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Good evening. Here is the latest at the end of Thursday.
1. The United States is at “another pivotal point in this pandemic”.
CDC director Dr Rochelle Walensky set a tone of urgency about the pandemic, warning that the United States ‘is not out of the woods yet’ as the highly infectious Delta variant grabs communities with weak vaccination rate. The warning reflects growing concern about the erasure of the gains the Biden administration appeared to have made.
While the vaccines remain effective against the worst consequences of Covid-19, including the Delta variant and serious illnesses, they are not perfect shields against the virus. Here’s why “breakthrough” infections still occur, and consider whether those vaccinated should wear masks.
The Delta variant has prompted some Republicans to deal with the reluctance of their supporters to get vaccinated. But at a press conference to promote vaccinations, they mostly attacked Democrats.
3. The rental market recovered from the pandemic faster than expected. Renters across the country are facing the shock of stickers.
Last month, rents were up 7% nationwide from the previous year. Demand for apartments and single-family rentals is rebounding – and even looking hot in some places. Meanwhile, home sales rose for the first time in five months. But if rents continue to take off, it could be bad news both for those looking for housing and for the country’s inflation outlook.
Unemployment claims also rose last week. Although they remain high by historical standards, new claims represent a third of the level recorded at the beginning of January.
4 The Bootleg fire in southern Oregon has been raging for more than two weeks and is the largest fire in the United States this year.
Experts said several factors were contributing to the scale of the blaze, including global warming as the Pacific Northwest emerged from an extreme heat wave, erratic fire behavior and decades of policies. which allowed the undergrowth to fuel the fire to thrive.
Nearly 400,000 acres were leveled – an area the size of Los Angeles – by the blaze, which was started by lightning on a mountain slope.
5. US veterans try to help Afghan interpreters migrate as the Taliban seize large swathes of land.
For veterans of a war that could not be won several years ago, bringing out their interpreters fulfills at least one promised goal: to protect the Afghans who helped in the fight. The passage of thousands of Afghans has been promised under two special visa programs, but documentation and security requirements have hampered many applicants. The House voted to expand the visa program, allowing more Afghans to immigrate.
In Canada, ex-combatants are frustrated by the government’s lack of action to resettle the Afghans who worked with them. Some are using their own money, time and connections to travel to safer parts of Afghanistan.
6. Children’s books are the latest target of the crackdown on political discourse in Hong Kong.
A story describing the activists as sheep and the police as wolves was published in Hong Kong last year. On Thursday, five leaders of the group behind the book, a union of speech therapists, were arrested and charged with instilling government hatred in children. The arrests extended the authorities’ crackdown on dissent to the most basic level of print materials.
Another movement against opposing voices came when four editors and executives of Apple Daily, a pro-democracy newspaper that was forced to shut down, were arrested and denied bail. They are accused of colluding with foreign powers under the National Security Law that Beijing imposed last year.
7. An AI company published the predicted forms of 350,000 proteins, a boon to medicine and drug research.
The new database built by DeepMind, an artificial intelligence lab in London, includes the three-dimensional structures of all proteins expressed by the human genome, as well as those of 20 other organisms, including mice, fruit flies and E coli bacteria. The detailed biological map can speed up the ability to understand diseases, develop new drugs, and reuse existing drugs.
Separately, dozens of websites from companies like Amazon, American Express, and Delta Air Lines went offline during a widespread internet blackout, but the issues were quickly resolved.
9. Yesterday we told you about Mormons demand more comfortable underwear. Today we turn to New York, where people are showing it all.
Blame pandemic lockdowns or global warming: New Yorkers ditch their outerwear and wear their underwear – only. In other words, people run around half naked. There is no shortage of crochet bralettes, headbands and bikinis.
Linda Fargo, director of women’s fashion for Bergdorf Goodman, sees the current parade of the flesh as a lowering of the bar of civic pride. “I’ve never seen that look or that self-expression, no matter what time and place, unless we’re talking about Ibiza or Saint-Tropez.”
And here’s a probing question from our Styles reporter: Are you a Bezos? A dentist with a Lamborghini is a Bezos. A fanny pack and bootleg Dior shorts? Bezos.
10. And finally, a (safe) trip inside a shark.
Sharks are known to have rows of teeth that can be replaced with fresh ones throughout their lives, but another quirk lies further down the digestive tract: the spiral gut. Scientists have speculated that sharks have intestines so complex that they slow down digestion, removing even the last calorie from their prey.
This week, researchers released one of the most detailed looks to date on shark intestines, revealing the complex internal geographies of more than 20 shark species. Taking a CT scanner to the bowels, they also made a discovery. Some shark intestines function like natural versions of a valve patented by inventor Nikola Tesla in 1920, sucking fluid in a direction with no moving parts. Take a look at the 3D images.
Have a nourishing evening.
Erin kelly photos compiled for this briefing.
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