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.

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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.

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The Ever Given is finally FREE

The Ever Given Cargo vessel, Panama flagged cargo ship, with a Japanese owner Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd.) finally reached the deal on the price of blocking the Suez Canal with the Egyptian authorities on Wednesday.

Under the pandemic, this cargo vessel stalled at the Suez for over 3 months and is finally free to move onto its final destination with help, as a tugboat came to pull the ship out to the Mediterranean Sea. According to AP, “A deal that achieved justice and prioritized both parties’ interests has been reached,” Lt. Gen. Ossama Rabei, head of the Suez Canal said. “It ended a crisis that lasted for more than three months.”

The original price tag was $916 million in compensation but has since lowered to $550 million with a tugboat in its settlement. The compensation will cover the salvage operation, costs of stalled canal traffic, and lost transit fees for the six days the Ever Given had blocked the Suez canal. This vessel was supposed to go to the Dutch port of Rotterdam on March 23 but didn’t make it due to the ship being stuck at the canal after slammed banks of the canal about 3.7miles north of the southern entrance.

Hundreds and thousands of ships behind it were equally stalled, waiting to pass through for at least a week, while some ships turned around to take other routes, like the Cape of Good Hope at South Africa. While the Ever Given ship was stuck in the Suez, some economic crisis concerns such as supply shortage and rising prices were experienced by the global economy, which was already suffering from the pandemic.

The Ever Given cargo vessel was directed to and stayed at the Great Bitter Lake in Egypt for more than 3 months due to the pending settlement issue with Egyptian authority. It is only now that the Ever Given will continue its way home, with $550 million paid to pass through.

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Delta COVID-19 Will Hit US HARD

Captured photo from Mayo Clinic

The U.K. and Europe are currently dealing with the sleuth of the very contagious Delta Variant of the Covid-19 virus, first found in India. The U.S. should expect to be hit hard by the Delta variant, federal officials and health officials have reported.

Dr. Fauci said, “20.6% of new cases in the U.S. are due to the Delta variant, and the Delta variant is currently the greatest threat in the U.S. to our attempt to eliminate COVID-19,” at a White House briefing on COVID-19 on Tuesday. He added that the Delta variant is the most contagious yet and among those not yet vaccinated, may trigger some of the most serious illnesses than other variants have done so far.

As the U.S. eases up on physical distancing and masking rules, many people are exposed to this rapidly spreading virus, especially the unvaccinated, the younger generation, and those under the age of 12.

According to Mayo Clinic, at least 92.4% (as of June 2, 2021) of the age group of 65+ and only 11.1% of the age group of 18 are vaccinated. Northeast, West, and Mid-Atlantic states are more vaccinated than the red states, but even then, these states do not report a vaccination rate higher than 70 percent.

“There are still big portions of the country where the rates of vaccination are quite low,” notes Dr. Jeremy Luban, a virologist at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. “And, in fact, the Helix paper shows that this Delta variant is increasing in frequency — the speed at which it’s increasing in frequency is greatest in those areas where vaccination rates are lowest.”

It is also important to note that even those who are currently vaccinated are not fully protected from the devastating effects of the Delta variant, which also includes the growth of the “black fungus,” a serious infection that usually is resolved by cutting out the infected body part. The unvaccinated are even more vulnerable, however.

If you have not been vaccinated, please do so as soon as possible, for your safety and others around you.

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The Worst Disaster on the Indian Ocean

On May 20, a cargo ship caught on fire off the sea in Sri Lanka and sank. The ship contained chemicals and hazardous materials which burned for almost 13 days. This ship was headed to Singapore. The captain, chief engineer of the ship, and the third officer are Russian nationals according to AFP.

The Sri Lankan government and navy said this incident is the country’s worst marine disaster, and this sinking ship was carrying 1,486 containers of chemicals and 25 metric tons of nitric acid.

Sri Lanka’s MEPA (Marine Environment Protection Authority) said in a statement, Waves of plastic waste are washing up on shore, and navy sailors were deployed to clean the beaches of the plastic pellets. This disaster will bring immense ecological damage to the Indian Ocean islands from not only this microplastic pollution but also to the fishing industries as well.

Sri Lankan government decided to drag this ship deeper to sea to reduce further damage but when the navy and stakeholders began to drag the ship, it began to sink and completed sinking on Wednesday.

“The stern of the ship is underwater, the water level is above the deck,” spokesperson Indika de Silva said. “The ship will be towed as further away from the coast as possible before it goes down completely.”

The sinking area of this ship is rich in fish population, and the people make living from fishing. After the incident, this fishing town along a 50-mile coastline is currently out of work. A local fisherman said he had never seen such destruction, even when a tsunami hit the coastline in 2004.

The true gravity of the situation is not yet known.

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Biden Calls for Further investigation of Covid-19 Origin

On Wednesday, President Biden set a time limit of 60 days for the investigation of the origin of Covid-19 and how it transferred throughout the globe. Once deemed conspiracy, the idea of Covid-19 being developed in a lab in Wuhan has now become a focal point for the new investigation. Most scientists tend to agree that the most likely origin of Covid-19 is likely to be from an animal reservoir similar to how other Sars virii had spread in past years; however, the idea that the virus was developed in Wuhan continues to challenge the main narrative. Technically, no one is 100 percent sure how the Covid-19 pandemic actually manifested to this extent. The scientists however, are cautionary about stating that this virus leaked from a lab; they’re simply interested in how the next pandemic might be prevented.
Since the Covid-19 outbreak was pinpointed to Wuhan, China, the world attitude towards Asians, with Chinese in particular, have gotten significantly negative; the U.S. saw a significant increase in hate crime perpetrated against Asian elderly, and many Asians have reported living in trepidation of receiving hatred from those around them.
According to NPR, Dr. Anthony Fauci (President Biden’s chief medical adviser) told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Wednesday, “The historical basis for pandemics evolving naturally from an animal reservoir is extremely strong. And it’s for that reason that we felt that something similar like this has a much higher likelihood. No one knows, not even I, 100% at this point, which is the reason why we are in favor of [the] further investigation.”
Dr. Gounder, an infectious disease expert who served on the Biden transition team’s COVID-19 advisory board, agrees.
Scientists said that they’d have to investigate, not for the purpose of confirming a conspiracy, but for the purpose of figuring out how to prevent this kind of virus-related pandemics in the future.
The hope is that the investigation will ultimately save many innocent lives and decrease hate crime and violence against innocent Asians living in America or Europe by finding the truth.
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Japanese Doctor’s Association Calls for “No Olympic”

(photo credit to REUTERS/Naoki Ogura)

A Japanese medical organization called to cancel the Tokyo Olympics on the grounds that the Tokyo medical practitioners and facilities are not capable of treating patients due to the rapidly surging number of coronavirus patients in Japan.  About 6,000 medical practitioners are raising their voices to request the cancellation of this coming summer Olympics in Tokyo.

The Medical practitioners of the region where the Tokyo Olympic will be held said in the letter to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s website as an open letter,  “We strongly request that the authorities convince the IOC (International Olympic Committee) that holding the Olympics is difficult and to obtain its decision to cancel the Games” on Monday.

The shortage of medical staff and high demand for hospital beds are the most significant issues in the area of the locations where the summer Olympics will be held. Furthermore, 83% of Japanese citizens disagree with their Government’s decision of hosting the Summer Olympics and are worrying about the possibility of Coronavirus infection increasing due to the low percentage of vaccinations currently completed in Japan. According to Reuters, only 3.5% of the Japanese population is vaccinated.

However, Suga urges Japan can host “a safe and secure Olympics” as long as there are appropriate safety measures taken. The Japanese government is pushing to host the Olympics this summer despite public sentiment and concerns from participant countries fearing the safety of their athletes. While it is true that spectators will not be allowed on the premises, at least 15,000 athletes, thousands of coaches, trainers, and support personnel, as well as those in the media, will likely be involved in just one aspect of the Olympics.

North Korea is the first country that announced it will be skipping this round of the Olympics.

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Super Pink Moon Visible Tonight on the Northeast Sky

NASA announced that the first supermoon of the year will be “April 26, 2021, appearing opposite the Sun in Earth-based longitude at 11:32 p.m. EDT. [This will be the next day from the Atlantic Daylight Savings timezone eastward across Africa, Europe, Asia, and Australia.]  Most commercial calendars are based on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) or Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) and will show this full Moon occurring on Tuesday, April 27, 2021. The Moon will appear full for about three days around this time, from Sunday night through Wednesday morning,” on its Twitter account.

This “Pinkish color” of the supermoon will be the first supermoon of the year, and the second one will be seen on May 26 when it will brighten the sky one more time. The names of this supermoon are “Sprouting Grass Moon, the Egg Moon, and among coastal tribes of North America, the Fish Moon, as this was when the shad swam upstream to spawn,” according to NASA.

The “pink” of the supermoon on April 26 is based on the herb moss pink, which is native to the Eastern United States and known to be the fastest blooming in springtime.

Supermoons seem greater because of the slightly closer distance to Earth. There will be two supermoons this year.

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Senate Passes Anti-Asian Hate Crimes Bill by 94-1

Senate. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) introduced, and the Majority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) accompanied the Anti-Asian hate crime bill and the Bill passed with 94-1 on the floor today. The only “no” vote came from Missouri senator Josh Hawley. The bill only needed 60 votes to pass, but both sides of the parties agreed that rising crime against Asians since the beginning of Covid-19 pandemic must be rid of.

Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer stated, “The vote today on the anti-Asian hate crimes bill is proof that when the Senate is given the opportunity to work, the Senate can work to solve important issues.”

This bill is now on the way to the House floor, led by congresswoman Grace Meng (D-NY). If it passes the House, it will likely be signed by Pres. Biden. President Biden has encouraged action on preventing hate crimes since the Georgia incident, and the incident in New York City.

Sen. Collins stated, “Crimes motivated by bias against race, national origin, and other characteristics cannot be tolerated.” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer stated, “Over the past several years, the forces of hate and bigotry seemed to have gained strength too often encouraged by our former president,” at the Senate floor. He also added, “The Senate makes it very clear that hate and discrimination against any group [have] no place in America. Bigotry against one is bigotry against all.”

Schumer mentioned the bill’s passage containing two messages: One, the government is in solidarity with the AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islanders) communities. Two, these hate crimes will not be tolerated anymore.

Recently, many Asian Americans have been avoiding going outside for fear of attack by someone without any public protections, especially old people.

Currently, anti-Asian hate crimes are rising around the world, and they must be stopped at some point.

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Responses against Japan’s Fukushima’s Radioactive Water Release

Many neighboring countries are unhappy about the recent Japanese government’s announcement of deciding to release contaminated water from Fukushima plant.

In 2011, an M 9.0 earthquake hit Japan and the Fukushima Nuclear Plant was totally ruined. The region was severely hit by the earthquake and left at least 20,000 people missing. Since then, the leaking contaminated water had been kept at this location.

The fishing industry is strongly against Japan’s release of radioactive water, and subsidies will not be enough to quell their dissent. Many experts, countries, and people are wary of this plan.

Since the announcement, China and Korea have voiced their disagreement, as they are not happy about its decision. The Director-General of IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) Rafael Mariano Grossi, however, welcomed Japan’s announcement. He stated that the IAEA stands ready to provide technical support in monitoring and reviewing the plan’s safe and transparent implementation.

Secretary Antony Blinken said in his Twitter account, “We thank Japan for its transparent efforts in its decision to dispose of the treated water from the Fukushima Daiichi site.”

After Secretary Blinken said on his Twitter, Many people have responded negatively against his statement, by replying: “Seriously?? You ‘thank’ them pouring nuclear wastewater into the open ocean-affecting people from both sides of the ocean???” “US State Department Blinken supported the Japanese government to discharge nuclear sewage from Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the sea. This is a big mistake made by the American government and the biggest mistake in history. It’ll destroy marine ecology.”

Someone even quipped, “If you appreciate Japan this much, and I suggest you drink the treated water and pray that you and your future generations won’t walk on the street with three heads and also have weird kind of cancers. Mind the business that you are supposed to care.”

One person simply replied, “You dumb idiot.”

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