Pence Praises Texas Governor for Reopening Despite Massive Surge in COVID-19 Cases
By Jake Johnson
Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday heaped praise upon Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and said "every Texan can be proud of" his leadership in reopening one of the nation's largest economies even as lawmakers and public health experts say the governor's decision to relax social distancing guidelines led directly to the Covid-19 surge that is currently pummeling the state.
"I... want to commend the governor for—for your decisive action," Pence said during a news conference with Abbott, a Republican, at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. "Reopening this economy, which began in early May, is a tribute to your leadership and the steady progress in—in putting Texas back to work."
Dr. Deborah Birx, a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, also hailed Abbott's reopening plan as "very serious and safe."
"You can see the impact of the opening plan and how it worked out," said Birx. "All of May, for almost five weeks, and then there was an inflection point."
The vice president went on to acknowledge the alarming recent spike in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in the state before applauding Abbott for announcing steps last week to slow the reopening process—steps that were criticized as inadequate to the scale of the crisis. Pence then conceded that "gatherings and meeting in certain places in communities... may well be contributing to the community spread."
"Our objective is to save lives as Texas continues to reopen your economy and help to lead this country back to work," Pence said.
"I want to commend the governor for your decisive action reopening this economy" -- Pence lauds Greg Abbott for tak… https://t.co/QrZUqDkE1W— Aaron Rupar (@Aaron Rupar)1593373203.0
"The head of the Covid Task Force just commended our governor for his role in opening the economy and creating the largest outbreak to date (until tomorrow's new record). He's grateful for Abbott's incompetence," tweeted Democratic U.S. House candidate Russell Foster, who is running to represent Texas' 4th Congressional District.
NEW from @texastribune: Texas reports sixth consecutive day of more than 5000 new #coronavirus cases… https://t.co/clt4obTFrH— Evan Smith (@Evan Smith)1593381093.0
Last Thursday, Abbott—who predicted during a private call in May that the reopening process would lead to a spike in cases—announced a temporary pause in reopening phases in an effort to "help our state corral the spread." The following day, as Covid-19 hospitalizations surpassed 5,000 and placed further strain on the state's intensive care units, Abbott ordered the closure of bars and rolled back in-person restaurant dining.
"It is clear that the rise in cases is largely driven by certain types of activities, including Texans congregating in bars," said Abbott.
In a column Monday morning, Texas Tribune executive editor Ross Ramsey wrote that the "Texas resurgence was predictable" and slammed Abbott and other state leaders for refusing to act until the coronavirus spike was out of control.
"Local officials who wanted stronger rules on masks and crowds and social distancing—in both big and small Texas cities and counties—were right after all," wrote Ramsey. "And Abbott, who blocked local governments from acting on their concerns about the coronavirus, waited until case numbers, infection rates, and hospitalizations jumped."
"You can get ready when a storm is coming or wait until it blows your roof off," Ramsey added. "Abbott, who's been reinstalling some of the regulatory safeguards he dismantled in May, dithered until the wind was blowing."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
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On Friday, China set out an economic blueprint for the next five years, which was expected to substantiate the goal set out last fall by President Xi Jinping for the country to reach net-zero emissions before 2060 and hit peak emissions by 2030.
The Great Trail in Canada is recognized as the world's longest recreational trail for hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing. Created by the Trans Canada Trail (TCT) and various partners, The Great Trail consists of a series of smaller, interconnected routes that stretch from St. John's to Vancouver and even into the Yukon and Northwest Territories. It took nearly 25 years to connect the 27,000 kilometers of greenway in ways that were safe and accessible to hikers. Now, thanks to a new partnership with the Canadian Paralympic Committee and AccessNow, the TCT is increasing accessibility throughout The Great Trail for people with disabilities.
Trans Canada Trail and AccessNow partnership for AccessOutdoors / Trails for All project. Mapping day at Stanley Park Seawall in Vancouver, British Columbia with Richard Peter. Alexa Fernando<p>This partnership also comes at a time when access to outdoor recreation is more important to Canadian citizens than ever. <a href="https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/200527/dq200527b-eng.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Studies from the spring of 2020</a> indicate that Canadian's <a href="https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/moneytalk-mental-health-during-covid-19-1.1567633" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">mental health has worsened</a> since the onset of social distancing protocols due to COVID-19. </p><p>The <a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/safe-activities-during-covid19/art-20489385" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Mayo Clinic</a> lists hiking, biking, and skiing as safe activities during COVID-19. Their website explains, "When you're outside, fresh air is constantly moving, dispersing these droplets. So you're less likely to breathe in enough of the respiratory droplets containing the virus that causes COVID-19 to become infected."</p><p>TCT leadership took this into consideration when embarking on the accessibility project. McMahon explains that there has never been a more important time to bring accessibility to the great outdoors: "Canadians have told us that during these difficult times, they value access to natural spaces to stay active, take care of their mental health, and socially connect with others while respecting physical distancing and public health directives. This partnership is incredibly important especially now as trails have become a lifeline for Canadians."</p><p>Together, these organizations are paving the way for better physical and mental health among all Canadians. To learn more about the TCT's mission and initiatives, check out their <a href="https://thegreattrail.ca/stories/" target="_blank">trail stories</a> and <a href="https://thegreattrail.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/TCT_2020-Donor-Impact-Report_EN_8.5x14-web.pdf" target="_blank">2020 Impact Report</a>.</p>
By Kiyoshi Kurokawa and Najmedin Meshkati
Ten years ago, on March 11, 2011, the biggest recorded earthquake in Japanese history hit the country's northeast coast. It was followed by a tsunami that traveled up to 6 miles inland, reaching heights of over 140 feet in some areas and sweeping entire towns away in seconds.
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c5a625c9013ad84ea4c23c52181dde22"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ZK8UBHMo04U?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Nuclear power generates about 10% of the world's electricity (TWh = terawatt-hours). About 50 new plants are under construction, but many operating plants are aging. World Nuclear Association / CC BY-ND
<div id="07c42" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ac2be7bdc1a748c089d24d27f01992a2"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1366694917045690369" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🇸🇪 Nuclear Safety statement in IAEA BoG: Important safety upgrades introduced at 6 remaining nuclear power stations… https://t.co/FrgHv4N4UL</div> — SwedenUN Vienna 🇸🇪 (@SwedenUN Vienna 🇸🇪)<a href="https://twitter.com/SwedenUN_Vienna/statuses/1366694917045690369">1614680434.0</a></blockquote></div>
Author Najmedin Meshkati holding an earthquake railing in a Fukushima Daiichi control room during a 2012 site visit. Najmedin Meshkati / CC BY-ND
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"Watch. Connect. Take Action."
These words are the invitation and mandate of the WaterBear Network, a free film-streaming platform that launched in November of 2020. Its goal is to turn inspirational images of the natural world into actions to save it.
WaterBear CEO Ellen Windemuth uses films to inspire planet-positive actions. WaterBear
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