Pres. Biden offers $100 to newly vaccinated Americans

President Biden announced on Thursday that he wanted the state and local governments to spend the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan funds to give away $100 per individual to encourage vaccinations.

President Biden stated, “I know that paying people to get vaccinated might sound unfair to folks that have gotten vaccinated already but here’s the deal: if incentives help us beat this virus, I believe we should use them,” and “We all benefit if we can get more people vaccinated.” in the announcement Today.

This payment will be offered to the newly vaccinated Americans encouraging get vaccinations to “protect communities and lives.” The Treasury Department has reported that it would be willing to assist the local and state governments to manage this process.

Biden administration has put effort to eradicate this pandemic as soon as possible but has found the Delta variant a huge hindrance to that goal. Biden signed this $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief law which includes $350 billion in funding to assist states and local governments battling the coronavirus.

It is not sure whether this will encourage the 30% or so of the unvaccinated Americans from being vaccinated; however, those that have been vaccinated already are voicing their general dissatisfaction at Biden’s new proposal.


Coree ILBO copyright (c) 2013-2021, All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed in whole or part without express written permission.

Acitivision Blizzard in Major Trouble due to Constant Sexual Harassment of Employees

Employees of Activision Blizzard walked out today to protest the company’s response to California’s sexual harassment and workplace discrimination lawsuit. Blizzard is one of the main studios in the center of the harassment allegations, and it has encouraged its employees to attend the walkout and that they would not face repercussions for doing so. In fact, Blizzard has offered paid time off for the duration.

According to the lawsuit by California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), Blizzard Entertainment (and owner Activision Blizzard) operate a culture of “constant sexual harassment” and gender-based discrimination, and alleges that top executives were aware and some are even involved in the culture.

For example, the female employees confirmed that working at Activision Blizzard felt like working in a frat house, as male employees often engaged in drinking at their cubicles, calling it “cube crawls.” The male employees often came into work hung over, played video games during work and engaged in banter about sexual encounters or joked about women’s bodies, even rape.

Some male employees sexually commented and advanced on the female employees, even engaging in groping and physical touching. One female employee stated that a random male employee approached her work site and talked about her breasts. Female World of Warcraft team members reported to their supervisors advancing on them, making jokes about rape, and engage in otherwise rude behavior. These behaviors were known by the higher-ups, and on at least one occasion, the supervisor simply suggested to the employee to find a prostitute to solve his bad mood.

These were just some of the allegations; Blizzard also refused to promote women, just in case “they got pregnant.”

A former Senior Creative Director of World of Warcraft at Blizzard Entertainment also was permitted to engage in blatant sexual harassment, so much so that his suite was nicknamed the “Crosby suite.”

Blizzard responded that it did not behave in this way, and that the reports provided in the California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing were grossly distorted.

Unfortunately for Blizzard, some of the former employees have indeed confirmed the accounts provided in California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

In fact, today, Kotaku found evidence of the so-called “Crosby Suite”.

It seems that with each passing day, reality is supporting the allegations that say Blizzard is a toxic workplace for women.


Coree ILBO copyright (c) 2013-2021, All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed in whole or part without express written permission.

Tokyo Reports Record COVID-19 Infections; Olympics Continue

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics is underway, with the United States currently trailing behind Japan in gold medals, with 9 gold medals and total 25 medals.

At the same time in Tokyo, covid-19 infection numbers are continuing to rise, with the city still under a state of emergency with restrictive measures. For months, the residents of Tokyo protested against the holding of the Olympics during a pandemic, yet the leadership pushed through, citing the International Olympics Committee as the reason.

Tokyo continues to show high covid-19 infection rates (despite the criticized lackadaisical attitude towards testing), with 2,848 new covid-19 cases, the highest daily count. However, it might be that the Japanese residents are somewhat misunderstanding the role of the Olympians and staff on the infection rate, rather, they themselves might not be as protective or cautious as they think.

For example, over the past three days, only a little more than 9,000 tests were administered in Tokyo on average, positivity rate being around 30 percent. Japan as a whole showed rates of 7,000 infections, which is as high as back in January.

In comparison, more than 37,000 tests were administered to the Olympic arrivals at the major international airports in Japan, with only 30 positive cases. That’s a positivity rate of 0.08 percent. Further, more than 240,000 tests were completed on people related to the Olympics, with just 52 positive cases or 0.02 percent positive cases.

In fact, the behavior of Tokyo residents shows that they themselves are not keeping themselves in social distance. Although the state of emergency and the lack of spectators rules were imposed to protect Tokyo residents, central Tokyo is crowded, with neighborhoods remaining lively at night. The Nikkei newspaper reported more than 50 percent of bars and restaurants in Shinjuku were not following government guidelines, citing the delay in official compensation payments.

Olympians and staff however, are under constant surveillance under the strictest covid-19 cases. For example, they can only remove their mask for 30 seconds during the medal ceremonies.

Another interesting aspect to note is that the Olympians have a higher vaccination rate than the Tokyo residents; 85 percent of competitors and 70 percent of media representatives versus 25 percent national average.

Of course, Japan’s vaccination percentage is focused on the elderly, and PM Suga has stated that those under the age of 40 include a higher percentage hospitalized and to maintain strictest protections.

It seems that Japan should have and should be worried about maintaining enforcement on their own population rather than the mostly vaccinated outsiders there to compete at the Olympics.


Coree ILBO copyright (c) 2013-2021, All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed in whole or part without express written permission.

Vaccine Mandated by Department of Veterans Affairs

As delta and lambda variants threaten to return the U.S. to the pre-covid vaccine era of 2020, governments and health groups are requiring vaccines for all of its eligible workers. The Department of Veterans Affairs (the VA), the state of California, New York City, and the Mayo Clinic are some of the first to be rolling out this mandate.

The VA has the highest impact, as it is one of the nation’s largest health systems. It announced Monday that front-line workers would be receiving mandatory coronavirus vaccines; it is also the first federal agency to be implementing this mandate. This move by the VA is supported by many in Congress, including Republican members who are now afraid that the anti-vax and vaccine-hesitant population will reverse the progress made and force businesses to close down once more.

As the new, more infectious variants enter the population, places like California and New York City which saw the highest infection rates last year are mandating vaccines or weekly testing for its employees.

This is the first concerted effort by all interested parties to get as many people vaccinated. VA mandate will apply to more than 100,000 front-line workers, New York City’s mandate will affect 45,000 workers, and California’s mandate will affect more than 2.2 million employees and health workers. Many are concerned about the uptick of delta infections especially among the unvaccinated, as the unvaccinated often end up with more serious illnesses due to the delta variant than the population that has been vaccinated.

The number increase is no joke. California saw 900 serious covid-19 cases in June. That number has gone up to 3,000. Nationwide, the caseload has again increased from 13,000 cases a day in early July to 54,000 cases a day.

Currently, about 60 percent of the adult population is fully vaccinated and the data had been showing a decrease in immunizations since mid-April. According to WebMD, at least 25% of healthcare workers are still not vaccinated by end of May. Most private employers hesitate on putting up vaccine mandates for their workers due to fear of lawsuits or staff loss; only 9% of hospitals in the U.S. currently support a mandate for vaccination.

Given that the vaccine is free for everyone, the President has pleaded with everyone to get the vaccine, and the population has even been cajoled, the slow uptake in vaccination among the rest of the population is worrisome.

Please note that the vaccine is safe for most people and that everyone is given the vaccine, not just any singled out race or gender. Let’s prevent the onset of delta infections and the re-closing of all economies by getting vaccinated. If schools have to be shut down again because of high infection rates, it’ll be a daycare nightmare for many parents again as well.


Coree ILBO copyright (c) 2013-2021, All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed in whole or part without express written permission.

Delta Rings Danger for the Unvaccinated

While the vaccinated portion of the population is slowly returning to normalcy, those who chose not to be vaccinated are experiencing a resurging of deaths and hospitalizations resulting from the highly infectious delta variant of the Covid-19 disease.

Until recently, the U.S. coronavirus infection rates had been low, by June, the number was very small per 100,000 residents. However, as US residents remove their masks and begin traveling for the summer, the covid-positive rates are climbing back up, especially in states where vaccination rates were lower.

For example, Missouri’s case rate was way below the national average until quite recently; now its rate is higher than the national average.

As almost half of the US population is vaccinated (which provides some level of protection against covid-19, including some variants), when removing those from the population currently suffering from covid-positive results, the results show that the unvaccinated Missouri residents’ cases are as high as the rate in mid-January, which was at the peak of coronavirus infections.

The results are startlingly disproportionate; those who are unvaccinated are those exclusively showing higher infection rates, hospitalization rates, and death rates.

The CDC had loosened the mask mandate upon the arrival of summer for those vaccinated, as case numbers were dropping and millions of people were receiving vaccinations. However, according to research data provided by the Washington Post, unvaccinated people have a 91 percent higher susceptibility rate than those vaccinated.

Alarmingly, the rate of covid-positive related cases among the unvaccinated is continuing to rise. The current adjusted hospitalization rates are comparable to those seen in April, and death rate is comparable to that of May.

As new variants enter the population, the unvaccinated stand even less of a chance in defense against those. For example, the delta variant that wreaked havoc in India earlier this year is now wreaking havoc, especially in the unvaccinated population. In the vaccinated population, the delta variant shows up as a mild cold, whereas in the unvaccinated population, the delta variant continues to be as deadly as the original covid-19 had been last year.

William Powderly, infectious-disease specialist and director of the Institute for Public Health at Washington University in St. Louis explained that those that end up needing to go to the hospital, who end up in the intensive-care unit or die are almost all exclusively unvaccinated.

The results are starkly different. States with a low vaccinated population such as Florida, Arkansas, Missouri, Nevada, and Louisiana are showing high spikes among the unvaccinated. Utah, Kansas, Alabama, and Alaska show rates slightly lower than the first group.

Washington, D.C., Virginia, and Maryland which have some of the highest vaccination rates in the country show below-average spikes of infection with Virginia having the lowest infection rates, although those unvaccinated continue to remain vulnerable.

The Delta variant surge is so alarming that the Biden administration will continue the remote work for federal employees, and even Republican party members have urged their constituents to be vaccinated.

Ultimately, the faster the country gets vaccinated, the faster we all can return to normalcy and fearless day-to-day life. It’s just two shots, spaced two weeks apart.


Coree ILBO copyright (c) 2013-2021, All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed in whole or part without express written permission.

Air Quality Poor in Northeast due to West Coast Wildfires

Some of the northeast states are experiencing poor air quality due to the more than 100 west-coast wildfires currently occurring. On top of that, there are 180 wildfires in Canada bringing worsening air quality into the U.S., and as of July, New York City shows AQI levels at 137, indicating unhealthy air quality, the highest number of this year so far.

According to Accuweather, “At this elevated number, health effects can be immediately felt by sensitive groups. Healthy individuals may experience difficulty breathing and throat irritation with prolonged exposure, and should limit outdoor activity.” Nevertheless, the danger remains higher for west coast residents than east coast residents as they have been directly hit by harsh wildfires and dry weather conditions which can threaten to burn down their homes.

“Due to the fact that smoke particles are small and light, they can be transported hundreds if not a few thousand miles away from their source,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Alex DaSilva explained. Under this condition, it is safer to engage in indoor activities rather than outdoor activities.

“Wildfire smoke consists of gases and fine particles from burning trees, plants, buildings and other burning materials,” according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Anyone can get sick from inhaling the smoke who has asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), and heart disease; children, people who are pregnant, and first responders are likely to be the most vulnerable.


Coree ILBO copyright (c) 2013-2021, All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed in whole or part without express written permission.

Oregon Bootleg Wildfire Adds onto Climate Change Concerns

Since July 6, wildfires have been burning continuously in 13 states with 83 large fires. At least 1,293,636 acres were burnt and more than 19,300 wildland firefighters and support personnel have been assigned to incidents. Most recently, the Bootleg Wildfire in Oregon is becoming a concern as it has destroyed 388,350 acreages overnight between Monday and Tuesday.

According to National Interagency Fire Center, “Seven fuels and fire behavior advisories have been issued for south/central Idaho, Northern California, Northern Rockies, and south/central Oregon. Many of these advisories describe extraordinarily dry fuels, resulting in elevated fire potential and fire activity.” It is currently only 30 percent contained.

The Governor of Oregon has attributed the increased number of uncontrollable yearly wildfires to climate change, citing the heatwave just a couple of weeks ago, the ice storms in February, and the loss of power in fall.

The fires are adding to additional heat in the atmosphere and create a type of clouds that create their own mini thunderstorm environment with strong winds and lightning for more chances of wildfires. With continued dry storms in the west, this can only lead to more hazardous conditions for people living in that region, as well as a higher risk for even more wildfires in the region.


Coree ILBO copyright (c) 2013-2021, All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed in whole or part without express written permission.

Joseph to Leave and Dr. Henry to be new PM of Haiti

Since July 7, Haiti’s President, Jovenel Moïse’s assassination, there was a political power struggle between Claude Joseph, the Interim prime minister (PM), and Dr. Ariel Henry (named PM by late President two days before his assassination).

Joseph has since accepted and decided to honor the late president’s wishes. 71-year-old neurosurgeon Dr. Ariel Henry will be the new Prime Minister of Haiti until the new election. According to NPR, “officially taking office as prime minister will be Ariel Henry (71),” as “it was part of the plan and wishes of late President Jovenel Moïse that he should lead a new coalition to be prime minister and form a new government,” said Mathias Pierre, Minister of Elections in Haiti.

Pierre stated that the transfer of power will take place in a public ceremony this Tuesday. Dr. Henry posted a brief address to the nation online Sunday night, saying “unity” and that he would soon announce a consensus government that leads the country until elections can be held to elect a new president.

Henry applauded the Haitian people for maturity in the face of “what could be called a coup d’état,” and that the president’s assassination was “unspeakable,” and “odious and revolting.” Henry has support from foreign powers including the U.S. diplomat, representatives from the United Nations, and the Organization of American States.

“I received calls from certain American diplomats in Haiti,” said Senate Lambart. “Also I received calls from diplomats in the U.S. State Department, who asked me to postpone so we had time to build a larger consensus.” He said that while the majority of Haitians don’t appreciate the postponing of certain Haitian events by foreign powers, Haiti remains influenced by them nonetheless due to its precarious state both as a developing country and as a country dealing with a lot of recovery efforts.

Mr. Joseph said he would now become the foreign minister in Mr. Henry’s cabinet.


Coree ILBO copyright (c) 2013-2021, All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed in whole or part without express written permission.

Alcohol Linked to More than 740,000 Cancer Cases in 2020

Currently, only 33% of Americans recognize alcohol as a cause of cancer. Harriet Rumgay, a researcher at the International Agency for Research on Cancer, explained that this awareness is about the average as other high-income countries as other parts of the world might be even less aware.

Approximately 4% of the world’s newly diagnosed cases of esophageal, mouth, larynx, colon, rectum, liver, and breast cancers in 2020 (741,300 people) is attributable to drinking alcohol; 3/4 of the alcohol-related cancers are males. Of the 1/4 females developing cancer, the majority were breast cancers. Research has quantified the risk; even relatively low levels of alcohol adds to the risk of new cancer cases.

Ethanol, for example, is a form of alcohol that breaks down to a known carcinogen called acetaldehyde, known to damage DNA and interfering with the cells’ ability to repair the damage. Alcohol can also increase hormones, such as estrogen, which signal cells to grow and divide. As more cells are created, so are more possibilities for cancerous cell division.

Alcohol also can prevent the body from absorbing certain nutrients known to help prevent cancer, such as vitamins A, C, D, E, and folate.

When a person engages in drinking and smoking, this will indirectly increase the risk of cancer, as the alcohol works to make it easier for the body to absorb the toxins in cigarettes; the more a person drinks, the more biological damage the person can expect.

The data was obtained using estimated global alcohol consumption estimates, specific cancer risks from alcohol, and global incidence of those cancers in 2020. To define what number counts in drinking, approximately 2 to 6 drinks a day equates to risk to heavy drinking. Moderate drinking is 2 or fewer drinks a day, but even that accounted for 14% (103,000 cases) of alcohol-related cancers.

The estimated number is a conservative one, as the study excluded former drinkers in the main analysis; they only looked at countrywide estimates of current drinkers and only at cancers where risk factor has been scientifically shown to increase with alcohol use. Cancers where alcohol use is only lightly suggested to be a link, such as pancreatic or stomach cancers, were not included.

The highest proportions of alcohol-related cancers were found in Moldova and Romania, but due to recent tax reforms, this number might drop. Emerging markets such as China, India, and Vietnam may likely see an increase in alcohol-related cancers as financial growth makes alcohol consumption easier. The lowest rates of alcohol-related cancers were found in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, where alcohol use is banned.

Alcohol might feel like a momentary escape from the stress of the present moment, but it can leave you in a much worse state than before, in more ways than one. An embarrassing hangover might be the least of your worries.


Coree ILBO copyright (c) 2013-2021, All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed in whole or part without express written permission.

A woman punches a 6-year old kid, then demands release without Bail

A 57-year old woman named Shelly Ann Hill punched a 6-year old Korean-American boy in the neck in Las Vegas. She also hurled racial slurs at him and his mother. The physical assault happened as the family was leaving The Shops at Crystals, an upscale mall located in CityCenter complex.

The woman was seen having an unhinged meltdown, yelling “China” at one point. Then she eventually stopped, picked up her belongings, and was soon escorted out by a mall security personnel. However, the mall security simply let the woman go; the family has announced that they will press charges; it is unclear whether the boy needs additional medical treatment at this time.

She was later arrested and was put in jail. At a hearing on Tuesday, one of the prosecutors raised questions about the mental competency of the woman given that the 57-year old woman repeatedly told the judge she didn’t know why she was being charged with a hate crime and asked to be released from jail without bail.

It seems that this isn’t the first time Hill has been in custody; for example, although her defense attorney will have to seek a competency evaluation for Hill, she went through one since April 2018 in a number of state court cases. Most of her crimes were misdemeanor cases such as allegations of battery, larceny, obstruction, theft, trespassing, and vagrancy.

Even if she is released, she will not be allowed near the Las Vegas Strip area from this point on. Furthermore, her bail is currently set at $10,000. Hill remains behind bars.

Since ex-Pres. Trump’s statement about the coronavirus being a “China virus,” the Asian-American communities have been dealing with heightened abuse, some of them physically violent. Although experts have repeatedly explained that the origins of viral pandemics cannot actually be pinpointed to a single geopolitical location, it hasn’t stopped those in the political machine from using the pandemic to their advantage. The residual harmful effect of their careless words still impacts the lives of many Asian-American people living within the borders of the United States.


Coree ILBO copyright (c) 2013-2021, All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed in whole or part without express written permission.