All the News You May Have Missed in February 2020.
Coronavirus Named, Continues Spreading
The new official name for the virus, Covid-19, was announced as the death toll reached 1,000. In China the lunar new year holiday was extended to help stop the spread of the virus. Major factories closed, airlines suspended service, and uncertainty caused sell-offs in stock markets.
South Korea had the most cases outside China, spread in the compound of the religious group Shincheonji Church of Jesus. The Diamond Princess cruise ship was initially not allowed to dock after some of the 3,700 passengers contracted Covid-19. American passengers were evacuated and spent 14 days in quanrantine in military bases before being released. Other passengers remained aboard for 14 days and were allowed to leave only after testing negative for the virus. Among the first infections in Iran was the Deputy of Health. To prevent panic Iranian police arrested citizens for spreading rumors about the virus on social media. At a White House briefing President Trump announced Vice President Mike Pence would be “in charge” of the U.S. response to the coronavirus. Trump claimed “tremendous success” in keeping US infections low, citing travel restrictions and promising to spend billions to fight the outbreak.
February ended with Covid-19 infecting more than 80,000 people and killing nearly 2,800. The virus has spread to 47 countries, with the most cases in China. While there are only a handful of cases in the US, the CDC warned Americans to brace for its spread. Thanks to social media and the hashtag #Covid19, new cases worldwide are reported and quarantined almost instantly, but health officials warn the virus could still develop into a pandemic.
Flight Shame and Space Games
Fewer people are traveling by air for environmental reasons, while airlines furlough employees due to the Wuhan flu outbreak. Air travel across Europe, especially in Greta Thimberg’s native Sweden, where the term “flygskam,” or flight shame, has gained popularity, is down significantly. The director of the Heathrow airport recently appealed to travelers saying newer jet engines and tree planting would offset flying’s carbon impact.
Although flight shame hasn’t caught on in the US, airline industry experts say carriers are amplifying their efforts to cut emissions to help ease the concerns of fliers. Commercial flights contribute 2.4% of all global emissions, while manufacturing and power generation produce the most.
A few hundred miles farther up, Russian satellites are shadowing US satellites, playing a game of cat and mouse in space. The head of the newly formed US military branch Space Force complained that Russia is one of the countries that “have turned space into a warfighting domain.”
Sanders Leads Democrats Prior to Super Tuesday Primaries
Due to technical troubles with a custom-made mobile app the results from the first Democratic caucus in Iowa were delayed, but top candidates declared victory to the media. In the end Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg were nearly tied for the lead, with Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden finishing distant third and fourth. At one caucus site a woman asked to change her vote after she learned Pete Buttigieg is gay.
The New Hampshire primary ended in a near tie with Bernie Sanders collecting a few more votes than Pete Buttigieg. Amy Klobuchar finished third, while Joe Biden had another disappointing showing.
Mike Bloomberg stumbled in the Nevada and South Carolina debates, and is polling lower despite spending millions on advertising. Bernie Sanders has the most delegates so far, with the South Carolina and Super Tuesday primaries coming up.
Harvey Weinstein Convicted of Rape
Harvey Weinstein was convicted of third-degree rape and a first-degree criminal sexual act in New York. He faces a prison sentence up to 25 years in prison, and more charges in California.
Australian Fires Doused by Rain
Widespread fires in eastern Australia were doused by heavy rains, giving partial relief from the three year drought. Fundraising and aid projects are underway worldwide to help people and wildlife affected by the widespread fires.
Trump Not Impeached, Witnesses Fired
As predicted President Trump was acquitted of impeachment charges in the Republican-controlled Senate. He immediately fired all White House staff who testified against him. Trump also fired the acting Director of National Intelligence after a briefing to the House Intelligence Committee revealed that Russia is actively meddling in the US election to help re-elect Trump. The Director was replaced by an Ambassador loyal to the President.
Yemen Al Qaeda Leader Killed by US Strike, Afghanistan Withdrawal Talks Continue
The White House confirmed Qasim al-Raymi, the leader of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, was killed in January. al-Raymi Was an Al-Qaeda trainer in Afghanistan before fighting against the government and Yemen. He was behind a large number of attacks in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, plus airline bomb plots against the US.
The US and Taliban in Afghanistan are scheduled to sign a peace agreement on February 29 that could see the withdrawal of the 10,000 remaining US troops.
Locust Swarms Devour Crops in Warn-torn Regions
Meanwhile in the region, the worst locust swarms in decades are devastating crops in Pakistan, Yemen, Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya and spreading across East Africa. Allready in Yemen nearly 7,000,000 people face starvation because Houthi rebels blocked access to food and humanitarian aid.