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Russian plane with supplies for virus fight lands in US

Yahoo News - Wed, 04/01/2020 - 21:25

Russian plane with supplies for virus fight lands in USA Russian military plane carrying medical supplies arrived in the United States on Wednesday, the Russian mission to the UN said, as the Kremlin flexes its soft power during the coronavirus pandemic. The Antonov-124, landed at JFK Airport in New York -- the epicenter of America's coronavirus outbreak -- pictures and video posted on the mission's Twitter page showed. Russia's defense ministry had earlier announced that the plane "with medical masks and medical equipment on board," left for the US overnight, without providing further details.


New financial disclosure shows Sen. Kelly Loeffler invested in firm that makes personal protective equipment

Yahoo News - Wed, 04/01/2020 - 21:16

New financial disclosure shows Sen. Kelly Loeffler invested in firm that makes personal protective equipmentA financial disclosure filed Tuesday shows that from mid-February to mid-March, Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) and her husband, New York Stock Exchange Chairman Jeff Sprecher, invested in DuPont, a company that makes personal protective equipment used by first responders fighting the COVID-19 coronavirus, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Loeffler, worth an estimated $500 million, came under fire last month when it was discovered that she dumped millions in stock after receiving private briefings on the coronavirus pandemic and before she publicly downplayed the threat from the virus; 15 of the stocks had, on average, lost more than a third of their value by late March. Loeffler has denied using insider knowledge to influence her decisions to buy and sell stock, and her campaign says an investment firm manages her stocks and she does not have any control over day-to-day decisions.The disclosure filed Tuesday shows that the largest transactions made between mid-February and mid-March involved $18.7 million in sales of Intercontinental Exchange stock. ICE owns the New York Stock Exchange, and Loeffler is a former company executive. Loeffler's campaign said the sales were prearranged as part of Loeffler's and Sprecher's compensation package. Read more about Loeffler's stock sales at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.Update, April 2: In a statement to The Week, a Loeffler spokeswoman said, "Sen. Loeffler filed another Periodic Transaction Report (PTR) and the facts are still the same. These transactions are consistent with historical portfolio activity and include a balanced mix of buys and sells. Her stock portfolio is managed independently by third-party advisors and she is notified, as indicated on the report, after transactions occur. Sen. Loeffler continues to operate with integrity and transparency — following both the spirit and the letter of the law. While some will continue to make baseless accusations devoid of facts, Sen. Loeffler will continue working to keep Americans safe and provide much-needed relief to Georgia families and businesses impacted by COVID-19."More stories from theweek.com The Secret Service signed an 'emergency order' this week — for 30 golf carts There are now over 1 million confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide Experts warn as many as 1 in 3 coronavirus test results may be incorrectly negative


Serbia sets the stage for Beijing's mask diplomacy

Yahoo News - Wed, 04/01/2020 - 20:48

Serbia sets the stage for Beijing's mask diplomacyWhen six Chinese doctors landed in Belgrade two weeks ago, Serbia's president greeted them with elbow-bumps before laying a kiss on their country's flag, a gesture of gratitude that sent Chinese social media aflutter. For weeks China has been showering European countries with millions of face masks, test kits and other aid, recasting itself as the hero in the battle against coronavirus.


Dr Fauci: security reportedly expanded as infectious disease expert faces threats

Yahoo News - Wed, 04/01/2020 - 20:46

 security reportedly expanded as infectious disease expert faces threatsReports say immunologist who has become celebrity amid coronavirus has received unwelcome messages from critics and supportersSecurity for Dr Anthony Fauci, the 79-year-old infectious disease expert who has become a calm, reassuring foil to Donald Trump at coronavirus briefings, has been expanded, according to multiple reports.While Fauci’s straight talk and willingness to gently correct the president’s outrageous exaggerations have drawn admiration from late-night talkshow hosts, professional basketball players and doughnut shop owners alike, the doctor has received threats and unwelcome communications from both critics and fervent admirers. The Washington Post first reported the news.At a coronavirus taskforce briefing at the White House on Wednesday, Fauci declined to comment on whether he was receiving security protection, deferring to the health department’s inspector general.Trump interjected, saying that Fauci “doesn’t need security, everybody loves him”. If anyone were to attack Fauci, Trump added, “they’d be in big trouble”, touting the disease expert’s high school athletic career.“He was a great basketball player, did anybody know that?” Trump said. “He was a little on the short side for the NBA but he was talented.” As basketball captain at Regis high school in 1958, Fauci had helped lead the team to an unlikely victory.Asked to comment on any increase in Fauci’s security detail, Tesia Williams, a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) spokeswoman, said: “For more than two decades, the office of inspector general has provided professional protective services for the HHS secretary and, as needed, to departmental leadership. In each case, OIG assesses and recommends the appropriate level of protection. I cannot confirm, at this time, that we are providing such services for Dr Fauci.”The immunologist has become an unlikely celebrity, representing the US scientific community facing off against the coronavirus pandemic. The NBA star Stephen Curry has called him “the Goat” – greatest of all time. Fans have plastered his likeness on cupcakes, doughnuts, socks and prayer candles.But Fauci has also become a public target for rightwing pundits and bloggers who believe he is undermining the president. An article in the rightwing outlet American Thinker called Fauci a “Deep-State ­Hillary Clinton-loving stooge”, and referred to a seven-year-old email in which he praised Clinton for her stamina through the Benghazi hearings. Tom Fitton, the president of the conservative group Judicial Watch, a conservative group; and Bill Mitchell, host of the far-right online talkshow YourVoice America, have also reinforced Fauci criticisms and conspiracy theories.


Dr. Fauci to receive additional security following threats

Yahoo News - Wed, 04/01/2020 - 20:38

Dr. Fauci to receive additional security following threatsThe increase in security came at the request of the Health and Human Services Inspector General, Department of Justice officials told CBS News.


A Netflix series predicted a global pandemic. It was dismissed as 'a show about the flu'

Yahoo News - Wed, 04/01/2020 - 19:56

A Netflix series predicted a global pandemic. It was dismissed as 'a show about the flu'Netflix's "Pandemic: How to Fight an Outbreak" debuted as the coronavirus outbreak started to grow. The makers speak out about their prescient docuseries.


Global virus cases near million as US records youngest death

Yahoo News - Wed, 04/01/2020 - 19:41

Global virus cases near million as US records youngest deathA six-week-old baby died of COVID-19 and global agencies warned of food shortages as coronavirus infections around the world neared one million Wednesday. Governments expanded lockdowns to affect about half of the planet, with funeral parties banned in the Democratic Republic of Congo, New York locking up its famed street basketball courts and hard-hit Italy extending its economically crippling lockdown until April 13. More than 900,000 people have been infected by the novel coronavirus and nearly 46,000 have died since it first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, according to an AFP tally.


FDA says heartburn drug Zantac should be immediately pulled from shelves

Yahoo News - Wed, 04/01/2020 - 19:38

FDA says heartburn drug Zantac should be immediately pulled from shelvesThe Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday said the heartburn drug Zantac should immediately be pulled from shelves and consumers should dispose of any pills or liquid they have at home.During safety tests last summer, extremely high levels of the contaminant NDMA, believed to be a carcinogen, were discovered in samples of the drug. The active ingredient in Zantac is ranitidine, and the FDA said that over time, NDMA appears as an impurity in ranitidine in levels exceeding federal standards, NPR reports.The FDA issued a warning last September, and CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart removed the drug and its generic forms from stores. Since then, the agency has confirmed that the issue is how ranitidine naturally breaks down in normal storage conditions, and has nothing to do with the way it is manufactured."We didn't observe unacceptable levels of NDMA in many of the samples that we tested," the FDA's Janet Woodcock said in a statement Wednesday. "However, since we don't know how or for how long the product might have been stored, we decided that it should not be available to consumers and patients unless its quality can be assured."More stories from theweek.com Israel's health minister tests positive for coronavirus, and Netanyahu returns to self-quarantine China is bracing for a second wave of coronavirus Dr. Anthony Fauci, America's top coronavirus expert, now has bodyguards


Mnuchin reverses course, won't force seniors to file tax return for coronavirus stimulus check

Yahoo News - Wed, 04/01/2020 - 19:33

Mnuchin reverses course, won't force seniors to file tax return for coronavirus stimulus checkThe about-face follows pressure from Senate Democrats who said the Treasury Dept. was putting a needless burden on many Americans.


Amazon says it will investigate after we obtained a photo appearing to show a lack of social distancing at Indiana warehouse

Yahoo News - Wed, 04/01/2020 - 19:24

Amazon says it will investigate after we obtained a photo appearing to show a lack of social distancing at Indiana warehouseA photo obtained by Business Insider appears to show company managers sitting close together at a warehouse. Amazon says it's investigating.


China Concealed Extent of Virus Outbreak, U.S. Intelligence Says

Yahoo News - Wed, 04/01/2020 - 19:08

China Concealed Extent of Virus Outbreak, U.S. Intelligence Says(Bloomberg) -- China has concealed the extent of the coronavirus outbreak in its country, under-reporting both total cases and deaths it’s suffered from the disease, the U.S. intelligence community concluded in a classified report to the White House, according to three U.S. officials.The officials asked not to be identified because the report is secret, and they declined to detail its contents. But the thrust, they said, is that China’s public reporting on cases and deaths is intentionally incomplete. Two of the officials said the report concludes that China’s numbers are fake.The report was received by the White House last week, one of the officials said.The outbreak began in China’s Hubei province in late 2019, but the country has publicly reported only about 82,000 cases and 3,300 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. That compares to more than 189,000 cases and more than 4,000 deaths in the U.S., which has the largest publicly reported outbreak in the world.Trump said Wednesday that China’s reported virus data appear to be on the “light side” but that he hadn’t received an intelligence report saying the country had concealed the extent of its outbreak.“Their numbers seem to be a little bit on the light side, and I’m being nice when I say that,” he said at a daily coronavirus briefing at the White House.Trump added that the U.S. and China were in constant communication and that Beijing would spend $250 billion to purchase American products. “We’d like to keep it, they’d like to keep it” he said of the U.S.-China trade deal.Communications staff at the White House and the Chinese embassy in Washington didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.‘More Forthcoming’“The reality is that we could have been better off if China had been more forthcoming,” Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday on CNN. “What appears evident now is that long before the world learned in December that China was dealing with this, and maybe as much as a month earlier than that, that the outbreak was real in China.While China eventually imposed a strict lockdown beyond those of less autocratic nations, there has been considerable skepticism toward China’s reported numbers, both outside and within the country. The Chinese government has repeatedly revised its methodology for counting cases, for weeks excluding people without symptoms entirely, and only on Tuesday added more than 1,500 asymptomatic cases to its total.Stacks of thousands of urns outside funeral homes in Hubei province have driven public doubt in Beijing’s reporting.Republican lawmakers in the U.S. have been particularly harsh about China’s role in the outbreak. Enhancing Beijing’s role in the pandemic could be politically helpful to President Donald Trump, who has sought to shift blame for the U.S. outbreak away from his administration’s delays in achieving widespread testing for the virus and mobilizing greater production of supplies such as face masks and hospital ventilators.“The claim that the United States has more coronavirus deaths than China is false,” Senator Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican, said in a statement after Bloomberg News published its report. “Without commenting on any classified information, this much is painfully obvious: The Chinese Communist Party has lied, is lying, and will continue to lie about coronavirus to protect the regime.”Deborah Birx, the State Department immunologist advising the White House on its response to the outbreak, said Tuesday that China’s public reporting influenced assumptions elsewhere in the world about the nature of the virus.“The medical community made -- interpreted the Chinese data as: This was serious, but smaller than anyone expected,” she said at a news conference on Tuesday. “Because I think probably we were missing a significant amount of the data, now that what we see happened to Italy and see what happened to Spain.”Suspect ReportingThe U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion is an attempt to divert attention from surging deaths in the U.S. and other Western countries, Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of China’s state-run Global Times, said on his account on Chinese social media platform Weibo.There was no way for serious data faking to occur in today’s China, especially for an incident that has drawn such widespread attention, Hu said. He said China managed to curtail the death toll in Hubei, the province where the virus first emerged late last year, by sending medical workers and equipment there from other parts of the country.“To fake the casualty data, which departments will be deployed? Who will implement the plan?,” Hu said. “It will involve many different departments in many places to get the total numbers. If one of them is faking once, they have to fake it all the time. The risk of screwing up could be very high.”China isn’t the only country with suspect public reporting. Western officials have pointed to Iran, Russia, Indonesia and especially North Korea, which has not reported a single case of the disease, as probable under-counts. Others including Saudi Arabia and Egypt may also be playing down their numbers.U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo has publicly urged China and other nations to be transparent about their outbreaks. He has repeatedly accused China of covering up the extent of the problem and being slow to share information, especially in the weeks after the virus first emerged, and blocking offers of help from American experts.“This data set matters,” he said at a news conference in Washington on Tuesday. The development of medical therapies and public-health measures to combat the virus “so that we can save lives depends on the ability to have confidence and information about what has actually transpired,” he said.“I would urge every nation: Do your best to collect the data. Do your best to share that information,” he said. “We’re doing that.”(Updates with Trump comments from fifth paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.


A national lockdown to stop coronavirus? Trump is 'thinking about doing that'

Yahoo News - Wed, 04/01/2020 - 18:57

A national lockdown to stop coronavirus? Trump is 'thinking about doing that'President Trump shied away Wednesday from issuing domestic travel restrictions or a national lockdown to try and beat back the rapid spread of the coronavirus pandemic that, in a best case scenario, is expected to kill between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans.


Americans purchasing record-breaking numbers of guns amid coronavirus

Yahoo News - Wed, 04/01/2020 - 18:50

Americans purchasing record-breaking numbers of guns amid coronavirusThe pandemic has created a surge in demand, with some gun stores inundated with panic-buyers * Coronavirus – latest US updates * Coronavirus – latest global updates * See all our coronavirus coverageAmericans have responded to the coronavirus epidemic with a record-breaking number of gun purchases, according to new government data on the number of background checks conducted in March.More than 3.7m total firearm background checks were conducted through the FBI’s background check system in March, the highest number on record in more than 20 years. An estimated 2.4m of those background checks were conducted for gun sales, according to adjusted statistics from a leading firearms industry trade group. That’s an 80% increase compared with the same month last year, the trade group said.Nearly 1.2m total gun background checks were conducted in a single week, starting 16 March, breaking all previous records going back to 1998, according to FBI data.While the number of background checks doesn’t correlate one-to-one in terms of guns sold, the number of firearm background checks conducted through the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System is the best available proxy for gun sales in the United States. The figures highlight how the pandemic has created a surge in demand for gun ownership, with some gun stores finding themselves inundated with panic-buyers, including, at least anecdotally, many Americans purchasing a gun for the first time.The record-breaking week of 16 March was when California residents were photographed lining up by the dozens outside local gun stores, as the Bay Area and then California as a whole announced the first emergency stay-at-home orders to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the United States.Friday 20 March broke records for the highest number of firearms background checks conducted nationwide in a single day: 210,308.Americans can buy multiple guns from a licensed gun dealer with a single background check, meaning that the number of checks conducted does not reflect the total number of guns sold.In most states, private citizens can also sell guns to each other without a background check, and these private sales are not included in the FBI’s numbers. There is no way to track how many guns were bought and sold in private sales over the past month. Some states also allow residents who have a license to carry a concealed firearm in public to buy guns without a background check, another category of gun sales not included in the FBI’s statistics.Federal firearms background checks are also conducted for reasons other than gun sales, including for validating permits to allow people to carry a concealed firearm in public, and, in California, for ammunition sales.The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade group for the American firearms industry, produces regular “adjusted” estimates for gun background checks that subtract out background checks that the FBI tags as related to concealed carry permit applications, or to period checks by officials to make sure permits are still valid. This produces a lower number that is a closer proxy for gun sales.The trade group’s adjusted numbers for March are still “simply eye-popping”, Mark Oliva, a spokesman for the industry group, wrote in an email.While these background check estimates are not a perfect measure, they are reliable and widely-used proxies for understanding broader firearms market trends.The second-highest week of total firearms background checks on record was 17 December 2012, the week after a mass shooting at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, left 20 children dead, and sparked fears that the United States would pass sweeping national gun control measures.More than 950,000 firearms background checks were conducted that week, though US lawmakers would ultimately fail to pass any additional gun control legislation after resistance from gun rights activists and many Republican politicians.While the FBI statistics do not include any information on what kind of purchasers are driving the spike in gun sales, some gun sellers have said they are seeing increased numbers of new gun owners.“Retailers have been telling us that the overwhelming majority of those buying firearms over the last month have been first-time gun owners,” Oliva, the spokesman for the firearms industry trade group, wrote in an email.American gun control advocates said they found the statistics on record-breaking numbers of firearms background checks concerning, and urged Americans to think twice before panic-buying a gun, particularly if they had never owned one before.Concerns have also been raised about children sheltering at home in houses where they might have access to guns, as well as the risk of gun suicide, which amount to approximately two-thirds of US gun deaths each year.“We need to prepare for the increased risk of more firearms in untrained hands,” David Chipman, a senior policy adviser at Giffords, a leading gun violence prevention expert, said in a statement. “If you didn’t think you needed a gun prior to March of this year, you certainly don’t need to rush out and get one now.”Activists said that the number of guns sold in the past month could have been even higher, if some cities and states had not told gun retailers to close during stay-at-home orders, deeming them non-essential businesses. However, some of these orders have been changed under pressure from gun rights activists, particularly after the Trump administration included firearms manufacturers, retailers and shooting ranges as part of the national’s “essential critical infrastructure workforce”.


As the coronavirus spreads in Ecuador, bodies are being left on streets

Yahoo News - Wed, 04/01/2020 - 18:50

As the coronavirus spreads in Ecuador, bodies are being left on streetsCoronavirus in Ecuador: Bodies on the streets


Iran, US heat up war of words despite virus pandemic

Yahoo News - Wed, 04/01/2020 - 18:48

Iran, US heat up war of words despite virus pandemicIran said Thursday it "only acts in self-defence" after President Donald Trump warned it against attacks on US troops in Iraq, as a new war of words heated up despite the coronavirus pandemic. Tensions between the arch-foes flared in Iraq where the United States deployed Patriot air defence missiles prompting neighbouring Iran to warn of consequences and demand a US withdrawal. Both countries have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has claimed more than 5,000 lives in the United States and more than 3,000 in Iran.


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