Why India's forest fires are worrying scientists
The lush-green mountains in the background usually make the famous Nainital lake in Uttarakhand state of northern India more picturesque.
But for several weeks now haze from forest fires has hidden the mountains, and the lake's beauty has visibly shrunk.
"You can smell the haze from this side of the lake where I live," said Shekhar Pathak, an expert on the history of forests in the region.
"Not just the pine trees that are highly prone to fires, even the oak forests are burning and that means the situation is quite serious."
Locals in areas worst-affected by forest fires told the BBC they don't sleep at night these days.
"We wake up in the middle of the night and check around the forests to make sure the fires are not approaching us," said Kedar Avani of Banaa village in Pithoragarh district, the eastern-most Himalayan district in the state.
Based on the analysis of satellite pictures, it estimated Nepal emitted nearly 18 mega tonnes of carbon in the same period, the highest since 2016 when it emitted 27 mega tonnes of carbon.
"This shows the intensity with which the fires are burning in the region and it is quite worrying," said Mark Parrington, senior scientist at CAMS.
More Than 700 Civilians Killed By Myanmar Junta Since Coup
Myanmar security forces have killed more than 700 civilians since the Feb. 1 coup, a human rights group reported over the weekend. At least 82 people were killed in the city of Bago on Friday during a crackdown against anti-coup protesters.
The actual number of those killed is likely much higher, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), which has been tracking deaths since the coup began.
Soldiers used heavy weapons, including machine guns and rocket-propelled grenadesin the attack against anti-regime protesters, according to The New York Times.
Eyewitnesses to the attack said the bodies of those killedand injured were piled on top of one another in a nearby pagoda and a school.
"The bodies and the wounded people were dragged away by [the troops]," one man told Myanmar Now.
China Fines Alibaba $2.8 Billion For Breaking Anti-Monopoly Law
The Chinese government says it is issuing a $2.8 billion fine on the e-commerce company Alibaba Group for violating its anti-monopoly regulations.
Alibaba is one of the most influential tech giants in China and the world. The company was under investigation by the Chinese government since December for "suspected monopolistic conduct."
In a statement Saturday, China's State Administration for Market Supervision described the company's behaviors as having "eliminated and restricted competition in the online retail platform service market" as well as having "infringed on the business of the merchants on the platform."
The fine is 4% of Alibaba's total 2019 sales in China — which was 456 billion yuan, or over $69 billion.
In a press release issued Saturday, Alibaba said it would accept the fine and "ensure its compliance with determination."
Top Beijing official admits efficacy of China’s Covid vaccines is low
China’s top disease control official has admitted that the efficacy of the country’s domestically produced vaccines is low as it emerged the authorities are considering mixing them to try to offer greater protection against coronavirus.
The rare admission of weakness on the part of Beijing’s pandemic approach came from the director of the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Gao Fu, who said Chinese vaccines “don’t have very high protection rates”.
“It’s now under formal consideration whether we should use different vaccines from different technical lines for the immunisation process,” he said at a conference on Saturday in the south-western city of Chengdu.
The efficacy of a coronavirus vaccine from Sinovac, a Chinese developer, at preventing symptomatic infections has been found to be as low as 50.4% by researchers in Brazil. By comparison, the vaccine made by Pfizer has been found to be have an efficacy rate of 97%.
Germany: Politicians blamed as summer vacation bookings plunge
The German tourism industry is showing few signs of recovery with the travel forecast for the upcoming summer looking gloomy, sector chiefs said on Sunday.
Bookings for 2021 are already down on last year's poor figures, Michael Frenzel, the president of the Federal Association of the German Tourism Industry (BTW), told Welt am Sonntag.
"For the summer season," Frenzel began, "bookings are 76% below the figures for the same period last year in terms of turnover."
Indeed, in spring, cancellations had even begun to exceed bookings, according to the BTW.
There may be a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel, though, with shoots of optimism that the third quarter may provide some late summer sun, both for travelers and the industry itself.
"The majority of people are betting on late travel, in the fall," the tourism chief continued. "You can see that from the fact that the declines in bookings for this period are lower than in the summer months before."
Cambodia condemns Vice for altered Khmer Rouge images (My daughter-in-law is Cambodian)
Cambodia has called on US media group Vice to withdraw an article featuring newly colourised photos of Khmer Rouge “killing fields” victims, saying the images were an insult to the dead because some mugshots had been altered to add smiles.
In the article published on Friday, artist Matt Loughrey said his project to colourise images from the notorious Tuol Sleng prison, or S-21, aimed to humanise the 14,000 Cambodians executed and tortured there.
However, the article caused a backlash on social media after comparisons with the original black-and-white photos showed that some subjects were smiling only in Loughrey’s colour images. The Vice article did not contain the original images.
“To play around by using technology to put make-up on the victims of S21 … is a very grave insult to the souls of the victims of #genocide,” exiled Cambodian politician Mu Sochua wrote on Twitter.
Police vehicles vandalized after man who was shot by police dies near Minneapolis
BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. (Reuters) - Members of an angry crowd vandalized two police vehicles on Sunday after the death of a man who was shot by an officer about 10 miles (16 km) from where George Floyd died during his arrest last May in Minneapolis, a Reuters witness said.
About 100 people, some visibly upset and one carrying a sign declaring “Justice for George Floyd,” confronted police in riot gear after an officer shot a man in his car in Brooklyn Center, a Minneapolis suburb.In a news release, the Brooklyn Center Police Department said officers pulled over the driver for a traffic violation just before 2 p.m., and ascertained he had an outstanding arrest warrant.
As police tried to arrest him, he re-entered the vehicle. One officer fired their weapon, striking the driver, police said. The driver drove several blocks before striking another vehicle and died at the scene. Police say both the officers’ body cameras were activated during the incident.
New York Times
10 Weeks to the Finish Line: The N.Y.C. Mayor’s Race Heats Up
It was opening day for Coney Island’s famed amusement parks, long shuttered during the pandemic, and Andrew Yang — the 2020 presidential candidate who has shifted his personality-driven campaign to the New York City mayoral race — was in his element.
“Coney Island is open for business!” he declared on Friday, pumping his fists as he made his way down a windswept boardwalk. “New York City! Can you feel it?”
What it felt like was a campaign event, and Mr. Yang was not the only mayoral candidate to take advantage. Scott M. Stringer, the city comptroller, mingled along the midway, playing games with his family; Kathryn Garcia, the former sanitation commissioner, rode bumper cars and visited small businesses. Andrew Yang, who has been leading in polls, wants to be the chief cheerleader for the city’s comeback.
Coronavirus vaccine technology is paving the way for a whole new approach to flu shots
The technology used in two of the coronavirus vaccines authorized by the Food and Drug Administration may enable scientists to develop flu shots in record time, but also make inoculations that could be more effective and protect against numerous flu strains for years at a time.
The messenger-RNA technology — used in the Pfizer and Moderna coronavirus vaccines — would be a leap forward for flu shots, some of which still rely on a process developed in the 1950s involving chickens, petri dishes and dead viruses.
Researchers are hopeful that the success of those coronavirus vaccines will grease the wheels for mRNA flu shots and help expedite what is typically a lengthy process involving years of research, clinical trials and regulatory review and approval.
“It’s a very obvious progression given the success of the covid-19 vaccine to move right to flu,” said Andrew Pekosz, a professor of microbiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
But researchers say the development and approval of an mRNA flu shot may take some time.