By Kwasi Kpodo ACCRA (Reuters) - West African states lack the resources to battle the world's worst outbreak of Ebola and deep cultural suspicions about the disease remain a big obstacle to halting its spread, ministers said on Wednesday. The outbreak has killed 467 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone since February, making it the largest and deadliest ever, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). West African health ministers meeting in Ghana to draw up a regional response mixed appeals for cash with warnings of the practices that have allowed the disease to spread across borders and into cities. Abubakarr Fofanah, deputy health minister for Sierra Leone, a country with one of the world's weakest health systems, said cash was needed for drugs, basic protective gear and staff pay. Sierra Leone announced on Wednesday that President Ernest Bai Koroma, his vice president and all cabinet ministers would donate half of their salaries to help fight the outbreak, though the total amount of the donations was not disclosed. "In Liberia, our biggest challenge is denial, fear and panic. Our people are very much afraid of the disease," Bernice Dahn, Liberia's deputy health minister, told Reuters on the sidelines of the Accra meeting. "People are afraid but do not believe that the disease exists and because of that people get sick and the community members hide them and bury them, against all the norms we have put in place," she said. Authorities are trying to stop relatives of Ebola victims from giving them traditional funerals, which often involve the manual washing of the body, out of fear of spreading the infection. The dead are instead meant to be buried by health staff wearing protective gear. Neighboring Sierra Leone faces many of the same problems, with dozens of those infected evading treatment, complicating efforts to trace cases. RED CROSS STAFF THREATENED The Red Cross in Guinea said it had been forced to temporarily suspend some operations in the country's southeast after staff working on Ebola were threatened. "Locals wielding knives surrounded a marked Red Cross vehicle," a Red Cross official said, asking not to be named. The official said operations had been halted for safety reasons. The Red Cross later said only international staff were removed. A Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) center in Guinea was attacked by youths in April after staff were accused of bringing the disease into the country. Ebola causes fever, vomiting, bleeding and diarrhea and kills up to 90 percent of those it infects. Highly contagious, it is transmitted through contact with blood or other fluids. WHO has flagged three main factors driving its spread: the burial of victims in accordance with tradition, the dense populations around the capital cities of Guinea and Liberia and the bustling cross-border trade across the region. Health experts say the top priority must be containing Ebola with basic infection control measures such as vigilant handwashing and hygiene, and isolation of infected patients. Jeremy Farrar, a professor of tropical medicine and director of The Wellcome Trust, an influential global health charity, said people at high risk should also be offered experimental medicines, despite the drugs not having been fully tested. "We have more than 450 deaths so far, and not a single individual has been offered anything beyond tepid sponging and 'we'll bury you nicely'," Farrar told Reuters in an interview. "It's just unacceptable." (Additional reporting by Misha Hussain in Dakar and Umaru Fofana in Freetown; Writing by David Lewis; Editing by Joe Bavier, Toni Reinhold)
- The Daily Beast
Samuel Rajkumar/ReutersNEW DELHI—With India ravaged by an unprecedented second wave of the COVID-19 virus—and its health-care system on its knees—some public health and former military officials are voicing outrage over the government’s apparent refusal to use the full force of the army to assist with the crisis.“The army is not being utilized to the fullest extent,” even though it has “tremendous capacities” to ease the current disaster, Deependra Singh Hooda, former chief of the Indian army’s strategic northern command, told The Daily Beast.For weeks experts have been pleading with the government, urging it to rope in the military to help with a health crisis never before seen in India’s modern history.Earlier this month, the deputy chief minister of the country’s capital, Delhi—which is facing the worst COVID situation in India—asked the defense minister to lend the services of the armed forces to help it set up and run COVID-19 health facilities. But the request was turned down, even after the local government reached out to Delhi’s high court, which claimed that Indian forces were stretched.Why Biden’s Push for Vaccine Patent Waivers Won’t Save IndiaWhile the army has set up a few hospitals and provided limited supplies of oxygen, most forces remain uninvolved even as the country’s health-care system is on the brink of collapse. India’s armed forces have around 13,000 officers who are medical professionals and an additional 100,000 medical support staff, whose expertise could save countless lives.“We are going through an emergency situation. The network and infrastructure of the armed forces need to be leveraged,” public health expert Anant Bhan told The Daily Beast. “It will minimize the loss of life.”The demand is being echoed after the top U.S. public health official, Dr. Anthony Fauci, suggested last week that India should marshal all of its resources, including the armed forces, to handle the situation.For India, the army may be the last resort. On Wednesday, 4,205 Indians died of the virus, and 348,421 tested positive for COVID, pushing the total number of confirmed cases so far in the country to 2.5 million. The total death count climbed to 25,8351—which experts say is a massive undercount. Hospitals in the country have been running at capacity for weeks, and hundreds of people have died because they did not get oxygen in time.The downward spiral is showing no signs of plateauing anytime soon, with new variants toting up the intensity of India’s second wave, and the prospect of a third wave that is likely to follow. The virus is also rapidly engulfing India’s rural areas—home to 65 percent of the country's population—where health-care systems are even worse than in the already overwhelmed cities.Mass Grave Dug on Banks of Ganges for 100 Possible COVID Victims Found Floating Down River“This is the first time we have gotten into a situation like this,” General Ved Prakash Malik, former Indian army chief, told The Daily Beast. “There is scope for the civil administration to use the services of armed forces. Other than the medical services, engineering services can be utilized to set up quick infrastructure.”Even though most of India’s population is still struggling to get a first dose, India’s 1.5 million armed personnel were first to be vaccinated. This is one of the reasons why experts are pressing the demand that their services should be utilized quickly.“The army is trained to deal with such situations,” said General Hooda, “We have seen in the past, whenever there has been a crisis, you call the army to [help]. Not only are they trained, but they are very well equipped to handle the crisis.”Hooda says that the focus of the government has been mostly on utilizing the health services of the armed forces, but there’s much more it could do. “The army has tremendous engineering skills to build infrastructure,” he said. “If you need to build infrastructure, like hospitals, and other medical facilities in rural areas, the army can do it as quickly as possible.”Experts also blame the lack of coordination amongst civil authorities for worsening the crisis in the country, and say that it has created tremendous panic and stress among the public. One of the key areas, which most of the health officials and former military commanders agree on, is the need for a centralized communication system so that essential medical supplies are transported and utilized efficiently.“For communications, the army can set up war rooms and certain expertise of the commanders who manage these war rooms can help immensely,” said General Malik, who was head of the Indian army during the war with Pakistan in 1999.General Hooda agrees.“Some emergency links can be set up with a dedicated emergency centre… we have the Indian-wide Movement Control Organisation (MCO), which is used in wars to mobilize and track the military,” said Hooda, adding that that MCO could be utilized to keep track of essential resources like oxygen tankers. Besides engineering and communications, a large fleet of armed forces could also be employed for the transportation of medical supplies.“The armed forces have the capacity to create 100 field hospitals with 100 beds each,” Harcharanjit Singh Panag, a former lieutenant in Indian army, wrote for The Print. “With the help of private doctors, medical students and additional medical equipment, many more temporary facilities can be made operational in a short span of time. It is these resources which can be superimposed on the civilian hospitals to take on the overload.”Some believe that India is not using the services of the military because it would be an embarrassment for the civil government—an acknowledgment that they haven’t been able to handle the situation. Another reason cited is tensions at India’s borders with China and Pakistan, making authorities reluctant to transfer troops stationed there.A Right-Wing Demagogue Is Letting COVID Ravage His People“If the army is brought in it would be somewhat of an admission that [the civilian government] is not able to do this,” General Hooda said. “Second is, there is also talk that we need force preservation [at our] borders.”Last year, the Indian army cancelled its border exercise in Ladakh due to the first wave of the novel coronavirus. But around the same time, violent skirmishes took place when Chinese troops reportedly intruded into Indian land. Both countries reinforced their positions with tens of thousands of troops, and an altercation ensued, killing 20 Indians and an unknown number of Chinese nationals.Given the intensity of the crisis, it’s clear to much of India that there is no other option but to bring in the armed forces if the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to quickly take control of the situation.“The fact is, when you are facing a sort of national emergency, this idea of force preservation needs to be put on the backburner, ” Hooda said. “Once the army comes in, if nothing else, it could bring some degree of hope for people.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
- Associated Press
British, European and American diplomats and donors have voiced serious concerns about how the World Health Organization handled sex abuse allegations involving its own staff during an outbreak of Ebola in Congo, as reported this week by The Associated Press. On Tuesday, the AP published an investigation documenting that senior WHO management was informed of multiple sex abuse allegations involving at least two of its doctors during the epidemic in 2018. A notarized contract obtained by the AP showed that two WHO staffers signed off on an agreement between WHO’s Dr. Jean-Paul Ngandu and a young woman he allegedly impregnated in Congo.
- The Independent
‘Do Palestinians have a right to survive?’ AOC makes impassioned speech against Biden policy on Israel crisis
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said that the United States ‘must acknowledge its role in the injustice and human rights violations of Palestinians’
- Associated Press
Israeli artillery pounded northern Gaza early Friday in an attempt to destroy a vast network of militant tunnels inside the territory, the military said, bringing the front lines closer to dense civilian areas and paving the way for a potential ground invasion. Israel has massed troops along the border and called up 9,000 reservists following days of fighting with the Islamic militant group Hamas, which controls Gaza. The stepped-up fighting came as communal violence in Israel erupted for a fourth night, with Jewish and Arab mobs clashing in the flashpoint town of Lod.
China reported seven new COVID cases on May 13, including two locally transmitted infections in the eastern Anhui province.
- Business Insider
Liz Cheney's likely replacement, Elise Stefanik, isn't nearly as conservative, but she tells 'MAGA tales about the election with gusto,' expert says
Cheney voted with Trump's position 93% of the time, while Stefanik voted with Trump 78% of the time, but he still endorsed her to replace Cheney.
- Associated Press
Jordan Spieth had his longest stretch all day of mere pars — a whopping four holes — on the besieged new home course of the AT&T Byron Nelson when the local favorite stepped over a 55-foot eagle putt on the par-5 18th. Spieth, Spaun and plenty of others had little trouble with TPC Craig Ranch north of Dallas. Hideki Matsuyama sputtered on the front nine in his first appearance since becoming the first Japanese player to win the Masters, then stalled again after three straight birdies to start the back nine.
11 of the most expensive and exclusive golf clubs on the planet - including the one where Bill Gates is hiding during his divorce
The top golf courses in the world are secretive about what it costs to become a member. If you have to ask, you'll never know.
- Business Insider
AOC calls Marjorie Taylor Greene a 'belligerent person that's not in control of themselves' after the GOP lawmaker chased her down a hallway in the Capitol
"I used to work as a bartender. These are the kinds of people that I threw out of bars all the time," Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told reporters.
- USA TODAY Opinion
History suggests 2022 may be an election disaster for Democrats, but that's not inevitable given Republican disarray and Biden's competence on COVID.
- Business Insider
Ted Cruz accuses the Squad of being 'shills for terrorists' who 'don't like the Jews' in Fox News interview
Cruz's comments feed into a longstanding trope that any criticism of Israel is inherently antisemitic.
- Associated Press
In the 1980s, Rabbi Meir Kahane's violent anti-Arab ideology was considered so repugnant that Israel banned him from parliament and the U.S. listed his party as a terrorist group. Today, his disciples march through the streets by the hundreds, chanting “Death to Arabs” and assaulting any they come across. This week, they took part in a wave of communal violence in Jerusalem and mixed cities across Israel in which Arabs and Jews viciously attacked people and torched cars.
Kat Dennings and Andrew W.K. both posted the same three photos on Thursday, seemingly taken after he proposed.
- Reuters Videos
EDITOR'S NOTE: RESENDING TO FIX TYPO IN HEADLINEFor 17 million salmon in California there’s been a drastic change of plan. Extreme drought here means the rivers are too warm for the salmon to survive. Come spring, the young fish – called Smolts – would usually be released from the Nimbus Fish Hatchery into the American River.Instead, California State is loading them up onto trucks and releasing them into the sea from San Francisco Bay.Harry Morse is the spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife."Today we're trucking about 670,000 young salmon, called Smolt, from the hatchery up over 100 miles away around the Sacramento River. We have very low water conditions, we have high temperatures, and under those situations, a high percentage of the young fish would not make it all the way out here to the ocean so they could start their natural cycle."It’s an emergency step not taken since the last major drought in 2014.Droughts in California are becoming more frequent and more intense as climate change continues,threatening the state's already tenuous supply of water for wildlife, farmers and urban areas.[Jason Julienne, senior environmental scientist supervisor, California Department of Fish and Wildlife:] "So this is a response to the drought conditions that we're currently experiencing here in California. We had low amounts of rain, low amounts of snow, and that has created conditions in our reservoirs where we have really low storage. And with that low storage, we typically experience higher than average river temperatures and lower flows. And those are conditions for juvenile Chinook salmon that create low survival. And we are taking our hatchery raised fish and moving them to bay release sites to increase survival by reducing the amount of time that they're spending in those poor river conditions."Even without drought and climate change, salmon and other fishwere struggling to survive on the West Coast,as water projects such as dams and reservoirs inhibit their ability to migrate to the sea and back,a natural part of their life cycle that can take about three years.[Jason Julienne, senior environmental scientist supervisor, California Department of Fish and Wildlife:] "Every year we evaluate the number of salmon that are returning to our rivers. You know, there's oscillations in those numbers. It appears that we're on a downward trend. But we're hoping that the actions that we take today are going to increase the numbers of fish that are going to be returning as adults and returning to our rivers."
- The Independent
The company’s revenue has tripled since the change was implemented
- Business Insider
Norwegian has unveiled a new cruise ship complete with a food hall, Starbucks, and its largest staterooms ever - see inside
The announcement of the new Norwegian Prima vessel comes at a hopeful time for the cruise industry, which could be sailing again as soon as July.
- The Independent
Trump lashes out as more than 150 senior Republicans threaten to form new party if GOP doesn’t disown him
Move came after Liz Cheney lost House leadership role for criticising ex-president’s election lies
- The Daily Beast
Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast / Photo GettyThe world’s youngest crypto billionaire donated approximately $1.5 billion to a COVID relief fund and other charities—paid out almost entirely in a selection of meme cryptocurrencies named for different dog breeds that then tanked in value.Vitalik Buterin, whose personal fortune first surpassed $1 billion early last week, donated several kinds of cryptocurrencies, three of which are dog-themed and created largely as jokes: Shiba Inu (SHIB), Akita Inu (AKITA), and Dogelon (ELON).The gifts were collectively valued around $1.5 billion at the time they were made. But within hours of the transactions, the meme coins’ prices plunged—in no small part due to the billionaire’s massive transfers. In a neat illustration of crypto’s volatility, Buterin’s donations effectively depreciated themselves.Meet the World’s Youngest Crypto BillionaireButerin, 27, is the founder of Ethereum, an open source blockchain whose native token, Ether (ETH), is the second-most valuable cryptocurrency and only legitimate rival of Bitcoin. The founder’s wealth is mostly vested in his creation, but over the past year, he has also been gifted so-called “petcoins” as part of a hokey marketing stunt.The canine-related tokens are knockoffs of the meme currency Dogecoin (DOGE), which spiked to record-breaking highs over the past month, thanks in part to repeated promotion from Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Dogecoin, which has fallen in price since Musk’s appearance on Saturday Night Live, is now the sixth-most valuable cryptocurrency by market capitalization, according to Crypto Slate.The copycat coins tried to capitalize on the Doge frenzy—in SHIB’s “woofpaper,” or whitepaper, the creators dubbed it the “Dogecoin killer”—with some success. SHIB, which boasted a market cap of $0 on May 7, spiked to nearly $14 billion on May 10, according to Coin Market Cap. In an apparent bid to publicize their coins, the creators of SHIB, AKITA, ELON, as well as some other petcoins like HuskyToken (HUSKY) and Bulldog (BDOG), gifted Buterin large quantities: in each case, 50 percent of the total coin supply. SHIB’s creators claimed this had “burned” the coins—or taken them out of circulation to create scarcity.But Buterin retained control of the funds. Because he held such large quantities of the coins’ total supply, some thought that attempts to offload them could have a drastic impact on their value. Even before the donation, critics mused that an exchange could prove fatal to the petcoins’ creators. “To be perfectly clear,” crypto Twitter account @Waronrugs wrote back in January, “Vitalik can rug you.”ℹ️ We got a lot of requests to look into it, so we looked into it. Of course, the price volatility is currently extremely high so think twice before going in. This tweet isn’t an endorsement or financial advice of any kind. We’re only publishing the results of our findings.— #WARONRUGS❌ (@WARONRUGS) January 30, 2021 On Wednesday, according to data collected by the blockchain tracker Etherscan, Buterin doled out massive quantities of petcoins to a smattering of nonprofits and foundations, including the India Crypto Covid Relief Fund, the Machine Intelligence Research Institute, the open source bounties platform Gitcoin, the charity evaluator GiveWell, and the Methuselah Foundation, a lifespan-extension research group focused, according to their website, on “making 90 the new 50 by 2030.”Within hours, the petcoins’ prices sank. Dogelon Mars fell by nearly 95 percent, before recovering some of the loss. Buterin’s largest contribution, 50 trillion SHIB to the India Crypto Covid Relief Fund, had been worth just over $1 billion at the time of the transaction, according to Etherscan estimates. Within an hour, SHIB’s price had dropped by 30 percent.In spite of the slump, Shiba Token’s creators released a statement of support for the gesture, insisting that Buterin was not “dumping” the token. Instead, they wrote on Twitter, he had “just brought invaluable legitimacy” to the token, illustrating that it was more than a memecoin. The India Crypto Covid Relief Fund added that it plans to execute a “thoughtful liquidation,” converting the donation in a slow, staggered manner, to ensure that the price does not sink further and eliminate its value.(Transparency Update)We thank @VitalikButerin for his donation of 50,693,552,078,053 SHIBA to @CryptoRelief_ . We plan to do a thoughtful liquidation to ensure we meet our COVID relief goals. We have decided to convert the donation slowly over a period of time.(1/x)— India's Crypto Covid Relief Fund 🇮🇳 (@CryptoRelief_) May 12, 2021 The India Crypto Covid Relief Fund was the primary beneficiary of Buterin’s donations. The fund was set up by Sandeep Nailwal, founder of the Ethereum-affiliate Polygon, to help direct donations to COVID-19 relief in India, where case numbers have spiked to heights rivaled only by the United States. Buterin had donated to the fund before; when Nailwal first set it up back in April, the Ethereum founder contributed about $600,000 in Ether and another cryptocurrency called Maker (MKR).According to Etherscan records, Buterin also donated approximately $375 million in AKITA to Gitcoin, an Ethereum-based “bounties” platform that helps open source developers get paid for their work.At the time of the transactions, the value of Buterin’s meme coin donations rivaled that of his personal Ether fortune. Early last week, he became the latest entry to the billionaire club, when Ether’s price surpassed $3,000, putting his holdings of some 335,000 ETH at a value of approximately $1.3 billion. Buterin’s donations on Wednesday largely did not come from that sum, but he did move it.Shortly before his petcoin contributions, the founder transferred $1.3 billion in Ether from his public address—which he disclosed back in 2018—to a new contract separate address created just hours before. The exchange amounted to nearly all of his ETH holdings; by early afternoon, Buterin’s public address held just $10,000 in Ether. Some crypto strategists suggested to Forbes that the new address provides greater security and privacy, but the motivation for the transfer remains unclear.Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
- Business Insider
A former Fox News host who was ousted amid sexual harassment allegations will fill in for anchor Greg Stinchfield following the Israel comments.
Goldie Hawn says she was 'very depressed' and 'couldn't even go outside in public' when she first became famous in her 20s
"I didn't want to be a big deal. I wanted to go home. I wanted to marry a dentist," the Oscar winner told "Good Morning Britain."