Two Super Moons, Blue Moon, Meteor Shower to Grace August Skies

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A dazzling array of celestial events is in store for stargazers in August: two supermoons, a rare blue moon, and a once-in-a-year meteor shower. Those turning their eyes to the heavens will not have to wait long for the first nighttime showing. On August 1, the full moon will rise in the southeast.  When Tuesday’s moon is at its fullest, it will also be making its closest pass to Earth in its orbit, known as perigee. This will make the moon appear about 8% larger than a typical full moon and will earn it the label of a “supermoon.”  In North America, August’s full moon is often called the sturgeon moon because the freshwater fish are typically in high numbers during the month. It is also known as the grain…
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Biden Goes West to Talk About Administration’s Efforts to Combat Climate Change

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President Joe Biden will travel to Arizona, New Mexico and Utah next week and is expected to talk about his administration's efforts to combat climate change as the region endures a brutally hot summer with soaring temperatures, the White House said Monday. Biden is expected to discuss the Inflation Reduction Act, America's most significant response to climate change, and the push toward more clean energy manufacturing. The act aims to spur clean energy on a scale that will bend the arc of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. July has been the hottest month ever recorded. Biden last week announced new steps to protect workers in extreme heat, including measures to improve weather forecasts and make drinking water more accessible. Members of Biden's administration also are fanning out over the next few…
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Brain Fog, Other Long COVID Symptoms Are Focus of New Studies

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The National Institutes of Health is beginning a handful of studies to test possible treatments for long COVID, an anxiously awaited step in U.S. efforts against the mysterious condition that afflicts millions. Monday's announcement from the NIH's $1.15 billion RECOVER project comes amid frustration from patients who've struggled for months or even years with sometimes-disabling health problems — with no proven treatments and only a smattering of rigorous studies to test potential ones. "This is a year or two late and smaller in scope than one would hope but nevertheless it's a step in the right direction," said Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly of Washington University in St. Louis, who isn't involved with NIH's project but whose own research highlighted long COVID's toll. Getting answers is critical, he added, because "there's a…
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China Curbs Drone Exports, Citing Ukraine, Concern About Military Use

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China imposed restrictions Monday on exports of long-range civilian drones, citing Russia's war in Ukraine and concern that drones might be converted to military use.  Chinese leader Xi Jinping's government is friendly with Moscow but says it is neutral in the 18-month-old war. It has been stung by reports that both sides might be using Chinese-made drones for reconnaissance and possibly attacks.  Export controls will take effect Tuesday to prevent use of drones for "non-peaceful purposes," the Ministry of Commerce said in a statement. It said exports still will be allowed but didn't say what restrictions it would apply.  China is a leading developer and exporter of drones. DJI Technology Co., one of the global industry's top competitors, announced in April 2022 it was pulling out of Russia and Ukraine…
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Smoking Declines as Tobacco Control Measures Kick In

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Smoking rates are falling, and lives are being saved as more countries implement policies and control measures to curb the global tobacco epidemic, according to a World Health Organization report issued Monday that rates country progress in tobacco control.  New data show that the adoption of the WHO’s package of six tobacco control measures 15 years ago has protected millions of people from the harmful effects of tobacco use. The measures, which were launched in 2008, call on governments to monitor tobacco use and prevention policies, protect people from tobacco smoke, offer help to quit tobacco use, warn people about the dangers of tobacco, enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship, and to raise taxes on tobacco. “Without this decline, there would be an estimated 300 million more smokers…
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Wildlife Lovers Urged to Join UK’s Annual Butterfly Count

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Wildlife enthusiasts across Britain are being encouraged to log sightings of butterflies and some moths, as the world's largest annual survey of the increasingly endangered pollinating insects returns. The U.K.-wide "Big Butterfly Count" -- which this year runs from July 14 to August 6 -- helps conservationists assess the health of the country's natural environment, amid mounting evidence it is increasingly imperiled.  Volunteers download a chart helping them to identify different butterfly species and then record their sightings in gardens, parks and elsewhere using a smartphone app and other online tools. It comes as experts warn the often brightly colored winged insects are in rapid decline in Britain as they fail to cope with unprecedented environmental change.  "It's a pretty worrying picture," Richard Fox, head of science at the Butterfly…
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Record Heat Shows Plight of Americans Suffering Without Air Conditioning

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As Denver neared triple-digit temperatures, Ben Gallegos sat shirtless on his porch swatting flies off his legs and spritzing himself with a misting fan to try to get through the heat. Gallegos, like many in the nation's poorest neighborhoods, doesn't have air conditioning.  The 68-year-old covers his windows with mattress foam to insulate against the heat and sleeps in the concrete basement. He knows high temperatures can cause heat stroke and death, and his lung condition makes him more susceptible. But the retired brick layer, who survives on about $1,000 a month, says air conditioning is out of reach.  "Take me about 12 years to save up for something like that," he said. "If it's hard to breath, I'll get down to emergency."  As climate change fans hotter and longer…
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AM Radio Fights to Keep Its Spot on US Car Dashboards

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There has been a steady decline in the number of AM radio stations in the United States. Over the decades, urban and mainstream broadcasters have moved to the FM band, which has better audio fidelity, although more limited range. Now, there is a new threat to the remaining AM stations. Some automakers want to kick AM off their dashboard radios, deeming it obsolete. VOA’s chief national correspondent, Steve Herman, in the state of Texas, has been tuning in to some traditional rural stations, as well as those broadcasting in languages others than English in the big cities. Camera - Steve Herman and Jonathan Zizzo. ...
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Mangrove Forest Thrives Around What Was Once Latin America’s Largest Landfill

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It was once Latin America's largest landfill. Now, a decade after Rio de Janeiro shut it down and redoubled efforts to recover the surrounding expanse of highly polluted swamp, crabs, snails, fish and birds are once again populating the mangrove forest. "If we didn't say this used to be a landfill, people would think it's a farm. The only thing missing is cattle," jokes Elias Gouveia, an engineer with Comlurb, the city's garbage collection agency that is shepherding the plantation project. "This is an environmental lesson that we must learn from: Nature is remarkable. If we don't pollute nature, it heals itself." Gouveia, who has worked with Comlurb for 38 years, witnessed the Gramacho landfill recovery project's timid first steps in the late 1990s. The former landfill is located right…
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Climate Change Likely Why Dangerous Fungus Spreading Fast, Scientists Say

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SEATTLE — In 2016, hospitals in New York state identified a rare and dangerous fungal infection never before found in the United States. Research laboratories quickly mobilized to review historical specimens and found the fungus had been present in the country since at least 2013. In the years since, New York City has emerged as ground zero for Candida auris infections. And until 2021, the state recorded the most confirmed cases in the country year after year, even as the illness has spread to other places, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data analyzed by The Associated Press. Candida auris is a globally emerging public health threat that can cause severe illness, including bloodstream, wound and respiratory infections. Its mortality rate has been estimated at 30% to 60%,…
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Two Supermoons in August Mean Double the Stargazing Fun

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The cosmos is offering up a double feature in August: a pair of supermoons culminating in a rare blue moon. Catch the first show Tuesday evening as the full moon rises in the southeast, appearing slightly brighter and bigger than normal. That’s because it will be closer than usual, just 357,530 kilometers (222,159 miles) away, thus the supermoon label. The moon will be even closer the night of Aug. 30 — a scant 357,344 kilometers (222,043 miles) distant. Because it’s the second full moon in the same month, it will be what's called a blue moon. “Warm summer nights are the ideal time to watch the full moon rise in the eastern sky within minutes of sunset. And it happens twice in August,” said retired NASA…
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In US, Homeless Students’ Education Took Hard Hit During Pandemic

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PHOENIX — By the time Aaliyah Ibarra started second grade, her family had moved five times in four years in search of stable housing. As she was about to start a new school, her mother, Bridget Ibarra, saw how much it was affecting her education. At 8 years old, her daughter did not know the alphabet. "She was in second grade and couldn't tell me any of the letters. I would point them out and she didn't know," Bridget Ibarra said. "She would sing the song in order, but as soon as I mixed them up, she had no idea." "I just didn't know what letters were which," says Aaliyah, now 9. "I know them now." The family's struggles coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic that forced Aaliyah to begin her…
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FBI Warns About China Theft of US AI Technology

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China is pilfering U.S.-developed artificial intelligence (AI) technology to enhance its own aspirations and to conduct foreign influence operations, senior FBI officials said Friday. The officials said China and other U.S. adversaries are targeting American businesses, universities and government research facilities to get their hands on cutting-edge AI research and products. “Nation-state adversaries, particularly China, pose a significant threat to American companies and national security by stealing our AI technology and data to advance their own AI programs and enable foreign influence campaigns,” a senior FBI official said during a background briefing call with reporters. China has a national plan to surpass the U.S. as the world’s top AI power by 2030, but U.S. officials say much of its progress is based on stolen or otherwise acquired U.S. technology. “What…
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EU Looks to Ban Harmful Chemicals in Imported Toys

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The EU is looking to prohibit chemicals deemed unsafe for children — especially ones that disrupt growth hormones — in imported toys under new rules proposed Friday by the European Commission. China is overwhelmingly the biggest manufacturer of toys imported into the European Union, accounting for 83% of the value of toys brought in in 2021, according to the official EU statistics agency Eurostat. "Enforcement will be stepped up thanks to digital technologies, allowing unsafe toys to be more easily detected, notably at EU borders," EU internal market commissioner Thierry Breton said. The commission's proposed Toy Safety Regulation aims to address loopholes in existing EU legislation dating from 2009 that dictates safety standards in toys sold across the 27-nation bloc. It also seeks to update the rules to better address…
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Prospect of AI Producing News Articles Concerns Digital Experts 

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Google’s work developing an artificial intelligence tool that would produce news articles is concerning some digital experts, who say such devices risk inadvertently spreading propaganda or threatening source safety.  The New York Times reported last week that Google is testing a new product, known internally by the working title Genesis, that employs artificial intelligence, or AI, to produce news articles. Genesis can take in information, like details about current events, and create news content, the Times reported. Google already has pitched the product to the Times and other organizations, The Washington Post and News Corp, which owns The Wall Street Journal. The launch of the generative AI chatbot ChatGPT last fall has sparked debate about how artificial intelligence can and should fit into the world — including in the news industry.…
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Relentless Heat Wave Hits California

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This week President Joe Biden announced additional measures to protect communities from extreme heat that has hit parts of the United States. In Los Angeles, authorities are coping as best they can and trying some innovative ways to beat the heat. Angelina Bagdasaryan has the story, narrated by Anna Rice. Camera: Vazgen Varzhabetian ...
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Saguaro Cacti Collapsing in Arizona Extreme Heat, Scientist Says

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Arizona's saguaro cacti, a symbol of the U.S. West, are leaning, losing arms and in some cases falling over during the state's record streak of extreme heat, a scientist said on Tuesday. Summer monsoon rains the cacti rely on have failed to arrive, testing the desert giants' ability to survive in the wild as well as in cities after temperatures above 43 Celsius degrees (110 Fahrenheit) for 25 days in Phoenix, said Tania Hernandez. "These plants are adapted to this heat, but at some point the heat needs to cool down and the water needs to come," said Hernandez, a research scientist at Phoenix's 140-acre (57-hectare) Desert Botanical Garden, which has over 2/3 of all cactus species, including saguaros which can grow to over 12 meters (40 feet). Plant physiologists…
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Vietnam Orders Social Media Firms to Cut ‘Toxic’ Content Using AI

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HO CHI MINH CITY, VIETNAM - Vietnam’s demand that international social media firms use artificial intelligence to identify and remove "toxic" online content is part of an ever expanding and alarming campaign to pressure overseas platforms to suppress freedom of speech in the country, rights groups, experts and activists say. Vietnam is a lucrative market for overseas social media platforms. Of the country’s population of nearly 100 million there are 75.6 million Facebook users, according to Singapore-based research firm Data Reportal. And since Vietnamese authorities have rolled out tighter restrictions on online content and ordered social media firms to remove content the government deems anti-state, social media sites have largely complied with government demands to silence online critiques of the government, experts and rights groups told VOA. "Toxic" is a…
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Meat Allergy Caused by Ticks Getting More Common in US, CDC Says

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NEW YORK — More than 100,000 people in the U.S. have become allergic to red meat since 2010 because of a weird syndrome triggered by tick bites, according to a government report released Thursday. But health officials believe many more have the problem and don't know it. A second report estimated that as many as 450,000 Americans have developed the allergy. That would make it the 10th most common food allergy in the U.S., said Dr. Scott Commins, a University of North Carolina researcher who co-authored both papers published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health officials said they are not aware of any confirmed deaths, but people with the allergy have described it as bewildering and terrifying. "I never connected it with any food because it was…
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Successful US AIDS Relief Program Faces Challenge in Congress     

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A 20-year-old, U.S.-funded AIDS relief program that is credited with saving tens of millions of lives around the world may not be reauthorized if conservative and anti-abortion activists are successful in a campaign against it. The President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) was launched in 2003 by then-President George W. Bush, and since then it has channeled more than $110 billion in support for the fight against the AIDS epidemic in more than 50 countries around the world. It has been particularly successful in Western and sub-Saharan Africa, where it helps provide antiretroviral medication to the more than 25 million people who are living with the disease. The program received $6.9 billion in fiscal 2023. Through its history, the program has typically been reauthorized for five years at a…
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Biden Announces Advanced Cancer Research Initiative

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The Biden administration on Thursday announced the first cancer-focused initiative under its advanced health research agency. The goal is to help surgeons more easily differentiate between healthy tissue and cancerous cells. The Precision Surgical Interventions program, which is being launched under the administration’s Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health, will aim to significantly improve cancer outcomes over the next few decades. In a Thursday statement announcing the initiative, President Joe Biden called the investment “a major milestone in the fight to end cancer as we know it.” The initiative is part of Biden’s “cancer moonshot” initiative. The hope is that the investment will help doctors develop tools that will remove all cancerous cells while avoiding healthy nerves and blood vessels. Biden said he eventually wants the cancer death rate to…
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Health Threats Surge in Sudan, Regionally, as Conflict Escalates

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The World Health Organization on Thursday warned that health threats are surging as the war in Sudan escalates and millions of people, many sick and wounded, flee for safety within Sudan and across borders to neighboring countries where health services are fragile and hard to reach. The war, which erupted April 15 between the Sudanese Armed Forces and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, is not contained within the country but has profound regional implications. The conflict has displaced an estimated 3.4 million people, including 2.5 million inside Sudan. Nearly 760,000 people have been forced to flee as refugees to six neighboring countries, with many people reportedly arriving in poor health, carrying infectious diseases and other afflictions. The Federal Ministry of Health reports at least 1,136 people have been killed and more…
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UN Chief: Planet Is Boiling; Time Running Out to Stop Climate Crisis

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U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Thursday that it is not too late to “stop the worst” of the climate crisis, but only with “dramatic, immediate” action. “The era of global warming has ended; the era of global boiling has arrived,” Guterres told reporters at U.N. headquarters in New York, where the temperature outside was approaching 86 degrees Fahrenheit before 10 a.m. and set to hit 91 degrees Fahrenheit later in the day. He spoke as the World Meteorological Organization and the European Commission’s Copernicus Climate Change Service released new data confirming July is set to be the hottest month ever recorded. “According to the data released today, July has already seen the hottest three-week period ever recorded; the three hottest days on record; and the highest-ever ocean temperatures for this…
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Ambassador: China Will Respond in Kind to US Chip Export Restrictions 

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If the United States imposes more investment restrictions and export controls on China's semiconductor industry, Beijing will respond in kind, according to China’s ambassador to the U.S., Xie Feng, whose tough talk analysts see as the latest response from a so-called wolf-warrior diplomat. Xie likened the U.S. export controls to "restricting their opponents to only wearing old swimsuits in swimming competitions, while they themselves can wear advanced shark swimsuits." Xie's remarks, made at the Aspen Security Forum last week, came as the U.S. finalized its mechanism for vetting possible investments in China's cutting-edge technology. These include semiconductors, quantum computing and artificial intelligence, all of which have military as well as commercial applications. The U.S. Department of Commerce is also considering imposing new restrictions on exports of artificial intelligence (AI) chips to…
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Study: Ocean Currents Vital for Distributing Heat Could Collapse by Midcentury 

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A system of ocean currents that transports heat northward across the North Atlantic could collapse by midcentury, according to a new study. Scientists have said that such a collapse could cause catastrophic sea level rise and extreme weather across the globe.  In recent decades, researchers have both raised and downplayed the specter of Atlantic current collapse. It even prompted a movie that strayed far from the science. Two years ago, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said any such catastrophe was unlikely this century. But the new study published in Nature Communications suggests it might not be as far away and unlikely as mainstream science says.  The Atlantic meridional overturning circulation is a vital system of ocean currents that circulates water throughout the Atlantic Ocean, according to the National…
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Former Military Officials Testify Before US Congress About Extraterrestrials, Alien Craft

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The U.S. government "absolutely" has recovered extraterrestrial craft, according to a former combat officer who was a member of a Department of Defense task force that investigated unidentified anomalous phenomena, or UAP. Dave Grusch, in response to a House member's questions during a congressional hearing Wednesday, said he knows the exact locations of such alien craft and that he had provided this information to the intelligence community's inspector general. Grusch, who has become a whistleblower and testified that he has faced retaliation for his revelations, told lawmakers that the U.S. government also possesses evidence of non-human biologics. Grusch did not elaborate, stating he had not seen any alien craft or beings himself, but was basing his testimony on dozens of interviews he had conducted within the U.S. intelligence community. The…
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