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China Reports Third Consecutive Daily Record for New COVID Cases

China reported 35,183 new COVID-19 infections on Friday, of which 3,474 were symptomatic and 31,709 were asymptomatic, the National Health Commission said on Saturday, setting a new high for the third consecutive day. That compared with 32,943 new cases a day earlier — 3,103 symptomatic and 29,840 asymptomatic infections, which China counts separately. Excluding imported cases, China reported 34,909 new local cases on Friday, of which 3,405 were symptomatic and 31,504 were asymptomatic, up from 32,695 a day earlier. There were no deaths, keeping fatalities at 5,232. As of Friday, …


NASA’s Orion Capsule Enters Far-Flung Orbit Around Moon

NASA’s Orion capsule entered an orbit stretching tens of thousands of miles around the moon Friday, as it neared the halfway mark of its test flight. The capsule and its three test dummies entered lunar orbit more than a week after launching on the $4 billion demo that’s meant to pave the way for astronauts. It will remain in this broad but stable orbit for nearly a week, completing just half a lap before heading home. As of Friday’s engine firing, the capsule was 380,000 kilometers from Earth. It’s expected …


London to Expand Vehicle Pollution Zone to Cover 9 Million People

Older and more heavily polluting vehicles will have to pay to enter the entire metropolitan area of London starting next August, the British capital’s mayor said Friday. Sadiq Khan said the ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) would be expanded beyond its current confines starting August 29 to encompass the entire 9 million people of greater London. Announcing a parallel expansion of bus services in outer London, he argued that air pollution from older and heavier vehicles was making Londoners “sick from cradle to the grave.” The ULEZ has proved transformational, the …


Uganda Closes Schools to Fight Ebola, New Cases Fall

Uganda closed schools nationwide on Friday to curb the spread of Ebola, despite the health minister insisting to AFP that new cases had declined. The directive to close schools two weeks before the end of term was announced earlier this month following the deaths of eight children from the highly contagious disease.  But in recent weeks, the number of new infections registered in the capital, Kampala, and the epicenters of Mubende and Kassanda has declined, Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng told AFP. “The major breakthrough in this fight against Ebola …


China Reports Another One-Day COVID Case Record, Tightens Curbs

China on Friday reported another single-day record-high number of COVID-19 infections, as cities across the country enforced measures and curbs to try to control outbreaks.  Excluding imported infections, China recorded 32,695 new local COVID-19 cases on Thursday, of which 3,041 were symptomatic and 29,654 were asymptomatic, up from 31,144 a day earlier, which was the previous record. Big outbreaks are numerous and far-flung, with the southern city of Guangzhou and southwestern Chongqing recording the bulk of the new cases, although hundreds of new infections have been reported daily in cities …


Avian Flu Outbreak Wipes Out 50.54 Million US Birds, a Record

Avian flu has wiped out 50.54 million birds in the United States this year, making it the country’s deadliest outbreak in history, U.S. Department of Agriculture data showed on Thursday.  The deaths of chickens, turkeys and other birds represent the worst U.S. animal-health disaster to date, topping the previous record of 50.5 million birds that died in an avian flu outbreak in 2015.  Birds often die after becoming infected. Entire flocks, which can top a million birds at egg-laying chicken farms, are also culled to control the spread of the …


Wildlife Summit to Vote on Shark Protections 

Delegates at a global summit on trade in endangered species were scheduled to decide Thursday whether to approve a proposal to protect sharks, a move that could drastically reduce the lucrative and often cruel shark fin trade. The proposal would place dozens of species of the requiem shark and the hammerhead shark families on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). The appendix lists species that may not yet be threatened with extinction but may become so unless trade in them is closely controlled. If …


Eco-warrior Paul Watson, Scourge of Whalers, Returns to the Seas

Canadian-American eco-warrior Paul Watson, ousted from the Sea Shepherd conservationist organization he founded, says he is back in business with a new ship and crew and is ready to resume tormenting the world’s whalers and others he sees as despoilers of the world’s oceans.  “After being knocked down, we have fully recovered and we’re ready to return to battle on the high seas,” Watson declared in a digital announcement earlier this month. “The new Captain Paul Watson Foundation is here and it’s ready to aggressively take on all enemies that …


Salt, Drought Decimate Buffaloes in Iraq’s Southern Marshes

Abbas Hashem fixed his worried gaze on the horizon — the day was almost gone and still, there was no sign of the last of his water buffaloes. He knows that when his animals don’t come back from roaming the marshes of this part of Iraq, they must be dead. The dry earth is cracked beneath his feet and thick layers of salt coat shriveled reeds in the Chibayish wetlands amid this year’s dire shortages in fresh water flows from the Tigris River. Hashem already lost five buffaloes from his …


Senegal’s Women Gold Miners Carry Heavy Burden

Every few minutes, 14-month-old Awa coughs, the phlegm rising from deep within her chest. Her mother, Meta Ba, says Awa’s been coughing that way for as long as she can remember. Ba, who suffers from chronic migraines, works as an artisanal gold miner in Senegal’s far eastern region of Kedougou, near the borders of Mali and Guinea. Gold mining in Senegal plays a key role in the country’s economy, but the use of mercury during the treatment process is harming the environment and the health of the miners. In Kedougou, …


China’s Daily COVID Cases Highest Since Pandemic Began

China’s daily COVID cases have climbed to the highest since the pandemic began, official data showed Thursday, despite the government persisting with a zero-tolerance approach involving grueling lockdowns and travel restrictions. The numbers are relatively small when compared with China’s vast population of 1.4 billion and the caseloads seen in Western countries at the height of the pandemic. But under Beijing’s strict zero-COVID policy, even small outbreaks can shut down entire cities and place contacts of infected patients into strict quarantine. The country recorded 31,454 domestic cases — 27,517 without …


40 Million Children Face Growing Threat of Measles, WHO Warns

More than 40 million children missed getting vaccinated against measles last year, prompting a significant setback in global efforts to eradicate the highly contagious disease worldwide, the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a joint report Wednesday. Vaccination campaigns were disrupted in several countries because of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, dropping global measles-containing vaccine (MCV) coverage from 86% in 2019 to 81% in 2021, the lowest coverage rate since 2008.    Now, nearly all of the 40 million children who missed their first …