October 2020

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first_imgA handful of US lawmakers have a unique argument for asking President Donald Trump not to slash the food stamp program – they themselves once relied on it.The Republican president this week proposed $15 billion in cuts to the $71 billion Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly called food stamps, as part of his $4.8 trillion budget plan.Trump argues that many Americans receiving food stamps do not need them, given the strong economy and low unemployment. His administration already has tightened eligibility guidelines for the food assistance program. In their letter to Trump, nine Democratic lawmakers said they had each participated in the program “during times of financial struggle for our families.”Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi said he was a toddler when his parents, immigrants from India, received food stamps for a couple of years in the 1970s.”My parents don’t like to talk about it,” he said. Krishnamoorthi’s father was an engineering student in New York, whose job as a teaching assistant did not pay much. When that was suspended, “things were really rough” for them, he said.Asking the administration to “remove all intended cuts” to the program, the lawmakers said in their letter: “We are writing today on behalf of the over 36 million American families who currently depend on SNAP, like ours once did, to make ends meet and help the next generation achieve upward mobility.” It was signed by Senator Patty Murray and eight House members: Krishnamoorthi, Barbara Lee, Robin Kelly, Rashida Tlaib, Salud Carbajal, Jahana Hayes, Gwen Moore and Alma Adams.Trump’s proposals for food stamp cuts are not expected to pass. Even when Republicans controlled both houses of Congress, the administration could not get lawmakers to approve them, and Democrats now control the House of Representatives.But the Trump administration has already stiffened eligibility guidelines for food stamps, a move projected to end benefits for nearly 700,000 people.Krishnamoorthi said it was important to send a message to the Trump administration that “you really are touching on a support system that a broader swath of society utilizes than you may think.”The congressman said he did not have a memory of the food stamps, “but I remember I was not hungry.”Topics :last_img read more

first_imgEmpty classrooms, shuttered restaurants and hospitals bursting with patients. That was the scene in Mexico City in 2009 when a new strain of flu swept across much of the country and spread around the world.Just 11 years after the swine flu outbreak, which infected more than 60 million people in the US alone and took as many as half a million lives worldwide, the new coronavirus is threatening to spark another global epidemic.Health officials are trying to contain the virus that causes Covid-19, a pneumonia-like illness that can be severe in a minority of patients and spread from others who look healthy. Now, researchers and disease trackers are teetering on the brink of calling it a pandemic, a crisis that will likely affect the entire world. ‘Getting worse’The distinction may not be necessary, according to Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.“The situation is getting worse; all you have to do is look at the numbers,” he said. “If the trend continues the way we’re seeing now, we’re going to have a problem. Whatever you call it, it’s not good.”But the eight-letter word resonates with state and local health departments, hospitals, clinics and nursing homes, Schaffner said. Many of them have pandemic plans, developed and refined after earlier outbreaks, that will need to be dusted off, reviewed and implemented.The reasons for calling this outbreak a pandemic now are many, according to Tom Frieden, a former CDC director and New York City health commissioner. Researchers can’t trace all the links between outbreaks in different nations; the spread in hospitals and families shows the virus is quite transmissible; some countries that haven’t reported cases probably have them; and simple calculations suggest the tallies of travelers with the disease are probably just a fraction of the real number.“A pandemic is inevitable and we should call it what it is,” Frieden said. “What’s not inevitable is that it will be severe.”Measures as simple as frequent hand-washing can help prevent the spread of the virus, public health experts say. Travel restrictions like those implemented in China have slowed its global spread, but probably won’t stop it, Fauci said.‘Precarious position’People in the US should prepare for disruptions to daily life, warned Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. In the event of a pandemic, schools may consider dividing classes into smaller groups or even shutting down, she said. Businesses will have to consider more telecommuting, and communities and cities may have to cancel mass gatherings.The WHO has already declared the outbreak an international public health emergency. The situation may be more difficult to define as a pandemic, according to Michael Ryan, executive director of WHO’s emergencies program. Most pandemics are caused by flu, and the transmission of coronavirus needs to be studied further, he said. While new cases are falling in China, the possibility of a global outbreak is real, he said.“It is time to do everything you would do in preparing for a pandemic,” he said in a press conference. “We’re still trying to avoid that eventuality and countries are having success in doing that. Let’s focus on what we can do.”The coronavirus outbreak looks nothing like the 1918 flu that killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide. The pandemics of Asian flu of 1956-1958 and Hong Kong flu in 1968 are each estimated to have killed from 1 million to 4 million people.Fortunately, unlike most flu strains, the new virus seems to leave children relatively unscathed, Schaffner said. That suggests fewer scenes like one he witnessed in the swine flu outbreak, when a five-year-old child died at Vanderbilt after being sent home from two other emergency rooms, he recalled.Treatments for flu have improved since then, and doctors are already testing antivirals and vaccines against the coronavirus. Yet other signs of a pandemic may still come, such as shortages of hospital beds and patients waiting in hallways waiting for attention, he said.“We’re at the edge of the cliff,” Schaffner said. “We’re in a more precarious position now than we were one week ago, and I see this week as determining what’s going to happen.” “We’re on the knife-edge,” said William Schaffner, a Vanderbilt University infectious disease specialist who’s been through the Asian flu, Hong Kong and swine flu pandemics.Two months after emerging in China’s Hubei province, the coronavirus has hit at least four continents, with rising case counts and huge responses in Iran, South Korea, Italy and Japan. More than 80,000 cases have been reported, including some 2,800 deaths. Authorities in the US and Thailand are warning about wider outbreaks in their countries.Yet most of the cases and clusters are traceable, according to the World Health Organization, meaning that for the most part community spread outside China is rare. Questions over the nature of the virus underscore WHO’s reluctance to call the outbreak a pandemic just yet, especially while there are early signs of slowed or stopped transmission in some countries.A pandemic doesn’t have a formal numerical definition, said Schaffner, who has advised the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on infections. It’s an epidemic that becomes global, spreading in multiple countries. In most cases, measures to contain the epidemic in one region or country have failed, and the goal switches to mitigation — trying to ease the pain.center_img Topics :last_img read more

first_imgSamsung, the world’s top smartphone maker, remains optimistic that its newly launched Galaxy S20 will receive a good response from Indonesian consumers although fears of the COVID-19 outbreak could discourage people from going to shopping malls to buy the new handset.Samsung Electronic Indonesia’s marketing head Denny Galant said in Jakarta on Wednesday that the sales in Indonesia would be high as usual despite the plunging initial sales of the Galaxy S20 in Korea. “Our S20 pre-order numbers surpassed the S10 pre-orders during its launching year in February, last year. Based on that figure, we believe that demand in Indonesia will remain high,” he said while declining to elaborate on the numbers. Samsung sold an estimated 70,800 units of the Galaxy S20 in Korea on Thursday (Feb. 27), far lower than 140,000 units of the Galaxy S10 series sold on the first day of sales last year, The Korea Herald reported.A Korean telecom company official blamed the COVID-19 outbreak for the sales slump, which reduced the number of consumers visiting brick-and-mortar stores.In addition, Indonesia’s smartphone sales volumes also reported single-digit negative growth in 2019, following a global trend of a 2 percent decline in smartphone demand, market researcher Growth from Knowledge (GfK) stated on Wednesday.Denny assured that the coronavirus outbreak has not disrupted Galaxy S20’s stock supply to Indonesia, despite the recent shutdown of Samsung’s factory in South Korea.As of Monday, Samsung’s smartphone plant in Gumi, North Gyeongsang province, in South Korea had to shut down twice as four of its employees tested positive for COVID-19, according to The Korea Herald. The Gumi plant produces Samsung’s flagship smartphones including the Galaxy S20 and Galaxy Z Flip.“The supply for our flagship smartphone in Indonesia remains secure despite the virus outbreak,” Denny said.Samsung maintained its domination of the flagship smartphone market in Indonesia with a 67 percent market share in 2019, according to Samsung. (mpr)Topics :last_img read more

first_imgDemonstrations are allowed under Israel’s coronavirus restrictions, as long as participants maintain distance from each other and wear face masks.Under the banner of “Save the Democracy,” protesters called on Gantz’s Blue and White party not to join in a coalition led by a premier charged with corruption.Gantz has campaigned for clean government, but said that the coronavirus crisis has forced him to go back on his election pledge.A Reuters cameraman estimated that a few thousand demonstrators attended the rally in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square. Israeli media put the figure at about 2,000 people.Israel has reported more than 13,000 coronavirus cases and 172 deaths. A partial lockdown has confined most Israelis to their homes, forced businesses to close and sent unemployment to about 26%. Some restrictions have been eased since Saturday. Wearing face masks, waving black flags and keeping two yards apart, thousands of Israelis demonstrated against prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu under strict coronavirus restrictions on Sunday.Netanyahu, who denies any wrongdoing, is under criminal indictment in three corruption cases.He is also negotiating a power-sharing deal with his rival Benny Gantz to form a coalition government that would end a year of political deadlock after three inconclusive elections. Topics :last_img read more