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Coronavirus pandemic will cause global hunger of 'large size proportions,' UN warns

The world is facing multiple starvations of "large size proportions" in just a matter of months, the UN has said. Starvations could influence three dozen countries in a worst-case scenario. Ten of those countries already have more than 1 million people on the verge of starvation. They singled out as particularly at-risk, after having the worst food crises last year; Yemen, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Nigeria, and Haiti.

"While dealing with a Covid-19 pandemic, we are also on the brink of a hunger pandemic," David Beasley told the UN's Security Council. 

He told them: "There are no famines yet. But I must warn you that we could be facing multiple famines of large proportions within a short few months. "The truth is, we do not have time, so let's act wisely and fast," he added. "I believe that we can bring together the teams to make certain the Covid-19 pandemic does not become a humanitarian and food crisis disaster."

https://edition.cnn.com/2020/04/22/africa/coronavirus-famine-un-warning-intl/index.html

Facebook is taking on Zoom with new video features

Facebook has a long history of developing its features to follow major competitors. Now it's taking on platform-of-the-moment Zoom. The tech giant is creating a new video conference version of its Messenger app called Messenger Rooms. The new service will allow users to host a meeting with up to 50 people at once with no time limit, Zuckerberg said in a video announcement. Facebook (FB) users can invite people to Messenger Rooms even if they don't have Facebook accounts.

The use of video calling services has exploded in recent months, as the coronavirus outbreak forces people around the world to work and socialize from home. Rooms can currently be accessed through the Messenger app or the main Facebook platform, but will soon be added to the company's other applications, including Instagram and WhatsApp. The service will be rolled out to some countries this week and expanded worldwide in the coming weeks.

https://edition.cnn.com/2020/04/24/tech/facebook-video-calling-upgrades/index.html

Coronavirus recovery plan 'must deal with climate change'

Dealing with climate change must be woven into the solution to the Covid-19 economic crisis, the UK will tell governments next week.

Environment ministers from 30 countries are meeting in a two-day online conference in an attempt to make progress on cutting greenhouse gas emissions. The meeting is called the "Petersburg Climate Dialogue". It will focus on how to organize a "green" economic recovery after the acute phase of the pandemic is over.

Alok Sharma, the UK Climate Secretary and president of COP26 said: "I am committed to increasing global climate ambition so that we address on the Paris Agreement (to stabilize temperature rise well below 2C).”The world must work together, as it has to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, to support a green and resilient recovery, which leaves no one behind. The informal conference is co-hosted by the UK and Germany. Developed and developing countries will attend, along with the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, and members of civil society and business. Last week, Mr. Guterres warned that climate change was a deeper problem than the virus.

https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-52418624

Coronavirus and sport: Meetings expected to take place to discuss the restart

Top-level football is on hold endlessly due to the coronavirus pandemic. The government plans to set up the first of a series of regular meetings. It will include senior medical directors of the major sports this week in a proposal to return to action as soon as possible. The specifics of each sport would be examined by health experts to see what protocols would be needed to get each up and running as soon as possible. Testing, social distancing, hygiene standards, and strict limits on the numbers of people allowed in venues would all be discussed.

The meetings are viewed as preparatory and planned to avoid a further delay to seasons being continued once approval is given. Indeed, there is an acceptance that the plans being put in place may not end up being completed for months if progress elsewhere is not made. Government officials have accepted that at this stage, the sport would only be able to take place behind closed doors.

https://www.bbc.com/sport/52423767

Scientists Study New Comet

Scientists recently reported new details about the second interstellar object ever seen passing through our solar system. It is a comet called 2I/Borisov. Comets are made up of frozen gases, rock and dust that orbit stars. They leave behind a mix of gas and dust in space as they move. 2I/Borisov is different from other comets. Researchers reported on Monday that gas coming off 2I/Borisov had high levels of carbon monoxide - far more than comets formed in our solar system.

Amateur astronomer Gennady Borisov was the first person to identify the comet in August of 2019. It has flown through interstellar space after being forced out from its original star system. Bodewits said the comet was born long ago in a mix of gas and dust circling around a newly formed star. He said it came from a place that must have been rich in carbon monoxide. That star may have been what is called an M-dwarf, far smaller and cooler than our sun. M-dwarf stars are the smallest kind of star known to scientists.

https://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/scientists-study-unusual-comet-/5384347.html

South Korea's economy just recorded its worst collapse since the Great Recession

South Korea's economy just recorded its most severe recession since the 2008 financial crisis as the coronavirus pandemic weighed on consumer demand and exports. Asia's fourth-largest economy shrank 1.4% in the January-to-March period compared to the fourth quarter of 2019, according to an estimate by the Bank of Korea. 

Consumer spending declined 6.4% from the prior quarter, while exports decreased by 2%. South Korea was hit early by the virus, and at one point was home to one of the largest outbreaks outside of China. 

Widespread lockdowns across the world are weighing heavily on external demand, which will hit Korea's export-focused economy hard as the rest of the world deals with the pandemic, according to Alex Holmes, Asia economist for Capital Economics. Earlier this week, the government announced a third rescue package meant to protect the business from failing. But that's still unlikely to save the economy from a "massive recession," according to Holmes.

https://edition.cnn.com/2020/04/22/economy/south-korea-economy-coronavirus/index.html

Yemen war: Separatists declare independent rule in south

Separatists took control of the government's temporary capital Aden in August last year. Separatists in southern Yemen have announced self-rule by breaking a peace agreement signed in November with the internationally recognized government. The Aden-based Southern Transitional Council (STC) declared a state of emergency.  The STC is supported by the United Arab Emirates.

"The announcement by the transitional council of its intention to establish a southern administration is a continuance of its armed revolt. And, it is an announcement of its rejection and complete withdrawal from the Riyadh agreement," Foreign Minister Mohammed Al-Hadhrami said in a statement.

A Saudi-led coalition started a military attack in support of the Yemeni government in 2015 after Houthi rebels took the capital Sanaa.  In August last year, the STC took over the government's temporary capital, Aden, after accusing the administration of mismanagement. The war in Yemen has been described as the world's worst humanitarian crisis, with more than 100,000 people reported to have died.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-52428998

Six New Coronaviruses Found in Bats in Myanmar

Researchers have discovered six new coronaviruses in bats while studying how diseases can pass from animals to humans. The scientists said the coronaviruses found in bats in Myanmar are not closely related to the coronavirus, which is now affecting many parts of the world.  The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that coronaviruses “are a large family of viruses that are common in people and many different species of animals.”

Researchers in Myanmar aimed at identifying new diseases that are zoonotic –meaning they can spread from animals to humans. One of their goals is to study how contact between them can lead to coronavirus infections in people. “The goal is to prevent the virus from getting into humans in the first place,” Valitutto told (the leader of the study).  For example, what allows the viruses to mutate and spread to other species? Such research can help reduce the possibility of future pandemics, he said.

https://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/six-new-coronaviruses-found-in-bats-in-myanmar/5375469.html

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