An unmasked cyclist in Charlotte, N.C., April 27, 2021.  (Travis Dove/The New York Times)

Mask On or Off? Life Gets Back to Normal, and We’re Rusty.

[

An unmasked cyclist in Charlotte, N.C., April 27, 2021. (Travis Dove/The New York Times)

Mark Rasch hopped on his bike Tuesday in Bethesda, Maryland, pedaled off for an afternoon ride and realized he forgot his mask. As he turned back for it, news came on the radio over his earbuds: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said masks were no longer required outdoors for fully vaccinated people unless they were in a crowd.

Rasch, a lawyer, rode on, naked from nose to chin for the first time in a year. He reached nearby Georgetown and found he was nearly alone, in that almost everyone else there remained masked.

“I wondered if there was a store I could go into without wearing a mask to buy a mask?” he said. Instead, he went home and told his wife, “Nothing is changing, but it’s happening quickly.”

Sign up for The Morning newsletter from the New York Times

It’s springtime of the pandemic. After the trauma of the past year, the quarantined are emerging into sunlight and beginning to navigate travel, classrooms and restaurants. And they are discovering that when it comes to returning to the old ways, many feel out of sorts. Do they shake hands? Hug? With or without a mask?

It’s a confusion exacerbated by changing rules, state and federal, that vary by congressional district or even neighborhood, all while the very real threat of infection remains, in some places more than others.

Many states and cities are scrambling to incorporate the agency’s new counsel into their own rules. New York has ended its curfew. In California, where masks remain recommended, authorities are looking to reconcile the clash of cues.

“We have reviewed and support the CDC’s new masking recommendations and are working quickly to align California’s guidance with these common sense guidelines,” Dr. Tomás Aragón, director of the California Department of Public Health, said in a statement.

Dr. Susan Huang, of the University of California, Irvine, Medical School, explained the conflicted psychology as a function of rapidly changing risk and the difference in tolerance that individuals have for risk. At present, she said, most places have a foundation of people vaccinated but are not near the 80% that marks herd immunity — with no children inoculated.

“We’re between the darkness and the light,” Huang said.

She likened the psychology around masks and other behavior to the different approaches people take to changing their wardrobes at the end of winter: People who are more risk-averse continue to wear winter clothes on 50 degree days, where bigger risk-takers opt for shorts.

“Eventually,” she said, “everyone will be wearing shorts.”

It seems that this psychology may come to define the way the pandemic ebbs, revolving less around public dictate than personal comfort after a stark trauma. For many, the jurisdictional battle is internal, with head and heart clashing over the right personal policy.

“I have hugged friends but in a very clumsy body posture,” said Shirley Lin, who lives in Fremont, California, where she works on business development at a mobile game company. “The bear hugs with the joyful scream will not be seen for a long, long time.”

Her partner lost his mother to COVID-19. She died in August in St. Petersburg, Russia, at age 68. Lin, scarred, is dubious that the risk has passed.

“I don’t think we can slack off on the proper social distancing and masking,” she said. But “we are much more optimistic.”

Masks have also become so much more than mere barrier between germs and lungs. They can keep that too-chatty neighbor at bay or help the introvert hide in plain sight. And vanity? Goodbye to that.

“It saves me having to put on sunscreen and wear lipstick,” said Sara Becker, an associate professor at the Brown University School of Public Health.

She recently had an awkward transitional moment when she, her husband and two children went to an outdoor fire pit with vaccinated neighbors.

“Someone offered me their hand, and I gave my elbow,” Becker said. She was “not quite ready for handshakes or hugs,” she explained, though “pre-COVID, I was definitely a hugger.”

So was Dr. Shervin Assari, but he’s abstaining — at least for now, particularly after the past few weeks. His mother, who lives in Tehran, Iran, was just released from the hospital there after a dangerous bout with COVID-19, and Assari feels chastened anew.

“I had an abstract idea about the risk, and now I really see the risk,” said Assari, who lives in Lakewood, California. He’s “half-vaccinated,” he said, “and terribly scared of COVID-19.”

Assari, a public health expert, is trying to modulate his own behavior given the three different worlds he’s trying to navigate: the working-class neighborhood where he lives in South Los Angeles; his daughter’s elementary school; and the historically Black medical school, Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science, where he teaches family medicine.

Each differs in culture. Most residents of his neighborhood wear masks but also seem to him respectful of individual choice. The elementary school maintains rigid standards with daily checklists to make sure no one is sick or at risk.

And at the medical school, people religiously wear masks, even as the school roils with mistrust of the vaccination, despite the fact it trains doctors, nurses and others in the field.

“It’s shocking; it’s very deep mistrust, not just moderate,” Assari said.

The skepticism of the medical establishment was centuries in the making — like the infamous Tuskegee experiments — and he doubts it will end soon.

But the mistrust at his school is different from that of conservatives: Vaccination may be slow among both groups, but white conservatives may be quicker to rip off their masks, if they wore them at all.

“There’s none of that Tucker Carlson stuff here,” he said.

Carlson, a talk-show host on Fox News, said on a recent show that having children wear a mask outside should “be illegal” and that “your response should be no different than seeing someone beat a kid at Walmart” and to call the police.

(Dr. Anthony Fauci, the president’s chief medical adviser for COVID, promptly shot back on CNN, “I think that’s self-evident that that’s bizarre.”)

In San Francisco, Huntley Barad, a retired entrepreneur, ventured out with his wife this week, and they took their first walk without masks in more than a year.

“We walked down the Great Highway,” he said. “We’re ready to poke our heads out from underneath our rock and perhaps find a restaurant with a nice outdoor table setup — on a warmish night, if possible.”

But he said that their plans for a date night weren’t firm, much like the conflicting guidance and behavior of a nation itself.

“Nothing definite yet,” he said.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

© 2021 The New York Times Company

Men suspected of being Isis fighters captured by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in group’s last holdout of Baghouz in March 2019

Iraqi Kurds plan special court to try suspected Islamic State fighters | Islamic State

[

Iraqi Kurdish officials plan to establish a special criminal court to prosecute accused Islamic State (Isis) members in a move that could lead to senior members of the terror group being brought to Iraq to face trial.

Legislation introduced to the Kurdish parliament on Wednesday has raised the possibility that suspects detained in the years since the extremist group’s collapse could be transferred to a court in the northern city to Erbil to be prosecuted with international backing.

While the court will initially deal with suspects accused of committing crimes inside Iraq, political leaders in Erbil have flagged the potential for it also to be used to try members detained across the Middle East and beyond.

The legislation has been drafted with the support of the United Nations unit Unitad, which was set up to bring Isis suspects to justice. However, the global body has not provided funding to establish the court.

The prime minister of the Kurdish regional government, Masrour Barzani, said that, once passed, “the laws will create the necessary legal framework to prosecute Isis terrorists for their crimes against our peoples and humanity at large. The KRG [Kurdish regional government], Iraq and the international community have a solemn duty to hold Isis terrorists accountable.”

The Unitad special adviser, Karim Khan QC, said the organisation was supporting a parallel process in the national parliament in Baghdad.

“Similar legislation ensuring the investigation and prosecution of [Isis] for international crimes in Iraqi courts is currently progressing through the federal parliament,” he said. “Unitad has provided technical assistance and support to this legislation as well, and looks forward to its adoption as soon as possible.”

Men suspected of being Isis fighters captured by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in group’s last holdout of Baghouz in March 2019. Photograph: Bülent Kılıç/AFP/Getty Images

Senior officials say that while the Kurdish hearings will initially focus on those already in local custody, consideration is being given to transferring suspects held outside Iraq and placing them on trial under local law. Such a move would be a first in global attempts to hold Isis members to account, and whether jurisdictional and other legal issues could be resolved beforehand remains unclear.

What to do with Isis members, many of whom are being held in prisons or detention centres across the Middle East, has vexed regional governments and raised security concerns in Europe and the US, where officials have been urging judicial solutions for thousands of accused members in custody.

Up to 40,000 people who led the remnants of the so-called Isis caliphate when it was defeated on the battlefields of eastern Syria in early 2019 remain in two detention centres run by Syrian Kurds. Despite demands that the camps be closed and many detainees moved to Iraq, Baghdad and Erbil – the capital of the semi-autonomous Kurdish north, have been unable to agree on a location.

Kurdish officials have insisted that any relocated camp, which would be composed largely of accused Iraqi Isis members and their families, should be in the deserts of Anbar province and far from their borders.

Officials in Baghdad wanted the new camps to be established in the north, near where Isis forces overran Mosul and the Nineveh plains from 2014, leaving its people scattered and enslaved and much of the landscape torched.

Thousands of accused Isis members have been detained in Iraq, with many brought before local courts in circumstances described by human rights groups as sham trials in which death sentences have frequently been passed after proceedings that lasted 15 minutes and with no statements from the accused.

In addition, large numbers of Sunni Muslims had until recently remained interned in camps in both the Kurdish north and adjoining Arab areas, unable to return to their homes or unwilling to do so for fear of persecution by the Shia militias that hold sway over their former neighbourhoods.

Many of those camps were forcibly closed late last year, with their occupants either seeking shelter elsewhere in Iraq or choosing to return to their towns and villages, where they faced uneasy or hostile receptions.

Dozens killed in stampede at Israeli religious festival

Dozens killed in stampede at Israeli religious festival

[

Israeli security officials and rescuers carry a body of a victim who died during a Lag Ba’Omer celebrations at Mt. Meron in northern Israel, Friday, April 30, 2021.

MOUNT MERON: Dozens of people were killed in a stampede at a religious bonfire festival in Israel on Friday, medics said, in what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described as a “heavy disaster”.
Tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews had thronged to the Galilee tomb of 2nd-century sage Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai for annual Lag B’Omer commemorations that include all-night prayer, mystical songs and dance.
The ecstatic crowds packed the Mount Meron slope in defiance of Covid-19 warnings by health officials. Witnesses said people were asphyxiated or trampled in a passageway, some going unnoticed until the PA system sounded an appeal to disperse.
“We thought maybe there was a (bomb) alert over a suspicious package. No one imagined that this could happen here. Rejoicing became mourning, a great light became a deep darkness,” a pilgrim who gave his name as Yitzhak told Channel 12 TV.
“Rabbi Shimon used to say that he could absolve the world … If he didn’t manage to cancel this edict on the very day of his exaltation, then we need to do real soul-searching.”
The Magen David Adom ambulance service said 103 people had been injured, including dozens fatally. Channel 12 put the number of dead at 40. These included children, witnesses said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it a “heavy disaster”, adding on Twitter: “We are all praying for the wellbeing of the casualties.”
The Lag B’Omer event at Mount Meron was thought to be one of the largest gatherings of people – certainly in Israel and perhaps farther afield – since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic more than a year ago.
As rescue workers tried to extricate the casualties, police shut down the site and ordered revellers out. The Transportation Ministry halted roadworks in the area to enable ambulances and pilgrims’ buses to move unhindered. Military helicopters ferried some casualties to hospitals.
The Mount Meron tomb is considered to be one of the holiest sites in the Jewish world and it is an annual pilgrimage site.
Videos posted on social media showed chaotic scenes as Ultra-Orthodox men clambered through gaps in sheets of torn corrugated iron to escape the crush. Bodies lay on stretchers in a corridor, covered in foil blankets.
Private bonfires at Mount Meron were banned last year due to coronavirus restrictions, but lockdown measures were eased this year amid Israel’s rapid Covid-19 vaccination programme that has seen more than 50% of the population fully vaccinated.

FacebookTwitterLinkedinEMail

The inside story of Venezuela's failed uprising

The inside story of Venezuela’s failed uprising

[

Before dawn on April 30, 2019, Juan Guaidó and Leopoldo López — Venezuela’s U.S.-backed interim president and, until that morning, the country’s most prominent political prisoner — stood together and declared the end of Nicolás Maduro’s regime.

  • The walls were closing in. A plane, U.S. officials would claim, was waiting on the tarmac to escort Maduro to Cuba.

Get market news worthy of your time with Axios Markets. Subscribe for free.

  • Two years later, Guaidó’s star has fallen, López is in exile, and Maduro remains in the Miraflores Palace.

Axios spoke with key figures in the effort to oust Maduro and witnesses to the events that day to examine what went wrong and what happens now.

“It’s now or never”

John Bolton’s day began with a 5:25 a.m. phone call from the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo.

  • By then it was clear to both officials that “this was the day,” Bolton tells Axios. For the first time in his tenure as national security adviser, Bolton woke Donald Trump.

  • He relayed the message that Guaidó was putting his plan to split the regime and oust Maduro into action, and that the day could end with either Venezuelan leader imprisoned.

“I saw on social media that Juan Guaidó and Leopoldo López were together,” recounts Carlos Sandoval, a writer and literature professor at the Central University of Venezuela.

  • “Guaidó said he was in la Carlota, which is an air force base located in downtown, basically,” Sandoval says.

  • “He said that this was part of the process to free the country. That people needed to be in the streets and, well, people responded to that call.”

“When I woke up, I saw this guy (López) is out, I said, ‘What the hell is happening?’” recalls Francisco Santos, the Colombian ambassador to the U.S., who had been coordinating closely with the White House and Guaidó’s team in the run-up to April 30.

  • After receiving assurances that “everything had been tied up” and Maduro’s inner circle was about to abandon him, Santos thought: “Wow. They’re going to pull it off. Now we have a totally different ballgame.”

Leopoldo López (R) stands alongside Guaidó in Caracas. Photo: Cristian Hernandez/AFP via Getty

Carlos Vecchio, Guaidó’s ambassador in Washington, was in regular contact with Guaidó and others on the ground. Mostly, he remembers the waiting.

The plan

“We spoke to everybody and we never received a no from anybody,” a source who was coordinating between the opposition and the regime ahead of April 30 tells Axios.

  • “Everybody” included the heads of the supreme court and armed forces — Maikel Moreno and Vladimir Padrino, respectively — and others in Maduro’s inner circle.

  • They had been offered protections if Maduro lost power, and all seemed willing to play their part — or at least to jump ship when Maduro’s fall was imminent.

The first domino fell when the head of the secret police, Christopher Figuera, facilitated López’s escape from house arrest.

  • Moreno was to move next, declaring Maduro illegitimate and elevating the National Assembly. Padrino would then publicly align the military with the supreme court’s decision.

  • The public and the rank-and-file military, among whom Maduro was widely loathed, would rally behind Guaidó. The vise would close fast enough that he’d have no way out.

  • The era of two presidents — which began in January with a declaration that Maduro was a “usurper” and National Assembly President Guaidó the legitimate leader — would be over.

The unraveling

“Time works against you with something like this,” Santos says.

  • “After four or five hours when nothing had happened, I said, ‘uh oh. I think this is not happening.’”

National Guard troops loyal to Maduro arrive on the scene. Photo: Yuri Cortez/AFP via Getty

“When I was outside, near to where I live, the first thing I encountered was an officer from the national guard shooting people who were congregating in the street,” Sandoval says.

  • People fled as a “colectivo,” or leftist paramilitary group, arrived and began shooting. This all took place right outside of a police station.

  • “The first thing you think of is, ‘Wait, Juan Guaidó said that there was something developing, some events were taking place, so how is it that the police don’t know what to do?’ … You realize that this is just the same old story as always.”

“When it began to look grim was when we heard that Maduro had been taken to Fort Tiuna and the Russians and the Cubans were there and they were digging in,” Bolton reflects. “They weren’t going to let him go, that’s for sure.”

  • In the early afternoon, by which time the situation had “taken a dip downhill,” Bolton emerged in front of the White House and shocked the international media by declaring that Padrino, Moreno and Iván Hernández Dala, the head of the presidential guard, had all conspired against Maduro.

  • “I just wanted everybody to be sure that we knew what was going on. That we knew that people in the Maduro regime had been part of this plot,” Bolton says.

John Bolton briefs the press. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty

Four protesters had been killed and more than 200 injured.

“By noon, I knew this is just another episode of a long novel that still has no end. We don’t know when it will end, maybe I’ll die and miss the ending.”

Carlos Sandoval, writer and literature professor

What went wrong

The regime insiders never fully trusted the opposition’s promises, the military was only ever going to side with the winning team, and “Maduro kept his cool,” the source who was coordinating between the sides says.

  • If Maduro had fired the military chiefs who plotted behind his back, the source says, the military could have turned on him. Instead, he assured them of his loyalty.

  • One by one, the regime’s top figures took their places beside Maduro. The following morning, Padrino was on state TV, smiling alongside his commander-in-chief.

“We came very close,” Guaido says, asked by Axios to reflect on April 30. “And we are very close to achieving a transition.”

  • “The most important element of what April 30 represents,” he said last week at the Hudson Institute, is that the military will play a central role in any transition.

Even those close to the effort to oust Maduro remain unsure whether the would-be turncoats double crossed them, hedged their bets, or simply got cold feet.

  • “We underestimated the capability of Maduro to penetrate information and things like that,” Santos says. In Vecchio’s view, the opposition “underestimated the real nature of the regime… the criminal organization in power.”

Nicolás Maduro alongside Vladimir Padrino at his inauguration. Photo: Juan Barreto/AFP via Getty

Bolton, in part, blames Trump. He says the president was ready to rally behind Guaidó one moment and abandon him the next — to the extent that that Bolton felt Maduro’s overthrow had to be accomplished quickly, before Trump abandoned the cause entirely.

  • “I think it unquestionably hurt the chances of success,” Bolton says. And after April 30 failed, Trump “didn’t want anything to do with it.”

The aftermath

“From that day on, I felt cheated,” Sandoval says.

  • “I felt like I was just another one of the bunch, another Venezuelan that wrongly believed in the opposition,” Sandoval says.

  • “Now, for someone to convince me to go to a march, to listen to some politician, it’s almost impossible. You can’t even pay me to do that because I don’t believe in anything anymore.”

The suffering in Venezuela intensified in the months after April 30, even as the eyes of the world largely moved on.

  • The migrant crisis has accelerated. Five million Venezuelans now live outside the country, around 2 million of them across the border in Colombia. “The musicality of Bogotá has changed,” Santos says, because of the number of Venezuelan accents.

  • By one estimate, 96% of those who remain in the country are living in poverty.

“I think after April 30, Venezuelans became lethargic, and this feeling doesn’t seem to have an ending date,” Sandoval says.

  • “We’re living in a situation that, with inflation, with the pandemic, with quarantine, the situation has gotten much more difficult because we are trying not to die from COVID or trying not to die of hunger.”

Venezuelans cross into Colombia. Photo: Schneyder Mendoza/AFP via Getty

What now?

Guaidó is trying to keep the fight alive, and to regenerate the internal momentum and global attention that was so palpable two years ago.

  • “We created a crack inside of the regime, and Maduro knows that,” Vecchio says. “He cannot trust the people that are surrounding him. And any time again we will be able to open that door for a change in Venezuela.”

  • That is, he says, if the opposition remains united, and the U.S. and its allies coordinate an effective strategy to pressure Maduro while also providing humanitarian aid.

The Biden administration’s attention has thus far been elsewhere — the pandemic, China, Russia, the Iran deal. A Venezuela policy review is in progress.

  • The administration continues to recognize Guaidó and to refer to Maduro as a “dictator.”

  • A spokesman for State Department’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs told Axios the U.S. would work to help “bring the humanitarian crises in Venezuela to an end through practical and effective international cooperation,” while also combatting “the transnational crime and criminal networks emanating from Venezuela.”

“I don’t think things will change politically soon. I don’t see it,” Sandoval says.

  • “As an optimist though, I will keep working, I will continue to help my students. They can’t leave the country but they can try to find their way.”

  • “I hope my optimism finds a way.”

Like this article? Get more from Axios and subscribe to Axios Markets for free.

Joe Biden greets Senator Raphael Warnock at a rally in Duluth, Georgia.

‘You changed America’: Biden marks first 100 days in Georgia – a state key to his victory | Joe Biden

[

On his 100th day as US president, Joe Biden spontaneously lowered his black face mask, leaned towards the microphone and shouted: “Go Georgia, we need you!”

It was a fitting moment in a state that has more claim than most to be the ground zero of a potentially transformative presidency.

Biden had just marked the 100-day milestone with a drive-in rally in Duluth, about 30 miles north of Atlanta, to promote his $4tn plans to rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure and vastly expand the government’s social safety net.

Troubled by a cough, and briefly interrupted by protesters demanding an end to private prisons, the president gave an abridged version of his speech to a joint session of Congress the previous evening.

But he paid particular attention – and gratitude – to an audience that has played an outsized role in the making of his administration.

Towards the end of his campaign, he visited Warm Springs, the Georgia town that helped Franklin Roosevelt cope with polio. Come election day, Biden became, by a narrow margin, the first Democrat to win Georgia since Bill Clinton in 1992.

Then on 5 January, unexpected runoff wins by Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock in Georgia gave Democrats the balance of power in the Senate. If Republicans had retained control, Biden’s first hundred days would have looked very different.

Jonathan Alter, the author of The Defining Moment: FDR’s Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope, said on Thursday: “Without the Georgia runoffs, you would not have that transformational presidency. It would be a completely different story. If 6 January is an important date in American history, so is 5 January because of those Georgia runoffs and none of what’s happening would be possible without 5 January.”

Ossoff and Warnock joined Biden and the first lady, Jill Biden, on stage at Thursday night’s rally. The four joined hands and held them aloft as the song (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher boomed from loudspeakers.

Joe Biden greets Senator Raphael Warnock at a rally in Duluth, Georgia. Photograph: Evan Vucci/AP

Georgia has become a bellwether in a nationwide battle over voting rights. More than a hundred corporations, as well as civil rights organisers and sports leagues, spoke out against restrictions passed by Georgia’s Republican state legislature. Biden condemned the curbs as “just wrong” and called for Congress to pass nationwide protections.

Last month Atlanta was the scene of a mass shooting in which eight people died, including six women of Asian descent, helping prompt Biden to take executive actions for gun safety and denounce hate crimes.

Long a Republican stronghold, Georgia is now a diversifying swing state that will feature closely watched races for Senate and governor next year. It will almost certainly be one of the most competitive states during the 2024 presidential campaign.

With a US national flag behind him, Biden told supporters gathered around vehicles: “Because of you, we passed one of the most consequential rescue bills in American history … You changed America. You began to change America and you’re helping us prove America can still deliver for the people.”

That meant, he said, a hundred days that included the creation of 1.3m jobs, more than other president in history over the same period. It meant food and rental assistance, loans for small businesses and an expansion of healthcare. And, he said, the US is on course to cut child poverty in half this year.

The president went on to tout the biggest jobs plan since the second world war, building infrastructure, replacing lead pipes to ensure clean drinking water and expanding broadband internet to rural areas.

Tackling the climate crisis, Biden added, will “create millions of good paying jobs”, going on to repeat a line from his address to Congress: “There is simply no reason why the blades for wind turbines can’t be built in Pittsburgh instead of Beijing.”

Biden also pushed his new $1.8tn families plan that includes free universal preschool, free community college and support for childcare. “I was a single dad for five years,” he said, recalling the death of his first wife in a car crash and how he had to depend on family members because he could not afford outside help.

Republicans have questioned how Biden intends to pay for his bold plans. He insisted: “It’s real simple. It’s about time the very wealthy and corporations started paying their fair share … No one making under $400,000 a year is going to pay a single additional penny in tax.”

In an emotional finale, Biden told the crowd: “Folks, it’s only been a hundred days but I have to tell you, I’ve never been more optimistic about the future in America.” America’s on the move again. We’re choosing hope over fear, truth over lies, light over darkness.

Biden, who has further campaign-style stops planned in Pennsylvania and Virginia in coming days, is enjoying popular support in opinion polls. A survey by Navigator Research found positive approval among 86% of Democrats, 61% of independents and even 59% of Republicans. Two-thirds of the public believe Biden’s pandemic-related policies have had a positive impact.

Navigator also conducted three online focus groups with low-income Republicans and Democrats across the ideological spectrum in Florida, Nevada and Texas. The comments included a man from Florida saying, “I don’t feel like I have to doom scroll through my feed to see what the next thing is,” and a Nevada man commenting, “Almost immediately as soon he took office, everything just kind of calmed down and everyone’s like, ‘OK, we have a normal person there’.”

People cheer as Biden speaks in Georgia, a state that was critical to his 2020 victory.
People cheer as Biden speaks in Georgia, a state that was critical to his 2020 victory. Photograph: Evan Vucci/AP

But Republicans in Congress have condemned Biden’s spending spree, suggesting that he is exploiting the pandemic to smuggle in liberal imperatives and that his promise of bipartisanship rings hollow.

Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, told Fox News: “We’re friendly. We’ve done deals together in the past. However, the reason we’re not talking now is because he’s not trying to do anything remotely close to moderate.

“Think of it as the Biden bait-and-switch. He ran as a moderate, but everything he’s recommended so far has been hard left. Bernie Sanders is really happy. He may have lost a nomination, but he won the argument over what today’s Democratic party is – more taxes, more spending, more borrowing.”

Earlier on Thursday, the Bidens visited former president Jimmy Carter, 96, and his 93-year-old wife, Rosalynn, at their home in Plains, Georgia. It was at least the third occasion this month on which Biden has spoken with one of his predecessors, following conversations with George W Bush and Barack Obama about withdrawing troops from Afghanistan.

Biden was the first senator to endorse Carter for president in 1976. Carter’s defeat to Republican Ronald Reagan in 1980 ushered in an era in which calls for smaller government and lower taxes for big business and the wealthy were embraced as key to economic growth.

Alter, also the author of the Carter biography His Very Best, said: “Biden wants to have a foreign policy that’s based on human rights and that goes back to Jimmy Carter.

“He doesn’t want to have an Iranian hostage crisis but in terms of the aspirations for American leadership in the world, and standing up for American values in the world, that really does date from Jimmy Carter, who is no longer in bad odour in the United States, particularly in the Democratic party where in the past Democratic nominees have not really been thrilled to be associated with Carter because he lost in a landslide.

“But that was more than 40 years ago. The sting of Reagan’s landslide has worn off and part of what Reagan is selling is a partial return to the pre-Reagan political universe.”

Russian vaccine developer plans to sue Brazilian regulator for defamation

Russian vaccine developer plans to sue Brazilian regulator for defamation

[

The Russian developer of the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine said that it would sue the Brazilian health regulator Anvisa for defamation. AP Photo

MOSCOW: The Russian developer of the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine said on Thursday that it would sue the Brazilian health regulator Anvisa for defamation, accusing it of knowingly spreading false information.
Anvisa’s board on Monday rejected requests to approve Sputnik V for import. Anvisa’s medicines and biological products manager Gustavo Mendes said there was evidence an adenovirus used in the vaccine could reproduce, and that this was a serious defect.
Viral vectors are commonly used to transport genetic information for a protein from a pathogen – in this case, the novel coronavirus – that will elicit an immune response in the recipient of the vaccine.
Denis Logunov, who developed Sputnik V at Russia‘s Gamaleya Center, denied on Tuesday that the two adenoviruses used to produce the vaccine could replicate.
Sputnik V’s official Twitter account on Thursday quoted Mendes, who cited the Russians’ test results at a public hearing on Monday as the basis to deny an import license.
“Following the admission of Brazilian regulator Anvisa that it did not test Sputnik V vaccine, Sputnik V is undertaking a legal defamation proceeding in Brazil against Anvisa for knowingly spreading false and inaccurate information,” the Sputnik V tweet said.
“Anvisa made incorrect and misleading statements without having tested the actual Sputnik V vaccine.”
Anvisa did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The agency’s standard protocols for approving Covid-19 vaccines involve analysis of the developers’ own testing and clinical trials.

FacebookTwitterLinkedinEMail

Tofino, BC - credit Tofino Resort + Marina & Jeremy Koreski

Race for the Blue and Fish for the Future

[

Over 6,000 cans of wild Pacific Albacore Tuna have been donated to local food banks and schools around Vancouver Island and more than $100,000 has been raised to safeguard wild salmon in Clayoquot Sound

Tofino, BC – credit Tofino Resort + Marina & Jeremy Koreski

Tofino, BC – credit Tofino Resort + Marina & Jeremy Koreski
Cans of Pacific Albacore Tuna ready for distribution - credit Tofino Resort + Marina

Cans of Pacific Albacore Tuna ready for distribution – credit Tofino Resort + Marina

Cans of Pacific Albacore Tuna ready for distribution – credit Tofino Resort + Marina

Tofino, BC, April 29, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Tofino Resort + Marina is proud to announce the distribution of over 6,000 cans of local, individually caught Pacific Albacore Tuna to food banks and communities-in-need across Vancouver Island, in partnership with St. Jean’s Cannery & Smokehouse, the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust and the Tofino-Ucluelet Culinary Guild.

“As one of Canada’s last original canneries and seafood processors, we’re happy to have contributed to this donation,” said Steve Hughes, president of St. Jean’s Cannery & Smokehouse. “We’re thrilled to be a part of the West Coast experience and provide high quality local seafood to those in need.”

The initiative comes as a result of Tofino Resort + Marina’s Race for the Blue, Western Canada’s annual Pacific Albacore Tuna tournament focusing on an exciting and sustainable fishery in BC’s rarely visited offshore paradise. For the first time last year, participants had the opportunity to donate their tuna caught on the Thursday of the weeklong tournament to this initiative – now known as Thankful Thursday. As a result, more than 5,000 lbs of hand-packed tuna has been canned and distributed where it is most needed in the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere region: local food banks, school meal programs, seniors and elders, emergency food programs and communities with reduced food access.

Identifying places of need and coordinating distribution is far easier said than done in a region with multiple communities that are highly isolated, only accessible by gravel forestry roads or by boat. Tofino Resort + Marina teamed up with the region’s community foundation, the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust, to ensure the cans were received by those in need. With connections in all regional communities and a close working relationship with local food distributor Tofino-Ucluelet Culinary Guild, the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust was the perfect partner.

“The Clayoquot Biosphere Trust is committed to conservation and sustainable development,” says Clayoquot Biosphere Trust Executive Director, Rebecca Hurwitz. “Tofino Resort + Marina has proven to be a dedicated partner by using their strengths to support the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Region.”

The tuna distribution is not Tofino Resort + Marina’s only collaboration with the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust. In 2019, the resort took Fish for the Future – its annual catch-and-release, family-focused fishing event – and turned it into the Fish for the Future Fund, a donor-advised endowment fund at Clayoquot Biosphere Trust aimed at safeguarding wild salmon in Clayoquot Sound. 100% of all tournament revenue, dollar for dollar, now supports wild salmon protection and research projects. In partnership with the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust, Tofino Resort + Marina continues to raise revenue alongside guests who contribute 1% of all resort and restaurant purchases to the endowment fund which is distributed to keystone projects like Tofino Salmon Enhancement Society and Clayoquot Salmon Roundtable. To date, after establishing the fund and the charitable network it supports, the resort has raised over $100,000.

“At Tofino Resort + Marina we are inspired by adventure, and that adventure couldn’t exist without the protection and respect of our unique environment,” says Tofino Resort + Marina President and Partner Willie Mitchell. “We are passionate with a purpose – as we learn and grow as a business our impact on the community remains top of mind. Incorporating meaningful ways to give back into our signature events like Race for the Blue and Fish for the Future is a no brainer.”

Fish for the Future returns September 3-5, 2021, followed by Race for the Blue September 10-18, 2021. More information will be announced in the coming months – follow along at @tofinomarina and @racefortheblue for the latest updates. For more information on Tofino Resort + Marina’s involvement in the community and to learn how you can support visit: tofinoresortandmarina.com/community.

About Tofino Resort + Marina
Adventure seekers coming to battle the waves, foodies drawn to the unique tastes of Tofino’s incredible culinary scene and ocean lovers looking for a hip home base – Tofino Resort + Marina is the perfect place to experience the spirit of the wild, west coast. Inspired by adventure, Tofino Resort + Marina is the only full-service resort situated on the inlet, and is just a short stroll from Tofino’s artisan boutiques, surf shops and Pacific flavours of this ruggedly refined ocean-side community. Experience the on-site Marine Adventure Centre, offering ocean excursions that take travellers beyond the end of the road. Indulge at signature restaurant 1909 Kitchen showcasing ingredients sourced and foraged from Tofino’s ocean, shoreline and forests, and enjoy West Coast rustic design and enticing food and drinks at The Hatch Waterfront Pub. Home to Tofino’s largest private marina with 58 slips and space to moor vessels of up to 130 feet, plus Tofino’s only waterfront fitness centre, Tuff Fit.

About the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust
The Clayoquot Biosphere Trust is a registered charity based on the west coast of British Columbia, Canada. Established in 2000, the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust is the only organization in Canada that is both a community foundation and a UNESCO biosphere reserve. We pair this spirit of community with the power of a global presence to bring more people together for a shared understanding. We are one of 1,800 community foundations worldwide implementing United Nations’ goals to reduce poverty, end hunger, ensure quality education and protect the environment. The Clayoquot Biosphere Trust also oversees the Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Region, one of Canada’s 18 UNESCO biosphere reserves, and sustainability is at the heart of everything we do. Our team works to strengthen the development of all citizens, communities and the ecosystems on which we all depend, for a future we can all be proud of.

About St. Jean’s Cannery and Smokehouse Ltd.
St. Jean’s Cannery and Smokehouse Ltd. is a majority first nation-owned seafood processor providing custom services and products to sport fishers and consumers. Established in 1961 in Nanaimo, BC, it is now one of the last dedicated seafood canneries in Western Canada. Find Raincoast Trading seafood and Healthy Shores Pet Food in retail locations. St. Jean’s products are available for delivery on their website.

Attachments

CONTACT: Annabel Hawksworth Hawksworth Communications | Tofino Resort + Marina 604.609.6678 annabel@hawksworth.ca
A coal truck

Morning mail: India passes 18m, concussion ‘time bomb’, the end of glaciers? |

[

It’s Friday, the last day of April, and this is Imogen Dewey with today’s main stories: the conversation about workplace harassment is far from over, Covid infections in India have passed 18m, and the Tasmanian premier is keeping notably quiet about poker machines before tomorrow’s state election.

India’s second wave of Covid-19 continues to overwhelm hospitals, claiming the lives of thousands each day. Offers of aid and medical supplies, including from Australia, have flooded in from around the world, but the real issue at hand is the mammoth task of vaccinating the country’s 1.4 billion citizens – and the ultimate effort to protect the country from future outbreaks. More than 100 countries are pushing for a temporary waiver of intellectual property rules to boost vaccine access for developing nations. But Australia, along with a handful of other wealthy nations, is so far refusing the plea. Elias Visontay asks why.

The treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, haas signalled the looming federal budget will contain measures to boost the workforce of female-dominated professions such as aged and disability care, and also in the critical field of cybersecurity. A union survey released today will put (extra) pressure on the Morrison government to do more to combat workplace harassment: it reveals that while almost one in six public servants have experienced sexual harassment, only one-third of incidents were reported. Canberra police have received a complaint of potential revenge porn related to the sharing of intimate images taken at Parliament House. The report was received on 30 March, one week after a Liberal staffer was sacked for performing a solo sex act on the desk of a female MP – amid a storm over the government’s handling of sexual harassment.

The AFLW player Jacinda Barclay, who died last year aged 29, has become the first contact sportswoman in Australia to donate her brain for concussion research. Researchers have uncovered neurological damage they described as a “ticking time bomb” – the kind understood to be the consequence of repetitive head injury from contact sports. “She always wanted to help people,” her family said. “Her donation means she can be a shining light for other women in the games that meant so much to her.”

Australia

Kerry Schott told Guardian Australia that putting more gas into the energy market to support renewables was questionable when gas was ‘expensive power’. Photograph: Jason Reed/Reuters

The chair of Australia’s Energy Security Board says a taxpayer-funded gas-fired power plant in the Hunter Valley “doesn’t stack up”, given the abundance of cheaper alternatives flooding the market.

The head of Australia’s drug regulator says the deaths of two men after they received the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine were unlikely to be linked to the jab.

The Tasmanian premier, Peter Gutwein, has refused to provide key details about poker machine policy before tomorrow’s state election – policy critics say could result in a financial windfall for the state’s casino operator.

The federal government’s controversial $30m purchase of airport land at the Leppington triangle site was either the result of “gross incompetence or corruption”, a parliamentary inquiry heard yesterday.

Only 7% of international students are willing to complete Australian courses online, a survey shows. As they become impatient for border restrictions to lift, there are warnings that the economic cost from the lack of international students could reach $20bn next year.

The world

The White House
Dozens of American diplomats and spies abroad have suffered symptoms including hearing strange sounds followed by dizziness, nausea, severe headaches and loss of memory, which in some cases can go on for years. Photograph: Alamy

The White House is investigating “unexplained health incidents” after two US officials reportedly experienced symptoms similar to “Havana syndrome” – mysterious brain injuries believed to be the result of a directed energy device.

At least one person has died and 18 others were wounded after clashes erupted between the military forces of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan at a disputed section of the central Asian nations’ border.

The Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny made his first public appearance since holding a 24-day hunger strike, appearing gaunt but spirited during a courtroom appeal against a defamation conviction he has called politically motivated.

Germany’s supreme constitutional court has ruled that the government’s climate protection measures are insufficient to protect future generations. The “historic” decision followed a complaint brought by environmentalist groups.

Recommended reads

Franz Josef glacier in New Zealand
Franz Josef glacier in New Zealand. Photograph: imageBROKER/Alamy

Glaciers have drawn people to New Zealand’s west coast for decades but now the ice is retreating and it could be too late to save them. By nature, glaciers go through phases of advance and retreat. But lately these immense bodies of ice – so vast and ancient as to have carved the surface of the Earth – have been losing ground in a warming world. A new analysis of more than 200,000 global glaciers found that those in New Zealand showed record thinning of 1.5m a year from 2015-19 – a nearly sevenfold increase compared with 2000-04. Cliff Goodwin has been studying changes in the country’s Franz Josef glacier for the past 20 years. Now he says: “I look up at those mountains every day, and I feel sad.”

“I’m homesick for Australia, but it isn’t mine any more. It’s an unwell country in crisis.” The Miles Franklin winner Tara June Winch is stranded in Paris – but from the outside, she reflected this week, her country looks one in denial. “All egalitarian, but none of the justice. All words, no action. All that open space, and so many confined in cells. All the freedom of speech, and none of the critique. All those mates, yet all that violence.”

“My chat groups from India are flooded with requests for convalescent plasma, Remdesivir, oxygen tanks and hospital beds,” writes Krati Garg. “Here in Melbourne, I feel so helpless. My family is ideologically divided. Dad, a fearless journalist, and Mum, a conservative who will not listen to a word against Modi. But the lack of empathy and the shambolic management of this crisis has changed her mind. This is a big deal.”

Every morning for years the portrait artist Anastasia Pollard has started her day with the same meal. She’s one of innumerable people around the world resisting a food culture that’s come to venerate variety as a virtue, writes Celina Ribeiro.

Plus: From the in-jokes and lip syncs to this season’s guest stars (both Minogues!), here’s everything you need to know about Drag Race Down Under.

Listen

As Covid deaths soared in India, Scott Morrison offered an aid package to help the country’s health system cope with demand and suspended all direct flights to Australia. Today on Full Story, Gabrielle Jackson talks to Lenore Taylor and David Munk about the moral implications of Australia’s response and what needs to happen to bring citizens home.

Assessing Australia’s response to India’s Covid crisis – with Lenore Taylor

Assessing Australia’s response to India’s Covid crisis – with Lenore Taylor

Full Story is Guardian Australia’s daily news podcast. Subscribe for free on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or any other podcasting app.

Sport

After taking a financial hit to relocate Super Netball to a Queensland hub in 2020 – a season marred by a series of controversies – league bosses are hoping for a return to normality come round one of the 2021 campaign this weekend … while also quietly planning to pivot if necessary.

Past the screaming, adoring fans, New Zealand rugby has also been struggling to survive. With dwindling participation numbers country-wide, and the ever-growing lustre of foreign clubs hand-picking the best All Blacks, New Zealand Rugby is now – partially at least – up for sale.

Media roundup

According to the Age, Scott Morrison last night told a donor dinner society is being undermined by identity politics and social media misuse. Four women have told the ABC the alleged behaviour of the government MP Andrew Laming made them feel uncomfortable. The NSW premier, Gladys Berejiklian, signalling a renewed focus on privatisation, “will go it alone on fast rail” rather than wait for state and federal government consensus, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

Coming up

Brittany Higgins is meeting with the prime minister.

Scott Morrison will also meet with state and territory leaders at the national cabinet to discuss Australia’s pandemic response.

South Australia is due to open a mass Covid-19 vaccination clinic.

And if you’ve read this far …

The Warsaw team said the finding was its most important to date.
The Warsaw team said the finding was its most important to date. Photograph: Bartosz Bajerski

Polish researchers examining an ancient Egyptian mummy were surprised when X-rays and computer tests revealed it was woman who had been seven months pregnant – they had expected a male priest.

Sign up

If you would like to receive the Guardian Australia morning mail to your email inbox every weekday, sign up here.

Fresh fighting between Chad rebels, government forces

Fresh fighting between Chad rebels, government forces

[

Government troops and rebels clashed on Thursday in a region of western Chad. AP Photo

N’DJAMENA: Government troops and rebels clashed on Thursday in a region of western Chad where president Idriss Deby Itno was killed earlier this month, a spokesman said.
The fighting in the desert region of Kanem, near Chad’s border with Niger, pits Libya-based rebels against forces loyal to a new military junta led by Deby’s son.
Fiercely criticised for authoritarianism and inequality, Deby was seen as a trusty ally by many Western countries including the former colonial power France, especially in the fight against jihadism in the wider Sahel region on the southern fringes of the Sahara desert.
“Fighting is continuing in Kanem — we are going to have continue to fight, otherwise they will destabilise us,” junta spokesman General Azem Bermandoa Agouna told AFP.
The so-called Military Transition Council (CMT) is headed by 37-year-old Mahamat Idriss Deby.
For now the fighting against the Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT), drawn mainly from the Goran ethnic group, is going on about 300 kilometres (180 miles) north of the capital N’Djamena.
Security sources, without giving further details, said the Chadian army bombarded FACT positions.
Deby, 68, died on April 19 from wounds he suffered fighting the Libya-based rebels, according to the authorities. The insurgents had launched an offensive in the northern Tibesti region on April 11 as presidential elections were unfolding.
A career soldier who seized power in 1990 and exercised it ruthlessly for 30 years, Deby died on the day that the electoral commission confirmed that he had won a landslide victory, the authorities say.
Hundreds arrested at protests
FACT is led by Mahamat Mahadi Ali, a veteran insurgent who previously lived in France.
The group vowed to pursue its offensive after a pause for Deby’s funeral on April 23. Experts believe FACT has between 1,500 and 2,000 fighters.
The Chadian army claimed on April 19 to have killed 300 rebels and captured 246 others, who were being taken to the capital N’Djamena to stand trial. Military casualties have not been made public.
The armed forces have recently sent reinforcements to Kanem, security forces said.
On Sunday, the CMT announced there would be no “mediation or negotiation” with FACT and called on Niger to help it capture the group’s chief. The CMT took over on April 20, immediately after Deby’s death was announced, as parliament and government were dissolved.
It has promised an 18-month transition period before “free and transparent” elections.
At least six people died on Tuesday in banned protests against the junta, according to the authorities, while a local NGO reported nine fatalities. Prosecutors said Thursday that they were interviewing over 700 people arrested at demonstrations on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Dozens of arrested protesters were brought in police vehicles to the capital’s high court Thursday from different police stations around the city. “A majority of them have already been through and many have been released,” N’Djamena prosecutor Youssouf Tom told AFP.
On Monday, the military junta appointed Albert Pahimi Padacke as transitional prime minister. He called for a nationwide effort to speed the return to civilian rule.

FacebookTwitterLinkedinEMail

A diver carries a plastic pipe for measuring while swimming over a variety of corals

Watching a coral reef die as climate change devastates one of the most pristine tropical island areas on Earth

[

The Chagos Archipelago is one of the most remote, seemingly idyllic places on Earth. Coconut-covered sandy beaches with incredible bird life rim tropical islands in the Indian Ocean, hundreds of miles from any continent. Just below the waves, coral reefs stretch for miles along an underwater mountain chain.

It’s a paradise. At least it was before the heat wave.

When I first explored the Chagos Archipelago 15 years ago, the underwater view was incredible. Schools of brilliantly colored fish in blues, yellows and oranges darted among the corals of a vast, healthy reef system. Sharks and other large predators swam overhead. Because the archipelago is so remote and sits in one of the largest marine protected areas on the planet, it has been sheltered from industrial fishing fleets and other activities that can harm the coastal environment.

But it can’t be protected from climate change.

In 2015, a marine heat wave struck, harming coral reefs worldwide. I was with a team of marine researchers on a 10-year global expedition to map the world’s reefs led by the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation, and we were just wrapping up our work in the Chagos Archipelago. Our report on the state of the reefs there was published in spring 2021.

As the water temperature rose, the corals began to bleach. To the untrained eye, the scene would have looked fantastic. When the water heats up, corals become stressed and they expel the tiny algae called dinoflagellates that live in their tissue. Bleaching isn’t as simple as going from a living coral to a bleached white one, though. After they expel the algae, the corals turn fluorescent pinks and blues and yellows as they produce chemicals to protect themselves from the Sun’s harmful rays. The entire reef was turning psychedelic colors.

Two bright pink coral mounds

Two bright pink coral mounds

That explosion of color is rare, and it doesn’t last long. Over the following week, we watched the corals turn white and start to die. It wasn’t just small pieces of the reef that were bleaching – it was happening across hundreds of square miles.

What most people think of as a coral is actually many tiny colonial polyps that build calcium carbonate skeletons. With their algae gone, the coral polyps could still feed by plucking morsels out of the water, but their metabolism slows without the algae, which provide more nutrients through photosynthesis. They were left desperately weakened and more vulnerable to diseases. We could see diseases taking hold, and that’s what finished them off.

We were witnessing the death of a reef.

Rising temperatures increase the heat wave risk

The devastation of the Chagos Reef wasn’t happening in isolation.

Over the past century, sea surface temperatures have risen by an average of about 0.13 degrees Celsius (0.23 F) per decade as the oceans absorb the vast majority of greenhouse gas emissions from human activities, largely from the burning of fossil fuels. The temperature increase and changing ocean chemistry affects sea life of all kinds, from deteriorating the shells of oysters and tiny pteropods, an essential part of the food chain, to causing fish populations to migrate to cooler water.

Corals can become stressed when temperatures around them rise just 1 C (1.8 F) above their tolerance level. With water temperature elevated from global warming, even a minor heat wave can become devastating.

In 2015, the ocean heat from a strong El Niño event triggered the mass bleaching in the Chagos reefs and around the world. It was the third global bleaching on record, following events in 1998 and 2010.

Bleaching doesn’t just affect the corals – entire reef systems and the fish that feed, spawn and live among the coral branches suffer. One study of reefs around Papua New Guinea in the southwest Pacific found that about 75% of the reef fish species declined after the 1998 bleaching, and many of those species declined by more than half.

Research shows marine heat waves are now about 20 times more likely than they were just four decades ago, and they tend to be hotter and last longer. We’re at the point now that some places in the world are anticipating coral bleaching every couple of years.

That increasing frequency of heat waves is a death knell for reefs. They don’t have time to recover before they get hit again.

Where we saw signs of hope

During the Global Reef Expedition, we visited over 1,000 reefs around the world. Our mission was to conduct standardized surveys to assess the state of the reefs and map the reefs in detail so scientists could document and hopefully respond to changes in the future. With that knowledge, countries can plan more effectively to protect the reefs, important national resources, providing hundreds of billions of dollars a year in economic value while also protecting coastlines from waves and storms.

We saw damage almost everywhere, from the Bahamas to the Great Barrier Reef.

Some reefs are able to survive heat waves better than others. Cooler, stronger currents, and even storms and cloudier areas can help prevent heat building up. But the global trend is not promising. The world has already lost 30% to 50% of its reefs in the last 40 years, and scientists have warned that most of the remaining reefs could be gone within decades.

Diver with large sea turtle swimming over corals.

Diver with large sea turtle swimming over corals.

While we see some evidence that certain marine species are moving to cooler waters as the planet warms, a reef takes thousands of years to establish and grow, and it is limited by geography.

In the areas where we saw glimmers of hope, it was mostly due to good management. When a region can control other harmful human factors – such as overfishing, extensive coastal development, pollution and runoff – the reefs are healthier and better able to handle the global pressures from climate change.

Establishing large marine protected areas is one of the most effective ways I’ve seen to protect coral reefs because it limits those other harms.

The Chagos marine protected area covers 640,000 square kilometers (250,000 square miles) with only one island currently inhabited – Diego Garcia, which houses a U.S. military base. The British government, which created the marine protected area in 2010, has been under pressure to turn over control of the region to the country of Mauritius, where former Chagos residents now live and which won a challenge over it in the International Court of Justice in 2020. Whatever happens with jurisdiction, the region would benefit from maintaining a high level of protection.

A warning for other ecosystems

The Chagos reefs could potentially recover – if they are spared from more heat waves. Even a 10% recovery would make the reefs stronger for when the next bleaching occurs. But recovery of a reef is measured in decades, not years.

So far, research missions that have returned to the Chagos reefs have found only meager recovery, if any at all.

We knew the reefs weren’t doing well under the insidious march of climate change in 2011, when the global reef expedition started. But it’s nothing like the intensity of worry we have now in 2021.

Coral reefs are the canary in the coal mine. Humans have collapsed other ecosystems before through overfishing, overhunting and development, but this is the first unequivocally tied to climate change. It’s a harbinger of what can happen to other ecosystems as they reach their survival thresholds.

This story is part of Oceans 21
Our series on the global ocean opened with five in-depth profiles. Look for new articles on the state of our oceans in the lead-up to the U.N.‘s next climate conference, COP26. The series is brought to you by The Conversation’s international network.

This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts. It was written by: Sam Purkis, University of Miami.

Read more:

Sam Purkis does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.