The World Today for June 01, 2020

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COVID-19 Global Update

More than 180 nations worldwide have confirmed cases of the coronavirus. The following have the highest number as of 4 a.m. ET*:

  1. US 1,790,191 (+1.12%)
  2. Brazil 514,849 (+3.29%)
  3. Russia 405,843 (0.00%)**
  4. UK 276,156 (+0.71%)
  5. Spain 239,479 (+0.10%)
  6. Italy 232,997 (+0.14%)
  7. India 190,962 (+4.36%)
  8. France 189,009 (+0.14%)
  9. Germany 183,500 (+0.11%)
  10. Peru 164,476 (+5.66%)

Source: Johns Hopkins University

*Percentage change over 24 hours

** Numbers have been adjusted by affected country

NEED TO KNOW

WORLD

Planet Pox

A cyclone recently hit Kolkata, downpours breached dams in the US and an ominous forecast of the hurricane season came as Indian, American and other officials struggled to contain the fast-spreading novel coronavirus outbreak, putting even more pressure on strained governments and public health infrastructures.

Meanwhile, May 20 was Earth Day, an annual commemoration of the environment and efforts to protect it. This year, however, marked a change in the thinking of many of the celebrants, Politico wrote.

In recent years, environmentalists have abandoned efforts to change individuals’ actions to stem pollution, opting instead to change the behavior of large corporations and other large-scale polluters. But the novel coronavirus pandemic has alerted folks to how their individual actions, like not driving, can quickly improve the air and reduce noise.

“We are now living through an unrivaled drop in carbon output,” said the BBC.

The pandemic is getting a lot of smart and powerful people thinking about climate change. In addition to the link between economic activity and greenhouse gases, COVID-19 has shown that the world economy can quickly turn on a dime and ramp down if necessary. Obviously, the economy must restart as soon as possible. But the World Economic Forum hoped leaders would not miss the chance to launch reforms when that occurs.

In an editorial, the San Jose Mercury News made an analogy between critics of science who don’t believe in climate change and the folly of those who believe the threat to public health from the coronavirus is exaggerated. Stimulus packages that prioritize sustainable energy and new, innovative transportation and industries are a perfect way to boost the economy, the editors argued.

Alastair Lewis, science director at the National Centre for Atmospheric Science at the University of York, wrote in the Conversation that curbing air pollution might stop an exacerbating factor to the spread of the virus – and its lethality. The Guardian reported on how the virus was discovered on air pollutants and spreads more effectively because it sticks to the larger molecules more easily. At the same time, reducing air pollution also reduces strokes, heart disease, lung disease and other illnesses – the underlying conditions that make the virus more fatal.

Humanity’s encroachment on wildernesses around the globe has also spawned new diseases. After World War II, many researchers thought infectious diseases might become a thing of the past. Since then, Columbia magazine explained, we’ve discovered diseases like AIDS, SARS, and Ebola that move to humans from chimpanzees, bats, mice, ticks and other critters.

Scientists mostly agree: Denying that the novel coronavirus is part of a nature we have damaged is a sign of how disconnected we might be from nature.

WANT TO KNOW

WORLD

Walking Away

Government officials and scientists worldwide criticized US President Donald Trump’s move to cut ties with the World Health Organization (WHO), saying it will jeopardize the international fight against the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Washington Post reported.

As of this weekend, the number of people infected worldwide is more than six million.

The European Union over the weekend urged Trump to reconsider, arguing that this is “the time for enhanced cooperation and common solutions.”

Trump accused China of controlling the organization and pressuring it to “mislead the world.” He said that the annual $400 million contribution to the WHO will go “to other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs” without providing specifics.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn agreed that the WHO “needs reform.” Even so, he called the US’ move to withdraw “disappointing.”

Scientists, meanwhile, voiced their support for the WHO and warned that it is an inappropriate time to make health a political issue.

SURINAME

Come Together

Four Surinamese parties formed an alliance over the weekend in an attempt to oust President Desi Bouterse following elections last week, the Associated Press reported.

Preliminary results show that the opposition United Reform Party (VHP) won 20 seats in the 51-member parliament, while Bouterse’s National Democratic Party won 16.

The new coalition would hold 33 seats, only requiring one more to reach the two-thirds majority needed to elect a new president.

Bouterse has rejected the results and asked for a recount, the AP reported separately. He currently faces criminal convictions at home and in the Netherlands, and could lose his immunity against prosecution if he leaves office.

The Independent Electoral Bureau said Sunday it has counted more than 99 percent of the votes from the May 25 election. It is expected to publish the results later this week.

ETHIOPIA

NIMBY

Ethiopia called for a truce Sunday with Sudan following a border skirmish last week between Sudanese troops and suspected Ethiopian militias, Africa News reported.

Sudanese officials said the attack, which killed a child and injured at least seven soldiers, was perpetrated by militias backed by Ethiopia’s army.

Tensions between the two nations have flared up recently with repeated attacks targeting Sudanese troops near the border.

For years, Ethiopian farmers have planted crops in Sudan’s al-Fashqa border area: Former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir tolerated it.

Sudan’s new transitional government – which took over following protests last year that ousted al-Bashir – has recently held talks with Ethiopia to keep the farmers on their own side of the border.

Both countries are preparing for a second round of talks in the Sudanese capital in early June.

DISCOVERIES

Downsizing

The tiny anchovy was once a fish that would make piranhas seem warm and cuddly.

That’s because once upon a time, two species of the fish were actually giants sporting saber-toothed fangs, CNET reported.

Researchers discovered the remains of two species of giant anchovies in Belgium and Pakistan, according to a new study. The fossils are believed to be between 41 million and 54 million years old. Scientists explained that the ancient fish emerged millions of years after the mass extinction of the dinosaurs nearly 66 million years ago.

“The loss of large predatory species left vacancies in ecosystems for new species to come and fill,” lead author Alessio Capobianco told Newsweek. “It is thought the newly discovered species of fish were among the lineages that attempted to exploit these gaps by diversifying and evolving new adaptations.”

The study revealed that the giant anchovies were more than three feet in length – 10 times the size of its modern counterpart. It had a noticeable one-inch long saber tooth in its upper jaw with a row of fangs along the lower jaw.

Capobianco’s team believes that the fish used its fangs to hunt prey, unlike its docile successor today which feeds on plankton.

They hope the discovery can offer more insight into the ancestors of the modern anchovies and how the creatures evolved to what they are today.

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