What Could A World Without Twitter Look Like?

(FILES) This file illustration photo taken on August 5, 2022 shows a cellphone displaying a photo of Elon Musk placed on a computer monitor filled with Twitter logos in Washington, DC. (Photo by SAMUEL CORUM / AFP)

 

After another chaotic week of mass staff departures and policy reversals, Twitter’s future seems highly uncertain, with users — and everybody else — increasingly asking one question: What would a world without the so-called bird app even look like?

With about 237 million daily visitors at the last count in late June, Twitter’s user base is still smaller than Facebook’s nearly two billion, TikTok’s one billion plus and even Snapchat’s 363 million.

But in Twitter’s 15 years of existence, the platform has become the predominant communication channel for political and government leaders, businesses, brands celebrities and news media.

Some, like New York entrepreneur Steve Cohn, are convinced the Twitterverse is only an artificial microcosm of the real world, with limited actual importance.

Twitter is “not ‘essential’ in any way,” Cohn declared — from his own Twitter account. “The world works just fine without Twitter.”

Few people actually tweet, he went on. “Almost all tweets come from (the) 1%. Most normals never log into Twitter.”

But for others, including Karen North, a professor at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, the site is indispensible for bringing light to little-known conversations.

“Most of the time, people without prominence are not heard,” she said. But on Twitter, “there’s the opportunity to announce things.”

In situations of conflict, social movements or crackdowns, “Twitter I think has become the central platform for being able to disseminate the truth and the ground reality,” Charles Lister, senior fellow at the Middle East Institute in Washington, told AFP.

Like most other social networks, Twitter is also used to spread propaganda and misinformation, and the company has developed moderation tools to try to limit the worst of it.

But their ability to keep up with the demands of such a task has been thrown into question after more than two-thirds of those teams have left since Elon Musk’s controversial takeover.

A 2018 study found that false information circulates faster than posts that have been fact-checked.

“That’s an unrealistic expectation to imagine a platform where misinformation and disinformation is impossible,” Lister cautioned.

But “to see information, good and bad, vanish,” with the potential disappearance of Twitter, “is by definition a bad thing,” Lister said.

“Autocrats and anyone who doesn’t want information widely shared, would potentially benefit from Twitter being gone,” added Mark Hass, a professor at Arizona State University (ASU).

‘Public square’

A Twitter fail could have devastating effects on journalism, experts say.

“Twitter… is really not a social network,” North explained. “It’s a network of news and information.”

“It’s the place, the core hub of where journalists go to get a heads up, or a story idea or a headline or a source or a quote,” she said.

With the reduction of the workforces and budgets in newsrooms, the resources just aren’t there, even at the most well-funded news operations, “to go find sources out in the world,” North lamented.

Twitter, she said, is where much of that work can be done.

Another knock-on effect of a potential collapse of the platform, according to North, is that without Twitter, the world’s rich and powerful stars and politicians will still be able to command the media’s attention, while those less in the spotlight will struggle for attention.

“With Twitter, anybody can announce a story,” she said.

The site functions as a way to share information in real time.

“Twitter has been a vital source of information, networking, guidance, real-time updates, community mutual aid, & more during hurricanes, wildfires, wars, outbreaks, terrorist attacks, mass shootings… etc,” tweeted University of Maryland researcher Caroline Orr.

“It’s not something that can be replaced by any existing platforms.”

For now, the solution for a potential Twitter alternative is not obvious.

“Facebook is valuable, but I think it’s almost a bit old fashioned,” Lister said.

Smaller Twitter competitors are likely to syphon off users, including Mastodon, which has grown in popularity since Musk purchased Twitter.

“But these will likely remain niche, with none of them becoming the public square that Twitter tries to create,” ASU’s Hass said.

He and North both listed Reddit as a possible substitute, though North said the forum-based network is limited by its fragmented and cluttered design that cannot replicate Twitter’s ease of use.

Could a replacement emerge? “Of course,” Lister added, but he noted such ingenuity takes enormous resources and significant time.

“You can’t just do it overnight.”

Trump To Testify In New York Fraud Probe 

In this file photo taken on June 30, 2021, Former President Donald Trump speaks during a visit to the border wall outside Pharr, Texas. Sergio FLORES / AFP

 

Ex-president Donald Trump and his eldest children are scheduled to testify in New York’s civil probe into alleged fraud at their family business from July 15, a court document showed Wednesday.

New York state attorney general Letitia James and her team of investigators will have to conclude their questioning “by the following week,” the filing said.

Trump, Donald Jr and Ivanka have until June 13 to appeal to New York state’s highest court for a stay, according to the document filed by a lower court.

The trio have been fighting in court to avoid having to give evidence under oath in James’s tax evasion probe, which they argue is politically motivated.

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New York state judge Arthur Engoron ruled in February that the trio must testify, rejecting a plea by the Trumps to quash subpoenas issued by James.

She suspects the Trump Organization fraudulently overstated the value of real estate properties when applying for bank loans, while understating them with the tax authorities in order to pay less in taxes.

The Trumps have denied any wrongdoing.

Last month, the former president paid a $110,000 fine for refusing to provide accounting and tax documents as part of the civil probe.

If James, a Democrat, finds any evidence of financial misconduct, she can sue the Trump Organization for damages but cannot file criminal charges.

James’s probe is one of several legal battles in which Trump is embroiled, threatening to complicate any bid for another run for the White House in 2024.

The Trump Organization is also under investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney for possible financial crimes and insurance fraud.

Last July, the Trump Organization and its long-serving finance chief, Allen Weisselberg, pleaded not guilty in a New York court to 15 felony fraud and tax evasion charges.

Weisselberg’s trial is due to begin this year.

Trump, 75, has so far kept Americans guessing about whether he intends to seek the Republican nomination again.

AFP

New York Raises Age For Owning Semiautomatic Rifle

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JUNE 06: Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks during a bill signing ceremony at the Northeast Bronx YMCA on June 06, 2022 in New York City. Gov. Hochul signed a series of gun reform bills, that will strengthen already strict gun laws in the state. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

 

 

New York’s governor raised the age for buying a semiautomatic rifle from 18 to 21 Monday as she tightened gun laws following the racist massacre at a supermarket in Buffalo.

Kathy Hochul approved a package of gun reform laws that had been passed by the state senate in the wake of last month’s shooting that killed 10 Black people.

The measures come amid a spate of mass killings in the United States that have sparked renewed calls for greater gun control laws.

Payton Gendron, 18, is accused of gunning down the shoppers at Tops Friendly Market using a an AR-15 assault rifle that he had bought legally.

As well as being at least 21 years old, buyers of semiautomatic rifles will now also have to obtain a permit, meaning undergoing a background check.

Democratic New York already has some of the strongest gun laws in America.

The new laws also ban most civilians from purchasing body armor, such as bullet-proof vests.

Gendron, a white supremacist, was wearing heavy body armor during his alleged attack on May 14.

Hochul also agreed to expand the state’s “red flag” laws, which allow courts to take away guns from people deemed a risk to themselves and others.

Ten days after the Buffalo shooting, a teenaged gunman shot dead 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

 

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JUNE 06: Gov. Kathy Hochul holds up signed legislation as she is surrounded by lawmakers during a bill signing ceremony at the Northeast Bronx YMCA on June 06, 2022 in New York City. Gov. Hochul signed a series of gun reform bills, that will strengthen already strict gun laws in the state. Passed by lawmakers last week, one restriction includes banning anyone under age 21 from buying or possessing a semi-automatic rifle, among a series of other changes. The bills were passed in the wake of two recent mass shootings where an 18-year-old man fatally shot 10 people and injured 3 in Buffalo, New York and just 10 days later an 18-year old man shot and killed 19 children and 2 adults at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by Michael M. Santiago / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

 

US President Joe Biden has called for new gun-control legislation, including a ban on assault weapons.

At a minimum, Biden has said lawmakers should raise the age at which assault weapons can be purchased from 18 to 21.

But gun regulation faces deep resistance in the United States, from most Republicans and some rural-state Democrats.

US gun violence has killed more than 18,000 people so far in 2022, including nearly 10,300 suicides, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

US Jails Sons Of Panama Ex-President For Three Years Over Corruption

FILE PHOTO: Ricardo (2nd L) and Luis Enrique, sons of former Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli, talk to their lawyer after being detained to face extradition to the U.S. on money laundering charges, in Guatemala City, Guatemala July 6, 2020. REUTERS/Luis Echeverria

 

 

 

A New York court on Friday sentenced two sons of former Panamanian president Ricardo Martinelli to three years in prison on charges of corruption linked to the Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht. 

The sentence against Luis Enrique and Ricardo Martinelli, which also includes a fine of $250,000, is well below the nine to 11 years prosecutors had asked for.

They were accused of having received $28 million in bribes from the disgraced construction group, of which $19 million had passed through US accounts.

The brothers pleaded guilty last December after being extradited from Guatemala to the United States.

Washington had demanded their extradition over accusations of involvement in operations by Odebrecht, which allegedly paid more than $700 million in bribes to Panamanian government officials to win contracts.

Panama is also demanding that the Martinelli brothers face charges there in another corruption scandal.

Their father, who served as president from 2009 to 2014, is himself accused in the Odebrecht case, but has announced his intention to run for president in 2024.

The Odebrecht scandal has hit a slew of leaders across Latin America, and former bosses of the Brazilian company have admitted in court to illegally distributing millions of dollars in bribes in exchange for public contracts.

Gunman Kill 10 In ‘Racially Motivated’ Shooting at US Supermarket

Buffalo Police on scene at a Tops Friendly Market on May 14, 2022, in Buffalo, New York. According to reports, at least 10 people were killed after a mass shooting at the store with the shooter in police custody. John Normile/Getty Images/AFP John Normile

 

A heavily armed 18-year-old white man shot 10 people dead on Saturday at a Buffalo, New York grocery store in a “racially motivated” attack that he live-streamed on camera, authorities said.

The gunman, who was wearing body armor and a helmet, was arrested after the massacre, Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia told a news conference.

Gramaglia put the toll at 10 dead and three wounded. Eleven of the victims were African Americans.

The gunman shot four people in the parking lot of the Tops supermarket, three of them fatally then went inside and continued firing, Gramaglia said.

Among those killed inside the store was a retired police officer working as an armed security guard.

The guard “engaged the suspect, fired multiple shots,” but the gunman shot him, Gramaglia said.

He added that when police arrived, the shooter put the gun to his neck, but was talked down and surrendered.

Stephen Belongia, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Buffalo field office, told the news conference that the shooting is being investigated as a hate crime.

“We are investigating this incident as both a hate crime and a case of racially motivated violent extremism,” Belongia said.

Erie County Sheriff John Garcia described the attack as “pure evil.”

“It was straight-up racially motivated hate crime from somebody outside of our community,” he said.

When asked what information led authorities to term the attack a hate crime, Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said they had evidence indicating “racial animosity,” but declined to elaborate.

READ ALSO: Palestinians Honour Slain Journalist, Reject Joint Probe

 ‘Manifesto’ 

A photo combo of the suspect and Buffalo Police on scene at a Tops Friendly Market on May 14, 2022, in Buffalo, New York.  John Normile / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

 

US media outlets have reported officials are investigating a detailed “manifesto” posted online before the shooting, in which the suspect outlines his plans and racial motivations for the attack.

Quoting from the manifesto, the New York Times reported the suspect had been “inspired” by white supremacist acts of violence, including the massacre of 51 Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand in March 2019.

A semi-automatic weapon used in Saturday’s shooting also had a racial epithet written on it as well as the number 14 — a reference to a white supremacist phrase — according to local daily The Buffalo News, citing a local official.

District Attorney Flynn said in the press conference that the shooter used an “assault weapon” — a term that can apply to types of rifles and shotguns in New York — but did not specify which kind.

Flynn’s office said in a tweet Saturday night that the suspect — identified as Payton Gendron of Conklin, New York — had been arraigned on a charge of first-degree murder, which carries a sentence of life without parole. He is being held without bail.

Asked during the earlier press conference if the shooter could face the death penalty at the federal level, the US attorney for the Western District of New York, Trini Ross, said: “All options are on the table as we go forward with the investigation.”

‘Day of Great Pain’

Buffalo Police on scene at a Tops Friendly Market on May 14, 2022 in Buffalo, New York. According to reports, at least 10 people were killed after a mass shooting at the store with the shooter in police custody. John Normile/Getty Images/AFP John Normile / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

 

Byron Brown, the mayor of Buffalo — which is located in western New York State, along the US border with Canada — said the shooter “traveled hours from outside this community to perpetrate this crime.”

“This is a day of great pain for our community,” Brown said.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said US President Joe Biden had been briefed on the “horrific shooting.”

In a statement, Biden thanked police and first responders and denounced the attack.

“Any act of domestic terrorism, including an act perpetrated in the name of a repugnant white nationalist ideology, is antithetical to everything we stand for in America,” he said.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the senior US senator from New York, said in a tweet: “We are standing with the people of Buffalo.”

The governor of New York, Kathy Hochul, described the killings as a “horrific white supremacist shooting” in a tweet that also praised the grocery store security guard as “a true hero.”

A spokesperson for streaming service Twitch confirmed to AFP that the shooter used the service to broadcast the attack.

“We have investigated and confirmed that we removed the stream less than two minutes after the violence started,” the spokesperson said, adding: “We are taking all appropriate action, including monitoring for any accounts rebroadcasting this content.”

Wave Of Gun Violence 

: Latisha (R), a clerk at Tops market who called 911 when a gunman opened fire at the store, is consoled during services at True Bethel Baptist Church on May 15, 2022, in Buffalo, New York. Scott Olson/Getty Images/AFP

 

The Buffalo shooting follows other recent instances of racially motivated mass killings in the United States.

In 2019, a white gunman traveled hours across the state of Texas and killed 23 people at a Walmart in El Paso, where the vast majority of the population is Hispanic.

Four years earlier, in Charleston, South Carolina, a white man opened fire in an African American church, killing nine.

In both instances, the men posted hate-filled manifestos online before their shooting rampages.

Despite recurring mass-casualty shootings and a nationwide wave of gun violence, multiple initiatives to reform gun regulations have failed in the US Congress, leaving states and local councils to enact their own restrictions.

The United States suffered 19,350 firearm homicides in 2020, up nearly 35 percent compared to 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in its latest data.

AFP

New York Lieutenant Governor, Charged In Alleged Bribery Scheme, Resigns

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – APRIL 12: New York Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin leaves the US District Courthouse on April 12, 2022 in New York City.  (Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

 

 

New York State’s second-in-command resigned Tuesday after surrendering to a federal corruption indictment over a scheme to funnel fraudulent donations to a prior campaign.

The five-count charge sheet said Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin took part in a scheme to obtain contributions from an unnamed Harlem real estate investor in exchange for a $50,000 state grant for a non-profit organization controlled by the investor.

Benjamin, a state senator at the time, was running in what would ultimately be an unsuccessful 2021 bid to become New York City’s comptroller.

“In so doing, Benjamin abused his authority as a New York State senator, engaging in a bribery scheme using public funds for his own corrupt purposes,” prosecutors said in the indictment.

The Harlem developer was arrested in November.

The indictment accuses Benjamin of telling “a series of lies and deceptions to cover up the scheme,” falsifying campaign donation forms and giving misleading information to New York City authorities as part of a background check to become lieutenant governor.

He is accused of bribery and honest services wire fraud and related conspiracy charges, as well as two counts of falsification of records.

Benjamin, 45, is the deputy to Kathy Hochul, who was elevated to the state’s governorship last year after Andrew Cuomo resigned amid allegations of sexual misconduct.

Hochul is not suspected of having known about the allegations involving Benjamin, whom she appointed soon after taking office.

“I have accepted Brian Benjamin’s resignation effective immediately. While the legal process plays out, it is clear to both of us that he cannot continue to serve as Lieutenant Governor,” Hochul said in a statement Tuesday evening.

“New Yorkers deserve absolute confidence in their government, and I will continue working every day to deliver for them.”

The lieutenant governor is expected to appear in court in Lower Manhattan later Tuesday.

The New York State Democratic Party did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Teen Killed, Two Wounded By Stray Bullets In New York City

The area in the Bronx where three teenagers were shot on Friday, one of them fatally.

 

 

A 16-year-old girl was killed and two other teenagers injured by stray bullets in New York on Friday after a man who was arguing with someone opened fire in the street, police said.

New York Police Chief Keechant Sewell told reporters the young woman was returning from her high school in the Bronx, accompanied by another 16-year-old girl and a boy aged 17.

A man on foot in a crosswalk was arguing with someone on the opposite side of the street when he pulled out a gun and fired repeatedly, according to Sewell.

The first teenager was hit in the chest and the other two in the leg and buttocks. All three were taken to hospital, but the most seriously injured, who should have had “a bright future”, succumbed to her injuries, said the head of the NYPD.

The other two teenagers were hospitalized in stable condition.

There have been no arrests but police have CCTV footage and have promised that those responsible will be brought to justice.

It was the second time in a week that young people in New York have fallen victim to stray bullets.

On March 31, a 12-year-old boy was killed in Brooklyn while he was eating in a parked car. A 20-year-old woman was also injured in the same car.

New York’s new Democratic mayor, Eric Adams, a former police officer, was elected in late 2021 on a pledge to tackle crime and the spread of illegal guns in the city of nine million people, where crime has risen sharply since the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.

In the first quarter of 2022 the number of shootings in New York increased from 260 to 296 compared to the same period of 2021, according to NYPD figures released on Wednesday.

Oil Surges Back Up On Russia Tensions

A graphic showing the rising prices of crude oil.
A graphic showing the rising prices of crude oil.

 

Oil prices soared Thursday on tensions surrounding key producer Russia, while global equities mostly rose as markets digested monetary tightening moves by central banks.

The price of benchmark oil contract, Brent North Sea crude, jumped more than eight percent to race past $100 per barrel after Russia rejected a ruling from the UN’s top court to suspend its Ukraine offensive.

“Russia’s invasion is still dictating price action… given the country’s global importance in terms of supply,” Interactive Investor analyst Victoria Scholar told AFP.

The surge in oil prices has added to worries about inflation, prompting a warning Thursday from the OECD that fallout from the conflict could cut global economic growth by over one percentage point in the first year after the invasion.

READ ALSO: Ukraine Asks Turkey To Be Among Guarantors Of Any Russia Deal

Despite together only accounting for “about two percent” of the global economy, Russia and Ukraine’s importance as exporters of raw material, food and energy mean the conflict’s impact is likely to be felt beyond their borders, the OECD grouping of developed economies said.

“If sustained,” the impact would produce “a deep recession in Russia” and further increase global consumer price inflation by approximately 2.5 percentage points, it added.

The warning came as Russia’s finance ministry said it had carried out interest payments on two foreign bonds, avoiding default for now after it was hit by unprecedented Western sanctions.

Central banks 

Central banks were in focus again as the Bank of England (BoE) raised its main interest rate by a quarter point, following the US Federal Reserve’s decision to do the same the day before.

The hike, widely anticipated by analysts, was the BoE’s third straight rate rise as it battles decades-high UK inflation.

“The global economy faces elevated levels of inflation because of various factors, including from surging energy and commodity prices,” said Fawad Razaqzada, analyst at ThinkMarkets.

But US stocks extended a strong rally, with the Dow notching its third straight session of gains over one percent.

Higher oil prices usually weigh on the broader equity market, but stocks continued to benefit from positive momentum, analysts said.

Earlier, London finished 1.2 percent up but the German DAX was off 0.4 percent while Paris edged modestly into the green.

In Asia, Hong Kong’s main Hang Seng index closed with another massive gain, adding seven percent as investors pile back in after China’s pledge to support markets.

China’s top economic official has vowed measures to support beaten-down markets and indicated that a debilitating crackdown on the technology sector was nearing its end.

“The statement addressed so many issues on various fronts, which is really rare,” said Ding Shuang at Standard Chartered.

Key figures around 2040 GMT 

Brent North Sea crude: UP 8.8 percent at $106.64 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: UP 8.4 percent at $102.98 per barrel

New York – DOW: UP 1.2 percent at 34,480.76 (close)

New York – S&P 500: UP 1.2 percent at 4,411.67 (close)

New York – Nasdaq: UP 1.3 percent at 13,614.78 (close)

London – FTSE 100: UP 1.3 percent at 7,385.34 (close)

Frankfurt – DAX: DOWN 0.4 percent at 14,388.06 (close)

Paris – CAC 40: UP 0.4 percent at 6,612.52 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.1 percent at 3,885.32 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng Index: UP 7.0 percent at 21,501.23 (close)

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 3.5 percent at 26,652.88 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: UP 1.4 percent at 3,215.04 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1095 from $1.1035 late Wednesday

Pound/dollar: FLAT at $1.3149

Euro/pound: UP at 84.35 pence from 83.93 pence

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 118.64 yen from 118.73 yen

AFP

At Least 19 Dead In New York Apartment Fire – Mayor

Broken windows and charred bricks mark the exterior of a 19-story residential building after a fire erupted in the morning on January 9, 2022 in the Bronx borough of New York City. Reports indicate over 50 people were injured. Scott Heins/Getty Images/AFP
Scott Heins / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

 

At least 19 people died and dozens were injured when a fire tore through a high-rise apartment building in New York City on Sunday, its mayor said, in one of America’s worst residential fires in recent memory.

Both the New York Times and CNN sourced unnamed officials as saying that nine children were among the dead.

“We know that we have 19 people who are confirmed dead, as well as several others in critical condition,” Mayor Eric Adams told CNN, adding that 63 people had been wounded.

“This is going to be one of the worst fires in our history,” he said.

At least 200 firefighters responded to the blaze, which broke out mid-morning on the second and third floors of a 19-story building on East 181st Street, several blocks west of the Bronx Zoo.

Neighbors spoke of seeing residents desperately waving from floors, apparently trapped and unable to escape.

“It was chaos,” George King, who lives directly adjacent the building told AFP.

“I’ve been here 15 years and it’s the first time I’ve seen something like this.

“I saw the smoke, a lot of people were panicking. You could see that no one wanted to jump from the building. People were waving from the windows,” he added.

The cause of the fire was not immediately clear.

The injured were taken to five hospitals; many suffered from cardiac and respiratory arrest, the New York Times reported.

The blaze comes just four days after a fire in Philadelphia killed 12 people, including eight children, in a three-story public housing building.

In New York, there were fears of a growing toll.

“The last time we had a loss of life that may be this horrific was a fire which was over 30 years ago, also here in the Bronx,” said Fire Marshal Dan Nigro, quoted by NBC News.

Flames quickly engulfed much of the structure, and Nigro said the smoke was so dense as to be “unprecedented.”

Photographs and video posted on social media showed flames and thick black smoke billowing out of a third-story window of the brick building as firefighters operated on a nearby ladder.

“This is truly a tragedy,” said Adams, adding that many residents had been displaced.

“This is really a horrific day for us,” he said.

In December 2017, 13 people were killed in a blaze in an apartment building in the Bronx in New York City’s deadliest fire in 25 years.

Five Cases Of Omicron Variant Confirmed In New York

A sign for a vaccine site stands in Staten Island on November 29, 2021, in New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP

 

The state of New York has confirmed five cases of the coronavirus Omicron variant, Governor Kathy Hochul said Thursday, bringing the total number of US detections of the new strain to eight.

“New York State has confirmed five cases of the omicron variant,” Hochul said in a Twitter post aimed at reassuring residents of the nation’s fourth most populous state that the detections were not unexpected.

“Let me be clear: This is no cause for alarm. We knew this variant was coming and we have the tools to stop the spread,” she said.

“Get your vaccine. Get your booster. Wear your mask.”

READ ALSO: Biden Opens Winter Battle Against COVID-19 Amid Omicron Concerns

It was not immediately clear whether the new cases were in or near New York City — the country’s most populous metropolitan area — and whether they were detected in people who had recently returned from traveling outside the country.

Eight cases have so far been confirmed in the United States, with at least one, in Minnesota, involving a person with no recent international travel history, signaling the strain is already circulating inside the country.

Hochul’s figures followed the announcement by President Joe Biden that he is bolstering his administration’s campaign against Covid-19 as the winter takes hold.

The new measures include requiring all inbound international travelers be tested within one day of flying, and an extension of mask mandates on public transportation through mid-March.

Former New York Governor Cuomo Charged With Sex Crime

In this file photo taken on May 26, 2020 Ex-Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo speaks during a press conference at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) at Wall Street in New York City. (Photo by Johannes EISELE / AFP)

 

Former New York governor Andrew Cuomo was on Thursday charged with a misdemeanor sex crime for forcible touching, a court spokesperson said.

The charge is the first to be filed since the once-powerful politician was forced to resign this year following a slew of sexual harassment allegations.

“A misdemeanor complaint against former governor Andrew Cuomo has been filed in Albany City Court,” said Lucian Chalfen, a spokesman for the New York state courts, describing it as a “sex crime.”

READ ALSO: Biden Announces $1.75 Trillion US Spending Deal Ahead Of Europe Trip

The complaint accuses Cuomo of putting his hand down the victim’s blouse and grabbing her left breast in December 2020.

It was filed by the Albany County sheriff’s office on behalf of New York state.

Albany city court issued a summons ordering Cuomo, 63, to appear in court on November 17, 2021 at 2:30 pm (1830 GMT), according to a statement.

He resigned in August after state Attorney General Letitia James issued a report, which was not criminal in nature, concluding that he sexually harassed 11 women, including former staffers.

“From the moment my office received the referral to investigate allegations that former governor Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women, we proceeded without fear or favor,” James said in a statement.

“The criminal charges brought today against Mr Cuomo for forcible touching further validate the findings in our report,” she added.

Cuomo has strenuously denied the charges and claims he was the victim of a political vendetta.

He gained nationwide adoration last year for his straight-talking daily coronavirus briefings before his spectacular fall from grace.

Forcible touching is a class A misdemeanor that can carry a sentence of up to one year in prison.

AFP

Supply Chain Disruptions Are Slowing Global Recovery, IMF Warns

NEW YORK – OCTOBER 12: People walk through lower Manhattan on October 12, 2021, in New York City. As surging inflation and supply chain disruptions are disrupting global economic recovery, the Washington-based IMF has projected that global gross domestic product will grow by 5.9% this year — a 0.1 percentage point lower than its July estimate. Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP

 

Worldwide supply chain disruptions are driving price increases and draining momentum out of economies recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic, the IMF warned on Tuesday.

The ongoing hit from the pandemic and the failure to distribute vaccines worldwide is worsening the economic divide and darkening prospects for developing nations, the IMF said in its latest World Economic Outlook.

The global economy is expected to grow 5.9 per cent this year, only slightly lower than projected in July, before slowing to 4.9 per cent in 2022, the report said.

But the overall figures mask large downgrades and ongoing struggles for some countries, including the United States, Germany and Japan that are feeling the impact of supply bottlenecks, IMF chief economist Gita Gopinath said.

“This recovery is really quite unique,” she told AFP on the sidelines of the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

Despite a strong return in demand, “the supply side has not been able to come back as quickly,” hampered in part by the spread of the Delta variant of Covid-19, which has made workers reluctant to return to their jobs.

Those labor shortages are “feeding into price pressures” in major economies, she said, slowing growth expectations this year.

Energy prices have hit multi-year highs in recent days, with oil above $80 a barrel, weighing on households.

But Gopinath said she expects energy prices to begin to retreat by the end of the first quarter of 2022.

Darkening prospects

In low-income developing countries, the outlook “has darkened considerably due to worsening pandemic dynamics,” she said in a blog post on the new forecasts.

The setbacks, which she blamed on the “great vaccine divide,” will impact the restoration of living standards, and a prolonged pandemic downturn “could reduce global GDP by a cumulative $5.3 trillion over the next five years,” she warned.

“The dangerous divergence in economic prospects across countries remains a major concern,” Gopinath said.

Advanced economies are expected to regain “pre-pandemic trend path in 2022 and exceed it by 0.9 per cent in 2024,” she said.

However, in emerging market and developing economies, excluding China, output “is expected to remain 5.5 per cent below the pre-pandemic forecast in 2024.”

Amid the danger of long-term scarring, “The foremost policy priority is, therefore, to vaccinate at least 40 percent of the population in every country by end-2021 and 70 per cent by mid-2022,” she said.

Delicate US balancing act

The world’s largest economy has benefitted from massive fiscal stimulus, but the Delta wave and the supply issues have undermined progress, prompting the IMF to slash the US growth forecast for this year to six per cent, a full percentage point off the July figure.

US growth is expected to slow to 5.2 per cent next year, slightly faster than previously expected, but policymakers will face a delicate balancing act amid risks of rising inflation and lagging employment, the fund noted.

Wages also threaten to rise as employers compete for scarce workers, Gopinath noted.

While inflation is expected to return to “more normal levels” by mid-2022 in most countries, it could take longer in the United States, she told reporters.

“There is tremendous uncertainty, we have never seen a recovery of this kind,” she said, noting labor shortages plaguing employers even amid high unemployment, and supply unable to meet demand.

US consumer prices rose 5.3 percent annually in August, more than double the Federal Reserve’s two-percent goal. Markets on Wednesday will be watching for the government’s September inflation report.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said she believes the price increases will be “transitory.”

“But I don’t mean to suggest that these pressures will disappear in the next month or two,” she told CBS News. “This is an unprecedented shock to the global economy.”

However, if higher inflation becomes entrenched, it could force central banks to respond aggressively, and rising interest rates would slow the recovery, the IMF cautioned.

AFP