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U.S. Has Lost More Lives to Covid This Year Than Last – The New York Times

The higher death toll is attributed to lower-than-needed vaccination rates and the relaxation of everyday precautions amid a rise of the highly contagious Delta variant.

This was supposed to be the year vaccines brought the pandemic under control. Instead, more people in the United States have died from Covid-19 this year than died last year, before vaccines were available.

As of Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had recorded 386,233 deaths involving Covid-19 in 2021, compared with 385,343 in 2020. The final number for this year will be higher, not only because there is more than a month left but because it takes time for local agencies to report deaths to the C.D.C.

Covid-19 has also accounted for a higher percentage of U.S. deaths this year than it did last year: about 13 percent compared with 11 percent.

Experts say the higher death toll is a result of a confluence of factors: most crucially lower-than-needed vaccination rates, but also the relaxation of everyday precautions, like masks and social distancing, and the rise of the highly contagious Delta variant.

Essentially, public health experts said, many Americans are behaving as though Covid-19 is now a manageable, endemic disease rather than a crisis — a transition that will happen eventually but has not happened yet.

Yet many are also refusing to get vaccinated in the numbers required to make that transition to what scientists call “endemicity,” which would mean the virus would still circulate at a lower level with periodic increases and decreases, but not spike in the devastating cycles that have characterized the pandemic. Just 59 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated, the lowest rate of any Group of 7 nation.

“We have the very unfortunate situation of not a high level of vaccine coverage and basically, in most places, a return to normal behaviors that put people at greater risk of coming in contact with the virus,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist and senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “If you take no protections whatsoever, you have a virus that is capable of moving faster and you have dangerous gaps in immunity, that adds up to, unfortunately, a lot of continued serious illness and deaths.”

Dr. Celine Gounder, an infectious disease specialist at Bellevue Hospital Center, estimated that roughly 15 percent of the U.S. population might have immunity from prior infection, which is not as strong or durable as immunity from vaccines.

Many of those people have also been vaccinated, but even assuming the two groups didn’t overlap and so 74 percent of Americans had some level of immunity, that still would not be enough to end the pandemic, said Dr. Gounder. It would probably take an 85 to 90 percent vaccination rate to make the coronavirus endemic, she said.

“When vaccines rolled out, people in their minds said, ‘Covid is over,’” Dr. Gounder said. “And so even if not enough people are vaccinated, their behavior returned — at least for some people — to more normal, and with that changing behavior you have an increase in transmission.”

Some news outlets reported last week that confirmed 2021 deaths had surpassed 2020 deaths. Those reports stemmed from counts of deaths based on when the deaths were reported, not when they happened — meaning some deaths from late 2020 were counted in early 2021. The C.D.C. counts, which did not show that mark being reached until this week, are more accurate because they are based on the dates on death certificates.

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Fraudsters of the world, come to London. And bring your dirty money – The Guardian

Fraudsters of the world, come to London. And bring your dirty money

Nick Cohen
Kleptocrats love this country, knowing full well they’ll be free from proper scrutiny
‘No one can say how many in the UK are living off immoral earnings’

There is no better representation of the decline of the English upper class into the global rich’s servant class than Ben Elliot. On the one hand, the co-chairman of the Tory party is now a rent collector, hauling in money for the Johnson administration from the Russian rich and native hedge fund bosses.

On the other, he is an actual servant: an upmarket flunkey, to be sure, praised by society magazines for his “puppyish schoolboy charm”, but a flunkey nonetheless. Elliot is a founder of the Quintessentially “concierge” service that gives the super-rich anything they want: luncheon on an iceberg; the Sydney Harbour bridge closed for a wedding proposal. There’s nothing Elliot won’t do for paying customers up to and including arranging a meeting with our future sovereign. Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, is Elliot’s aunt and it appears that no considerations of good form or good manners have prevented him monetising the connection. Not that the prince appears to mind. A Quintessentially advert interrupts a montage of shots of yachts and celebrities to quote his royal highness as saying he is “particularly grateful” to Quintessentially for organising a party he attended. Members of Elliot’s Quintessentially club donate to the Conservatives. The Conservatives gave Elliot £1.4m of taxpayers’ money in 2016 to “attract the right high-value individual investors to the UK through bespoke programmes”. If on arrival, those high-value individuals went on to show how valuable they were by hiring Quintessentially and donating to the Tories, the circle would be complete.

Upstairs has moved downstairs in the remains of the Tory day and a large segment of British capitalism is now employed as the best servants money can buy. The law, PR, City, estate agency and banking know that easy riches come from serving the large part of the world where it pays to forget Balzac’s warning that the secret of a great fortune no one can explain is invariably an undetected crime. For want of an agreed name I propose “Corruptistan” to cover Russia and the ex-Soviet states, the kleptocracies of Africa and the Middle East and probably soon China as the communist elite learns how to expatriate its wealth.

Given the secrecy of the financial system, the defunding of the police and regulatory authorities and the English libel law, no one can say how many in the UK are living off immoral earnings. But two statistics and one quotation give us a measure of the UK’s dependency culture. Graeme Biggar, of the National Economic Crime Centre, said a “disturbing proportion” of criminal money from the old Soviet Union is “laundered through UK corporate structures”. Companies House, meanwhile, has become a front organisation for organised crime. So welcoming is it to criminals that 335,000 of its listed companies do not reveal the name of their beneficial owners. And 4,000 of the names it appears to reveal turn out on close inspection to belong to children aged two or under.

Last month, Professor Sadiq Isah Radda, a Nigerian anti-corruption official, encapsulated the consequences of the UK’s tolerance of theft. An opponent of corruption in Nigeria, home to countless online scams? A joke figure, you might think. But Radda spoke with a seriousness no government minister can muster when he said the UK was “the most notorious safe haven for looted funds in the world today”. The corruption we facilitate destablised Nigeria and, he might have added, many other countries besides.

Last week, a handful of MPs asked why the Conservatives were so peculiarly soft on this particular crime. In 2017, they promised a law that would compel the foreign owners of UK property to reveal their identities. (The willingness to allow private and state criminals to launder their wealth anonymously through the prime London property market was Radda’s main charge against Boris Johnson.) Nothing has been heard of this bold “anti-corruption strategy” since.

Likewise, the government has said it wants to stop Companies House being a crime scene where anyone can set up a firm without proof of identity or the most cursory checks. Even the Conservative party appeared to agree that it should not be harder to apply for a passport than to set up a shell company. But once again nothing happened.As for the recommendations in the Russia report on money laundering, they vanished as soon as they were made.

The SNP’s Alison Thewliss asked: “I wonder who benefits from this delay. Is it the oligarchs and those to whom they donate?” Pat McFadden, Labour’s shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, asked Conservative MPs why they thought “their party has been such an attractive destination” for £2m in gifts from Russian donors.” Change must come soon or not at all. Britain has benefited so greatly from the wealth of the corrupt we may soon be at the stage where we cannot afford to clean ourselves up. So many people are making so much money, what was once outrageous has become normal. This to my mind is why the security services and the judges just shrug when oligarchs with links to hostile foreign powers use the intimidatory costs of England’s unreformed legal system to menace critics. No one likes hard questions about a nation’s guilty secrets, not even the men and women who are professionally obliged to ask them. Labour certainly believes that tolerance of fraud is now part of the government’s economic strategy and the Treasury wants to loosen what few protections exist to compensate the financial services industry for the Brexit debacle.

Cynical readers may not care as long as the UK can wallow in streams of hot money. They should recall how many times con artists have tried to fleece them. Online fraud is the crime you are most likely to suffer from, yet nowhere in the government’s online safety bill is there a word about fighting the fraudsters who flourish on social media platforms. Once the Tories started turning a blind eye, they found it impossible to stop.

You cannot profit from economic crimes committed abroad while enjoying the rule of law at home. The presence of the global plutocracy’s valets at the top of government and society shows the UK no longer even bothers to pretend that it can.

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Indonesia volcano: Dozens injured as residents flee huge ash cloud from Mt Semeru – BBC News

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One person has died and dozens are injured after a volcano erupted on Indonesia’s Java island, officials said on Saturday.

Residents were filmed fleeing a giant ash cloud from Mt Semeru.

Witnesses described nearby villages covered in debris, and thick smoke blotting out the Sun, leaving them in pitch darkness.

The deputy chief of Lumajang district put the number of injured at 41, saying they had suffered burns.

Indah Masdar called for helicopters to help rescue at least 10 people trapped in buildings.

“We’re in big distress,” she said. “It’s harrowing, their families are all crying.”

Indonesia’s disaster mitigation agency (BNPB) later said it knew of 35 people being treated at local medical facilities.

Evacuation efforts have been hampered by choking smoke, a power blackout, and rainstorms during the eruption which turned the debris into mud.

Thoriqul Haq, a local official, told Reuters that a road and bridge from the area to the nearby city of Malang had been severed.

“This has been a very pressing, rapid condition since it erupted,” he said.

People ride a motorbike on a road covered with volcanic ash after Mt Semeru erupted, pictured in Sumberwuluh village in Lumajang regency, East Java province, on 4 December, 2021

Image source, Reuters

Several hundred people have been moved to shelters or left for safer areas, local broadcaster tvOne quoted him as saying.

The eruption took place at about 14:30 local time (07:30 GMT). Local authorities have set up a restricted zone within 5km (3 miles) from the crater.

Airlines have been warned of an ash cloud rising up to 15,000m (50,000 ft).

The Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) in Darwin, Australia said the ash appeared to have detached from the summit and was drifting south-west over the Indian Ocean.

The VAAC provides advice to the aviation industry about the location and movement of potentially hazardous volcanic ash.

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Campbell Biggs, a meteorologist at the VAAC, told the BBC that the 15,000m plume was higher than the cruising altitude for most aircraft and would cause most flights in the vicinity to divert their flight paths to avoid it.

Ash that solidifies on cooler parts of plane engines can disrupt airflow, which can lead to engines stalling or failing completely.

It also affects visibility for the pilots and can affect air quality in the cabin – making oxygen masks a necessity.

Mt Semeru was quite an active volcano that regularly spewed ash up to about 4,300m, so Saturday’s eruption was a “pretty significant increase in intensity”, Mr Biggs said.

The ash cloud should slowly dissipate, he said.

Mt Semeru rises 3,676m above sea level and previously erupted last December, forcing thousands of residents to seek shelter.

It is among Indonesia’s nearly 130 active volcanoes.

Indonesia is on the Pacific “Ring of Fire” where continental plates meet, causing frequent volcanic and seismic activity.

Videos shared by emergency officials and local media showed residents running away as a giant ash cloud rose behind them.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

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The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

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How have you been affected by the volcano erupting? Email [email protected].

Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also get in touch in the following ways:

If you are reading this page and can’t see the form you will need to visit the mobile version of the BBC website to submit your question or comment or you can email us at [email protected]. Please include your name, age and location with any submission.

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world news

Indonesia volcano: Dozens injured as residents flee huge ash cloud from Mt Semeru – BBC News

This video can not be played

To play this video you need to enable JavaScript in your browser.

One person has died and dozens are injured after a volcano erupted on Indonesia’s Java island, officials said on Saturday.

Residents were filmed fleeing a giant ash cloud from Mt Semeru.

Witnesses described nearby villages covered in debris, and thick smoke blotting out the Sun, leaving them in pitch darkness.

The deputy chief of Lumajang district put the number of injured at 41, saying they had suffered burns.

Indah Masdar called for helicopters to help rescue at least 10 people trapped in buildings.

“We’re in big distress,” she said. “It’s harrowing, their families are all crying.”

Indonesia’s disaster mitigation agency (BNPB) later said it knew of 35 people being treated at local medical facilities.

Evacuation efforts have been hampered by choking smoke, a power blackout, and rainstorms during the eruption which turned the debris into mud.

Thoriqul Haq, a local official, told Reuters that a road and bridge from the area to the nearby city of Malang had been severed.

“This has been a very pressing, rapid condition since it erupted,” he said.

People ride a motorbike on a road covered with volcanic ash after Mt Semeru erupted, pictured in Sumberwuluh village in Lumajang regency, East Java province, on 4 December, 2021

Reuters

Several hundred people have been moved to shelters or left for safer areas, local broadcaster tvOne quoted him as saying.

The eruption took place at about 14:30 local time (07:30 GMT). Local authorities have set up a restricted zone within 5km (3 miles) from the crater.

Airlines have been warned of an ash cloud rising up to 15,000m (50,000 ft).

The Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) in Darwin, Australia said the ash appeared to have detached from the summit and was drifting south-west over the Indian Ocean.

The VAAC provides advice to the aviation industry about the location and movement of potentially hazardous volcanic ash.

1px transparent line

Campbell Biggs, a meteorologist at the VAAC, told the BBC that the 15,000m plume was higher than the cruising altitude for most aircraft and would cause most flights in the vicinity to divert their flight paths to avoid it.

Ash that solidifies on cooler parts of plane engines can disrupt airflow, which can lead to engines stalling or failing completely.

It also affects visibility for the pilots and can affect air quality in the cabin – making oxygen masks a necessity.

Mt Semeru was quite an active volcano that regularly spewed ash up to about 4,300m, so Saturday’s eruption was a “pretty significant increase in intensity”, Mr Biggs said.

The ash cloud should slowly dissipate, he said.

Mt Semeru rises 3,676m above sea level and previously erupted last December, forcing thousands of residents to seek shelter.

It is among Indonesia’s nearly 130 active volcanoes.

Indonesia is on the Pacific “Ring of Fire” where continental plates meet, causing frequent volcanic and seismic activity.

Videos shared by emergency officials and local media showed residents running away as a giant ash cloud rose behind them.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

1px transparent line

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

1px transparent line

Banner saying 'Get in touch'

How have you been affected by the volcano erupting? Email [email protected].

Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also get in touch in the following ways:

If you are reading this page and can’t see the form you will need to visit the mobile version of the BBC website to submit your question or comment or you can email us at [email protected]. Please include your name, age and location with any submission.

Continue Reading

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