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A terrifying Android scam is back, and here’s what you must do to avoid it

One of the worst threats facing Android users is making an unwelcome resurgence, security experts have warned. The nasty threat, dubbed Joker, is designed to sign-up Android users to premium – and hugely expensive – subscription plans behind their backs. That’s the latest warning from the team at Zimperium, who work alongside Google to help stop infected apps from being downloaded onto smartphones.

The security researchers say they have witnessed a “large uptick” in apps that come packed with the nasty Joker malware. Most of the applications laced with this threat take the form of legitimate apps, offering users fun photo filters, games, wallpapers, and ways to translate text.

Once installed, these apps, which can be found in the Google Play Store, introduce the gruesome Joker malware. This has the ability to install hidden spyware and premium dialers onto devices, which can then sign-up unsuspecting users to expensive monthly subscription plans they never wanted – nor can afford. Victims have found themselves in excess of £240 a year for these fraudulent subscriptions.

“Joker trojans are malicious Android applications that have been known since 2017 for notoriously performing bill fraud and subscribing users to premium services,” explained Zimperium. “The outcome of a successful mobile infection is financial gain for the cybercriminal, oftentimes under the nose of the victim until long after the money is gone, with little to no recourse for recovery.”

READ MORE: You could be blocked by Spotify for downloading your songs

Joker is nothing new, however, it now appears to back a vengeance despite the best efforts of Google and the App Defense Alliance – a program that includes Zimperium.

Zimperium says that it has witnessed over 1,000 new samples of Joker since its last report on the problem back in 2020. And the company is warning that cyber thieves have routinely found new and unique ways to get this malware into both official and unofficial app stores.

That means it’s likely some of these malware-packed apps are finding their way onto the Google Play Store. The latter is usually considered a safe way for Android tablet and smartphone owners to browse and install new apps. Google has strong protections in place – unlike some of the other app repositories available online – however, malware still manages to infiltrate the store.

“While they are never long for life in these repositories, the persistence highlights how mobile malware, just like traditional endpoint malware, does not disappear but continues to be modified and advanced in a constant cat and mouse game,” Zimperium added.

It’s vital that all Android users do some research before downloading any apps onto their device as once Joker has infected the phone it can rack up huge bills without the owner ever knowing.

Just last month, researchers at Quick Heal Security Labs found 8 apps that were riddled with Joker with the firm telling Android users to delete them immediately. They also offered some simple advice on how to stay clear of any other malware threats. This includes…

• Download applications only from trusted sources like Google Play Store• Learn how to identify fake applications in Google Play Store• Do not click on alien links received through messages or any other social media platforms• Turn off installation from the unknown source option• Read the pop-up messages you get from the Android system before accepting/allowing any new permissions

You have been warned!

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This post originally posted here Daily Express :: Tech

Warning: There’s a new scam harassing UK mobile owners, here’s what you need to avoid it

The latest scam warning comes courtesy of the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, NFIB. The organisation has warned phone owners to be alert to incoming calls from mobile numbers very similar to their own. Commonly, the first seven digits of the number will match your own mobile number.

Given that UK numbers only consist of 11 digits, that’s a pretty striking similarity.

These calls usually impersonate well-known government organisations, like HMRC or the DVLA, as well as law enforcement agencies. Callers will be pushed to “press 1” to speak with an advisor, or police office. To convince those a little unsure about the cold call, the NFIB says the pre-recorded message will usually tell recipients they need to talk to an advisor about an unpaid fine, police warrant, or something equally intimidating.

After Royal Mail and DHL scams, experts are warning about a new con

In May 2021 alone, Action Fraud received reports of some 2,110 scam calls where the caller ID matched the first seven digits of the victim’s own number. Of these, 1,426 (68 percent) referred to HMRC, or National Insurance.

And it’s not only phone calls to keep a close eye on. A number of victims claimed they received a similar scam using messaging platforms, like WhatsApp. Like the phone calls, the text message would refer to money owed to HMRC, a police warrant, or issues with your National Insurance payments.

Fortunately, Action Fraud – the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime – has come tips to keep you safe.

  • First off, always keep in mind that UK Government and law enforcement agencies will never notify you about unpaid fines or outstanding police warrants by calling or texting you. Do not respond to any calls or texts you receive about these.
  • Always take a moment to stop and think before parting with money or your personal information, it could prevent you from falling victim to fraud. Remember, it’s okay to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you. Legitimate organisations will let you call them back on their official phone number, which can be found on Google or in-store.
  • If you receive a suspicious text message, you can report it by forwarding the message to 7726. It’s free of charge. Meanwhile, suspicious telephone/mobile calls can be reported to Action Fraud via their website: actionfraud.police.uk/report-phishing. This will help to save others from falling foul of the same scam

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This post originally posted here Daily Express :: Life and Style
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Video: Here’s Digital Foundry’s Technical Analysis Of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD On Nintendo Switch

It’s been quite a while since Digital Foundry investigated a Nintendo Switch release, but now John Linneman is back to see how The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD holds up.

He describes it as “more than just a remaster” of the original 2011 Wii release thanks to not only the improved graphics but also the quality of life improvements. The game makes the jump from a 480p output on Wii to 1080p docked and 720p in handheld on the Switch. The framerate is 60fps in most cases, excluding some more heated moments.

In addition to this, there have been improvements to texture qualities, the Wii’s “colour dithering” has been completely eliminated – enhancing the overall image quality, and the loading is also highlighted as being drastically faster. We were equally as impressed. Nintendo also managed to maintain the original look of assets while at the same time providing a higher resolution look.

Have you tried out Skyward Sword HD on the Nintendo Switch? What are your thoughts so far? Leave a comment down below.

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This post originally posted here Nintendo Life | Latest News

Steam Deck pre-order time: Here’s when you can reserve Valve’s new handheld

The Steam Deck is a newly announced portable PC gaming system, which boasts impressive specs and a great price tag. Valve unveiled the Steam Deck as a surprise announcement on Thursday, and pre-orders for the console will be launching today (Friday July 16). Reservations for the Steam Deck will be going live at 10am pacific time today.

For those in other regions that’s 1pm eastern time, 6pm BST and 7pm CEST.

You will be able to reserve a Steam Deck console by heading to the official website on the Steam Store.

Unlike with PS5 and Xbox Series X pre-orders, anyone looking to pre-order a Steam Deck will need to login with their Steam account and pay a reservation fee.

Explaining why they’ve opted for this tact, Valve explained: “The main reason for reservations is to ensure an orderly and fair ordering process for customers when Steam Deck inventory becomes available. The additional fee gives us a clearer signal of intent to purchase, which gives us better data to balance supply chain, inventory, and regional distribution leading up to launch.”

Not only that, to combat scalping Valve are also making sure anyone looking to pre-order a Steam Deck in the first few days reservations are available needs to have bought something from Steam previously.

Valve said: “We are aware of potential unauthorized resellers, and as an additional safeguard to ensure a fair ordering process, we’ve added a requirement that the reserver has made a purchase on Steam prior to June 2021 for the first 48 hours of reservation availability.”

After putting in a Steam Deck reservation, gamers will be placed in a queue and e-mailed when stock is available.

Gamers in the UK, EU, US and Canada will be able to reserve a Steam Deck to start with, with information on expanded region availability coming at a later date.

In the UK the Steam Deck prices start at £349. This is for the console with 64GB of eMMC storage.

The entry level Steam Deck also comes bundled in with a carry case.

For £459 you can get a Steam Deck with 256GB NVMe SSD, which provides faster storage, as well as a carry case and exclusive Steam Community profile bundle.

The most expensive Steam Deck is £569 and has 512GB of fast NVMe SSD storage, premium anti-glare etched glass, an exclusive carry case, exclusive Steam Community profile bundle and a exclusive virtual keyboard theme.

There is also a Steam Deck dock available but this has to be purchased separately.

The Steam Deck console is powered by a Zen 2 + RDNA 2 chip which Valve partnered with AMD to make. The Half Life makers said this CPU will run the latest AAA games.

The Steam Deck comes installed with SteamOS, but the handheld can reportedly be tweaked with to have Windows installed on it. If that’s the case then it could also theoretically run other storefronts, such as the Epic Games Store and Xbox Game Pass.

The Steam Deck can also be connected to a monitor or TV and used as a PC, and will also support peripherals like fight sticks.

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This post originally posted here Daily Express :: Gaming

New York’s official virus death toll is 11,000 lower than what the U.S. has counted. Here’s why.

Sarahbeth Maney/The New York Times

As the Delta variant rips through conservative swaths of the country, some elected Republicans are facing growing pressure from public health advocates to speak out — not only in favor of their constituents being inoculated against the coronavirus but also against media figures and elected officials who are questioning the vaccines.

“We don’t control conservative media figures so far as I know — at least I don’t,” Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, said in an interview on Wednesday. “That being said, I think it’s an enormous error for anyone to suggest that we shouldn’t be taking vaccines. Look, the politicization of vaccination is an outrage and frankly moronic.”

Republican senators who favor vaccination are still taking pains not to mention the names of colleagues, such as Senators Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Rand Paul of Kentucky, who have given voice to vaccine skepticism, or media personalities like Fox News Channel’s Tucker Carlson, who expresses such skepticism almost nightly.

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Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, and Senator Roy Blunt spoke on Tuesday about the slowing pace of vaccinations, calling on Americans to get inoculated in order to protect themselves and others.Sarahbeth Maney/The New York Times

Vaccines are indeed effective against the Delta variant, and nationwide, the numbers remain at some of the lowest levels since the beginning of the pandemic.

Still, with cases ticking upward, driven by localized outbreaks in places with low vaccination rates — Arkansas, Missouri, Texas and Nevada — Republican leaders are talking.

“As a polio victim myself when I was young, I’ve studied that disease,” Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican minority leader, said on Tuesday. “It took 70 years — 70 years — to come up with two vaccines that finally ended the polio threat. As a result of Operation Warp Speed, we have not one, not two, but three highly effective vaccines, so I’m perplexed by the difficulty we have finishing the job.”

“If you’re a football fan,” Mr. McConnell said, “we’re in the red zone. But we’re not in the end zone yet. And we need to keep preaching that getting the vaccine is important.”

Still, when asked about his conversations with vaccine skeptics in the Senate Republican Conference, Mr. McConnell demurred. “I can only speak for myself, and I just did,” he said.

Senior Republicans are clearly walking a fine line. They cannot afford to see a resurgent coronavirus disproportionately hurt conservative voters, who have been fed a diet of misinformation about vaccines by right-leaning news outlets and commentators. But they cannot afford to alienate them either.

Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, said on Wednesday that much of the skepticism surrounding vaccines “is based on conspiracy theories, unfortunately.”

“I do acknowledge the right of an individual to decide whether they’re going to get the vaccine,” he said, “but what I’ve tried to do is encourage everybody to get the vaccine.”

On Wednesday, a group of Republican senators and House members introduced legislation to repeal mask mandates on public transport, dismissing the spread of the virus.

“The viral spread is collapsing and our normal lives are returning,” declared Representative Andy Biggs, Republican of Arizona.

Mr. Cornyn drew a distinction between densely populated urban areas like Houston and Dallas, where he said mass vaccination is vital, and smaller, spread out cities like Odessa and Midland where “social distancing is not a problem, let me say.”

The virus has not drawn that distinction. Some of the fastest growth is happening in smaller cities and rural regions, like parts of southern Missouri and northern Arkansas.

Mr. Romney tried to appeal to supporters of former President Donald J. Trump in those areas.

“People who support him applaud the fact that he moved heaven and earth to get vaccines developed on a timely basis,” Mr. Romney said. “He accomplished that, and not taking advantage of that would be an insult to the accomplishment.”

As to his message to vaccine skeptics in his conference, Mr. Romney said, “They know where I stand.”

Chairs sat empty at a coronavirus vaccination site waiting room in Kansas City, Mo., last month.
Chase Castor for The New York Times

Even as many Americans celebrate the apparent waning of the pandemic, the thrum of concern over the so-called Delta variant grows steadily louder.

The variant, the most contagious version yet of the coronavirus, accounts for more than half of new infections in the United States, federal health officials reported this month. The spread of the variant has prompted a vigorous new vaccination push from the Biden administration, and federal officials are planning to send medical teams to communities facing outbreaks that now seem inevitable.

Infections, hospitalizations and deaths are rising swiftly in some states with low vaccination rates like Arkansas, Missouri, Texas and Nevada, and are beginning to show small upticks in all of the others. The curves have also begun shifting upward in New York City, and the percentage of positive tests in the city has doubled in the past few weeks to just over 1 percent.

Nationwide, the numbers remain at some of the lowest levels since the beginning of the pandemic, but are once again slowly trending upward, prompting a debate about when booster shots might be needed to protect Americans.

The virus has also set off large outbreaks across the globe, from Japan and Australia to Indonesia and South Africa, forcing many countries to reimpose stringent restrictions on social activity. Even in places like Britain, where wide swaths of the population are immunized, the Delta variant has outpaced vaccination efforts, pushing the goal of herd immunity further out of reach and postponing an end to the pandemic.

But scientists say that even if the numbers continue to rise through the fall, Americans are unlikely to revisit the horrors of last winter, or to require booster shots in the foreseeable future.

If Britain’s experience is a harbinger of what’s to come, the overall number of infections may rise as the Delta variant spreads through the United States. But hospitalizations and deaths are likely to be much lower than they were following the arrival of previous variants, because the average age of those infected has shifted downward and young people tend to have mild symptoms.

As important, vaccines are effective against the Delta variant and already provide a bulwark against its spread.

“I think the United States has vaccinated itself out of a national coordinated surge, even though we do expect cases pretty much everywhere,” said Bill Hanage, an epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

“Delta is creating a huge amount of noise, but I don’t think that it’s right to be ringing a huge alarm bell.”

Still, there are likely to be isolated outbreaks in pockets of low vaccination, he and other scientists predicted. The reason is simple: The pattern of the protection against the coronavirus in the United States is wildly uneven.

Broadly speaking, the West and Northeast have relatively high rates of vaccination, while the South has the least. The vaccinated and unvaccinated “two Americas” — as Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the administration’s leading adviser on the pandemic, has called them — also are divided along political lines.

Counties that voted for Mr. Biden average higher vaccination levels than those that voted for Donald Trump. Conservatives tend to decline vaccination far more often than Democrats.

“I don’t expect that we will get close to the kind of mayhem we saw earlier,” said Kristian Andersen, a virologist at the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego. “There are going to be clusters, and they’re going to be in states where you have low vaccination rates.”

In a country that should be able to end its pandemic in short order with widespread vaccination, the Delta variant is well designed to take advantage of the cultural divide. The virus seems to combine the worst features of previous variants, Dr. Andersen noted.

A patient being wheeled on a stretcher to a waiting ambulance outside Elmhurst Hospital in Queens in April 2020.
Ryan Christopher Jones for The New York Times

For more than a year since the coronavirus outbreak, New York State officials have stuck with an approach that has allowed the state to report a lower and incomplete death toll.

The number of deaths reported on the state’s online dashboard, and during Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s coronavirus briefings, includes only people who died at hospitals, nursing homes and adult-care facilities, but not, for example, at home or in prisons. The toll also includes only deaths that were confirmed with a coronavirus test by a lab.

New York’s methodology differs from that of many other states, as well as the federal government’s National Center for Health Statistics, which uses more precise criteria to assemble state-by-state death tolls, relying on death certificates submitted by state health departments.

Now, the effect of New York’s more constrained count has begun to show: The state’s official virus death toll as of Wednesday was about 43,000, compared with the death toll of more than 54,000 compiled by the N.C.H.S., which is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

New York is not alone: At least half the states, including California and Texas, have publicly reported a lower number of deaths than the N.C.H.S.

But other states with lower death tolls were below the N.C.H.S. number by about 3,000 or fewer; nowhere is the gap between the reported deaths larger than the 11,000-death discrepancy in New York, according to a New York Times analysis.

The disparity in the death tolls underscores the lasting and painful difficulties of accounting for the full scope of coronavirus fatalities, even as much of the government’s response has turned toward expanding the vaccine rollout and the nation’s reopening and recovery.

The wide variance in New York also comes as Mr. Cuomo is facing a series of state and federal investigations into his administration’s efforts to obscure the toll of nursing home deaths during the pandemic.

Health care workers moving a woman outside an emergency room overrun with Covid-19 patients in Central Java.
Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images

Indonesia reported more than 54,500 coronavirus cases on Wednesday, its third record daily rise in a row as the country has surpassed India’s current daily caseload.

A seven-day rolling average of daily cases in the two countries showed them running neck and neck, but India’s caseload has been steadily declining while Indonesia’s has been skyrocketing, according to data collected by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

Over the past few weeks, hospitals on Java island have overflowed with patients and residents have scrambled to buy medical oxygen to treat family members at home. Hundreds of people have been reported to have died of the virus at home because of a lack of oxygen and as a result of an overwhelmed health care system.

“Based on the last three days’ data, I can say clearly that Indonesia has become the new epicenter in the world,” said Dicky Budiman, an Indonesian epidemiologist at Griffith University in Australia, who has long urged the Indonesian authorities to implement firmer measures to control the spread of the virus.

Over the past two weeks, the daily numbers of infections have nearly doubled, and on Wednesday, Indonesia reported 991 new deaths.

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Indonesia reported more than 54,500 new virus cases on Wednesday, its third record daily rise in a row as oxygen is in short supply.Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images

Experts believe that the Delta variant is behind the surge in cases in Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populated country. By contrast, India’s daily case count, which peaked at more than 414,000 in early May, has fallen to about 40,000.

The outbreak in Indonesia is the latest example of the widening gap between Western countries and other nations during the pandemic. Countries like Britain and the United States have reopened their economies and so far have been able to absorb a surge in cases with limited hospitalizations and deaths thanks to successful vaccine rollouts. Others, like India and now Indonesia, have lagged behind in vaccinations and face devastating consequences from Delta’s spread.

Studies suggest that vaccines remain effective against the Delta variant, but only 13 percent of Indonesia’s population of 270 million has received one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, while less than 6 percent has been fully vaccinated, according to the Our World in Data project at the University of Oxford.

By comparison, nearly half of the U.S. population has been fully inoculated, and on Wednesday Britain passed the threshold of having vaccinated two thirds of its population.

In Indonesia, most injections came from the Sinovac Biotech vaccine; at least 20 Indonesian doctors who were fully vaccinated with Sinovac have died from the virus.

The neighboring Philippines, which also has struggled to contain the virus, has banned arrivals from Indonesia, and other countries, including Japan and Saudi Arabia, have begun evacuating their citizens from Indonesia.

On Sunday, Indonesia received three million doses of the Moderna vaccine donated by the United States. Indonesian officials said that the first priority for these doses would be to give booster shots to nearly 1.5 million health workers.

A police checkpoint in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, a country in turmoil after its president was assassinated. A sign above encourages efforts to stop the coronavirus.
Federico Rios for The New York Times

The continuing political unrest in Haiti and the recent wave of street protests in Cuba risk making already tenuous efforts to contain the Covid-19 pandemic even more difficult, officials from the World Health Organization warned.

“We are concerned about Haiti, which, in the midst of considerable political turmoil, has seen thousands of people displaced by ongoing violence and instability,” Carissa Etienne, the director of the Pan American Health Organization, which is part of the W.H.O., said, warning that “crowded shelters could become active hot spots for Covid transmission.”

A shortage of medical supplies across the country and the violence sparked by the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse of Haiti last week are also hindering the ability “to safely care for patients in need,” Dr. Etienne said, adding that “in some cases, patients may be avoiding seeking care due to safety concerns.”

Haiti is one of the few countries in the world that has yet to administer any Covid vaccines. On Wednesday, Haiti received 500,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine donated by the United States through the Covax vaccine-sharing initiative, the first doses to reach the country, PAHO said.

Cuba is the latest country in the region, after others including Brazil and Colombia, to experience “waves of protests due in part to the impact of this pandemic,” Dr. Etienne said.

Protesters in Cuba took to the streets in droves this past weekend in demonstrations that have been described as the largest in decades, leading to a stringent crackdown.

“Covid-19 has not just ravaged our health systems, it has fractured social protection programs and destabilized our economies,” Dr. Etienne said.

More than a third of people in the Latin American and Caribbean region are living in poverty and countries must “continue prioritizing health and social safety nets as part of their Covid response,” she added.

In Cuba, which recently reported its highest number of weekly cases since the start of the pandemic, the protests are raising fears that they will exacerbate exposure to the virus.

“The agglomeration of people due to protests for political, religious, cultural or sporting reasons increases the risk of transmission, particularly if, as is the case in Cuba, there is active transmission in many parts of the country,” Ciro Ugarte, PAHO’s director of health emergencies, said.

Throughout Cuba, “all the municipalities are in community transmission” and health authorities have confirmed the presence of the highly contagious Delta variant in several locations across the island, Dr. Ugarte said.

Cuba reported that 27 percent of its population had received at least one dose of either of its two homegrown vaccines as of July 10.

Cases of Covid-19 have also spiked in other Caribbean nations, including the British Virgin Islands, which has seen cases triple weeks after it opened the country to cruise ships.

The region accounts for more than a third of Covid-19 cases and more than 40 percent of deaths reported worldwide this past week, Dr. Etienne said.

The region continues to suffer from a lack of vaccines and only one in seven people in Latin America and the Caribbean have been fully vaccinated.

“Money, more than public health, has determined how quickly countries can secure the tools that they need to combat this virus,” Dr. Etienne said.

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Mayor Sadiq Khan of London said face masks would continue to be mandatory on the city’s subways and buses after July 19, when England plans to lift most coronavirus restrictions.Andrew Testa for The New York Times

Face masks will continue to be mandatory on London’s subways and buses even after the government lifts the legal requirement to wear them on July 19, the city’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, said on Wednesday.

Mr. Khan’s announcement puts the London rules at odds with those announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is pushing ahead with a plan to lift almost all Covid restrictions in England, even as coronavirus infections surge and hospital admissions begin to mount.

Adding to the messaging confusion, Mr. Johnson has encouraged people to continue wearing masks in crowded and confined places even though, under the relaxed rules he announced, it will no longer be a legal requirement.

Mr. Khan, who is in the opposition Labour Party, said that wearing a face mask would be a condition of using London’s sprawling public transportation system, which includes the Tube, buses, overground trains, and light rail networks. Passengers who refuse to put one on will be ordered to leave the system.

“The wearing of face coverings helps reduce the spread of Covid, and crucially gives Londoners confidence to travel — vital to our economic recovery,” Mr. Khan said on Twitter. “My mask protects you, your mask protects me.”

Mr. Khan said that masks would also remain mandatory in taxis and ride-hailing services.

Mr. Khan expressed optimism in television interviews that people would abide by the rules. Most riders on the subway and buses wear masks, but some public-health officials worry that behavior could change quickly if they were no longer compulsory.

Officials in other cities have expressed fears that the government’s relaxed rules will contribute to a further surge in infection rates. In Manchester, the city’s Labour mayor, Andy Burnham, is also weighing a legal requirement to continue wearing masks on the public transportation system.

Mr. Johnson has argued that, with vaccines widely deployed in the adult population, England must stick with plans to reopen its economy fully and shift the emphasis from legal restrictions to personal responsibility.

Nonetheless, the British health minister, Sajid Javid, acknowledged that infections could soar to more than 100,000 a day later in the summer. On Tuesday, Britain reported 36,660 new cases, a 27 percent increase over the same day last week.

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The pop star Olivia Rodrigo spoke at a news conference with Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary. Ms. Rodrigo’s visit is meant to encourage young people to be vaccinated against Covid-19.Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Nixon and Elvis. Trump and Kanye. Biden and Olivia.

On Wednesday, Olivia Rodrigo, the 18-year-old pop star with the No. 1 album in the country, visited the White House and joined the Biden administration’s efforts to use the young and influential to reach the young and unvaccinated.

“It’s important to have conversations with friends and family members,” Ms. Rodrigo said, reading from prepared remarks during a short appearance in the White House briefing room, “and actually get to a vaccination site, which you can do more easily than ever before.”

The White House could not have scripted it better. (In fact, White House officials helped her craft her remarks, according to an administration official.) The “Good 4 U” singer has millions of followers on social media who hang on her every word, and she is part of a growing list of creators, celebrities and influential people who are interested in working with the White House to deliver a pro-vaccine message directly to their respective communities.

Rob Flaherty, the White House director of digital strategy, has been organizing an effort to reach out to people like Ms. Rodrigo and invite them to Washington to create content. The plans for bringing her to the White House, Mr. Flaherty said in an interview, began in June. After she arrived, Ms. Rodrigo wandered the halls of the West Wing with Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, stopping by desks and chatting with officials before it was time to film a series of educational videos with President Biden.

“Not every 18-year-old uses their time to come do this,” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said from the lectern.

Administration officials are hoping the time investment pays off. In recent weeks, as the federal strategy has shifted to more personalized efforts to reach unvaccinated people, the White House has recruited YouTube stars, social media influencers and celebrities who can send the messaging to their own channels. It has also highlighted efforts by popular dating apps to encourage young singles to promote their vaccination status.

Healthy young adults — or “young invincibles” — are historically hard to reach, and the White House has been upfront about the difficulties that officials have faced in convincing them to receive a vaccine. Those hurdles can include an overlapping mix of inertia, fear, busy schedules and misinformation.

Young people under the age of 27 are vaccinated at a lower rate than older people, according to the White House, and were part of the reason the administration said it fell short of reaching Mr. Biden’s goal of partly vaccinating 70 percent of American adults by July 4. Younger people became eligible for immunization later in the vaccine rollout after other high-priority risk groups. Those aged 12 to 15 only became eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in mid-May.

Across the country overall, providers were administering about 0.55 million doses per day on average, as of Wednesday, about an 84 percent decrease from the peak of 3.38 million reported on April 13. its from here and they updated for the day.

The White House is still facing significant barriers to reaching reluctant Americans, particularly in conservative states where officials say they face pressure against evangelizing for a vaccine.

After Ms. Rodrigo left the podium, Ms. Psaki was asked about Dr. Michelle Fiscus, a pediatrician who was Tennessee’s top vaccination official until recently.

Dr. Fiscus has said she was fired from her job after she distributed a memo that suggested some teenagers might be eligible for vaccinations without their parents’ consent. The memo repeated information that had been publicly available on the health department’s website for years.

“And we’ve been crystal clear that we stand against any effort that would politicize our country’s pandemic response and recovery from Covid-19,” Ms. Psaki said.

A mobile vaccination site in Brooklyn last month. In the past week, New York City had a stretch of several days of 400 or more coronavirus cases.
Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Fueled by the Delta variant, daily coronavirus case counts in New York City have climbed in recent days, even as the city seems determined to turn the page on the pandemic.

Just a few weeks ago, there were only 200 new cases a day across the city on average, the lowest level since the early days of the pandemic. But in the past week, the city had a stretch of several days of 400 or more cases. And the test positivity rate has doubled: from below 0.6 percent on average to about 1.3 percent.

Those numbers are still low, but the increase has been swift, surprising some epidemiologists and public health officials who had not expected to see cases jump so quickly after remaining level through June.

With some 64 percent of adults in the city fully vaccinated, epidemiologists say it remains unlikely that the Delta variant will create conditions as devastating as the past two waves of Covid-19. Still, Denis Nash, an epidemiologist at the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, calls the recent uptick “concerning.”

The Delta variant is far more contagious than the original form of the virus that swept across the city in March 2020. It was detected in a few cases in New York City in February during the second wave, but it really made inroads over the past two months. By the end of May, it accounted for about 8 percent of the cases sequenced by the city, and by mid-June, more than 40 percent.

Countries around the world — and many U.S. states — are experiencing a surge as a result of the spread of the Delta variant. In Britain, where vaccinations surpass the U.S. rate, cases have soared but hospitalizations have risen more slowly.

“The metrics to keep a close eye on are hospitalizations and deaths,” said Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr, a professor of epidemiology at Columbia University.

Those numbers have remained stable in New York City. The seven-day average number of daily hospitalizations this week has stayed under 20. The city has recently seen four or five Covid-related deaths a day on average.

Other U.S. cities areas have seen similar surges in infections. On Tuesday, Los Angeles County recorded its fifth day in a row with more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases, with health officials attributing the rise to the Delta variant’s spread among the unvaccinated.

Health officials in New York City have tended to focus on Staten Island, where vaccination rates are below the city average, wearing masks is unpopular and positivity rates tend to exceed the city average. Four ZIP codes in Staten Island have had more than 100 cases combined in the past week.

But case counts have climbed significantly in every borough. In Brooklyn, average daily case counts nearly doubled in recent weeks from under 60 to more than 100. On Tuesday, the ZIP code that had the highest average positive test rate in the city was in Harlem.

Health officials have said that the vast majority of those testing positive have not been fully vaccinated.

So far, the Delta variant has not led the city to drastically change its public health guidance or virus-related restrictions. Nor has it affected the plans of many large companies to get workers back to their desks in Manhattan, according to Kathryn Wylde, president of the Partnership for New York City, a leading business association.

Walking past a mobile vaccination site in Brooklyn on Tuesday.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Vaccines offered powerful protection against the coronavirus in New York City, blunting the second wave of the virus and saving an estimated 8,300 lives between December of last year and July of this year, according to a new study by Yale University epidemiologists released by the city on Wednesday.

The study underscored that the real-world performance of the vaccines can meet and even exceed trial results in preventing virus cases, hospitalizations and deaths, the city said. Only 1.1 percent of the 500,300 virus cases during the first six months of this year were among people who were fully vaccinated, according to data from the city’s health department also released Wednesday in support of the study.

Yet the data was also a reminder the protection was not perfect. A total of 94 fully vaccinated New Yorkers died from the virus between January and mid-June, compared with 8,069 deaths among the unvaccinated, the city reported, though it did not include specific demographic information.

“Vaccines are safe and astonishingly effective at protecting you and your loved ones,” said the city’s health commissioner Dr. Dave A. Chokshi, in a statement accompanying the release of the study. “The stakes are so high, and we simply cannot emphasize enough how urgent it is for New Yorkers to get vaccinated.”

One important caveat is that most of the period of the study was before the Delta variant became the predominant variant in the city, according to the limited amount of genetic analysis of cases being done by the city each week. Studies suggest that vaccines remain effective against the Delta variant, though cases among those who are vaccinated tend to be mild or asymptomatic, the World Health Organization’s chief scientist said this week. Because of vaccines, health experts don’t expect the recent increase in cases to reach the levels seen in New York City’s first and second waves.

The protection of vaccines remains powerful. A Public Health England analysis, which has not yet been peer reviewed, showed that Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was 88 percent effective against symptomatic disease and 96 percent effective against hospitalization from Delta, just slightly lower than against older variants. Moderna also reported on early studies showing only a “modest reduction” of antibody protection against the Delta variant.

The data released Wednesday represented the most comprehensive look yet at breakthrough infections in New York City. In all, the city reported that about 5,300 fully vaccinated people were infected and 583 fully vaccinated people were hospitalized in New York with Covid-19 between January and June.

The picture is more complete than what is being released nationally, as it included mild cases, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it is only tracking serious breakthrough infections that result in hospitalizations or deaths.

Far more vaccinated people, however, avoided the illness. The Yale study, which was done independently of the city’s researchers, used statistical modeling to estimate that the city’s vaccination campaign prevented about 250,000 cases in New York City, and 44,000 people from being hospitalized. The study is not yet published, and has just been submitted for peer review, the city said.

global roundup

Amsterdam in February. New daily cases in the Netherlands increased from 500 on June 25, a day before restrictions were dropped, to over 10,000 on Saturday.
Peter Dejong/Associated Press

New coronavirus cases in the Netherlands skyrocketed by more than 500 percent last week, according to the health authorities, a surge in cases that forced the country’s prime minister, Mark Rutte, to publicly apologize on Monday for having lifted restrictions too hastily.

As new daily cases increased from 500 on June 25, a day before restrictions were dropped, to over 10,000 on Saturday, Mr. Rutte’s government reimposed several measures, including ordering clubs and bars to close at midnight and reinstating a policy to serve only seated and spaced customers.

On Monday, Mr. Rutte said he was sorry about the previous lifting of the measures. “We thought it was possible, but it wasn’t,” he said.

Mr. Rutte’s government had reopened most of the country’s economy on June 26, pushing forward a projected date for easing restrictions by three weeks. Clubs, bars and restaurants reopened under a government-sponsored testing plan that in many cases failed to work because some bouncers and other staff members had not been properly trained. Mask mandates were also lifted except on public transport, in high schools and airports.

In the weeks that followed, the health authorities reported more than 100 superspreader events, including in clubs, on party boats and in student societies. More than 1,000 people were infected at a festival that gathered 20,000 people in the city of Utrecht this month.

As of Wednesday, around 65 percent of the population in the Netherlands has received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, and 39 percent have been fully vaccinated, according to a New York Times tracker.

In other news from around the world:

  • In Australia, the authorities in Sydney said that the city’s strict lockdown would be extended until at least the end of the month after another 97 infections were reported on Wednesday. The restrictions had been scheduled to end on Friday, but an outbreak driven by the Delta variant has yet to subside, leading to an extension of stay-at-home orders and remote schooling for the city of five million people and nearby areas. Gladys Berejiklian, the top official for the state of New South Wales, which includes Sydney, said that at least 24 of the 97 cases were infectious and still circulating in the community. Until that number gets close to zero, she said, the restrictions would have to remain in place.

  • A cruise ship returned to Singapore on Wednesday after a 40-year-old passenger tested positive for the virus, The Straits Times, a Singaporean newspaper, reported. Nearly 3,000 passengers and crew members were isolating in their cabins as the health authorities conducted contact tracing. The infected passenger, who was fully vaccinated, was identified as a close contact of a coronavirus case in Singapore and tested positive during the four-day “cruise to nowhere,” which had departed on Sunday, the newspaper reported.

  • Spain’s health ministry has decided to allow pharmacies to sell self-testing kits for coronavirus to individuals without clearance from health clinics, in a bid to better trace the spread of the disease as the country’s virus infection rate has soared in recent weeks.The authorization follows a long political battle over whether pharmacies should be enlisted into Spain’s testing efforts. The central government had opposed the idea until recently, arguing that pharmacists were ill-equipped to handle tests and that encouraging sick people to go to stores to buy test kits might create new infection clusters. The main doctors’ associations of Spain had also long rejected demands that tests be offered outside health clinics or carried out at home.

Administering a vaccine during a home visit in Selangor State, Malaysia, on Tuesday. The state and other parts of Malaysia have been under lockdown for months.
Vincent Thian/Associated Press

A Covid vaccination center in Malaysia was closed on Tuesday after nearly half of its health workers tested positive for the coronavirus.

The center is in the western state of Selangor, north of the capital, Kuala Lumpur. Khairy Jamaluddin, the minister of science, technology and innovation, said on Tuesday that 204 of the clinic’s 453 workers had tested positive after taking tests over the weekend, according to the Singaporean news outlet Channel News Asia. He said that 400 of the workers had been vaccinated.

The center was scheduled to reopen on Wednesday after closing for a day of deep cleaning, and its regular staff members were isolating, The Associated Press reported. Local news reports did not say whether any of the workers who tested positive had displayed symptoms or needed to be hospitalized.

The government’s Covid-19 immunization program said in a Twitter thread on Tuesday that it was difficult to tell whether the infections had occurred at the center and noted that the risk of the workers infecting others was low based on the viral loads of their test samples.

Even though vaccines are good at preventing serious disease and death from Covid-19, it is less clear how well they prevent vaccinated people from transmitting the virus to others.

Malaysia is reporting about 9,000 coronavirus cases per day, and its per capita rate of new infections — 28 people per 100,000 — was the highest in Southeast Asia as of Wednesday. It is one of several countries in the Asia-Pacific region where the pace of vaccination has been too slow to contain outbreaks driven by the highly infectious Delta variant.

Selangor and other parts of Malaysia have been under punishing lockdowns for months, and the restrictions were tightened further across several regions in early July.

Malaysia has approved several Covid-19 vaccines for emergency use, and more than 400,000 doses were administered on Tuesday. Yet only about a quarter of the country’s nearly 33 million people had received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine as of Wednesday, according to a New York Times tracker, and only 12 percent have been fully vaccinated.

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This post originally posted here usnews

There’s another text message scam plaguing UK mobile numbers, here’s what you need to do

People across the UK should be on the lookout for a new text scam. A number of people have received messages telling them that they have missed a call and now have a voicemail waiting for them. The text also includes a link, supposedly to play the recorded message. 

However, the link sends users to a website designed to steal sensitive personal information, like credit or debit card numbers, emails or passwords. Hackers can then use this data to break into online accounts, or to attempt another scam – by pretending to be your bank. Scam artists can use some of the details you’ve provided to them, like a credit card number, to trick you into thinking it’s a legitimate call from your bank and providing them with the last missing parts of the information – like the CVV number on the back of the card, or the answer to a security question to access your online accounts.

The spate of messages claiming that “you have received a new voicemail” are part of an ongoing flood of text scams plaguing the UK. The pandemic has forced millions of us to work from home and change our habits. It has pushed more people to rely on web services, such as online banking apps, online supermarket shops, and more. That has created a greater opportunity for scam artists.

And they’ve seized that opportunity with both hands. 

Make sure everyone you know is aware of this NHS COVID-19 text scam

Mobile networks EE, Three and Vodafone all warned customers about the flood of fraud texts. Text messages designed to look like a missed delivery notification complete with a link to reschedule the parcel were sent to thousands across the UK. With a quick skim-read, it can be easy to fall for these scams. We’ve all ordered something online and then promptly forgotten about it.

And if there are delays with stock or slow shipping, it can be easy to forget when an order is due. Not only that, but if you need to leave the house to collect kids from school or grab some shopping, you’ll want to know exactly when that doorbell is going to ring. These text messages prey on our forgetfulness to trick us into following the link.

Other versions of these scams don’t mention tracking with the link, but instead, push users to click the URL to settle unpaid postage on the package.

Between June 2020 and January 2021 alone, Action Fraud – the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime – received 2,867 crime reports mentioning delivery firm DPD. Similar scams involving Royal Mail, Hermes, and other courier brands have also circulated in the same timeframe.

This concerning trend is known as smishing – a portmanteau of scam messaging.

The Money Advice Service warns that “smishing can be difficult to spot, particularly if it’s someone who would normally contact you by text. But, like email scams, there are some tell-tale signs. For example, there might be spelling mistakes or the text just addresses you as Sir or Madam. Real messages from these companies will usually address you by your full name.

“You can also look at the phone number it’s been sent from. First, it won’t be the same as the one on your bank card. Second, it might be sent from an overseas number. Fraudsters won’t just pretend to be your bank. Sometimes they’ll claim to be from an online account such as PayPal, or a service you subscribe to, such as Netflix. Fake text message scams have also been reported targeting customers of government organisations such as HMRC and the DVLA.”

The Money Advice Service, which is the largest single funder of debt advice nationwide, warns anyone who is suspicious of these messages to avoid clicking on any links found in the text. If in doubt, go directly to the website and login as normal – navigating to the Hermes website separately and inputting the order number from the text will soon rumble it as a fake. And since you didn’t follow the link from the text message, you can be sure you’re on the genuine website and your bank details are safe, for example.

If it’s already too late and you’ve fallen for one of these growing number of text messages, you need to act fast. First up, report the scam to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040. If you’ve entered your payment details into a website or online form that you believe was set-up by hackers, you should contact your bank to flag the mistake. This ensures they will be on high alert for any potential fraud.

It also means they can provide you with a new card if they believe the details are already compromised.

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This post originally posted here Daily Express :: Life and Style
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Ready for the Olympics? Here’s a complete list of Olympians with New Jersey ties

Ready for the Olympics

New Jersey doesn’t have the most Olympians. That honor falls to California, with 126 among the 613 athletes formally introduced on July 13.

The Garden State might not bring home the most medals, either. But there’s plenty of Olympic spirit from Alpine to Cape May — and not all of it supporting Team USA.

Meet the athletes at the 2021 Olympics in Japan with ties back to New Jersey. Events will begin July 21, with the Opening Ceremonies scheduled for July 23.

Edrice “Bam” Adebayo

Basketball, United States

The Miami Heat’s 6-foot-9 center/forward was born in Newark, but grew up in Pinetown, North Carolina.

Named North Carolina’s Mr. Basketball and the Gatorade North Carolina Player of the Year, Adebayo attended the University of Kentucky for one season, and was selected No. 14 overall by Miami in the 2017 NBA Draft. A 2020 NBA All-Star, he averaged 18.7 points, nine rebounds and 5.4 assists per game.

Lizzie Bird

Steeplechase, Great Britain

Bird set the British national record in the 3,000-meter steeplechase (9:22.8) on July 10 at the Wanda Diamond League Meet, improving her personal best by almost four seconds.

A Princeton alumna (2017), Bird qualified for Team Great Britain by winning the steeplechase at the British Athletics Championships in Manchester, England on June 26. She was a two-time Ivy League champion and four-time NCAA Regional qualifier in the steeplechase. The Ivy cross country champion in 2015, Bird holds the Princeton indoor record in the mile.

Colton Brown

Judo, United States

Brown, a 2009 Piscataway High School graduate, will be competing in his second Olympics at the 90kg weight class.

He has competed in three World Championships and two Senior World Championships, and most recently finished in fifth place at the Pan-American Senior Championships in April.

Claire Collins

Rowing, United States

A Princeton University alumna (2019), Collins will be part of the United States women’s four.

A California native who grew up in McLean, Virginia, Collins helped the Tigers win four straight Ivy titles. She was a four-time All-Ivy honoree and three-time All-American, and was nominated as NCAA Woman of the Year.

Fencing, United States

A Riverdale resident who attended Pompton Lakes High School, Dubrovich will compete in foil for the United States women’s fencing team.

Dubrovich was a three-time NCAA first-team All-American (2013, 2014, 2016) at Columbia University and won three NCAA tournament medals and two NCAA team titles. While at Pompton Lakes, she won the 2010 NJSIAA foil championship.

Tracy Eisser

Rowing, United States

Bergen County native Tracy Eisser will compete in her second Olympics after partnering with Megan Kalmoe to win the women’s pair final at the U.S. Olympic team trials in June in West Windsor. Rowing will be held in late July at the Sea Forest Waterway in Tokyo Bay.

Eisser, a 31-year-old who trains out of U.S. Rowing’s Princeton headquarters, calls women’s pair the event that she is “most passionate about.” At the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, the Fair Lawn High and Cornell graduate was fifth in the quadruple sculls.

Nic Fink

Swimming, United States

Fink, a Pingry and University of Georgia graduate, made Team USA for the first time at age 27, winning the 200-meter breaststroke (2:07.55) in a 1-2 finish with club teammate Andrew Wilson.

Fink failed to finish in the top two at either the 2012 or 2016 Trials, and he had another heartbreak with a third-place showing in the 100 breast a few days before he finally qualified.

Baseball, United States

A Toms River native, Frazier will be Team USA’s starting third baseman in his first Olympics. He became available after the Pittsburgh Pirates designated him for assignment in May.

Frazier first emerged to the national stage in 1998 when he led Toms River East to the Little League World Series title. He led Toms River South High School to two consecutive Group 3 titles in 2002 and 2003 before starring at Rutgers and winning Big East Player of the Year in 2007. He’s enjoyed a successful MLB career and owns 218 home runs and 639 RBI for his career.

English Gardner

Track and field, United States

The 2010 Eastern Regional graduate is heading to her second Olympics after being selected to the 4×100 relay pool after placing sixth in the 100-meter dash trials.

Philadelphia born and an Oregon alumna, Gardner was part of the gold-medal winning 4×100 relay at the 2016 games and placed seventh in the 100. She’s won two World Championship silvers with the relay as well (2013, 2015). Gardner is a two-time NCAA champion in the 100 (2012, 2013) and two-time winner at the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships (2013, 2016).

Alen Hadzic

Fencing, United States

A Paterson native, Hadzic was a two-time NJSIAA champion and three-time district champion at Montclair before heading to Columbia University. Hadzic was the runner-up at the 2013 NCAA Championships in men’s epee and earned first team All-American honors.

Hadzic won the men’s epee competition at the North American Cup in May to qualify as the replacement athlete for the men’s epee Olympic team. As a replacement athlete, Hadzic trains with the team and travels to the Olympics but only competes if a team member suffers an injury or is unable to compete.

Mohamed Hamza

Fencing, Egypt

A rising junior at Princeton University, Hamza will represent Egypt in the foil individual and team competitions. He helped Egypt finish seventh in the team event at the 2016 Olympics.

Hamza finished sixth at the 2019 NCAA Championships, and was named second team All-Ivy League.

Tobin Heath

Soccer, United States

The forward will be competing in her fourth Olympics and will be looking to win her third gold medal after winning in 2008 in Beijing and 2012 in London.

Heath, who graduated from Ridge High School in 2006, has won two World Cup titles, in 2015 and 2019, and has won two NWSL championships with the Portland Thorns.

Katharine Holmes

Fencing, United States

A four-time All-American in epee at Princeton University, Holmes finished second, third and seventh at four NCAA Championships appearances. She helped the United States finish fifth in team epee at the 2016 Olympics, and advanced to the round of 32 individually.

Ashleigh Johnson

Water polo, United States

Johnson was the first Princeton University women’s water polo player to be named first team All-America, and third to be selected in each of her four seasons. The Tigers’ goalie finished her college career with a 100-17 record, along with a school-record 1,362 saves and a .693 save percentage.

A member of the 2016 gold-medal American Olympic team, Johnson grew up in Miami.

Patrick Kivlehan

Baseball, United States

Kivlehan, a West Nyack, N.Y. native and former St. Joseph football and baseball standout, is an outfielder on the United States baseball team. The former Rutgers star played in 43 football games in four years as a safety for the Scarlet Knights and only one season on the baseball team. He was selected in the fourth round of the 2012 MLB Draft by the Seattle Mariners.

Kivlehan, 31, has played in the majors with the San Diego Padres, Cincinnati Reds and Arizona Diamondbacks. He’s currently with the El Paso Chihuahuas, the Triple-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres.

Alexia Lacatena

Softball, Italy

Lacatena, a recent graduate of Lenape Valley who has signed a National Letter of Intent with Kentucky, will pitch for the Italian national softball team.

Though Lacatena grew up in Byram and doesn’t speak Italian, she was eligible to play for Italy through her parents, Maria and Dominic. She followed her eldest sister, Maria, onto the national team.

Carli Lloyd

Soccer, United States

The 2001 Delran grad is going to her fourth consecutive Olympic Games and is hoping to win her third gold medal as a member of the U.S. women’s national soccer team (2008, 2012).

A Rutgers alumna who set school records for career points (117) and goals (50), Lloyd is one of the most decorated players in U.S. history. She’s received numerous honors including U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year (2008), FIFA World Player of the Year (2015), CONCACAF Women’s Player of the Year (2015), IFFHS World’s Best Woman Playmaker (2015) and IFFHS CONCACAF Best Woman Player of the Decade (2011-2020).

She’s been a part of two World Cup winning teams (2015, 2019), and in 2015 she won the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player. On June 14, at 38 years and 332 days old, she became the oldest goal scorer in USWNT history during a 4-0 win over Jamaica.

Sam Mattis

Track and field, United States

The East Brunswick High School graduate reigning U.S. champion and earned his spot on the Olympic team after finishing third in the discus at the USA Track & Field trials with a distance of 205-1.

The three-time NJSIAA Meet of Champions winner still holds the meet record in discus with a distance of 218-4, set in 2012.

Sydney McLaughlin

Track and field, United States

The Dunellen native and Union Catholic graduate is headed to her second Olympics after qualifying for the 400-meter hurdles in a world-record 51.9 seconds. McLaughlin broke the old record of 52.16 previously set by Dalilah Muhammad, who finished second (52.42).

McLaughlin won the silver medal at the 2019 World Championships. She was youngest athlete to qualify for the U.S. track and field team four years ago, finishing third at the USATF Trials at age 16.

Nick Mead

Rowing, United States

Mead helped Princeton University win three medals at the IRA Championships, including 2V silver in 2014 and two bronze in the varsity eight in 2017. He will be part of US Rowing’s men’s eight.

Athing Mu

Track and field, United States

Mu, 19, has competed for Trenton Track Club since age 6, but did not run at Trenton Central High School. At the USA Track & Field trials, she won the 800 meters in 1:56.07, fastest in the world this year and second-fastest by an American all-time. She broke the Olympic Trials record, as well as her own American under-20 record.

Mu, who turned pro after her freshman season at Texas A&M, set NCAA records in the  indoor 600 (1:25.8) and 800 (1:58.4), and outdoor 400 (49.57) and 800 (1:57.73), and anchored the record-setting 4×400 indoors and outdoors. She is a four-time first-team All-American, and captured the NCAA outdoor 400 meter title, and was part of the Aggies’ winning 4×400 indoors and outdoors.

Keturah Orji

Track and field, United States

Keturah Orji qualified for her second straight Olympics by winning the triple jump at the USA Track & Field trials. Orji, a 25-year-old Mount Olive and University of Georgia alumna, broke the meet record by soaring 47 feet, 7¾ inches (14.52 meters) on her final attempt. The record (47-5) had been set in 2004.

Orji is trying to become the first American woman to win a triple jump medal at the Olympics. She was fourth in 2016, the first American woman to reach the final since 1996.

She is the first woman to win four NCAA Division I triple jump titles, and the first field-event specialist to earn the prestigious Bowerman trophy.

Tommy Paul

Tennis, United States

Paul was born in Voorhees Twp., but grew up in Greenville, North Carolina, where he began playing tennis at age 5. He played his first International Tennis Federation tournament in October 2010.

Paul won the 2015 French Open boys’ singles title by defeating fellow American Taylor Fritz. He also reached the final at the 2015 U.S. Open boys’ singles, losing to Fritz.

He turned pro in 2015, and is currently ranked No. 50. Paul lives in Delray Beach, Fla.

Doug Payne

Equestrian, United States

Payne will compete in eventing with Starr Witness. He won the team gold medal at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, and finished fourth individually.

Born in Morristown, Payne got involved with the United States Pony Club at age 7. He graduated from Voorhees High School, and competed on Rochester Institute of Technology’s alpine skiing team.

Payne, his wife Jessica, and their children live in Aiken, South Carolina.

Morgan Pearson

Triathlon, United States

A swimmer at Berkeley Aquatic Club and distance runner at Delbarton while growing up in the New Vernon section of Harding, Pearson became a seven-time All-American at the University of Colorado. He transitioned to USA Triathlon’s Collegiate Recruitment Program, which identifies top NCAA swimmers and runners who have the potential to excel as triathletes.

The USA Triathlon Age Group Sprint National champion in 2017, Pearson qualified for the Olympics by earning bronze at the World Triathlon Championship Series May 15 in Yokohama, Japan. He also earned silver in Leeds on June 6, becoming the first American man to win multiple WTS medals.

Elizaveta Pletneva

Rhythmic gymnastics, United States

Pletevna, 19, will represent the United States in the group competition. Born in Russia, Pletneva lived in Caldwell early in her life. She currently lives in Wheeling, Illinois, and competes at North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center. She finished first in the all-around at the 2021 USA Gymnastics Championships in St. Louis.

Julia Ratcliffe

Track and field, New Zealand

Ratcliffe, a Princeton University graduate (2017) Ratcliffe broke the Oceania and national hammer throw records , throwing 241-3 (73.55 meters) at the New Zealand Track & Field Championships. The 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medalist, Ratcliffe was the 2014 NCAA hammer champion and a four-time All-America honoree at Princeton.

Molly Reckford


Molly Reckford and her rowing partner Michelle Sechser won all three of their races at the final Olympic qualification regatta in mid May in Lucerne, Switzerland, making Team USA in the lightweight women’s double sculls. Reckford grew up in Short Hills, but competed for Phillips Exeter in New Hampshire and then Dartmouth. Reckford’s late grandfather, Bill Spencer, was a two-time Olympic biathlete and long-time coach.

Francesca Russo

Fencing, United States

Russo graduated from Wayne Valley in 2014 as a four-time NJSIAA champion who compiled a career record of 96-4. She also helped the Bergen Fencing Club win a world championship in Croatia, and was a 2013 junior world team champion.

At Notre Dame, she was a two-time national women’s sabre champion (2015, 2017) and led the Fighting Irish to a pair of NCAA team championships. Russo, who now coaches at Wayne Valley, told Wayne Magazine of her Olympic dreams in 2017.

Hannah Scott

Rowing, Great Britain

A recent Princeton University graduate, Scott will represent Great Britain in the heavyweight four. She is a two-time Ivy League champion and 2019 All-American, helping the Tigers to two top-10 finishes at the NCAA Championships.

Kailen Sheridan

Soccer, Canada

The goalkeeper for Hanover-based Gotham FC, Sheridan will suit up for Canada in Toyko. Sheridan, 25, grew up in Whitby, Ontario, and was selected 23rd by Gotham FC (then Sky Blue) in the 2017 draft out of Clemson. She has allowed two goals and posted three shutouts in five matches this season.

Sheridan will play alongside her Gotham teammate, striker Evelyne Viens. Sheridan was an alternate on the 2016 Olympic team.

Equestrian, United States

The daughter of New Jersey rock and roll legends Bruce Springsteen and Patti Scialfa, Jessica Springsteen has made her second Olympic team in show jumping. She was an alternate rider in 2012 but did not make the cut in 2016. A Ranney alum and Colts Neck native, Springsteen is currently ranked No. 3 nationally and 27th worldwide.

Earlier this month, Springsteen told the USA TODAY NETWORK New Jersey, “Being a part of this team is something I’ve dreamed of since I was little, and to do so alongside riders that I’ve admired and been inspired by for years makes it even more special. I am thankful for the continued support of my team, friends and family, and hope to make everyone proud this summer.”

Eliza Stone

Fencing, United States

The first four-time All-American sabre at Princeton University, Stone won individual and team NCAA titles in 2013. Stone has been a volunteer assistant coach since graduating in 2013.

Gevvie Stone

Rowing, United States

Princeton University alumna (2007) Gevvie Stone will row for the United States at her third Olympics. Stone and Kristina Wagner qualified in the women’s double sculls, winning their heat by almost four seconds.

Stone, who grew up in Newton, Massachusetts, was part of Princeton’s undefeated varsity eight in 2006. She won silver in the single sculls at the 2016 Olympics, and was seventh in 2012.

Curtis Thompson

Javelin, United States

A 2014 Florence grad, Thompson is heading to the Olympics for the first time.

Born in Trenton, Thompson was a four-time first team All-American javelin thrower at Mississippi State. He won the 2016 NCAA championship and the 2018 USATF title. He finished first at the Olympic Trials with a throw of 271 feet, 7 inches (82.78 meters). His winning throw was 11 feet, 7 inches, farther than his competitor, which is a record for largest margin of victory.

Khalil Thompson

Fencing, United States

Thompson has been fencing since age 9 alongside sister Kamali, who narrowly missed an Olympic spot herself. The Teaneck native competed in sabre and went on to compete at Penn State for a year before returning to New Jersey. Thompson, 24, is currently fencing and working towards a degree in communications and media studies at NJIT.

Thompson has been a strong advocate for mental health and speaks openly about depression that nearly had him quit fencing five years ago. Thompson was emotional after winning the North American Cup in May to qualify for the sabre team and reach the Olympics for the first time.

Ed Trippas

Steeplechase, Australia

A Princeton University senior, Trippas qualified for the Australian Olympic team with a personal best of 8:19.6 in the stepplechase while competing in Spain. He is the fourth man from Oceania to break 8:20, and is ranked third on Australia’s all-time list.

Trippas’ time is the 10th fastest by a NCAA student-athlete. The Tigers’ men’s cross country captain in the fall, Trippas was the Ivy League steeplechase champion and earned honorable mention All-America honors in 2019.

Anna Van Brummen

Fencing, United States

The first Princeton University woman to win a NCAA epee championship, Van Brummen is a replacement athlete for the team competition. Van Brummen, who grew up in Houston, was a four-time first-team All-Ivy League honoree.

Evelyne Viens

Soccer, Canada

A striker for Hanover-based Gotham FC, Viens will represent her native Canada at the Olympics. She has two goals in seven international appearances.

A bilingual Quebec native, Viens was drafted fifth overall out of the University of South Florida in the 2020 draft. She led USF in goals and points for four years, breaking the American Athletic Conference records for all-time goals (73), goals per game (0.95), points (169), points per game (2.19), shots (360) and shots per game (4.68).

Fred Vystavel

Rowing, Denmark

Vystavel and Joachim Sutton, the coxless pair from Denmark, finished second to the Netherlands at the Olympic Qualifying Regatta in Lucerne, Switzerland. Vystavel, a 2016 Princeton University graduate, is the school’s first heavyweight Olympic qualifier.

Ajeé Wilson

Track and field, United States

The Neptune native is on her way to her second Olympics in the 800 meters.

Wilson is a two-time bronze medalist at the World Championships and advanced to the semifinals at the 2016 Olympic Games.

Her personal best of 1:55.61 in the 800 is an American record.

Rudy Winkler

Track and field, United States

Winkler broke the American record in the hammer throw (271-4) to defend his title at the USA Track and Field Olympic Trials. He finished 18th in Rio in 2016.

The 2017 NCAA hammer champion and 2016 runner-up while at Cornell University, Winkler competed for Rutgers in the spring of 2018 while earning a master’s degree in business and cybersecurity. He is a volunteer assistant with the Scarlet Knights’ women’s track and field program.

Dagmara Wozniak

Fencing, United States

Wozniak, who was born in Poland, graduated from Colonia High School in 2006. She was named to the U.S. Olympic team in 2008 as a substitute and then as a competitor in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.

She finished eighth in 2012 and won the bronze in 2016. She won a gold medal with Team USA in 2014 and is currently ranked as one of the top 10 sabre fencers in the world.

Staff writers Robert Aitken, Josh Friedman, Nick Gantaifis, Lauren Knego, Danny LoGiudice, Greg Mattura and Greg Tartaglia contributed to this report. 

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About one-fifth of Americans were hesitant about or squarely against getting the Covid vaccine, according to a new poll. Here’s what’s changing their minds.

The survey reached back out to people first polled in January to see how their views on the issue had evolved. Those who had decided to be vaccinated after saying they weren’t sure about or didn’t intend to get the shot “often say that family, friends and their personal doctors helped change their minds,” the foundation found.
Most people who’d made firm decisions one way or the other in January hadn’t budged since. Of those who were unvaccinated at the start of the year, only about 8% had changed their minds — the rest either stuck with their initial choice or had started off unsure what they would end up doing.
But those who did change their minds or reached decisions after initial uncertainty often decided in favor of the vaccine. Not only had 92% of those who’d intended to get the vaccine done so, but so had 54% of those who said they planned to wait and see, as well as 24% of those who initially had said they definitely would not get the vaccine or would get it only if required to. By contrast, only 8% who’d been on the fence in January said in June that they’d definitely decided against getting the shot.
Of those who’d decided to get the vaccine after being initially less than certain, roughly half said they had been persuaded by something they’d learned or heard, and 36% said they’d been persuaded by somebody they talked to.
A quarter who’d gotten the vaccine after initial hesitation said they had been reassured to see other people getting vaccinated without ill effects. Many mentioned their families and friends getting the shot; one woman said she’d been convinced of the vaccine’s safety after President Joe Biden got vaccinated.
“I became convinced that some of the rumored side effects were not true,” one Colorado man, a 69-year-old political independent who’d initially said he’d get the shot only if required, told the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Others who eventually decided to get the vaccine cited pressure from family and friends (8%) or a desire to visit loved ones safely (3%).
One woman, a 42-year-old Republican from Indiana, told pollsters in January that she definitely wouldn’t get the shot. This summer, however, she reported she’d been vaccinated: “My husband bugged me to get it and I gave in.”
Reassurance and recommendations from doctors and health care providers also played a role (11%). A 28-year-old Iowa woman said she’d initially held off because she was worried about getting the vaccine while breastfeeding, but heard from doctors that she’d be able to give her baby antibodies.
A few said they’d chosen to get the shot because of restrictions placed on unvaccinated people — one man, for instance, because he needed the vaccination to visit the Bahamas.
About 56.2% of Americans 12 or older had been fully vaccinated as of Monday, and vaccination rates remain dangerously low in states such as Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas, which are also seeing some of the worst daily coronavirus case rates in the nation.
About one-fifth of adults who are still unvaccinated mentioned side effects as their main reason for not getting vaccinated, the Kaiser Family Foundation poll found. Others remained concerned about the vaccine’s safety, or said they didn’t see benefits in getting vaccinated.
“My husband got the vaccine and all the side effects,” said one Californian, a 42-year-old Hispanic woman who said she’d decided against getting the vaccine. “I cannot be sick, I am the rock of the family.”
Although the persuadable share of the public has dwindled since January, it hasn’t disappeared. A tenth of Americans still say they’re waiting to see how the vaccine works for others before they make up their minds.
The KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor surveyed 878 US adults June 15-23, using a nationally representative online panel. All the respondents had previously participated in a January survey. The margin of sampling error, including the design effect for the full sample, is plus or minus 4 percentage points for the June survey.

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We meet a new monster in ‘Loki’ Episode 5. Here’s its comic book backstory

This story includes spoilers for Episode 5 of “Loki.”

If love is a smoke made out of the fume of sighs, what kind of love makes a powerful, massive smoke monster?

It’s a question that everyone’s favorite Loki-with-a-crush does not have time to contemplate as the God of Mischief is quickly urged to run for his life by his new friends instead. Picking up where the previous episode left off, “Loki” Episode 5, titled “Journey Into Mystery,” is packed with plenty of Loki variants that live a perilous life at the end of time.

As explained in the episode by Judge Ravonna Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), individuals and timelines “pruned” by the Time Variance Authority are not destroyed on the spot as it appears. Instead, everything is sent to a void at the end of time where they can’t damage the sacred timeline — because a giant monster is there waiting for more things to consume.

Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is quickly brought up to speed about his new whereabouts by Classic Loki (Richard E. Grant), Kid Loki (Jack Veal), Boastful Loki (DeObia Oparei) and Alligator Loki, who is confirmed to be an alligator and not a crocodile.

Sylvie, meanwhile, is still trying to figure out the truth about the TVA and those responsible for stealing her life. But Ravonna and Miss Minutes are not exactly being cooperative.

Here’s the backstory of Alioth, the monster living at the end of time, as well as some of the most prominent Easter eggs from “Loki” Episode 5.

Loki (Tom Hiddleston, right) just wants to know if the other Lokis (Richard E. Grant, DeObia Oparei and Jack Veal) have a plan.

(Marvel Studios )

Who is Alioth?

The newly pruned Loki quickly learns that the No. 1 priority for his fellow Loki variants in the void is to stay alive by steering clear of Alioth, a giant monster that descends from the sky. Described by Boastful Loki as “a living tempest that consumes matter and energy,” Alioth is what makes sure whatever is sent to the end of time never escapes.

Alioth is also an incredibly powerful — if obscure — creature in the comic books. Introduced in a ’90s comics series called “Avengers: The Terminatrix Objective,” Alioth is a self-proclaimed “Supreme Time Being.”

Similar to its TV counterpart, comic book Alioth is depicted as a giant, purplish cloud and is supposedly the first being to have freed itself from the constraints of the time stream. Alioth feeds on temporal energy and can absorb time travelers as well as entire time periods near the portion of the dimensional plane it occupies.

In comics, Alioth is most closely associated with the villain Kang the Conqueror, a time-traveling genius originally from the 31st century, set on taking over all of time. Numerous versions of Kang have appeared in comics using various aliases, but one trait he is known for is his love for Ravonna Renslayer. (Comic book Ravonna and Alioth also have some history.) Kang the Conqueror is expected to appear in “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.”

President Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and his followers in “Loki.”

(Marvel Studios)

Wait, was that a Thanos helicopter in the background?

Kid Loki describes the void at the end of time as “the place where the TVA dumps its rubbish,” meaning everything from every reality the TVA has determined should not exist gets sent there. This makes the void a prime place to spot Easter eggs from Marvel’s long history and beyond.

One of the items spotted in the background is a yellow helicopter marked “Thanos,” a nod to comic book Thanos, who indeed had a helicopter. Another deep cut from Marvel comics canon, Thanos debuted his Thanos-copter during the ’70s in “Spider-Man.” Yes, one of the most powerful beings in the universe used a personal helicopter in an attempt to acquire a magical cube.

Were there other Easter eggs?

In addition to Thanos-copter, there was a brief glimpse of Frog Thor in a jar trying to hop toward his hammer Mjolnir — clearly a reference to “Thor” No. 365, when Loki turned his brother into a frog.

The episode finally saw President Loki make his appearance, a character teased even in the trailers. Leading up to the 2016 election, Marvel released a four-issue comic book series called “Vote Loki” about his campaign to become president.

Even the episode’s title, “Journey Into Mystery,” is an Easter egg. Modern-day Loki’s first comic book appearance was in 1962’s “Journey Into Mystery” No. 85.

Author: Aalto University
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Vaccinated people can still contract COVID, and here’s how it can happen

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — The Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus is proving to be more contagious, and health care experts say that’s not all.

“Because of the way that it spreads and its contagion, we’ve looked at the data showing that your 2.6 times more likely to be hospitalized,” said Memorial Hermann’s Dr. Annamaria Macaluso Davidson.

Doctors said this is why it’s important to stay vigilant as the pandemic continues.

Davidson added that parents should also pay attention to how their kids are feeling, especially given the fact that kids younger than 12 are not able to be vaccinated.

Even if you are vaccinated, it’s important to stay aware.

A recent church camp outbreak brought attention to the Delta variant, which was discovered in three samples after 125 campers and adults reportedly tested positive for the virus.

SEE ALSO: Delta variant confirmed in samples from League City church group COVID outbreak after summer camp

The Clear Creek Community Church youth ministry camp was held at a facility near Giddings, Texas last month.

“Unfortunately, upon return from camp, 125+ campers and adults reported to us that they tested positive for COVID-19,” church officials said. “Additionally, hundreds more were exposed to COVID-19 at camp. And hundreds of others were likely exposed when infected people returned home from camp. We seek to remain in contact with those impacted. If you, or someone in your family, begins to have symptoms, please seek medical attention immediately.”

Galveston County Health District officials said Friday that they were investigating the outbreak at the five-day event that was attended by around 450 adults and children in sixth through 12th grade. The first case was reported to them on June 27.

Health officials in Galveston County said six of the people who tested positive were fully vaccinated.

It’s called a breakthrough case.

“Someone who is fully vaccinated, they’re expected to be fully protected and yet they still come down with COVID,” said Baylor College of Medicine’s Dr. Stacey Rose. “That’s considered a quote ‘breakthrough case.’ But, that’s to actually be expected, again, because nothing is 100 percent effective.”

Breakthrough cases do happen but rarely, and usually, the symptoms are mild.

“From January to April, you’re looking at .007 percent of people would have a breakthrough case, so that’s extremely rare,” said Davidson. “In April going forward to June, they changed the definition a little bit just to say we’re really looking at those severe cases.”

Davidson said after that change, the numbers dropped to an even smaller fraction of a percent.

If you are among the small group of breakthrough cases, doctors say you need to isolate. For most adults, isolation and precautions can be discontinued 10 days after symptom onset.

Bottom line, doctors said breakthrough cases don’t happen often, if they do, the case is often mild and your best protection against COVID-19 is getting vaccinated.

Follow Marla Carter on Facebook,Twitter and Instagram.

Copyright © 2021 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.

Author: Marla Carter
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