22-29 March Weekly News


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The pandemic isn't fixing climate change

What coronavirus could teach us about the climate crisis

The internet has considered 2020 cancelled. And now everyone's looking for a silver lining. But you know what not the benefit of this pandemic is? Fixing the climate crisis. We haven't fixed it, aren't fixing it. You've probably seen these headlines — that air pollution and heat-trapping emissions appear to be down as the world economy gets stable. Millions of people have had to stay at home while COVID-19, spreads all over the world. We're not consuming in the way that we normally would.  And yes, all of these inactions decrease pollution a bit.

We've not solved the climate crisis because pollution is down. The truth is that fixing global warming requires cleaner technologies, different sources of power -- wind, not coal – cleaner cities. It looks like action, not inaction; taking to the streets, not staying home.

Yes, we need urgent action on the climate. We can -- and must -- choose to fix global warming. But it won't happen thanks to a deadly pandemic.


Australia's Great Barrier Reef has suffered another mass bleaching event - the third in just five years.

Warmer sea temperatures - particularly in February - are feared to have caused huge coral loss across the world's largest reef system. Scientists say they have detected widespread bleaching, including extensive patches of severe damage. But they have also found healthy pockets. Two-thirds of the reef was damaged by similar events in 2016 and 2017. The reef system, which covers over 2,300km (1,400 miles), is a World Heritage site recognized for its "enormous scientific and intrinsic importance". Last year, Australia was forced to downgrade its five-year reef outlook from poor to very poor due to the impact of human-induced climate change.

On Thursday, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority said its latest aerial surveys had shown that the severity of bleaching varied across the reef. "We need to take these events as global calls for the strongest possible action in climate change," chief scientist David Wachenfeld told.

The UN has warned that if temperatures rise by 1.5C, 90% of the world's corals will be wiped out.


Coronavirus cradle Wuhan partly reopens after lockdown

The city in China where the coronavirus pandemic began, Wuhan, has partially re-opened after more than two months of isolation.

Crowds of passengers were pictured arriving at Wuhan train station on Saturday. People are being allowed to enter but not leave, according to reports. Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, saw more than 50,000 coronavirus cases. At least 3,000 people in Hubei died from the disease. But numbers have fallen dramatically, according to China's figures. On Saturday the province reported 54 new cases emerging the previous day - which it said were all imported.

As it battles to control cases coming from abroad, China has announced a temporary ban on all foreign visitors, even if they have visas or residence permits. It is also limiting Chinese and foreign airlines to one flight per week, and flights must not be more than 75% full.


ISIS members riot and break out of Syrian prison

Several Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) members escaped from a Syrian prison on Sunday by taking doors apart and using them to break down a wall during a "detention facility rebellion," authorities said.

The Ghweran prison, located in the north-eastern city of Hasakah, is run by the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). ISIS prisoners took over the first floor of the prison, tore down some of the internal walls, and destroyed the doors, Mustafa Bali, head of the SDF press office, said in a tweet Sunday. "Some of them managed to escape and the search for them is ongoing," he added.

The identities of the ISIS members who escaped, and how many of them did, is not yet clear. The US-led military coalition is providing aerial surveillance assistance in an attempt to find them.


Portugal gives migrants and asylum-seekers full citizenship rights during coronavirus outbreak

Portugal has temporarily given all migrants and protection seekers full citizenship rights, granting them full access to the country's healthcare as the outbreak of the novel coronavirus escalates in the country.

The move will "guarantee the rights of all the foreign citizens" with applications pending with Portuguese immigration, meaning they are "in a situation of regular permanence in National Territory," until June 30, the Portuguese Council of Ministers said on Friday.

The Portuguese Council of Ministers explained that the decision was taken to "reduce the risks for public health" of maintaining the current scheduling of appointments at the immigration office, for both the border agents and the migrants and asylum seekers.


Australian woman finds huge Burmese python on her porch

Australia is famously home to all sorts of exotic animals, including snakes. However, one woman was still shocked to find a 4.5-meter (14.8-foot) albino Burmese python on her front porch in Oxenford, Queensland, on Monday. The 50-kilogram (110-pound) snake was large enough to eat a dog, and removing the animal required the specialist skills of snake catcher Tony Harrison.

Harrison told the snake is the biggest he has seen in more than 20,000 call outs since he started his business in 1994. The unfortunate woman who found the snake was so taken aback she was still shaking when Harrison left her property.

Burmese pythons are illegal in Australia and this one must have escaped from its enclosure, Harrison said, adding that he has only found two of these sorts of snakes during his long career.


The Tokyo 2020 Olympics have been postponed to 2021

It was meant to be the first Games to be held beyond Europe and North America, a spectacle to showcase to the world that Tokyo had overcome the earthquake that had devastated the city some years earlier. But the 1940 Olympics were the Games that never were.

No one aged fewer than 80 had ever lived through a time when the Olympics was postponed or cancelled until Tuesday's announcement that Tokyo 2020, originally scheduled to start this July, will now be held next year.

As a pandemic takes hold of the world and the International Olympic Committee and Tokyo 2020 organizers grapple with the complicated logistics involved in holding the greatest show on earth later than planned, a look at the past throws up some uncanny similarities between now and what has been described by some as the Lost Games of 1940.


Cultural events are being cancelled due to the coronavirus. So what?

Major events around the world have been cancelled or postponed as the race to contain the novel coronavirus continues. The cultural sector has also been significantly impacted.

Countless art institutions, museums and galleries have been temporarily shuttered. The Louvre in Paris, which houses the famous "Mona Lisa," is closed until further notice. A blockbuster exhibition marking the 500th anniversary of the death of Italian Renaissance painter Raphael was suspended just days after opening in Rome.

Organizers have pulled the plug on Glastonbury, the UK's largest music festival, which was celebrating its 50th anniversary. In New York, the lights are out on Broadway, with all performances cancelled until mid-April. And fashion's biggest night, The Met Gala, has been postponed.


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