(TMU) — The Chinese government announced on Tuesday that it will lift the months-long lockdown on Central China’s Hubei Province, beginning Wednesday—two months after the region was plunged into complete isolation.
The provincial capital, Wuhan, where the coronavirus first emerged, will be excluded from the initial lifting of travel restriction as health authorities hope to make further gains in the fight against the pandemic.
Health officials believe that transportation out of Wuhan could be set to restart by April 8, Bloomberg reports.
Wuhan, a city of roughly 11 million residents, had been heavily hit by the virus before China adopted an unprecedented set of decisive and draconian measures on January 23 that effectively restricted the movements of 60 million people throughout Hubei province.
Beijing’s heavy-handed moves initially faced criticism in Western media but have since been hailed as crucial in helping to control the spread of the nightmarish novel virus.
The tactical efficiency of China’s tough measures have seemingly been borne out by the statistics, with Hubei reporting that new infections have dropped to zero on March 19—signaling a dramatic reversal of fortunes after the coronavirus rampaged through the East Asian country, infecting over 80,000 Chinese and killed over 3,200.
With those who have faced quarantine expected to return to domestic megacities including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and others, authorities will likely shift the focus of prevention and containment toward addressing domestic relapses and cases imported from abroad.
Meanwhile in the United States, coronavirus cases continue to surge as hospitals and clinics run low on crucial medical supplies including, masks, gloves, goggles, and hospital gowns, while many Americans simultaneously remain skeptical about the gravity of the health crisis and the need for self-quarantining or social distancing.
Skeptics include U.S. President Donald Trump, who announced Tuesday, “America will be open for business very soon,” suggesting that social distancing guidelines could be lifted prior to Easter Day, April 12, in the interests of boosting the struggling economy of the U.S.
The president, who suggested last week that the CoViD-19 crisis could endure through the entire summer, also expressed his belief—unsupported by much of the medical community—that the U.S. would turn a corner in the fight against the pandemic “a lot sooner than three or four months that somebody was suggesting. … We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself.”
Our people want to return to work. They will practice Social Distancing and all else, and Seniors will be watched over protectively & lovingly. We can do two things together. THE CURE CANNOT BE WORSE (by far) THAN THE PROBLEM! Congress MUST ACT NOW. We will come back strong!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 24, 2020
So far, there have been at least 46,724 confirmed cases across the U.S.
The comments from Trump about reopening the country for business also coincide with comments from the World Health Organization (WHO) that the U.S. could soon become the new flashpoint for the global pandemic. WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris said:
“We are now seeing a very large acceleration in cases in the U.S. So it does have that potential [to become the centre of the pandemic].”
Fishermen Find $1.5 Million Worth Of ‘Vomit Gold’ In Whale Carcass, Lifting Them From Poverty
A group of fishermen from the war-ravaged nation of Yemen have seen their fortunes radically reversed after stumbling upon a rare treasure in the belly of a sperm whale carcass.
The 35 fishermen had been living in poverty before they discovered the floating whale carcass at sea, which turned out to contain an abundance of ambergris worth over $1.5 million, reports the BBC.
Ambergris is a waxy substance that resembles a rock and is often referred to as “whale vomit.” The substance, which is produced deep in the intestines of the marine mammal, is a byproduct of their eating cephalopods such as squid and cuttlefish. The substance is sometimes found floating in the ocean or washed up on beaches after it is believed to have been vomited out by the whales.
Ambergris has been coveted by humans for a long time for its perceived medicinal and aphrodisiac qualities. It has also been used in the manufacturing of expensive perfumes.
“If you find whale ambergris it’s a treasure,” one of the fishermen said in the BBC News video.
The fishermen’s curiosity was piqued when one of them notified them of the whale and said that it may contain the rare treasure in its bowls.
“As soon as we got close to it, there was this strong smell, and we had the feeling that this whale had something,” the fisherman said. “We decided to hook the whale in, take it to the shore and to cut into it to see what was inside its belly. And yes, it was ambergris. The smell wasn’t very nice but [it is worth] lots of money.”
“It’s like an unbelievable dream. Wonderful feelings I can’t describe,” he added.
Since 2014, the people of Yemen have been on the receiving end of devastating offensives by a Saudi Arabia-led military coalition in a campaign that has seen tens of thousands of people killed and Yemen pushed to the brink of famine. In October, the United Nations estimated that some 80 percent of the population – over 24 million people – required aid and protection.
However, the fishermen and their families can now lift themselves from poverty after selling the ambergris for $1.5 million and dividing the profits among themselves equally.
The men are now using their funds to assist the people who helped them as well as fellow needy villagers.
The men also have purchased homes, cars, and boats and plan to continue fishing.
China’s “Artificial Sun” Sets World Record Running At 120 MILLION Degrees For 101 Seconds
Chinese researchers have achieved a new world record after scientists developing an “artificial sun” ran the device on Friday at a record-shattering temperature of 120 million degrees Celsius for over 100 seconds.
The experiment was held at the Institute of Plasma Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (ASIPP) in Hefei, China.
The exercise is a part of the China’s efforts to develop new clean energy sources through the development of next-generation nuclear fusion reactor technology.
Known as the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST), the “Chinese artificial sun” managed to generate plasma temperatures of 120 million degrees Celsius for 101 seconds before scientists also realized a temperature of 160 million degrees Celsius for an additional 20 seconds.
The goal of EAST is to create Sun-like energy using deuterium, a hydrogen isotope that is plentiful in the ocean and can provide a steady flow of clean energy. According to estimates, one liter of seawater contains enough deuterium to produce energy equivalent to 300 liters of gasoline.
China hopes that it can replace fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas with the fusion energy in order to achieve carbon neutrality and a more ecological society.
“It’s a huge achievement in China’s physics and engineering fields. The experiment’s success lays the foundation for China to build its own nuclear fusion energy station,” ASIPP director Song Yuntao said, according to People’s Daily.
The EAST artificial sun is also part of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, a joint effort by global scientists that includes the input of scientists from China, the European Union, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the United States.
Experts hope that if development proceeds at the current rate, successful nuclear fusion could be achieved within three decades.
After Strong Backlash, NYPD Kicks Robotic Dog “Spot” to the Curb
The New York City Police Department decided this week to stop leasing a robotic dog from Boston Dynamics following a sustained outcry from residents and lawmakers, who denounced the use of the high-tech, four-legged device in low-income neighborhoods as a misallocation of public resources and violation of civil liberties.
When the NYPD acquired the K-9 machine last August, officials portrayed “Digidog”—the department’s name for the camera-equipped, 70-pound robot—as “a futuristic tool that could go places that were too dangerous to send officers,” the New York Times reported earlier this week.
Inspector Frank Digiacomo of the department’s Technical Assistance Response Unit said in a television interview in December: “This dog is going to save lives. It’s going to protect people. It’s going to protect officers.”
Instead—thanks to strong backlash from critics, including people who live in the Bronx apartment complex and the Manhattan public housing building where the robotic dog was deployed in recent weeks—the department is returning “Spot,” as Boston Dynamics calls the device, months earlier than expected.
According to the Times:
In response to a subpoena from City Councilman Ben Kallos and Council Speaker Corey Johnson requesting records related to the device, police officials said that a contract worth roughly $94,000 to lease the robotic dog from its maker, Boston Dynamics, had been terminated on April 22.
John Miller, the police department’s deputy commissioner for intelligence and counterterrorism, confirmed on Wednesday that the contract had been canceled and that the dog had been returned to Boston Dynamics or would be soon.
Miller told the Times that the police had initially planned to continue testing the K-9 machine’s capabilities until August, when the lease had been scheduled to end.
“Robotic surveillance ground drones are being deployed for testing on low-income communities of color with under-resourced schools,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) tweeted in response. “Please ask yourself: when was the last time you saw next-generation, world class technology for education, healthcare, housing, etc. consistently prioritized for underserved communities like this?”
And earlier this month, as Common Dreams reported, footage of the robotic dog walking through a Manhattan public housing building went viral, sparking additional outrage and prompting a city council investigation.
“Why the hell do we need robot police dogs?” Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) asked at the time.
While there are “people living in poverty, struggling to put food on the table, keep a roof over their head, take care of their kids, afford child care—all this going on, and now we got damn robot police dogs walking down the street,” Bowman lamented.
Bill Neidhardt, a spokesperson for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who urged the police department to reconsider its use of the robot following objections from residents and lawmakers, said he was “glad the Digidog was put down.”
“It’s creepy, alienating, and sends the wrong message to New Yorkers,” Neidhardt said.
Republished from CommonDreams.org under Creative Commons
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