Wednesday, January 19, 2022

July 8, 2021 AREQUIPA, Peru (AP) — On the last day of Javier Vilca’s life, his wife stood outside a hospital window with a teddy bear, red balloons and a box of chocolates to celebrate his birthday, and held up a giant, hand-scrawled sign that read: “Don’t give up. You’re the best man in the world.”

Minutes later, Vilca, a 43-year-old struggling radio journalist who had battled depression, jumped four stories to his death — the fifth suicide by a COVID-19 patient at Peru’s overwhelmed Honorio Delgado hospital since the pandemic began.

Vilca became yet another symbol of the despair caused by the coronavirus and the stark and seemingly growing inequities exposed by COVID-19 on its way to a worldwide death toll of 4 million, a milestone recorded Wednesday by Johns Hopkins University.

At the hospital where Vilca died on June 24, a single doctor and three nurses were frantically rushing to treat 80 patients in an overcrowded, makeshift ward while Vilca gasped for breath because of an acute shortage of bottled oxygen.

 “He promised me he would make it,” said Nohemí Huanacchire, weeping over her husband’s casket in their half-built home with no electricity on the outskirts of Arequipa, Peru’s second-largest city. “But I never saw him again.”

The number of lives lost around the world over the past year and a half is about equal to the population of Los Angeles or the nation of Georgia. It is three times the number of victims killed in traffic accidents around the globe per year. By some estimates, it is roughly the number of people killed in battle in all of the world’s wars since 1982.

Even then, the toll is widely believed to be an undercount because of overlooked cases of deliberate concealment.

More than six months after vaccines became available, reported COVID-19 deaths worldwide have dropped to around 7,900 a day, after topping out at over 18,000 a day in January. The World Health Organization recorded just under 54,000 deaths last week, the lowest weekly total since last October.

While vaccination campaigns in the U.S. and parts of Europe are ushering in a period of post-lockdown euphoria, and children there are being inoculated so that they can go back to summer camp and school, infection rates are still stubbornly high in many parts of South America and Southeast Asia. And multitudes in Africa remain unprotected because of severe vaccine shortages.

Also, the highly contagious delta variant is spreading rapidly, setting off alarms, driving up case counts in places and turning the crisis increasingly into a race between the vaccine and the mutant version.

The variant has been detected in at least 96 countries. Australia, Israel, Malaysia, Hong Kong and other places have reimposed restrictions to try to suppress it.

The variants, uneven access to vaccines and the relaxation of precautions in some wealthier countries are “a toxic combination that is very dangerous,” warned Ann Lindstrand, a top immunization official at WHO.

Instead of treating the crisis as a “me-and-myself-and-my-country” problem, she said, “we need to get serious that this is a worldwide problem that needs worldwide solutions.”

While the U.S. missed President Joe Biden’s goal of getting at least one shot into 70% of American adults by the Fourth of July, deaths nationwide are down sharply to around 200 per day, from a peak of over 3,400 per day in January.

And the U.S. economy has been roaring back, with growth this year forecast to be the fastest in almost seven decades. Even cruise ships, an early vector for the virus’s spread, are resuming voyages after a hiatus of more than a year.

In Britain, despite persistent fears about the delta variant, Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans to lift all remaining restrictions this month. Britain this week recorded a one-day total of more than 30,000 new infections for the first time since January.

Elsewhere in Europe, tens of thousands of soccer fans in several cities were able to watch in person their national teams compete in the European Championship a year after the tournament was postponed, though attendance in some stadiums was severely restricted.

SXM Radio Online


September 7, 2021  NEW YORK (AP) — Actor Michael K. Williams, who as the rogue robber of drug dealers Omar Little on “The Wire” created one of the most beloved and enduring characters in a prime era of television, died Monday. Williams was found dead Monday afternoon by family members in his Brooklyn penthouse apartment, New York City police said. He was 54. His death was being investigated as a possible drug overdose, the NYPD said. The medical examiner was investigating the cause of death. Little, a “stick-up boy” based on real figures from Baltimore, was probably the most popular character among the devoted fans of “The Wire,” the HBO show that ran from 2002 to 2008 and is re-watched constantly in streaming.

September 8, 2021 LOS ANGELES (AP) — Britney Spears’ father filed Tuesday to end the court conservatorship that has controlled the singer’s life and money for 13 years. James Spears filed his petition to terminate the conservatorship in Los Angeles Superior Court. “As Mr. Spears has said, again and again, all he wants is what is best for his daughter,” the document says. “If Ms. Spears wants to terminate the conservatorship and believes that she can handle her own life, Mr. Spears believes that she should get that chance.” Judge Brenda Penny, who oversees the case, will need to approve the move. Britney Spears attorney Matthew Rosengart said in an email the filing “represents another legal victory for Britney Spears — a massive one — as well as vindication for Ms. Spears.”

September 8, 2021  NEW YORK (AP) — With Katie Holmes and Lil’ Kim on his front row and singer Marina on the mic high above his runway, Christian Siriano helped kicked off New York Fashion Week’s first big pandemic round of in-person shows Tuesday with a flurry of neon and lace-inspired in part by all the Italian women in his life. From ornate Gotham Hall, beneath a stained-glass skylight 70 feet up, Siriano’s commitment to size inclusivity was never stronger as he opened and closed the show with plus-size breakout model Precious Lee. She first walked in a stunning yellow trouser suit with wide loose pants and an asymmetrical jacket, a matching crossover bralette underneath.

September 7, 2021  VENICE, Italy (AP) — Paul Schrader knows he has a limited number of films left, so whatever he does from here on out is going to be for himself. At 75 years old, the writer of “Taxi Driver” and “Raging Bull” and director of “American Gigolo” and “Mishima” was even somewhat prepared to call it a day after his 2018 film “First Reformed,” for which he got his first Oscar nomination. He didn’t want to. He just knew it might be the reality. “I thought I would go back to this character again for about the fifth time,” Schrader said in a recent interview. By “this character” he means “the man in the room.” It’s Travis Bickle. It’s John LeTour. It’s Julian Kay. And it’s a formula he’s been working with for 45 years.

Business News

September 8, 2021  -Stocks were mostly lower in Asia on Wednesday after a lackluster session on Wall Street, where weak jobs data and pandemic concerns weighed on sentiment. Shares rose in Tokyo after economic growth for the April-June quarter was revised upward to an annualized 1.9% from an earlier estimate of 1.3%. “Any feel-good factor was ignored, though, given the climb was less than half of the 4.20% fall in Q1,” Jeffrey Halley of Oanda said in a commentary. “Japan will be lucky to break even this year as the current Covid-19 wave will almost certainly have weighed on domestic consumption,” he said.

September 8, 2021 NEW YORK (AP) — There will be something missing at two Whole Foods stores opening next year: the rows of cashiers. Amazon, which owns the grocery chain, said Wednesday that it will bring its cashier-less technology to two Whole Foods stores for the first time, letting shoppers grab what they need and leave without having to open their wallets. Cameras and sensors track what’s taken off shelves. Items are charged to an Amazon account after customers leave the store with them. But there will be an option for those who want to shop the old-fashioned way: Self-checkout lanes will be available that take cash, gift cards and other types of payment. Amazon first unveiled the cashier-less technology in 2018 at an Amazon Go convenience store and has expanded it to larger Amazon supermarkets. But it will be the first time it has appeared at Whole Foods, a chain of more than 500 grocery stores Amazon bought four years ago.

September 8, 2021  BEIJING (AP) — An avalanche of changes launched by China’s ruling Communist Party has jolted everyone from tech billionaires to school kids. Behind them: President Xi Jinping’s vision of making a more powerful, prosperous country by reviving revolutionary ideals, with more economic equality and tighter party control over society and entrepreneurs. Since taking power in 2012, Xi has called for the party to return to its “original mission” as China’s economic, social and cultural leader and carry out the “ rejuvenation of the great Chinese nation.” The party has spent the decade since then silencing dissent and tightening political control. Now, after 40 years of growth that transformed China into the world’s factory but left a gulf between a wealthy elite and the poor majority, the party is promising to spread prosperity more evenly and is pressing private companies to pay for social welfare and back Beijing’s ambition to become a global technology competitor.

Fashion News

“Representation Is the Bare Minimum”: Modeling’s Biggest Stars Speak Out