How is it that a millionaire can pay hardly any income taxes — or none at all — while most people, earning far less, owe more?
How is it that a millionaire can pay hardly any income taxes — or none at all — while most people, earning far less, owe more?
BANGKOK — Myanmar is a poor country struggling with open ethnic warfare and a coronavirus outbreak that could overload its broken hospitals. That hasn’t stopped its politicians from commiserating with a country they think has lost its way.
“I feel sorry for Americans,” said U Myint Oo, a member of parliament in Myanmar. “But we can’t help the U.S. because we are a very small country.”
The same sentiment prevails in Canada, one of the most developed countries. Two out of three Canadians live within about 60 miles of the American border.
“Personally, it’s like watching the decline of the Roman Empire,” said Mike Bradley, the mayor of Sarnia, an industrial city on the border with Michigan, where locals used to venture for lunch.
Amid the pandemic and in the run-up to the presidential election, much of the world is watching the United States with a mix of shock, chagrin and, most of all, bafflement.
How did a superpower allow itself to be felled by a virus? And after nearly four years during which President Trump has praised authoritarian leaders and obscenely dismissed some other countries as insignificant and crime-ridden, is the United States in danger of exhibiting some of the same traits he has disparaged?
“The U.S.A. is a first-world country but it is acting like a third-world country,” said U Aung Thu Nyein, a political analyst in Myanmar.
Adding to the sense of bewilderment, Mr. Trump has refused to embrace an indispensable principle of democracy, dodging questions about whether he will commit to a peaceful transition of power after the November election should he lose.
His demurral, combined with his frequent attacks on the balloting process, earned a rebuke from Republicans, including Senator Mitt Romney of Utah. “Fundamental to democracy is the peaceful transition of power,” Mr. Romney wrote on Twitter. “Without that, there is Belarus.”
In Belarus, where tens of thousands of people have faced down the police after the widely disputed re-election last month of President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, Mr. Trump’s remarks sounded familiar.
“It reminds me of Belarus, when a person cannot admit defeat and looks for any means to prove that he couldn’t lose,” said Kiryl Kalbasnikau, a 29-year-old opposition activist and actor. “This would be a warning sign for any democracy.”
Some others in Europe are confident that American institutions are strong enough to withstand assault.
“I have no doubt in the ability of the constitutional structures of the United States with their system of checks and balances to function,” said Johann Wadephul of Germany, a senior lawmaker from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives.
Still, that the president of the United States, the very country that shepherded the birth of Germany’s own peaceful democracy after the defeat of the Third Reich, was wavering on the sanctity of the electoral process has been met with disbelief and dismay.
The diminution of the United States’ global image began before the pandemic, as Trump administration officials snubbed international accords and embraced an America First policy. Now, though, its reputation seems to be in free-fall.
A Pew Research Center poll of 13 countries found that over the past year, nations including Canada, Japan, Australia and Germany have been viewing the United States in its most negative light in years. In every country surveyed, the vast majority of respondents thought the United States was doing a bad job with the pandemic.
Such global disapproval historically has applied to countries with less open political systems and strongmen in charge. But people from just the kind of developing countries that Mr. Trump has mocked say the signs coming from the United States are ominous: a disease unchecked, mass protests over racial and social inequality, and a president who seems unwilling to pledge support for the tenets of electoral democracy.
Mexico, perhaps more than any other country, has been the target of Mr. Trump’s ire, with the president using it as a campaign punching bag and vowing to make Mexicans pay for a border wall. Now they are feeling a new emotion that has overtaken their anger and bewilderment at Trumpian insults: sympathy.
“We used to look to the U.S. for democratic governance inspiration,” said Eduardo Bohórquez, the director of Transparency International Mexico. “Sadly, this is not the case anymore.”
“‘Being great’ is simply not enough,” he added.
In Indonesia, the most populous Muslim-majority democracy, there is a sense that the United States has left the world adrift, even if its application overseas of democratic ideals was imperfect. For decades, Washington supported some of Asia’s most ruthless dictators because they were considered vital to halting communism in the region.
“The world sees the dismantling of social cohesion within American society and the mess in managing Covid,” said Yenny Wahid, an Indonesian politician and activist. “There is a vacuum of leadership that needs to be filled, but America is not fulfilling that leadership role.”
Ms. Wahid, whose father was president of Indonesia after the country emerged from decades of strongman rule, said she worried that Mr. Trump’s dismissive attitude toward democratic principles could legitimize authoritarians.
“Trump inspired many dictators, many leaders who are interested in dictatorship, to copy his style, and he emboldened them,” she said.
In places like the Philippines, Mexico and others, elected leaders have been compared to Mr. Trump when they have turned to divisive rhetoric, disregard of institutions, intolerance of dissent and antipathy toward the media.
But there is also a sense that Americans are now getting a glimpse of the troubles people living in fragile democracies must endure.
“They now know what it’s like in other countries: violating norms, international trade and its own institutions,” said Eunice Rendon, an expert on migration and security and the director of Migrant Agenda, a nonprofit organization in Mexico. “The most powerful country in the world all of a sudden looks vulnerable.”
Already, an American passport, which once allowed easy access to almost every country in the world, is no longer a valuable travel pass. Because of the coronavirus, American tourists are banned from most of Europe, Asia, Africa, Oceania and Latin America.
Albania, Brazil and Belarus are among a small group of countries welcoming Americans with no restrictions, however.
The State Department has tried to play up its role in battling the coronavirus overseas, even as the United States struggled to supply its own doctors and nurses with adequate equipment early in the pandemic. In March, the United States provided 10,000 gloves and 5,000 surgical masks, among other medical supplies, to Thailand, which today has recorded fewer than 3,520 coronavirus cases and 59 deaths. Despite the low caseload, most Thais continue to wear face masks in public and the country never suffered a mask shortage.
“Through the American people’s generosity and the U.S. government’s action, the United States continues to demonstrate global leadership in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic,” a State Department statement said.
In Cambodia, which reports being largely spared by the virus so far, there is a measure of schadenfreude toward the United States. Prime Minister Hun Sen has survived as Asia’s longest serving leader by cracking down on dissent and cozying up to China. He has turned his back on American aid because it often came with conditions to improve human rights. Now, he and his administration are ridiculing the United States and its handling of the pandemic.
“He has many nuclear weapons,” Sok Eysan, a spokesman for Mr. Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party, said of Mr. Trump. “But he is careless with a disease that can’t be seen.”
Reporting was contributed by Azam Ahmed from Mexico City; Melissa Eddy from Berlin; Saw Nang from Yangon, Myanmar; Ivan Nechepurenko from Moscow; Catherine Porter from Toronto; Muktita Suhartono from Bangkok; and Sun Narin from Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
A crucial stretch of the race is about to start as President Trump’s Supreme Court pick and his first debate with Joe Biden loom. Read the latest.
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In fact, people who tested positive for coronavirus were about twice as likely to have recently dined out, compared to those who tested negative, the CDC found.
Struggling food and beverage businesses in the hard-hit areas are thrilled, but the CDC’s data suggests that going to restaurants is linked to higher odds of catching coronavirus than riding the bus, going to offices or to the gym.
People who tested positive for coronavirus were about twice as likely to have recently visited restaurants, compared to people who tested negative (third from left), CDC data reveals
The CDC collected data on 314 Americans who got tested for coronavirus.
Participants were asked about where they had spent their time in the past two weeks and with whom they had been in contact.
Of the entire group 154 people had tested positive and 160 people tested negative.
There was little difference in the percentage of people who tested positive or negative and had recently been to salons, offices, gyms or to stores to shop.
Positive and negative test results were also about equally common among people who lived with a few people, compared to those who shared their homes with 10 or more others.
Unsurprisingly, those who had had close contact with someone they knew had COVID-19 were about three times as likely to test positive as negative.
And the vast majority of those close contacts were family members, who were more likely than friends or colleagues to share a home with the covid-positive study participant.
Aside from close contacts, going to eating or drinking establishments was the strongest predictor of catching coronavirus.
Positive tests were ‘approximately twice as likely to have reported dining at a restaurant than were those with negative SARS-CoV-2 test results,’ the CDC said.
Dining in was banned in 42 states, and Nebraska and Virginia put caps on the number of people restaurants could seat in March.
A new CDC report found that people are nearly twice as likely to test positive for coronavirus if they have eaten at a restaurant in the past two weeks. It comes as New York City allows dining in at 25% capacity starting September 30 and Florida reopens bars at 50% capacity Monday (file)
Only a handful of states – including Oklahoma and South Dakota, which have become hotspots in recent weeks – allowed dining in to continue at the height of the pandemic.
Now, most states have lifted their bans, partially or entirely, in fits and starts.
After months of pick-up and outdoor dining only in New York City, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced this week that restaurants could have diners in 25 percent of their seats starting September 30.
Although office workers are also seated in a closed space, higher rates of infection in restaurants may be related to the obvious obvious impossibility of wearing masks while eating or drinking, as well as poor ventilation.
‘Reports of exposures in restaurants have been linked to air circulation. Direction, ventilation, and intensity of airflow might affect virus transmission, even if social distancing measures and mask use are implemented according to current guidance.’
Those guidelines have varied considerably across country, including in the home states of the participants, which included California, Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Utah and Washington.
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Native Americans reached Polynesia 800 years ago by raft and interbred with local islanders — centuries before European explorers arrived in the Pacific.
Researchers from the US and Mexico used large-scale genetic analyses to show that modern-day Polynesian populations contain traces of Native American DNA.
Statistical analysis revealed that prehistoric Polynesian populations first met and interbred with people from what is today Colombia around the year 1,150 AD.
This event — which took place on the South Marquesas islands — occurred at roughly the same time Polynesians first arrived in the area from the west.
The finding finally confirms a long-running theory that the two groups had met — and explains why sweet potatoes from the Americas can be found in Polynesia.
Native Americas may have sailed on a raft like the Kon-Tiki — the 1947 vessel led by the explorer Thor Heyerdahl which crossed from Peru to the Polynesian Islands.
Native Americans from modern-day Colombia reached Polynesia around 1200 AD on a Kon-Tiki-like voyage, colonising the area before Europeans reached Easter Island, geneticists found. Pictured, an illustration showing the diverse genetic routes of modern Polynesians
Researchers from the US and Mexico used large-scale genetic analyses to show that modern-day Polynesian populations contain traces of Native American DNA. Statistical analysis revealed that prehistoric Polynesian populations first met and interbred with people from what is today Colombia around the year 1,150 AD
The notion that Native American and Polynesian populations underwent prehistoric interactions has long been a subject of debate for archaeologists and historians.
While some experts questioned how the two groups, separated by thousands of miles of open ocean, could have interacted, others pointed to a seemingly unlikely clue for the meeting — the sweet potato.
The starchy root vegetable was originally cultivated in Central and South America but, prior its dispersal by European colonists, could also be found in one other place — the islands of Oceania.
‘The sweet potato is native to the Americas, yet it’s also found on islands thousands of miles away,’ said paper author Alexander Ioannidis of Stanford University.
‘On top of that, the word for sweet potato in Polynesian languages appears to be related to the word used in Indigenous American languages in the Andes.’
The connections suggested that either Polynesians once landed in South America (most likely Colombia) and brought the potato home with them — or, alternatively, that some Native Americans and their vegetable once ended up in Polynesia.
Efforts to prove that the tubers were once exported from South America to Oceania by analysing the plant’s genome, however, proved fruitless — with experts finding the sweet potato’s genetic history too complex to conclusively reveal its origins.
Attempts to compare ancient DNA preserved in the bones of Native Americans and native Polynesians also proved inconclusive, with the genetic material having become too degraded to establish a link between the populations.
Dr Ioannidis and colleagues, however, took a different track — analysing DNA samples from 807 modern-day Polynesians and Colombians sourced from across 17 of the Polynesian islands and 15 Native American groups along the Pacific Coast.
In particular, the team sought out segments of DNA that are characteristic of the different populations, alongside those that are ‘identical-by-descent’ and could therefore be attributed to the owners having had a shared ancestor in the past.
This interbreeding event — which took place on the South Marquesas islands — occurred at roughly the same time Polynesians first arrived in the area from the west
While some experts questioned how the two groups, separated by thousands of miles of open ocean, could have interacted, others pointed to a seemingly unlikely clue for the meeting — the sweet potato, pictured. The starchy root vegetable was originally cultivated in Central and South America but, prior its dispersal by European colonists, could also be found in one other place — the islands of Oceania
The notion that Native American and Polynesian populations underwent prehistoric interactions has long been a subject of debate for archaeologists and historians. Proponents of the theory suggested that Native Americas may have reached Oceania on a raft like the Kon-Tiki, pictured — the 1947 vessel led by Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl which crossed from Peru to the Polynesian Islands to prove that Native Americans could have once done the same
The team’s large-scale modern genetic analysis was able to prove what studies of the sweet potato itself and ancient bones were not.
‘We found identical-by-descent segments of Native American ancestry across several Polynesian islands,’ Dr Ioannidis said.
This, explained, provided ‘conclusive evidence’ for a ‘shared contact event’ prehistoric Polynesian and Native American peoples — one in which children with a parent from each group were born.
Further analysis of the genetic signals revealed that the event occurred around 1,150 AD — during Europe’s Middle Ages — and, Dr Ioannidis said, ‘around the time that these islands were originally being settled by native Polynesians.’
Alongside this, the team were also able to confirm the previous theory that the Native Americans who interacted with the Polynesians came from the region that, today, is Colombia.
Analysis of the genetic signals revealed that the event occurred around 1,150 AD — during Europe’s Middle Ages — and, Dr Ioannidis said, ‘around the time that these islands were originally being settled by native Polynesians’ Pictured, moai on Rapa Nui, or Easter Island. According to the researchers, the mixing of Polynesian and Native American DNA began here somewhat later than on the South Marquesas islands, at roughly 1,380 AD
‘If you think about how history is told for this time period, it’s almost always a story of European conquest — you never really hear about everybody else,’ said Dr Ioannidis.
‘This work helps piece together those untold stories — and the fact that it can be brought to light through genetics is very exciting to me,’ he added.
‘Genomics is at a stage where it can really make useful contributions to answering some of these open questions.’
The full findings of the study were published in the journal Nature.
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Adrianna Rodriguez, USA TODAY
Published 3:43 p.m. ET June 5, 2020 | Updated 6:08 p.m. ET June 5, 2020
Germs and bacteria can linger in your sink and transfer to your dishes. This is how to keep your sink clean and germ-free.
Don’t wash your food with bleach. Don’t eat or drink cleaning products.
These lifesaving warnings may seem like common sense, but a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests Americans are throwing common sense out the window as they attempt to keep the coronavirus out of their homes.
In a survey published Friday, 39% of 502 respondents reported engaging in “non-recommend, high-risk practices,” including using bleach on food, applying household cleaning or disinfectant products to their skin and inhaling or ingesting such products.
The agency also found many people had limited knowledge of how to safely prepare and use cleaning products and disinfectants. Only 23% responded that room temperature water should be used to dilute bleach and 35% said that bleach should not be mixed with vinegar.
More surprisingly, only 58% of respondents knew bleach shouldn’t be mixed with ammonia.
Mixing those two products creates a solution that emits a harmful gas called chloramine – the same chemical reaction believed to have killed an employee at a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant in Massachusetts last year.
The CDC said the survey was conducted after poison centers reported a sharp increase in calls. The National Poison Data System noted the following increases in call volumes between March 2019 and March 2020, and between April 2019 and April 2020:
“They’re getting overaggressive in cleaning,” said Michele Caliva, administrative director of the Upstate New York Poison Center.
Callers have mixed cleaning products, sprayed disinfectant on bread wrappers and wondered if they can eat the bread, bathed their kids in bleach solutions and just generally failed to follow label directions, she said.
Follow these tips to clean dust off your flat screen television without damaging the sensitive display.
One caller even asked how she was supposed to drink a cleaning product after President Donald Trump made a comment about drinking disinfectant, which triggered several states to issue a warning against dangerous disinfectant use.
Caliva’s tips for surviving COVID-19 without accidentally poisoning anyone are simple: Follow directions; don’t mix chemicals; don’t use cleaners or disinfectants on the body; don’t ingest them; be vigilant in keeping such products and hand sanitizers away from children; and don’t spray bags or packages containing food.
Contributing: Amy Neff Roth, Observer-Dispatch. Follow Adrianna Rodriguez on Twitter: @AdriannaUSAT.
Health and patient safety coverage at USA TODAY is made possible in part by a grant from the Masimo Foundation for Ethics, Innovation and Competition in Healthcare. The Masimo Foundation does not provide editorial input.
Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2020/06/05/covid-19-cleaning-cdc-says-risky-attempts-kill-virus-may-deadly/3155505001/
(CNN)Americans are putting their health at risk while trying to protect it.
More than 3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, raising to more than 42 million the number of workers who have lost jobs since the coronavirus crippled the economy.
Some 2.1 million people filed for unemployment benefits in the week ending May 23, the Labor Department said Thursday. Another 1.2 million applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a new federal program expanding jobless aid to self-employed and gig workers.
“The U.S. economy is suffering its most traumatic job loss in history, with twice as many Americans put out of work over the last two months than during the entire Great Recession,” Oxford Economics analysts wrote in a research note. “Sadly, more pain awaits in May. But labor market conditions should start to improve thereafter as shuttered businesses reopen.”
Still, there are hints of an economic recovery in the weekly numbers, experts say. The number of initial unemployment claims has been dropping for eight straight weeks. And the number of workers who are receiving unemployment benefits dropped by 3.9 million from May 9 to May 16.
“The decline in continuing claims is encouraging, signaling at least some people are finding jobs or are being rehired as the economy is reopening,” Rubeela Farooqi of High Frequency Economics told investors in a report.
The hit to the economy has been severe. The U.S. gross domestic product — the total of all economic activity — shrank by 5% in the first quarter, according to a new estimate released Thursday by the Commerce Department.
The big question on policymakers’ minds is how quickly spending bounces back as businesses reopen, and how many workers who have lost jobs or been furloughed during the coronavirus crash will return to work. About 80% of those who became unemployed in April expect to be back at their jobs within six months, according to Labor Department figures.
However, most economists see the jobs numbers getting worse before they get better. The unemployment rate, currently at 14.7%, is expected to hit Great Depression-era levels of 25% later this year, according to Goldman Sachs.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Only about half of Americans say they would get a COVID-19 vaccine if the scientists working furiously to create one succeed, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
That’s surprisingly low considering the effort going into the global race for a vaccine against the coronavirus that has sparked a pandemic since first emerging from China late last year. But more people might eventually roll up their sleeves: The poll, released Wednesday, found 31% simply weren’t sure if they’d get vaccinated. Another 1 in 5 said they’d refuse.
Health experts already worry about the whiplash if vaccine promises like President Donald Trump’s goal of a 300 million-dose stockpile by January fail. Only time and science will tell — and the new poll shows the public is indeed skeptical.
“It’s always better to under-promise and over-deliver,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
“The unexpected looms large and that’s why I think for any of these vaccines, we’re going to need a large safety database to provide the reassurance,” he added.
Among Americans who say they wouldn’t get vaccinated, 7 in 10 worry about safety.
“I am not an anti-vaxxer,” said Melanie Dries, 56, of Colorado Springs, Colorado. But, “to get a COVID-19 vaccine within a year or two … causes me to fear that it won’t be widely tested as to side effects.”
Dr. Francis Collins, who directs the National Institutes of Health, insists safety is the top priority. The NIH is creating a master plan for testing the leading COVID-19 vaccine candidates in tens of thousands of people, to prove if they really work and also if they’re safe.
“I would not want people to think that we’re cutting corners because that would be a big mistake. I think this is an effort to try to achieve efficiencies, but not to sacrifice rigor,” Collins told the AP earlier this month.
“Definitely the worst thing that could happen is if we rush through a vaccine that turns out to have significant side effects,” Collins added.
Among those who want a vaccine, the AP-NORC poll found protecting themselves, their family and the community are the top reasons.
“I’m definitely going to get it,” said Brandon Grimes, 35, of Austin, Texas. “As a father who takes care of his family, I think … it’s important for me to get vaccinated as soon as it’s available to better protect my family.”
And about 7 in 10 of those who would get vaccinated say life won’t go back to normal without a vaccine. A site foreman for his family’s construction business, Grimes travels from house to house interacting with different crews, and said some of his coworkers also are looking forward to vaccination to minimize on-the-job risk.
The new coronavirus is most dangerous to older adults and people of any age who have chronic health problems such as diabetes or heart disease. The poll found 67% of people 60 and older say they’d get vaccinated, compared with 40% who are younger.
And death counts suggest black and Hispanic Americans are more vulnerable to COVID-19, because of unequal access to health care and other factors. Yet the poll found just 25% of African Americans and 37% of Hispanics would get a vaccine compared to 56% of whites.
Among people who don’t want a vaccine, about 4 in 10 say they’re concerned about catching COVID-19 from the shot. But most of the leading vaccine candidates don’t contain the coronavirus itself, meaning they can’t cause infection.
And 3 in 10 who don’t want a vaccine don’t fear getting seriously ill from the coronavirus.
Over 5.5 million people worldwide have been confirmed infected by the virus, and more than 340,000 deaths have been recorded, including nearly 100,000 in the U.S., according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University. Experts believe the true toll is significantly higher.
And while most people who get COVID-19 have mild cases and recover, doctors still are discovering the coronavirus attacks in far sneakier ways than just causing pneumonia — from blood clots to heart and kidney damage to the latest scare, a life-threatening inflammatory reaction in children.
Whatever the final statistics show about how often it kills, health specialists agree the new coronavirus appears deadlier than the typical flu. Yet the survey suggests a vaccine would be no more popular than the yearly flu shot.
Worldwide, about a dozen COVID-19 vaccine candidates are in early stages of testing or poised to begin. British researchers are opening one of the biggest studies so far, to test an Oxford University-created shot in 10,000 people.
For all the promises of the Trump administration’s “ Operation Warp Speed,” only 20% of Americans expect any vaccine to be available to the public by year’s end, the poll found. Most think sometime next year is more likely.
Political divisions seen over how the country reopens the economy are reflected in desire for a vaccine, too. More than half of Democrats call a vaccine necessary for reopening, compared to about a third of Republicans. While 62% of Democrats would get the vaccine, only 43% of Republicans say the same.
“There’s still a large amount of uncertainty around taking the vaccine,” said Caitlin Oppenheimer, who leads NORC’s public health research. “There is a lot of opportunity to communicate with Americans about the value and the safety of a vaccine.”
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