‘Warn Everyone’: Spain’s Gay Community Acts as Monkeypox Spreads

Whether it’s abstinence, avoiding nightclubs, limiting sexual partners or pushing for a swift vaccine rollout, Spain’s gay community is on the front line of the monkeypox virus and is taking action.  “With this monkey thing, I prefer to be careful. … I don’t have sex anymore, I don’t go to parties anymore, and that’s until I’m vaccinated and have some immunity,” said Antonio, a 35-year-old from Madrid who declined to give his last name.  Antonio, who often went to nightclubs and sometimes to sex parties, decided to act as cases continued to increase.  Spain on Saturday reported its second monkeypox-related death.  Outside of Africa, the only other such death has been in Brazil.  More than 18,000 cases have been detected throughout the world outside of Africa since the beginning of May, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).  Spain is one of the world’s worst-hit countries. The health ministry’s emergency and alert coordination center put the number of infected people at 4,298.  As cases increase globally, the WHO has called on the group currently most affected by the virus, men who have sex with men, to limit their sexual partners.  Lack of vaccines  “This is not like Covid, the vaccine already exists, there’s no need to invent it. If it wasn’t a queer disease, we would have acted more — and faster,” said Antonio.  Like other members of the gay community, he believes the authorities have not done enough.  NGOs have denounced a lack of prevention, a shortage of vaccines …

New York City Declares Monkeypox Public Health Emergency

New York has declared a public health emergency due to a monkeypox outbreak.  Mayor Eric Adams and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan made the announcement Saturday. The two officials said in a joint statement that “New York City is currently the epicenter of the outbreak, and we estimate that approximately 150,000 New Yorkers may currently be at risk for monkeypox exposure.” “Over the past few weeks, we have moved as quickly as possible to expand outreach and access to vaccines and treatment to keep people safe,” the officials said.  “We will continue to work with our federal partners to secure more doses as soon as they become available. This outbreak must be met with urgency, action, and resources, both nationally and globally, and this declaration of a public health emergency reflects the seriousness of the moment.” On Friday, New York state Governor Kathy Hochul issued an executive order declaring a state disaster emergency because of the monkeypox outbreak. In her executive order, Hochul said that “More than one in four monkeypox cases in this country are in New York State.”  Her declaration also expanded the number of health care individuals who can administer the monkeypox vaccines. The World Health Organization has declared the global monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency of international concern. WHO chief Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said recently that while 98% of global monkeypox cases “are among men who have sex with men, anyone exposed can get monkeypox, which is why WHO …

In US, Abortion Laws Differ Across the Street  

The bedsheets are big. Some are light pink, others hot pink or purple, connected and stretched taut by people holding wooden poles. Together, the sheets form a barrier across the parking lot. The activists, who are supporting a woman’s right to an abortion, wear bright pink vests with PRO-CHOICE in black emblazoned on the front. This is the front line of protection for pregnant women who drive to this women’s center for an abortion. The sheeting forms a tunnel for them to leave their cars and enter the center, unseen by anti-abortion protesters trying to stop them. ‘There’s very little conversation’ This is the daily scene at the Bristol Regional Women’s Center.   The abortion-rights activists stay inside the center parking lot; the anti-abortion protesters stand on the sidewalk. They walk next to a busy street with posters reading “Love Your Baby and Yourself” or “Babies are Murdered Here” next to competing pink signs that read, “Honk Twice for Choice.” A local church organizes the anti-abortion protesters. Natalie, who asked to use only her first name for safety reasons, is 24. She has been coming here weekly for seven years, saying, “This is what the Lord has called us to do.” She says  no patient has ever approached her for help. Another young protester, Haven, says he’s handed out a few pamphlets but it is difficult to approach the women because of the sheeting. He has not spoken to the doctors or the abortion-rights protesters, adding, “There’s very little conversation …

Action on Monkeypox Accelerates in US as Outbreak Expands 

Two of the hardest-hit U.S. regions have raised the alert level over the monkeypox outbreak. San Francisco declared a public health emergency Thursday. The city accounts for 281 of California’s nearly 800 cases. The declaration gives health officials access to additional resources to deal with the outbreak. New York, with nearly 1,400 cases statewide, made a similar declaration Thursday. Worldwide, more than 21,000 cases have been reported in 78 countries, nearly all of them outside West and Central Africa, where the virus is endemic. The World Health Organization (WHO) raised the threat level to its highest ranking last weekend. The U.S. case count is nearing 5,000, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The federal government has not declared an emergency but announced plans Thursday to distribute nearly 800,000 additional doses of monkeypox vaccine. U.S. health officials said they had already distributed 340,000 doses, but many jurisdictions have reported that they have had to turn away patients because of short supplies. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions. Who gets monkeypox, and how? The outbreak has been concentrated among men who have sex with men, though anyone can get monkeypox. The virus spreads through contact with the rash that infected patients develop. It can also pass through bodily fluids, respiratory droplets after prolonged face-to-face contact or contaminated clothing, bedding or towels. Men who have sex with men should have fewer sex partners in order to curb the spread, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Wednesday. …

US, Japan to Set Up Research Center for Next Semiconductors

The United States and Japan launched a new high-level economic dialogue Friday aimed at pushing back against China and countering the disruption caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The two longtime allies agreed to establish a new joint research center for next-generation semiconductors during the so-called economic “two-plus-two” ministerial meeting in Washington, Japanese Trade Minister Koichi Hagiuda said. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and Hagiuda also discussed energy and food security, the officials said in a news briefing. “As the world’s first- and third-largest economies, it is critical that we work together to defend the rules-based economic order, one in which all countries can participate, compete and prosper,” Blinken told the opening session. Hagiuda said “Japan will quickly move to action” on next-generation semiconductor research and said Washington and Tokyo had agreed to launch a “new R&D organization” to establish a secure source of the vital components. The research hub would be open for other “like-minded” countries to participate in, he said. The two countries did not immediately release additional details of the plan, but Japan’s Nikkei Shimbun newspaper earlier said it would be set up in Japan by the end of this year to research 2-nanometer semiconductor chips. It will include a prototype production line and should begin producing semiconductors by 2025, the newspaper said. “As we discussed today, semiconductors are the linchpin of our economic and national security,” said Raimondo, adding that the officials had discussed collaboration …

US Rules Out Summer COVID Boosters for Adults Under 50 to Focus on Fall

U.S. regulators said Friday they are no longer considering authorizing a second COVID-19 booster shot for all adults under 50 this summer, focusing instead on revamped vaccines for the fall that will target the newest viral subvariants. Pfizer and Moderna expect to have updated versions of their shots available as early as September, the Food and Drug Administration said in a statement. That would set the stage for a fall booster campaign to strengthen protection against the latest versions of omicron. The announcement means the U.S. won’t pursue a summer round of boosters using the current vaccines for adults under 50, as some Biden administration officials and outside experts previously suggested. They had argued that another round of shots now could help head off rising cases and hospitalizations caused by the highly transmissible omicron strains. Currently, all Americans ages 5 and over are eligible for a booster shot five months after their initial primary series. Fourth doses of the Pfizer or Moderna shots — a second booster — are recommended for Americans 50 and older and for younger people with serious health issues that make them more vulnerable to COVID-19. The FDA urged eligible adults who haven’t been boosted to get their extra shot now: “You can still benefit from existing booster options and leave time to receive an updated booster in the fall,” the agency said in a statement. The White House has also emphasized that getting a fourth dose now won’t impact anyone’s ability to get omicron-targeted shots …

Congress OKs Bill to Aid Computer Chip Firms, Counter China 

The House on Thursday passed a $280 billion package to boost the semiconductor industry and scientific research in a bid to create more high-tech jobs in the United States and help it better compete with international rivals, namely China.  The House approved the bill by a solid margin of 243-187, sending the measure to President Joe Biden to be signed into law and providing the White House with a major domestic policy victory. Twenty-four Republicans voted for the legislation. The Senate passed the bill Wednesday, 64-33. “Today, the House passed a bill that will make cars cheaper, appliances cheaper and computers cheaper,” Biden said. “It will lower the costs of everyday goods. And it will create high-paying manufacturing jobs across the country and strengthen U.S. leadership in the industries of the future at the same time.”  As the vote was taking place, Biden was discussing the economy with CEOs at the White House. During the event, he was handed a note informing him it was clear the bill would pass — a development that produced a round of applause before the tally was final.  Most Republicans argued that the government should not spend billions to subsidize the semiconductor industry. GOP leadership in the House recommended a vote against the bill, telling members the plan would provide enormous subsidies and tax credits “to a specific industry that does not need additional government handouts.”    Taxes, regulations Representative Guy Reschenthaler, a Pennsylvania Republican, said the way to help the industry would be through …

Study: Climate Change Made UK Heat Wave Hotter, More Likely

Human-caused climate change made last week’s deadly heat wave in England and Wales at least 10 times more likely and added a few degrees to how brutally hot it got, a study said. A team of international scientists found that the heat wave that set a new national record high at 40.3 degrees Celsius was made stronger and more likely by the buildup of heat-trapping gases from the burning of coal, oil and natural gas. They said Thursday that temperatures were 2 to 4 degrees Celsius warmer in the heat wave than they would have been without climate change, depending on which method scientists used. The study has not been published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal yet but follows scientifically accepted techniques, and past such studies have been published months later. “We would not have seen temperatures above 40 degrees in the U.K. without climate change,” study senior author Friederike Otto, a climate scientist at Imperial College of London, said in an interview. “The fingerprint is super strong.” World Weather Attribution, a collection of scientists across the globe who do real-time studies of extreme weather to see whether climate change played a role in an extreme weather event and if so how much of one, looked at two-day average temperatures for July 18 and 19 in much of England and Wales and the highest temperature reached in that time. The daily highest temperatures were the most unusual, a one-in-1,000-year event in the current warmer world, but “almost impossible in a …

US Probes Cyber Breach of Federal Court Records System

The U.S. Justice Department is investigating a cyber breach involving the federal court records management system, the department’s top national security attorney told lawmakers Thursday. Matt Olsen, head of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, alluded to the threat of cyberattacks by foreign nations as he told the U.S. House of Representative Judiciary Committee that the incident was a “significant concern.” Olsen made the remarks in response to questions from Representative Jerrold Nadler, the panel’s Democratic chairman, who said that “three hostile foreign actors” had attacked the courts’ document filing system. Nadler said the committee learned only in March of the “startling breadth and scope” of the breach. Olsen said the Justice Department was working closely with the federal judiciary around the country to address the issue. “While I can’t speak directly to the nature of the ongoing investigation of the type of threats that you’ve mentioned regarding the effort to compromise public judicial dockets, this is of course a significant concern for us given the nature of the information that’s often held by the courts,” Olsen said. Olsen did not comment on who was behind the attack, but he noted that his division was focused generally on the risk of cyberattacks by foreign nations including China, Russia, Iran and North Korea. The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts in January 2021 said it was adding new security procedures to protect confidential or sealed records following an apparent compromise of its electronic case management and filing system. The Administrative Office, …