Swiss prosecutors indict an ex-employee of trading firm Gunvor over bribes paid in Republic of Congo
Swiss federal prosecutors say they have indicted a former employee of the Geneva-based commodities trading firm Gunvor over bribes paid to obtain access to the Republic of Congo’s petroleum market more than a decade ago.
Swiss glaciers under threat again as heat wave drives zero-temperature level to record altitude
The Swiss weather service says a heat wave has driven the zero-degree Celsius level to its highest altitude since recordings on it in Switzerland began nearly 70 years ago, a new ominous sign for the country’s vaunted glaciers.
Swiss say dozens of Russian spies disguised as diplomats are active in the Alpine nation
Switzerland’s main intelligence agency says Russia continues to have dozens of spies disguised as diplomats at its embassy in Bern and its mission to the United Nations in Geneva, making the Alpine nation a hotspot for Russian espionage activity in Europe.
Plan to return decommissioned Leopard 2 tanks to Germany wins backing of Swiss executive branch
Switzerland’s executive branch has thrown its weight behind a proposal to decommission 25 out-of-service Leopard 2 battle tanks that Germany’s government wants returned to the German manufacturer to help Berlin plug gaps in its arsenal after it shipped weapons to Ukraine.
UN agencies seek $5.6B to help Ukraine, its refugees abroad
The U.N.’s humanitarian aid and refugee agencies say they are seeking $5.6 billion to help millions of people in Ukraine and 10 countries that have taken in fleeing Ukrainians in the wake of Russia’s invasion of their country nearly a year ago.
UN rights experts present evidence of war crimes in Ukraine
A team of experts commissioned by the U.N.’s top human rights body to look into rights violations in Ukraine says its initial investigation has turned up evidence of war crimes in the country following Russia’s invasion nearly seven months ago.
China envoy vows 'fight' over alleged Xinjiang rights abuses
An envoy from China’s Xinjiang province says Chinese authorities are ready for a “fight” with “anti-China” critics in the West and elsewhere over allegations of rights abuses in the anti-extremism campaign against Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic groups in the region.
UN experts warn of impact of abortion bans on US minorities
Independent U.N. human rights experts are expressing concerns about the adverse impact on the rights of racial and ethnic minorities from the U.S. Supreme Court decision that stripped away constitutional protections for abortion in the United States.
WHO: Monkeypox cases drop 21%, reversing month-long increase
The number of monkeypox cases reported globally dropped by 21% in the last week, reversing a month-long trend of rising infections in a possible sign the outbreak may be starting to decline in Europe, according to an report issued by the World Health Organization on Thursday.
No progress seen after Russia-US talks over Ukraine tensions
Russia and the U.S. remained far apart after talks aimed at defusing tensions over Ukraine, with Moscow insisting on guarantees to halt NATO’s eastward expansion and even roll back the military alliance’s deployments in Eastern Europe, and Washington firmly rejecting the demands as a nonstarter.
World trade body chief says vaccine inequity 'unacceptable'
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, right, and World Trade Organisation (WTO) Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, left, elbow-bump after a joint news conference at WTO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Thursday, April 1, 2021. (Denis Balibouse/Pool via AP)GENEVA – The head of the World Trade Organization called Thursday for expanded capability in developing countries to manufacture vaccines, saying the gaping imbalance in access to coronavirus vaccines that mostly favors rich, developed countries was unacceptable. “We are convinced that the WTO has a major role to play.”He said France supported “concrete reform” to help improve dispute resolution and ease trade tensions. Le Maire advocated “clear and respected trade rules,” notably on intellectual property, state aid and reciprocity agreements between countries. The United States over successive administrations has held up appointments to the WTO's appeals court, which helps adjudicate trade disputes across the world.
The Latest: Wyoming governor sticks with ending mask mandate
— Wyoming’s governor is rejecting a call by President Joe Biden for states to reimpose mask orders in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Coronavirus cases nationwide are on the rise, but infections in Wyoming have fallen off sharply since December. Tribal health officials said that the United Kingdom strain was confirmed in a sample obtained in the western part of the reservation. State health officials on Monday announced more than 1 million people in the state, about 17% of Wisconsin’s population, have completed their vaccination cycles. AdThe COVID-related hospitalizations dropped to 549 on Monday, far below the pandemic record of 5,082 on Jan. 11, according to the state’s pandemic dashboard.
The Latest: California prisons to resume in-person visits
The state health department said nearly 17,000 people had filled up four days of appointments for the speedway clinic being held Friday through Monday. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- California state prisons will soon resume limited in-person visits with inmates more than a year after they were halted because of the coronavirus pandemic. Museums, aquariums, retail businesses and shops, hair salons and personal care businesses can operate at 100% capacity indoors and outdoors. The three joined neighboring Santa Mateo County on Tuesday as the latest Bay Area counties to move into California’s “moderate” tier for coronavirus restrictions. Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady says the biggest driver behind the increase is young adults.
The Latest: LA mayor criticizes state over vaccination rules
Gavin Newsom's vision of a uniform COVID-19 vaccine network despite widespread pushback from local health offices. The state has already identified a site in Mesa that will replace the vaccination clinic at Chandler-Gilbert Community College. Kate Brown announced she’ll accelerate Oregon’s COVID-19 vaccine eligibility timeline to allow vulnerable populations to receive shots ahead of May 1. Ron DeSantis says he’s opening COVID-19 vaccines to people age 50 and older on Monday. The governor’s announcement came a day after Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said he’s opening vaccination sites to anyone 40 and older.
The Latest: Australia seeks vaccine aid for Papua New Guinea
CANBERRA, Australia — Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison says he is working with U.S., Indian and Japanese partners to provide emergency coronavirus vaccine to Papua New Guinea. Australia has provided 8,000 AstraZeneca doses from its own stockpile to its nearest neighbor after an explosion of infections in the South Pacific island nation in recent weeks. Morrison said Friday that the European Union has yet to respond to his recent request for 1 million AstraZeneca doses contracted by Australia to be sent to Papua New Guinea as soon as possible. It has an agreement with ImmunityBio, which has a COVID-19 vaccine in clinical trials, to produce the vaccine sometime next year. Biovac, based in Cape Town, has the capacity to produce between 20 million and 30 million vaccines in a year.
IOC and China make vaccine deal for Tokyo, Beijing Olympians
The IOC entered into a partnership with the Chinese Olympic committee to buy and provide vaccines for people taking part in the upcoming games in both Tokyo and Beijing. Bach said the IOC would “pay for extra doses” for Olympic and Paralympic participants. The Tokyo Olympics are set to open on July 23, and the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing are scheduled for February. Distribution will be through international agencies or existing vaccine agreements countries have with China, Bach said. China, where the COVID-19 outbreak emerged in late 2019, has actively engaged in vaccine diplomacy, using doses developed by Sinovac and Sinopharm.
A year on, WHO still struggling to manage pandemic response
It also declined to publicly call out countries — particularly China — for mistakes that senior WHO officials grumbled about privately. Only when WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared a “pandemic” six weeks later, on March 11, 2020, did most governments take action, experts said. Ad“If WHO’s recommendations are not strong enough, we could see the pandemic go on much longer,” he said. With several licensed vaccines, WHO is now working to ensure that people in the world’s poorest countries receive doses through the COVAX initiative, which is aimed at ensuring poor countries get COVID-19 vaccines. AdIrwin Redlener of Columbia University said WHO should be more aggressive in instructing countries what to do, given the extremely unequal way COVID-19 vaccines are being distributed.
WHO: 'Premature,' 'unrealistic' COVID-19 will end soon
(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)GENEVA – A senior World Health Organization official said Monday it was “premature” and “unrealistic” to think the pandemic might be stopped by the end of the year, but that the recent arrival of effective vaccines could at least help dramatically reduce hospitalizations and death. The world’s singular focus right now should be to keep transmission of COVID-19 as low as possible, said Dr. Michael Ryan, director of WHO's emergencies program. “If we’re smart, we can finish with the hospitalizations and the deaths and the tragedy associated with this pandemic” by the end of the year, he said at media briefing. Ryan said WHO was reassured by emerging data that many of the licensed vaccines appear to be helping curb the virus' explosive spread. Tedros also noted that for the first time in seven weeks, the number of COVID-19 cases increased last week, after six consecutive weeks of declining numbers.
Germany urges Iran to accept diplomacy in nuclear dispute
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas speaks at the foreign ministry in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021 prior to his attendance of the virtual human rights council in Geneva, Switzerland. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, pool)BERLIN – Germany's foreign minister on Wednesday urged Iran to accept diplomatic overtures coming from the West in order to preserve the 2015 nuclear accord. "In the end, Iran needs to understand that what’s important is to de-escalate and accept the offer of diplomacy that’s on the table, including from the United States,” Maas said. "But we still want to use these three months, together with other partners in the nuclear agreement, to discuss step by step how the U.S. can return to this accord,” Maas said. "With or without agreements – we will do everything so that you will not arm yourselves with nuclear weapons.”
The Latest: Australia's 2nd largest city to begin lockdown
FILE - In this Tuesday, May 26, 2020 photo released by Nucleus Network/ABC, clinical trial participants are monitored during Novavax COVID-19 vaccine testing in Melbourne, Australia. (Patrick Rocca/Nucleus Network/ABC via AP)MELBOURNE, Australia — Australia’s second-largest city will begin its third lockdown due to a rapidly spreading COVID-19 cluster centered on hotel quarantine. The first of Australia’s 20 million doses of German manufactured Pfizer vaccine is to be administered in late February. Ad___WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand’s first coronavirus vaccine doses are due to arrive in the country next week, with border workers getting inoculated from Feb. 20, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Friday. The state's Health Department said Thursday that wastewater testing in Burlington found the presence of two virus mutations associated with the variant.
The Latest: China grapples with virus outbreaks in northeast
A Chinese province grappling with a spike in coronavirus cases is reinstating tight restrictions on weddings, funerals and other family gatherings, threatening violators with criminal charges. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)BEIJING — China is now dealing with coronavirus outbreaks across its frigid northeast, prompting additional lockdowns and travel bans. ___WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden’s incoming White House press secretary says his administration does not intend to lift coronavirus travel restrictions for Europe, the U.K., Ireland and Brazil. ___MADRID — Spain’s Health Ministry has confirmed 84,287 new known coronavirus cases since Friday amid a post-Christmas virus surge. He said 21 people had died from the virus in the past three days, bringing the colony's total virus deaths to 45 since the start of the pandemic.
Ivry Gitlis, a violinist who spanned genres, dies at 98
FILE - April 3 2004, file, Israeli violinist Ivry Gitlis, ambassador to the UNESCO, plays in front of the coffin of late actor and writer Sir Peter Ustinov during the funeral service at St Pierre's Cathedral in Geneva, Switzerland. Ivry Gitlis, an acclaimed violinist who played with famed conductors, rock stars and jazz bands around the world and worked to make classical music accessible to the masses, has died in Paris at 98. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus, File)PARIS – Ivry Gitlis, an acclaimed violinist who played with famed conductors, rock stars and jazz bands around the world and worked to make classical music accessible to the masses, has died in Paris at 98. Gitlis performed with the Rolling Stones and jazz stars, appeared on French television shows and founded a French music festival in the 1970s where listeners ate and slept in a field while listening to music. Among his many worldwide appearances, Gitlis was the first Israeli musician to perform in Soviet Russia, in 1963, according to Le Monde.
WHO: Vaccine program gets access to nearly 2 billion doses
FILE - In this June 11, 2009, file photo, the logo of the World Health Organization is seen at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. The head of the World Health Organization says on Friday, Dec, 18, 2020 the U.N. health agencys program to help get COVID-19 vaccines to all countries in need, has gained access to nearly 2 billion doses of several promising vaccine candidates. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus, File)GENEVA – The World Health Organization program to help get COVID-19 vaccines to all countries in need has access to nearly 2 billion doses of “promising” vaccine candidates, officials said Friday. Of the approximately 12 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines the pharmaceutical industry is expected to produce next year, about 9 billion shots have already been reserved by rich countries. The U.N.-backed COVAX program needs $6.8 billion more to secure vaccine contracts and ensure delivery of allocated doses.
The Latest: S Koreans line up for virus tests as cases surge
The Pentagon has authorized nearly 50 top civilian and military leaders to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in the coming weeks to prove to the shots are safe and effective. Indoor restaurant dining will continue to be barred under the new state health department order that takes effect Monday. Laura Kelly is expressing little concern over a smaller-than-expected second shipment of a coronavirus vaccine for the state. The state also reported total 2,341 COVID-19 deaths, adding 88 to the tally since Wednesday. ___BERN — The Swiss government is ordering the closure of restaurants, bars, cultural venues and sports facilities next week because of increasing coronavirus cases.
The Latest: China reports results of mass testing
(Siphiwe Sibeko/Pool via AP)BEIJING — China has reported new coronavirus cases in the cities of Shanghai and Tianjin as it seeks to prevent small outbreaks from becoming larger ones. ___RENO, Nevada — The head of the Nevada agency promoting business growth has urged companies to embrace new restrictions as coronavirus cases soar. Kentucky continued setting records with 2,135 new confirmed coronavirus cases reported, the state’s highest daily number on a Monday since the pandemic again. Gary Herbert on Monday relaxed restrictions on social gatherings ahead of Thanksgiving weekend as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue to surge. Also on Monday, Spain’s 14-day cumulative number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population — a key metric in measuring the pandemic’s spread — has continued to fall.
Internal email reveals 65 virus cases among WHO Geneva staff
WHO's confirmation Monday of the figures in the email was the first time it has publicly provided such a count. The email said about half of the infections recorded so far were in people who had been working from home. The revelation comes amid a surge of cases in Europe, host country Switzerland, and the city of Geneva, in particular. Last month, Thomas told WHO staffers the agency was restricting access to its Geneva headquarters to critical staffers, including senior directors, their assistants and management officers. In normal times, an estimated 2,400 people regularly work at WHO’s seven-story headquarters overlooking Geneva.
Recordings reveal WHO's analysis of pandemic in private
Yet in public, the U.N. health agency lauded governments for their responses. Instead, the health agency relies on behind-the-scenes talks and the cooperation of member states. Critics say WHO’s traditional aversion to confronting its member countries has come at a high price. WHO also complained in private about Western countries hoarding scarce pandemic supplies. Going forward, WHO’s role in the continued unfolding of the pandemic will depend in part on the panel review.
US: WHO not sharing enough info about China virus probe
GENEVA – A senior U.S. government official complained Tuesday that the World Health Organization has not shared enough information about its planned mission to China to investigate the animal origins of the coronavirus. “The (terms of reference) were not negotiated in a transparent way with all WHO member states,” he said via video conference, referring to the mission's criteria. In recent months, a long-planned WHO-led team seeking to investigate the coronavirus’ animal origins in China has stalled. Clark has shied away from criticizing WHO or member states like China for their COVID-19 efforts. ___Follow AP’s coronavirus pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
Western nations decry Belarus crackdown at UN rights review
Police detain a demonstrator during an opposition rally to protest the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. Police used stun grenades and fired warning shots in the air to break up the crowds. Over 15,000 people have been detained since the election, and rights activists say over 100 of them are political prisoners. French ambassador Francois Rivasseau said France remained “extremely concerned” by the rights situation in Belarus, calling on its government to release all people held arbitrarily. Belarus ambassador Yury Ambrazevich said there was a “complex situation” in his country after the presidential elections, and said officials in Belarus had already discussed them.
The Latest: Sri Lanka postpones school reopening for virus
With a total of 8.2 million coronavirus cases during the pandemic, India is the second worst-hit country behind the United States. Still, health officials say New Delhi remains in the grip of its third and worst wave of infections yet. But health officials elsewhere say the virus is also spreading because people are still going to family gathering such as weddings, baby showers and barbecues. Adams and his aide were in Hawaii helping with a spike in coronavirus cases. The most recently available data from Johns Hopkins University says that as of Sunday there had been 937,317 COVID-19 cases reported in Texas.
UN urges India government to better protect rights defenders
GENEVA – The U.N. human rights chief on Tuesday urged India’s government to do more to protect human rights defenders, who have come under mounting pressure in recent months in the world’s largest democracy. The office of High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet pointed to three “problematic” laws in India that have variously tightened restrictions on non-governmental organizations and led to a crackdown on dissent. Her office lamented “vaguely worded laws that restrict foreign funding” that are increasingly being used to quell voices in civil society. Critics say India under Modi has grown increasingly intolerant, with a crackdown on dissent unprecedented in scale. Leaders of Modi’s party have routinely labeled critics as “anti-nationals,” and the authorities have dealt with many rights advocates and activists with an iron fist.
WHO: Study finds 4 drugs have little to no effect on COVID
The World Health Organization announced Friday the long-awaited results of its six-month “Solidarity Therapeutics Trial” that endeavored to see if existing drugs might have an effect on the coronavirus. The study, which was not peer-reviewed, found that four treatments tested — remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir/ritonavir and interferon — had “ little or no effect" on whether or not patients died within about a month or whether hospitalized patients recovered. “The big story is the finding that remdesivir produces no meaningful impact on survival,” he said in a statement. He said the drug is now recommended in some countries but there have been significant concerns about supply, cost and access. A cocktail of treatments given to President Trump after he tested positive for the coronavirus included remdesivir.
Swiss hospital chief warns of rough ride as virus returns
Bertrand Levrat, General Director of Geneva Hospitals speaks during an interview with the Associated Press in Geneva, Switzerland, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020. It’s a line that we don’t repeat enough,” Levrat said from his office overlooking Geneva, a surgical mask tucked into his jacket pocket. The Swiss benefit from a relatively rich population in a less densely populated country. Switzerland, at more than 8.6 million people, has a smaller population than the metropolitan areas of Paris and London, for example. While Switzerland isn't in the European Union, its fortunes and fate are closely tied to the bloc, and the virus knows no borders.
WTO says EU can put tariffs on $4 billion of US goods
GENEVA – International arbitrators said Tuesday that the European Union can impose tariffs and other penalties on up to $4 billion worth of U.S. goods and services over illegal American support for plane maker Boeing. It comes a year after another ruling authorized the United States to slap penalties on EU goods worth up to $7.5 billion - including Gouda cheese, single-malt whiskey and French wine - over the bloc's support for Boeing rival Airbus. Now the EU can have its own turn at trade punishment, and has already been considering which American products it could target. The U.S. argues that those tax breaks ended this year, eliminating any basis for the award. The WTO arbitrators said that the lifting of the tax breaks was not enough to prevent the award in favor of the EU.
UN: Climate change means more weather disasters every year
In a new report released with partners, the World Meteorological Agency says more disasters attributed to weather are taking place each year. “Recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity to move forward along a more sustainable path towards resilience and adaptation in the light of anthropogenic climate change,” he said. Taalas noted investments in renewable energy programs like solar and wind in China, the source of one-fourth of global carbon emissions — largely due to coal-fired power plants. While praising the U.S. private sector for its efforts to fight climate change, Taalas also expressed hope the U.S. government — which under the Trump administration has rejected the 2015 Paris climate accord — to come on board. ___Follow all AP stories on climate change issues at https://apnews.com/hub/Climate
Switzerland says Swiss hostage in Mali has been killed
GENEVA – Switzerland’s Foreign Ministry said Friday that a Swiss woman who was held hostage in Mali has been killed by an Islamist group. The ministry said it was informed by French authorities that the hostage had been “killed by kidnappers of the Islamist terrorist organization Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam Muslimeen about a month ago.”The group, known as JNIM, is Mali’s branch of al-Qaida. Switzerland’s foreign minister condemned the killing of the hostage, Beatrice Stoeckli, whose release his country had quietly been trying to negotiate since she was kidnapped four years ago. “The information about the killing was obtained by the French authorities from the recently released French hostage,” the ministry said. The Swiss Foreign Ministry said it was trying to find out more about the circumstances of the killing and the whereabouts of her remains.
World Health Organization reports new daily high in global COVID-19 cases
GENEVA – The World Health Organization has announced a new daily record high in coronavirus cases confirmed worldwide, with more than 350,000 infections reported to the U.N. health agency on Friday. The new daily high of 350,766 cases surpasses a record set earlier this week by nearly 12,000. That tally includes more than 109,000 cases from Europe alone. “The majority of people in the world are still susceptible to this disease,” Ryan warned. As the virus continues to surge across Europe and elsewhere, Ryan acknowledged that restrictive measures might be warranted at some point.
Ex-Chinese diplomat details new WTO forecast on world trade
In this photo provided by Nana Mariam Maiga, World Trade Organization Deputy Director General Yi Xiaozhun, centre, speaks at a news conference in Geneva, Tuesday Oct. 6, 2020, as he presented the world trade bodys revised forecast for merchandise trade growth amid the coronavirus pandemic. The World Trade Organization is predicting a 9.2% drop in merchandise trade this year, saying the hit from the pandemic doesnt appear to be bad as first thought. (Nana Mariam Maiga via AP)GENEVA – A former Chinese diplomat took center stage Tuesday at the World Trade Organization, announcing its revised prediction for a 9.2% percent decline in world merchandise trade this year and cautioning that a further hit could await if the coronavirus continues to spread. Deputy Director-General Yi Xiaozhun's presentation of the new WTO forecast symbolized a coming-of-age moment for China not yet a generation after it acceded to the trade body. Yi announced that WTO economists have revised to a 9.2% drop in merchandise trade this year, down from their earlier prediction of a 12.9% plunge .
WHO: 10% of world's people may have been infected with virus
The head of emergencies at the World Health Organization says its best estimates indicate that roughly 1 in 10 people worldwide may have been infected by the coronavirus. Dr. Margaret Harris, a WHO spokeswoman, said it was based on an average of antibody studies conducted around the world. Chinese board member Zhang Yang, speaking by videoconference, said China has been "transparent and responsible" and has been fulfilling its responsibilities under the resolution. Board member Clemens Auer of Austria lamented a “political weakening” of the WHO, citing the “potential withdrawal of a strong WHO member state” — an allusion to the U.S. He appealed for a “retreat session” for board members, saying it should be an “active” body — not a “ceremonial” one.
The Latest: Michigan issues mask requirement, other measures
(Michigan Office of the Governor via AP, File)LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan’s health department issued a mask requirement and other coronavirus restrictions Monday, just days after the state Supreme Court invalidated a 75-year-old emergency powers law that underpinned Gov. ___FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Now that he’s become infected with the coronavirus, President Donald Trump needs to set a “better example” during the pandemic, and he should start by always wearing a mask in public, Kentucky Gov. The Democratic governor said these changes to his coronavirus restrictions will be included in the latest emergency order he intends to release later this week. “Upon learning of the president’s positive COVID-19 test, we immediately enacted a 14-day quarantine for all staff who worked the party. Hancock’s statement came after the weekend disclosure that a total of 15,841 virus cases weren’t tabulated from Sept. 25 to Oct. 2.
American cyclist suspended by team after pro-Trump comments
GENEVA – American cyclist Quinn Simmons was suspended by the Trek-Segafredo team on Thursday after posting antagonistic comments on social media in support of President Donald Trump. The 2019 junior road race world champion replied to a journalist from the Netherlands who had criticized Trump on Twitter. Trek-Segafredo, an American team formerly known as RadioSchack-Nissan, later issued a second statement quoting Simmons as saying that he did not mean for the tweets to be offensive. “To those who found the color of the emoji racist, I can promise that I did not mean for it to be interpreted that way," Simmons said. I only ask the same.”The team added that Simmons “was not suspended because of his political views.
The Latest: COVID-19 outbreak on ship off Australia's coast
(AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)PERTH, Australia — Authorities are concerned by a COVID-19 outbreak aboard a cargo ship off Australia's northwest coast that has infected most of the crew. The Bluegrass State had nearly 5,000 coronavirus cases last week — the most in a single week since the pandemic began, Gov. In recent weeks, Kentucky has repeatedly set record highs for weekly virus cases. New York has reported just over 11,500 new coronavirus infections over the past two weeks. Italy added 1,494 coronavirus infections and 16 deaths to its confirmed COVID toll Monday, in line with its daily increase for the past few weeks.
Cold diggers? UN finds a record low in Greenland ice in 1991
GENEVA – For all the recent talk of global warming, climate historians hunting for past temperature extremes have unearthed what the U.N. weather agency calls a new record low in the Northern Hemisphere — nearly -70 degrees Celsius (-93 F) was recorded almost three decades ago in Greenland. The World Meteorological Organizations publicly confirmed Wednesday the all-time cold reading for the hemisphere: -69.6 Celsius recorded on Dec. 22, 1991 at an automatic weather station in a remote site called Klinck, not far from the highest point on the Greenland Ice Sheet. “In the era of climate change, much attention focuses on new heat records," said WMO Secretary-General Professor Petteri Taalas in a statement. The new low was confirmed by so-called “climate detectives” working with the WMO's Archive of Weather and Climate Extremes in Geneva. The coldest temperature ever recorded on Earth was the -89.2 Celsius (-128.6 F) recorded in 1983 at the high-altitude Vostok weather station in Antarctica, WMO said.
WHO Europe chief urges nations to keep up virus quarantines
Kluge insisted that countries should only reduce the standard two-week quarantine period if it was scientifically justified. Smallwood added that several countries were considering reducing their required quarantine periods — a move that is not endorsed by WHO. “We would really re-emphasize that our position is that a 14-day quarantine is important for patients that have been exposed to the virus,” she said. During a press briefing with both substance and symbolism, the two WHO Europe officials both wore masks during a video conference from Copenhagen. Switzerland and France, which all but surrounds Geneva, both have reported a surge in confirmed virus cases in recent weeks.
US tariffs on China ruled to be illegal by world trade body
(Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.) GENEVA – The World Trade Organization said Tuesday that Trump administration tariffs on Chinese goods totaling more than $200 billion are illegal under the rules of the global trade body. The decision marks the first time the Geneva-based trade body has ruled against a series of tariffs that President Donald Trump's administration has imposed on a number of countries, allies and rivals alike. Trump has repeatedly criticized the WTO for allegedly treating the U.S. unfairly.
UN rights chief decries racism in US, keeps eye on Hong Kong
The comments from Michelle Bachelet came in a catch-all speech to open the latest session of the U.N.-backed Human Rights Council on Monday. She also raised concerns about the human rights situation in Myanmar, Nicaragua and Venezuela, among other places on her agenda. Many see the law as Beijing’s boldest move yet to remove a legal firewall between the semi-autonomous territory of Hong Kong and the mainland’s Communist Party system. “The Hong Kong authorities have consistently stated that the law is not intended to impact negatively on the peaceful exercise of human rights by Hong Kong residents,” said Bachelet. She said her office had documented 47 killings of human rights defenders in Colombia this year.
Swiss region to take cryptocurrency for tax payments in 2021
GENEVA A Swiss region that has billed itself as a hub for high-tech finance said Thursday that it plans to accept cryptocurrencies Bitcoin and Ether for tax payments starting next year. Switzerland's Zug canton joins its eponymous main city and several Swiss towns in agreeing to take tax payments in cryptocurrency. Taxpayers who want to pay in cryptocurrency would notify tax authorities, who in return would send a digitized QR code that allows for such payments. Other places have explored accepting cryptocurrencies for tax payments. A former treasurer in the U.S. state of Ohio launched OhioCrypto.com in 2018 for business tax payments.
UN agency laments summer's 'deep wound' to Earth's ice cover
GENEVA The United Nations weather agency says this summer will go down for leaving a deep wound in the cryosphere -- the planets frozen parts -- amid a heat wave in the Arctic, shrinking sea ice and the collapse of a leading Canadian ice shelf. The weather agency said in a statement that many new temperature records have been set in recent months, including in the Russian town of Verkhoyansk. The town, located in Siberia above the Arctic Circle line, reached 38 degrees Celsius (100 F) on June 20. She noted a heat wave across the Arctic, r ecord-breaking wildfires in Siberia, nearly record-low sea ice extent, and the collapse of one of the last fully intact Canadian ice shelves. The WMO is preparing to release on Sept. 9 a report on the impact of climate change on the cryosphere.
In contrast to US, UN backs testing people without symptoms
GENEVA The World Health Organization said Thursday that countries should actively test people to find coronavirus cases even if they dont show symptoms a stance that comes after the U.S. health agency switched its policy to say that asymptomatic contacts of infected people dont need to be tested. Van Kerkhove said countries were free to adapt WHO's testing guidance for their individual needs and while testing itself was important, it was equally critical to get testing results back fast. Whats really important is that testing is used as an opportunity, to define active cases so that they can be isolated and so that contact tracing can also take place, she said. WHO said hotels should consider reducing occupancy rates to ensure social distancing and said all staff and guests should comply with basic COVID-19 prevention measures like frequent hand-washing and mask-wearing. It said physical barriers like protective plexiglass shields should be used to separate hotel staff and guests at reception desks.
WHO boss slams 'mixed messages' from leaders on coronavirus
The World Health Organization chief on Monday, July 13 slammed government leaders whose mixed messages have eroded public trust on the coroanvirus. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that their failures to stop their countries spiraling outbreaks means theres no return to normal for the foreseeable future. Mixed messages from leaders are undermining the most critical ingredient of any response: trust, Tedros said Monday, adding that governments should communicate clearer public health messages and individuals should maintain social distancing, mask-wearing, hand-washing and staying home when they have COVID-19 symptoms. Without applying basic outbreak-control methods, there is only one way this pandemic is going to go, WHO chief Tedros cautioned. "Its going to get worse and worse and worse, he said, continuing with a blunt warning.