Abortion Rights Rollback in US Could Ripple Across Globe

The right of American women to have an abortion will be severely restricted if the Supreme Court reverses its 1973 decision to legalize the procedure. VOA’s Veronica Balderas Iglesias spoke to activists on three continents and found grave concern about what impact a U.S. ruling overturning Roe v. Wade could have around the world. Videographer/Video editor: Veronica Balderas Iglesias …

Explainer: What is Monkeypox and Where Is it Spreading? 

European and American health authorities have identified a number of monkeypox cases in recent days, mostly in young men. It’s a surprising outbreak of disease that rarely appears outside Africa. Health officials around the world are keeping watch for more cases because, for the first time, the disease appears to be spreading among people who didn’t travel to Africa. They stress, however, that the risk to the general population is low. What is monkeypox? Monkeypox is a virus that originates in wild animals like rodents and primates, and occasionally jumps to people. Most human cases have been in central and west Africa, where the disease is endemic. The illness was first identified by scientists in 1958 when there were two outbreaks of a “pox-like” disease in research monkeys — thus the name monkeypox. The first known human infection was in 1970, in a 9-year-old boy in a remote part of Congo. What are the symptoms and how is it treated? Monkeypox belongs to the same virus family as smallpox but causes milder symptoms. Most patients only experience fever, body aches, chills and fatigue. People with more serious illness may develop a rash and lesions on the face and hands that can spread to other parts of the body. The incubation period is from about five days to three weeks. Most people recover within about two to four weeks without needing to be hospitalized. Monkeypox can be fatal for up to one in 10 people and is thought to be more …

Monkeypox Spreads in Europe; US Reports Its First Case

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health on Wednesday said it had confirmed a single case of monkeypox virus infection in a man who had recently traveled to Canada. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said its labs confirmed the infection to be monkeypox on Wednesday afternoon. The state agency said it was working with CDC and relevant local boards of health to carry out contact tracing, adding that “the case poses no risk to the public, and the individual is hospitalized and in good condition.” The Public Health Agency of Canada late on Wednesday issued a statement saying it is aware of the monkeypox cases in Europe and is closely monitoring the current situation, adding no cases have been reported at this time. Monkeypox, which mostly occurs in west and central Africa, is a rare viral infection similar to human smallpox, though milder. It was first recorded in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the 1970s. The number of cases in West Africa has increased in the last decade. Symptoms include fever, headaches and skin rashes starting on the face and spreading to the rest of the body. The Massachusetts agency said the virus does not spread easily between people, but transmission can occur through contact with body fluids, monkeypox sores, items such as bedding or clothing that have been contaminated with fluids or sores, or through respiratory droplets following prolonged face-to-face contact. It said no monkeypox cases had previously been identified in the United States this …

WHO Concerned Over Polio Outbreak in Southeastern Africa

The World Health Organization says authorities in Mozambique have declared an outbreak of wild poliovirus type 1 after confirming that a child in the country’s northeastern Tete province has contracted the disease. It becomes the second case of wild poliovirus confirmed in southern Africa this year, following a case in Malawi in mid-February. In a statement, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, called the outbreak of poliovirus in Mozambique “greatly concerning.” She added that efforts were underway to help strengthen disease surveillance in Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, with plans to reach 23 million children ages five and below with the polio vaccine in the coming weeks. Dr. Ndoutabe Modjirom, the interim polio program coordinator for the WHO Africa Region, said that the first step is to carry out a quality vaccination campaign.  “The second measure is to reinforce the surveillance in all our countries so that they will be able to detect very, very quickly all poliovirus circulating in our region,” he said. “We have to extend to all other countries the measure of surveillance. So that measure we have to take very, very quickly to address this situation.” Dr. Norman Matara, head of the Zimbabwe Association for Doctors for Human Rights, said the outbreaks of diseases may have resulted from the lockdowns that countries around the world instituted while fighting COVID-19.  “You know with the pandemic, the lockdowns and clinics shutting down, there is a probability some infants and children might have missed their immunizations …

UN Floats Plan to Boost Renewables as Climate Worries Mount

The United Nations chief on Wednesday launched a five-point plan to jump-start broader use of renewable energies, hoping to revive world attention on climate change as the U.N.’s weather agency reported that greenhouse gas concentrations, ocean heat, sea-level rise, and ocean acidification reached record highs last year. “We must end fossil fuel pollution and accelerate the renewable energy transition before we incinerate our only home,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said. “Time is running out.” His latest stark warning about possible environmental disaster comes after the World Meteorological Organization issued its State of the Climate Report for 2021, which said the last seven years were the seven hottest on record. The impacts of extreme weather have led to deaths and disease, migration, and economic losses in the hundreds of billions of dollars — and the fallout is continuing this year, WMO said. “Today’s State of the Climate report is a dismal litany of humanity’s failure to tackle climate disruption,” Guterres said. “The global energy system is broken and bringing us ever closer to climate catastrophe.” In his plan, which leans into the next U.N. climate conference taking place in Egypt in November, Guterres called for fostering technology transfer and lifting of intellectual property protections in renewable technologies, like battery storage. Such ambitions – as with his call for transfers of technologies aimed to fight COVID-19 – can cause innovators and their financial backers to bristle: They want to reap the benefits of their knowledge, investments and discoveries — not just give …

US Congress Looks at UFOs Through Security Lens  

 The U.S. government has often ignored the possibility of unidentified flying objects, even after decades of unexplained sightings, including by U.S. military pilots who sometimes filmed the UFOs, some of which moved with lightning speed and incredible agility.  On Tuesday, a congressional hearing focused on UFOs for the first time in 50 years, this time looking at their threat to national security — not from people from other worlds, but from potential international adversaries on Earth.   The hearing came nearly a year after a government report documented more than 140 cases of unidentified aerial phenomena, or UAP, that U.S. military pilots had observed since 2004.  “They are real. They need to be investigated. And any threats they pose need to be mitigated,” said Representative André Carson, chair of the House Intelligence Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence and Counterproliferation. During his testimony, Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security Ronald Moultrie said, “We’re open to all hypotheses. We’re open to any conclusions that we may encounter.”   “The stigma associated with UAPs has gotten in the way of good intelligence analysis. Pilots avoided reporting or were laughed at when they did,” Carson said. “Today we know better.”  Moultrie, who oversees the Pentagon-based UAP investigation team, added that “because UAP pose potential flight safety and general security risks, we are committed to a focused effort to determine their origins.”     The hearing focused on possible foreign adversaries of the U.S. developing secret technologies that could be construed as UFOs and prove detrimental to …

Ghanaian Entrepreneur Recycles Textile Wastes into Shoes

Working to achieve sustainability in textile production is one of the projects of the U.N. Environment Programme for this year as it celebrates its 50th anniversary. In Ghana, an entrepreneur is supporting this agenda by recycling waste textiles and rubber into shoes. Senanu Tord has details from Takoradi, Ghana. Videographer: Senanu Tord Produced by: Rob Raffaele …

Americans Return to the Office With Willingness and Trepidation 

As cases of coronavirus continue to decline in the United States, many businesses have told their employees it’s time to return to the office.   Some people are already doing the daily grind, while others are splitting their time between home and the office as part of a hybrid plan.   The office routine was normal for millions of Americans before the pandemic. Now, some two years later, it is regarded as a new normal, after those employees worked full-time from their residences.  Morning Consult, a global business intelligence company, has been polling U.S. consumers about returning to the workplace.   Charlotte Principato, a financial services analyst for the organization, said the latest poll showed 73% of remote workers felt comfortable returning to the office. The remaining 27% wanted to remain at home where, they said, they work more efficiently.   “The return to the office is experienced differently depending on each person’s situation,” and introverts may have a harder time getting used to it than extroverts, said Debra Kaplan, a therapist in Tucson, Arizona.   She told VOA many people will experience stress adjusting to an office environment after working from home.  Mark Gerald, a psychoanalyst in New York, likens it to a child going to school for the first time.   There’s almost childlike anxiety that’s related to change and fears of going into the world, he said.  The fears include contracting the coronavirus, as well as being away from family during the workday.  That’s true for Imani Harris, a federal government employee in …

US Abortion Rights Activists Start ‘Summer of Rage’ With Saturday Protests

Abortion rights supporters will protest in cities across the United States on Saturday, kicking off what organizers said would be “a summer of rage” if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion nationwide. Planned Parenthood, Women’s March and other abortion rights groups organized more than 300 “Bans Off Our Bodies” marches for Saturday, with the largest turnouts expected in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and Chicago. The demonstrations are in response to the May 2 leak of a draft opinion showing the court’s conservative majority ready to reverse the 1973 landmark decision that established a federal constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy. The court’s final ruling, which could give states the power to ban abortion, is expected in June. About half of U.S. states could ban or severely restrict abortion soon after a ruling vacating Roe.   Organizers said they anticipated hundreds of thousands of people to participate in Saturday’s events, which they said would be the first of many coordinated protests around the Supreme Court’s decision. “For the women of this country, this will be a summer of rage,” said Rachel Carmona, president of Women’s March. “We will be ungovernable until this government starts working for us, until the attacks on our bodies let up, until the right to an abortion is codified into law.” Democrats, who currently hold the White House and both chambers of Congress, hope that backlash to the Supreme Court decision will carry their party’s candidates to victory …