country, a statement said.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Health ministers from the Group of 20 major economies began a virtual meeting on Sunday to work on a joint response to the coronavirus pandemic, Saudi Arabian state television reported.
* Saudi Arabias highest religious body, the Council of Senior Scholars, urged Muslims worldwide to pray at home during Ramadan if their countries require social distancing to combat coronavirus, state news agency SPA reported.
* Turkeys confirmed coronavirus cases have risen to 82,329, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said, overtaking neighbouring Iran for the first time to register the highest total in the Middle East.
* Iran has extended furloughs for prisoners for another month, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday, as the Islamic Republic endeavours to stem the spread of the new coronavirus in its crowded jails.
ECONOMIC FALLOUT
* Neiman Marcus Group is preparing to seek bankruptcy protection as soon as this week, becoming the first major U.S. department store operator to succumb to the economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak, people familiar with the matter said.
*Europe will need at least another 500 billion euros from European Union institutions to finance its economic recovery after the coronavirus pandemic, on top of the agreed half-a-trillion package, the head of the euro zone bailout fund said.
* Canada will invest C$2.5 billion ($1.8 billion) in measures to help the hard-hit oil and gas industry during the coronavirus outbreak, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.
* Global stocks rallied on President Donald Trumps plans to revive the coronavirus-hit U.S. economy and a report about a clinical trial for a potential drug to treat COVID-19.
* Chinas economy contracted for the first time on record in the first quarter as the coronavirus shut down factories and shopping malls and put millions out of work.
(Compiled by Sarah Morland and Devika Syamnath; Editing by William Maclean)

4/20/2020 Ala. hit with second round of severe storms by OAN Newsroom
FILE- In this April 29, 2014 file image taken from video, people enter a community storm shelter during a tornado watch
in Tuscaloosa, Ala. As each day brings the United States closer to peak severe weather season, Tornado Alley residents
are facing a difficult question: Is it better to take on a twister outside a community shelter or
to face the possibility of contracting the new coronavirus inside one? (AP Photo/Jay Reeves, File)
    Alabama has been hit by another severe storm, just one week after multiple tornadoes on Easter Sunday.    Over the weekend through early Monday, multiple tornado and severe thunderstorm warnings were issued throughout central and southern parts of the state.
    Strong-to-severe storms were tracked across southern Alabama and damage reports continued to pile up on Monday.    Multiple severe thunderstorm warnings were issued Sunday morning in central Alabama and some of the powerful winds reportedly damaged properties and affected power.
    Our crews have done a tremendous job all nightif you had seen what it looked like at midnight and what it looks like now, weve made tremendous progress, said Mayor Jason Reeves of Troy, Alabama.    But we have so much more to do, so we are asking folks to please bare with us.
    The floods have left several highways and roads in the state impassable.    Additionally, dozens of cities are without power.
    Alabamians have been urged to not go on the roadways unless absolutely necessary.    So far, only one death from the storms has been reported.

4/21/2020 Latest on the spread of the coronavirus around the world
A youth is pictured running in Bristol as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, Bristol, Britain, April 20, 2020. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh
    (Reuters) Reported cases of the coronavirus have crossed 2.46 million globally and 169,863 people have died, according to a Reuters tally as of 0200 GMT on Tuesday, with U.S. President Donald Trump saying he will suspend all immigration into the country.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread, open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.
* For a U.S.-focused tracker with state-by-state and county map, open https://tmsnrt.rs/2w7hX9T in an external browser.
AMERICAS
* A Reuters tally as of 0200 GMT on Tuesday showed U.S. coronavirus deaths topping 42,300, while more than 780,000 people were infected.
* U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday he will suspend all immigration into the United States temporarily through an executive order.
* Trump also said he was working with state governors to make sure they had the resources needed to ramp up testing, while the U.S. Congress inched toward a $450 billion deal to help small businesses and hospitals.
* The World Health Organization said easing of lockdowns must be gradual.
* Residents of a suburban New York City county sued the WHO, accusing it of gross negligence in covering up and responding to the pandemic.
* Connecticut on Monday reported the states highest one-day totals for confirmed cases and deaths due to new classifications from federal regulators, while a study of Los Angeles Country residents suggested the rate of infection may be 40 times higher than confirmed cases.
* Argentina is set to widen an economic aid package to 850 billion pesos ($12.9 billion).
* Brazil is discussing with its main airlines to further reduce an already minimal flight schedule, three sources told Reuters, while President Jair Bolsonaro hopes this would be the last week of stay-at-home measures.
* Colombia will extend its coronavirus quarantine until May 11.
* Panama registered 191 new cases and 10 deaths on Monday, bringing total cases to 4,658 and the death toll to 136.
* Mexico and Haiti have detected infections among migrants deported recently from the United States.
EUROPE
* Germanys confirmed cases rose by 1,785 to 143,457.
* President Vladimir Putin said Russia had managed to slow the spread of the coronavirus but warned the peak still lay ahead after confirmed infections surged past 47,000.
* German Chancellor Angela Merkel signalled readiness to finance economic recovery in Europe from the pandemic through a bigger European Union budget and the issuance of joint debt via the European Commission.
* The spread of the coronavirus in Spain seems to be slowing despite more than 200,000 people now having been infected.
* Police and youths clashed for a second night in a low-income Paris suburb on Sunday as strict lockdown rules threaten a fragile social peace in deprived areas.
* Britain needs to be sure that any lifting or easing of social distancing measures does not lead to a second wave of the coronavirus outbreak, a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.
ASIA-PACIFIC
* The WHO said it is not possible to determine the precise source of the new coronavirus at this stage [THATS A COP OUT].
* Hong Kongs government will extend social restrictions for another 14 days.
* Thailand, which recorded 19 new cases, said its customs-based exports in March unexpectedly increased 4.17% from a year earlier.
* Indonesia will ban the mass exodus tradition, locally known as mudik, at the end of the Muslim fasting month in May.
* Australia will relax restrictions on elective surgeries after slowing the spread of coronavirus, while students in New South Wales will start returning to school next month in much larger numbers.
* The Reserve Bank of New Zealand plans to ease mortgage restrictions as a response to the economic downturn from the pandemic.
* Singapores health ministry confirmed an additional 1,426 cases of the COVID-19 infection, a record daily jump.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Shopping malls and bazaars reopened in Iran despite warnings by health officials that a new wave of infections could ripple through the country.
* The coronavirus crisis is stirring anti-Semitism around the world, fuelled by centuries-old lies that Jews are spreading infection, researchers in Israel said.
* South Africa will increase welfare provision to help poor households suffering because of a lockdown.
* Kuwait will extend the suspension of work in the public sector until May 31 and expand a nationwide curfew to 16 hours, a government spokesman said.
* Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said a four-day lockdown would be imposed in 31 cities from Thursday.
ECONOMIC FALLOUT
* U.S. crude oil bounced back into positive territory on Tuesday, but a historic plunge below zero rattled investors and triggered the steepest drop in Asian stock markets in a month. [MKTS/GLOB]
* Containment measures are hitting Germanys services and the retail sector especially hard, the finance ministry said.
* Australia may have lost three quarters of a million jobs between mid-March and early April when large chunks of the economy were shut down.
* Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd succumbed to third-party led restructuring that could lead to a sale.
* For the first time since September 2004, no merger and acquisition deal worth more than $1 billion was announced worldwide last week, according to Refinitiv.
(Compiled by Sarah Morland, Aditya Soni, Devika Syamnath, Ramakrishnan M and Uttaresh.V; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

4/22/2020 The case of the disappearing planet = Astronomers say it may have never existed by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
    What scientists had believed was a planet beyond our solar system has now apparently disappeared from sight, a study says, which suggests that what was heralded as one of the first exoplanets to ever be discovered ... likely never existed, according to the University of Arizona.
    The exoplanet, a planet outside our solar system, supposedly orbited around Fomalhaut, a star 25 light-years away.    Instead of a planet, which had been named Fomalhaut b, what astronomers likely saw was a large cloud of dust from two icy bodies that had smashed into each other.
    These collisions are exceedingly rare, and so this is a big deal that we actually get to see one, study lead author Andrs Gspr of the     University of Arizona said in a statement.    We believe that we were at the right place at the right time to have witnessed such an unlikely event with the Hubble Space Telescope."
    Our study, which analyzed all available archival Hubble data on Fomalhaut, revealed several characteristics that together paint a picture that the planet-size object may never have existed in the first place, Gspr said.
    According to his calculations, the Fomalhaut system may experience one of these events only every 200,000 years.
    In 2008, astronomers had reported the discovery of Fomalhaut b, which they said was the first visible-light snapshot of a planet circling another star, according to a NASA statement.
    The Fomalhaut system is the ultimate test lab for all of our ideas about how exoplanets and star systems evolve, said study co-author George Rieke of the University of Arizonas Steward Observatory.    We do have evidence of such collisions in other systems, but none of this magnitude has been observed in our solar system.    This is a blueprint of how planets destroy each other.
    The study was published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
An artist's illustration depicts the collision of two icy, dusty bodies orbiting the bright star Fomalhaut, located 25 light-years away. ESA/NASA AND M. KORNMESSER

4/22/2020 On Earth Day, calls grow to treat shock of coronavirus with green recovery by Natalie Thomas
A runner is seen in Burgess Park, as the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in London, Britain, March 25, 2020. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
    LONDON (Reuters) As the world marked the 50th anniversary of Earth Day on Wednesday, calls were growing for governments to treat the shock of the coronavirus with green recovery packages to spur a shift to a low-carbon future.
    Although many countries remain on a pandemic emergency footing, some investors, politicians and companies see the longer-term economic response as a chance to address the more profound risks posed by climate change.
    Theres a lot of pressure for those fiscal stimulus packages, when they come, to be low-carbon, climate-smart, Peter Betts, a former lead climate negotiator for Britain and the European Union, told Reuters Television.
    A risk, clearly, is that for some governments around the world there will be a huge premium on getting the economy moving, getting people back into jobs, said Betts, now an associate fellow at the Chatham House think-tank in London.
    With a major U.N. climate summit initially scheduled to take place in Glasgow in November postponed to next year because of the virus, Betts said the slot could be used instead to convene finance ministers to coordinate green recovery plans.
    With something like climate change we know that its coming and know that there are ways we can prepare for it that would be relatively low cost, he said.
    And what were seeing with this pandemic is that if you wait until the crisis hits, the costs are much greater.
    So far, the United States, China, Japan, India and European and other governments have focused on staunching the damage to industry, preserving jobs or trying to avoid corporate failures.
    Nevertheless, ministers from Germany, France and other EU members and some other governments have begun to signal their support for aligning subsequent interventions with climate goals, a theme taken up by campaign groups around the world.
    On Wednesday, hundreds of climate activists, scientists, singers, and actors begin a three-day EarthDayLive2020 https://www.earthdaylive2020.org livestream, which will feature webinars on what a fair and climate-friendly recovery could look like.
    Although no major economies have yet embraced anything like the rapid decarbonisation that scientists say is needed to stabilise the Earths climate, environmental considerations have surfaced in some preliminary stimulus and bailout discussions.
    On Tuesday, the European Unions chief climate official, Frans Timmermans, said green conditions could be tied to any car scrappage schemes set up by the bloc to revive vehicle demand.
    Last week, Austrian environment minister Leonore Gewessler said state aid for Austrian Airlines should be conditional on climate measures such as reducing short-haul flights.
(Writing by Matthew Green; Editing by Giles Elgood)

4/22/2020 Latest on the spread of the coronavirus around the world
A woman wearing a protective face mask rides a scooter across a nearly empty 3rd Avenue in midtown Manhattan during the
outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in New York City, New York, U.S., April 21, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Segar
    (Reuters) Reported cases of the coronavirus have crossed 2.5 million globally and 177,004 people have died, according to a Reuters tally as of 0200 GMT on Wednesday.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread, open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.
* For a U.S.-focused tracker with state-by-state and county map, open https://tmsnrt.rs/2w7hX9T in an external browser.
AMERICAS
* Governors of about half a dozen U.S. states pushed ahead with plans to partially reopen for business despite warnings from health officials.
* U.S. coronavirus deaths topped 45,000 on Tuesday doubling in a little over a week and rising by a near-record amount in a single day, according to a Reuters tally.
* An old malaria drug touted by President Donald Trump as a game changer in the fight against the coronavirus provided no benefit and potentially higher risk of death for patients at U.S. veterans hospitals, according to an analysis that has been submitted for expert review.
* Mexico has entered what the government calls Phase 3 of the spread of the new coronavirus, the most serious stage.
* Hundreds of Brazilians who were stranded in Southeast Asia during a coronavirus-led emergency lockdown are now headed home after the Brazilian embassy in Bangkok chartered a flight for them.br> EUROPE
* The true extent of the death toll in Britain was more than 40% higher than the daily figures from the government indicated by April 10, according to data that includes deaths in the community.
* Crowds of youths targeted riot police with fireworks and torched rubbish bins in a third night of unrest on the outskirts of Paris where a heavy police presence to enforce the coronavirus lockdown has exacerbated tensions.
* Italy is likely to start easing its coronavirus lockdown from May 4 though the long-awaited rollback will be cautious and calculated, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said.
* Spains cabinet approved measures to support workers and businesses struggling under stringent coronavirus restrictions as officials cheered a slowing infection rate.
ASIA-PACIFIC
* A city of 10 million people in northeast China grappling with the biggest coronavirus outbreak in the country further tightened travel curbs on inbound traffic.
* The Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics Organising Committee said a member of the organisation has tested positive for the new coronavirus.
* Japans Nagasaki prefecture said it had confirmed 33 cases of coronavirus infection on an Italian cruise ship docked for repairs.
* About 500 people entered self-isolation at the Presidential House in the Indian capital after a workers relative tested positive, officials said.
* Thailand approved a second automatic visa extension for foreigners to prevent long queues at immigration centres.
* Indonesia will ban the mass exodus tradition, locally known as mudik, at the end of the Muslim fasting month in May.
* Taiwans defence minister apologised and said he was willing to resign after a coronavirus outbreak on a navy ship which visited the Pacific last month just as the country celebrated a huge drop in cases.
* Demand for plant-based protein foods is surging in Asia, suppliers say, as suspicion over possible links between wild animal meat and the new coronavirus drives some consumers to rethink diets.
* Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has sought support for an international investigation into the coronavirus pandemic in phone calls with U.S. President Donald Trump, and the German and French leaders overnight.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Millions of children in the Middle East will become poorer as their caregivers lose jobs from lockdowns, according to the U.N. Childrens Fund.
* The coronavirus crisis is stirring anti-Semitism around the world, fuelled by centuries-old lies that Jews are spreading infection, researchers in Israel said.
* South Africas President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a 500 billion rand rescue package, equivalent to 10% of the GDP of Africas most industrialised nation, to try to cushion the economic blow of the coronavirus pandemic.
* The palm oil market is set to miss out on a key high-demand period in 2020 as coronavirus-driven lockdowns during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan dent demand in key importing countries such as India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
ECONOMIC FALLOUT
* Asian share markets slipped to two-week lows on Wednesday as the floor fell out from under crude prices, exposing the deep economic damage wrought by the global coronavirus health crisis. [MKTS/GLOB]
* U.S. home sales dropped by the most in nearly 4-1/2 years in March as extraordinary measures to control the spread of the coronavirus brought buyer traffic to a virtual standstill.
* The economies of Latin America and the Caribbean will contract by a record 5.3% in 2020 as the coronavirus outbreak ravages the region, a United Nations agency said.
* The Irish economy will shrink by at least 10% this year and could shrink more than 15% if a second wave of coronavirus forces restrictions on movement to last six months longer than expected, the government said.
* If prolonged, the pandemic could trigger a negative feedback loop in which a worsening economy threatens to destabilise Japans financial system, the Bank of Japan warned on Tuesday.
(Compiled by Sarah Morland, Aditya Soni, Devika Syamnath, Ramakrishnan M and Uttaresh.V; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty, Shounak Dasgupta and Sriraj Kalluvila)

4/22/2020 Swiss maintain 5G emission standards amid safety concerns
FILE PHOTO: A technician is roped up as he installs 5G antennas of Swiss telecom operator Swisscom
on a mast in the mountain resort of Lenzerheide, Switzerland June 13, 2019. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann
    ZURICH (Reuters) The Swiss government will keep current safety standards for fifth-generation (5G) mobile frequency emissions, it said on Wednesday, settling a debate that has delayed the rollout of the new technology.
    Concerns about the potential health impact of 5G emissions have flared in Switzerland, where just over half of people fear that radiation from mobile antennas may be dangerous, a government report last year found.
    The Federal Council (cabinet) wants to maintain for the time being the applicable (emission) limits to protect the population from non-ionizing radiation, it said in a statement.
    It noted that a task force set up to examine the issue had been unable to agree on a joint recommendation on this point, and that parliament had twice refused to relax the radiation exposure limits.
    Delays in issuing new 5G safety standards had hampered the rollout of the technology a year after a spectrum auction that raised 380 million Swiss francs ($393 million).
    Switzerland last year launched a monitoring system to assuage concerns about the potential health impact of 5G emissions and smooth the cutting-edge technologys rollout.
    The move came as some Swiss cantons baulked at authorising new antennas needed to support 5G services.
    Telecoms operators are keen for 5G frequencies to gain an edge in new digital services such as powering self-driving cars or the internet of things smart devices and sensors that can be managed remotely and are expected to proliferate as fifth-generation mobile networks are launched in the years ahead.
(Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Mark Potter)

4/23/2020 Ice-free summers in the Arctic by 50 by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
    The Arctic Ocean will be ice-free in the summer within the next 30 years, a study says, which will result in devastating consequences for the Arctic ecosystem, according to McGill University in Montreal.
    Sea ice is frozen ocean water that melts each summer, then refreezes each winter.    The amount of summer sea ice in the Arctic has been steadily shrinking over the past few decades because of global warming. Since satellite records began in 1979, summer Arctic ice has lost 40% of its area and up to 70% of its volume, the Guardian said.
    In fact, it reached its second-smallest level on record in 2019, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.
    Sea ice affects Arctic communities and wildlife such as polar bears and walruses, and it helps regulate the planets temperature by influencing the circulation of the atmosphere and ocean.    It also affects global weather patterns.
    While the Arctic sea ice extent is decreasing during this transition to an icefree Arctic, the year-to-year variability in extent greatly increases, making life more difficult for local populations and ice-dependent species, said study coauthor Bruno Tremblay of the department of atmospheric and oceanic sciences at McGill.
    As the climate changes, the Arctic is warming more than twice as fast as the rest of the planet.    Arctic air temperatures were about 3.4 degrees above average in 2019 and were the secondwarmest since records began in 1900.
    How often the Arctic loses its sea ice cover in the future depends on emissions of carbon dioxide, the study said.    If emissions are reduced rapidly, icefree years will occur only occasionally.    With higher emissions, the Arctic Ocean will become ice-free in most years.
    Thus, even if humans act to reduce emissions dramatically, summer sea ice might still be gone, according to the study.     If we reduce global emissions rapidly and substantially, and thus keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius relative to pre-industrial levels, Arctic sea ice will nevertheless likely disappear occasionally in summer even before 2050, said study lead author Dirk Notz, who heads the sea ice research group at the University of Hamburg in Germany.    This really surprised us.
    The study analyzed recent results from 40 of the latest climate computer models and involved 21 research institutes from around the world.    It was published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, a publication of the American Geophysical Union.

4/23/2020 What you need to know about the coronavirus right now
FILE PHOTO: People wear protective masks as they leave work during evening rush hour in Beijing as the
spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, China April 20, 2020. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
    (Reuters) Heres what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
Summer cancelled?
    Across the continent, from Portugals Algarve to the islands of Greece, beaches are deserted.    There are no visitors at the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre, Edinburghs August festivals have been cancelled and the Netherlands flower fields are closed.
    The big question facing Europes tourism industry, however, is whether it can still salvage summer.
    We have to endure the situation and get some revenue this summer, said Goncalo Rebelo de Almeida, board member of Portuguese hotel chain Vila Gale.    I hope that will at least allow us to pay fixed costs.    And then we will bet on it returning to normal in 2021.
    In the meantime, calls are growing for economic support to haul hotels, restaurants, tour operators, travel agencies and cruise companies back from collapse.
Workplace wearables
    Workers in the port of Antwerp will next month begin testing wristbands developed by a local technology company to reinforce social distancing as the world tries to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.
    Tech firm Rombit already supplies wearables resembling a sports watch that can warn workers of workplace dangers newly installed software will now also give warning signals if workers come for example within 1.5 metres (five feet) of each other.
    The developers believe it also could offer contact-tracing if someone becomes infected with the coronavirus.    Such tools could be useful in helping companies restart work safely.
The vaccine race
    An Oxford University team is launching this week trials in humans of a potential COVID-19 vaccine and say a million doses of it are being manufactured for availability by September even before trials prove whether the shot is effective.
    The experimental product called ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 is one of at least 70 potential COVID-19 candidate shots under development by biotech and research teams around the world.    At least five of those are in preliminary testing in people.
Job killer
    Thursdays weekly U.S. jobless claims report will likely show that a record 26 million Americans sought unemployment benefits over the last five weeks.
    Put another way, that would mean that all the jobs created during the longest employment boom in U.S. history have been wiped out in about a month by the impact of coronavirus.br> Ramadan congregational prayers
    As the Muslim holy month of Ramadan starts this week, Pakistani doctors warned the government and clerics that it was ill-advised to allow prayer congregations at mosques.
    Pakistan lifted precautionary restrictions on congregational prayers on Saturday, after several clashes between police and worshippers and with clerics rejecting such limitations.
    The question now is whether other Muslim nations will also relent and relax bans on congregations in the light of pressure from local religious figures.
Sports calendar thins
    Another day, another major sporting event bites the dust. The 2020 St. Andrews Trophy, scheduled to take place in Wales from July 23-24, has been cancelled due to the outbreak, the R&A and the European Golf Association has confirmed.
    The tournament, contested between amateur golfers representing Britain & Ireland and Europe, was first staged in 1956 and has been held every two years since.
(Compiled by Mark John and Karishma Singh; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

4/23/2020 Latest on the spread of the coronavirus around the world
A. Health care worker walks past signs of support outside Beverly Hospital amid the coronavirus
disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Beverly, Massachusetts, U.S., April 22, 2020. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
    (Reuters) Reported cases of the coronavirus have crossed 2.62 million globally and 183,761 people have died, according to a Reuters tally as of 0200 GMT on Thursday.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread, open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.
* For a U.S.-focused tracker with state-by-state and county map, open https://tmsnrt.rs/2w7hX9T in an external browser.
AMERICAS
* Total confirmed cases in the United States rose to more than 839,000 and 47,676 had died, according to a Reuters tally as of 0200 GMT on Thursday.
* U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday ordered a temporary block on some foreigners from permanent residence in the United States to protect American workers and jobs.
* The U.S. House of Representatives expects to pass a nearly $500 billion coronavirus relief bill on Thursday.
* Auto retail sales in the United States are beginning to recover from a massive slump in March, according to analysts at J.D. Power.
* Mexico, whose total cases rose to more than 10,000, will increase spending on social programs and infrastructure projects by $25.6 billion.
* Panama reported 171 new infections, bringing the total cases to nearly 5,000. The death toll stood at 144.
EUROPE
* Germanys coalition parties on Thursday agreed to further measures worth some 10 billion euros ($10.81 billion) to shield workers and companies from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
* It may take European Union countries until the summer or even longer to agree on how exactly to finance aid to help economies recover from the coronavirus pandemic as major disagreements persist, a bloc official said.
* The British government came under sustained pressure over its coronavirus response when members of parliament got their first major opportunity in a month to hold it to account.
* Relieved Spanish parents welcomed a decision allowing children out on short walks for the first time in more than a month as the government voted to extend Spains lockdown until May 9.
* Ukraine extended strong quarantine measures till May 11.
ASIA-PACIFIC
* Mainland China reported 10 new cases as of the end of April 22, bringing the total cases to 82,798.    The death toll was unchanged at 4,632.
* Nearly 50 crew members on an Italian cruise ship docked for repairs in Japans Nagasaki have tested positive.
* Hackers working in support of the Vietnamese government have attempted to break into Chinese state organisations at the centre of Beijings effort to contain the outbreak, a U.S. cybersecurity firm said.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Egypts parliament approved amendments to its emergency laws that give expanded powers to the presidency and the military prosecution.
* Sixty-eight people, mostly staff, have come down with the coronavirus at a prison in the Moroccan city of Ouarzazate.
ECONOMIC FALLOUT
* Asian stock markets rose as the combination of a rebound in crude prices from historic lows and the promise of more U.S. government aid helped calm nervous markets. [MKTS/GLOB]
* Japans services sector shrank at a record pace in April, while factories also fell quiet across the country due to the widening fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
* The pandemic pushed South Koreas economy into its biggest contraction since 2008 in the first quarter.br> * Foreign tourist arrivals in Thailand slumped 76.4% in March from a year earlier after a 42.8% drop in the previous month.
. * Canadas annual inflation rate tumbled to a near five-year low in March.
* Global crude steel production fell 6% to 147.1 million tonnes in March from a year earlier, World Steel Association data showed.
* Switzerlands federal budget deficit could jump to around 6% of national output this year.
(Compiled by Sarah Morland, Aditya Soni, Devika Syamnath, Ramakrishnan M and Uttaresh.V; Editing by Tomasz Janowski, Shounak Dasgupta and Sriraj Kalluvila)

4/23/2020 At least 7 dead after tornadoes hit Okla., Texas by OAN Newsroom
David Maynard sifts through the rubble searching for his wallet, Thursday, April 23, 2020, in Onalaska,
Texas, after a tornado destroyed his home the night before. (Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP)
    Yet another string of deadly tornadoes swept through the South this week, this time bringing a total of 28 twisters to the region.    The storms hit on Wednesday, devastating both Oklahoma and Texas, which together saw about 60 percent of all 28 tornadoes.
    Officials estimated wind speeds reached over 100 miles per hour in Madill, Oklahoma.
    We were sitting together, praying, huddled together because the wind was rattling the door, explained one resident.

    The conditions caused major damage to the area, flipping several cars, wrecking homes and taking a toll on two of the citys main manufacturing plants.
Utility poles are knocked off their foundation, dropping power lines, after a tornado ripped a swath of destruction
through the area on Thursday, April 23, 2020 in Onalaska, Texas. (Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP)
    In Texas, widespread damage has been reported in four eastern counties.    Governor Greg Abbott has since deployed response and medical resource teams to affected areas.
    One resident has said hes grateful he and his family are safe.
    I said, Man, thats a tornado, I know theres a tornado coming this way,' stated one witness.    Stuff blown everywhere, it was just crazy.
    In Louisiana, initial damage reports showed a number of homes were mangled, with roofs blown off.    Many power lines across the area have been broken, countless large trees have been uprooted and Louisiana State University Alexandria has suffered significant destruction to its buildings.
    A single tornado was confirmed in Mississippi, just east of Jackson.    According to reports, power lines were damaged and are being repaired.

4/24/2020 Latest on the spread of the coronavirus around the world
A healthcare worker waits to administer a test for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at a drive-thru
testing site in Providence, Rhode Island, U.S., April 23, 2020. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
    (Reuters) Reported cases of the coronavirus have crossed 2.7 million globally and 189,970 people have died, according to a Reuters tally as of 0200 GMT on Friday.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread, open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.
* For a U.S.-focused tracker with state-by-state and county map, open https://tmsnrt.rs/2w7hX9T in an external browser.
AMERICAS
* The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a $484 billion coronavirus relief bill on Thursday.
* An array of U.S. merchants in Georgia and other states prepared to reopen for the first time in a month.
* A preliminary survey of New York state residents found that nearly 14% of those tested had antibodies against the coronavirus.
* California recorded its deadliest day of the coronavirus pandemic on Thursday.
* Drugmaker Gilead disputed a report that said its experimental coronavirus drug failed a trial in China, saying results were inconclusive as the study was terminated early.
* Canada pledged new money to develop and eventually mass-produce vaccines.
* Costa Rica has for the past week reported a steady fall in the number of people currently infected.
* Ecuadors authorities added 11,000 new infections that resulted from delayed testing.
* Cubas decades-old rationing system is staging a comeback in a bid to prevent virus transmission during frantic shopping hunts.
EUROPE
* France offered retailers some relief on Thursday, saying it wanted them to reopen when a nationwide lockdown ends on May 11.
* Spains daily increase in fatalities further steadied at around 2%, as the government apologised for confusion over lockdown rules for children.
* Germany has chosen a home-grown technology for smartphone-based tracing of infections, putting it at odds with Apple Inc.
* Britains health minister Matt Hancock promised to expand testing to all those considered key workers.
* Greece extended its general lockdown by a week to May 4.
* Irish hospital admissions of COVID-19 patients have fallen from an average of around 100 per day at the start of April to around 40 now. ASIA-PACIFIC
* South Asias infections have crossed 37,000, with more than half in India.
* China is preparing to buy more than 30 million tonnes of crops for state stockpiles to help protect itself from supply chain disruptions.
* Thousands of Hong Kong students were among the first in the world to take their final secondary school exams on Friday, all wearing face masks and having their temperatures checked.
* As many as 91 crew of an Italian cruise ship docked in Japans southwestern port of Nagasaki are infected with coronavirus.    Tokyos first drive-through coronavirus test centre was launched this week.
* Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has extended a strict lockdown in the capital Manila until May 15.
* Indonesia will temporarily ban domestic air and sea travel starting Friday, barring a few exceptions.
* Malaysia will extend travel and other curbs by two weeks to May 12.
* Australia will push for an international investigation into the coronavirus pandemic at next months annual meeting of the World Health Assembly.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said the government will allow a partial reopening of the economy on May 1.
* The governors of Nigerias 36 states agreed to ban interstate movement for two weeks.
* Algeria will ease confinement measures from the first day of the holy month of Ramadan on Friday.
* Israels religiously devout Jews, who traditionally shun the use of internet or smartphones, are increasingly going online to shop, study and video chat.
ECONOMIC FALLOUT
* Asian shares and U.S. stock futures fell on Friday, spurred by doubts about progress in the development of drugs to treat COVID-19 and new evidence of U.S. economic damage. [MKTS/GLOB]
* The UKs government borrowing is soaring to the highest levels in peacetime history.
* The closure of bars and restaurants may have slashed global wine sales and winemakers revenues in Europe by half.
* Japans core consumer inflation eased in March for the second straight month.
* Half of German companies are using the governments short-time work facility as most see a decline in revenues.
* Italian government debt yields fell after EU leaders agreed to move towards joint financing of a recovery.
* Latin Americas biggest economies, Brazil and Mexico, will likely struggle with increasing deficits this year.
(Compiled by Milla Nissi, Devika Syamnath and Ramakrishnan M.; Editing by Tomasz Janowski, Shounak Dasgupta and Sriraj Kalluvila)

4/24/2020 China unveils name of first Mars exploration mission
FILE PHOTO: A lander for China's Mars mission is seen before a hovering-and-obstacle avoidance
test at a test facility in Huailai, Hebei province, China November 14, 2019. REUTERS/Jason Lee
    BEIJING (Reuters) Chinas space agency on Friday unveiled the name of its first Mars exploration mission, coinciding with Chinas annual Space Day and the 50th anniversary of the launch of its first satellite.
    The Mars mission has been named Tianwen-1, the official Xinhua news agency reported, citing the China National Space Administration (CNSA).
    The unmanned exploration mission to Mars is expected to be launched this year.
    The name comes from Tianwen, or Questions to Heaven, a poem written by Qu Yuan who lived more than two millennia ago.
    In the poem, questions were raised about stars and other celestial bodies.
    The CNSA said all of Chinas planetary exploration missions in future would be named Tianwen to signify the countrys scientific pursuits in space.
    China successfully launched its first satellite, the Dongfanghong-1, in 1970.
    In 2003, it became the third country to put a man in space with its own rocket after the former Soviet Union and the United States.
    Since then, China has been racing to catch up with Russia and the United States and become a major space power by 2030.
(Reporting by Ryan Woo; Editing by Robert Birsel)

4/24/2020 NASA builds ventilator for COVID-19 patients in 37 days by OAN Newsroom
(AP Photo)
    NASA researchers and engineers said they have built a ventilator for use on coronavirus patients in only 37 days.    In a statement Thursday, NASA said the machine passed a critical test at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.
    The builders are hoping to have the machine quickly approved by the FDA through an emergency use authorization.    They also hope it will help free up the nations supply of traditional ventilators to be used on the most severe coronavirus patients.
    We have the potential to save human lives people that we might know, our neighbors, our families and that intensity, its amazing, stated Michelle Easter, a mechatronics engineer.
    NASA said the machine can be built more quickly and uses fewer parts than a traditional ventilator, but isnt designed to replace current machines.    Its designed to last up to four months and is specifically tailored for coronavirus patients.

4/24/2020 Tornadoes, damaging winds expected to hit southern states again by OAN Newsroom
File This image made from video provided by Thomas Marcum shows a tornado seen from
State Highway 48 in Durant, Okla., Wednesday, April 22, 2020. (Thomas Marcum via AP)
    Severe weather continues to threaten southern states as storms, which killed at least six people in the region, move east.    The National Weather Service stated there is an enhanced risk of tornadoes and severe winds hitting parts of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina Friday.
    On Wednesday, multiple fatalities were reported in connection with storms in Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana.    Officials also reported dozens of other weather related injuries and several homes and buildings were destroyed.
    Southeast Texas residents recounted their experience when a suspected tornado touched down in their neighborhood.
    We got into our bathroom and stood there for probably 30-45 seconds.    Sounded like a train like they say, and we heard crashes, snaps and as soon as I could open my door I said, Oh my God.' Connie Slemmons, resident Polk County, Texas
    Forecasters have said a second storm could hit southeast states again Friday afternoon with possible hail and damaging winds to especially hit Mississippi and Alabama.
David Maynard sifts through the rubble searching for his wallet, Thursday, April 23, 2020 in Onalaska, Texas, after a tornado
destroyed his home the night before. Maynard was inside his home when a tornado devastated the area. (Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP)

4/24/2020 World leaders launch plan to speed COVID-19 drugs, vaccine; U.S. stays away by Stephanie Nebehay and Michael Shields
FILE PHOTO: A computer image created by Nexu Science Communication together with Trinity College in Dublin, shows a model
structurally representative of a betacoronavirus which is the type of virus linked to COVID-19, better known as the
coronavirus linked to the Wuhan outbreak, shared with Reuters on February 18, 2020. NEXU Science Communication/via REUTERS
    GENEVA/ZURICH (Reuters) World leaders pledged on Friday to accelerate work on tests, drugs and vaccines against COVID-19 and to share them around the globe, but the United States did not take part in the launch of the World Health Organization (WHO) initiative.
    French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa were among those who joined a video conference to launch what the WHO billed as a landmark collaboration to fight the pandemic.
    The aim is to speed development of safe and effective drugs, tests and vaccines to prevent, diagnose and treat COVID-19, the lung disease caused be the novel coronavirus and ensure equal access to treatments for rich and poor.
    We are facing a common threat which we can only defeat with a common approach, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said as he opened the virtual meeting.
    Experience has told us that even when tools are available they have not been equally available to all.    We cannot allow that to happen.
    During the H1N1 swine flu pandemic in 2009, there was criticism that distribution of vaccines was not equitable as wealthier countries were able to purchase more.
    We must make sure that people who need them get them, said Peter Sands, head of the Global Fund to Fight on AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.    The lessons from AIDS must be learned.    Too many millions died before anti-retroviral medicines were made widely accessible.
    European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that the objective at a global pledging effort on May 4 would be to raise 7.5 billion euros ($8.10 billion) to ramp up work on prevention, diagnostics and treatment.
    This is a first step only, but more will be needed in the future, von der Leyen told the conference.
COMMON FIGHT
    Leaders from Asia, the Middle East and the Americas also joined the videoconference, but several big countries did not participate, including China, India and Russia.
    A spokesman for the U.S. mission in Geneva had earlier told Reuters that the United States would not be involved.
    Although the United States was not in attendance at the meeting in question, there should be no doubt about our continuing determination to lead on global health matters, including the current COVID crisis, he said by email.
    We remain deeply concerned about the WHOs effectiveness, given that its gross failures helped fuel the current pandemic, he later said.
    U.S. President Donald Trump has lambasted the WHO as being slow to react to the outbreak and being China-centric and announced a suspension of funding.
    Tedros has steadfastly defended the WHOs handling of the pandemic and repeatedly committed to conducting a post-pandemic evaluation, as the agency does with all crises.
    Macron, Merkel, Ramaphosa, and Spains Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez were among those voicing strong support to WHO.
    Macron urged all G7 and G20 countries to get behind the initiative, adding: And I hope well manage to reconcile around this joint initiative both China and the U.S., because this is about saying the fight against COVID-19 is a common human good and there should be no division in order to win this battle.
    Merkel said: This concerns a global public good, to produce this vaccine and to distribute it in all parts of the world.
    Ramaphosa, chairman of the African Union, warned that the continent with its generally poor standards of healthcare was extremely vulnerable to the ravages of this virus and is in need of support.
VACCINE TRIALS
    More than 2.7 million people have been infected with COVID-19 and nearly 190,000 have died from it since the new coronavirus emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, according to a Reuters tally.
    As new diagnostics, treatments and vaccines become available, we have a responsibility to get them out equitably with the understanding that all lives have equal value, said Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation, which was WHOs second largest donor last year.
    More than 100 potential COVID-19 vaccines are being developed, including six already in clinical trials, said Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of the GAVI vaccine alliance, a public-private partnership that leads immunisation campaigns in poor countries.
    We need to ensure that there are enough vaccines for everyone, we are going to need global leadership to identify and prioritise vaccine candidates, he told a Geneva news briefing.
    Yuan Qiong, senior legal and policy advisor at Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) Access Campaign welcomed the pledges but called for concrete steps.    There shouldnt be any patent monopoly and profiteering out of this pandemic, she told Reuters.
(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva and Michael Shields in Zurich, Kate Kelland in London and Michel Rose in Paris; Editing by Nick Macfie and Alex Richardson)

4/24/2020 Calif. company says their machines using UV light can be used as disinfectant for airline industry by OAN Newsroom
Picture of the Germ Falcon, via germfalcon.com.
    A California company has said its robot, which projects ultraviolet light, could be the answer for businesses seeking to limit the spread of coronavirus.    According to reports, Dimer UVC is building machines called Germ Falcons, which they claimed can kill all known bacteria, viruses and super bugs quickly.
    The company noted their units have been offered to the airline industry at no cost and are intended to help disinfect planes after flights.
    Researchers explained how the light works against viral particles.
    The UVC light can interact directly with DNA or RNA, and cause strand breaks or cause damage to the DNA or RNA, that lead to the inability of the pathogen to replicate, stated infectious disease researcher Raymond Goodrich.
    The company believes Germ Falcons will one day become standard in the industry.    It expects to see its devices in places like hotels, cruise ships and, eventually, classrooms.

4/26/2020 Global coronavirus death toll hits 200,000 by Cate Cadell
A member of the medical personnel stands at the entrance of the emergency unit at CHIREC Delta Hospital as the
spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in Brussels, Belgium April 25, 2020. REUTERS/Yves Herman
    (Reuters) Global deaths linked to the coronavirus passed 200,000 on Saturday, while confirmed cases of the virus are expected to hit 3 million in coming days, according to a Reuters tally.
    More than half of the fatalities have been reported by the United States, Spain and Italy.
    The first death linked to the disease was reported on Jan. 10 in Wuhan, China.    It took 91 days for the death toll to pass 100,000 and a further 16 days to reach 200,000, according to the Reuters tally of official reports from governments.
    By comparison, there are an estimated 400,000 deaths annually from malaria, one of the worlds most deadly infectious diseases.
Interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus: open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.
    The United States had reported more than 52,400 deaths as of Saturday morning, while Italy, Spain and France have reported between 22,000-26,000 fatalities each.
    Of the top 20 most severely affected countries, Belgium has reported the highest number of fatalities per capita, with six deaths per 10,000 people, compared to 4.9 in Spain and 1.6 in the United States.
    Around 8% of all cases reported in the United States have been fatal, while more than 10% of cases reported in Spain and Italy have resulted in deaths.
    However those rates would be considerably lower if the infection totals included the many cases of the illness that go unreported since not everyone with symptoms is tested.
    Asia and Latin America have each reported more than 7,000 deaths, while the Middle East has reported upwards of 8,800. The current toll in Africa is around 1,350.
    The global death toll has continued to grow at a rate of 3-4% per day over the past 10 days, though that rate has slowed since the beginning of the month.
    The true number of fatalities is expected to be higher as many countries have not included deaths recorded in nursing homes and other locations outside hospitals.
(Reporting by Cate Cadell in Beijing; Editing by Frances Kerry)

4/26/2020 Experts identify two strains of coronavirus in the U.S. by OAN Newsroom
This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the
Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, yellow, emerging from the surface of cells, blue/pink, cultured in the lab. (NIAID-RML via AP)
    According to experts, two different strains of coronavirus came to the U.S. on both sides of the country.    Former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb recently announced COVID-19 cases in California probably came from China before travel restrictions were put in place.
    He added cases seen on the East Coast seem to have originated from Europe, especially Italy.
    This came after China recently claimed it has identified 30 different strains of coronavirus.
    Theres no reason, at this time, to believe that the different strains have different infectivity, different virulents, that one is more dangerous than the other, emphasized Dr. Gottlieb.    But thats something thats being looked at right now by people who are sequencing these strains.
    The doctor reiterated experts will compare the strains to see if one has worse outcomes or is infecting people at higher rates.    Gottlieb previously noted if China had been more transparent about the virus earlier in the outbreak, it could have made a difference in testing capabilities.
FILE In this Tuesday, April 14, 2020 file photo, a woman holds her hand out to have blood collected
for a 15-minute test for COVID-19 coronavirus antibodies at a drive thru site in Hempstead, N.Y.
Antibodies are the markers of infections that someone already had. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
    On Saturday, the CDC announced six new coronavirus symptoms.    The agency added chills or shivers, muscle pain, headaches, sore throat, and loss of taste or smell to the list of possible symptoms of COVID-19.
    Previously only fever, cough and shortness of breath were recognized as official symptoms.    The institute has suggested anyone experiencing these symptoms should immediately seek medical attention.
    According to latest data from Johns Hopkins University, there are more than 2.9 million confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide.    As of Sunday, more than 205,000 people have died, while over 860,000 have recovered.
    Lockdowns remain in place around the world as countries continue to try and flatten the curve.
    Experts have said three potential vaccines are going through human trials.    However, they expect it could take upwards of a year and a half for one to be proven viable and become widely available.

4/27/2020 Asteroid approaching Earth looks like its wearing a mask by Joshua Bote, USA TODAY
    An asteroid is hurtling close to the Earth, and with it, a startling reminder of the coronavirus pandemic.     The space rock, known as 1998 OR2, will be nearly 4 million miles away from Earth on Wednesday at 5:59 a.m. ET classifying it as a potentially hazardous asteroid despite the impossibility of it posing a threat to Earth anytime soon.
    A newly captured image by Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico brings its own surprise.    As the asteroid approaches our planet, it looks as if its wearing its own mask and may very well be conducting its own social distancing practices.    The small-scale topographic features such as hills and ridges on one end of asteroid 1998 OR2 are fascinating scientifically, Anne Virkki, head of planetary radar at Arecibo Observatory, said in a statement.    But since we are all thinking about COVID-19 these features make it look like 1998 OR2 remembered to wear a mask.
    Its classified as a potentially hazardous asteroid because it is more than 500 feet in diameter and closer than 4,650,000 miles to Earth.
    Although this asteroid is not projected to impact Earth, it is important to understand the characteristics of these types of objects to improve impact- risk mitigation technologies, she said.
    The asteroid, which is about 1 mile in diameter, has been traveling at nearly 20,000 mph since its discovery in 1998.    Though it may not come anywhere near Earth in the coming weeks, Flaviane Venditti, a researcher at the observatory, said in a statement that in 2079, it will pass Earth about 3.5 times closer than it will this year.
As asteroid 1998 OR2 speeds closer to our planet, it appears to be wearing its own mask. ARECIBO OBSERVATORY/NASA/NSF

4/27/2020 Latest on the spread of the coronavirus around the world
People wear face masks waiting outside a beauty salon and check cashing facility as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
continues to spread, in the Highland Park section of Detroit, Michigan U.S., April 25, 2020. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
    (Reuters) More than 2.97 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 205,948 have died, according to a Reuters tally, as of 0200 GMT on Monday.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread, open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.
* For a U.S.-focused tracker with state-by-state and county map, open https://tmsnrt.rs/2w7hX9T in an external browser.
EUROPE
* Italy reported 260 more deaths on Sunday, the smallest daily tally since March 14, and said it plans to allow factories and building sites to reopen from May 4 and permit limited family visits.
* British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce plans for easing a month-old lockdown as early as this week after he returned to Downing Street on Sunday night, the Telegraph reported.
* Death toll in France increased by 242 to 22,856.
* A group of 25 Dutch high school students arrived back in the Netherlands in a two-mast schooner on Sunday, as airline restrictions forced them to sail it home from the Caribbean.
* Total cases in Turkey rose by 2,357 in the past 24 hours, and 99 more people have died.
AMERICAS
* Total infections in the United States were more than 970,000 and the death toll stood at 54,822, according to a Reuters tally as of 0200 GMT on Monday.
* Colorado, Mississippi, Minnesota, Montana and Tennessee were set to join other states in reopening businesses, while Oklahoma governor called on U.S. President Donald Trump to declare the pandemic an act of God.
* The U.S. government notified lenders on Sunday that it will cap how much each bank can lend under the emergency loan program.
* Argentina will extend a mandatory nationwide quarantine period until May 10, while Honduras will extend the blanket curfew by one week until 2100 GMT on May 3.
* Mexico reported 835 new cases and 46 additional fatalities.    It also returned most occupants in government migrant centres to their countries of origin.br> * Confirmed cases in Panama reached 5,779 on Sunday, a rise of 241 from the previous day, and deaths climbed by six to 165.
ASIA-PACIFIC
* China reported three new cases on April 26, down from 11 a day earlier, while there were 25 new asymptomatic cases on April 26. Total cases in mainland China stand at 82,830.
* Japans Osaka Prefecture said it will name and shame more pachinko parlour gambling outlets that are defying coronavirus lockdown requests.
* Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged Indians to comply with a nationwide lockdown and social distancing measures on Sunday, a day after some of the worlds toughest restrictions were eased slightly while cases of COVID-19 continued to mount.
* More than a million Australians rushed to download an app designed to help authorities trace close contacts of COVID-19 patients.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Egypt has asked the International Monetary Fund for financial support and will begin talks with it within days.
* Iran plans to reopen mosques in parts of the country that have been consistently free of the outbreak.
* Saudi Arabia eased curfews across the country, while keeping 24-hour curfews in Mecca and in neighbourhoods previously put in isolation.
* Israel permitted some businesses to reopen and said it would consider allowing children back to school.
* South Africa is seeking 95 billion rand ($4.99 billion) from multilateral lenders to help it fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
ECONOMIC FALLOUT
* Asian shares bounced as the Bank of Japan (BOJ) announced more stimulus steps, while oil took another spill as the world ran short of space to store it all.
* National Australia Bank Ltd asked investors for A$3.5 billion ($2.2 billion) and cut its dividend.
* The Bank of Japan ramped up risky asset purchases and pledged to buy unlimited amounts of government bonds.
(Compiled by Frances Kerry and Uttaresh.V; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

4/27/2020 Global coronavirus cases pass three million as lockdowns begin to ease by Cate Cadell
FILE PHOTO: A child plays under The Unisphere in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park during the outbreak of the coronavirus
disease (COVID-19) in the Queens borough of New York City, U.S., April 25, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
    BEIJING (Reuters) Global confirmed coronavirus cases surpassed 3 million on Monday, as the United States neared 1 million cases, according to a Reuters tally.
    It comes as many countries are taking steps to ease lockdown measures that have brought the world to a standstill over the past eight weeks. [nL3N2CF2RN]
    The first 41 cases were confirmed in Wuhan, China, on Jan. 10.    The 3 million confirmed infections in less than four months are comparable in number with the roughly 3-5 million cases of severe illness caused by seasonal influenza around the world each year, according to the World Health Organisation.
    An average of 82,000 cases have been reported per day in the past week.    Over a quarter of all cases are in the United States, and over 43% have been recorded in Europe.
    The death toll from the virus stood at more than 205,000 as of Monday, and almost one in seven reported cases of the disease has been fatal.
    The true mortality rate is likely to be substantially lower as the tally of infections does not include many mild or asymptomatic and unconfirmed cases.
    Some severely affected countries in Europe, including Italy, France and Spain, have recorded a drop in daily case numbers over recent weeks, but still recorded 2,000-5,000 new infections per day in the past week.
    Total cases rose 2.5% on Sunday, the lowest daily rate in almost two months, and down from a peak in late March when the total was rising by more than 10% a day.
    The United States has reported an average of more than 30,000 new cases a day in the past week, and now represents around a third of all new cases.
TENTATIVE REOPENING
    Italy said it will permit some factories to reopen on May 4 as part of a staggered reopening, while Spain relaxed lockdown rules on Sunday, allowing children outside under supervision.
    Several U.S. states have reopened businesses amid predictions that the jobless rate could hit 16% for April.
    In Asia, which accounts for just under 7% of all cases, some countries are struggling to keep new infections in check.    They include Japan and Singapore, which saw cases rise in April despite earlier successful efforts to slow the spread.
    Others in the region have managed to rein in outbreaks, including South Korea, which has reported around 10 cases a day in the past week, down from a peak of over 1,000 in February.
    In China, where the virus first emerged, officials reported just three new infections for Sunday and said all patients in Wuhan, the original epicentre, had now been discharged.
    Case numbers continue to rise faster than the global average in Latin America and Africa.    Total cases in Mexico grew 7-10% a day in the past week, reaching 13,800, while cases in Brazil surpassed 60,000 on Sunday.
    Over 40% of Africas 32,600 cases are in the north, where Morocco, Egypt and Algeria are reporting serious outbreaks.
(Reporting by Cate Cadell; editing by Nick Macfie and Kevin Liffey)

4/27/2020 Companies bet on AI cameras to track social distancing, limit liability by Paresh Dave
FILE PHOTO: People line up at a safe social distance outside the grocery store amid the coronavirus disease
(COVID-19) outbreak in Medford, Massachusetts, U.S., April 4, 2020. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo
    OAKLAND, Calif. (Reuters) Stores and workplaces eager to avoid spreading the novel coronavirus are equipping existing security cameras with artificial intelligence software that can track compliance with health guidelines including social distancing and mask-wearing.
    Several companies told Reuters the software will be crucial to staying open as concerns about COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the virus, persist around the world.    It will allow them to show not only workers and customers, but also insurers and regulators, that they are monitoring and enforcing safe practices.
    The last thing we want is for the governor to shut all our projects down because no one is behaving, said Jen Suerth, vice president at Chicago-based Pepper Construction, which introduced software from SmartVid.io this month to detect workers grouping at an Oracle Corp project in Deerfield, Illinois.
    Samarth Diamond plans to deploy AI from Glimpse Analytics as soon as its polishing factory re-opens in Gujarat, India, while two Michigan shopping centers owned by RPT Realty will have distancing tracking from RE Insight in two weeks.
    Buyers expect the technology will work because they already have used similar tools to profile shoppers entering stores and find helmet scofflaws on construction sites.
    But some technology consultants that advise retailers and office landlords have cautioned clients against introducing new technology at a chaotic time and investing in tools that may be needed only for a period of months.    Privacy activists concerned about increasingly detailed tracking of people also are urging businesses to limit use of the AI to the pandemic.     The question becomes whether the tech remains after the public health problem goes away, and that is the real privacy fear, said Al Gidari, a privacy expert at Stanford Law School.    Video in the store today to ensure social distancing remains to identify shoplifters tomorrow.
COMPUTER VISION
    Reuters spoke with 16 video analytics companies, many of them startups with a few million dollars in annual revenue, that have added offerings because of the coronavirus.    Their systems can be set to produce daily reports, which site managers can use to correct recurring problems and document compliance.
    Most work on a branch of AI technology known as computer or machine vision in which algorithms are trained on image libraries to identify objects with confidence of 80% or higher.
    Several customers said the technology, which can cost $1,000 or more annually to analyze data from a handful of off-the-shelf video cameras, is cheaper than dedicating staff to standing guard.    It also can be safer, as some guards enforcing distancing have clashed with people protesting safety measures, they said.
    Pepper Constructions Suerth said its SmartVid system has not flagged crowding issues yet because staffing has been limited.    But Suerth said that as more crews arrive, the company will look at trends to issue reminders at tool box talks.
    Its another set of eyes on the site, Suerth said, adding that software is less prone to mistakes than people and the accuracy were seeing is really high.
    Samarth Diamond manager Parth Patel said he could adjust procedures when the software identifies spots where his 4,000 workers are clumping together in busy areas.    People tagged as not having masks quickly would be offered one by a team reviewing camera feeds, Patel said.
    It will surely be helpful for the safety of employees and their comfort level, and it will be helpful to show it to authorities that we are adhering to regulations, Patel said.
    Patel said he has confidence in the algorithms after his family successfully used computer vision last year at supermarkets it owns to count female shoppers and decide where to stock a new line of dresses.
    RPT Realty, which Chief Executive Brian Harper said had used camera software to count visitors over the past few months at two of the 49 open-air shopping centers it owns in the United States, is moving to assess tenants compliance with reduced occupancy regulations across five malls.
    It also plans to help consumers decide when to shop by using technology from startup WaitTimes to analyze lines of people waiting to enter stores, a phenomenon that has become common during the pandemic as part of social distancing efforts.    Signage will inform shoppers of the anonymous counting, according to Harper.
    You can never have too much data at your hands, Harper said.
    But calculating whether people are six feet (1.8 meters) apart and detecting objects such as face masks are all novel uses now being tested and launched on accelerated schedules.    Some startups even promise to spot sneezing and coughing, claims that drew skepticism from some experts.
    Most solutions will be in uncharted territory, without a proven track record, and likely susceptible to false-positives and bugs, said Vinay Goel, a former Google Maps product leader who is now chief digital products officer at the tech unit of real estate services giant Jones Lang LaSalle Inc.
    Beside costs, businesses are concerned AI will trigger too many reports of non-problems, like a family walking close together in an aisle, retail consultants said.
    Indyme, a technology vendor that works with BevMo!, Office Depot and other U.S. retailers, said that its clients have preferred rudimentary boxes that can count people at entrances and automatically announce, For your safety, please maintain a social distance of six feet, thank you.
(Reporting by Paresh Dave; Editing by Greg Mitchell and Will Dunham)

4/28/2020 Latest on the spread of the coronavirus around the world
People wear face masks waiting outside a beauty salon and check cashing facility as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
continues to spread, in the Highland Park section of Detroit, Michigan U.S., April 25, 2020. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
    (Reuters) More than 3.03 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 210,263 have died, according to a Reuters tally, as of 0200 GMT on Tuesday.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread, open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.
* For a U.S.-focused tracker with state-by-state and county map, open https://tmsnrt.rs/2w7hX9T in an external browser.
EUROPE
* Confirmed cases in Germany rose by 1,144 and the death toll by 163. Total cases stood at 156,337 and the death count at 5,913.
* The death toll in France rose by 437 to 23,293.
* Turkeys confirmed cases increased by 2,131 in the past 24 hours, and 95 more people have died.
* Death count in Italy climbed by 333, but the daily tally of new cases declined to 1,739.
* Russias infections tally climbed above 87,000.
AMERICAS
* More than 993,000 have been infected in the United States and 56,201 have died, according to a Reuters tally as of 0200 on Tuesday.
* U.S. President Donald Trump said China could have stopped the coronavirus before it swept the globe and said his administration was conducting serious investigations.
* Ohio Governor Mike DeWine outlined first steps towards reopening the states economy and Georgia permitted restaurant dining for the first time in a month on Monday.
* California will step up enforcement of public health restrictions after crowds jammed beaches, while Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer said she will be guided by data, not artificial timelines.
* Mexico reported 852 new cases and 83 new deaths on Monday.br> * Argentina has banned until September ticket sales for commercial flights.
* One of the 46 people who arrived in Jamaica on a deportation flight from the United States a week ago has tested positive.
* Peruvian copper mine Antamina, owned by BHP and Glencore, reported 210 cases.
ASIA-PACIFIC
* Mainland China reported 6 new cases for April 27, up from 3 a day earlier, bringing total infections at 82,836.
* More than 2,200 Indonesians have died with acute symptoms of COVID-19 but were not recorded as victims, a Reuters review of data from 16 of the countrys 34 provinces showed.
* Thailand reported seven more cases and two new deaths.
* Bondi Beach and two neighbouring beaches in Sydney were reopened.    New South Wales state said it would let up to two adults visit another persons home from Friday.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Israel will begin a staggered reopening of schools next week if the latest health data does not warn of heightened coronavirus risk.
* Thirty workers at an offshore oil platform in Equatorial Guinea have tested positive.
ECONOMIC FALLOUT
* Asian shares and U.S. stock futures dipped into the red, erasing earlier gains, as a renewed decline in oil prices overshadowed optimism about the easing of coronavirus-related restrictions seen globally.
* Japans March jobless rate rose to its highest in a year, while job availability slipped to a more than three-year low.
* South Korea President Moon Jae-in said the deepening impact from the pandemic will worsen going forward and said massive job losses are of his concern.
* A recession in Singapores economy could be deeper than forecast, its central bank said.
(Compiled by Sarah Morland, Uttaresh.V and Vinay Dwivedi; Editing by Tomasz Janowski, Shounak Dasgupta and Sriraj Kalluvila)

4/29/2020 What the ...? Pentagon declassifies UFO videos by Jordan Culver and Adrianna Rodriguez, USA TODAY
    The Pentagon on Monday released three unclassified videos showing unidentified aerial phenomena in an attempt to clear up any misconceptions regarding whether the videos which have been circulating for years are real.
    The three videos, the first of which was leaked in 2007 and discovered by the U.S. Navy in 2009, show small, flying objects.    In one of the videos, a person exclaims, What the (expletive) is that?!
    Two of the videos were recorded in January 2015, according to the Department of Defense.    The other was taken in November 2004.    In a statement, the Defense Department said the Navy previously acknowledged the videos were Navy videos.
    After a thorough review, the department has determined that the authorized release of these unclassified videos does not reveal any sensitive capabilities or systems, and does not impinge on any subsequent investigations of military air space incursions by unidentified aerial phenomena, the Department of Defense said in a statement Monday.
    The videos, known as FLIR1, Gimbal and GoFast, were previously published by The New York Times and To The Stars Academy of Arts and Science, which was co-founded by former Blink 182 band member Tom DeLonge.
    A Navy spokesman in September told USA TODAY that the videos were real and referred to the objects as unidentified aerial phenomena or UAPs instead of UFOs.    The spokesman at the time said UAP was preferred over UFO because of the stigma surrounding the latter term.    He added that using UFO discourages pilots from reporting incidents for fear of being ridiculed.
    The aerial phenomena observed in the videos remain characterized as unidentified, the DOD said in Mondays statement.
A still image from an apparent UFO sighting by U.S. Navy pilots. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

4/29/2020 Record ozone hole over Arctic now gone by Ndea Yancey-Bragg and Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
    A record-breaking ozone hole that formed over the Arctic this spring has closed, researchers announced late last week.
    Scientists at the Copernicus Atmospheric Monitoring Service tracking the rather unusual ozone hole announced Thursday on Twitter that it had ended.    The group said the hole was caused by a polar vortex and closed when that vortex split.
    COVID-19 and the associated lockdowns probably had nothing to do with this, the group said repeatedly on Twitter.    Its been driven by an unusually strong and long-lived polar vortex, and isnt related to air quality changes.
    A polar vortex is a large area of cold air high in the atmosphere that normally spins over the North Pole.    An ozone hole is a dramatic thinning of the ozone layer thats typically boosted in size by colder temperatures.
    Ozone holes have formed annually for the past 35 years in the Antarctic because of human-made chemicals migrating into the stratosphere and accumulating inside a strong polar vortex, the group said.    Because of unusually high temperatures high above Antarctica, the ozone hole shrank to its smallest size on record last October.
    In the Arctic however, polar vortexes are much weaker, meaning the conditions needed for such strong ozone depletion arent normally found, making this ozone hole unprecedented.
    Ozone depletion over the Arctic in 2020 was so severe that most of the ozone at an altitude of around 11 miles had been depleted.    Researchers said the last time a similarly strong chemical ozone depletion was observed over the Arctic was in spring 2011.
    The ozone layer is important because it acts like a sunscreen, blocking potentially harmful ultraviolet energy from reaching our planets surface.
A false-color image of the Arctic stratospheric ozone (shown in blue and turquoise) on March 12. NASA

4/29/2020 Brazil to deploy troops to protect Amazon as deforestation surges by Eduardo Simes and Jake Spring
FILE PHOTO: Smoke billows from a fire in an area of the Amazon rainforest near
Porto Velho, Rondonia State, Brazil, September 10, 2019. REUTERS/Bruno Kelly
    SAO PAULO/BRASILIA (Reuters) Brazil plans to deploy its armed forces to fight deforestation and fires in the Amazon jungle, Vice President Hamilton Mouro said on Wednesday, in an effort protect the worlds largest rainforest where destruction has surged since last year.
    Mouro said the country would invoke the same measure that deployed troops to fight forest fires last year, a so-called Guarantee of Law and Order (GLO) decree to be signed by President Jair Bolsonaro.
    Amazon deforestation soared to an 11-year high last year, as fires tore through the rainforest, provoking international outcry that Brazil was not doing enough to protect the biome.
    Destruction has continued to climb this year.    From January to March, deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon rose 51% from a year ago, according to preliminary satellite data.
    Mouro said the government would establish permanent bases in the Amazon this year for military personnel, federal and state police, environmental agencies and other security forces.
    We already have a plan practically finished for an initiative against deforestation and to prevent fires that start in July and August, Mouro said.
    Mouro did not give details on the timing of the decree.
    If a new GLO is necessary, the armed forces are ready to go again, Defense Minister Fernando Azevedo said earlier on Wednesday.
    The plans to deploy the military come amid signs that the government is rolling back routine environmental enforcement due to the new coronavirus outbreak.
    An official at environmental agency Ibama, the governments main enforcer of environmental laws, told Reuters in March that it would not be able to send as many agents into the field to stop environmental crimes because of health risks.
    Environmental advocates worry that will lead destruction to spike further in the rainforest, although Ibama said the cutbacks would be in areas other than the Amazon.
    Marcio Astrini, executive secretary for Brazilian advocacy group Climate Observatory, said that the militarys presence will undoubtedly help curb deforestation in the short term, but cant replace long-term efforts via environmental agencies like Ibama, which are being weakened by Bolsonaros administration.
    Astrini said the government is schizophrenic, with Bolsonaros pro-development policies to blame for causing the very destruction that the military is being sent in to stop.
    Sending the military to the Amazon is like medicating a disease of the governments own creation, Astrini said.
    Its a medication that has a short-term effect, it will resolve the problem now. It wont cure the disease.    The disease that exists in the Amazon today is Bolsonaro.
(Reporting by Eduardo Simoes and Jake Spring; Additional reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Brad Haynes, Steve Orlofsky, Lisa Shumaker and Jonathan Oatis)

4/30/2020 Crazy beast fossil found in Madagascar - Mammal lived 66M years ago on supercontinent by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
    The first near-complete skeleton of a bizarre mammal that lived on the ancient supercontinent of Gondwana has been discovered in Madagascar, scientists announced in a study published Wednesday.
    The 66-million-year-old, opossumsize fossil represents a new species, which the study authors have named 'Adalatherium hui,' from a Malagasy word meaning crazy and the Greek word for beast.
    The skeleton is the most complete for any Mesozoic mammal yet discovered in the Southern Hemisphere.    The mammal's relatively large size is an oddball for its era, scientists say, since most at that time were about the size of a mouse.
    'Knowing what we know about the skeletal anatomy of all living and extinct mammals, it is difficult to imagine that a mammal like Adalatherium could have evolved; it bends and even breaks a lot of rules,' said study lead author David Krause, a curator at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.
    We suspect some of this bizarreness might be due to evolution in isolation on an island, Simone Hoffmann, New York Institute of Technology paleontologist and study co-author, told Reuters.
    Hoffmann added that 'Adalatherium is the oddest of oddballs.    Trying to figure out how it moved is nearly impossible because, for instance, its front end is telling us a different story than its back end.'
    Researchers are still uncovering clues but think that, although Adalatherium might have been a powerful digging animal, it was also capable of running and potentially even had other forms of locomotion.
    Adalatherium is just one piece, but an important piece, in a very large puzzle on early mammalian evolution in the Southern Hemisphere, Krause noted.
    Although the creature itself was a plant-eater, it was also food for a variety of big meat-eating dinosaurs and crocodiles as well as a giant snake.
    The 'crazy beast' belongs to an extinct group of mammals called gondwanatherians because they are known only from the ancient southern supercontinent of Gondwana.
    Gondwanatherians were first thought to be related to modern-day sloths, anteaters and armadillos but now are known to have been part of a grand evolutionary experiment, doing their own thing, an experiment that failed and was snuffed out in the Eocene, about 45 million years ago, Krause explained.
    The study was published in the peer-reviewed British journal Nature.
The skeleton of Adalatherium hui, from the Late Cretaceous of Madagascar. MARYLOU STEWART

5/1/2020 Report details plunging fuel use - Historic shock follows global crisis restrictions by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
    The coronavirus pandemic has led to an unprecedented decline in global carbon emissions, a new report says.
    Worldwide emissions of carbon dioxide the greenhouse gas most responsible for global warming are forecast to drop about 8% in 2020, a record annual decline thats due to COVID-19 lockdowns.    The restrictions have caused a massive plunge in fossil fuel use, according to a report released Thursday by the International Energy Agency.
    This is a historic shock to the entire energy world, said Fatih Birol, the IEA executive director, in a statement. Amid todays unparalleled health and economic crises, the plunge in demand for nearly all major fuels is staggering, especially for coal, oil and gas.    Only renewables are holding up during the previously unheard of slump in electricity use.
    It is still too early to determine the longer-term impacts, but the energy industry that emerges from this crisis will be significantly different from the one that came before, Birol added.
    The burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas releases greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane into Earths atmosphere and oceans.    The emissions have caused the planets temperatures to rise to levels that cannot be explained by natural factors, scientists report.
    In the past 20 years, the worlds temperature has risen about twothirds of a degree Fahrenheit, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.
    Will the drop in emissions help limit climate change?
    An 8% cut in emissions is roughly equivalent to the annual emissions reductions needed to limit global warming to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial temperatures, according to Carbon Brief.
    However, the target laid out in the Paris Agreement would require similar reductions every year this decade, not just for one year.
    A lockdown is just a one-off event, it cant get you all the way there, Glen Peters, research director at the Center for International Climate Research in Norway, told the New York Times.
    Zeke Hausfather, a climate scientist at the Breakthrough Institute, tweeted Thursday that despite the largest drop in global CO2 emissions ever recorded, the crisis will have minimal effects on CO2 concentrations and warming, which are based much more on the total (cumulative) emissions that have ever occurred than our emissions in a single year.
    The fact that the biggest global economic contraction since the Great Depression will not make a dent in future warming should be sobering, he added.
    So far this year, coal use has been especially hard hit during the lockdowns, as has natural gas use, the report said. Only renewable energy such as solar and wind is seeing a boom.
    Renewables are set to be the only energy source that will grow in 2020, with their share of global electricity generation projected to jump thanks to their priority access to grids and low operating costs, according to the IEA.
    Birol said that this crisis has underlined the deep reliance of modern societies on reliable electricity supplies for supporting health care systems, businesses and the basic amenities of daily life.    But nobody should take any of this for granted greater investments and smarter policies are needed to keep electricity supplies secure
.
    As for demand, the report projects that energy demand will fall 6% in 2020 seven times the decline after the 2008 global financial crisis.    In absolute terms, the decline is unprecedented the equivalent of losing the entire energy demand of India, the worlds third-largest energy consumer, the IEA said.
    Advanced economies are expected to see the biggest declines, with demand set to fall by 9% in the United States.
    Overall, however, the IEA said that the drop in emissions is nothing to celebrate.
    Resulting from premature deaths and economic trauma around the world, the historic decline in global emissions is absolutely nothing to cheer, said Birol.    And if the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis is anything to go by, we are likely to soon see a sharp rebound in emissions as economic conditions improve.
So far this year, coal use has been especially hard hit during the lockdowns,
as has natural gas use, the report said. KEVIN FRAYER/GETTY IMAGES
[DID YOU NOTICE THEY DID NOT TELL YOU WHERE THE PICTURE WAS TAKEN WHICH WAS OBVIOUSLY A VERY POLLUTING COUNTRY?].

5/1/2020 FACT CHECK - COVID-19 may remain even if vaccine is found by Eric Litke, USA TODAY
    Frustration with the extended quarantine is mounting on social media. Protesters say the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed enough to justify reopening.    One viral Facebook post making the case in Wisconsin says we need to get used to living in a world with COVID-19.
    It was posted April 26 by Dr. David Murdock, a research cardiologist with the Aspirus health system in Wausau who was placed on leave after attending an April 19 reopen rally for research.     The consensus medical view is that this virus is here to stay.    In other words, this virus cannot be defeated simply by staying inside for a couple of months, wrote Murdock.    The world will likely see periodic outbreaks, and we need to accept that and be prepared to deal with COVID long term.
    Is COVID-19 really here to stay?    We asked experts.
Claim: COVID-19 is here to stay
    Many experts have said a true return to normalcy likely isnt possible until a vaccine is widely available, which could be a year or more.
    Were going to probably all need to be used to social distancing for the next 12 to 18 months, John Raymond, CEO of the Medical College of Wisconsin, said in an April 27 online briefing.    Until hopefully we have an effective vaccine, its likely were going to be living with COVID-19.
    A vaccine doesnt necessarily mean the end of COVID-19.    Absent a vaccine, I think it would quite likely become like seasonal flu or perhaps like some of the other coronaviruses that we are familiar with, said Bill Hanage, an associate professor of epidemiology at Harvard Universitys School of Public Health.    It is entirely plausible that this could become part of our regular landscape of respiratory viraI infections.
    The vaccine he references would be a theoretical one that is 100% effective and gives lifelong immunity.    But vaccines are almost never perfect, notes Barry Bloom, a professor of public health at Harvard.
    Bloom also expressed concern over the volume of misinformation about COVID-19 vaccinations on social media, which include conspiracy theories about pushing people to vaccinate and concerns about how the vaccines may be dangerous.    That could affect willingness to take a vaccine once its available.
    The vaccine is only a tool if its used, Bloom said.
What we dont know
    Hanage said key unknowns will determine the long-term future of COVID-19. Can people get reinfected, and how severe those recurrences would be?    How much immunity results from minor infections? Will summer alter infectiousness?
    If that immunity is not very long-lasting and we have good reason from other coronaviruses including the original SARS, that it wont be what type of infections will people have when their immunity starts to wane? Hanage said.    The first thing to say is we dont know, but I think its also plausible to suggest they might be milder.
    SARS a disease caused by a coronavirus that killed 774 in 2003 has been eradicated.    But key differences make COVID-19 a more formidable foe.    SARS patients generally werent contagious until they had severe symptoms.    COVID-19 is more easily transmitted and has a prevalent community spread.
    The virus remains, and we need to learn how to deal with it, said Wilder-Smith, a professor of emerging infectious diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.    Certainly lockdown is only a temporary solution whilst we gear up to provide the true solution.    Yes, we need to prepare for this reality.
    Charles Branas, chair of the epidemiology department at Columbia Universitys Mailman School of Public Health, said eradicating the virus like we did with smallpox will be challenging, to say the least.    Ali Khan, dean of the College of Public Health and professor of epidemiology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, said COVID-19 sticking around is likely, but not inevitable.
Our ruling: True
    Based on what we know now, we rate this claim as TRUE.    Experts say its too early to know with certainty, since much remains unknown about immunity.    And we have no clue how effective a future vaccine may be.    But a best guess at this point is that COVID- 19 could indeed stick around long-term, waxing and waning similar to the seasonal flu.    Experts say theres also reason to believe that lingering version could be less severe, though.
Experts say its too early to know with certainty whether coronavirus will linger globally. GETTY IMAGES

5/1/2020 Robots on hand to greet Japanese coronavirus patients in hotels
A Pepper humanoid robot, manufactured by SoftBank Group Corp. and cleaning robot Whiz are seen during a press preview at a hotel of
APA Group that has been designated to accommodate asymptomatic people and those with light symptoms of the coronavirus disease
(COVID-19) to free up hospital beds and alleviate work by nurses and staff members, in Tokyo, Japan May 1, 2020. REUTERS/Issei Kato
    TOKYO (Reuters) Coronavirus patients with light symptoms arriving to stay at several Tokyo hotels are likely to get a lift from a pleasant surprise a robot greeter in the lobby.
    Japan is now using hotels to house patients who have tested positive for the coronavirus but whose symptoms are too light to need hospitalisation, and several in the capital of Tokyo just opened on Friday feature robots to help lighten the burden on nurses.
    In one, a big-eyed robot named Pepper appropriately wearing a protective mask stood waiting to welcome visitors.     Please, wear a mask inside, it said in a perky voice.    I hope you recover as quickly as possible.
    Other messages include I pray the spread of the disease is contained as soon as possible and Lets join our hearts and get through this together.
    Pepper is not the only robot at work in the hotel in the Ryogoku area of Tokyo.    A cleaning robot with the latest in Artifial Intelligence has been deployed to clean several parts of the hotel, including riskier red zone areas where staff access is limited.
    In an effort to reduce the burden on the medical system, Japan has secured more than 10,000 hotel rooms around the nation to put up patients with lighter symptoms, according to the Health Ministry.
    The Ryogoku hotel, where patients will start checking in later on Friday, can accommodate about 300 people.    Two nurses will be on hand around the clock, while a doctor will also be present during the day.
    The number of coronavirus cases in Japan is now over 14,000 with 448 deaths as of Thursday, according to a Reuters tally.
(Reporting by Akira Tomoshige and Akiko Okamoto; writing by Elaine Lies; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

5/1/2020 Robots report to the battlefront in fight against COVID-19 by OAN Newsroom
Photo via UVD Robotics Twitter.
    A company from Argentina is using robots in the fight against the coronavirus.    UVD Robotics has been testing a new product that can sanitize both spaces and objects with ultraviolet light.
    On Friday, developers tested the robot on a bus, where it was able to clean seats, walls and floor using just UV light.
    According to the World Health Organization, cleaning products with chemicals such as bleach or hydrogen peroxide traditionally are only 60 percent effective against germs.    UV light reportedly eliminates bacteria 99 percent of the time.
Photo via UVD Robotics Twitter
    Ultraviolet light is a light that the sun emits naturally, explained CEO Martin Gonzalez.    In this case, we use type C, which is very high energy and works by destroying the DNA of bacteria, the RNA in the case of viruses, thus avoiding propagation or spread.
    He added the robot can also be used to protect health care workers, who are being exposed to bacteria in hospital rooms.
    Currently, Argentina has reported over 4,000 confirmed cases of the virus.

5/3/2020 Factbox: Latest on the worldwide spread of the new coronavirus
FILE PHOTO: People visit the Empty Sky Memorial as the The One World Trade Center in New York
is seen from Liberty State Park after many New Jersey Parks set to re-open during the outbreak of the
coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Jersey City, New Jersey, U.S., May 2, 2020. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
    (Reuters) More than 3.44 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 243,015 have died, according to a Reuters tally, as of 0200 GMT on Sunday.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread, open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.
* For a U.S.-focused tracker with state-by-state and county map, open https://tmsnrt.rs/2w7hX9T in an external browser.
EUROPE
* The British government had a contingency plan for Prime Minister Boris Johnsons death as he battled COVID-19 in intensive care last month, he said in an interview with The Sun newspaper.
* The United Kingdoms COVID-19 death toll rose 621 to 28,131 as of May 1, just short of Italy which has so far had the worlds second most deadly outbreak of the disease after the United States.
* Russia recorded its highest daily rise in confirmed coronavirus cases with 10,633 new cases, bringing the total to 134,687, with more than half of cases and deaths in Moscow.
* Roche Holding received emergency use approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for an antibody test to help determine if people have ever been infected with the coronavirus, the Swiss drugmaker said.
* Spains coronavirus death toll rose by 164 to 25,264, according to Health Ministry data, marking the lowest one-day increase since March 18.
* Adults in Spain were allowed out for exercise for the first time in seven weeks on Saturday as the government began easing tough restrictions.
ASIA-PACIFIC
* Japan could ease some coronavirus curbs by allowing places such as parks and museums to reopen, provided proper preventive measures were in place, Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said.
* Singapore will progressively ramp up its manufacturing activities, its minister of trade and industry said, with the city-state looking to restart its economy as coronavirus curbs start to ease over the next few weeks.
* Indias air force flew aircraft low over more than a dozen cities, part of a nationwide campaign by the armed forces to thank healthcare workers and other essential services personnel fighting the outbreak.
* China has published a short animation titled Once Upon a Virus mocking the U.S. response to the new coronavirus, using Lego-like figures to represent the two countries.
* Chinas most populous cities saw a spike in outbound travellers, tourists and day-trippers on May 1, first day of a long holiday weekend, led by Wuhan, epicentre of the epidemic that first struck the country late last year.
* Australias state of Victoria saw its highest increase in new coronavirus cases in weeks and New South Wales state struggled with a cluster of infections at an aged care facility, as parts of the country began easing distancing rules.
AMERICAS
* New York Governor Andrew Cuomo pushed back against what he called premature demands that he reopen the state, saying he knew people were struggling without jobs but that more understanding of the coronavirus was needed.
* Families in a poor satellite city of Mexicos capital with one of the countrys highest tallies of the coronavirus have staged protests to demand news of sick relatives and the return of the bodies of the dead after videos surfaced showing cadavers at a hospital.
* An inmate uprising at a Brazilian prison stoked by fears of a coronavirus outbreak saw seven prison guards briefly taken hostage in Manaus, a state capital deep in the Amazon rainforest where public services have been overwhelmed by the pandemic.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Iran plans to reopen mosques and schools in areas that have been consistently free of the coronavirus as President Hassan Rouhanis government starts to ease restrictions.
* Malls in the United Arab Emirates capital Abu Dhabi began reopening to a restricted number of customers as the UAE eases lockdown measures imposed more than a month ago.
ECONOMIC FALLOUT
* Billionaire investor Warren Buffett said the United States capacity to withstand crises provides a silver lining as it combats the coronavirus, even as he acknowledged that the global pandemic could significantly damage the economy and his investments.
* Berkshire Hathaway Inc sold its entire stakes in the four largest U.S. airlines in April, Chairman Warren Buffett said at the companys annual meeting, saying the world has changed for the aviation industry.
* The ongoing U.S. travel crisis is causing thousands of job cuts as the aviation sector waits for passengers to return to the skies but braces for years of lower demand because of the pandemic.
* Most major bourses in the Gulf fell sharply on Sunday with Saudi Arabia falling the most, mirroring Fridays slide in global shares after President Donald Trumps revived threat of new U.S. tariffs against China dampened risk appetite.
* Austrias central bank expects economic output to shrink more than twice as much this year as it forecast just a month ago as the coronavirus lockdown lasts longer than anticipated, its Governor Robert Holzmann said.
(Compiled by Frances Kerry)

5/4/2020 What you need to know about the coronavirus right now
People wearing protective masks walk on a street, as Italy begins a staged end to a nationwide lockdown due
to the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Rome, Italy May 4, 2020. REUTERS/Remo Casilli
    (Reuters) Heres what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
Continued easing as cases pass 3.5 million mark
    Italy, Spain, Nigeria, Azerbaijan, Malaysia and Lebanon are among the countries easing some restrictions on Monday, including reopening factories, construction sites, hairdressers and libraries.    The measures are of particular fanfare in Italy, which has had the longest lockdown in Europe.
    Global coronavirus cases surpassed 3.5 million on Monday and deaths neared a quarter of a million, according to a Reuters tally.
    New cases globally have been rising at a rate of 2%-3% over the past week, versus a peak of around 13% in mid-March, prompting many countries to begin easing lockdown measures.    The loosening of restrictions has been controversial, however, as experts debate the best strategy to ensure there is no large second wave outbreak.
Trans-Tasman travel bubble?
    New Zealand and Australia are discussing the potential creation of a travel bubble between the two countries.
    New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will take part in a meeting of Australias emergency coronavirus cabinet on Tuesday, the Australian government said, stoking speculation that two-way travel could be permitted.
    Australia and New Zealand have both reduced the spread of coronavirus to levels significantly below those reported in the United States, Britain and Europe.    Both governments attribute their success to social distancing restrictions and widespread testing.
Agra shows how coronavirus can surge again
    Best known for its 17th-century marble-domed tomb, the Taj Mahal, Agra was lauded by Prime Minister Narendra Modis government as a template for Indias battle against COVID-19.
    After confirming its first cases in early March, the city of 1.6 million people set up containment zones based on detailed household-level plans developed for polio control by the World Health Organization (WHO), screened hundreds of thousands of residents and conducted widespread contact tracing.
    By early April, the northern city thought it had the virus beat. But a resurgence was already in the works, fuelled by attendees to a gathering of the Islamic missionary group Tablighi Jamaat in New Delhi in late March.
    Agra now has around 600 coronavirus cases and 14 deaths, according to local authorities.
Back shopping with a vengeance
    From malls in Seoul to jammed expressways leaving the capital to South Koreas southern vacation island of Jeju, shoppers and travellers crowded malls and beaches on the first long weekend since the country began easing coronavirus curbs last month.
    With early-summer weather helping retail therapy return with a vengeance, the term bobok sobi revenge shopping has trended on the nations social media, as people rush to make purchases delayed by social-distancing rules.
    At a rest area near Seoul heading into the long weekend, a woman sipping an iced latte said she would splurge on a cup every day during her holiday.
    Im going to make up for the self-control I have been keeping up at home I think Ive had enough of self-isolating, she said, but added, Im still going to wear a mask.
vs. #ditchyourstuff minimalism
    In marked contrast to the euphoric spending seen in South Korea, for a growing number of Chinese hit by job losses, furloughs and salary cuts, the consumer economy has begun to spin in reverse.    They are no longer buying they are selling.
    Instead of emerging from the coronavirus epidemic and returning to the shopping habits that helped drive the worlds second-largest economy, many young people are offloading possessions and embracing a new-found ethic for hard times: less is more.
    The coronavirus outbreak was a wake-up call, said Tang Yue, a 27-year-old teacher whose wages have been slashed with the suspension of all the classes on tourism management she usually teaches.
    The self-described shopaholic said she has sold items worth nearly 5,000 yuan on second-hand marketplaces online in the past two months, and has set her monthly budget at 1,000 yuan, including just one bottle of bubble tea.
(Compiled by Karishma Singh)

5/4/2020 Threatening giant hornets spotted in US by Joel Shannon, USA TODAY
    An invasive hornet species that slaughters honeybees and can be deadly to humans was spotted in the United States.
    A small number of Asian giant hornet sightings in the Pacific Northwest raised alarm after a nickname for the predators started trending on Twitter on Saturday: Murder Hornet.
    While experts have been tracking the invasive species in the U.S. for months, a New York Times feature published Saturday brought nickname to the national consciousness.
    Its a fitting nickname, based on a lengthy March presentation from Washington State Department of Agriculture entomologist Chris Looney.    It opened with a slide listing other ominous titles for the the largest hornet in the world: yak killer hornet and giant sparrow bee among them.
    The Washington state Department of Agriculture started hunting for Asian giant hornets this spring after two confirmed sightings.
    While officials are concerned, especially for honeybees, the danger to people is low, Looney said.
Contributing: The Associated Press

5/5/2020 In 50 years, heat could be nearly unlivable for 3B by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
    If global warming continues unchecked, the heat thats coming later this century in some parts of the world will bring nearly unlivable conditions for up to 3 billion people, a study released Monday said.
    The authors predict that by 2070, much of the worlds population is likely to live in climate conditions that are warmer than conditions deemed suitable for human life to flourish.
    The study warned that unless greenhouse gas emissions are curtailed, average annual temperatures will rise beyond the climate niche in which humans have thrived for 6,000 years.
    That niche is equivalent to average yearly temperatures of roughly 52 to 59 Fahrenheit.    The researchers found that people, despite all forms of innovations and migrations, have mostly lived in these climate conditions for several thousand years.
    We show that in a businessas- usual climate change scenario, the geographical position of this temperature niche is projected to shift more over the coming 50 years than it has moved (in the past 6,000 years), the study warned.
    The future scenario used in the paper is one in which atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases are high.    The burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas releases greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane into Earths atmosphere and oceans.    The emissions have caused the planets temperatures to rise to levels that cannot be explained by natural factors, scientists report.
    Temperatures over the next few decades are projected to increase rapidly as a result of human greenhouse gas emissions.
    Without climate mitigation or migration, by 2070 a substantial part of humanity will be exposed to average annual temperatures warmer than nearly anywhere today, the study said.    These brutally hot climate conditions are currently experienced by just 0.8% of the global land surface, mostly in the hottest parts of the Sahara Desert, but by 2070 the conditions could spread to 19% of the Earths land area.
    This includes large portions of northern Africa, the Middle East, northern South America, South Asia, and parts of Australia.
    Large areas of the planet would heat to barely survivable levels and they wouldnt cool down again, said study co-author Marten Scheffer of Wageningen University in the Netherlands.    Not only would this have devastating direct effects, it leaves societies less able to cope with future crises like new pandemics.    The only thing that can stop this happening is a rapid cut in carbon emissions.
    Rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions could halve the number of people exposed to such hot conditions.    The good news is that these impacts can be greatly reduced if humanity succeeds in curbing global warming, said study co-author Tim Lenton, a climate specialist from the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom.
    Our computations show that each degree warming (Celsius) above present levels corresponds to roughly 1 billion people falling outside of the climate niche, Lenton said.    It is important that we can now express the benefits of curbing greenhouse gas emissions in something more human than just monetary terms.
    The study, which was prepared by an international research team of archaeologists, ecologists and climate scientists, was published Monday in the peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
    Large areas of the planet would heat to barely survivable levels and they wouldnt cool down again.
Marten Scheffer - Study co-author
Brutally hot conditions are currently experienced on 0.8% of the global land surface, mostly in parts of the Sahara
Desert. By 2070, however, conditions could spread to 19% of the Earths land. LUCVI/ GETTY IMAGES/ ISTOCKPHOTO

5/5/2020 Global coronavirus deaths exceed quarter of a million: Reuters tally by Jane Wardell and Gayle Issa
FILE PHOTO: Workers wearing protective equipment transport a body on the grounds of the Central Jamia Mosque Ghamkol Sharif, where
a temporary morgue was set up as the coronavirus continues to spread in Birmingham, Britain, April 21, 2020. REUTERS/Carl Recine
    SYDNEY/LONDON (Reuters) Global coronavirus deaths rose past a quarter of a million on Monday after infections topped 3.5 million, a Reuters tally of official government data showed, even as several countries began easing lockdowns designed to contain the pandemic.
    North America and European countries accounted for most of the new deaths and cases reported in recent days, but numbers were rising from smaller bases in Latin America, Africa and Russia.
    Globally, there were 3,914 new deaths and 75,646 new cases over the past 24 hours, taking total deaths to 250,152 and cases to 3.59 million.    At least 1.1 million people have recovered from the illness, according to available official data.
    That easily exceeds the estimated 140,000 deaths worldwide from measles in 2018, and compares with around 3 million to 5 million cases of severe illness caused each year by seasonal influenza, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
    While the current trajectory of COVID-19 falls far short of the 1918 Spanish flu, which infected an estimated 500 million people, killing at least 10% of patients, experts worry the available data is underplaying the true impact of the pandemic.
    We could easily have a second or a third wave because a lot of places arent immune, Peter Collignon, an infectious diseases physician and microbiologist at Canberra Hospital, told Reuters.    The world was well short of herd immunity, which requires around 60% of the population to have recovered from the disease, he noted.
    Graphic: World-focused tracker with country-by-country interactive https://graphics.reuters.com/HEALTH-CORONAVIRUS/COUNTRIES/oakveqlyvrd/index.html?id=united-kingdom
    The first death linked to COVID-19 was reported on Jan. 10 in Wuhan, China, after the coronavirus first emerged there in December.    The number of deaths reported in a single day hit a peak of 10,229 just a week ago on April 29.    The rate of the daily increase in deaths has slowed to 1%-2% in recent days from a high of 14% on March 21.
    Mortality rates from recorded infections vary greatly from country to country.
    Belgium has the highest fatality rate at 16% among countries with major outbreaks.    At the other end of the spectrum, Australia and New Zealand are at 1%.    Britain is at 15%, Italy is at 14% and the United States is at 6%, In Africa, Algeria has a 10% fatality rate.
    Collignon said any country with a mortality rate of more than 2% almost certainly had underreported case numbers, with countries overwhelmed by the outbreak less likely to conduct testing in the community and record deaths outside of hospitals.
LIFTING LOCKDOWNS
    Health experts are watching closely as several countries tentatively ease restrictions on movement in a bid to revive global economies, amid fears of recurring infections.
    In the United States, which has the worlds highest total of infections and deaths, at almost 1.2 million and 68,000 respectively, at least half of the 51 states are moving forward with plans to reopen stricken businesses.
    The loosening of lockdowns, however, led the University of Washington on Monday to up its forecast of deaths from COVID-19 to nearly 135,000 through the start of August, almost double the last prediction.
    Italy, among the worlds hardest-hit countries, allowed about 4.5 million people to return to work on Monday after nearly two months at home.
    Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Finland, Nigeria, India, Malaysia, Thailand, Israel and Lebanon were also among countries variously reopening factories, construction sites, parks, hairdressers and libraries.
    Australia and New Zealand, which have individually begun to lift restrictions, held talks on Tuesday about the possibility of a trans-Tasman travel bubble, allowing residents to move between the two countries.
(Reporting by Jane Wardell and Gayle Issa; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Richard Pullin)

5/6/2020 Flower Moon, 2020s last supermoon, coming Thursday by Ndea Yancey-Bragg and Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
    Your last chance to see a supermoon in 2020 will come Thursday night, when the Flower Moon peaks.
    As this years Eta Aquariid meteor shower lights up the night sky, the moon began to appear full starting Tuesday night, according to NASA.    The moon will reach its peak at 6:45 a.m. ET Thursday and then continue to appear full Friday night.
    Mays Flower Moon is the third and final in a series of supermoons that began in March, according to The Old Farmers Almanac.
    The pink supermoon in April came closest to our planet and thus appeared the largest and brightest.    Marchs super worm moon was the second-closest full moon overall, according to EarthSky.
    A supermoon occurs when a full moon is especially close to Earth.    The moons closeness to Earth makes it look extra-close and extra-bright up to 14% bigger and 30% brighter than a full moon at its farthest point from Earth.
    The term supermoon was coined in 1979 by astrologer Richard Nolle.    It has become an increasingly popular and media-friendly term in the decades since.    According to NASA, its used by the media today to describe what astronomers would call a perigean full moon: a full moon occurring near or at the time when the moon is at its closest point in its orbit around Earth.
    Because of the optical effect known as the moon illusion, the full moon can seem huge when rising behind distant objects on the horizon.    A supermoon appears especially impressive.
    The full moon in May was named the Flower Moon by several Native American tribes because of the large number of flowers that bloom this month, according to The Old Farmers Almanac.    It is also sometimes referred to as the Mothers Moon, Milk Moon, and Corn Planting Moon, references to a time of increased fertility This moon is also called the the Vesak Festival Moon, NASA said, because it falls on the Buddhist holiday that commemorates the birth, enlightenment and death of Gautama Buddha.
An airplane flies past a super moon as it rises in the sky April 7 in Orlando. JOHN RAOUX/AP

5/7/2020 With coronavirus mutating, is it more dangerous? By Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY
    SAN FRANCISCO The coronavirus is mutating as it spreads across the planet.    A strain that may first have appeared in Europe is becoming dominant in many areas even as new ones appear.    The unanswered question is how the strains differ and whether they cause additional, and more severe, illnesses.
    Several studies identified mutations of the original SARS-CoV-2 virus that emerged in China and causes COVID-19.    The strains are very similar but represent slight changes in the viruss makeup.
    That could explain why were seeing such different outcomes between San Francisco and New York City, said Alan Wu, a professor of laboratory medicine at the University of California-San Franciscos School of Medicine and chief of the clinical chemistry laboratory at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.
    Everybody talks about the SARSCoV- 2 virus as if its one thing.    It may be more of a problem, said Dr. Greg Poland, director of the Mayo Clinics Vaccine Research Group.
    A study posted April 30 from Los Alamos National Laboratory found 14 mutations of virus circulating and warned that several had characteristics that could make them more infective.    Another paper found several mutations of the virus.
    Wu cautioned that its too early to draw hard and fast conclusions before theres enough data to base them on.
    Its a lot more complicated than either of these two papers suggests, he said.    Lots of labs are doing the research, but they havent yet published their findings.
    Initial results of an in-depth COVID- 19 testing program in a small neighborhood in San Francisco published Monday found 2.1% of residents were positive for coronavirus and more than half had no symptoms.
    Wus hospital, which sees a high percentage of poor and underserved patients, has had two deaths and put about 100 people on artificial breathing machines because of COVID-19.    New York City has seen more than 13,700 deaths, according to the citys health department.
    Though New Yorks overall population is much larger 8 million versus 880,000 in San Francisco the difference is striking.
    How does that happen?    Its not just density, San Francisco is the second most dense city in the nation after New York, Wu said.
    In New York, 80% to 90% of patients on ventilators died.
    I would love to say its only that we did things better, but the infection and survival rates between New York and San Francisco are night and day, he said.
    Labs are busy looking to see whether the mutations partly explain how the disease can be mild in some areas and so deadly in others.
    Theres evidence that different strains are circulating.
    Research conducted at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City found the variant of the virus that arrived in New York mainly came from Europe and was a mutation of one that initially arose in China.
    The strain on the West Coast, which appeared in Seattle and San Francisco, is more closely linked to a variant from the Chinese city of Wuhan.
    To make things more complicated, researchers at Cambridge University in England found three distinct variants of SARS-CoV-2.    They called the first to appear Type A.    A second variant, Type B, arose from it and became the majority form found in China.    That mutated into several other types, including Type C, the major strain found in Europe.
    Several papers reported multiple mutations, though whether they are more infectious or deadly isnt known.    Tracking the various trains is difficult because many papers identify variants by different names.
    A group at Los Alamos National Laboratory identified 14 different strains of the virus, at least one of which appeared more easily transmissible than the original.
    The D614 G mutation described by researchers was first seen in Europe in early March, and by early April, its frequency was increasing.    When it appeared in a new area, in many cases, it became the dominant form in only a few weeks, the researchers found.
    Both the original and the new strain circulated in the English town of Sheffield, and extensive testing there found that although having the mutated strain didnt correlate to a higher chance of being hospitalized, patients did seem to have higher viral loads.    Higher levels of the virus in the body are typically associated with worse outcomes.
    One concern is that if the virus mutates too far from the versions circulating, it could affect vaccine production.    A vaccine could, in essence, create an antibody that is not the virus that is circulating.
    Next fall, the vaccine might give you some immunity or no immunity, Poland said.
    Another report, from researchers in China, found at least two major SARSCoV-2 strains circulating there, and one was more common than the other, which could mean it was better able to adapt.
    Labs are working to analyze the genetic differences between the various strains circulating in the world to see whether the levels of sickness and death can in part be explained by genetic differences in the virus itself.
    Answers will come soon, Wu said.    They just havent had time yet to publish their findings.
Contributing: Grace Hauck
Laboratory scientist Alicia Bui runs a clinical test at University of Washington
Medicine for antibodies against a SARS-CoV-2 strain. KAREN DUCEY/GETTY IMAGES

Studies have detected mutations of the coronavirus. GETTY IMAGES

5/7/2020 Factbox: Latest on the worldwide spread of the new coronavirus
Healthcare workers react as people clap for them on National Nurse Day outside NYU Langone Health during the outbreak of
the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S., May 6, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
    (Reuters) More than 3.76 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 262,458 have died, according to a Reuters tally as of 0503 GMT on Thursday.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread, open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.
* For a U.S.-focused tracker with state-by-state and county map, open https://tmsnrt.rs/2w7hX9T in an external browser.
EUROPE
* Total cases in Germany increased by 1,284 to 166,091 and fatalities rose by 123 to 7,119.
* Deaths in Italy climbed by 369 on Wednesday, while the daily tally of new infections also rose by 1,444.
* Spain has extended the state of emergency for two more weeks from Sunday.
* The United Kingdom has drawn up a three-stage plan to ease its lockdown, The Times newspaper said.
* Number of new cases in Russia rose by more than 10,000 for the fourth consecutive day.
AMERICAS
* More than 1.23 million people have been infected in the United States and 73,792 have died, according to a Reuters tally as of 0505 GMT on Thursday.
* U.S. President Donald Trump said his coronavirus task force would shift its primary focus to reviving business and social life, while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed China for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people and demanded again it share information about the outbreak.
* Death toll in Canada rose by about 5% to 4,111 on Wednesday.
* Colombia declared a second state of emergency to support sectors of the economy that will remain shut down for an extended period.
* Brazil registered a record 10,503 new cases in the last 24 hours and 615 deaths.    Its President Jair Bolsonaros spokesman, Otavio do Rego Barros, has tested positive and is currently quarantined in his home.br> * Mexico reported 1,609 new cases and 197 additional fatalities.    At least 47 residents and three workers have been infected at a retirement home in the northern Mexican state of Nuevo Leon.
* El Salvador will from Thursday temporarily suspend public transport and the measure would remain in place for 15 days.
* Total cases in Panama reached 7,731 on Wednesday, a rise of 208 from the previous day, and deaths climbed by eight to 218.
ASIA-PACIFIC
* China reported two new cases for May 6, unchanged from the same number of increases the day before, with the total tally touching 82,885 and deaths at 4,633.
* Indias national tally rose to 52,952, up by 3,561 over the previous day, and the death toll rose by 89 to 1,783.    The spurt in cases has come from the densely packed metropolises of Mumbai, Delhi and Ahmedabad.
* Thailand reported three new cases, bringing its total to 2,992.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Turkey said it has brought the outbreak under control, and will set out new social guidelines and business practices to prevent any resurgence.
* Shops and industrial enterprises in Bahrain can open from Thursday, while restaurants will stay closed to in-house diners.
* The World Bank will grant $7 million to Zimbabwe to help it fight the pandemic.
* To help fight the economic impact of the pandemic, the International Monetary Funds (IMF) executive board approved $739 million in emergency financing to help Kenya, while Uganda will receive an emergency loan worth $491.5 million from the IMF too. [nL1N2CO23B]
ECONOMIC FALLOUT
* Asian shares pared early losses after Chinese exports proved far stronger than even bulls had imagined, while U.S. bond investors were still daunted by the staggering amount of new debt set to be sold in coming weeks. [MKTS/GLOB]
* Lockdowns are pummelling gas demand in the worlds biggest buyers of liquefied natural gas (LNG), pushing Asias spot prices to record lows.
* Italys public debt is set to rise to nearly 160% of gross domestic product this year as the economy shrinks due to the crisis, the EU executive estimated.
* The Philippines economic growth unexpectedly shrank in the first quarter. GDP contracted 0.2% in January to March from the same period last year, the first decline since the fourth quarter of 1998.
(Compiled by Sarah Morland, Uttaresh.V and Vinay Dwivedi; Editing by Arun Koyyur, Tomasz Janowski, Mark Heinrich and Anil DSilva)

5/7/2020 LG Chem plant in India starts leaking toxic gas again, prompting wider evacuation by Sudarshan Varadhan
A satellite image shows the aftermath of the gas leak at the LG Polymer plant, on the outskirts of the city of Visakhapatnam,
India, May 7, 2020. Picture taken May 7, 2020. Satellite image 2020 Maxar Technologies/Handout via REUTERS
    CHENNAI (Reuters) Toxic gas began leaking again from a LG Chem plant in southern Indias Andhra Pradesh early on Friday, an official said, triggering a wider evacuation after at least 11 people were killed following a leak at the site less than 24 hours earlier.
    The situation is tense, N. Surendra Anand, a fire officer in Visakhapatnam district, where the factory is located, told Reuters, adding that people in a 5 kilometer (3.1 miles)radius of the factory were being moved out.
    However, Srijana Gummalla, commissioner of the Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation, downplayed concerns surrounding vapour emanating from the plant, saying the gas coming out had been fluctuating through the day and had largely subsided.
    The evacuation being carried out is a part of safety precautions we are taking, she told Reuters.
    Around midnight, police started urging people to move out of their houses and into waiting buses, said local resident Sheikh Salim, who lives about 2.5 kms from the plant.
    Hours earlier, an LG Chem spokesman in Seoul and federal authorities in New Delhi had said the leak had been contained after hundreds of people were sickened by a toxic gas early on Thursday.
    A 3-km radius had been evacuated on Thursday, S.N. Pradhan, director general of the National Disaster Response Force, told reporters in New Delhi.
    The factory, operated by LG Polymers, a unit of South Koreas biggest petrochemical maker LG Chem Ltd, was in the process of reopening after a weeks-long lockdown imposed by Indian authorities to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, local officials and the company said.
    The plant makes polystyrene products used in manufacturing electric fan blades, cups and cutlery and containers for cosmetic products.
    Gas from styrene, a principal raw material at the plant, leaked during the early hours of the morning, authorities said.
    Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy said in a televised address on Thursday that the gas leak occurred because raw material was stored for a long period of time.
(Reporting by Sudarshan Varadhan; Writing by Devjyot Ghoshal; Editing by Euan Rocha)

5/8/2020 Factbox: Latest on the worldwide spread of the new coronavirus
FILE PHOTO: A United States Postal Service (USPS) worker works in the rain in Manhattan during the outbreak of the
coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in New York City, New York, U.S., April 13, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo
    (Reuters) More than 3.80 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 264,682 have died, according to the latest Reuters tally on Thursday.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread, open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.
* For a U.S.-focused tracker with state-by-state and county map, open https://tmsnrt.rs/2w7hX9T in an external browser.
EUROPE
* Russia overtook France and Germany, with the fifth highest number of cases in the world.    Moscows mayor said the real number of cases in the capital was more than triple the official, TASS news agency reported.
* Restrictions in Moscow have been extended until May 31, said Mayor Sergei Sobyanin.
* Frances death toll reached almost 26,000 on Thursday, but rose less sharply than in previous days as the government confirmed it would start lifting an almost two-month-old national lockdown from Monday.
* Deaths in Italy climbed by 274 on Thursday, against 369 the day before, while the daily tally of new infections declined marginally to 1,401 from 1,444 on Wednesday.
* Black people and men of Bangladeshi and Pakistani origin are nearly twice as likely to die from COVID-19 than whites, even when adjusting data for deprivation, a British report said.
* Poland plans to test 1,000 miners a day at drive-through sites as data show rapid growth in new cases in the coal region.
AMERICAS
* U.S. deaths from the coronavirus topped 75,000 deaths on Thursday, according to a Reuters tally.
* U.S. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have tested negative for the coronavirus after a member of the U.S. military who works at the White House as a valet came down with the virus.
* U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday laid out the broad outlines of the next massive coronavirus-response bill Democrats will seek, with possible votes as soon as next week.
* California will face a budget deficit of $54.3 billion due to a drop in revenue combined with increased expenses linked to the pandemic, according to a projection released Thursday by financial advisers to Governor Gavin Newsom.
* The first immigrant in U.S. detention has died of the coronavirus, local health authorities said as infections steadily climbed among the countrys around 30,000 immigrant detainees.
* Indigenous groups from nine countries in the Amazon basin called for donations to help protect 3 million rainforest inhabitants, vulnerable because they lack adequate access to healthcare.
* Brazil, one of the worlds emerging hot spots, registered a record number of cases and deaths on Wednesday.    President Bolsonaros spokesman has tested positive and is quarantined in his home.
* A coronavirus outbreak that has infected more than 30% of inmates at the prison in Villavicencio, in central Colombia, has sparked fear among local officials, neighbours and prisoners families.
* At least 47 residents and three workers have been infected at a retirement home in Mexico, in one of the biggest outbreaks yet reported in the country.
* El Salvador said it would from Thursday temporarily suspend public transport.
ASIA-PACIFIC
* China said it supports the WHO in trying to pinpoint the origins of the pandemic and accused the U.S. Secretary of State of lying in his attacks on Beijing.
* Japan has approved Gileads remdesivir as a treatment for COVID-19, the health ministry said, making it the countrys first officially authorized drug for the disease.
* Cases in India rose past 50,000 on Thursday, with the pace of new infections showing no signs of abating despite a strict weeks-long lockdown.
* India will roll out a version of its coronavirus contact-tracing application that can run on Reliance Jios cheap phones, as it looks to widen use.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* The coronavirus could kill between 83,000 and 190,000 people in Africa in the first year and infect between 29 million and 44 million in the first year if it is not contained, the WHO said.
* Turkeys coronavirus death toll rises by 57 to 3,641, Health Ministry data showed on Thursday.
* Iran is scrambling to buy millions of tonnes of grains to shore up reserves, officials and traders said, despite the presidents assertions that the coronavirus would not endanger food supplies.
* Pakistans lockdown will be lifted on Saturday, its prime minister said, despite the number of cases still accelerating.
* The head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention rejected the Tanzanian presidents assertion that tests it supplied are faulty.
* Saudi Arabia has formed a police unit to monitor violations of its coronavirus lockdown rules and has banned gatherings of more than five people, the state news agency SPA said on Thursday.
ECONOMIC FALLOUT
* World shares largely shook off data on Thursday showing millions more Americans sought unemployment benefits, with sentiment sustained by stronger than expected Chinese exports.
* U.S. natural gas futures fell almost 3% on Thursday on a much bigger-than-usual weekly storage build that analysts said was caused by coronavirus-related demand destruction.
* The United Nations on Thursday more than tripled its appeal to help vulnerable countries combat the spread and destabilizing effects of the coronavirus pandemic, asking for $6.7 billion to help 63 states mainly in Africa and Latin America.
* The IMF has approved 50 requests for emergency aid for a total of about $18 billion, and is continuing to work quickly through remaining requests, IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said.
* Millions more Americans likely sought unemployment benefits last week, suggesting a broadening of layoffs from consumer facing industries to other segments of the economy and could remain elevated even as many parts of the country start to reopen.
* The Bank of England said Britain could be headed for its biggest economic slump in over 300 years and kept the door open for more stimulus next month.
(Compiled by Sarah Morland and Vinay Dwivedi; Editing by Tomasz Janowski and Arun Koyyur)

5/8/2020 Roaming robodog politely tells Singapore park goers to keep apart by Edgar Su
A four-legged robot dog called SPOT patrols a park as it undergoes testing to be deployed as a safe distancing
ambassador, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Singapore May 8, 2020. REUTERS/Edgar Su
    SINGAPORE (Reuters) Far from barking its orders, a robot dog enlisted by Singapore authorities to help curb coronavirus infections in the city-state politely asks joggers and cyclists to stay apart.
    The remote-controlled, four-legged machine built by Boston Dynamics was first deployed in a central park on Friday as part of a two-week trial that could see it join other robots policing Singapores green spaces during a nationwide lockdown.
    Lets keep Singapore healthy, the yellow and black robodog named SPOT said in English as it roamed around.    For your own safety and for those around you, please stand at least one metre apart.    Thank you, it added, in a softly-spoken female voice.
    Despite the niceties, breaches of Singapores strict lockdown rules can result in hefty fines and even jail.
    The city-state of 5.7 million people has more than 21,000 cases, one of the highest tallies in Asia, largely due to mass infections among migrant workers living in cramped dormitories in areas little visited by tourists.
    Under rules to enforce the lockdown in place until June 1, residents can only leave their homes for essential trips like grocery shopping and must wear a mask at all times in public.    Exercise outdoors is permissible but must be done alone.
    Another robot, in the shape of a small car, has been deployed at a nearby reservoir to warn visitors not to loiter and that gatherings are not allowed.
    The authorities behind the latest trial the government technology and cyber security agencies said in a statement that SPOT could better cross rough terrain in parks and gardens.
    As well as broadcasting messages reminding visitors of social distancing measures, SPOT is fitted with cameras and analytics tools to estimate the number of people in the park.
    Authorities said the cameras would not be able to track individuals or record personal data.
    SPOT has also recently been trialled for use at a temporary hospital delivering medicines to patients.
(Reporting by Edgar Su; Writing by John Geddie; Editing by Nick Macfie)

5/9/2020 Latest on the worldwide spread of the coronavirus
FILE PHOTO: Nurses work at a drive-thru testing site for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at North
Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, New York, U.S., May 6, 2020. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
    (Reuters) More than 3.95 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 273,805 have died, according to a Reuters tally, as of 0214 GMT on Saturday.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread, open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.
* For a U.S.-focused tracker with state-by-state and county map, open https://tmsnrt.rs/2w7hX9T in an external browser.
EUROPE
* Prime Minister Boris Johnson will not announce any dramatic changes to Britains coronavirus lockdown on Sunday, adopting a cautious approach to try to ensure there is no second deadly peak of infections, his environment minister said.
* Madrid and Barcelona will not progress to the next phase of Spains exit from one of Europes strictest lockdowns that will allow bars, restaurants and places of worship to reopen in some areas from Monday, the government announced.
* Russia marks 75 years since the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two on Saturday, but the pandemic has forced it to scale back celebrations seen as boosting support for the Kremlin.
* Italy on Friday became the third country in the world to record 30,000 deaths from the coronavirus.
AMERICAS
* The U.S. government reported more massive economic fallout from the coronavirus crisis on Friday, with the unemployment rate last month leaping to 14.7%.    A day after the White House confirmed that President Donald Trumps personal valet had tested positive for the virus, Trump said Katie Miller, press secretary to Vice President Mike Pence, had also been infected.    California gave the green light for its factories to restart.
* Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Friday he aims to present plans next week to reopen the economy, as key sectors like carmaking look to begin business again after over a month of quarantine measures.
* Argentina extended until May 24 a quarantine for its capital Buenos Aires but relaxed the restriction elsewhere in the country, President Alberto Fernandez said on Friday.
* British medical journal The Lancet called President Jair Bolsonaro the biggest threat to Brazils ability to successfully combat the spread of the coronavirus and tackle the unfolding public health crisis.
ASIA-PACIFIC
* China will reform its disease prevention and control system to address weaknesses exposed by the coronavirus outbreak, a senior health official said on Saturday.
* Australias most populous states held back from relaxing coronavirus restrictions although other states began allowing small gatherings and were preparing to open restaurants and shops.
* Senior international Olympics official John Coates said the delayed Tokyo Olympics could end up being the greatest Games ever, coming next year as the world emerges from the COVID-19 crisis.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* The coronavirus could kill between 83,000 and 190,000 people in Africa in the first year and infect between 29 million and 44 million in the first year if it is not contained, the World Health Organization said.
* Kuwait will enact a total curfew from 4 p.m. (1300 GMT) on Sunday through to May 30, the Information Ministry said on Twitter on Friday.
ECONOMIC FALLOUT
* Global shares rallied on Friday, hitting weekly highs, on signs of improving U.S.-China relations and the prospect of more governments gradually reopening their economies.
* The head of the International Monetary Fund signaled a possible downward revision of global economic forecasts, and warned the United States and China against rekindling a trade war that could weaken a recovery from the pandemic.
* As many parts of the worlds biggest economy begin to reopen after weeks of stay-at-home orders, Americans should not expect a quick return to growth, U.S. Federal Reserve officials said on Friday.
* Indias fuel demand dipped 45.8% in April from a year earlier, as a nationwide lockdown and travel curbs eroded economic activity.
* Auto production in Mexico and Brazil, Latin Americas top producers, plunged by an unprecedented 99% in April, with the two countries building a total of just 5,569 units.
(Compiled by Frances Kerry)

5/10/2020 Latest on the worldwide spread of the coronavirus
FILE PHOTO: Nurses work at a drive-thru testing site for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, New York, U.S., May 6, 2020. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
    (Reuters) More than 4.02 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 276,894 have died, according to a Reuters tally, as of 0145 GMT on Sunday.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread, open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.
* For a U.S.-focused tracker with state-by-state and county map, open https://tmsnrt.rs/2w7hX9T in an external browser.
EUROPE
* British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will set out a five-tier warning system for the coronavirus in England when he outlines plans to begin slowly easing lockdown measures, British media reported.    Johnson is due to make a televised address at 1800 GMT on Sunday.
* New coronavirus infections are accelerating again in Germany just days after its leaders loosened social restrictions, raising concerns that the pandemic could once again slip out of control.
* The Russian authorities said they had recorded 11,012 new cases of the coronavirus in the last 24 hours, bringing the nationwide tally to 209,688.
* One person was killed after a fire broke out on Saturday at a Moscow hospital treating coronavirus patients, the authorities said.
ASIA-PACIFIC
* South Korea warned of a second wave of the new coronavirus as infections rebounded to a one-month high, just as the authorities were starting to ease some restrictions.
* Chinas National Health Commission reported 14 new confirmed coronavirus cases on May 9, the highest number since April 28, including the first for more than a month in the city of Wuhan where the outbreak was first detected late last year.
* Australias most populous state, home to Sydney, will allow restaurants, playgrounds and outdoor pools to reopen on Friday as extensive testing has shown the spread of the coronavirus has slowed sharply, New South Wales states premier said.
* Japanese Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said the government is looking to lift the state of emergency in many of 34 prefectures that are not among the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic before the nationwide deadline of May 31.
AMERICAS
* Three senior officials guiding the U.S. response to the pandemic were in self-quarantine on Saturday after coming into contact with someone who had tested positive for the coronavirus, their agencies and spokesmen said.
* Former President Barack Obama described President Donald Trumps handling of the pandemic as chaotic in a conference call with former members of his administration, a source said on Saturday.
* Tesla Inc TSLA.O sued local authorities in California on Saturday as the electric carmaker pushed to re-open its factory there and Chief Executive Elon Musk threatened to move Teslas headquarters and future programs from the state to Texas or Nevada.
* Coronavirus patients were being turned away from hospitals in the Mexican capital on Saturday, as both public and private medical facilities quickly fill up and the number of new infections continues to rise.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* The coronavirus could kill between 83,000 and 190,000 people in Africa in the first year and infect between 29 million and 44 million in the first year if it is not contained, the World Health Organization said.
* Kuwait will enact a total curfew from 4 p.m. (1300 GMT) on Sunday through to May 30, the Information Ministry said on Twitter on Friday.
ECONOMIC FALLOUT
* Chinas central bank said it will step up counter-cyclical adjustments to support the economy and make monetary policy more flexible to fend off financial risks.
* Large Italian companies have requested 18.5 billion euros ($20 billion) in state-guaranteed loans to weather the coronavirus crisis, state-backed export credit agency SACE said.
* Indias fuel demand dipped 45.8% in April from a year earlier, as a nationwide lockdown and travel curbs eroded economic activity.
(Compiled by Frances Kerry)

5/10/2020 RECENT ISSUE WITH WHAT LIGADO IS DOING WITH 5G WITH CONFLICT WITH PRESENT GPS SYSTEMS AND COMPLAINTS FROM OUR MILITARY PERSONS AND BELOW IS RECENT NEWS ARTICLES ABOUT THEM REGARDING SOME EMITER THAT COULD TURN OFF GPS POSITIONING
4/17/2020 FCC chairman wants to greenlight Ligados U.S.-wide 5G network by David Shepardson
FILE PHOTO: Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, speaks at the WSJTECH
Live conference in Laguna Beach, California, U.S., October 21, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) circulated on Thursday a draft order asking FCC members to approve Ligado Networks low-power nationwide 5G network despite objections from the Defense Department and major U.S. airlines.
    Ligados plan to use so-called L-Band spectrum, for which it holds some licenses, has come under criticism from some federal agencies and powerful lawmakers.    The L-Band is also used for Global Positioning System (GPS) and other navigation systems because the signals can penetrate cloud cover.    The Pentagon also uses the band for military purposes.
    On Wednesday, the Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Jim Inhofe, and the panels top Democrat, Jack Reed, asked U.S. President Donald Trump to bar Ligado from moving forward, citing interference with GPS reception.
    Ligados planned usage will likely harm military capabilities, particularly for the U.S. Space Force, and have major impact on the national economy, Inhofe, Reed and Mac Thornberry, the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, said in a letter to Trump.
    However, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said that, based on an extensive technical review by FCC staff, he was convinced that conditions in his draft order would permit Ligado to proceed without causing harmful interference.
    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr both endorsed Pais plan.    Barr said on Thursday it should greatly reduce the cost and time it will take to deploy 5G throughout the country and would be a major step toward preserving our economic future.
    The White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
    A coalition of firms including Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, Lockheed Martin Corp, Iridium Communications Inc and FedEx Corp, said in a letter made public on Thursday the FCCs nine-year review of Ligados various proposals should end without approval.
    The aviation industry increasingly relies on L-band satellite communications and location services to ensure safe, efficient, and reliable air travel, the coalition wrote, citing Ligados failure to adequately address the harmful interference at the heart of its proposals.
    The FCC did not comment on the airlines criticism.
    In an April 10 letter to Pai, the executive branch including the Pentagon, NASA, departments of Commerce and Homeland Security said the Defense Department strongly opposed Ligados proposal because it would adversely affect the military potential of GPS.
    An Air Force memo warned that Ligados proposals to reduce interference were impractical and un-executable and would place enormous burdens on agencies and other GPS users to monitor and report the interference.
    The memo added that Ligados plan would not protect the vast majority of GPS receivers which are used outside defined areas such as military installations.
    The memo was also signed by other federal agencies including the Army, Navy, Federal Aviation Administration, Energy Department, Justice Department, Commerce Department, NASA and Homeland Security Department.
    Ligado President and Chief Executive Doug Smith said in a statement the company was committed to protecting GPS while delivering highly secure and ultra-reliable communications.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Additional reporting by Mike Stone; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Richard Chang and Muralikumar Anantharaman)

4/18/2020 Majority of FCC backs Ligado plan for broadband network: sources by David Shepardson
FILE PHOTO: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) logo is seen before the
FCC Net Neutrality hearing in Washington February 26, 2015. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) A majority of the five-member Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has voted to approve an order to allow Ligado Networks to deploy a low-power nationwide 5G network despite objections from the Defense Department and major U.S. airlines, two government officials told Reuters.
    FCC Chairman Ajit Pai on Thursday circulated a draft order to allow Ligado to use L-Band spectrum, for which it holds some licenses, which came under criticism from some federal agencies and powerful lawmakers.
    The L-Band is also used for Global Positioning System (GPS) and other navigation systems because the signals can penetrate cloud cover.    The Pentagon also uses the band for military purposes.    Bloomberg News reported the vote earlier.    The vote will not be final until all members vote.
    Late Friday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper wrote on Twitter that the Ligado proposal would needlessly imperil DoD GPS-dependent national security capabilities.
    He added that the department continues to support domestic 5G options, but not at the risk of crippling our GPS networks.    Nearly a dozen other federal agencies have joined us in opposing this proposal.
    On Wednesday, Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Jim Inhofe and the panels top Democrat, Jack Reed, asked President Donald Trump to bar Ligado from moving forward, citing interference with GPS reception.
    Ligados planned usage will likely harm military capabilities, particularly for the U.S. Space Force, and have major impact on the national economy, Inhofe, Reed and Mac Thornberry, the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, said in a letter to Trump.
    However, Pai said that, based on an extensive technical review by FCC staff, he was convinced that conditions in his draft order would permit Ligado to proceed without causing harmful interference.
    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr both endorsed Pais plan Thursday.
    In an April 10 letter to Pai, the executive branch including the Pentagon, NASA, and the departments of Commerce and Homeland Security said the Defense Department strongly opposed Ligados proposal because it would adversely affect the military potential of GPS.
    An Air Force memo warned that Ligados proposals to reduce interference were impractical and un-executable and would place enormous burdens on agencies and other GPS users to monitor and report the interference.
    The memo was also signed by other federal agencies including the Army, Navy, Federal Aviation Administration, Energy and Justice departments.
    Ligado President and Chief Executive Doug Smith said on Thursday that the company was committed to protecting GPS while delivering highly secure and ultra-reliable communications.
    A coalition of companies including Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, Lockheed Martin Corp, Iridium Communications Inc and FedEx Corp, said the FCCs nine-year review of Ligados various proposals should end without approval.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Chris Reese, Daniel Wallis and Cynthia Osterman)

5/11/2020 What you need to know about the coronavirus right now
FILE PHOTO: A 3D-printed coronavirus model is seen in front of the words coronavirus disease
(COVID-19) on display in this illustration taken March 25, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
    (Reuters) Heres what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
Germans expect to spend less     One third of Germans expect to splash less cash on durable goods in future and the same proportion sees their financial situation worsening over the next 12 months as the coronavirus crisis bites, a poll showed.     That is having an impact on consumption, with one quarter cancelling vacations and 7% planning to postpone purchases of products like clothing, cars or luxury goods, the Nuremberg-based GfK market research group said. Getting out from under the doona     Australia laid out a three-step road map to ease social distancing restrictions on Friday, aiming to remove all curbs by July and get nearly one million people back to work.
    Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it will be up to Australias various states and territories to decide when to begin implementing each stage.    Each step will likely be separated by a four-week transition.
    You can stay under the doona forever.    Youll never face any danger, Morrison told reporters, using an Australian word for quilt.    But weve got to get out from under the doona at some time.
Plague, weather, war and the UK economy
    For anyone pondering how the coronavirus is about to deliver the British economys worst year in modern history, only a handful of things have wrought such severe and sudden damage in the past: weather, war and pestilence.
    The Bank of England on Thursday put forward an i>illustrative scenario that saw a plunge in output of 14% in 2020 albeit followed by a 15% bounce-back in 2021 the worst hit to the economy in more than 300 years.
    Two very bad years stand out in Britain: 1706, a year of weak harvests and weak trade, when the economy contracted by around 15%, and 1709, the year of the Great Frost, when the economy shrank by 13%.
Lessons unlearned
    As the coronavirus spread through the Diamond Princess cruise ship with passengers dying in what became one of the first hot spots outside China, Japanese authorities issued no warnings to the Costa Atlantica cruise ship docked at another Japanese port.
    The Costa Atlantica now hosts one of Japans biggest clusters of the coronavirus, with a quarter of the more than 600 people then onboard infected.
    Public health experts say a lack of additional measures on cruise ships after the Diamond Princess outbreak, toothless coronavirus legislation and a nationwide paucity of virus testing combined to allow the outbreak on the ship to blossom.
Suntanning with plexiglass screens
    Santorini beach bar owner Charlie Chahine is not a fan of the plexiglass screens that have been added around the lounge chairs at his establishment, but if that is the way it has to be for tourists to return, then that is what he is doing.
    Businesses on Greeces most popular holiday island are adopting all kinds of hygiene measures, anxious for the season to start.
    We dont want this, but if this is necessary, and if this is what peoples safety depends on, such a construction or any such construction we want to work, we want to get going, said Chahine.
    Bookings in June last year were at 70%, while now they hover at 30% at most, vice president of the Santorini Hotel Association Andreas Patiniotis said.
(Compiled by Karishma Singh and Nick Tattersall; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

5/11/2020 Factbox: Latest on the worldwide spread of the new coronavirus
FILE PHOTO: Nurses work at a drive-thru testing site for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at
North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, New York, U.S., May 6, 2020. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
    (Reuters) More than 3.89 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 269,840 have died, according to a Reuters tally, as of 1248 GMT on Friday.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread, open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.
* For a U.S.-focused tracker with state-by-state and county map, open https://tmsnrt.rs/2w7hX9T in an external browser.
EUROPE
* Russias cases rose by over 10,000 for the sixth straight day, bringing the nationwide tally to 187,859. Around 100 central bank employees have been diagnosed, most of them in Moscow.
* A German intelligence report casts doubts on U.S. allegations that COVID-19 originated in a Chinese laboratory and says the accusations are an attempt to divert attention from U.S. failure to rein it in, Der Spiegel magazine reported.
* Irelands unemployment rate shot up to 28.2% at the end of April including those receiving emergency assistance, the highest rate on record.
* Switzerland said it will further ease curbs on migration from Europe.
* Danish museums, amusement parks and cinemas will be allowed to reopen from June 8, the government said.
AMERICAS
* The U.S. economy lost 20.5 million jobs in April, the steepest plunge since the Great Depression.
* Mothers Day, considered one of the most important dates in the Mexican social calendar, coincides with what health officials have calculated as the peak of the spread.
* Residents in an impoverished part of the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa, clashed with riot police after blocking the burial of a suspected coronavirus victim.
* Brazils Health Ministry on Thursday registered 9,888 new cases, bringing its total to 135,106 with 9,146 deaths the most deadly outbreak in an emerging market nation.
* The death toll in the worst hit part of Brazils remote Amazon region may be three times the official count, as the pandemic overwhelms the public health system.
* Peruvian miners are set to restart operations in coming days and ramp up to around 80% of normal production levels within a month, a senior official said, as the worlds No. 2 copper producing country looks to rebound.
* Argentina will get $1.8 billion in loans from the Inter-American Development Bank this year to help create jobs and provide medical care to coronavirus victims, the government said. An IMF spokesman said it is hopeful Argentina can restore debt sustainability.
* The World Bank approved $506 million in emergency loans and grants for Ecuador to help it grapple with one of the worst outbreaks in Latin America.
ASIA-PACIFIC
* China is open to an independent investigation to determine the origins of the coronavirus, its ambassador to Berlin said amid U.S. allegations that it came from a laboratory.
* South Korean health authorities are investigating a small but growing outbreak centred in a handful of Seoul nightclubs, as the country moves to less restrictive measures.
* Japans Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump agreed to cooperate on measures including the development of drugs and vaccines, Japans government spokesman said.
* An Indian train killed 16 migrant workers who had fallen asleep on the track while heading back to their home village after losing their jobs during the lockdown, police said.
* Cases in Pakistan surged past 25,000 on Friday, just hours before the government was due to lift lockdown steps.
* Malaysias Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin will face a confidence vote on May 18.
* Two weeks after Indonesia banned air and sea travel, the transport ministry has confirmed that flights and public transport will conditionally resume.
* Australia will ease social distancing restrictions in a three-step process, its prime minister said as Canberra aims to remove most curbs by July and get nearly 1 million people back to work.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* The coronavirus could kill between 83,000 and 190,000 people in Africa in the first year and infect between 29 million and 44 million in the first year if it is not contained, said the World Health Organization.
* South Africas president said some low-risk prisoners would be granted parole to help curb the spread in correctional facilities.
* Madagascar is putting its self-proclaimed, plant-based COVID-19 cure on sale and several African countries have already put in orders, despite WHO warning that its efficacy is unproven.
ECONOMIC FALLOUT
* Global shares rallied on Friday, hitting weekly highs, on signs of improving Sino-American relations and the prospect of more governments gradually reopening their economies.
* Euro zone governments may need to borrow an additional 1.5 trillion euros this year to keep their economies afloat, European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said.
* The ECB asked staff to study whether it should buy junk corporate bonds to fight the pandemic fallout, sources told Reuters.
* Japan will look into additional steps to cushion the economic blow, its economy minister said on Friday, signalling that more stimulus measures could be forthcoming.
* German exports fell by 11.8% in March, their steepest drop since current records began in 1990, the Federal Statistics Office said.
(Compiled by Sarah Morland; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)

5/11/2020 Brazil launches military operations in the Amazon rainforest
FILE PHOTO: Smoke billows from a fire in an area of the Amazon rainforest near
Porto Velho, Rondonia State, Brazil, September 10, 2019. REUTERS/Bruno Kelly
    BRASILIA (Reuters) Vice President Hamilton Mourao said Brazil launched a military deployment to protect the Amazon rainforest on Monday, beginning with an operation to combat environmental destruction in the state of Rondonia near the Bolivian border.
    President Jair Bolsonaro issued a decree last week allowing the military to be deployed, repeating a move he made last year to send in the armed forces after forest fires and deforestation surged.    This year troops are being sent in three months earlier than in 2019.
(Reporting by Jake Spring; Editing by Sandra Maler)

5/12/2020 Latest on the worldwide spread of the new coronavirus
Customers queue up to have their haircut outside a hairdressing salon as they reopen for business
amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Singapore May 12, 2020. REUTERS/Edgar Su
    (Reuters) More than 4.19 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 285,119 have died, according to a Reuters tally, as of 0503 GMT on Tuesday.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread, open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.
* For a U.S.-focused tracker with state-by-state and county map, open https://tmsnrt.rs/2w7hX9T in an external browser.
EUROPE
* Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out a cautious plan on Monday to get Britain back to work, including advice on wearing home-made face coverings.
* Around 136,000 people in England are currently infected with COVID-19, according to early results from the first large-scale study in Britain into the spread of the disease.
* Total cases in Germany rose by 933 to 170,508 and the death toll rose by 116 to 7,533.
* Deaths in France on Monday were almost four times higher than Sunday and new confirmed cases more than doubled over 24 hours, as the country started unwinding an almost two-month national lockdown.
* Spains daily death toll fell on Monday to 123, its lowest level in seven weeks.
* Italy said it would give regions the power to roll back restrictions, in a move that is likely to see most remaining curbs lifted next week.
AMERICAS
* More than 1.35 million people have been infected in the United States and 80,606 have died, according to a Reuters tally, as of 0503 GMT on Tuesday.
* The White House directed all people entering the West Wing, where the daily operations of President Donald Trumps administration are carried out, to wear masks.
* California, Oregon, Washington and other states involved in a western states pact to coordinate coronavirus response have asked the federal government for a combined $1 trillion in aid.
* Factory workers began returning to assembly lines in Michigan on Monday, paving the way to reopen the U.S. auto sector but stoking fears of a second wave.
* Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds said she would follow a modified self-quarantine plan in case she was exposed to the new coronavirus during a visit to the White House last Wednesday or meetings in Iowa with Vice President Mike Pence on Friday.
* The chief of the U.S. National Guard tested negative, in his second negative test since receiving a positive result at a routine screening.
* Twitter Inc TWTR.N will add labels and warning messages on some tweets with disputed or misleading information about COVID-19.
* Brazil reported 5,632 new cases and 396 additional deaths, bringing the national tally at 168,331 and 11,519 deaths.    President Jair Bolsonaro declared gyms and hair salons as essential services that can stay open.
* Mexico confirmed 1,305 new cases and 108 additional fatalities, while Chile has surpassed 30,000 cases.
* Panama announced plans to begin a phased reopening of its economy this week, including e-commerce, mechanical workshops and fishing.
ASIA-PACIFIC
* China reported just one new case for May 11, down from 17 a day earlier.    The total case tally now stands at 82,919 and death toll remained unchanged at 4,633.
* The Bank of Japan will do whatever it can to mitigate the growing fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said.
* Indias Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the country would look to ease its nearly seven-week lockdown.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* The International Monetary Fund approved Egypts request for $2.77 billion in emergency financing.
* Senegal announced the re-opening of mosques and churches and easing of other restrictions, even as the largest one-day jump in cases was recorded on Monday.
ECONOMIC FALLOUT
* Asian shares skidded on growing worries about a second wave of coronavirus infections after the Chinese city where the pandemic originated reported its first new cases since its lockdown was lifted.
* Chinas factory prices fell at the sharpest rate in four years in April.
(Compiled by Sarah Morland, Vinay Dwivedi and Uttaresh.V; Editing by Arun Koyyur, Anil DSilva and Tomasz Janowski)

5/12/2020 What you need to know about the coronavirus right now
FILE PHOTO: A 3D-printed coronavirus model is seen in front of the words coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
on display in this illustration taken March 25, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
    (Reuters) Heres what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
Trade deal in doubt?
    U.S. President Donald Trump said he opposed renegotiating the Phase 1 trade deal on Monday after Chinese-run state newspaper The Global Times reported some government advisers in Beijing were urging fresh talks.
    Rising U.S.-China tensions over the coronavirus outbreak have cast the trade deal between the two countries, and proposed talks on a Phase 2 deal, into doubt.
    The Global Times said that malicious attacks by the United States have ignited a tsunami of anger among Chinese trade insiders after China made compromises in the Phase 1 pact.
Dangerous calculation
    WHO officials urged extreme vigilance on Monday as countries began to exit from lockdowns, stressing that early studies point to lower-than-expected antibody levels against the COVID-19 disease within the general population, meaning that most people remain susceptible.
    Dr Mike Ryan, head of the WHOs emergencies programme warned countries that have lax measures in place to be wary of counting on herd immunity to halt the spread of COVID-19, saying: This is a really dangerous, dangerous calculation.
Economic boost
    Once Australia removes most social distancing restrictions by July, its GDP will rise by $6.5 bln each month, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg was expected to tell lawmakers on Tuesday in a speech updating them on his budget planning.
    Britains finance minister Rishi Sunak is similarly due to answer questions about the economic response to COVID-19 in parliament on Tuesday afternoon.
    There, the focus is how Britain plans to continue the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which is paying employers 80% of the wages of more than 6 million workers who are on temporary leave from businesses affected by the coronavirus.    The scheme is due to run until the end of June.
    Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday that coronavirus infections had peaked, and that people who could not work from home should return to their workplaces if possible.
Testing 11 million in 10 days
    The Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of Chinas coronavirus outbreak, plans to conduct nucleic acid testing over a period of 10 days, an internal document seen by Reuters showed and two sources familiar with the situation said, with every district told to submit a detailed testing plan by Tuesday.
    The city of 11 million people reported its first cluster of new infections over the weekend, after a months-long lockdown was lifted on April 8.
    These plans come as global alarm was sounded on Monday over a potential second wave of coronavirus infections after Germany reported that the reproduction rate of the pathogen had risen above 1.
Cancelled Cannes
    It breaks my heart, said Joseph Morpelli, leading member of the so-called stepladder gang of ardent autograph-hunters and amateur paparazzi, as he stood across the street from the venue of the cancelled Cannes Festival on Monday.
    Usually a hive of activity, the location where Morpelli and his fellow diehard fans could get a glimpse of celebrities walking down the red carpet is now deserted, as the film festival which was meant to start on Tuesday has been called off.
    It was only the third time in its history that the festival has failed to take place.    The two previous occasions were the outbreak of World War Two and 1968, when France was roiled by violent protests.
(Compiled by Karishma Singh)

5/13/2020 Officials warn about giant gypsy moths - Species native to Asia was spotted in Wash. by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
    Forget murder hornets. Now weve got giant gypsy moths from Asia to worry about.     If established in the United States, Asian gypsy moths could cause serious, widespread damage to our countrys landscape and natural resources, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is warning. One species of gypsy moth thats native to Asia was recently spotted in Washington state, where Gov. Jay Inslee issued an emergency proclamation last week because of the discovery.    In the proclamation, he warned that the Hokkaido gypsy moths from Asia have been discovered in parts of Snohomish County, which is northeast of Seattle, according to UPI.
    This imminent danger of infestation seriously endangers the agricultural and horticultural industries of the state of Washington and seriously threatens the economic well-being and quality of life of state residents, the proclamation said.
    Both gypsy moths from Asia and Asian-European hybrid gypsy moths threaten the state, according to the proclamation.
    Hokkaido gypsy moths are exotic pests that can do widespread damage when hundreds of voracious caterpillars hatch, Karla Salp, a spokeswoman for the Washington Department of Agriculture, told UPI.    While they are from Asia, Hokkaido gypsy moths are a separate species from so-called Asian gypsy moths, insect ecologist Patrick Tobin of the University of Washington told USA TODAY.    Both are considered invasive pests that can wreak havoc on trees.    Both remain similar with regard to the threats they pose and the ability of females to fly, Tobin said.
    Asian gypsy moths are bad enough: Large infestations of Asian gypsy moths can completely defoliate trees, leaving them weak and more susceptible to disease or attack by other insects, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.    If defoliation is repeated for two or more years, it can lead to the death of large sections of forests, orchards, and landscaping."
    Any introduction and establishment of Asian gypsy moths in the United States would pose a major threat to the environment and the urban, suburban and rural landscapes.
    Could the Hokkaido gypsy moth discovery in Washington state be the start of a nationwide invasion of the pesky pests?     Were it to become fully established and spread widely, it would affect forests and landscape trees and shrubs in the invaded range, University of Maryland entomologist Michael Raupp told USA TODAY.
    The East is used to the European variety of the pest: We have had gypsy moths here in the Eastern U.S. since the 1860s, Raupp said.    The issue in the East is largely under control thanks to a fungus that was imported and released back in the 1980s, he said.
    We have had gypsy moths here in the Eastern U.S. since the 1860s.
    Michael Raupp, University of Maryland entomologist
Several species of gypsy moths from Asia are considered invasive pests that can wreak havoc on trees. GETTY IMAGES

5/13/2020 UK researchers try to crack genetic riddle of COVID-19 by Guy Faulconbridge
FILE PHOTO: A computer image created by Nexu Science Communication together with Trinity College in Dublin, shows a model
structurally representative of a betacoronavirus which is the type of virus linked to COVID-19, better known as the coronavirus
linked to the Wuhan outbreak, shared with Reuters on February 18, 2020. NEXU Science Communication/via REUTERS
    LONDON (Reuters) British researchers will study the genes of thousands of ill COVID-19 patients to try to crack one of the most puzzling riddles of the novel coronavirus: why does it kill some people but give others not even a mild headache?
    Researchers from across the United Kingdom will sequence the genetic code of people who fell critically ill with COVID-19 and compare their genomes with those who were mildly ill or not ill at all.
    The hunt for the specific genes that could cause a predisposition to getting ill with COVID-19 will involve up to 20,000 people currently or previously in hospital intensive care with COVID-19 and about 15,000 people with mild symptoms.
    Scientists caution that their knowledge of the novel coronavirus, which emerged in China last year, is still modest though they say it is striking how it can be so deadly for some but so mild for others.
    It is, as yet, unclear why.
    We think that there will be clues in the genome that will help us understand how the disease is killing people, Kenneth Baillie, an intensive care doctor who is leading the study at the University of Edinburgh, told Reuters.
    I would bet my house on there being a very strong genetic component to individual risk, Baillie said.
    Health minister Matt Hancock called on people to sign up to the programme.    If youre asked to sign up to the genomics trial which is being run by Genomics England, then please do, because then we can understand the genetic links.    Its all part of building a scientific picture of this virus.
    The genome is an organisms complete set of deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, and in humans it contains about 3 billion DNA base pairs.
    But comparing them can be tough.    There are 4 million to 5 million differences between any two people so scientists need a big sample, Baillie said.
    We dont know at a mechanistic level, at the level of molecules and cells, what are the events that are actually causing people to get sick and die from this disease, he said.
    Baillie will work with the intensive care units across the United Kingdom, Genomics England and a global genetics research consortium known as the Genetics of Susceptibility and Mortality in Critical Care, or GenOMICC.
    By reading the whole genome we may able to identify variation that affects response to Covid-19 and discover new therapies that could reduce harm, save lives and even prevent future outbreaks, said Mark Caulfield, chief scientist at Genomics England.
    Some answers could come as soon as in a few weeks from a study of almost 2,000 people already underway, Baillie said, though it is likely that testing more people will ensure that the signals they detect are genuine.
    The results will be shared globally.
    Your chance of dying from an infection is very strongly encoded in your genes much more strongly than your chances of dying from heart disease or cancer, Baillie said.
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge, Editing by Angus MacSwan and Andrew Heavens)

5/13/2020 Factbox: Latest on the worldwide spread of the new coronavirus
Customers queue up to have their haircut outside a hairdressing salon as they reopen for business
amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Singapore May 12, 2020. REUTERS/Edgar Su
    (Reuters) More than 4.27 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 290,324 have died, according to a Reuters tally, as of 0413 GMT on Wednesday.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread, open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.
* For a U.S.-focused tracker with state-by-state and county map, open https://tmsnrt.rs/2w7hX9T in an external browser.
EUROPE
* The United Kingdoms death toll now exceeds 40,000, by far the worst yet reported in Europe.
* Millions of British self-employed workers will be able to apply for one-off grants of up to 7,500 pounds ($9,210) from Wednesday, as part of a government assistance package.
* Total cases in Germany increased by 798 to 171,306 and the death toll rose by 101 to 7,634.
* Frances death toll rose by 348 to 26,991 on Tuesday.
* Spain ordered a two-week quarantine on travellers arriving from abroad from this Friday.
* Russian President Vladimir Putins spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he had tested positive and was receiving treatment at a hospital.
* Denmark is very unlikely to be hit by a second wave of COVID-19, the countrys chief epidemiologist said.
AMERICAS
* More than 1.37 million people have been infected in the United States and 81,984 have died, according to a Reuters tally, as of 0413 GMT on Wednesday.
* Leading U.S. infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci warned Congress that a premature lifting of lockdowns could lead to additional outbreaks.
* A newly revised coronavirus mortality model predicts more than 147,000 Americans will die from COVID-19 by early-August, up nearly 10,000 from the last projection.
* Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives unveiled a $3 trillion-plus coronavirus relief package, only to see the measure flatly rejected by Senate Republicans.
* The Canadian death toll passed the 5,000-mark.
* Total cases in Brazil rose to 177,589, passing that of Germany and drawing nearly even with Frances tally of 178,225, amid President Jair Bolsonaro fighting states over his wish to reopen gyms and beauty parlours.
* Mexico confirmed 1,997 new cases and 353 additional deaths, its deadliest day, bringing the national tally to 38,324 and 3,926 deaths.
* Eighty-nine of 180 inmates and one staff member at a jail in the Colombian city Leticia have tested positive.
ASIA-PACIFIC
* China reported seven new cases on the mainland on May 12, versus one a day earlier, while Jilin city in the countrys northeast has warned of a huge risk of COVID-19 spreading further.
* Lending by Japans major banks rose in April at the fastest pace since the global financial crisis in 2009.
* India would provide 20 trillion rupees ($266 billion) in fiscal and monetary measures.
* New Zealands central bank doubled the amount of bonds it will buy as part of its quantitative easing programme and flagged a possible shift to negative interest rates.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Saudi Arabia will enforce a countrywide 24-hour curfew during the five-day Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday later this month.
ECONOMIC FALLOUT
* Stocks and oil prices fell on Wednesday as fears about a second wave of coronavirus infections gripped financial markets. MKTS/GLOB
* Investment banks cut jobs at the fastest pace in six years during the first quarter in 2020 even though the coronavirus pandemic triggered a surge in volatility and boosted revenues to a five-year high.
* Overseas arrivals in Australia collapsed to almost nothing in April as it closed its borders. Preliminary data showed arrivals of 21,600 in April, down 98.7% from a year earlier.
(Compiled by Sarah Morland, Uttaresh.V and Vinay Dwivedi; Editing by Arun Koyyur, Tomasz Janowski, Anil DSilva and Mark Heinrich)

5/14/2020 What you need to know about the coronavirus right now
A quarantine worker sprays disinfectants at night spots of Itaewon neighborhood, following the
coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Seoul, South Korea, May 11, 2020. Yonhap/via REUTERS
    (Reuters) Heres what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
May never go away
    That was the grim assessment from World Health Organization emergencies expert Mike Ryan on Wednesday, as he warned against any attempt to predict how long the coronavirus would keep circulating, saying it could just become endemic like HIV.
    The world had some control over how it coped with the disease, Ryan went on to say, although this would take a massive effort even if a vaccine was found a prospect he described as a massive moonshot.
    More than 100 potential vaccines are being developed, including several in clinical trials, but experts have underscored the difficulties of finding vaccines that are effective against coronaviruses.
Taxing tracing
    South Korean health authorities said on Thursday that they would try to reduce the amount of information released to the public about coronavirus patients and their travel routes, in an effort to stop social stigmatisation and compel around 2,000 people wanted for testing to come forward.
    The effort to find the group over a spike in infections centred around Seouls nightclubs and bars has been complicated by public criticism of the clubgoers, as well as concerns about discrimination as several of the clubs cater to members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community.
    South Korea has typically released information like a patients age, gender, and places visited immediately before testing positive, as well as in some cases, patients last names and general occupations.
Higher airfares?
    Physical distancing rules will eventually limit growth as demand rebounds and could increase airfares if airlines were restricted to selling fewer tickets in order to keep some seats empty, Dubai Airport Chief Executive Paul Griffiths said in an interview.
    We will not be able to operate at anything close to our original design capacity if we had to maintain social distancing, the head of one of the worlds busiest airports said.
    But until there was a vaccine, treatment or reliable, quick method to detect the virus, measures that reduce the risk of contagion would need to be enforced, Griffiths said.
Bamboo supply disrupted
    Two giant pandas, Er Shun and Da Mao, are heading home to China from Calgary years ahead of schedule, as their bamboo supply has been disrupted due to coronavirus.
    Before the pandemic, bamboo had been flown directly from China to Calgary to feed the pandas, but since those flights have been cancelled, the zoo has been forced to find new ways to feed the pandas.    Shipments are now often delayed, resulting in poor quality bamboo the pandas refuse to eat.
    We believe the best and safest place for Er Shun and Da Mao to be during these challenging and unprecedented times is where bamboo is abundant and easy to access, said Calgary Zoo President and CEO Clment Lanthier in a statement.
    Giant pandas consume 40 kg (88 lbs) of bamboo a day and it makes up 99% of their diet, the zoo said.
(Compiled by Karishma Singh)

5/14/2020 CDC warning about mysterious illness found in children by OAN Newsroom
FILE This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the
Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, yellow, emerging from the surface of cells, blue/pink, cultured in the lab. (NIAID-RML via AP, File)
    Doctors have been told to look out for signs of a rare syndrome called multisystem inflammatory syndrome, which has been affecting children who had coronavirus.
    Symptoms include prolonged fever rash, abdominal pain and vomiting.    The syndrome can be deadly and has reportedly killed three already.
    Its been confirmed in nearly 20 states, including New York, which has seen more than 100 cases so far.
    Early detection, early action makes all the difference here. So, again, the symptoms: persistent fever, rash, abdominal pain, vomiting.     If you see any combination, especially, be concerned. Bill de Blasio, Mayor of New York City
Schoolchildren wait in line to use the toilet in the schoolyard of the Sainte Aurelie primary
school of Strasbourg, eastern France, Thursday, May 14, 2020. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)
    Doctors who believe their patients have this illness have been asked to report to their local health departments so the CDC can continue investigating the syndrome.
    According to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University, there are more than 1 million active cases of COVID-19 in the U.S.    As of Thursday, over 85,000 people have died, while more than 246,000 have recovered.
    This comes as many states begin to slowly reopen businesses and ramp up testing.    So far, more than 10 million tests have been administered.

5/15/2020 What you need to know about the coronavirus right now
Morning commuters wait for the subway, during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, U.S., May 14, 2020. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
    (Reuters) Heres what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
Baltic neighbours open borders
    The Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia opened their borders to each other at the stroke of midnight, creating the first travel bubble within the European Union and possibly the world.
    New Zealand and Australia had discussed the possibility of creating a similar Trans-Tasman bubble earlier this month, but had not set a date for its start.
    The move takes place as other countries find that renewing international travel is likely to be a complicated, piecemeal process.
Jakarta airports snaking queues
    Anyone worried about the difficulty of maintaining social distancing when international travel does begin again, has good reason, judging by the situation at Jakartas airport on Thursday morning.
    Photographs posted on social media, days after the government announced that several airlines could conditionally resume operations, showed passengers queuing cheek by jowl in snaking lines to enter the airport and crowding inside the terminal.
    In a statement, state airport operator Angkasa Pura said lines had thinned by afternoon and efforts were underway to ensure physical distancing.
    Travellers are required to provide a clean bill of health, and a letter from their employer stating the purpose of travel to be able to board an airplane.
Rapid-fire testing in Wuhan
    Residents stood in pouring rain on Thursday in queues of more than an hour to be tested for the novel coronavirus in Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the global pandemic began last year.
    State media reported the city of 11 million has tested over 3 million residents since April, and will now focus its testing efforts on the rest, prioritising residents who have not been tested before, people living in residential compounds that had previous cases of the virus, as well as old or densely populated estates.
    Wuhan has conducted 1.79 million tests from April 1 to May 13, according to Reuters calculations based on daily reports published by the citys health commission.
Changing behaviours
    Not removing your face mask even indoors, casual dress codes and awkwardness over accepting handshakes are characterising the new normal as the first wave of financial professionals returns to the office, in Hong Kong.     But above all are the queues, as social distancing affects everything from taking the lift to grabbing a coffee.     Its refreshing to come back to the office, but with so many restrictions, I now wouldnt mind working from home once in a while, said one of a group of bankers who gave up on a team coffee and returned to the office after waiting for a table.
(Compiled by Karishma Singh)

5/15/2020 Global coronavirus death toll exceeds 300,000: Reuters tally by Lisa Shumaker and Jane Wardell
FILE PHOTO: A U.S. Marine stands beside the flag-draped coffin of a veteran who contracted the coronavirus disease
(COVID-19), at the Woodlawn Cemetery in Everett, Massachusetts, U.S., May 4, 2020. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
    CHICAGO/SYDNEY (Reuters) Global coronavirus deaths passed 300,000 on Thursday as infections approached 4.5 million, according to a Reuters tally, with the United States responsible for more than a quarter of all fatalities.
    The United Kingdom and Italy accounted for another 10-11% each, while France and Spain accounted for 9% each.
    The number of deaths linked to COVID-19 in just four months is now equal to about three-quarters of the number of people who die annually from malaria, one of the worlds most deadly infectious diseases.
    And while the current trajectory falls far short of the 1918 Spanish flu, which infected an estimated 500 million people and killed at least 10% of patients, public health experts worry the available data is underplaying the true impact of the pandemic.
    The first COVID-19 death was reported on Jan. 10 in Wuhan, China.    It took 91 days for the death toll to pass 100,000 but just a further 16 days to reach 200,000, according to the Reuters tally of official reports from governments. It took 19 days to go from 200,000 to 300,000 deaths.
    The grim milestone of 300,000 deaths was reached as a U.S. government whistleblower said the United States could face the darkest winter of recent times if it does not improve its response to the pandemic.
    Our window of opportunity is closing, Rick Bright, the former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, testified to a U.S. House of Representatives panel.
    If we fail to improve our response now, based on science, I fear the pandemic will get worse and be prolonged, Bright, who said he was removed from the post for raising concerns about preparedness, told the panel.    He has been re-assigned to another government job.
    The United States has reported more than 85,000 deaths from the new coronavirus.    The United Kingdom and Italy have reported more than 30,000 fatalities each and France and Spain have reported more than 27,000 each.
    Brazil claims the sixth highest death toll with a much lower 13,149 fatalities, but its casualty rate is climbing quickly.    It has reported an average of almost 700 new cases each day over the past week.
    The death tolls across Asia and the Middle East have been significantly lower despite heavily populated nations and often lower standards of health care, raising concerns among health experts that the true numbers are far higher.
(Interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus: open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.)
(Reporting by Lisa Shumaker in Chicago and Jane Wardell in Sydney; Editing by Sandra Maler, Grant McCool and Raju Gopalakrishnan)

5/18/2020 What you need to know about the coronavirus right now
Increased foot traffic is seen in the city centre following the easing of restrictions implemented to curb the
spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Sydney, Australia, May 18, 2020. REUTERS/Loren Elliott
    (Reuters) Heres what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
Back on the road
    The U.S. auto industry is slowly returning to life with assembly plants scheduled to reopen on Monday and suppliers gearing up in support as the sector that employs nearly 1 million people seeks to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
    General Motors Co, Ford Motor Co and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCA) all have been preparing for weeks to reopen their North American factories in a push to restart work in an industry that accounts for about 6% of U.S. economic activity.
    The reopening will be a closely watched test of whether workers across a range of industries can return to factories in large numbers without a resurgence of infections.
Hitting new lows
    Japans economy became the worlds largest to slip into recession after the pandemic, first-quarter data showed on Monday, putting the nation on course for what could be its deepest post-war slump.
    The GDP numbers underlined the broadening impact of the outbreak, with exports plunging the most since the devastating March 2011 earthquake as global lockdowns and supply chain disruptions hit shipments of Japanese goods.
    But analysts warn of an even bleaker picture for the current quarter as consumption crumbled after the government in April requested citizens to stay home and businesses to close.
China on alert for new wave
    While much of the rest of the world is experimenting with easing restrictions, one Chinese province is back in a partial lockdown after a spate of infections.
    Jilin in the northeast reported two more confirmed cases over the weekend to take its total number of new infections to 33 since the first case of the current wave was reported on May 7.    Separately, the financial hub of Shanghai reported one new locally transmitted case for May 17, its first since late March.
Pop-up carparks
    Australias most populous state New South Wales encouraged its residents to avoid peak-hour public transport as it began its first full week of loosened lockdown measures, which saw people heading back to offices.
    To help with maintaining social distancing, extra bicycle lanes and pop-up car parking lots will be made available, officials said.
    We normally encourage people to catch public transport but given the constraints in the peak, we want people to consider different ways to get to work, state premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney.
Furloughs no cure-all
    Temporary unemployment schemes have spread far wider and faster than during the 2008-2009 global financial crisis, but are not likely to save jobs in sectors which face a tougher recovery post-pandemic, such as leisure and tourism.
    These schemes, which typically provide at least 80% of pay for workers for whom there is no work now, mean companies do not face firing and potential re-hiring costs.    Workers are more inclined to keep spending and so help prop up the economy.
    If its more than a year, you need other solutions and will need other policies like retraining, said Gregory Claeys, senior fellow at economic think-tank Bruegel.    Its good in a lockdown, but if there is more social change, you need alternatives.
(Compiled by Karishma Singh and Mark John; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

5/19/2020 Scientists are up against a remarkable destroyer by Mark Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel USA TODAY NETWORK
    MILWAUKEE The new coronavirus has spread like wildfire, killed and spared people of all ages and all health conditions, baffled doctors, defied guidance and conventional wisdom, and produced an unprecedented array of symptoms.
    Theres never been a virus like it.
    This gets into every major biological process in our cells, said Nevan J. Krogan, a molecular biologist at the University of California, San Francisco, who has studied HIV, Ebola, Zika, dengue and other viruses over the past 13 years.
    At the molecular level, its something weve never seen before, and then look at what it does to the body the long list of symptoms weve never seen that before.
    As Americans debate the reopening of businesses, bars, schools and other aspects of everyday life, its important to understand the virus we are up against and why it has sown so much suffering and confusion.
    At first, the virus was thought to be mostly a risk to older adults and people with chronic illnesses; its primary point of attack, the lungs.    Then 30- and 40-years-olds with the virus began dying of strokes.    Recently, a small number of infected children have died of a mysterious illness resembling Kawasaki disease.
    Symptoms of COVID-19 range from fever, coughing and shortness of breath to the loss of smell and taste and the angry red swelling that has come to be known as COVID toes.    Studies have found that damage from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease COVID-19, isnt limited to the lungs; it can include the heart, liver, kidneys, gastrointestinal system and bowels.
    To understand a virus motivation why it does what it does keep in mind that it is a parasite.    It lives inside its human or animal host taking what it needs at the expense of the host.
    As long as it finds hosts without immunity, and as long as its own mutations do not weaken its ability to spread and multiply, the virus thrives.
    Key benchmarks of a virus are how widely it spreads and how deadly it is to those it infects.
    In the five months since it was first identified in Wuhan, China, SARSCoV- 2 has infected more than 4.5 million people across the globe, killing more than 300,000.
    The thing that strikes me about the clinical aspect is the shear amount of transmissibility, said Megan Freeman, a virologist and specialist in pediatric infectious diseases at UPMC Childrens Hospital of Pittsburgh.
    There are very few viruses that are more contagious than this one, agreed Mark Schleiss, an investigator for the Institute of Molecular Virology at the University of Minnesota.
    A single COVID-19 patient spreads the disease to a median of 5.7 people, making it twice as contagious as the 1918 Spanish flu, according to a report in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.
    The rate of infection in the U.S. what experts are referring to when they talk about flattening the curve has slowed. Even so, the nation is still averaging about 1,000 COVID-19 deaths a day, roughly twice the number of deaths from 9/11 every week.
    Thousands of the worlds best scientists have worked with remarkable speed seeking to understand the new coronavirus.    They deciphered its genetic code in barely a week and have produced scores of papers suggesting possible treatments and vaccines.
    The canvas we call COVID-19 was blank 16 weeks ago, said Gregory Poland, director of Mayo Clinics Vaccine Research Group.    Weve filled in a lot of dots, but we have so much more to go.
    We dont understand HIV that well in my opinion, Krogan said, and weve been studying that for decades.
Seeking the Achilles heel
    Scientists know some but not all of the reasons the new coronavirus spreads so easily. Freeman points to several factors, including one that distinguishes SARS-CoV-2 from the virus it closely resembles, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
    SARS attacks the lower respiratory system, whose job it is to pull in air from the upper respiratory system.
    SARS-CoV-2, however, attacks the upper respiratory system, the pathway that allows air to travel in and out of the lungs as we breathe.     The upper airway is also the system involved when we cough.
    The upper respiratory system offers a more efficient means of spreading, Freeman said.
    Thats why it is more transmissible. ... When this emerged probably there was some mutation that adapted it to use the upper airway, and the upper airway has made it very successful.
    A second difference between SARS and SARS-CoV-2 involves the bond that allows viral cells to attach to human cells and infect them. With both viruses, this bond forms between the Spike Protein on the virus and a region on the outside of the human cell called the ACE-2 receptor.
    Both viruses use this bond to enter cells, but the bond is much stronger with the new coronavirus than it was with SARS. That is why many of the potential treatments so far are designed to undermine that bond.
    You always want to target the Achilles heel of the virus, something the virus does not have the luxury of changing too much explained Maria Elena Bottazzi, a professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine and co-developer of a potential SARS vaccine that is going to be tested on SARS-CoV-2.
    Although public health leaders compared the new coronavirus to seasonal flu early on, coronaviruses have a special feature that separates them from other viruses like flu.    They have their own proofreading system that helps limit mistakes in their genetic code known as mutations.
    Even as the spread of the virus slows in the United States, some researchers fear what will happen if major outbreaks hit poorer, densely populated cities in Africa.
A remarkable destroyer
    The virus skill at spreading poses one challenge; what it does inside the human body poses another.
    Much of what scientists have learned so far suggests it is a remarkable destroyer at both the micro and macro levels, decimating individual cells and entire organs.
    At the molecular level, the virus disrupts some of the most fundamental functions of life: cell division; the system cells use to talk with one another; and their ability to make proteins.
    The proteins our bodies make help us carry out almost every human action from eating and walking to breathing and thinking.
    Once a person ingests the new coronavirus, it enters the lungs and directly infects the air sacs, the microscopic workhorses that take in the air we breathe.    In serious cases, the air sacs fill with fluid, leaving less and less room for oxygen.    This is a feature of what is known as COVID-19 pneumonia.
    The pneumonia can lead to Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, a severe breathing condition that deprives the vital organs of oxygen.
    A healthy blood oxygen level is usually between 95% and 100%. Below 90% is low.    Some COVID-19 patients have been found to have blood oxygen levels below 65%.
    As the air sacs are infected and damaged, this triggers the immune system, which can lead to a dangerous condition called a cytokine storm.    In a cytokine storm, the immune system goes into overdrive and winds up killing both healthy and diseased cells.
    One of the most subtle and deadly offshoots of low blood oxygen is a condition called silent hypoxia.
    As described by emergency room doctor Richard Levitan in a commentary in The New York Times, silent hypoxia allows patients to develop low blood oxygen levels without realizing the problem until it dips into dangerous territory.    They breathe faster to compensate for the lack of oxygen but are unaware they are breathing faster.
    Levitan suggested that people can bypass long waits for coronavirus tests, using a simple device called a pulse oximeter as an early warning system for detecting COVID-19 pneumonia.    The device, which fits over your finger, measures blood oxygen levels, and can be bought at pharmacies without prescription for about $30.
    The virus also causes blood clots, which have led to people in their 30s and 40s dying from strokes.
    And then there are the recent cases in New York and Paris of children with COVID- 19 who develop symptoms closely resembling Kawasaki disease.    The disease begins with a rash and fever, inflames blood vessels, and eventually can damage the coronary arteries that deliver blood to the heart.
    Every few weeks, SARS-CoV-2 seems to reveal new and disturbing oddities.
    A recent study from China published in the journal JAMA Network Open, reported finding the virus in the semen of six of 38 infected men, raising concern that it may be possible to transmit the virus through sexual contact.
    The virus also has been found in patient stool samples and untreated wastewater.    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that standard methods at wastewater treatment plants should be effective enough to protect workers.
    Such discoveries, however, raise fundamental questions, as we try to return to our old lives.    Have we yet determined all of the ways the virus can spread from one person to another? Are there activities that may pose risks we have not anticipated?
    At the University of California, San Francisco, Krogan said it will be important to examine the genetic scripts of both those who suffer severe cases of COVID-19 and those who get mild or no disease at all.
    There are 30-year-olds and some of them are asymptomatic and others are on respirators.    What the hell is that all about?
    There are 30-year-olds and some of them are asymptomatic and others are on respirators.    What the hell is that all about? Nevan J. Krogan, a molecular biologist at the University of California, San Francisco
Erik Reisdorf, lead virologist at the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene, processes specimens for COVID-19 testing. JOHN MANIACI/UW HEALTH

5/19/2020 What you need to know about the coronavirus right now
A man wearing a protective mask makes his way under the rain amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Tokyo, Japan, May 19, 2020.REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
    (Reuters) Heres what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
Senate grilling
    U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell testify on Tuesday before the Senate Banking Committee and are expected to answer questions about actions still needed to keep the worlds largest economy afloat and missteps in rolling out some $3 trillion in aid so far.
    Two months into the United States fight against the most severe pandemic to arise in the age of globalization, neither the health nor the economic war has been won. Many analysts fear the country has at best fought back worst-case outcomes.
    In remarks broadcast Sunday night, Powell outlined the likely need for three to six more months of government financial help for firms and families and said medical metrics were the most important data for the U.S. economy right now.
Glimmer of hope
    An experimental COVID-19 vaccine made by Moderna Inc , the first to be tested in the United States, produced protective antibodies in a small group of healthy volunteers, according to very early data released by the biotech company on Monday.
    The vaccine has gotten the green light to start the second stage of human testing.    In this Phase II, or midstage, trial designed to further test effectiveness and find the optimal dose, Moderna said it will drop plans to test a 250 mcg dose and test a 50 mcg dose instead.
    Reducing the dose required to produce immunity could help spare the amount of vaccine required in each shot, meaning the company could ultimately produce more of the vaccine.
Empty middle seat?
    As air travel restarts, travellers, airlines and airports are grappling with a hodgepodge of rules put in place during the pandemic that will make flying different in almost every country.
    On planes, one of the biggest debates has been over whether middle seats should be empty.    That would limit airplanes to two-thirds of their normal capacity, not enough for most airlines to make a profit without increasing fares.
Eating with your mask on
    Israeli inventors have developed a coronavirus mask with a remote control mouth that lets diners eat food without taking it off, a device they say could make a visit to a restaurant less risky.
    A squeeze of a lever, much like a cyclist operating a handbrake, opens a slot in the front of the mask so that food can pass through.
    The process could get messy with ice cream or sauces, but more solid morsels can be gobbled up in a flash a la Pac-Man in the arcade game.
(Compiled by Karishma Singh; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

5/20/2020 Coronavirus has led to a 17% drop in carbon emissions by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
    The coronavirus lockdowns have had an extreme effect on daily carbon emissions, causing a whopping 17% drop globally during peak confinement measures by early April levels last seen in 2006.     However, it is unlikely to last, according to a new analysis by an international team of scientists, who said the brief pollution break will likely be a drop in the ocean when it comes to climate change.     This is the first analysis to measure the pandemic-driven global drop in carbon dioxide ( CO2 ) emissions from January to April of this year.
    Carbon dioxide, emitted from burning fossil fuels such as oil, gas and and coal, is the greenhouse gas thats most responsible for global warming.    It stays in the atmosphere about a century before dissipating.     While the impact of lockdown measures is likely to lead to the largest annual decrease in emissions since the end of World War II, 2020 is still on track to be one of the five hottest years on record, and the study notes that these reductions are no silver lining.
    The study was published in the peer-reviewed British journal Nature Climate Change.
    Professor Corinne Le Quere of the University of East Anglia in the U.K. led the analysis.    She said population confinement has led to drastic changes in energy use and CO2 emissions.    These extreme decreases are likely to be temporary though, as they do not reflect structural changes in the economic, transport or energy systems.
    The extent to which world leaders consider climate change when planning their economic responses post-COVID- 19 will influence the global CO2 emissions paths for decades to come, she said.
    For a week in April, the United States cut its carbon dioxide levels by about one-third.    China, the worlds biggest emitter of heat-trapping gases, sliced its carbon pollution by nearly a quarter in February.    India and Europe cut emissions by 26% and 27% respectively.
    This annual drop is comparable to the amount of annual emission reductions needed year-on-year across decades to achieve the climate objectives of the U.N. Paris Agreement.
    Study co-author Rob Jackson of Stanford University said: The drop in emissions is substantial but illustrates the challenge of reaching our Paris climate commitments.    We need systemic change through green energy and electric cars, not temporary reductions from enforced behavior.
    Outside experts praised the study as the most comprehensive yet, saying it shows how much effort is needed to prevent dangerous levels of further global warming.
    That underscores a simple truth: Individual behavior alone wont get us there, said Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann, who wasnt part of the study.    We need fundamental structural change.
Contributing: The Associated Press
Daily emissions decreased by 17%, or 17 million tonnes of carbon dioxide worldwide. GETTY IMAGES
[Dont worry Doyle it will return as soon as all the foreign businesses start back polluting the air as you can see below where the real polluters are at and when is someone going to go there and confront them when they return to their past actions.].

5/20/2020 Johnson & Johnson to stop selling talc baby powder in U.S. and Canada by Carl ODonnell and Lisa Girion
FILE PHOTO: A bottle of Johnson and Johnson Baby Powder is seen in a photo illustration
taken in New York, February 24, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar/Illustration/File Photo
    (Reuters) Johnson & Johnson on Tuesday announced it would stop selling its talc Baby Powder in the United States and Canada, saying demand had dropped in the wake of what it called misinformation about the products safety amid a barrage of legal challenges.
    J&J faces more than 19,000 lawsuits from consumers and their survivors claiming its talc products caused cancer due to contamination with asbestos, a known carcinogen.    Many are pending before a U.S. district judge in New Jersey.
    I wish my mother could be here to see this day, said Crystal Deckard, whose mother Darlene Coker alleged Baby Powder caused her mesothelioma.    She dropped the suit filed in 1999 after losing her fight to compel J&J to divulge internal records.    Coker died of mesothelioma in 2009.
    In its statement, J&J said it remains steadfastly confident in the safety of talc-based Johnsons Baby Powder, citing decades of scientific studies.
    J&J has faced intense scrutiny of the safety of its baby powder following an investigative report by Reuters in 2018 that found the company knew for decades that asbestos lurked in its talc.
    Internal company records, trial testimony and other evidence show that from at least 1971 to the early 2000s, the companys raw talc and finished powders sometimes tested positive for small amounts of asbestos.
(To read the Reuters special report click, https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/johnsonandjohnson-cancer/ )
    The Reuters article prompted a stock selloff that erased about $40 billion from J&Js market value in one day and created a public relations crisis as the blue-chip healthcare conglomerate faced widespread questions about the possible health effects of one of its most iconic products.
    J&J has also been the target of a federal criminal investigation into how forthright it has been about its talc products safety, an investigation by 41 states into its baby powder sales, which it disclosed in April, and an investigation into health risks of asbestos in talc-containing consumer products by a Congressional subcommittee.
    U.S. Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi, who led the Congressional inquiry, described J&Js decision to stop selling talc baby powder as a major victory for public health, adding: My Subcommittees 14-month investigation revealed that Johnson & Johnson knew for decades that its product contains asbestos.
    In response to evidence of asbestos contamination presented in media reports, in the court room and on Capitol Hill, J&J has repeatedly said its talc products are safe, and do not cause cancer.
    Apart from the baby powder controversy, the company revered by millions of consumers and one of the most trusted brands in America, more recently has faced a series of legal and reputational challenges.
    J&J has said it has been named as a defendant, along with other drugmakers, in more than 2,900 lawsuits alleging the companies improperly promoted addictive opioids.
    In August, an Oklahoma judge rendered the first verdict in that litigation, ordering J&J to pay $572.1 million to the state for its part in fueling an opioid epidemic by deceptively marketing addictive painkillers.
    J&J is appealing the Oklahoma judges ruling and has denied it caused the opioid crisis.
    Johnson & Johnson on Tuesday said it had stopped shipping talc baby powder when the COVID-19 crisis led to limits on shopping and manufacturing, and that now it would wind down North American sales.
    Demand for talc-based Johnsons Baby Powder in North America has been declining due in large part to changes in consumer habits and fueled by misinformation around the safety of the product and a constant barrage of litigation advertising, it said in a statement.
    Sold continuously since 1894, Johnsons Baby Powder now accounts for only about 0.5% of its U.S. consumer health business, the company said.    But it remains a symbol of the companys family-friendly image.
    An internal J&J marketing presentation from 1999 refers to the baby products division, with Baby Powder at the core, as J&Js #1 Asset, grounded in deep, personal trust and a 2003 internal memo described it as a sacred cow, Reuters reported.
    Christie Nordhielm, a professor of marketing at Georgetown, said it appears J&J made its decision to withdraw from the market while consumers are preoccupied with the pandemic.    Its a nice time to quietly do it, she said, adding it will minimize the reputational hit.
    Shares of J&J were unchanged in after-hours trading following the disclosure.
    We will continue to vigorously defend the product, its safety, and the unfounded allegations against it and the Company in the courtroom, Johnson & Johnson said.    All verdicts against the company that have been through the appeals process have been overturned.
    Krystal Kim, one of 22 women with ovarian cancer whose case in St. Louis resulted in a 2018 jury verdict of $4.69 billion against J&J, said the decision was a step in the right direction.    J&J has appealed that verdict.
    Nevertheless, J&Js legal challenges likely will continue, some lawyers said.    In April, a New Jersey judge ruled that thousands of plaintiffs who allege J&Js talc products caused cancer can go forward with their claims, but face limits on what expert testimony would be allowed in trials.
    Just taking it off the shelf today doesnt end the litigation by a long shot, said Loyola Law Professor Adam Zimmerman.
    Asbestos is known to cause cancer that emerges decades after exposure.    Cases involving asbestos-containing products removed from the marketplace long ago continue to be litigated very actively to this day, Zimmerman said.
    Many of the lawsuits allege Baby Powder caused plaintiffs mesothelioma, an incurable cancer of the lining of the lungs and other organs commonly caused by asbestos.
    Just as J&J vows to continue fighting vigorously in the courts, we look forward to meeting them there as we continue to pursue justice for our clients, said Chris Placitella, one of the lead lawyers representing plaintiffs in the cases consolidated in a New Jersey federal court.
    J&J said it will continue to sell cornstarch-based baby powder in North America, and will sell both its talc and cornstarch-based products in other markets around the world.
(Reporting by Carl ODonnell in New York and Lisa Girion in Los Angeles; Editing by Peter Henderson, Bill Berkrot, Rosalba OBrien and Lincoln Feast.)

5/20/2020 10K evacuated in Mich. following dam breaches by OAN Newsroom
Freeland resident Cyndi Ballien walks up to get a closer look as heavy rain floods North Gleaner Road near its intersection with Tittabawassee Road
on Tuesday, May 19, 2020, in Saginaw County, Mich. People living along two mid-Michigan lakes and parts of a river were evacuated Tuesday
following several days of heavy rain that produced flooding and put pressure on dams in the area. (Jake May/The Flint Journal via AP)
    Thousands of Michigan residents were forced to evacuate after heavy rains lead to two dam failures and flash flooding in lakeside areas of the state.
    On Tuesday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency and urged evacuations of Midland County, which is northwest of Detroit.    She noted the breach threatened to put Midlands downtown area under nine feet of water.
    Whitmer also emphasized the importance of maintaining COVID-19 precautions during the crisis.
    We are going to navigate this together, so please, to the best of your ability continue to wear a face covering when you go to a shelter or go stay with a friend or relative, she stated.    Please try to protect yourself if you are able and please make your best efforts to observe social distancing, and I know if youre at a shelter, its going to be very hard.
    County officials said roughly 10,000 people have been affected so far with no injuries or fatalities reported.    The states National Guard has been activated and is deploying high-water vehicles to the flood sites.

2/20/2020 Authorities investigate source of explosion at L.A. warehouse by OAN Newsroom
Investigators and firefighters gather at the scene of a fire and explosion Monday, May 18, 2020, in Los Angeles. The Fire Department was
at the nondescript commercial building late Saturday afternoon when there was a thunderous explosion that sent firefighters scrambling through
searing flames to get out of the building. Twelve firefighters were injured. All are expected to survive. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
    Officials are carrying out an investigation into an explosion in Los Angeles, California. The explosion took place Saturday at a warehouse hosting the operations of Smoke Tokes, which is a vape and marijuana accessories manufacturer.     50 investigators have been deployed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in order to ascertain the source of the explosion.
    According to city authorities, 12 firefighters were injured while responding to the fire. Eight of them have been released from the hospital already.
    Thanks to the great medical professionals, the courage of the firefighters, all of them are alive still today and we expect all of them to live, stated Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.    The toughest injuries, there was surgery on today for one of our firefighters and that went well and we now still have four that are hospitalized, three at County-USC and one out here in the Valley.
    The mayor also said the city is working to determine whether the company was operating under a legal license.

5/20/2020 Cyclone kills 14 in India, Bangladesh leaving trail of destruction by Subrata Nagchoudhary and Ruma Paul
Police officers carry a disabled man to a safer place following his evacuation from a slum area before
Cyclone Amphan makes its landfall, in Kolkata, India, May 20, 2020. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri
    KOLKATA/DHAKA (Reuters) A powerful cyclone pounded eastern India and Bangladesh on Wednesday, killing at least 14 people and destroying thousands of homes, officials said, leaving authorities struggling to mount relief efforts amid a surging coronavirus outbreak.
    The populous Indian state of West Bengal took the brunt of Cyclone Amphan, which barrelled out of the Bay of Bengal with gusting winds of up to 185 km per hour (115 mph) and a storm surge of around five metres.
    West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said at least 10 people had died in the state, and two districts been completely battered by one of the strongest storms to hit the region in several years.
    Area after area has been devastated. Communications are disrupted, Banerjee said, adding that although 500,000 people had been evacuated, state authorities had not entirely anticipated the ferocity of the storm.
    With rains continuing, she said the hardest hits areas were not immediately accessible.    Federal authorities said they could only make a proper assessment of the destruction on Thursday morning.
    We are facing greater damage and devastation than the CoVID-19, Banerjee said, referring to the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, which has so far killed 250 people in the state.
    In West Bengals capital city, Kolkata, strong winds upturned cars and felled trees and electricity poles.    Parts of the city were plunged into darkness.
    An official in the adjoining Hooghly district said thousands of mud homes were damaged by raging winds.
    In neighbouring Bangladesh, at least four people were killed, officials said, with power supplies cut off in some districts.
    Authorities there had shifted around 2.4 million people to more than 15,000 storm shelters this week.    Bangladeshi officials also said they had moved hundreds of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, living on a flood-prone island in the Bay of Bengal, to shelter.
    But officials said they feared that standing crops could be damaged and large tracts of fertile land in the densely-populated country washed away.
    Fortunately, the harvesting of the rice crop has almost been completed. Still it could leave a trail of destruction, said Mizanur Rahman Khan, a senior official in the Bangladesh agriculture ministry.
    Cyclones frequently batter parts of eastern India and Bangladesh between April and December, often forcing the evacuations of tens of thousands and causing widespread damage.
SURGE AND HIGH TIDE
    Surging waters broke through embankments surrounding an island in Bangladeshs Noakhali district, destroying more than 500 homes, local official Rezaul Karim said.
    We could avoid casualties as people were moved to cyclone centres earlier, Karim said.
    Embankments were also breached in West Bengals Sundarban delta, where weather authorities had said the surge whipped up by the cyclone could inundate up to 15 km inland.
    The ecologically-fragile region straddling the Indian-Bangladesh border is best known for thick mangrove forests that are a critical tiger habitat, and is home to around 4 million people in India.
    On the Sundarbans Ghoramara island, resident Sanjib Sagar said several embankments surrounding settlements had been damaged, and some flooding had started.
    A lot of houses have been damaged, he told Reuters by phone.
    Anamitra Anurag Danda, a senior fellow at the Observer Research Foundation think-tank who has extensively studied the Sundarbans, said that embankments across the area may have been breached.
    The cyclone surge coincided with the new moon high tides.    It is devastation in the coastal belt, he said.
(Additional reporting by Jatindra Dash in BHUBANESHWAR, Writing by Rupam Jain and Devjyot Ghoshal; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani, Nick Macfie, Alex Richardson and Nick Zieminski)

5/21/2020 Cyclone swamps parts of India, Bangladesh, evacuations keep death toll down by Ruma Paul and and Subrata Nagchoudhury
A man walks with his bicycle under an uprooted tree after Cyclone Amphan made its landfall, in South 24 Parganas
district, in the eastern state of West Bengal, India, May 21, 2020. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri
    KOLKATA/DHAKA (Reuters) Rescue teams searched for survivors in eastern India and Bangladesh on Thursday, a day after the most powerful cyclone in over a decade devastated coastal villages, tore down power lines, and left large tracts of land under water.
    The full extent of the casualties and damage to property inflicted by Cyclone Amphan would only be known once communications were restored, officials said.
    While at least a dozen people died in the Indian state of West Bengal and ten in neighbouring Bangladesh, mass evacuations organised by authorities undoubtedly saved countless lives.
    Most deaths were caused by trees uprooted by winds that gusted up to 185 km per hour (115 mph), and a storm surge of around five metres that inundated low-lying coastal areas when the cyclone barrelled in from the Bay of Bengal on Wednesday.
    I have never seen such a cyclone in my life. It seemed like the end of the world. All I could do was to pray Almighty Allah saved us, Azgar Ali, 49, a resident of Satkhira district on the Bangladesh coast told Reuters.
    Designated a super cyclone, Amphan has weakened since making landfall.    Moving inland through Bangladesh, it was downgraded to a cyclonic storm on Thursday by the Indian weather office.    And the storm was expected to subside into a depression later.
    Mohammad Asaduzzaman, a senior police official in Satkhira, described the destruction Amphan left in its wake.
    Devastation is huge.    Many villages are flooded. It tore off tin roofs, snapped power lines, and uprooted trees.
    Concern was growing over flooding in the Sundarbans, an ecologically-fragile region straddling the Indian-Bangladesh border, best known for thick mangrove forests and its tiger reserve.
    The tidal surge submerged some part of the forest, said Belayet Hossain, a forest official on the Bangladesh side of the forest.    We have seen trees uprooted, the tin-roofs of the guard towers blown off, he said.
    Over on the Indian side of the Sundarbans, a village official said embankments surrounding a low-lying island, where some 5,000 people live, had been washed away, and he had been unable to contact authorities for help.
    We have not been able inform them about anything since last night, the official, Sanjib Sagar," told Reuters.
MASS EVACUATIONS
    Authorities in both countries managed to evacuate more than three million people, moving them to storm shelters before Amphan struck.    But the evacuation effort was focused on communities that lay directly in the cyclones path, leaving villages on the flanks still vulnerable.
    Television images showed upturned boats on the shore, people wading through knee-deep water and buses crashed into each other.    The airport in Kolkata, West Bengals state capital, lay under water and several neighbourhoods in the city of 14 million people have had no electricity since the storm struck, according to residents.
    Pradip Kumar Dalui, an official in the states South 24 Parganas area, said that storm waters breached river embankments in several places, flooding over half a dozen villages, that were home for more than 100,000 people.
    Many mud houses have been destroyed because of the wind or fallen trees, Dalui told Reuters by telephone.    Electricity lines and phone connections were down in many places, but so far no deaths had been reported in this area, he said.
    The cyclone came at a time when the two countries are battling to stop the spread of the coronavirus, and some evacuees were initially reluctant to leave their homes for fear of possible infection in the packed storm shelters.
    Cyclones frequently batter parts of eastern India and Bangladesh between April and December, often forcing the evacuations of tens of thousands and causing widespread damage.
(GRAPHIC: Map of cyclone path https://ppe.graphics.reuters.com/ASIA-STORM/INDIA-BANGLADESH/xklpykdqpgd/Amphan-cyclone.jpg)
(Additional reporting by Devjyot Ghoshal in New Delhi, Jatindra Dash in Bhubaneshwar, Writing by Sanjeev Miglani; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

5/21/2020 What you need to know about the coronavirus right now
Quarantine workers spray disinfectants in a concert hall which is going to reopen next week, amid the global
outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Seoul, South Korea, May 21, 2020. Yonhap/via REUTERS
    (Reuters) Heres what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
A long way to go
    The World Health Organization is starting to raise the alarm bell about the rising number of new coronavirus cases in poor countries, even as many rich nations emerge from lockdowns.
    The global health body said on Wednesday 106,000 new cases had been recorded in the previous 24 hours, the most in a single day since the outbreak began.
    We still have a long way to go in this pandemic, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
    Global coronavirus cases have surpassed 5 million, with Latin America overtaking the United States and Europe in the past week to report the largest portion of new daily cases.
Vaccine: high hopes and a reality-check
    The United States said it will pump up to $1.2 billion into developing AstraZenecas COVID-19 vaccine and confirmed that it would order 300 million doses.
    U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said he hoped the first doses of the vaccine, which is being developed with the University of Oxford, would be available by October.
    AstraZeneca meanwhile stressed it was still awaiting results from an early stage trial to know if the vaccine worked at all.
China fur and traditional medicine trade to continue?
    Chinas parliament is preparing new laws to ban the trade and consumption of wildlife, following on from a temporary move in January after exotic animals traded in a Wuhan market were identified as the most likely source of COVID-19.     That means practices that lead to cross-species virus transmission could continue, said Peter Li, China policy specialist with Humane Society International, an animal rights group.    Chinas annual national session of parliament, delayed from March, starts on Friday.
Sports and sleep wear over suits and ties
    The new best sellers at Marks & Spencer are sports wear, sleep wear and bras, while sales of suits and ties are down to a dribble, as the lockdown transforms shoppers priorities, Britains biggest clothing retailer said on Wednesday.
    What customers are buying is completely different from what it would have been a year ago, M&S chairman Archie Norman told reporters, after the 136-year-old group published annual results and its response to the pandemic.
    Along with surging sales of jogging pants, hoodies and leggings, an emphasis on home comforts and family needs has boosted bedding sales by 150%.
(Compiled by Karishma Singh and Mark John; editing by Nick Macfie)

5/21/2020 Officials assessing damage in wake of Mich. flooding
Ryan Stadelmaier, 16, gives a piggyback ride to his sister Rachel Stadelmaier, 27, as they cross Walden Woods Drive while
helping residents tend to their flooded homes, Wednesday, May 20, 2020, in Midland, Mich. (Katy Kildee/Midland Daily News via AP)
    Residents in Michigan began picking up the pieces Thursday in the wake of severe flooding.    Authorities are assessing the damage left behind a few days after a dam in Midland County along the Tittabawassee River became overwhelmed by heavy rain.
    Several thousand people have been evacuated and a state of emergency has been declared.

Firefighters launch a boat as the Tittabawassee River overflows, Wednesday, May 20, 2020, in Midland, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
    Michigans governor has expressed gratitude for those on the front lines.
    I want to start by thanking our first responders, who did heroic work in the late hours, in the midst of global pandemic, to get people out and to keep them safe.    The damage is truly devastating. To see how high the water levels are, to see roofs barely visible in parts of midland and to see a lake thats been drained in another part.    Its truly remarkable how much damage we have sustained.    But I think the most remarkable thing that I saw yesterday was people that were stepping up to help one another and take care of one another. Gretchen Whitmer, Governor of Michigan
    Residents downstream have been warned of more potential flooding.    According to officials, they probably wont know the full extent of the damage for several days.
    In the meantime, the dams operators are being investigated.
Freeland resident Cyndi Ballien walks up to get a closer look as heavy rain floods North Gleaner Road near its
intersection with Tittabawassee Road on Tuesday, May 19, 2020, in Saginaw County, Mich. (Jake May/The Flint Journal via AP)

5/23/2020 Factbox: Latest on the worldwide spread of the coronavirus
Health care workers at the ward for patients infected with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) applaud
after receiving a thank you note from the relatives of patients, at the Hospital General La Perla Nezahualcoyotl,
in Mexico City, Mexico May 22, 2020. Picture taken May 22, 2020. REUTERS/Gustavo Graf
    (Reuters) Brazil became the world No. 2 hotspot for coronavirus cases on Friday, second only to the United States, after it confirmed that 330,890 people had been infected by the virus, the Health Ministry said.
    It registered 1,001 daily coronavirus deaths on Friday, taking total deaths to 21,048.    President Jair Bolsonaro has been widely criticized for his handling of the outbreak and is at the center of a deepening political crisis.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* More than 5.23 million people were reported to have been infected globally with the virus and 337,887 have died, according to a Reuters tally.
* For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread, open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.
* For a U.S.-focused tracker with state-by-state and county map, open https://tmsnrt.rs/2w7hX9T in an external browser.
* For Eikon users, click on MacroVitals cpurl://apps.cp./cms/?navid=1592404098 for a case tracker and a summary of developments.
EUROPE
* Spain will reopen its borders to tourism in July and its top soccer division will kick off again in June, the prime minister on Saturday, as one of Europes toughest coronavirus lockdowns starts to ease.    Pedro Sanchezs announcement coincided with calls for his resignation over the impact of the lockdown on jobs and the economy from the far-right Vox party, who called a protest through central Madrid that drew thousands of horn-honking cars and motorbikes. [L8N2D5079]
* British Prime Minister Boris Johnson resisted calls on Saturday from opposition parties to sack adviser Dominic Cummings after he travelled 400 km while his wife showed COVID-19 symptoms to ensure their son could be looked after by his family.
* Russia said 9,434 new cases of the coronavirus had been reported in the last 24 hours, pushing its nationwide tally to 335,882.    It also reported 139 new fatalities after a record of 150 deaths the day before, bringing the death toll to 3,388.
* Britain will introduce a COVID-19 quarantine for travellers arriving from abroad from June 8, interior minister Priti Patel said, a measure that airlines have warned will devastate their industry. All international arrivals, including returning Britons, will have to self-isolate for 14 days.
AMERICAS
* Mexico on Friday registered a record for coronavirus deaths on a single day, posting 479 more deaths along with 2,960 new infections, according to health ministry data. Authorities have now reported 62,527 total cases of the coronavirus and 6,989 deaths since detecting the first cases in Mexico in late February.
* The Trump administration weighed in on a lawsuit brought against Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzkers coronavirus stay-at-home orders, with a rare federal court filing in support of the legal challenge he faces over his emergency powers.
    The U.S. Justice Departments filing in Illinois marked another escalation by the administration in confronting state governors it sees as going too far with restrictions meant to quell the coronavirus pandemic.
* As the United States into the long Memorial Day holiday weekend, Americans are back on the road after more than two months of coronavirus lockdowns that kept them homebound, with beach-area traffic tripling since the low point in mid-April.
ASIA-PACIFIC
* China recorded no new confirmed COVID-19 cases on the mainland for May 22, the first time it had seen no daily rise in the number of cases since the pandemic began in the central city of Wuhan late last year.
* Australias most populous state, New South Wales, said on Saturday it recorded just three new cases of the coronavirus the previous day and urged younger people to get tested as it prepared to further loosen restrictions on pubs and restaurants.
* Coronavirus cases in Singapore topped 30,000 as the city-state reported hundreds of new infections in cramped migrant worker dormitories every day.
* A new cluster of coronavirus infections has broken out in Malaysia at a detention centre for undocumented migrants, authorities said.
* Indonesia confirmed 949 new coronavirus infections, taking its total to 21,745, the health ministry said.    There were 25 new deaths, taking the total to 1,351.
* Japans central bank created its own version of the U.S. Federal Reserves Main Street lending programme to channel more money to small businesses.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Iran moved to open businesses, religious and cultural sites as it eases restrictions imposed to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
Museums and historical sites are to reopen on Sunday to coincide with the Eid el-Fitr celebrations that end the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, President Hassan Rouhani said. Holy shrines will reopen on Monday.
* A woman has died in Gaza Strip after contracting coronavirus, the Palestinian enclaves first fatality from the global pandemic, the health ministry said.
ECONOMIC FALLOUT
* Car rental firm Hertz Global Holdings Inc HTZ.N filed for bankruptcy protection on Friday after its business was decimated during the coronavirus pandemic and talks with creditors failed to result in much needed relief.
    The firm, whose largest shareholder is billionaire investor Carl Icahn with a nearly 39% ownership stake, is reeling from government orders restricting travel and requiring citizens to remain home.
* Oil prices tumbled and global equity markets wavered on Friday as Chinas move to impose a new security law on Hong Kong further strained U.S.-Sino relations and clouded economic recovery prospects.[MKTS/GLOB]
* Unemployment rates rose and total employment fell in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia in April due to lockdowns, the Labor Department said.
* China dropped its annual growth target for the first time and pledged more government spending as the COVID-19 pandemic hammers its economy.
(Compiled by Angus MacSwan; Editing by John Stonestreet)

5/25/2020 South Korean cafe hires robot barista to help with social distancing by Hyonhee Shin
Customers wait at a cafe where a robot that takes orders, makes coffee and brings the drinks
straight to customers is being used in Daejeon, South Korea, May 25, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
    DAEJEON, South Korea (Reuters) The new robot barista at the cafe in Daejeon, South Korea, is courteous and swift as it seamlessly makes its way towards customers.
    Here is your Rooibos almonds tea latte, please enjoy.    Its even better if you stir it, it says, as a customer reaches for her drink on a tray installed within the large, gleaming white capsule-shaped computer.
    After managing to contain an outbreak of the new coronavirus which infected more than 11,000 people and killed 267, South Korea is slowly transitioning from intensive social distancing rules towards what the government calls distancing in daily life.
    Robots could help people observe social distancing in public, said Lee Dong-bae, director of research at Vision Semicon, a smart factory solution provider which developed the barista robot together with a state-run science institute.
    Our system needs no input from people from order to delivery, and tables were sparsely arranged to ensure smooth movements of the robots, which fits will with the current untact and distancing campaign, he said.
    The system, which uses a coffee-making robotic arm and a serving robot, can make 60 different types of coffee and serves the drinks to customers at their seats. It can also communicate and transmit data to other devices and contains self-driving technology to calculate the best routes around the cafe.
    An order of six drinks, processed through a kiosk, took just seven minutes.    The only human employee at the two-storey cafe was a patissier who also has some cleaning duties and refills ingredients.
    The manufacturer and the scientific institute aim to supply at least 30 cafes with robots this year.
    Robots are fun and it was easy because you dont have to pick up your order, said student Lee Chae-mi, 23.    But Im also a bit of worried about the job market as many of my friends are doing part-time jobs at cafes and these robots would replace humans.
(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

5/25/2020 Nation faces severe weather conditions, including storms & heat waves by OAN Newsroom
    Extreme weather conditions struck the nation and affected millions of Americans.     Over the weekend, two people in North Carolina died after 60 mile-per-hour winds swept through the states capital.    Both men were killed by fallen trees that were uprooted due to high winds.
    The Midwest faced thunderstorm warnings from Illinois to Iowa.    Multiple Chicago area counties saw up to two inches of rain in just an hour, which caused flash flooding and power outages.
    Meanwhile, Texas encountered grapefruit-sized hail damaging buildings and cars in the northern part of the state.    The hailstorm affected at least 50 businesses, but no injuries or deaths were reported.
    On the contrary, the nations southwestern region is set to heat up in the coming days with some cities under excessive heat watches.    Desert region temperatures are even expected to top the triple digits.

5/25/2020 Bust-up over climate weighs on EU-UK talks, risks trade rifts by Gabriela Baczynska and Kate Abnett
FILE PHOTO: European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier and British Prime Minister's Europe adviser
David Frost 5 are seen at start of the first round of post -Brexit trade deal talks between the EU
and the United Kingdom, in Brussels, Belgium March 2, 2020. Oliver Hoslet/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
    BRUSSELS (Reuters) Britains refusal to seal climate commitments in a new deal with the European Union to govern their relations after Brexit has become a stumbling block in their deadlocked talks and raises the risk of future trade disputes.
    While Britain has joined the global Paris agreement to fight climate change and has its own ambitious emissions-cutting goals, London has refused to make binding commitments in the area in the new deal it is seeking with the EU from 2021.
    This creates big problems with the level playing field and is increasingly politically sensitive in the EU, said an official from the 27-nation bloc.
    Britain has a legally-binding target to reduce its net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050.    The EUs executive Commission wants to set the same goal for the bloc, although it has yet to secure the support of all member states.
    Yet their bust-up over climate provisions in the new deal reflects fundamental differences about the nature of their future relationship.
    The EU is trying to put this into the trade deal in another example of how it is seeking to continue influencing domestic UK policies, said a British official.
    The EU wants to keep Britain closely aligned under a broad deal that, beyond trade, would cover security, fisheries and multiple other fields, including climate.
    But London wants to break away from the EUs orbit and prefers a trimmed-down trade deal only.
LEVEL PLAYING FIELD
    The level playing field extensive guarantees of fair competition ranging from labour and climate standards to state aid is a key EU demand in the talks with Britain, a large economy on its doorstep.    Brussels fears that UK imports could otherwise undercut the EUs cherished single market.
    London rejects such commitments after Britons voted narrowly to leave the EU in 2016 under the slogan of taking back control of their own laws and regulations.
    The rift raises the possibility of future trade disputes over climate as Brussels has pledged to impose carbon border costs on imports from countries with less stringent climate policies than its own.
    Britains long-term emissions targets currently match the EUs ambitions.
    But Brussels officials say that without binding climate commitments in the new EU-UK deal it is unclear what would happen if one party set a more ambitious emissions-cutting goal or amended its carbon pricing policies in a way that ended the current level playing field on climate policies.
    Britain formally left the EU in January and is now in a status-quo transition period till December.    The two sides have given themselves until the end of June to assess progress in the talks, now largely stalled, on their new relationship.
    They can either agree to extend their negotiations beyond the end of the year something London refuses to do or face an economically disruptive no-deal Brexit.
(Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska and Kate Abnett; Editing by Gareth Jones)

5/26/2020 SpaceXs astronauts set to slay Dragon - NASA veterans have a long history and bond by Antonia Jaramillo, Florida Today USA TODAY
    Its not every day that you get to see your husband fly to space.    Its even more unusual when you can relate to that experience, as well.
    Thats whats in store for NASA astronauts Megan McArthur and Karen Nyberg when their spouses, Robert Behnken and Doug Hurley, break the nine-year drought on crewed flights from Kennedy Space Center on Wednesday.
    From the safe confines of KSC, Mc-Arthur and Nyberg, along with their sons, will watch as Behnken, 49, and Hurley, 53, blast off from pad 39A on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule for a historic mission to the International Space Station that will place them in the Astronaut Hall of Fame.
    McArthur and Nyberg will know the excitement running through Behnkens and Hurleys veins as they become the first astronauts to fly to space from U.S. soil since the shuttle program ended in 2011 and the first to command an entirely new spacecraft since the debut of the shuttle in 1981.
    And yes, they will know the dangers that come along with human spaceflight, too.
    For Behnken and Hurley, the flight is a career-capping opportunity thats even more special because of their friendship, which began when they joined the astronaut class in 2000.
    Behnken, who is from New York, and Hurley, who is from Missouri, have developed a bond. Not only were they military test pilots, they also met their spouses in the same astronaut class and attended each others weddings. Hurley was Behnkens best man.
    The close-knit astronaut couples, who reside in Houston, have learned to balance work and family while dealing with the occasional spaceflight.
    They are not the only astronaut couples.    Rhea Seddon and Hoot Gibson, Bill and Anna Fisher, and Steve Hawley and Sally Ride, who were all part of the first shuttle astronaut class to include women, also got together when they were in the space program, according to Air & Space Magazine.
    The first woman in space, Russian Valentina Tereshkova, married fellow cosmonaut Andriyan Nikolayev,the third Russian to fly to space.     They divorced in 1980. It makes it easier to get along (with other astronauts) because you come from similar backgrounds ... and when you arrive as a brand new astronaut, you know a little bit about the astronauts who are already there, former space shuttle astronaut Winston Scott told Florida Today.
    This will be Behnken and Hurleys first spaceflight together, and it will be unlike past trips.
    Theyll be in a capsule rather than a shuttle.    They wont wear the traditional orange shuttle suits.
    On the day of the launch, theyll don SpaceXs white-and-gray spacesuits and ride in Teslas SpaceX CEO Elon Musks other company to the pad where they will pave the way for a new type of spaceflight: one in which astronauts fly on commercial vehicles.
    Under NASAs Commercial Crew Program, SpaceX beat Boeing to be the first contender to fly astronauts to the station.    This mission, dubbed Demonstration Mission 2 or Demo-2, is a milestone aimed at proving SpaceX can send humans safely to space.
Robert Behnken, left, and Doug Hurley will be the first NASA astronauts to fly a commercial spacecraft. NASA

5/26/2020 New wave of locusts raises fear for summer crops in India by Mayank Bhardwaj
FILE PHOTO: A swarm of desert locusts flies over a ranch near the town of Nanyuki in Laikipia county,
Kenya, February 21, 2020. Picture taken February 21, 2020. REUTERS/Baz Ratner/File Photo
    NEW DELHI (Reuters) A new wave of locust attacks has alarmed Indias farmers and experts warn of extensive crop losses if authorities fail to curb fast-spreading swarms by June when monsoon rains spur rice, cane, corn, cotton and soybean sowing.
    Desert locusts have engulfed around 35,000 hectares in Indias seven heartland states, threatening some vegetable and pulse crops, government officials and farm experts said.
    Despite large-scale infestations, the government and agricultural experts do not foresee major crop damage for now as it is the lean season the gap between the previous harvest and the next planting season.
    But experts warn that the federal and state governments will have to stop locusts in their tracks in the next couple of weeks to ensure that swarms do not end up devouring summer crops.
    Despite the unprecedented scale of the locust attack, we havent seen any major crop loss, but weve got a very short window to tackle the problem. Otherwise, we wont be able to save our summer crops, said Bhagirath Choudhary, director of the South Asia Biotech Centre, a non-profit scientific society.
    India is battling its worst desert locust outbreak in decades with infestations radiating through much of the western states of Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra, central state of Madhya Pradesh and Punjab, and Haryana and Uttar Pradesh in the north.
    Higher than normal temperatures have helped locusts spread more rapidly, Choudhary said.
    Earlier this year, farmers salvaged their wheat and oilseed crops from a previous locust scourge.
    India is determined to tackle the problem by bolstering the state-run Locust Warning Organization (LWO), said Kailash Choudhary, a junior minister for agriculture.    The government has beefed up the LWO workforce and bought new equipment and vehicles to survey and spray insecticides, he said.
(Reporting by Mayank Bhardwaj with additional reporting by Saurabh Sharma in Lucknow and Sumit Khanna in Ahmedabad; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

5/27/2020 Making history, Musk aims for future - Auto tycoon reaches for the stars and Mars by Emre Kelly Florida Today USA TODAY NETWORK
    BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. On Wednesday, SpaceX, Elon Musks nearly 20-year-old company, is slated to fulfill its most important mission to date.
    Two astronauts are scheduled to board a Crew Dragon capsule and launch from Florida on a trajectory toward the International Space Station.    Itll mark the first time the company has launched humans, as well as the first time in nearly a decade that astronauts take flight from American soil on American rockets.
    To succeed, everything launch, orbit, docking, then departure and splashdown will have to be perfect.    Astronauts Robert Behnken and Doug Hurley depend on it.
    That Musk built this kind of highrisk, high-reward scenario isnt by chance.
    For decades, the 48-year-old entrepreneur has used his business acumen to break into entrenched industries ranging from finance to launch services to transportation.
    SpaceX, traded privately, passed a $30 billion valuation, and Tesla became the most valuable American carmaker this year, eclipsing veterans such as Ford and General Motors.
    Musks hard-charging ways have sometimes landed him in hot water.    He stepped down as Teslas chairman over government concerns sparked bytweets he made about taking the company private.
    How did Musk, worth about $35 billion, get to the point of putting humans on pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center?    And what does he want in the long run?
    To understand, well need to start about 8,000 miles away in South Africa.
Early life and move into business
    Born to a model mother and engineer father in Pretoria, South Africa, Musk grew up with a voracious appetite for reading, technology and computers.    Those interests became particularly important when he was bullied in school, he has said during interviews, and they helped form the basis for his technical disposition.
    Before his teenage years, he had started writing computer software.
    Hes a guy with unlimited ambition, his brother, Kimbal, said during a 60 Minutes interview in 2014.    Its not a typical type of ambition.    His mind just needs to be constantly fulfilled, and the problems that he takes on therefore need to be more and more complex over time in order to keep him interested.
    He found more complex problems to solve in North America, where he had ties through his Canada-born mother and American grandparents.    Degrees in physics and economics from the University of Pennsylvania paved the way for him to pursue graduate school at Stanford, but he left before earning a degree.    Business ideas dominated his mind.
    It seemed like the vast majority of such things came from the United States, Musk told 60 Minutes, speaking on the topic of Silicon Valley-produced software.    I also read a lot of comic books, and they all seemed to be set in the United States.    So its like, Well, Im going to go to this place.    His first major business venture was Zip2, a kind of online directory founded in 1995 that included maps a major feature considering digital directions wouldnt become ubiquitous until smartphones came along more than a decade later.    The company developed online city guides for The New York Times, which reported in 1999 that Zip2 was sold to Compaq Computer for $300 million.
    In 1999, Musk co-founded X.com, one of the first online financial services companies.    After a series of mergers and transitions, it was renamed to something more familiar to todays users: PayPal.
    When the company was acquired by eBay for $1.5 billion in 2002, Musk made about $160 million from the deal, setting him up to personally invest in his longforming dream of starting Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX.
How NASA saved SpaceX
    Musk knew he was entering an entrenched, high-risk industry: In the beginning, I actually wouldnt even let my friends invest because everyone would lose their money.    I thought Id rather lose my own money.
    Musk was convinced he could bring down the cost of access to space. Enter Falcon 1.
    Over the years, Musk has been clear: NASA saved SpaceX.    After Falcon 1 failed to reach orbit three times but succeeded on the fourth try, his upstart company was strapped for cash and turning the page to its final chapter.    Two days before Christmas 2008, NASA announced SpaceX had been awarded a $1.6 billion contract to fly supplies to the International Space Station, a program now known as Commercial Resupply Services.
    Since 2012, SpaceX has flown Dragon to the ISS 20 times on newer Falcon 9 rockets.    Its Crew Dragon capsule has flown to the station once and is slated for a second trip with Behnken and Hurley.
    Along the way, his company staged coup after coup.    In 2007, it acquired the rights to lease Cape Canaveral Air Force Stations Launch Complex 40, which hosted Titan rockets.
    He was most impressive in cobbling together what was needed for a successful launch site with scraps and whatever was available, said Dale Ketcham, Space Florida vice president of government and external relations. Some of his most impressive achievements were based on his ability to make stuff happen by using what was available and using simple physics to get done what needed to get done.
    That was contrary to how things had been done up until that point, Ketcham said.
    Aside from his primary ambition of taking payloads and humans to Mars, one of Musks major goals is reusability.    An airline doesnt discard a Boeing 747 after each flight; similarly, Musk wants rockets to be reused.
    More than 50 SpaceX boosters have flown back to Earth either to Florida, California or an offshore drone ship where some were refurbished for future flights.
    The launch providers pricing supports Musks belief that reusability will bring down the cost of flying people and cargo to orbit.    A typical Falcon 9 launch costs $50 million to $60 million, which is significantly cheaper than other orbital vehicles in its class.
    With Starlink, the companys constellation of low-orbit satellites that beam internet connectivity to the ground, Musk is building the revenue streams necessary to fund his desire to build a vehicle capable of going to Mars.    That vehicle, known as Starship, is a massive rocket in prototype form at SpaceXs remote facility in Boca Chica, Texas.
    Garrett Reisman, a space shuttle astronaut and engineer who joined SpaceX in 2011 and consults for the company, said a portion of Musks success is driven by his fascination with engineering and technology.
    I first met Elon for my job interview, Reisman told the USA TODAY Networks Florida Today.    All he wanted to talk about were technical things.    We talked a lot about different main propulsion system design architectures."
    At the end of my interview, I said, Hey, are you sure you want to hire me? Youve already got an astronaut, so are you sure you need two around here? Reisman asked.    He looked at me and said, Im not hiring you because youre an astronaut.    Im hiring you because youre a good engineer.
Tesla
    Musks tech and engineering involvement doesnt stop at SpaceX.     Electric car and solar energy company Tesla fits into his overall vision of colonizing Mars while making Earth more habitable.    Musk invested in the fledgling company in 2004 and ascended to its leadership position, though he often works on the factory floor.
    The luxury Model S sedan helped pave the way for newer, more affordable vehicles such as the Model 3 and Model Y.    Tesla heavily markets energy options such as solar roof tiles and battery-supported grids that can help power entire communities.
    Despite heavy fluctuations on Wall Street, the company routinely speeds past valuations in excess of $100 billion, fighting for top spots among the most valuable automakers in the world.
    Managing SpaceX and Tesla, building out new businesses and maintaining relationships with his family makes Musk a busy billionaire.
    Hes obviously skilled at all those different functions, but certainly what really drives him and where his passion really is, is his role as CTO, or chief technology officer, Reisman said.    Basically his role as chief designer and chief engineer.    Thats the part of the job that really plays to his strengths.
Controversies
    Having Musks personality intertwined with his companies comes with drawbacks. Hes no stranger to controversy.
    In July 2018, he took to Twitter and slammed a British diver who criticized Musks attempt at rescuing a Thai soccer team stuck in a cave.    Musk called the diver a pedo guy, which caused considerable backlash and a lawsuit, but Musk was cleared by a jury.
    A few months later, the Securities and Exchange Commission set its sights on the billionaire, who had tweeted private funding was secured to buy all the companys outstanding shares and make it private.    When the claim about financing didnt prove true, the SEC sued, claiming that his tweets misled investors and stockholders.
    Musk settled with the SEC. Aside from fines, he was forced to step down as Tesla chairman but continued as CEO.    He agreed to have his tweets monitored and cleared by higher-ups in the company.
    More recently, hes found himself in the crosshairs of medical professionals and government officials around the world.    His tweet claiming that the coronavirus pandemic would involve close to zero new cases in the U.S. by the end of April proved to be false, and he reopened a Tesla factory in California before officials gave the go-ahead.
    Tesla is restarting production today against Alameda County rules, he tweeted May 11.    I will be on the line with everyone else.    If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me.
    The controversies havent slowed SpaceX and Tesla.
    Hes a guy thats brilliant, successful and has more irons in the fire than almost any human on the planet, Ketcham said.    Hes under a lot of pressure and is doing what he thinks is right. When he thinks hes on the right path, hes not afraid to tell people.    But thats worked for him, and that will work for him until it doesnt.
Elon Musk, left, speaks with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and astronauts Victor Glover, Doug Hurley, Robert Behnken
and Mike Hopkins. Hurley and Behnken are scheduled to fly to the International Space Station. JOEL KOWSKY/NASA

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has ambitions to fly people to Mars on reusable rockets. CRAIG BAILEY/USA TODAY NETWORK

5/27/2020 Historic NASA, SpaceX launch delayed due to weather by OAN Newsroombr>
A SpaceX Falcon 9, with NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken in the Dragon crew capsule, prepared to lift off from
Pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Wednesday, May 27, 2020. (AP Photo/Chris OMeara)
    This weeks historic NASA-SpaceX launch has been postponed due to weather conditions.
    Mission managers decided to call off the launch as gray skies and thunderstorms surrounded the launch pad on Wednesday.    A tornado warning was issued earlier in the day.
    The Falcon 9 rocket and its crew were scheduled for liftoff at 4:33 p.m. from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
    The next launch opportunity will be this weekend.    President Trump has said hell be there to watch.
    If successful, the launch will be the first manned space mission since the shuttle program was retired in 2011.    It is also the first time NASA has worked with a private company.
    One America News will air live, uninterrupted coverage of the event on Saturday, May 30th at 3:22 p.m. EST / 12:22 p.m. PST!

5/28/2020 Mammoth skeletons dug up at Mexico City airport construction site by David Alire Garcia
A mammoth bone is pictured under a red tent at a site where archaeologists of Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology
and History (INAH) work to unearth the remains, which include the bones of more than 10,000-year-old mammoths from the
construction site of Mexico's new international airport, in Zumpango, near Mexico City May 26, 2020. REUTERS/Henry Romero
    ZUMPANGO, Mexico (Reuters) Alongside construction crews racing to build the Mexican capitals new airport, skulls and curving tusks of massive mammoths peek through the dirt as archaeologists dig up more and more bones belonging to the ice ages most famous mammal.
    The latest discoveries include two huge skulls, along with scattered ribs and limbs, found just inside the perimeter of where a new civilian airport is being built, about 30 miles (50km) north of downtown Mexico City.
    To date, some 70 individual mammoths have been unearthed since late last year.    Dating back more than 10,000 years, this part of Mexico once teemed with mammoth herds, drawn to the lush grasslands and lakes that dotted the landscape.
    The hulking bones left behind spawned legends of giants that dazzled both indigenous civilizations and Spanish conqueror Hernan Cortes.
    Standing next to one partial skeleton, lead archeologist Ruben Manzanilla, explains that this spot likely would have been part of a meandering shoreline thick with mud on the edge of a lake formed at the end of the last ice age.
    When an animal this size fell here, it got stuck and couldnt escape, he said, as a convoy of construction trucks rumbled down a dusty road.
    Manzanillas Columbian mammoth, which unlike its cousin the wooly mammoth had little fur, certainly lived up to its imposing name.
    He estimates it weighed roughly 20 tonnes, or double that of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, and reached a height of more than 4 meters (13 ft), about twice as tall as pro-basketball legend Shaquille ONeal.
    Manzanilla believes countless mammoths likely succumbed to the muck, but he also points to evidence from nearby sites that early human hunters also used flint spears to bring them down and set rudimentary traps in the water.
    The urban footprint of metropolitan Mexico City, home to 22 million people, has since replaced nearly all of the inter-connected lakes that filled the area through Aztec times.
    Two Tlaxcalan kings in 1519 showed Cortes what was likely a mammoth femur and told him they descended from terrible but very tall men, according to an account by the conquerors contemporary, soldier-turned-chronicler Bernal Diaz del Castillo.
    We were sure there had been giants in this land, wrote Diaz del Castillo.
    The incident is summarized in an article on the history of mammoths in Mexico in the current issue of Arqueologia Mexicana by Leonardo Lopez Lujan.
    Even as more mammoth remains turn up, the digs have not slowed progress on the new airport, a top priority for President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
    Since the construction site lies within an existing air force base, the military is also picking up the tab for team of 30 archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), along with nearly 200 laborers, working on the project.
(Reporting by David Alire Garcia; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Diane Craft)

5/28/2020 U.S. Space Force drops make history recruiting ad by OAN Newsroom
    The Space Force recently released a new ad, which encouraged viewers to join the newly formed military arm.    The 30 second recruitment spot came after the initiation of the newest branch of the nations Armed Forces, which will allow members of the U.S. Air Force to transfer over in coming months.
    This is an historic time to be in the space business and I could not be more excited to extend the opportunity to our active duty Air Force members to officially transfer into the Space Force, stated General Jay Raymond, the new U.S. Chief of Space Operations.
    The ad showcased a young woman striving to make history as she looks up at the stars.
    The video also featured elements of technological advances the U.S. has made leading up the ads release.
    Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett announced that the ad, which is currently online, will soon air on television.

5/29/2020 COVID-19 robot patrol rolled out in Belgian hospitals by Clement Rossignol and Christian Levaux
A visitor at University Hospital Antwerp (UZA) interacts with a robot called CRUZR, made available by the
Belgian company ZoraBots to hospitals and other locations to control temperature and good positioning of the protective face mask,
amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Antwerp, Belgium May 29, 2020. REUTERS/Yves Herman
    ANTWERP (Reuters) Robots that speak more than 53 languages, detect fever and determine if people are wearing face masks properly have been rolled out in Belgium as a first line of control in hospitals and shops.
    People arriving at the University Hospital Antwerp from Tuesday will answer questions online or at an interactive kiosk.    The robot will scan a QR code, review their answers, check their temperature and determine if they are wearing a mask correctly.
    Fabrice Goffin, chief executive of Belgium-based Zorabots, said his robots had been in hospitals, care homes and hotels since 2013, but had now found a new role. His robots will not test for COVID-19, but could provide useful signs.
    The big advantage of this robot relative to a fixed terminal is that the robot can move, can go towards people, can speak to people and speak in their native tongue.    It speaks more than 53 languages, he told Reuters TV.
    Michael Vanmechelen, manager of the hospitals operating theatres, said someone displaying signs of fever could be steered by the robot, a non-touch device, to a separate area.
    The hospital typically receives 2,000 patients a day and is due to start readmitting visitors next week as life in Belgium returns to relative normality after the coronavirus lockdown.
    Jan Bussels, head of digitopia, which developed the software and interface, said the robot was designed to help take over repetitive work and allow over-stretched medical staff to focus on their core job as care givers.    The robot was also able to learn on the job, he said.
    The robots, typically costing 30,000 euros ($33,357), had also been sold to clinics in France, the Netherlands, the United States and Rwanda, and are also in some Belgian computer stores.
(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

5/30/2020 Rwandan medical workers deploy robots to minimize coronavirus risk by Clement Uwiringiyimana
A high-tech robot developed by Zora Bots, a Belgium-based company, and donated by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP)
checks the temperature of a health worker during a demonstration at the Kanyinya treatment centre that treats coronavirus
disease (COVID-19) patients, in Kigali, Rwanda May 29, 2020. Picture taken May 29, 2020. REUTERS/Clement Uwiringiyimana
    KIGALI (Reuters) At the Kanyinya COVID-19 treatment facility a short distance from Rwandas capital Kigali, Akazuba, Ikizere and Ngabo report for duty, but these are no ordinary health care workers.
    In a bid to minimize contact between patients infected with the coronavirus and doctors and nurses, the country has deployed the three robots to carry out simple tasks like taking temperatures and monitoring patients.
    The sleek white robots, with big bright blue eyes and a rather human appearance, were donated by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and are helping frontline workers tackle the coronavirus crisis in the East African nation which so far has 355 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 disease.
    The three robots that we have are part of the treating team, said David Turatsinze, a doctor at the 75-bed facility, which housed 65 patients when the Reuters team visited.
    By relaying messages to doctors and helping the team assess the effectiveness of their clinical decisions, the robots cut the number of bedside visits that doctors have to make.
    Francine Umutesi, a bio-medical engineer who works as a health technology operations specialist at the ministry of health, said the robots were a first for Africa and had the potential to offer even more support to medical teams.
    It doesnt remove the tasks the doctors are supposed to do, its just complementing their efforts, she said.
    Rwanda already uses drones to deliver blood and enforce restrictions designed to slow the spread of COVID-19.    There are two more robots at the countrys other COVID-19 treatment center, Nyamata, in south east Kigali.
    Officials said the robots will be programmed to carry out additional tasks.
    In the future if they are programmed to take even blood pressure and the (blood) sugar, that definitely would be so helpful, said Turatsinze.
(Writing by Duncan Miriri; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

5/31/2020 NASA, SpaceX launch manned mission - Historic first for a private company by Emre Kelly and Joel Shannon, USA TODAY
    BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. A pillar of fire tore through the skies above Kennedy Space Center on Saturday as NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley returned to space on a historic mission nearly a decade in the making.
    The flight, known as Crew Dragon Demo-2, bridges the gap left behind by the space shuttle programs final flight in July 2011.    Its the first time a private company has sent humans into orbit and the first time in nearly a decade that the United States has launched astronauts into orbit from U.S. soil.    Ever since the space shuttle was retired in 2011, NASA has relied on Russian spaceships launched from Kazakhstan to take U.S. astronauts to and from the space station.     Lets light this candle, Hurley said just before ignition, borrowing the words used by Alan Shepard on Americas first human spaceflight, in 1961.
    The two men are scheduled to arrive at the International Space Station on Sunday for a stay of up to four months, after which they will return to Earth in a Right Stuff-style splashdown at sea.
    The mission unfolded amid the gloom of the coronavirus outbreak, which has killed over 100,000 Americans, and racial unrest across the U.S. over the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man, at the hands of Minneapolis police.    NASA officials and others held out hope the flight would would be a morale-booster.
    Maybe theres an opportunity here for America to maybe pause and look up and see a bright, shining moment of hope at what the future looks like, that the United States of America can do extraordinary things even in difficult times, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said before launch.
    With the on-time liftoff, SpaceX, founded by Musk, the Tesla electric-car visionary, pulled off a feat achieved previously by only three governments: the U.S., Russia and China.
    The flight also ended a nine-year launch drought for NASA, the longest such hiatus in its history.    Ever since it retired the space shuttle in 2011, NASA has relied on Russian spaceships launched from Kazakhstan to take U.S. astronauts to and from the space station.
    In the intervening years, NASA outsourced the job of designing and building its next generation of spaceships to SpaceX and Boeing, awarding them $7 billion in contracts in a public-private partnership aimed at driving down costs and spurring innovation.    Boeings spaceship, the Starliner capsule, is not expected to fly astronauts until early 2021.
    Saturdays launch followed days of concern about weather conditions and a scrubbed launch Wednesday.
    Bridenstine said a previous launch attempt on Wednesday was delayed because liftoff could have triggered a lightning storm in an electrically charged atmosphere.    In fact, the rocket itself could become a lightning bolt, he said.
    The space agency urged people to watch the launch from home, but some spectators began lining beaches and roads around Cape Canaveral ahead of Saturdays launch.
    Earlier in the week, Michael Mathews and 10 vacationing relatives from Dandridge, Tennessee, drove from Kissimmee to the Cocoa Beach Pier to see the SpaceX crew launch on Wednesday but it was scrubbed.
    Undaunted by another iffy weather forecast, the Tennesseans returned to the pier Saturday.
    This is history, man.    Youve got two Americans being launched from America for the first time since 2011, said Mathews, who is a U.S. Navy veteran.
    This is the Space Force.    This is the beginning.    Youve got Elon Musk a brilliant guy. Its history in the making, he said, holding a beach chair.
Contributing: Britt Kennerly, Florida Today; The Associated Press
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the manned Crew Dragon spacecraft attached takes off
from the Kennedy Space Center on Saturday. JOE RAEDLE/GETTY IMAGES

NASA astronauts Douglas Hurley, left, and Robert Behnken make their way to Pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape
Canaveral, Fla., Saturday. The two astronauts are flying on a SpaceX test flight to the International Space Station. JOHN RAOUX/AP

6/1/2020 SpaceX capsule docks with space station - American astronauts receive ringing welcome by Emre Kelly, Florida Today USA TODAY NETWORK
    BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. Safely and ahead of schedule, astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley docked with the International Space Station on Sunday, a crucial milestone in SpaceXs first mission to fly humans to orbit.
    Their 27-foot Crew Dragon capsule, launched from Kennedy Space Center at 3:22 p.m. EDT Saturday, made contact with the orbiting outpost at 10:16 a.m. a timeline just shy of the predicted 19hour trek.    Docking was completed 14 minutes later with hard capture, or an airtight seal between the ISS and Crew Dragon.
    Its been a real honor to be a small part of this nine-year endeavor since a United States spaceship has docked with the International Space Station, mission commander Hurley said.    This is an incredible time to be at NASA.    Three new vehicles to be flown, continuing missions to low-Earth orbit, and then to the moon and Mars.
    Astronaut Chris Cassidy, already on board the ISS after launching on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, welcomed the veteran astronauts by ringing a bell in the stations Unity module.    The Navy tradition is used to welcome the arrival of new crew members.
    Crew of Expedition 63 is honored to welcome Dragon and the Commercial Crew Program aboard the International Space Station, Cassidy said.    Bob and Doug, glad to have you as part of the crew.    Well done.
    For Hurley, the docking is familiar.    In 2011, he was on the final space shuttle missions rendezvous with the ISS, during which his team left behind an American flag to be retrieved by the next group of astronauts launched from U.S. soil.
    Now, nearly 10 years later, hell capture the flag he left behind.
    The docking marks something of a halfway point for SpaceX.    After a one-to-four-month stay on the station, Behnken and Hurley will reenter the capsule for departure and a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean.
    If successful, it will pave the way for SpaceX to continue flying astronauts for NASA and other agencies.
    It has even secured interest from civilians like actor Tom Cruise for flights to low-Earth orbit.
    Saturdays liftoff from Pad 39A on a Falcon 9 rocket returned the U.S. to crewed spaceflight, which ended in July 2011 with the final flight of the space shuttle.    Under multibillion-dollar contracts doled out by NASA, SpaceX and Boeing were selected in 2014 to build new commercial spacecraft and return astronauts to the station.
    With its docking, Crew Dragon became the fifth vehicle now attached to the ISS.    Also there are two Russian Progress cargo craft, a Russian Soyuz capsule and a Japanese HTV-9 cargo vehicle.
Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, right, join the crew at the International Space Station after the SpaceX Dragon capsule docked Sunday. NASA VIA AP

6/2/2020
Astronauts speak from ISS after Crew Dragon launch by OAN Newsroom
This photo provided by NASA shows Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, far right, joining the the crew at the
International Space Station, after the SpaceX Dragon capsule pulled up to the station and docked Sunday,
May 31, 2020. The Dragon capsule arrived Sunday morning, hours after a historic liftoff from Florida. Its the
first time that a privately built and owned spacecraft has delivered a crew to the orbiting lab.(NASA via AP)
    The NASA astronauts who recently arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) in SpaceXs Crew Dragon capsule gave their first address from orbit.
.     Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken spoke with mission control from the ISS on Monday after what they stated was a surprisingly smooth docking.    They both reported they were excited to be aboard and have the opportunity to call their families despite being unsure when they would see them again.
    Doug and I have maybe the most uncertainty because it could be relatively short or we could potentially double or triple maybe what was originally expected for us just a few short months ago, said Behnken.    And so, its a little bit strange.
    Although the Crew Dragon is capable of spending 110 days in space, NASA reports the actual length of the mission will be decided by how quickly the next shuttle can get ready for launch.
    Meanwhile, the other astronauts aboard the ISS said it was wonderful to see old friends aboard a brand new vehicle.

6/4/2020 Villagers in Togo mourn homes swallowed by the sea by Luc Gnago
The ruins of Kokou Denis Apedo's, the former Chief of Afidegnigban, house that was destroyed by coastal erosion
and sea storms are seen in Afidegnigban, suburb of Lome, Togo, February 16, 2020. REUTERS/Luc Gnago
    BAGUIDA, Togo (Reuters) The Togolese coastal community of Baguida has always had the ocean at its doorstep, but the waves have lapped higher and higher in recent years, destroying homes and locals hopes for the future.
    On the outskirts of the capital Lome, crumbling abandoned buildings dot the shoreline, their empty windows staring out at the advancing water. Remaining residents are fearful.
    I have three children. I think that one day the sea will take us by surprise, we wont know where to go, said 27-year-old Olivia Afanubo Hollalie, standing outside her single-storey house, metres from the surf.
    Global greenhouse gas emissions are accelerating coastal erosion worldwide and the countries on West Africas Atlantic shore are among those most at risk.    The rising waters may wash away more than half of Togos sandy shore by the end of the century, according to a March study in the journal Nature Climate Change.
    In the village of Doevikope on Baguida beach, three-quarters of residents have moved away since the ocean swallowed precious agricultural land, the schools playing field and the cemetery.
    The sea wants to take even our dead, lamented Chief Togbui Dorllayi, who lives in a makeshift shelter of straw and planks while he rebuilds his home for the sixth time.
    The damage wrought by the encroaching waves is more than just physical.
    Environmental degradation in the coastal areas of four West African countries, including Togo, cost $3.8 billion, or 5.3% of their national output in 2017, according to a World Bank study published last year.
    The sea has destroyed everything.    Now Im tired.    I am also old.    I dont know how Im going to eat, said 70-year-old Assah Kokou Akpebiotor, who has lived on Baguidas shrinking sands his whole life.
(Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Gareth Jones)

6/4/2020 Putin backs state of emergency in Arctic region over fuel spill in river
Russia's President Vladimir Putin discusses a diesel fuel leak at a thermal power station in Krasnoyarsk Region
and its damage control during a video conference call with officials at the Novo-Ogaryovo state
residence outside Moscow, Russia June 3, 2020. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS
    MOSCOW (Reuters) Russian President Vladimir Putin approved a state of emergency in the Arctic city of Norilsk on Wednesday after a huge leak of fuel into a river and upbraided a senior official on television over what he said was a bungled state response.
    A fuel tank at a power station in the remote, industrial region lost pressure on May 29 and leaked 20,000 tonnes of fuel and lubricants, the Investigative Committee, a law enforcement agency, said. Much of flowed into the river Ambarnaya.
    At a televised government meeting to discuss the spill, Putin said he was shocked to find out local authorities had only learned of the incident from social media two days after it happened and scolded the regions governor Alexander Uss on air.
    What are we to learn about emergency situations from social networks?    Are you alright healthwise over there? Putin said, waving his hand across his eyes.
    The state environment watchdog said 15,000 tonnes of oil products had seeped into the river system with another 6,000 into the subsoil.    The state fisheries agency says the river will need decades to recover.
    An expanse of crimson water could be seen stretching from shore to shore down a river and one of its offshoots in aerial footage published by the RIA news agency this week.
    Putin said he supported a proposal to declare a national state of emergency in the area as it would help the clean-up.
    Norilsk, a remote city of 180,000 situated 300 km (190 miles) inside the Arctic Circle, is built around Norilsk Nickel, the worlds leading nickel and palladium producer.
    The company says it is doing all it can to clear up the spill and it has brought in specialists from Moscow who have sectioned off the affected part of the river to stop the oil products spreading further.
(Reporting by Tom Balmforth and Vladimir Soldatkin; editing by Giles Elgood)

6/4/2020 A robot walks into a bar, helps make a cocktail
An ice carving robot for minimising human contact to avoid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
is seen during its demonstration at a bar in Seoul, South Korea, June 3, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
    SEOUL (Reuters) One robot makes cocktails from 25 bottles hanging upside-down from the ceiling, another carves perfect ice balls in the fraction of the time it takes a human with a knife and an ice pick.
    Robo-bartenders are shaking up South Koreas cafe and bar culture as the country transitions from intensive social distancing to what the government calls distancing in daily life.
    And they look snazzy doing it too.
    In a tailored vest and bow tie, six-foot-tall Cabo narrates his actions as he carves ice for a whisky on the rocks behind the bar at Coffee Bar K in Seoul.
    Do you see this?    A beautiful ice ball has been made.    Enjoy some cold whisky, he says in Korean.
    Cabo made his debut in 2017, but his presence is particularly reassuring now as the bar looks to encourage customers to return to entertainment facilities after the coronavirus outbreak.
    Since this space is usually filled with people, customers tend to feel very anxious, said Choi Won-woo, a human bartender who assembles the drinks.    I think they would feel safer if the robot makes and serves the ice rather than if we were to do it ourselves.
    At the Cafe Bot Bot Bot coffee bar, where the robot arm shakes up mojitos and other cocktails, manager Kim Tae-wan also pointed out that the drink bot can provide a consistent quality to their mixes that human bartenders cant.
    Customers seemed encouraged by the safety the robots provided, though one pointed out a critical quality the robo-bartenders lacked.
    Its a little disappointing that you cant talk to the bartenders, said 21-year-old university student Moon Seong-eun.
    One of the good things about going to a bar to drink is that you can chat to them about the drinks or about my worries.
(Reporting by Hyunyoung Yi, Minwoo Park, Daewoung Kim, Writing by Minwoo Park and Karishma Singh, Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

6/5/2020 President Trump signs executive order on commercial fishing by OAN Newsroom
President Donald Trump smiles after signing an executive order on commercial fishing after speaking at a roundtable discussion
with commercial fishermen at Bangor International Airport in Bangor, Maine, Friday, June 5, 2020. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
    President Trump has signed a proclamation to reopen rich fishing waters off the coast of Maine, which were previously designated as a sanctuary by the Obama administration.
    During Fridays roundtable in Bangor, the president ensured he will bring back commercial fishing industries in a big way.
    The move walked back an Obama-era executive order that banned fishing in the area due to conservation efforts.    The president claimed the prior administrations policies were excessive and caused serious economic harm to the lives of fishermen.
    This action was deeply unfair to Maine lobstermen, threatened to cripple family businesses and cost Americas fishermen millions of dollars.    They closed 5,000 square miles of ocean off your coast.    Thats amazing.    How did they let that happen?    It was President Obama, thank you very much. Donald Trump, 45th President of the United States
    He went on to say he will continue fighting for fishing rights with his plans to crack down on illegally harvested seafood.    The president is also hoping to confront the EU over what he called unfair tariffs.
[WHEN OBAMA CAME INTO OFFICE HE IMMEDIATELY REVERSED EVERY POLICY THAT BUSH HAD APPROVED, SO TRUMP IS FINALLY GETTING AROUND TO START REVERSING MORE OF THEM.].

6/3/2020 Study: COVID-19 patients improve after convalescent plasma treatment by OAN Newsroom
FILE In this March 16, 2020, file photo, a patient receives a shot in the first-stage safety study
clinical trial of a potential vaccine for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, at the
Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
    According to a new study, 75% of coronavirus patients saw improved conditions after plasma treatments.    Researchers from Houston medical hospitals announced that 25 COVID-19 patients, who were exhibiting severe symptoms, had better recoveries after being treated with antibodies from patients plasma.
    Doctors have said the method has been an effective treatment for microbial infections for the past 100 years.
    We only collect the plasma that is rich in antibodies, and hence the term convalescent plasma.    Its a form of passive therapy, because you already have the antibodies there.    Thats the one that helps fight the infection. Dr. Francisco Lopez, Head of Plasma Treatment at St. Lukes Medical Center
    Of its 25 volunteers, 19 saw improvements in symptoms and some were discharged from the hospital.
    Studies emphasized the method has relatively no risk for both patients.

6/7/2020 President Trump to sign emergency declaration to help La. ahead of storm by OAN Newsroom
Charles Marsala, who lives in the Orleans Marina in the West End section of New Orleans, films a rising storm surge
from Lake Pontchartrain, in advance of Tropical Storm Cristobal Sunday, June 7, 2020. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
    President Trump has announced his intention to approve an emergency declaration amid tropical storm Cristobal, which is expected to soon make landfall.
    On Sunday, the president confirmed that, at the request of Sen. John Kennedy and Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, he will be approving and signing the declaration to help in all aspects of the big storm hitting the shore.
    He added that FEMA is already down there to help and concluded by saying God bless you.
    The South Eastern United States has been feeling the effects of the tropical storm, which began in the Gulf of Mexico.    Experts predict it will touch down from Texas to Florida this weekend.
    A tornado touched down in Orlando late Saturday, causing severe damage in residential neighborhoods.

Recreational trailers and boats are parked along LA-46 inside the levee gates in anticipation of Tropical Storm
Cristobal in St. Bernard Parish, La., Saturday, June 6, 2020. (Max Becherer/The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate)
    On Friday, two young boys were killed by a rip current while swimming in waters off Louisiana.
    Governor John Bel Edwards has declared a state of emergency to prepare for the storms arrival.
    Experts have also warned residents in the storms path to be careful and noted its impact will be widespread.
    Its interesting to look how large this is: all through Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Florida.    Any area could get some heavy rainfall.    Its very efficient, very tropical rainfall.    It rains a whole bunch real quick, is really the takeaway here.    So, youve got to be careful out there.    Really try to stay off the roads. Ken Graham, Director of the National Hurricane Center
    This came after Cristobal flooded parts of Mexico and Central America earlier this week.

6/8/2020 Storm Cristobal makes landfall along gulf coast, downgraded into tropical depression by OAN Newsroom
Rudy Horvath walks out of his home, a boathouse in the West End section of New Orleans, as it takes on water a from storm
surge in Lake Pontchartrain in advance of Tropical Storm Cristobal, Sunday, June 7, 2020. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
    A major storm brought hazardous conditions to states along the northern Gulf Coast.    Tropical Storm Cristobal made landfall on Sunday and then moved inland through southeastern Louisiana.
    It brought heavy rain, wind and coastal flooding.    According to the National Weather Service, Cristobal sustained maximum wind speeds of up to 50 miles-per-hour.
    Forecasters have predicted the storm will move northward, eventually hitting areas across Arkansas and Missouri.    Residents have been warned to stay indoors and stay off the roads.    Evacuations are currently underway in parts of Louisiana with storm surge warnings in effect.
    Its interesting to look how largeI mean, just a very large storm. Any area could get some heavy rainfall.
    Its very efficient.    Very tropical rainfall.    It rains a whole bunch real quick, is really the takeaway here.    So youve got to be careful out there.    Really try to stay off the roads
. Ken Graham, Director National Hurricane Center
    Offshore conditions brought a tornado near Orlando, Florida prior to its landfall, which reportedly knocked down power lines and large trees.
    Over the weekend, nearby states like Texas prepared for the potential of Cristobal crossing into the eastern region.
    Our goal is to deal with what is going to likely be a very heavy rain event in various regions of east Texas and we also wanted to make sure that were preparing for potential high wind, especially in the Southeast Texas region, announced Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R).

6/9/2020 Could a drug prevent COVID-19 before it starts? by Karen Weintraub, USA TODAY
    Finding a way to protect against COVID- 19 would transform the fight against the coronavirus that has spread across the world since late last year.
    Pharmaceutical companies and doctors have been hunting for drugs to treat COVID-19 and launched a major effort to develop a vaccine against it, but they havent focused as much on therapies for preventing infection before or after someone is exposed to the virus that causes the disease.
    The idea of having a way of preventing the infection and/or symptoms remains a critical need, said Susanna Naggie, vice dean for clinical research and an associate professor at the Duke University School of Medicine.
    Thats why there was so much excitement over the drug hydroxychloroquine, which President Donald Trump said he was taking for a while, to avoid infection with the virus.    A study published last week found hydroxychloroquine failed to prevent infection. Other studies are ongoing, including some larger ones, that will confirm or contradict that finding.
    Hydroxychloroquine has received the most scientific attention undergoing more than 200 ongoing trials both because it was one of the earliest drugs available to be considered and because Trumps support drove public interest.
    Now that questions have been raised about its effectiveness, focus is slowly beginning to turn elsewhere, and trials of other approaches, from medications to mouthwashes, are beginning.
    Even though some of those approaches already are well used, it will be months before scientists will know whether they can prevent COVID-19.
Turning focus elsewhere
    The negative attention on hydroxychloroquine has made it much harder for researchers to get enough volunteers to complete trials of the drug, said Naggie, who is helping to lead one of the largest.
    Naggie said her team had hoped to quickly get 15,000 health care workers to volunteer to take hydroxychloroquine and finish her study in five or six months. Instead, only about 800 have signed up, and she expects her study to
Hydroxychloroquine has gotten most of the attention in the search for a drug to prevent COVID-19.
But research is underway to look at other options. DAVID J. PHILLIP/AP

6/9/2020 Fuel from Russian Arctic spill reaches large lake, says governor
A member of the Marine Rescue Service takes part in a clean-up operation following a huge leak of diesel
fuel into the river after an accident at a power plant outside Norilsk, in Krasnoyarsk region, Russia, in this handout
picture released June 8, 2020. Picture released June 8, 2020. Marine Rescue Service/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION
EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES. MANDATORY CREDIT
    MOSCOW (Reuters) Diesel fuel from a major spill in Russias Arctic has reached a pristine lake which is the basin for a river flowing into the Arctic Ocean, a regional official said on Tuesday, but the mining giant embroiled in the scandal rejected his allegation.
    A fuel tank at a power station in the city of Norilsk lost pressure in late May and leaked 21,000 tonnes of diesel into rivers and subsoil, an incident Greenpeace compared to the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill.
    Workers are trying to clean up and contain the fuel, which has reached Lake Pyasino, about 20 kilometres (12 miles) north of Norilsk, according to the regions governor.
    The fuel has got into Lake Pyasino, Alexander Uss, governor of the Krasnoyarsk region, told state TV.
    Now its important to prevent it from getting into the Pyasina River, which flows north.    That should be possible.
    Lake Pyasino, about 70kms long, feeds into the Pyasina River, which flows into the Kara Sea in the Arctic Ocean.
    Norilsk, a remote city of 180,000 situated 300kms (190 miles) inside the Arctic Circle, is built around Norilsk Nickel, the worlds leading nickel and palladium producer.
    In a report on its clean-up progress published on Tuesday, the company said that the fuel had not reached Lake Pyasino.    It said it had set up structures on the nearby Ambarnaya River to contain the spill and prevent it from spreading further.
    There was no risk of pollution for the Kara Sea, it said.
    Norilsk has said it believes the accident was caused by thawing permafrost which weakened the foundations of the storage tank.
    Ecologists have said the spill will cause extensive damage to the local environment.
    This will have a negative effect on the water resources, on the animals that drink that water, on the plants growing on the banks, said Vasily Yablokov, Greenpeace Russias climate project manager.
    President Vladimir Putin last week declared a state of emergency in the region and criticised authorities for what he said was a bungled response to the incident.
(Reporting by Gabrielle Ttrault-Farber, Andrew Osborn, Peter Scott and Anastasia Lyrchikova; Editing by Ed Osmond and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

6/9/2020 Ecuador volcano eruption leaves several cities covered in ash
FILE PHOTO: General view of Guayaquil, Ecuador, March 31, 2017. REUTERS/Henry Romero/File Photo
    GUAYAQUIL (Reuters) The eruption of a volcano in Ecuadors Amazon region left several cities covered in ash on Tuesday, fueling concerns of a potential health impact as the South American nation slowly emerges from a brutal coronavirus outbreak.
    The Sangay volcano has had moderate eruptions for over a year that have had little impact because of its remote location, but a recent change in wind patterns has pushed ash toward the coast and affected areas including the largest city, Guayaquil.
    The ash comes out of the Sangay volcano and spreads into the Guayas province, and we see a quantity of ash that is arriving near Guayaquil, Benjamin Bernard of the Geophysical Institute of Ecuador told reporters, referring to the province where Guayaquil is located.
    The institute said it expects minor volcanic eruptions to continue in the coming days but does not expect a major eruption.
    The Guayaquil airport halted flights to clean the runway, and authorities began clearing ash from public spaces to avert potential respiratory problems.    Roads were closed to traffic in some parts of the provinces of Los Rios and Chimborazo.
    Now we have to wear the mask not only because of the coronavirus but also because of the ash that covers all of Guayaquil, said homemaker Karen Figueroa, 30, who was removing ash from the patio of her Guayaquil home.
    Guayaquil in March and April suffered one of the regions worst coronavirus outbreaks, which overwhelmed the health system and forced authorities to collect corpses in homes.
    The health ministry this month said the spread of the disease had slowed significantly and that deaths have dropped below 10 per day from a peak of 194 per day.
(Reporting by Yuri Garcia; writing by Alexandra Valencia and Brian Ellsworth; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

6/9/2020 What you need to know about the coronavirus right now
A management staff takes the body temperature of a woman entering a shopping mall following the
coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Shanghai, China June 8, 2020. REUTERS/Aly Song
    (Reuters) Heres what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
Could the virus have spread in August?
    The coronavirus might have been spreading in China as early as August last year, according to Harvard Medical School research based on satellite images of hospital travel patterns and search engine data.
    The research showed a steep increase in hospital car park occupancy at that time and a unique increase in searches for diarrhoea.
    But a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman dismissed the findings.    I think it is ridiculous, incredibly ridiculous, to come up with this conclusion based on superficial observations such as traffic volume, she said.
Not the time to take foot off pedal
    More than 136,000 new coronavirus cases were reported worldwide on Sunday, the most in a single day so far, World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told an online meeting. More than six months into the pandemic, this is not the time for any country to take its foot off the pedal, he said.
    WHOs top emergencies expert, Dr. Mike Ryan, said infections in central American countries including Guatemala were still on the rise, and that they were complex epidemics.
Treatment hopes
    While some potential vaccines have emerged in the global race to find a way to stop the spread of COVID-19, many scientists and researchers believe antibody based therapies hold great promise for treating people already infected with the disease.
    AstraZeneca said it expects to move two antibody therapies it has licensed from U.S. researchers into clinical studies in the next two months as the drugmaker ramps up efforts to help combat the health crisis.
    study published in medical journal Nature meanwhile showed Gilead Sciencess antiviral drug, remdesivir, prevented lung disease in monkeys infected with the coronavirus.
    Remdesivir has been cleared for emergency use in severely-ill patients in the United States, India and South Korea.
    South Koreas Daewoong Pharmaceutical said its anti-parasitic drug niclosamide had eliminated the novel coronavirus from animals lungs during testing.
    The drug completely cleared up the disease in ferrets lung tissues and inhibited inflammation.    The company plans to start human clinical trials in July.
This rounds on us, says Malta
    Residents of Malta will be given 100 euro ($112) vouchers by the government to spend in bars, hotels and restaurants in an effort to revitalise the tourist industry.
    Tourism accounts for a quarter of the Mediterranean islands GDP but it has been at a standstill since mid-March when flights were stopped during the coronavirus emergency.
    Flights to a small number of countries will resume on July 1 but they exclude big tourism source markets Britain and Italy.
(Compiled by Linda Noakes; Editing by Catherine Evans)

6/9/2020 Robot built for Japans aging workforce finds coronavirus role
Staff of Mira Robotics changes a part of an Ugo avatar robot at the company's laboratory
in Kawasaki, Japan June 8, 2020. Picture taken June 8, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
    TOKYO (Reuters) Mira Robotics developed its ugo robot to reinforce greying Japans shrinking workforce, but as the coronavirus threat persists, the Japanese startup is offering its machine as a tool in the fight against the outbreak, the companys CEO said.
    The coronavirus has created a need for robots because they can reduce direct contact between people, Ken Matsui told Reuters at his companys workshop in Kawasaki, near Tokyo.    Weve had inquiries from overseas, including from Singapore and France.
    The latest feature of the remote-controlled or so-called avatar robot is a hand attachment that uses ultraviolet light to kill viruses on door handles.
    An unprecedented population decline that is shrinking Japans workforce by more than half a million people a year as well as a reluctance to bring in foreign labor to fill vacant positions has spurred robot development in Japan.
    The emergence of coronavirus-related demand could further that work.
    Mira Robotics Ugo is a pair of height-adjustable robotic arms mounted on wheels, operated remotely through a wireless connection with a laptop and game controller.    A range-measuring laser mounted on the base helps it navigate, while a panel at the top displays eyes to give it a friendlier appearance.
    It takes around 30 minutes to learn how to use the robot, with each operator able to control as many as four machines, said Matsui.    Ugo which costs around $1,000 a month to rent, can be deployed as a security guard, carry out equipment inspections and clean toilets and other areas in office buildings, he added.
    Matsuis two-year old startup so far has only one ugo operating at an office building in Tokyo.
(Reporting by Tim Kelly and Kim Kyung Hoon; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

6/10/2020 EU URGED TO ACT AGAINST PESTICIDES TO SAVE INSECTS
    Environmental groups are urging the European Union to take drastic action to protect insects, saying in a report Tuesday that more than 40% of the worlds insect species are in decline because of pesticide use and industrial farming.    Friends of the Earth Europe and the Heinrich-Bll-Stiftung, a think tank with close ties to the German Green Party, said the EUs strategy to protect biodiversity and develop organic farming is not enough, as one third of all inspect species are threatened with extinction.

6/10/2020 Dr. Fauci: WHOs asymptomatic claim was not based on evidence by OAN Newsroom
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, listens during a briefing about the coronavirus in
the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Wednesday, April 8, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
    Dr. Anthony Fauci has explained why the World Health Organizations claim asymptomatic transmission of coronavirus is extremely rare is wrong.    During a recent interview, he said the WHOs claim had not been supported by data.
    According to Fauci, studies have shown there is a wide range of how coronavirus can manifest itself in someone.
    He went on to say many patients have experienced different symptoms with a variety of severity levels.
    Theres no evidence to indicate thats the case, stated the doctor.    The evidence that we have, given the percentage of people, is about 25% to 45% of the totality of infected people likely are without symptoms.
    This came after the WHO announced they had retracted their statement after these claims had been misinterpreted.    Officials stressed they dont have the answer as to how many people have coronavirus without its symptoms.

6/11/2020 Dr. Fauci: Speed of COVID-19 surprising - Says virus has been my worst nightmare by Karen Weintraub, USA TODAY
    For years, viruses like the one that causes COVID-19 have been the stuff of Dr. Anthony Faucis nightmares.
    Speaking to a digital version of an annual conference of biotechnology executives, the director of the National Institute of     Allergy and Infectious Diseases said Tuesday he long expected and hoped against the arrival of a new respiratory virus that jumped from animals, was highly contagious, and potentially lethal.
    SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, he said, has more of those factors than any other disease hes seen in his lifetime.     Now, we have something that indeed turned out to be my worst nightmare, Fauci said.
    Ebola is far deadlier, he noted, but not nearly as transmissible.    And HIV has been far more lethal, killing 37 million people since the 1980s, but it has taken decades to cause such devastation.    SARS-CoV-2 has swept in much more rapidly.
    In a period of 4 months, it has devastated the world, Fauci said.    I mean, 110,000 deaths in the United States, deaths and millions and millions of infections worldwide and it isnt over yet.
    The most surprising thing to him about SARS-CoV-2, Fauci said, is its speed.
    First noticed at the end of December.    Hit China in January.    Hit the rest of the world in February.    March, April, May, early June, he said, all of a sudden, historically, we have one of the worst pandemics weve ever experienced.
    The only modern disease that was worse, he said, was the 1918 flu, which was more lethal, causing upward of 50 million deaths worldwide.
    Fauci, once a daily presence during meetings of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, has been seen less frequently in recent weeks as the briefings with President Donald Trump have largely ceased.    In an interview with Stat News published June 1, Fauci said a month earlier he was meeting with Trump four times a week, but since the task force meetings have waned his interactions with the president have dramatically decreased.
    Fauci told the audience of business executives Tuesday hes been impressed how the biotech and pharmaceutical industries have come together over the past few months to develop potential therapies and candidate vaccines against the virus.
    Other fast-moving viruses have been more challenging from a financial perspective, he said.    The SARS outbreak in the early 2000s, for example, burned itself out before a treatment or vaccine could be developed, he said.
    Now, although many of the 200 efforts to develop a vaccine will not be successful, some will be, Fauci predicted, as will some therapies.    And there will be enough of a business opportunity for many companies to recoup their investments.
    Fauci credited the governments collaboration with industry in helping move quickly to develop a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2.    With support from his own agency, he said, the biotechnology company Moderna was able to develop a candidate vaccine and begin testing it in people within just 62 days.
    Theres no doubt that thats the world indoor record, he said, chuckling.    Ive never seen anything go that fast.
    Clinical trial networks established to test HIV drugs and candidate vaccines in people are now being used in the fight against SARS-CoV-2, he said.
    Fauci, who spent much of his career fighting HIV, said hes also been struck by the complexity of this disease and all the problems it can cause.
    I thought that HIV was a complicated disease.    Its really simple compared to whats going on with COVID- 19, he said, noting that as many as 25%-40% of people who are infected with SARS-CoV-2 never develop symptoms, while other people end up in bed for weeks, and still others in the hospital.    Once there, people can suffer breathing problems, immune issues, strokes, organ failure, and in a small number of children, a life-threatening inflammatory syndrome.
    Oh my goodness, when is it going to end? he said."    It really is very complicated.
    One thing thats still not understood, he added, is what happens long-term to people who recover from the viral infection.    What are they going to be like six months from now?    We dont know that.    Theres a lot we need to learn.
    Speaking about health disparities, Fauci described the double-whammy that people of color and particularly African Americans are experiencing.    Many are in jobs that put them at higher risk of infection, he said, because they cannot be done sitting at a computer.    And once they do fall ill, they are more vulnerable to the devastating effects of the virus, because of preexisting health conditions, like diabetes and hypertension.
    If ever there were a disease that has disproportionately in a negative way impacted African Americans, its COVID, he said.
    Short term, he said, resources such as testing need to be concentrated in areas with high numbers of vulnerable people.    Longer term, society needs to address the social conditions that magnify the health risks for African Americans and other minorities, he said.
    Asked whether the government should play a role in limiting the price of any vaccine that is developed, Fauci quipped, This is whats called a get Tony in trouble question. He said he has never seen the government succeed at capping drug prices.
    The one thing that is clear is that if you try to enforce things on a company ... they will walk away, he said, adding that he trusts companies to act in good faith to make vaccines and treatments available to those groups, countries, nations that really cant afford it very well.
    Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath, chief executive officer of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, who interviewed Fauci on the second day of the groups annual conference, asked how he managed the politics of his job.
    Sticking to the science, he said, is the only way to survive a position like his, which he has held since 1984.
    You cant compromise that.    Thats your job and your only job: science in the cause of public health, he said.    If you compromise that, you might as well just walk away from everything.
    Moving to a more personal note, McMurry-Heath, asked Fauci about the toll on him of playing such a key role in the response to COVID-19.
    Fauci said in March and April, when the American health care system was in danger of being overwhelmed, he only was getting about three hours of sleep a night.    Now, he said, hes still working 18 hours a day, but making sure to get more sleep.    He said he has gotten used to the demands of the job, battling first HIV, then the post-9/11 anthrax scare, Ebola and Zika, among other crises.
    This is not anything new.    I chose this life and its nobodys fault but my own that Im under this pressure, he said.    Part of it is exhausting, but part of it is exciting and stimulating, because you know that youre dealing with something that really means something.    This is not trivial at all.
    As a final send-off, McMurry-Heath asked Fauci what is was like to be portrayed recently on Saturday Night Live by actor Brad Pitt.    Fauci laughed and insisted that he enjoys but doesnt take such accolades seriously.
    Im not as good looking as Brad Pitt and no matter what you do to me, Im never going to be as good looking, he said.
    Health and patient safety coverage at USA TODAY is made possible in part by a grant from the Masimo Foundation for Ethics, Innovation and Competition in Healthcare.    The Masimo Foundation does not provide editorial input.
    I thought that HIV was a complicated disease.    Its really simple compared to whats going on with COVID-19.
    Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Dr. Anthony Fauci is director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. ASSOCIATED PRESS, FILE

6/11/2020 Doctors perform successful lung transplant on coronavirus patient by OAN Newsroom
Dr. Ankit Bharat, chief of thoracic surgery at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, talks Thursday, June 11, 2020, in Chicago, about a double lung
transplant he performed on a Chicago woman in her 20s who had major lung damage from the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
    A Chicago woman was given a double lung transplant after her lungs sustained severe damage from the coronavirus.    Surgeons from Northwestern University, where the procedure took place last week, have confirmed the operation was a success.
    The patient, whose identity has not been released, was a woman in her 20s.    She was the first known U.S. resident to receive a lung transplant due to complications from COVID-19.
    Shes one of a handful of coronavirus patients around the world to have successfully received the procedure.br>     According to doctors, she developed severe respiratory failure around eight weeks after contracting the virus.    Her heart, kidneys and liver began to fail shortly after, which bumped her to the top of a transplant list.
    However, surgeons had to wait until she had completely recovered from the virus before starting the procedure.
    The operation lasted around 10 hours. Doctors described the procedure as challenging, since the damage from the virus reportedly poked holes in her lungs and caused them to partially fuse to the walls of her chest cavity.
    The patient is still reportedly on a respirator until she recovers, but doctors believe her prognosis is good.    Shes expected to make a full recovery.

6/11/2020 Coronavirus crisis could see number of extreme poor rise to 1.1 billion worldwide: researchers by Karin Strohecker
FILE PHOTO: Homeless people sleep in a temporary parking lot shelter at Cashman Center, with spaces marked for social distancing
to help slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. March 30, 2020. REUTERS/Steve Marcus/File Photo
    LONDON (Reuters) The economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic could plunge an extra 395 million people into extreme poverty and swell the total number of those living on less than $1.90 a day worldwide to more than 1 billion, researchers said in a report on Friday.
    The report published by UNU-WIDER, part of the United Nations University played through a number of scenarios, taking into account the World Banks various poverty lines from extreme poverty, defined as living on $1.90 a day or less, to higher poverty lines of living on less than $5.50 a day.
    Under the worst scenario a 20% contraction in per capita income or consumption the number of those living in extreme poverty could rise to 1.12 billion.    The same contraction applied to the $5.50 threshold among upper-middle income countries could see more than 3.7 billion people or just over half the worlds population live below this poverty line.
    The outlook for the worlds poorest looks grim unless governments do more and do it quickly and make up the daily loss of income the poor face, said Andy Sumner, one of the reports authors.
    The result is progress on poverty reduction could be set back 20-30 years and making the UN goal of ending poverty look like a pipe dream.
    The researchers from Kings College London and Australian National University also found that poverty would shift in its geographic distribution.
    The region expected to see the biggest number of people at risk of plunging into extreme poverty was South Asia, mainly driven by populous India.    This was followed by Sub-Saharan Africa where around a third of the rise would come from.
    On Monday, the World Bank said it expected 70-100 million people to be pushed into extreme poverty by the pandemic.
(Reporting by Karin Strohecker; editing by Grant McCool)

6/12/2020 Red flag warnings issued for 4 western states by OAN Newsroom
A firefighting DC-10 Air Tanker drops fire retardant on the Elizabeth Fire, Wednesday,
June 10, 2020, near Santa Paula, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
    The National Weather Service has alerted multiple states to conditions that lend themselves to increased fire risk.
    As of Friday, Arizona, California, Nevada and Utah were under red flag warnings.    High winds, low humidity and low vegetation moisture are expected within the next 24 hours.
    A fire weather watch has also been issued for Colorado, New Mexico, Texas and Utah, which are expected to see the same conditions within the next 72 hours.
A firefighter lights a backfire to stop the Quail Fire from spreading near Winters, Calif., on Saturday, June 6, 2020. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
    These alerts came after the Big Horn Fire consumed over 7,000 acres of Arizonas Catalina Mountains.    As of Friday, it was only 10% contained.
    Residents in the area were urged to evacuate as local fire teams moved in to extinguish the flames.
    We dont want to see folks out of their homes any more than they want to be out of their homes, stated Tuscon Fire official Travis Mayberry.    One of our big things is to try to get them back into their homes as quickly as possible.
The Bighorn Fire burns along the northwestern side of the Santa Catalina Mountains,
Friday, June 12, 2020, in Oro Valley, Ariz.(AP Photo/Matt York)
    The other three states have experienced fires as well within the last few days.
    The warnings and watches are expected to remain in effect through the weekend.    According to experts, the dry conditions and high winds will likely continue for the next few days.

6/14/2020 Typhoon Nuri makes landfall in China by OAN Newsroom
On June 12, 2020, the MODIS instrument that flies aboard NASAs Terra satellite
provided a visible image of the newly developed Nuri. (NASA/Worldview)
    Typhoon Nuri reached the coast of South China on Sunday, making it the first typhoon to make landfall this year.
    In response to the storm, ships have been called back, while local ferry and train systems have ceased.    All areas affected by the typhoon are expected to close until further notice.
    We have called back ships on the seas to take anchor at the Xiuying anchorage, explained spokesman Xie Huanjie.    The vehicles and passengers that arrived here earlier have all been transported.
    Strong winds and rainstorms are expected to continue until Monday as the storm moves towards the northwest.

6/16/2020 FACT CHECK - Bill Gates isnt planning to microchip the world by Matthew Brown and Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY
    Bill Gates has long been the target of conspiracy theories about his vast fortune and charitable giving. But claims about the tech tycoon have reached a fever pitch in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Gates wants us microchipped and Fauci wants us to carry vax certificates, reads one Facebook post with 22,000 shares.    The same language has appeared on multiple posts on the platform.
    Due to the large number of people who will refuse the forthcoming covid-19 vaccine because it will include tracking microchips, the Gates Foundation is now spending billions of dollars to ensure that all medical and dental injections and procedures include the chips so that the only way to avoid being chipped will be to refuse any and all dental and medical treatment, another post on Facebook reads.
    The claim has also gone viral on Spanish language pages and media, with some casting Gates as the mastermind of a massive conspiracy that echoes several other claims, including that Gates helped write the House Democrats proposed legislation, the TRACE Act.
    Ive never been involved any sort of microchiptype thing, Gates said in a call with reporters on June 3, adding, Its almost hard to deny this stuff because its so stupid or strange.
    Gates meant for the call to be an announcement of another $1.6 billion in funding for immunization in lower-income countries, but the rampant conspiracy theories still came up.    Many conspiracy theorists have claimed that Gates donations to public health efforts in developing countries are secretly mindcontrol efforts.
    The coronavirus pandemic is ripe for misinformation.
    Its frightening, its hard to understand, its required governments to restrict individual freedoms, and it will lead to mass vaccinations, Matthew Hornsey, a social psychologist at the University of Queensland in Australia who studies scientific messaging, told USA TODAY.    Thats a perfect storm for conspiracy theories.
    There is no evidence that Gates or any major institution is trying to implant microchips in people through COVID-19 vaccines.    Regardless, a May 20 Yahoo News/YouGov poll found that 44% of Republicans and 19% of Democrats believe Gates is planning to implant microchips in billions of people.
    This illness has been so severe I thought the antivaccine folks would be more muted in their approach, but this is apparently not the case, William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and infectious disease at Vanderbilt University, told USA TODAY.
The theorys origins and allure
    Rich and famous people are frequently the center of conspiracy theories.    The fact that Gates is a vocal proponent of public health initiatives long scrutinized by conspiratorial-minded groups only makes him an even riper target.
    It is possible that the conspiracy theory partly originated from a December study published by a team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.    The study was funded, in part, by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
    The team had developed an approach to encode medical history on a patient by including a small amount of dye with a vaccine.    The dye, which would be invisible to the naked eye but observable through a specialized cellphone app using infrared light, would keep a record of a childs vaccines.    The technique may be especially useful in developing countries, where record keeping is often more difficult.
    The study never experimented on humans and did not involve any hardware technology, like microchips.
    Gates and his foundation have supported contact tracing efforts around the globe.    The Gates Foundation has also funded vaccine efforts in developing countries over the years.
    The fear of insertion of tracking chips and other things like that into our bodies has been a longstanding bogeyman for theorists, Mark Fenster, a University of Florida law professor, told PolitiFact.
    Others have also tried to link claims that Gates wants to create a digital certificate or digital identity for all people with the microchip conspiracy theory. Gates has said that some kind of immunity certificate may be necessary to reopen the economy, but the intended idea is far from mass surveillance or microchipping.
    Eventually what well have to have is certificates of whos a recovered person and whos a vaccinated person, because you dont want people moving around the world where youll have some countries that wont have it under control, Gates said in a TED Talk in March.
    That certificate would not be a physical implant or chip, but rather a digital item a person could have on a smartphone or other personal device, as Gates later explained.
Our ruling: False
    There is no evidence Bill Gates is trying to implant microchips in people around the world through COVID-19 vaccines.    And Gates has denied the claim.    We rate this claim FALSE because it is not supported by our research.
[SOONER OR LATER AS REVELATION 13 SAYS THAT SOMETHING WILL OCCUR AS SEEN IN:
Revelation 13:16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
18 Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.
    Which is in the works even now and it would be amusing if this pandemic caused that to occur
.].

6/16/2020 Crunch time for Chinas robot startups as pandemic brings pain and opportunities by David Kirton
A Youibot engineer, wearing a face mask following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, works on one of its automated guided vehicle designs
in the robotics company's engineering laboratory in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, China May 25, 2020. REUTERS/David Kirton
    SHENZHEN, China (Reuters) With glowing blue eyes and trusting feline features, a new robot cat by Chinese startup Elephant Robotics seems happily oblivious to the worries of CEO Joey Song as he shows it off at the companys lab in Shenzhen.
    Elephant Robotics main business is the automation of factory assembly lines but revenue has plunged by a third this year due to the coronavirus, leading the company to cut staff by a fifth.
    Its tough, said Song.    Before, we had more than 30 people.
    Due to the downturn, the firm is putting more energy into the robot cat project funded on Kickstarter in December.    Readying its first large batch of 1,000 cats for sale, it hopes that as more consumers work from home, interest in pet robots will grow.
    If the industrial robots cant sell right now, we just focus on other robots to lower the risks, Song said.
    Interest in robots has surged worldwide as the pandemic forces hospitals, manufacturing and services companies as well as governments to look afresh and with new urgency at ways to minimise human contact.
    But in China, months ahead of many countries in reopening its economy and the worlds biggest market for industrial robots, new business seems largely limited to robots for warehouses and disinfecting. Most clients are now too spooked by the uncertain business climate to invest in expensive factory gear, industry executives say.
    Automation should be a way to fight virus consequences but on the other side if you want to invest, you need to know the market forecasts, said Vincent Bury, managing director at equipment maker CNIM China.    Nobody has a crystal ball now.
    Chinas industrial robot sales tumbled by a fifth in the first quarter from a year earlier, according to Shanghai-based consultancy Stieler Enterprise.    It predicts second-quarter sales will likely decline 15%.
    While the pain is being felt widely, major players in China such as Switzerlands ABB , Japans Yaskawa Electric Corp <6506.T> and Germanys Kuka AG are expected to weather the storm.
    But for domestic robotic startups that have hitched their prospects to a broad shift within Chinese manufacturing to more automated factory lines, the rest of this year could be make or break.    Access to fresh funding is tight as venture capitalists wait to see which firms will survive the immediate downturn.
    Wed love to wait for another one or two months (before investing) to see how theyve recovered, whether its going to get back to normal, said the vice president of an investment firm with several interests in Chinas robotics industry.
    He declined to be identified to protect business relationships.
FINGERS CROSSED
    For startups that either specialise in or have managed to pivot to cleaning or warehouse-related robots, prospects have become brighter after more than a month of lockdown disrupted Chinas supply chains and made fulfilling orders tricky.
    Were struggling, luckily struggling, said Lawrence Han, chief technology officer at Triooo, a maker of industrial cleaning robots backed by Taiwans Foxconn <2317.TW> and based in the high-tech hub of Shenzhen.    I think our product was delayed by almost three months.
    Triooo is working to clear a backlog of orders and hopes to eventually sell in Western markets where its robots, used in places like hospitals and airports, are more cost effective due to higher labour costs there.
    Beijing-based Geek+, a maker of robots that transport and stack goods in warehouses, opened its San Diego office in February just as supply chains in China ground to a halt.    After three months of uncertainty, it suddenly saw demand soar as the spread of the virus spurred consumers to shift most of their shopping online, said Mark Messina, chief operating officer of Geek+ Americas.
    At Youibot, which specialises in robots for power stations and furnaces, the outbreak prompted the company to develop a robot that can patrol public spaces, scanning body temperatures and emitting a virus-killing ultraviolet light when people are not around.
    The Shenzhen-based startup has found buyers in Italy, Singapore and Turkey, while the American Institute of Minimally Invasive Surgery is also trialling a batch.
    This products biggest value to us is that it gives us experience deploying robots overseas and provides us with different ways for our business to develop, said Youibot CEO Cody Zhang.
(Reporting by David Kirton; Editing by Brenda Goh and Edwina Gibbs)

6/17/2020 Steroid promising in virus survival by Marilynn Marchione, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Researchers in England say they have the first evidence that a drug can improve COVID-19 survival: A cheap, widely available steroid reduced deaths by up to one third in severely ill hospitalized patients.
    The results were announced Tuesday, and the British government immediately authorized the drugs use across the United Kingdom for coronavirus patients like those who did well in the study.    Researchers said they would publish results soon, and several independent experts said its important to see details to know how much of a difference the drug, dexamethasone, might make and for whom.
    But bottom line is, good news, said the United States top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci.    This is a significant improvement in the available therapeutic options that we have.
    The study, led by the University of Oxford, was a large, strict test that randomly assigned 2,104 patients to get the drug and compared them with 4,321 patients getting only usual care.
    The drug was given either orally or through an IV for 10 days.    After four weeks, it had reduced deaths by 35% in patients who needed treatment with breathing machines and by 20% in those only needing supplemental oxygen.    It did not appear to help less ill patients.

6/17/2020 PG&E pleads guilty to manslaughter in 18 fire by Jorge L. Ortiz, USA TODAY
    The countrys largest utility pleaded guilty Tuesday to 84 felony counts of involuntary manslaughter stemming from the deadliest and most destructive fire in California history.
    Pacific Gas & Electric acknowledged its neglected equipment set off the fire that destroyed most of the Northern California town of Paradise in 2018.    The Camp Fire claimed the lives of 85 people, but prosecutors werent sure they could establish one of the deaths was the companys fault.    The blaze burned more than 153,000 acres.
    At Tuesdays hearing in superior court in Butte County, where whats left of Paradise is located, Judge Michael Deems recited the 84 counts one by one as photos of the victims were displayed in the courtroom.
    Looking directly at the photos, PG& E CEO Bill Johnson repeatedly answered, Guilty, your honor to the charges.    Johnson addressed the court and acknowledged nothing he could say would lessen the anguish from the blaze the company ignited.
    I sincerely hope that the actions were taking today will help bring some measure of peace, Johnson said.    I wish there was some way to take back what happened or to take away the impact, the pain that these people suffered.    But I know that cant be done.
    PG&E is approaching the end of a complicated bankruptcy case it used to work out $25.5 billion in settlements to pay for the damages from the Camp Fire and others that charred wide swaths of Northern California and killed dozens of people in 2017.
    The bankruptcy deals include $13.5 billion earmarked for wildfire victims.    A federal judge will decide whether to approve PG&Es plan for getting out of bankruptcy by June 30.
    We want this to be impactful because this cant go on any longer, Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey told The Associated Press.    There is going to have to be a sea change in PG&Es method of operation.
    Some of those changes have begun before whats likely to be an intense fire season, following a winter and early spring with below-average precipitation.
    PG&E crews have been replacing old power poles with more resilient ones less prone to toppling in heavy winds.    The company undergrounded some electrical lines, cleared flammable vegetation near its equipment and increased its use of fire-monitoring technology.
    PG&E officials said they will still have to rely on the highly unpopular preventive power shutoffs they unveiled last year under certain weather conditions, albeit on a reduced, more-tailored scale.
    The company said it altered its corporate culture and refocused on the safety of its 16 million customers.
    U.S. District Judge William Alsup, who supervises PG&Es five-year probation for an explosion in its natural gas lines that killed eight people in 2010 in a San Francisco suburb, has been highly critical of the utility for failing to take more measures to make its grid safer.
    PG&E will plead to one felony count of unlawfully causing a fire.    No executives will be charged, so no one will be imprisoned.    PG&E instead will pay a maximum fine of $3.5 million in addition to $500,000 to cover the countys costs of the criminal investigation.
Contributing: The Associated Press
A home burns as the Camp Fire rages through Paradise, Calif. Pacific Gas & Electric officials pleaded
guilty to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter in the 2018 wildfire. NOAH BERGER/AP

6/17/2020 Widely available drug may boost survival rates by Joshua Bote, USA TODAY
    A team of researchers in England has discovered that an affordable, widely available steroid has shown promise in improving survival outcomes in COVID-19 patients.
    Dexamethasone, a common steroid used to treat inflammation, was found to cut deaths by up to one-third in a study of more than 6,000 severely ill patients.    More than 2,100 received the drug.
    Although the British government has authorized its use among some patients, it remains unclear how beneficial the treatment may be for less severe COVID-19 cases.    Further, it has not been peer-reviewed or replicated in other studies.
    This is a significant improvement in the available therapeutic options that we have, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the United States top infectious disease expert.
    What we know about the potentially lifesaving treatment:
    What is dexamethasone?
    Usually prescribed as an oral or intravenous steroid, dexamethasone is a general purpose anti-inflammatory and anti-swelling drug used for a variety of conditions, said Dr. Onyema Ogbuago, an infectious disease doctor and associate professor of medicine at Yale.
    Dexamethasone is unique, he says, in that it is a glucoocorticoid meaning it helps maintain blood pressure.
    Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at New York Citys Lenox Hill Hospital, said dexamethasone also has a half-life of up to 54 hours.    That helps to assure a therapeutic level of medication to treat ongoing inflammation.
    Like other steroids, however, it is a non-specific treatment not necessarily targeting a single, specific pathway of inflammation or swelling, Ogbuago says.    That has its drawbacks.
    How is it used to treat COVID-19 patients?
    Generally, COVID-19 comes in two phases, explains Ogbuago.
    People get the virus, it replicates, and thats the first phase of the illness, he said.
Coronavirus cases continue to surge in some parts of the country. GETTY IMAGES

6/18/2020 Bush Fire becomes 7th largest in Ariz. history, evacuations hindered by COVID-19 threat by OAN Newsroom
A portion of the Bush fire burns through the Tonto National Forest, Tuesday, June 16, 2020, as seen from Apache Junction, Ariz.
The wildfire, which has prompted evacuations in three rural communities and closed parts of two state highways, has grown dramatically
in size from 59 square miles to 101 square miles as of Tuesday morning officials said. (AP Photo/Matt York)
    Arizona emergency crews are working to put out a massive wildfire.    The blaze, dubbed the Bush Fire, ignited last Saturday and has more than doubled in size since Wednesday morning.    It has burned more than 104,000 acres, so far.
    The blaze is now the seventh largest fire in state history and is only five percent contained.    The Bush Fire is ravaging parts of the Tonto National Forrest, which is located just northeast of Phoenix.
    With thousands of acres of land already scorched, officials are urging residents to evacuate to nearby shelters.    However, those efforts have been hindered by the coronavirus outbreak.
    As the COVID-19 remains a critical threat, local officials are being tasked with finding a new way to shelter evacuees.    The American Red Cross has opened safe centers in the towns of Tucson, Payson and Miami.
    According to local media, facilities will have to conduct health screenings prior to accepting evacuees.    They will also provide face masks and encourage social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus.
    This comes as Arizona has seen a spike in new coronavirus cases.    Around 40,000 cases have been reported as the state tries to reopen its economy and get residents back to work.
    Meanwhile, the fire has come during a hot period in the west with fires burning in several other parts of both Arizona and California.    Officials will have to keep this new health threat in mind when evacuating people from fire zones.

6/19/2020 Japans Fujitsu brings hand washing AI to COVID-19 fight
Fujitsu senior researcher Genta Suzuki washes his hands as he demonstrates AI-camera recognition technology that checks whether
people follow six handwashing steps recommended by the Japanese health ministry during an interview with Reuters at the company's
research and development laboratory in Kawasaki, Japan June 17, 2020. Picture taken June 17, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
    TOKYO (Reuters) Three months after the World Health Organization recommended singing Happy Birthday twice during hand washing to fight the coronavirus, Japans Fujitsu Ltd has developed an artificial intelligence monitor it says will ensure healthcare, hotel and food industry workers scrub properly.
    The AI, which can recognize complex hand movements and can even detect when people arent using soap, was under development before the coronavirus outbreak for Japanese companies implementing stricter hygiene regulations, according to Fujitsu.    It is based on crime surveillance technology that can detect suspicious body movements.
    Food industry officials and those involved in coronavirus-related business who have seen it are eager to use it, and we have had people inquiring about price, said Genta Suzuki, a senior researcher at the Japanese information technology company.    Fujitsu, he added, had yet to formally decide on whether to market the AI technology.
    Although the coronavirus pandemic and ensuing economic fallout is hurting companies ranging from restaurants to car makers, for firms able to use existing technology to tap an emerging market for coronavirus-related products, the outbreak offers a chance to create new businesses.
    Fujitsus AI checks whether people complete a Japanese health ministry six-step hand washing procedure that like guidelines issued by the WHO asks people to clean their palms, wash their thumbs, between fingers and around their wrists, and scrub their fingernails.
    The AI cant identify people from their hands, but it could be coupled with identity recognition technology so companies could keep track of employees washing habits, said Suzuki.
    To train the machine learning AI, Suzuki and other developers created 2,000 hand washing patterns using different soaps and wash basins.    Fujitsu employees took part in those trials, with the company also paying other people in Japan and overseas to wash their hands to help develop the AI.
    The AI could be programmed to play Happy Birthday or other music to accompany hand washing, but that would be up to the customers who bought it, said Suzuki.
(Reporting by Tim Kelly and Akira Tomoshige; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

6/19/2020 Divers cut, plant coral off UAE coast to build reef by Alexander Cornwell
Coral grows after being transplanted near Dibba Port in Fujairah, United Arab Emirates,
June 15, 2020. Picture taken June 15, 2020. REUTERS/Christopher Pike
    FUJAIRAH, United Arab Emirates (Reuters) Off the east coast of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) coral freshly removed from a reef is cut into pieces and replanted by a group of divers in the waters below.
    The divers, from the Fujairah Adventure Centre, are building artificial reefs they hope will spur a resurgence in sea life degraded over the years by climate change and development.
    The small team and other volunteers have planted more than 9,000 corals over about 600 square metres in the past year. Within five years, they hope to cover 300,000 square metres with 1.5 million corals.
    Its a fertile environment for coral reefs, and this diversity has started spreading and has helped bring back sea life, diver Saeed al-Maamari told Reuters.
    Reefs, developing over thousands of years, are crucial to the survival of many marine species, while also acting as a barrier against waves that can help reduce erosion.
    As elsewhere, UAE reefs have suffered substantial degradation over the past two decades, mostly due to climate change but also because of land reclamation.
    Artificial reefs can help restore reefs that become a habitat for marine life and help combat coral bleaching and other degradation caused by climate change.
    But it could take 10-15 years until meaningful levels of coral begin to grow naturally on artificial reefs, marine biologist John Burt told Reuters.
    This is a programme that is going to take a considerable amount of time before it is able to demonstrate efficacy in terms of rehabilitating a coral reef, said the associate professor at New York Universitys Abu Dhabi campus.
    The project in Fujairah, one of the poorer parts of the oil-rich Gulf Arab state, has government support with technical expertise provided by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment.
    Fujairah is where most of the countrys few popular diving spots are located and officials hope the reef will help foster sustainable fisheries and eco-tourism.
    Were recreating the coral reef environment and system, which will become colonized with fish and increase biodiversity and become a habitat for fish species that are threatened and become a nice environment for diving tourism, said Ahmed Al-Zaabi, director of the ministrys marine environment research department.
(Reporting by Alexander Cornwell; Editing by Gareth Jones, Robert Birsel)

6/21/2020 Rare ring of fire solar eclipse on the longest day of the year by by Ann Wang
A partial solar eclipse is seen from New Delhi, India, June 21, 2020. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
    CHIAYI, Taiwan (Reuters) A shimmering ring of light flashed into view on Sunday in parts of the eastern hemisphere as the moon drifted across the face of the sun in a rare eclipse on the longest day of the year.
    The path of the eclipse spanned East Asia, South Asia, the Middle East and Africa.    Most locations saw only a partial eclipse, with just a handful witnessing the true ring of fire.
    Unlike in a total eclipse, the moon in an annular, or ring-like, eclipse is unable to completely cover the sun, leaving a thin halo of light at its maximum phase.
    Such an eclipse happens when the moon is farther away in its elliptical orbit around the Earth, appearing smaller as a result.
    Hundreds of skywatchers gathered in an open space in Chiayi in southern Taiwan, one of the locations in Asia where the annular eclipse was visible.
    Im more than 50 years old, so its great that I could see this, said retiree Zhuang Yuhui, 56, who travelled to Chiayi from nearby Taichung city.
    Im beyond excited.
    In Taipei, groups of people gathered to view the eclipse through tinted glasses and their phones as the sky turned eerily darker.
    Its an astronomical miracle, said Elisa Chen, 29.
    Solar eclipses on the summer solstice are rare.    The last one was in June 2001.
    But a ring of fire eclipse that falls exactly in midsummer whether in the northern or southern hemisphere is even more uncommon.
    There have been none in at least 100 years, according to Reuters calculations based on NASA data.
    The next one is in 2039, and then in 2392.
(Open NASA search engine https://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEsearch/SEsearch.php in an external browser.)
(Reporting by Ann Wang; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard and Ryan Woo; Editing by William Mallard)

6/21/2020 India gives Hetero Labs approval to make Gileads COVID-19 drug
FILE PHOTO: Gilead Sciences Inc pharmaceutical company is seen after they announced a Phase 3 Trial of the investigational
antiviral drug Remdesivir in patients with severe coronavirus disease (COVID-19), during the outbreak of the
coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Oceanside, California, U.S., April 29, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo
    (Reuters) Indias drug regulator has given Hetero Labs the green light to manufacture and market its generic version of Gilead Sciences experimental COVID-19 treatment remdesivir, the Indian pharmaceutical company said on Sunday.
    The drug, which will be marketed under the brand name Covifor, will likely be priced at 5,000 to 6,000 rupees ($66-$79) for a 100 milligram dose, Hetero said.
    Indias Cipla Ltd has also received approval from the Drug Controller General of India (DGCI) to manufacture and market the drug, according to a report https://bit.ly/2AVcs0y in Indian Express.
    Cipla and DGCI were not immediately available for comment.
    Gilead Sciences Inc signed non-exclusive licensing pacts last month with five generic drugmakers based in India and Pakistan to expand the supply of its COVID-19 treatment.
    The pacts allow Jubilant Life Sciences Ltd , Cipla, Hetero Labs, Mylan NV and Ferozsons Laboratories Ltd to make and sell the drug in 127 countries.
(Reporting by Sabahatjahan Contractor in Bengaluru; Editing by David Clarke)

6/21/2020 Map of worlds uncharted ocean beds takes shape despite crisis by Jonathan Saul
FILE PHOTO: A shoal of fish is seen off the island of Salamina, Greece, August 23, 2018. REUTERS/Stelios Misinas/File Photo
    LONDON (Reuters) Plans to map the entire ocean floor by 2030 are going ahead despite the challenges of the coronavirus crisis, officials leading the project said, with almost a fifth covered so far.
    Scientists say the topography of the ocean floor is less well known than the surfaces of Mars, Mercury or Venus and that charting the depth and shape of the seabed will help understand the impact oceans have on the earths climate.
    As the worlds ocean economy grows in coming years, data will also be vital to boost knowledge of marine ecosystems and marine life as well as future food supply patterns.
    Seabed 2030, which is working to bring together all available bathymetric data to produce a comprehensive map said on Sunday that the area mapped had risen from 15% to 19% in the last year, from only 6% when the initiative began in 2017.
    Over the next year, we anticipate similar levels of data contributions through donations of archive material and, as COVID restrictions abate, new data from surveys, ships transits and crowd sourcing, project director Jamie McMichael-Phillips told Reuters in comments to coincide with World Hydrography Day.
    Data used includes contributions from governments, academia and commercial sources such as ships.    These are pulled together by experts at various regional centres around the world in an initiative estimated to cost between $3 billion and $5 billion.
    We have already been gifted hundreds of thousands of square kilometres of data which would cost tens of millions of dollars to acquire ourselves, McMichael-Phillips said.
    But there was still around 293 million square kilometres of ocean floor to map, he added.
    The project is a collaboration between Japans philanthropic Nippon Foundation and GEBCO, a non-profit association of experts that is already involved in charting the ocean floor.
(Editing by Alexander Smith)

6/22/2020 Scientists search the universe for signs of alien civilizations - NASA grant aims to help track technosignatures by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
    For the first time in more than three decades, research scientists have received grant money from NASA to search for intelligent life in outer space.
    Specifically, the grant will provide funding for a project to search for signs of life via technosignatures.
    Technosignatures relate to signatures of advanced alien technologies similar to, or perhaps more sophisticated than, what we possess, said Avi Loeb, a professor of science at Harvard and one of the grant recipients.
    Such signatures might include industrial pollution of atmospheres, city lights, photovoltaic cells (solar panels), megastructures or swarms of satellites.
    Researchers believe that although life appears in many forms, the scientific principles remain the same, and the technosignatures on Earth also will be identifiable in some fashion outside the solar system, according to a statement from one of the grant recipients, the Center for Astrophysics, a collaboration between the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the Harvard College Observatory.
    The surge of results in exoplanetary research including planets in habitable zones and the presence of atmospheric water vapor over the past five years has revitalized the search for intelligent life.
    Exoplanets are planets beyond our own solar system. Overall, in the past 25 years, researchers have discovered more than 4,000 exoplanets, including some Earth-like planets that may have the potential to harbor life.
    The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence has always faced the challenge of figuring out where to look, said Adam Frank, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Rochester, and the primary recipient of the grant.    Which stars do you point your telescope at and look for signals?"    Now we know where to look.    We have thousands of exoplanets including planets in the habitable zone where life can form.    The game has changed.
    A civilization, by nature, will need to find a way to produce energy, and, Frank said, there are only so many forms of energy in the universe.    Aliens are not magic.
    The researchers will begin the project by looking at two possible technosignatures that might indicate technological activity on another planet: solar panels and pollutants, according to a statement from the University of Rochester.
    Our job is to say, this wavelength band is where you might see certain types of pollutants, this wavelength band is where you would see sunlight reflected off solar panels, Frank said.    This way astronomers observing a distant exoplanet will know where and what to look for if theyre searching for technosignatures.
    The grant totals nearly $287,000 and will last two years, with the option of being extended to a third year.
    This announcement comes on the heels of a study released this month that said there could be more than 30 intelligent civilizations throughout our Milky Way galaxy alone.
    We have thousands of exoplanets including planets in the habitable zone where life can form.    The game has changed.
    Adam Frank, professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Rochester
Scientists have discovered more than 4,000 planets outside our solar system. In the search for intelligent
life, astrophysicists are seeking signs that would indicate advanced technology. NASA/JPL-CALTECH

6/22/2020 Giant circle of shafts discovered close to Stonehenge
FILE PHOTO: A couple take a selfie as they pass near by the Stonehenge stone circle, where official Summer Solstice celebrations
were cancelled due to the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), near Amesbury, Britain June 20, 2020. REUTERS/Toby Melville
    LONDON (Reuters) Archaeologists have discovered a wide circle of deep shafts surrounding an ancient settlement close to Stonehenge, opening up new lines of investigation into the origins and meaning of the mysterious, prehistoric monument.
    The stone circle at Stonehenge, whose purpose remains unknown to scientists despite decades of research, is one of Britains most famous landmarks and a draw to tourists and people in search of spiritual connections with nature.
    The new discovery, described as astonishing by a team of archaeologists from multiple universities who took part in the project, shows a circle of shafts, 1.2 miles (2 km) in diameter, surrounding the settlement of Durrington Walls.
    The site is located about 2 miles northeast of Stonehenge on Salisbury Plain, and evidence suggests the shafts date back to the same period, some 4,500 years ago.
    This is an unprecedented find of major significance within the UK, said Vincent Gaffney, one of the archaeologists leading the project.
    Key researchers on Stonehenge and its landscape have been taken aback by the scale of the structure and the fact that it hadnt been discovered until now so close to Stonehenge, he said.
    Gaffney said the circle of shafts, each about 10 metres (33 ft) wide and 5 metres deep, demonstrated the desire of Neolithic communities to record their belief systems in ways and at a scale that researchers had never anticipated.
    The discovery was made without the need for excavations, using remote sensing technology and sampling.
    I cant emphasise enough the effort that would have gone into digging such large shafts with tools of stone, wood and bone, said Gaffney.
(Reporting by Estelle Shirbon; editing by Michael Holden)

6/23/2020 Major quake of 7.4 magnitude hits southern Mexico, shakes capital
People react during an earthquake in Mexico City, Mexico June 23, 2020. REUTERS/Tomas Bravo
    MEXICO CITY (Reuters) A powerful earthquake hit the coast of southern Mexico on Tuesday, shaking buildings in Mexico City hundreds of miles away, sending people fleeing their homes into the streets, and triggering a tsunami warning.
    There were no immediate reports of casualties from the quake, which the U.S. Geological Survey measured at magnitude 7.4. It was centered on the Pacific coast in the state of Oaxaca.
    President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said there were no preliminary reports of damage but added that he was still awaiting reports from Oaxaca, a mountainous state that is home to coffee plantations, beach resorts, and Spanish colonial architecture.
    Alberto Ibanez, a photographer in Oaxaca City, told Reuters the quake left a crack in an internal wall in his apartment and knocked books and pots off shelves.
    Everybody fled into the street, it was really strong, Ibanez said.
    Reuters witnesses in Mexico City saw no initial signs of injuries or damage.    The capitals public security ministry said a flyover showed there are no fallen buildings.
    Quakes of magnitudes over 7 are major earthquakes capable of widespread, heavy damage.    A 7.1 magnitude earthquake that struck central Mexico in 2017 killed 355 people in the capital and the surrounding states.
    Tuesdays quake set off a tsunami warning for a radius of 1,000 km (621 miles) on the Pacific coasts of Mexico and Central America, including Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.
    The USGS said the epicenter of Tuesdays quake was located 69 km (43 miles) northeast of the town of Pochutla.    It was very shallow, only 26 km (16 miles) below the earths surface, which would have amplified the shaking.
    Situated at the intersection of three tectonic plates, Mexico is one of the worlds most earthquake-prone countries.    The capital is seen as particularly vulnerable due to its location on top of an ancient lake bed.
(Reporting by Frank Jack Daniel and Julia Love in Mexico City and Sandra Maler in Washington; Writing by Alistair Bell; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Rosalba OBrien)

6/23/2020 At least one dead in Mexican quake, locals warned to avoid coast
People gather outside their buildings after an earthquake was felt in Mexico City, Mexico June 23, 2020. REUTERS/Henry Romero
    MEXICO CITY (Reuters) At least one person died and another is injured in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca after a strong earthquake struck south-central Mexico on Tuesday morning, said the states governor Alejandro Murat.
    Mexicos civil protection agency warned that it expects sea levels to rise up to 113 centimeters (3.7 feet) above normal levels following the quake and recommended that residents move away from the coastline.
(Reporting by Mexico City newsroom; Editing by David Alire Garcia)

6/23/2020 J&J loses bid to overturn baby powder verdict, but damages cut to $2.12 billion by Jonathan Stempel
FILE PHOTO: A bottle of Johnson and Johnson Baby Powder is seen in a photo illustration
taken in New York, February 24, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/Illustration/File Photo
    (Reuters) A Missouri appeals court on Tuesday rejected Johnson & Johnsons bid to throw out a jury verdict in favor of women who blamed their ovarian cancer on its baby powder and other talc products, but reduced damages by more than half to $2.12 billion.
    The Missouri Court of Appeals lowered the original $4.69 billion verdict from July 2018 after dismissing claims by some of the 22 women and their families who sued.
    But it said the plaintiffs proved that J&J and an affiliate concealed for decades that its talc products contained asbestos, worked tirelessly to ensure that testing protocols would not detect asbestos in all talc samples, and published articles downplaying the safety hazards of talc.
    Plaintiffs proved with convincing clarity that defendants engaged in outrageous conduct because of an evil motive or reckless indifference, the court said.    There was significant reprehensibility in defendants conduct.
    J&J pledged to appeal to the Missouri Supreme Court.
    This was a fundamentally flawed trial, grounded in a faulty presentation of the facts, spokeswoman Kim Montagnino said.    We deeply sympathize with anyone suffering from cancer, which is why the facts are so important.    We remain confident that our talc is safe, asbestos free, and does not cause cancer.
    Tuesdays decision followed J&Js May 19 announcement that it would stop selling its talc Baby Powder in the United States and Canada.
    The New Brunswick, New Jersey-based company faces more than 19,000 lawsuits claiming that its talc products caused cancer because of contamination from asbestos, a known carcinogen.
    J&Js damages payout in Tuesdays decision include $500 million of compensatory damages and $1.62 billion of punitive damages, down from a respective $550 million and $4.14 billion in the original verdict from a Missouri circuit court.
    Mark Lanier, the lead lawyer for plaintiffs, called the decision a clarion call for J&J to try and find a good way to resolve the cases for the people who have been hurt.
    J&J has faced intense scrutiny of its baby powders safety following a 2018 Reuters investigative report that found it knew for decades that asbestos lurked in its talc.
    Internal company records, trial testimony and other evidence show that from at least 1971 to the early 2000s, J&Js raw talc and finished powders sometimes tested positive for small amounts of asbestos.
(https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/johnsonandjohnson-cancer/)
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Additional reporting by Lisa Girion in Los Angeles and Carl ODonnell in New York; Editing by Franklin Paul, Bill Berkrot and Dan Grebler)

6/23/2020 Caribbean chokes on monster Saharan dust cloud headed toward the U.S. by Kate Chappell and Sarah Marsh
Isla Verde beach as a sand storm from the region of the Sahara Desert sweeps over San Juan, Puerto Rico June 23, 2020. REUTERS/Gabriella N. Baez
    KINGSTON/HAVANA (Reuters) A massive plume of Saharan dust has shrouded swathes of the Caribbean, turning blue skies into a milky-brown haze and sparking health warnings across the region as air quality fell to unhealthy levels.
    Strong warm winds over the Sahara desert typically whip up sand at this time of year and carry it thousands of miles across the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas.    This year, the dust is the most dense in a half a century, according to several meteorologists.    The thick smog has sharply reduced visibility.
    Jamaicas Blue Mountains, usually a prominent sight towering over Kingston, were hidden behind an oppressive white cloud.
    Im not sure if its sneaking in through the vents, because the air inside doesnt feel the same, said Sarue Thomas, 31, from her office in Kingston, where temperatures exceeded 30 degrees Celsius and the air was stiflingly thick.
    This is something that weve not ever seen before, said Thomas, adding that her three-year-old son had developed a dry cough.
    Its the worst Ive seen since weve kept records, said Evan Thompson, director of the meteorological service division in Jamaica.
    We are seeing a much thicker mass of dust particles suspended.    It is a lot more distinct and noticeable.
    The dust cloud moved into the eastern Caribbean at the weekend and by Tuesday had smothered Hispaniola, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and eastern Cuba, continuing its advance up and westward toward Central America and southern United States.
    Officials across the region warned locals to remain at home when possible and wear a face mask, especially if they already had a respiratory condition, as the dust was a powerful irritant and could contain pathogens as well as minerals.
.     The use of a face mask is recommended in this situation, in addition to already being necessary for prevention of COVID-19, said Cubas top weather man, Jose Rubiera, on his Facebook page.
    Those with asthma and people with allergies should be careful and stay at home.
    The Saharan dust typically helps build beaches in the Caribbean and fertilizes soils in the Amazon in addition to affecting air quality, according to NASA, which has captured satellite images of the plume.
(Reporting by Kate Chappell in Kingston and Sarah Marsh in Havana; Editing by David Gregorio)
[I HAVE BEEN IN SANDSTORMS IN IDAHO WHEN THE SUN GOES DOWN AND I HAD TO HOLD ON TO A TELEPHONE POLL TO KEEP FROM BLOWING ME AWAY.].

6/24/2020 Normally frigid Siberia hits 100.4 degrees Saturday by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
    Siberias 100.4-degree temperature Saturday has been tentatively accepted by the World Meteorological Organization as a record for areas north of the Arctic Circle.
    Set in the small Siberian town of Verhoyansk, its also the planets northernmost 100-degree reading ever recorded.
    A WMO fast-response evaluation team has given tentative acceptance of this observation as a legitimate observation, which is consistent with current upper air observations at the time in Siberia, said Randy Cerveny, an Arizona State University professor who also heads the WMO weather and climate extremes team.
    This will now be subject to a normal process for a detailed formal review by a panel of WMO atmospheric scientists.
    The WMO certifies all major weather records worldwide.
    Verkhoyansk is above the Arctic Circle in the Sakha Republic, about 2,900 miles northeast of Moscow.
    In 2020, Siberia has stood out for its extreme temperatures, which have accelerated the melting of snow and ice; contributed to permafrost melt, which led to a major oil spill; and have gotten the Siberian wildfire season off to an unusually early and severe start, according to the Capital Weather Gang.
    Cerveny said that it has been an unusually hot spring in Siberia, and the lack of underlying snow in the region combined with overall global temperature increases, undoubtedly helped play a critical role in causing this extreme temperature observation.
    The town of about 1,300 residents is recognized by the Guinness World Records for the worlds most extreme temperature range, with a low of minus-90 degrees and a previous high of 98.96 degrees.
    The Arctic is among the fastestwarming regions in the world and is heating at twice the global average, the WMO said.    Annual surface air temperatures over the past four years (2016-2019) in the Arctic have been the highest on record.
    Above-normal temperatures are expected to continue across the majority of the Arctic for the remainder of the summer, according to the Arctic Climate Forum. Contributing: The Associated Press
Children play in the Krugloe lake outside Verkhoyansk in the Sakha Republic, about 2,900 miles northeast of
Moscow, on Sunday. Temperatures set a record for areas north of the Arctic Circle. OLGA BURTSEVA VIA AP
[IF IT IS MELTING IN ONE PLACE THAT USE TO BE ICE THEN IT IS FREEZING IN ANOTHER PLACE THAT USE TO BE WARMER GET IT STRAIGHT THAT THE EARTH IS MOST LIKELY TILTING ON ITS AXIS MORE PROBABLY WENT FROM 17 DEGREES TO 20 AND 21 MIGHT ACTUALLY CAUSE THE EARTH TO FLIP OVER AS IT MAY HAVE DONE SOMETIME IN OUR ANCIENT PAST.].

6/25/2020 Heat wave in Siberia has scientists alarmed - Feverish temperature unusual for region by Daria Litvinova and Seth Borenstein , ASSOCIATED PRESS
    MOSCOW The Arctic is feverish and on fire at least parts of it are. And thats got scientists worried about what it means for the rest of the world.
    The thermometer hit a likely record of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit in the Russian Arctic town of Verkhoyansk on Saturday, a temperature that would be a fever for a person but this is Siberia, known for being frozen.    The World Meteorological Organization said Tuesday that its looking to verify the temperature reading, which would be unprecedented for the region north of the Arctic Circle.
    The Arctic is figuratively and literally on fire its warming much faster than we thought it would in response to rising levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and this warming is leading to a rapid meltdown and increase in wildfires, University of Michigan environmental school dean Jonathan Overpeck, a climate scientist, said in an email.
    The record warming in Siberia is a warning sign of major proportions, Overpeck wrote.     Much of Siberia had high temperatures this year that were beyond unseasonably warm. From January through May, the average temperature in north-central Siberia has been about 14 degrees Fahrenheit above average, according to the climate science nonprofit Berkeley Earth.
    Thats much, much warmer than its ever been over that region in that period of time, Berkeley Earth climate scientist Zeke Hausfather said.
Siberia is in the Guinness Book of World Records for its extreme temperatures.    Its a place where the thermometer has swung 190 degrees Fahrenheit, from a low of minus 90 Fahrenheit to now 100.4 Fahrenheit.
    For residents of the Sakha Republic in the Russian Arctic, a heat wave is not necessarily a bad thing.    Vasilisa Ivanova spent every day this week with her family swimming and sunbathing.
    We spend the entire day on the shore of the Lena River, said Ivanova, who lives in the village of Zhigansk, 270 miles from where the heat record was set.    Weve been coming every day since Monday.
    But for scientists, alarm bells should be ringing, Overpeck wrote.
    Such prolonged Siberian warmth hasnt been seen for thousands of years, and it is another sign that the Arctic amplifies global warming even more than we thought, Overpeck said.
    The temperature on Earth over the past few decades has been growing, on average, by nearly one-third of a degree Fahrenheit every 10 years.    But in Russia it increases by 0.85 degrees Fahrenheit and in the Russian Arctic, by 1.24 degrees Fahrenheit every decade, said Andrei Kiselyov, the lead scientist at the Moscow-based Voeikov Main Geophysical Observatory.
    Last August, more than 4 million hectares of forests in Siberia were on fire, according to Greenpeace.    This year the fires have already started raging much earlier than the usual start in July, said Vladimir Chuprov, director of the project department at Greenpeace Russia.
An outside thermometer shows 30 Celsius (86 degrees F) in Verkhoyansk, the
Sakha Republic, about 2,900 miles northeast of Moscow, Russia. OLGA BURTSEVA/AP

6/25/2020 Dont look!: Mexican town shudders as quake strikes again by Julia Love
Women walk by a building damaged during a quake, in Oaxaca, Mexico June 24, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Luis Plata
    MEXICO CITY (Reuters) When a major earthquake struck Mexico on Tuesday, panic swept through the coastal city of Juchitan as residents feared that much of what they had struggled to rebuild after a devastating 2017 temblor would return to rubble.
    Tuesdays 7.4-magnitude quake near the Pacific coast killed at least 10 people and injured more than 20, rocking remote mountain villages.    It was felt as far away as Mexico City but reverberated with special resonance in humid Juchitan.
    When the ground began to tremble, school teacher Eunice Pineda ran into the middle of the street with her mother.
    Their home emerged largely unscathed from the 2017 earthquake, which damaged historic buildings and killed dozens of people in the city.
    But on Tuesday morning, the ground was shaking so violently that Pineda feared the building would crumble and covered her mothers eyes, she told Reuters.
    Dont look!' the 26-year-old recalled saying.    Our house is going to fall The house of all our memories.'
    The house stood firm, and the city lost no buildings, even though the epicenter was only about 116 miles (187km) away. But many in Juchitan, a city with deep indigenous roots in the southern state of Oaxaca, feared the worst.
    Civil protection authorities found about 30 to 40 people in a state of nervous shock as they made their rounds, said William Lopez, a local official.
    Many people still havent recovered from 2017, he said.
    Juchitan sits on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, a vibrant indigenous Zapotec region whose colorful traditional dress inspired artist Frida Kahlos signature aesthetic.
    After the 2017 quake, many people who lost their homes slept under plastic tarps in the rainy season, said Juan Mario Perez, who works at an indigenous community radio station and helped to rebuild the town. Aftershocks jolted Juchitan for weeks.
    Nearly three years on, many are still fighting to get assistance or materials.    Some went home to live in precarious conditions, having only built a room or two, Perez said.
    The city estimates 40% to 50% of reconstruction is complete, said Lopez. After the latest quake, only two structures are in danger of collapse, both badly damaged in 2017, he added.
    Juchitan has made progress.    Its market, where women in its famously matriarchal society peddle handicrafts and local dishes, reopened last year.
    But anxiety ran high after Tuesdays tremor.    Some people slept on their patios, a traditional way to beat the heat on muggy summer evenings and a precaution against unsteady ground.
    During the quake, optometrist Zurisadai Ortiz said she was distraught thinking about her grandmother, who lives just across the street but is too frail to flee the house without assistance.
    Ortiz, 24, slept in a room reinforced after the 2017 quake at her grandmothers house Tuesday night.    She felt better, but she still does not trust the earth beneath her.
    Our lives can change in minutes, in seconds, she said.
(Reporting by Julia Love; additional reporting by David Alire Garcia; Editing by Dave Graham, Tom Brown and Lincoln Feast.)

6/25/2020 Death toll from Mexican quake rises to 10 as residents clear rubble
Members of Civil Protection check an apartment building damaged by an earthquake of magnitude 7.4 that struck
southern Mexico's Pacific coast on Tuesday, in Mexico City, Mexico June 24, 2020. REUTERS/Henry Romero
    MEXICO CITY (Reuters) The death toll from a powerful earthquake that struck southern Mexico on Tuesday has risen to 10 people, authorities said on Wednesday, as locals began clearing the rubble and assessing the damage from the temblor.
    The area surrounding the popular Huatulco beach resort in the southern state of Oaxaca was hardest hit by the 7.4 magnitude quake, but the shaking could be felt as far away as Mexico City, where tall buildings swayed and thousands of people raced into the streets.
    Roughly 30 buildings in the capital were damaged, and in a northern neighborhood that was hard hit by a 2017 earthquake, some residents had to evacuate their homes.
    This apartment has always been my home.    Its where I was born, where I grew up, where I have all my memories, Aura Preisser told Reuters while removing her belongings from the building, which was cordoned off by authorities.    If I lost it, I would lose not only my home, but a large part of my heart.
    In Oaxaca, crews of workers cleared the roads cluttered with debris from the earthquake, while residents of humble communities searched for their belongings among the rubble.
    Everything was damaged, the whole house was taken away.    Everything we have done in our lives is gone, said Vicente Romero in the town of La Crucecita, on the Pacific coast, showing the damage to his home as neighbors cleared debris.
    Educational centers and historical sites, including four archaeological zones, suffered damage, according to a statement from the Oaxaca state government, which put the death toll at 10 people.     In a post on Twitter, Oaxaca Governor Alejandro Murat said 117 municipalities and more than 5,000 homes had been affected by the earthquake.
(Reporting by Josue Hernandez; additional reporting by Noe Torres; writing by Julia Love; editing by Lincoln Feast.)

6/25/2020 Caribbean chokes on monster Saharan dust cloud headed toward the U.S. by Kate Chappell and Sarah Marsh
A plume of dust from the Sahara Desert approaches the United States from the Caribbean in an image from the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) GOES-East satellite June 24, 2020. CIRA/NOAA/Handout via REUTERS
    KINGSTON/HAVANA (Reuters) A massive plume of Saharan dust has shrouded swathes of the Caribbean, turning blue skies into a milky-brown haze and sparking health warnings across the region as air quality fell to unhealthy levels.
    Strong warm winds over the Sahara desert typically whip up sand at this time of year and carry it thousands of miles across the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas.    This year, the dust is the most dense in a half a century, according to several meteorologists.    The thick smog has sharply reduced visibility.
    Jamaicas Blue Mountains, usually a prominent sight towering over Kingston, were hidden behind an oppressive white cloud.
    i>Im not sure if its sneaking in through the vents, because the air inside doesnt feel the same, said Sarue Thomas, 31, from her office in Kingston, where temperatures exceeded 30 degrees Celsius and the air was stiflingly thick.
    This is something that weve not ever seen before, said Thomas, adding that her three-year-old son had developed a dry cough.
    Its the worst Ive seen since weve kept records, said Evan Thompson, director of the meteorological service division in Jamaica.
    We are seeing a much thicker mass of dust particles suspended.    It is a lot more distinct and noticeable.
    The dust cloud moved into the eastern Caribbean at the weekend and by Tuesday had smothered Hispaniola, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and eastern Cuba, continuing its advance up and westward toward Central America and southern United States.
    Officials across the region warned locals to remain at home when possible and wear a face mask, especially if they already had a respiratory condition, as the dust was a powerful irritant and could contain pathogens as well as minerals.
    The use of a face mask is recommended in this situation, in addition to already being necessary for prevention of COVID-19, said Cubas top weather man, Jose Rubiera, on his Facebook page.
    Those with asthma and people with allergies should be careful and stay at home.
    The Saharan dust typically helps build beaches in the Caribbean and fertilizes soils in the Amazon in addition to affecting air quality, according to NASA, which has captured satellite images of the plume.
(Reporting by Kate Chappell in Kingston and Sarah Marsh in Havana; Editing by David Gregorio)

6/25/2020 Saharan dust storm blows through Caribbean, heads toward Midwest by OAN Newsroom
Police officers wearing masks as a precaution against the spread of the new coronavirus walk at dusk under a
cloud of Sahara dust hanging in the air in Havana on Wednesday, June 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
    A Saharan dust storm, nicknamed the Godzilla dust cloud, is expected to roll into Texas this weekend.
    According to meteorologists, the dust caused Caribbean skies to turn a cloudy brown color on Wednesday.
    It occurs every year, traveling thousands of miles from Africa and usually ending up over the Caribbean.
    According to experts, this years storm may be one of the most extreme dust events in 50 years to push into the states.
This satellite photo provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, shows a could of
dust coming from the Sahara desert arriving to the Caribbean Monday, June 22, 2020. (NOAA via AP)
    The air quality levels reportedly become unsafe, due to the dust in the air.    Those with allergies or asthma have been warned to remain inside or wear face masks.
    If someone has a respiratory challenge already, it could very well be more difficult.    Were talking about irritation to the throat, the nose, the eyes that can lead to more serious situations, classically known as an asthma attack.    So, were very concerned about our folks and making sure people are prepared. Chris Martinez, Executive Director of the St. Louis Asthma and Allergy Foundation
    Forecasters predicted the dust storm will likely make it to the Midwest over the weekend.

6/25/2020 Argentina, Brazil monitor massive locust swarm; crop damage seen limited by Maximilian Heath and Ana Mano
A locust is seen on a plant, in Gran Guardia, Formosa, Argentina June 1, 2020. SENASA/Handout via REUTERS
    BUENOS AIRES/SAO PAULO (Reuters) Argentina and Brazil are monitoring the movement of a 15-square-kilometer locust swarm in Argentinas northeast, though authorities and specialists said so far it had not caused significant damage to crops in the South American countries.
    Argentine food safety body SENASA said the swarm, which initially entered Argentina from Paraguay in late May, contained about 40 million insects.    It is in the province of Corrientes, near borders with Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay.
    Argentina and Brazil are among the worlds largest soy and corn exporters.
    We are following the movement of the plague, Hctor Medina, a coordinator at SENASA, told Reuters on Thursday.    Due to the arrival of a cold weather front from the south, the movement of the locusts would be limited in the coming days, he added.
    The low temperatures will prevent them from moving and reproducing.    The lethargy makes them stay still, Medina said.    Winds could eventually push the cloud of locusts into a neighboring country, he added.
    Brazils agriculture ministry is also monitoring the swarm and has asked farmers in the south of the country to be on alert, although it has concluded that the locust cloud is unlikely to move into Brazilian territory for now.
    Nevertheless, Farming Minister Tereza Cristina Dias, declared on Thursday a phytosanitary emergency in the states of Ro Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina due to the swarm.
    In Argentina, both SENASA and the Buenos Aires grain exchange said they were less worried by the locust swarm than issues of dry weather impacting crops.
    For now (the swarm) is not a problem, we are more concerned about the humidity issue for wheat planting than locusts, said Esteban Copati, head of agricultural estimates at the exchange, who added the swarm was moving over a marginal farming areas.
    The pests have raised concerns in Brazil.    A representative from the Aprosoja growers association in Rio Grande do Sul said they feared the locusts would enter the state where corn is still being harvested and wheat being grown.
    Eugenio Hack of the Copercampos cooperative in Santa Catarina told Reuters that if the locusts were to move to the state, producers would have to be trained to use the appropriate chemicals, which are different from those normally used.
    My grandfather dealt with locusts many years ago.    Farmers used to dig ditches in the ground, cover insects with soil, and then set them on fire, Hack said.
(Reporting by Maximilian Heath in Buenos Aires and Ana Mano in Sao Paulo; Editing by Adam Jourdan and Richard Chang)

6/26/2020 Satellites reveal major new gas industry methane leaks by Shadia Nasralla
A undated handout image shows methane emission hotspots associated with oil, gas and coal between January 2019 and May 2020. KAYRROS/Handout via REUTERS
    LONDON (Reuters) Last fall, European Space Agency satellites detected huge plumes of the invisible planet-warming gas methane leaking from the Yamal pipeline that carries natural gas from Siberia to Europe.
    Energy consultancy Kayrros estimated one leak was spewing out 93 tonnes of methane every hour, meaning the daily emissions from the leakage were equivalent to the amount of carbon dioxide pumped out in a year by 15,000 cars in the United States.
    The find, which has not been reported, is part of a growing effort by companies, academics and some energy producers to use space-age technology to find the biggest methane leaks as the potent heat-trapping gas builds up rapidly in the atmosphere.
    Kayrros, which is analysing the satellite data, said another leak nearby was gushing at a rate of 17 tonnes an hour and that it had informed Yamals operator Gazprom about its findings this month.
    Gazprom did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the leaks identified by Kayrros.
    Up to now, estimates of greenhouse gas emissions from industries have relied mainly on paper-based calculations of whats pouring out of tailpipes and smokestacks, based on the amount of energy consumed by people and businesses.
    But as satellite technology improves, researchers are starting to stress test the data and the early results show leaky oil and gas industry infrastructure is responsible for far more of the methane in the atmosphere than previously thought.
    Such a revelation would heap pressure on energy companies already targeted by climate activists and investors for their contribution to carbon dioxide emissions to find and plug methane leaks.     The new satellite discoveries of methane leaks could also lead to more stringent regulatory regimes targeting natural gas, once seen as a clean fossil fuel, as governments seek to combat climate change, experts say.
    While scientists generally agree that calculating emissions based on consumption works well for carbon dioxide, it is less reliable for methane, which is prone to unexpected leaks.
    Methane is also 80 times more potent during its first 20 years in the atmosphere and scientists say that identifying methane sources is crucial to making the drastic emissions cuts needed to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
    What this now shows is that the avoidance of that fossil leakage actually can have a larger impact than what was anticipated earlier, said Imperial College London climate scientist Joeri Rogelj, who is one of the authors for reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
PIVOTAL DISCOVERY
    A study in Februarys Nature magazine reinforced the idea that the oil and gas industry produces far more methane than previously thought as it suggested emissions of the gas from natural causes have been significantly overestimated.     The findings dont let farming off the hook its still responsible for a quarter of the methane in the atmosphere but they suggest mud volcanoes and natural oil and gas seepages have been taking some of the heat for the energy industrys leaks.     Some big oil and gas companies such as BP and Royal Dutch Shell are tackling the issue by investing in satellite companies or signing monitoring deals so they can find and plug their leaks and stick to pledges to slash emissions.
    The push to detect emissions from the sky began when U.S. advocacy group Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and universities including Harvard used aerial measurements to show methane leaks from Americas oil and gas heartland were 60% above inventories reported to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
    That 2018 report was pivotal, said Christophe McGlade, a senior researcher at the International Energy Agency (IEA).
    What they found from actual ground and aerial measurements is that the engineering-based approach can really underestimate total emissions, he said.    Maybe if emissions were higher in the United States than previous estimates, maybe they were higher in other parts of the world too?
    A year later, Canadian greenhouse gas monitoring company GHGSat found another major leak at pipeline and compressor infrastructure near the Korpezhe field in Turkmenistan.
    In an October report, GHGSat estimated the leak released 142,000 tonnes of methane in the 12 months to the end of January 2019 and said then it was the biggest on record.
    GHGSat said the leak was plugged in April 2019 after state oil company Turkmen Oil was notified.    Turkmen Oil officials could not be reached for comment.    The company declined to comment when asked about it in November.
    That one emission that we found together represents about one million cars taken off the road per year, said GHGSat founder Stephane Germain.
    Now, the more recent Kayrros discovery has added to the evidence that undetected methane leaks from the energy industry are a global issue and a major one.
RUSSIA IN THE SPOTLIGHT
    Kayrros said its analysis of the satellite data showed concentrations of methane around compressor stations along the pipeline linking Russian gasfields to Europe.
    The Yamal-Europe pipeline stretches 2,000 km (1,250 miles) from Germany through Poland and Belarus to Russia where it joins the 2,200 km SRTOTorzhok pipeline to Siberias gasfields.
    Gazprom estimated that about 0.29% of the 679 billion cubic metres of gas it moved through its pipeline network escaped as methane emissions in 2019.    Yamal has an annual capacity of about 33 billion cubic metres.
    These figures correspond to the best global practices, Gazprom said in a June 10 statement about its emissions.
    Kayrros also discovered leaks from oil and gas installations in the Sahara Desert in North Africa.
    Early results show that the estimates we have been relying on for the last years and decades are probably too low and were finding more methane coming out of various industries and regions than we thought was the case, said Christian Lelong, director for natural resources at Kayrros.
    McGlade said the IEA increased the projected contributions of several countries in central Asia and North Africa in its Methane Tracker this year because of the satellite detections.
    He singled out Russia as one country where official methane emissions estimates were likely too low.
    According to current IEA estimates of methane emitting countries, Russia is closely followed by the United States, with other large oil and gas producers such as Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia further down the list.
    Our estimates suggest that Russia is actually among the higher emitters globally.    There does appear to be evidence from satellites of leaks along some of its large gas pipeline routes, McGlade said.
    The Kremlin did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the IEA estimates.
MORE SATELLITES
    The scrutiny from space is set to intensify. GHGSat aims to launch two new satellites this year while the EDF advocacy group plans to launch its own satellite in 2022.
    The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is also working on a satellite monitoring programme for greenhouse gas emissions, specifically in the United States.
    Shell signed a deal with GHGSat last year to work towards covering its sites globally, saying it hopes to get its methane leakage rate down to 0.2%, or below, by 2025.
    BP is planning to cover its sites with constant measurements by 2023 and invested $5 million this month in Satelytics, an analytics firm that tracks methane emissions using satellites.
    BP, Shell and U.S. non-profit EDF along with Eni , Total , Equinor and Wintershall Dea sent policy recommendations to the European Union in May, asking the worlds biggest gas importer to standardise the gathering of methane emissions data by 2023, using satellite technology.
    U.S. oil companies have also been exploring ways to detect methane emissions, said Howard Feldman, senior director for regulatory and scientific affairs at the American Petroleum Institute.
    Exxon Mobil Corp , for example, said this year it was field testing eight detection methods, including satellites and aerial surveillance with drones, helicopters and planes.
(Additional reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Richard Valdmanis, David Clarke and Jon Boyle)

6/26/2020 Scientists just beginning to understand the many health problems caused by COVID-19 by Julie Steenhuysen
FILE PHOTO: A health worker takes care of a patient infected with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), inside an Intensive
Care Unit of the University of Chile's clinical hospital in Santiago, Chile, June 18, 2020. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado/File Photo
    CHICAGO (Reuters) Scientists are only starting to grasp the vast array of health problems caused by the novel coronavirus, some of which may have lingering effects on patients and health systems for years to come, according to doctors and infectious disease experts.
    Besides the respiratory issues that leave patients gasping for breath, the virus that causes COVID-19 attacks many organ systems, in some cases causing catastrophic damage.
    We thought this was only a respiratory virus.    Turns out, it goes after the pancreas.    It goes after the heart.    It goes after the liver, the brain, the kidney and other organs.    We didnt appreciate that in the beginning, said Dr. Eric Topol, a cardiologist and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla, California.
    In addition to respiratory distress, patients with COVID-19 can experience blood clotting disorders that can lead to strokes, and extreme inflammation that attacks multiple organ systems.    The virus can also cause neurological complications that range from headache, dizziness and loss of taste or smell to seizures and confusion.
    And recovery can be slow, incomplete and costly, with a huge impact on quality of life.
    The broad and diverse manifestations of COVID-19 are somewhat unique, said Dr. Sadiya Khan, a cardiologist at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago.
    With influenza, people with underlying heart conditions are also at higher risk of complications, Khan said.
What is surprising about this virus is the extent of the complications occurring outside the lungs.
    Khan believes there will be a huge healthcare expenditure and burden for individuals who have survived COVID-19.
LENGTHY REHAB FOR MANY
    Patients who were in the intensive care unit or on a ventilator for weeks will need to spend extensive time in rehab to regain mobility and strength.
    It can take up to seven days for every one day that youre hospitalized to recover that type of strength, Khan said.    Its harder the older you are, and you may never get back to the same level of function.
    While much of the focus has been on the minority of patients who experience severe disease, doctors increasingly are looking to the needs of patients who were not sick enough to require hospitalization, but are still suffering months after first becoming infected.
    Studies are just getting underway to understand the long-term effects of infection, Jay Butler, deputy director of infectious diseases at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters in a telephone briefing on Thursday.
    We hear anecdotal reports of people who have persistent fatigue, shortness of breath, Butler said.    How long that will last is hard to say.
    While coronavirus symptoms typically resolve in two or three weeks, an estimated 1 in 10 experience prolonged symptoms, Dr. Helen Salisbury of the University of Oxford wrote in the British Medical Journal on Tuesday.
    Salisbury said many of her patients have normal chest X-rays and no sign of inflammation, but they are still not back to normal.
    If you previously ran 5k three times a week and now feel breathless after a single flight of stairs, or if you cough incessantly and are too exhausted to return to work, then the fear that you may never regain your previous health is very real, she wrote.
    Dr. Igor Koralnik, chief of neuro-infectious diseases at Northwestern Medicine, reviewed current scientific literature and found about half of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 had neurological complications, such as dizziness, decreased alertness, difficulty concentrating, disorders of smell and taste, seizures, strokes, weakness and muscle pain.
    Koralnik, whose findings were published in the Annals of Neurology, has started an outpatient clinic for COVID-19 patients to study whether these neurological problems are temporary or permanent.
    Khan sees parallels with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.    Much of the early focus was on deaths.
    In recent years, weve been very focused on the cardiovascular complications of HIV survivorship, Khan said.
(This story corrects spelling of doctors name to Khan instead of Kahn in last two paragraphs)
(Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen; additional reporting by Caroline Humer and Nancy Lapid in New York; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

6/27/2020 Global COVID-19 fundraising meeting raises $6.9 billion, leaders want vaccine for all by Foo Yun Chee
FILE PHOTO: Small bottles labeled with "Vaccine" stickers stand near a medical syringe in front of displayed
"Coronavirus COVID-19" words in this illustration taken April 10, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
    BRUSSELS (Reuters) A global fundraising meeting on Saturday raised 6.15 billion euros ($6.9 billion) from the United States, the     European Commission and numerous countries to fight COVID-19, with many participants stressing that an eventual vaccine should be available to anyone who needs it.
    The pledging summit, part of a joint initiative by the EU executive and advocacy group Global Citizen, also included a globally televised and streamed fundraising concert featuring Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, Shakira, Chloe X Halle, Usher and others.
    The Commission together with the European Investment Bank pledged 4.9 billion euros ($5.50 billion), the United States $545 million, Germany 383 million euros, Canada C$300 million ($219 million)and Qatar $10 million.    Forty governments took part in the summit.
    The money will be used for COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines, and also to support the worlds poorest and most marginalised communities.
    Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said it was crucial that everyone who needed it should have access to a vaccine.
    I am trying to convince high-income countries to reserve vaccines not only for themselves but also for low- and middle income countries.    This is a stress test for solidarity, she said.
    British Premier Boris Johnson concurred.
    If and when an effective vaccine is found, then we as world leaders have moral duty to ensure that it is truly available to all, he said.
    French President Emmanuel Macron was adamant about pooling efforts together.
    Lets refuse an every man for himself approach, lets continue to move forward together, he said.
    Italy, one of the hardest hit by the pandemic, echoed his sentiment.
    The EU is championing global cooperation in efforts to control and end the pandemic, in contrast to the United States and Chinas focus on national initiatives.
($1 = 0.8915 euros)
($1 = 1.3688 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Frances Kerry)

6/28/2020 Global coronavirus cases exceed 10 million by Cate Cadell
A healthcare worker collects a swab sample from a man during a check-up camp for the
coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Mumbai, India, June 26, 2020. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas
    BEIJING (Reuters) Global coronavirus cases exceeded 10 million on Sunday according to a Reuters tally, marking a major milestone in the spread of the respiratory disease that has so far killed almost half a million people in seven months.
    The figure is roughly double the number of severe influenza illnesses recorded annually, according to the World Health Organisation.
    The milestone comes as many hard-hit countries are easing lockdowns while making extensive alterations to work and social life that could last for a year or more until a vaccine is available.
    Some countries are experiencing a resurgence in infections, leading authorities to partially reinstate lockdowns, in what experts say could be a recurring pattern in the coming months and into 2021.
    North America, Latin America and Europe each account for around 25% of cases, while Asia and the Middle East have around 11% and 9% respectively, according to the Reuters tally, which uses government reports.
    There have been more than 497,000 fatalities linked to the disease so far, roughly the same as the number of influenza deaths reported annually.
    The first cases of the new coronavirus were confirmed on Jan. 10 in Wuhan in China, before infections and fatalities surged in Europe, then the United States, and later Russia.
    The pandemic has now entered a new phase, with India and Brazil battling outbreaks of over 10,000 cases a day, putting a major strain on resources.
    The two countries accounted for over a third of all new cases in the past week.    Brazil reported a record 54,700 new cases on June 19.    Some researchers said the death toll in Latin America could rise to over 380,000 by October, from around 100,000 this week.
    The total number of cases continued to increase at a rate of between 1-2% a day in the past week, down from rates above 10% in March.
    Countries including China, New Zealand and Australia have seen new outbreaks in the past month, despite largely quashing local transmission.
    In Beijing, where hundreds of new cases were linked to an agricultural market, testing capacity has been ramped up to 300,000 a day.
    The United States, which has reported the most cases of any country at more than 2.5 million, managed to slow the spread of the virus in May, only to see it expand in recent weeks to rural areas and other places that were previously unaffected.
    In some countries with limited testing capabilities, case numbers reflect a small proportion of total infections.    Roughly half of reported infections are known to have recovered.
(To see a Reuters interactive, open this link in an external browser: https://tmsnrt.rs/2Zedzk8)
(Reporting by Cate Cadell; Editing by Daniel Wallis and William Mallard)

6/28/2020 It is rocket science: EU to speed up space ambitions, Breton says by Michel Rose
FILE PHOTO: The Ariane-5 ECA launcher, carrying Thai and Mexican telecommunications satellites, lifts off from
the European spaceport at Kourou in French Guiana, May 27, 2006. REUTERS/ESA/CNES/ARIANESPACE/Pool/File Photo
    PARIS (Reuters) The European Union will plough more money into rocket launches, satellite communication and space exploration to preserve its often-unsung successes in space and keep up with US and Chinese ambitions, its space chief said on Sunday.
    Over the past decades, Europe has sought to build independent access to space from U.S. and Russian pioneers to help its industry, with successes such as Ariane rockets or GPS-rival satnav Galileo.
    But the recent emergence of U.S. competitor SpaceX and its reusable rockets as well as Chinas rapid advances, including the first ever landing on the far side of the Moon last year, is giving new urgency to Europes ambitions.
    "Space is one of Europes strong points, and were giving ourselves the means to speed up, European Commissioner Thierry Breton, whose brief include the space sector, told Reuters in an interview.
    Breton, the former French head of IT company Atos, said that for the first time, the EU budget will be used to support new technology to launch rockets, including reusable ones.
    The EU will for the first time sign a 1-billion-euro agreement with Arianespace with guaranteed orders to give it more visibility, in exchange for more innovation.
    SpaceX has redefined the standards for launchers, so Ariane 6 is a necessary step, but not the ultimate aim: we must start thinking now about Ariane 7, Breton said.
    Breton, who hopes the European Commission will provide 16 billion euros for space in its next budget, said he would propose a 1-billion-euro European Space Fund to boost startups.    He also wants to launch a competition to give free access to satellites and launchers to startups, to spur innovation.
    For the Galileo satnav system, Breton said he would bring forward to the end of 2024 instead of 2027 the rollout of a new generation of satellites, the most modern in the world, that can interact with each other and provide a more precise signal.     He wants to launch a new satellite system that can give high-speed Internet access to all Europeans, and begin work on a Space Traffic Management system to avoid collisions, made more likely with the rapid increase in the number of satellites.
(Reporting by Michel Rose)

6/28/2020 Wildfire in Utah causes major evacuation by OAN Newsroom
The Traverse Fire burns near homes in Lehi, Utah, Sunday, June 28, 2020. (Justin Reeves via AP)
    A wildfire spreading in Lehi, Utah has forced more than 40 homes to evacuate.    According to reports, strong winds caused the fire to spread rapidly across at least 500 anchors of land on Sunday.
    The fire was proven to be caused by fireworks, which were set off on Saturday night.nbsp;   Flames were said to be up to 40 feet tall.
    Evacuees were taken to Red Cross evacuation shelters, where they were tested for COVID-19 upon entry.
    Utah authorities have reportedly apprehended a suspect, who is cooperating with law enforcement.
    It just costs a lot of people a lot of heartache.    I would ask that people, you know, follow the rules.    Theyre posted at all the firework stands, where you can and cant shoot them off, and safety precautions, so please follow those. Chief Jeremy Craft, Lehi Fire Department
    Thus far, the fire has not damaged any homes or structures.

6/29/2020 Gilead Science releases pricing plan for COVID-19 drug Remdesivir by OAN Newsroom
FILE This is an April 30, 2020, file photo showing Gilead Sciences headquarters in Foster City, Calif. The maker of a
drug shown to shorten recovery time for severely ill COVID-19 patients says it will charge $2,340 for a typical treatment
course for people covered by government health programs in the United States and other developed countries. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)
    Drug manufacturer Gilead released its pricing plan for the COVID-19 drug Remdesivir.
    The company reportedly plans charge the U.S. government $390 a dose, which will cost patients on Medicare at least $2,300 for the shortest coronavirus treatment cycle.
    It will also charge non-government buyers such as hospitals $520 per dose, in turn, costing patients with private insurance at least $3,100 per treatment cycle.
    During an interview Monday, the companys CEO Daniel ODay defended the companys pricing.
    The same focus went into the price and although this medicine adds significant value to the healthcare system by reducing the hospital days, we decided to price this at a very extraordinary time in a unique way, he stated.    We priced it at the value, at the price that allows for access across the developed world.
    Gilead is set to begin selling Remdesivir on July 1.

6/30/2020 Swarms of locusts devastate parts of northern Kenya by Baz Ratner
Locusts are seen after devastating a tomato farm near the town of Lodwar, Turkana county,
Kenya, June 28, 2020. Picture taken June 28, 2020. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
    TURKANA, Kenya (Reuters) The branches on trees around Kenyas northern town of Lodwar have been stripped bare of leaves, bending downwards under the weight of voracious young locusts.
    Numbers of locusts exploded in East Africa and the Red Sea region in late 2019, exacerbated by atypical weather patterns amplified by climate change.    Swarms of insects flew west from Yemen, and this year reached Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia.
    The new generation has hatched in Turkana, Kenyas poorest region.    The young locusts are eating everything in sight, and when their wings mature the swarms will be able to travel up to 130 kilometres (80 miles) in a day.
    The hatchings have occurred as crops are planted in a region where 20 million people struggle for food.
    The locusts have come to destabilise an already bad situation, said Daniel Kirura, head of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in Turkana.
    Kirura fears the swarms will spread quickly and said teams are working frantically to spray them with insecticide before they become airborne.
    Within one week they may mature to swarms that may fly away, Kirura said.    Our wish is to control them before they leave Turkana.
    Turkana is a vast, dry scrubland in northwest Kenya that borders Uganda, South Sudan and Ethiopia. Residents say the insects are devastating farmland and grazing areas.
    These things that jump up and down came here two days ago and have eaten all the trees, said Michael, near Turkanas capital Lodwar.    They have even finished grass for the goats.
    Residents are beating tin drums to scare away the insects.
    They have destroyed our maize, pawpaw tree, Christopher Lotit told Reuters.    So because they do not want noise, we use noise to get rid of them.
(Writing by Omar Mohammed; Editing by Katharine Houreld and Ed Osmond)

    Please return to see the rest of 2020.

    This page created on 4/1/2020, and updated on 4/30/2020, 5/31/2020 and 6/30/2020.

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