Delta overwhelming other Covid variants of concern: WHO

GENEVA, Switzerland (AFP) — Delta has all but elbowed out the three other Covid-19 variants of concern, which now represent a tiny fraction of the samples being sequenced, the WHO said Tuesday. “Less than one percent each of Alpha, Beta and Gamma are currently circulating. It’s really predominantly Delta around the world,” said Maria Van Kerkhove, the World Health Organization’s technical lead on Covid-19. Delta “has become more fit, it is more transmissible and it […]

Johnson & Johnson announces positive Covid booster data

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — The Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccine is more effective when given as a two-dose regime, according to new data released by the company on Tuesday. A second shot given 56 days after the first provided 75 percent protection against symptomatic Covid in a global clinical trial, with that level rising to 94 percent in the United States. The reason behind this difference was not clear from the company’s press release, […]

Pfizer says its Covid jab safe for children aged 5-11

by Michelle FITZPATRICK FRANKFURT, Germany (AFP) — Pfizer and BioNTech on Monday said trial results showed their coronavirus vaccine is safe and produces a robust immune response in children aged five to 11, adding that they would seek regulatory approval shortly. The vaccine would be administered at a lower dosage than for people over 12, they said. “In participants five to 11 years of age, the vaccine was safe, well tolerated and showed robust neutralising […]

Firefighters race to protect giant sequoias in California fires

LOS ANGELES, California (AFP) – Hundreds of firefighters were battling to protect several groves of giant sequoias in the United States on Monday, warning the enormous ancient trees were at risk from out-of-control blazes. A number of separate fires were converging on the California woodland that is home to the huge trees, highlighting the terrifying power of wildfires to consume everything in their path. Incident commanders said the Windy Fire, which has already charred 25,000 […]

UK rules out gas supply emergency as prices soar

by Véronique DUPONT Agence France-Presse LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) – Britain’s government does not expect a gas supply emergency during the winter as soaring prices threaten energy groups, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng insisted on Monday. “We have sufficient capacity, and more than sufficient capacity, to meet demand and we do not expect supply emergencies to occur this winter,” Kwarteng told parliament after holding an emergency meeting with gas and electricity suppliers and consumer groups. Kwarteng […]

NASA selects Moon site for ice-hunting rover

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — NASA on Monday announced it would land an ice-seeking rover on a region of the Moon’s south pole called the Nobile Crater in 2023. The space agency hopes the robot will confirm the presence of water ice just below the surface, which could one day be converted into rocket fuel for missions to Mars and deeper into the cosmos. “Nobile Crater is an impact crater near the south pole that […]

UK PM Boris Johnson cautious over fulfilling UN climate fund pledges

LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) – Forcing wealthy nations to honour their UN climate fund pledges this week will “be a stretch”, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson admitted ahead of a Monday meeting with global leaders aiming to do just that. At the 2009 Copenhagen climate conference, rich nations promised to provide annual funding of $100 billion from 2020, for poorer nations to counteract the effects of climate change. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has said […]

Tightrope walker wows crowds with Eiffel Tower slackline performance

PARIS, France (AFP) — A French tightrope walker has crossed the Seine in Paris 70 metres up in a breathtaking feat watched by cheering crowds on the Eiffel Tower and along the riverbanks. Attached by a strap to a safety lanyard, 27-year-old Nathan Paulin slowly progressed barefoot on a line stretched across the river between the Eiffel Tower and the Chaillot Theatre. He stopped for a few breaks, sitting or lying on the rope. “It […]

Endangered penguins in South Africa die from bee stings

PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa (AFP) – A swarm of bees has killed 63 endangered African penguins on a beach outside Cape Town, the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds said on Sunday. “After tests, we found bee stings around the penguins’ eyes,” said the foundation’s David Roberts, a clinical veterinarian. “This is a very rare occurence. We do not expect it to happen often, its a fluke. “There were also dead bees on […]

Iran museums reopen after year-long Covid break

TEHRAN, Iran (AFP) — Iran reopened museums in Tehran and other cities Sunday after a more than year-long closure because of the Covid-19 pandemic. “Museums in Tehran and other large cities that are no longer red-coded, meaning the risk of contracting the virus was very high, reopened on Sunday,” the director of Iran’s museums, Mohammad-Reza Kargar, told AFP. “Tourists and visitors are welcome to return while observing (sanitary) measures.” A country with a millennia-long history, […]

Iraq launches project to reduce flaring at oilfields

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AFP) – Iraq has launched a new project that aims to recover gas normally set alight during oil extraction at two oilfields in the country’s south. Flaring, or burning off excess gas during oil extraction, is a highly polluting practice but far less costly than processing it for sale. According to the World Bank, Iraq is the second-biggest user of flaring worldwide after Russia. The new project, signed in 2017 with oil services company […]

Apple gets nod for new emojis

  By Don Orozco EBC US correspondent/ Eagle News Service A list of new emojis has been approved by the Unicode consortium, an agency that handles release of emojis. There were about 37 new emojis that will be added for use in all of digital devices. Some of the emojis feature peaking eyes, empty nest, a heart emoji with different skin tones and a troll emoji. An emoji is a pictogram, logogram, ideogram or smiley […]