CNBC – The new strain is descended from the type of flu — known as “swine flu” — that emerged in 2009 causing the first global flu pandemic in 40 years.
The scientists published their peer-reviewed findings in U.S. science journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday. They said the new strain of flu, which they called “G4 EA H1N1,” is a variation of swine flu, and includes the “G4″ genotype that has become predominant in swine populations since 2016.
As with swine flu, the new strain has been identified as having “all the essential hallmarks of a candidate pandemic virus.”
The scientists, who studied flu viruses in pig populations between 2011 and 2018, noted that around 10% of swine industry workers they tested in China had already been exposed to the virus, which they described as “of concern.” That rate increased among younger workers, aged 18-35, “indicating that the predominant G4 EA H1N1 virus has acquired increased human infectivity.”
“Such infectivity greatly enhances the opportunity for virus adaptation in humans and raises concerns for the possible generation of pandemic viruses,” the scientists, who work at several Chinese universities and the country’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, noted.
They recommended close monitoring of swine populations — and anyone working with them.
RT – German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said Brussels must prepare for Brexit trade talks with the UK to fail, lamenting that “minimal” progress has been made with London. The deadline to extend the negotiations was July 1.
Speaking to Germany’s lower house of parliament, Merkel said that, while she would “keep pushing for a good solution,” the European Union “must and should prepare for a situation in which an agreement does not happen.”
“Progress in talks is, to put it cautiously, very limited,” said Merkel, who takes over as head of the rotating presidency of the EU Council on Wednesday.
RT – Tensions were high in Hong Kong in the wake of the introduction of a new national security law, with police and protesters clashing and numerous arrests being made, including several under the contentious legislation.
Thousands took to the streets on the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover from Britain to China in 1997 to decry the new law, which came into force on Tuesday night.
Things quickly got out of hand, with police deploying water cannons, tear gas, and pepper spray against the crowds.
Footage captured by RT’s Ruptly video agency show officers in full riot gear making multiple arrests.
UK turns to Germany in bid to finally get its Covid-19 contact tracing app off the ground, ambassador says
RT – Germany’s ambassador to the UK says British health services have reached out to their German counterparts to find a solution to the UK’s embarrassing predicament over its yet-to-be-launched coronavirus contact tracing app.
Diplomat Andreas Michaelis made the remark while speaking to BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ show about the success of Germany’s domestic contact tracing app, which relies on Apple and Google tech to trace people who may have contracted coronavirus because of their proximity to a confirmed case. “It works,” Michaelis said.
This is in stark contrast to the UK’s own app which, far from working, has been bogged down by myriad errors, ultimately leading to its cancellation.
Since the UK government announced on April 12 that “a new NHS app for contact tracing” was in the works, the UK’s system has gone through a traumatic journey.
The Sun – Some 47 goats were quarantined this week after the shepherd in charge of looking after them tested positive for the deadly coronavirus.
The goats, in the village of Godekere, India, were isolated away from the 1,000 residents amid fears they would have to cull the animals.
U.S. News, Politics & Government
Western Journal – The Boston Arts Commission unanimously voted Tuesday to take down the city’s historic Emancipation Memorial after activists demanded the statue’s removal.
The memorial depicts Abraham Lincoln standing with one arm raised over a freed slave crouched on his knees.
Broken chains are depicted around the black man’s wrists and the word “emancipation” is written at the statue’s base.
MPRNews – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Montana’s exclusion of religious schools from a state scholarship program funded by tax credits violates the Constitution.
The 5-4 decision, in which Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s other conservatives, is a victory for parents who wanted to use the state tax credit to help send children to religious schools.
The decision is also a victory for conservative religious groups and advocates of school choice who challenged Montana’s “no-aid” provision in the state constitution.
The case began in 2015 when the Montana Legislature passed a bill providing a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for individuals who donate to organizations that provide scholarship money to students in private schools. An organization called Big Sky began raising money to fund these scholarships, using the tax credit as an incentive. Of the 13 schools that got scholarship money from Big Sky, 12 were religious schools. Indeed, 70% of all private schools in Montana are religiously affiliated.
Ultimately, the Montana Supreme Court struck down the entire tax credit program for all private schools, religious and nonreligious alike. It said the tax credit conflicted with the state constitution, which bars all state aid for religious education, whether direct or indirect, including tax subsidies like this one.
School-choice advocates then sought to revive the scholarship program, appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court, backed by the Trump administration — including Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who, as a private citizen and as a Cabinet member, has advocated for what she calls “faith-based education.”
AP – San Francisco police will stop releasing the mug shots of people who have been arrested unless they pose a threat to the public, as part of an effort to stop perpetuating racial stereotypes, the city’s police chief announced Wednesday.
San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott said the policy, which goes into effect immediately, means the department will no longer release booking photos of suspects to the media or allow officers to post them online.
Booking photos are taken when someone is arrested. They are often made public whether or not the person is prosecuted for the alleged crime, which undermines the presumption of innocence and helps perpetuate stereotypes.
End of CHAZ: Seattle police arrest remaining protesters after mayor orders violence-plagued encampment to shut down
RT – Seattle police have begun clearing out the so-called “autonomous zone” created by Black Lives Matter protesters. Those who refused to vacate the area have been arrested, the police force said.
A live feed showed the remaining protesters attempting to hold their ground near the East Precinct, which was abandoned by security forces last month. Police say 23 arrests were made.
The Hill – Hundreds of former members of the George W. Bush administration have formed a super PAC to support former Vice President Joe Biden, saying they are alarmed by President Trump’s conduct in office.
The group, dubbed “43 Alumni for Joe Biden,” officially launched Wednesday. The group includes former Cabinet officials and other senior administration members who say they think Biden can “restore dignity” to the White House.
“[W]e’re looking for the largest conglomerate of folks who want to help, whether it’s writing a check, making phone calls, helping to get out the vote, basic campaign 101. We just feel the time now is to restore dignity to the White House, and the current gentleman is not, so that’s why we’re supporting Joe Biden,” said Jennifer Millikin, a committee member of the group who served in the General Services Administration under Bush and the Small Business Administration under Trump.
The Epoch Times – A senior career CIA official made the decision not to have President Donald Trump briefed on raw intelligence that suggested the Russians might be offering bounties to kill U.S. soldiers, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said.
“She made that decision because she didn’t have confidence in the intelligence that came up,” O’Brien told reporters outside the White House on Wednesday.
“She made that call. And you know what? I think she made the right call, so I’m not going to criticize her. Knowing the facts that I know now, I stand behind that call,” he added.
The raw intelligence was leaked to the New York Times, which falsely reported that Trump was briefed on it and chose not to do anything, according to intelligence officials.
“That was a hoax, and there’s no question about it,” O’Brien said.
Star telegram – During a major surge in coronavirus cases in Texas, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick blasted the nation’s top infectious disease expert for his response.
Speaking as a guest on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle,” Patrick said Anthony Fauci “has been wrong every time on every issue.”
“Fauci said today that he’s concerned about states like Texas that skipped over certain things,” Patrick told Laura Ingraham, a frequent critic of Fauci, on her June 30 show. “He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. We haven’t skipped over anything. The only thing I’m skipping over is listening to him.”
NBC – Health officials are investigating a new cluster of eight or more COVID-19 cases in Rockland County tied to a large party earlier this month, but they’re running into trouble with contact tracing because people refuse to cooperate.
The county plans to resort to subpoenas, as it did during its measles outbreak some years ago, to compel people to work with contact tracers as they work to contain a new potential outbreak. It may mark the first time in the tri-state area that such a measure has been taken over COVID contact tracing noncompliance.
That party linked to the new potential cluster was the first of three large parties in Rockland County in the last two weeks. It was hosted June 13 by someone in New City who was sick with coronavirus at the time, sources say. County officials said Wednesday that the host knew they were symptomatic and held the party anyway.
Economy & Business
JPost – El Al CEO Gonen Usishkin, ordered all of the company’s aircraft to return to Israel. All flights, including both passenger and cargo flights, are cancelled until further notice.
Energy & Environment
Mercola – In June 2020, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services gave the go-ahead to a plan to release millions of genetically engineered mosquitoes in the Florida Keys this summer to fight mosquito-borne illnesses.1 The plan follows the EPA’s recent granting of an experimental use permit (EUP) for the GMO (genetically modified organism) mosquitoes so they can be released in Florida in 2020 and in Texas in 2021.2
The mosquitoes, engineered from the Aedes aegypti mosquito species,3 were created by the U.S.-owned, Britain-based company Oxitec, which originated as a spin-off company from Oxford University and subsidiary of Intrexon.4 The company has also created genetically modified pink bollworm moths and GMO cabbage moths.
The Aedes aegypti mosquito species,5 also called A. aegypti, carries yellow fever, dengue fever, chikungunya, Zika, West Nile and Mayaro,6 a dengue-like disease. (Malaria is transmitted by a different mosquito, Anopheles.7) In the U.S., Oxitec8is marketing the insects as Oxitec Friendly™ mosquitoes that are a “safe, targeted vector control technology” to combat mosquito-transmitted diseases
Mercola – According to research conducted in Switzerland, SARS-CoV-2-specific antibodies are only found in the most severe cases — about 1 in 5. That suggests COVID-19 may in fact be five times more prevalent than suspected. It also means it may be five times less deadly than predicted.
The study,2 “Systemic and Mucosal Antibody Secretion Specific to SARS-CoV-2 During Mild Versus Severe COVID-19,” was posted on the prepublication server bioRxiv, May 23, 2020. According to the authors:
“When symptomatic, COVID-19 can range from a mild flu-like illness in about 81% to a severe and critical disease in about 14% and 5% of affected patients, respectively.”
The Swiss study,3 which sought to investigate SARS-CoV-2-specific antibody responses, found that even though people who had been exposed to infected individuals had SARS-CoV-2-specific immunoglobulin A (IgA) antibodies in their mucosa, there were no virus-specific antibodies in their blood.
IgA is an antibody that plays a crucial role in the immune function of your mucous membranes, while IgG is the most common antibody that protects against bacterial and viral infections and is found in blood and other bodily fluids. As explained by the authors:
USA Today – New coronavirus infections could increase to 100,000 a day if the nation doesn’t get its surge of cases under control, Dr. Anthony Fauci told Congress Tuesday.
“We’ve really got to do something about that and we need to deal with it quickly,” he testified. “It could get very bad.”
Fauci, the top infectious disease expert at the National Institutes of Health, said the surge has been caused both by some areas reopening too quickly and by people not following guidelines.
“We’ve got to get that message out that we are all in this together,” Fauci told the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. “And if we are going to contain this, we’ve got to contain it together.”
Testifying weeks after he had warned of needless “suffering and death” if appropriate steps weren’t taken, Fauci said he’s “quite concerned” about what’s happening in many states. New cases have been increasing by about 40,000 a day, Fauci said.
Newsmax – New stem cell technology research reveals that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, not only infects the lungs but can also infect brain and heart cells.
In lab experiments, researchers found that the virus infects heart cells by attaching itself to ACE2, the enzyme it uses to invade human cells. It not only infected the heart cells, it killed them in 72 hours.
Co-author Clive Svendsen, professor of medicine and biomedical sciences at Cedars-Sinai, said in a news release:
“While this could be the result of massive inflammation in response to the virus, our data suggest that the heart could also be directly affected by the virus in COVID-19.”
Newsmax – Data from a five-year clinical trial is adding to growing evidence that deep brain stimulation (DBS) can slow the ravages of Parkinson’s disease.
Researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, said that the therapy appears to curb any worsening of tremor and other symptoms, as well as lessening a patient’s need for medications.
“Parkinson’s is relentless,” senior study author Dr. David Charles, Vanderbilt professor and vice-chair of neurology, said in a medical center news release. “There’s nothing that slows down its progression.”
However, “with this pilot study, we’ve shown that if DBS is implanted early it’s likely to decrease the risk of progression, and if this is borne out in our larger study it would be a landmark achievement in the field of Parkinson’s disease,” he said.
The new study was small — just 30 patients. Between 2006 and 2009, the participants were randomly selected to receive either the optimal Parkinson’s disease drug therapy, or optimal drug therapy plus DBS.
In DBS, doctors surgically implant a pair of ultra-thin electrodes deep into the brain. The electrodes target electric pulses to the subthalamic nucleus, a small cluster of neurons. Similar to a heart pacemaker, the device is powered by a small battery implanted under the skin near the patient’s collarbone.
After five years, patients who’d received only the drug therapy had a five times higher risk of progression of “rest tremor” — a key Parkinson’s symptom — compared to those patients who’d gotten the electrode implants as well as drug therapy, the researchers reported.
Western Journal – Runs to the grocery store are hastier than ever, and there’s a sense of distrust and judgment that wasn’t there before.
Before this year, other shoppers were part of the background noise that comes with shopping. Now, everyone’s a potential carrier.
It’s a lot more difficult to give someone a reassuring smile from behind a mask, but we’re also in a time that could use a lot more graciousness and kindness as we all do our best to stay healthy.
One security guard in Giffnock, Scotland, exhibited that very thoughtfulness in a way that was small but certainly did not go unnoticed.
The security guard, Ethan Dearman, was out in front of a Morrisons grocery store when he noted two things. One, there was a pup tied to a post outside the store, patiently waiting for his owner to finish shopping. Two, it had started to rain.
Dearman did what many dog lovers would have done: He both kept an eye on the dog and held an umbrella over him.
One passer-by saw the scene and snapped a photo as they drove by. The picture was soon on Twitter and taking off.