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Beijing launches South China Sea drills as Biden visits Asia


China is holding military exercises in the disputed South China Sea coinciding with President Joe Biden’s visits to South Korea and Japan that are largely focused on countering the perceived threat from Beijing.

China’s Maritime Safety Administration office in the southern island province of Hainan said the drills began Thursday and will continue through Monday.

It said other aircraft and vessels will be prohibited from entering the area but gave no further details. China claims the South China Sea virtually in its entirety and the crucial waterway has become a potential flashpoint for conflict in Asia.

The U.S. does not take a position on the sovereignty issue but insists on the right to operate freely in the sea and frequently sails warships close to militarized Chinese-held islands in the area in what are termed freedom of navigation operations.

China routinely protests such missions, labeling them deliberate provocations that endanger peace and stability. To assert its claim, it has built airstrips and other military infrastructure atop human-made islands built on coral reefs and atolls.

Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan also exercise overlapping claims in the South China Sea. The Philippine coast guard said Friday it had established outposts on three islands in the contested waters, a move that will likely be frowned upon by Beijing,

Since the beginning of the month, China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, has been conducting a mission in the Sea of Japan. The Defense Ministry described it as “routine training” aimed at boosting performance that is “in line with relevant international law and international practice, and not targeting any party.”

China also flew a pair of long-range nuclear-capable H-6 bombers through the area on Wednesday, Chinese media reports said.

Meanwhile Friday, the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and its strike group left their home port at Yokosuka, Japan, for a “routine at-sea period,” the 7th Fleet said.

The ships and the carrier air wing “are expected to work with allies and partners, promote adherence to a rules-based international order, as well as maintain presence and flexibility to meet the needs of the U.S. Department of Defense,” the Navy said.

While in Japan, Biden will meet Tuesday with fellow leaders of the Indo-Pacific strategic alliance known as the Quad, a group that includes Australia, India and Japan.

The four nations share concerns over China’s growing regional assertiveness and increasingly capable armed forces.

Image: Joe Biden
President Joe Biden waves following a tour of the Samsung Electronics factory in Pyeongtaek on Friday. Saul Loeb / AFP – Getty Images

China views the grouping as a part of a U.S.-led push to impede its economic and political rise and frustrate its attempts to intimidate self-governing Taiwan into accepting its demand to unify with the mainland.

On Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi criticized what he called negative moves by Washington and Tokyo against Beijing during a video call with Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi.

“What arouses attention and vigilance is the fact that, even before the American leader has set out for the meeting, the so-called joint Japan-U.S. anti-China rhetoric is already kicking up dust,” Wang said, according to China’s Foreign Ministry.

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How do you get it and what are the symptoms?


At least 85 cases of monkeypox have been reported in 10 countries across Europe and North America, and in Australia, a rare occurrence for a virus largely confined to central and western Africa.

The U.S. reported its first monkeypox case of the year on Wednesday: a man in Massachusetts. New York City’s health department said Thursday that it is investigating a possible case as well.

As of Friday, France, Germany and Sweden have each confirmed one recent case, Belgium and Canada have reported two and Italy three. The U.K.’s case total is up to 20, Portugal’s 23 and Spain’s 30. Australia reported one case Friday, in a traveler who recently returned from Britain. Most of those countries have more suspected cases awaiting confirmation.

“This is the most important outbreak in the history of monkeypox in the Western Hemisphere,” said Anne Rimoin, an epidemiology professor at UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.

The last time the Western Hemisphere saw a monkeypox outbreak of this magnitude was in 2003, she said, when the U.S. identified 47 cases.

Those patients had been in contact with infected pet prairie dogs, and none died. But disease experts haven’t pinpointed precisely how the virus is currently spreading.

“What we’re facing right now seems to be at least a subset of cases that don’t have any history of travel to one of those countries in Africa where the monkeypox virus naturally occurs, and also don’t report any exposure to someone who has been diagnosed with monkeypox. So what we’re seeing right now is unusual,” said Dr. Agam Rao, a medical officer at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of High Consequence Pathogens and Pathology.

Although monkeypox does not spread easily between people, the CDC is preparing for additional cases in the U.S., Rao said.

“We are telling people this is an emerging issue,” she said. “Some emerging issues end up becoming benign in the end. Other ones escalate. As an emerging issue, we’re asking people to keep it top of mind at the moment.”

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox belongs to the family of poxviruses, which includes smallpox. The disease got its name after scientists discovered it among laboratory monkeys in 1958. The first monkeypox case in a human was diagnosed in 1970.

Since then, most infections have been concentrated in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nigeria. The DRC reports thousands of cases annually and Nigeria has reported more than 200 confirmed cases and more than 500 suspected ones since 2017.

The type of monkeypox identified in the recent U.S. and European cases tends to produce milder disease than the other common branch of the virus.

“All of the virus strains that we’re aware of among all of these cases that have occurred in the last two weeks are the West African clade. The West African clade of monkeypox is much more benign than the Congo Basin clade,” Rao said. “That’s good news in that, hopefully, there will not be a lot of bad things clinically that happen to people who might be infected.”

Around 1 percent of people who contract the West African clade die, compared to up to 10 percent of people who contract the Congo Basin clade, according to the World Health Organization.

Rao said people who get the West African clade “typically recover pretty well” and go “back to their regular lives when it’s over.”

How do you get monkeypox?

Humans can get monkeypox from animals, either through bites or scratches or preparing meat from wild game, according to the CDC.

Person-to-person transmission can occur through the exchange of large respiratory droplets during prolonged face-to-face contact. People can also get exposed through direct contact with bodily fluids, the lesions that form during an infection, or contaminated items like clothing or bedding.

Many of the newly identified cases in Europe are among men who have sex with men, but monkeypox is not considered a sexually transmitted infection.

“It’s probably premature and potentially even harmful to assume that there are only cases within that community,” Rao said.

She added that the overrepresentation of this group may simply be a product of skin-to-skin contact within a tight-knit community.

“There’s going to need to be studies related to trying to isolate virus from seminal fluid or vaginal fluid. There’s really quite a lot of work that would need to be done before we would say that it can be transmitted sexually,” she said.

What are the symptoms of monkeypox?

Monkeypox typically starts with flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle aches and exhaustion. Patients may develop a rash on their face or other parts of the body within one to three days of the fever.

The rash can look similar to chickenpox, syphilis or herpes, but a distinguishing feature is fluid-filled blisters called vesicles on the palms of the hands.

Symptoms can develop anywhere from five to 21 days after someone is infected. Most people recover after two to four weeks.

Following the identification of the first U.S. case, the CDC instructed health care providers to look out for patients with the characteristic monkeypox rash.

“We are recommending that all clinicians do this, but in particular, those caring for patients in STD clinics,” Rao said, referring to sexually transmitted diseases.

So far, Rimoin said, the recent infections “appear to be reasonably mild cases that have been found through clinics, not because people are presenting severely ill to the emergency room.”

What treatments are available?

Rimoin said it makes sense that new cases of monkeypox continue to crop up, since there’s less immunity to poxviruses than there was before 1980, when people still received smallpox vaccines.

“It’s not surprising that we’re seeing infections as a result of exposures, given that we no longer have that immunity that we counted on during the eradication of smallpox era,” she said.

There is not a proven treatment for monkeypox, but doctors can treat its symptoms. Rimoin said supportive care is pretty effective for the West African clade. Beyond that, she said, there are some experimental drugs that have not been widely tested in people.

Doctors who identify a suspected monkeypox case should report it to the CDC, Rao said, since “any potential treatments that might be provided to the patient are really only available through consultation with public health authorities.”

Smallpox vaccines could help control a monkeypox outbreak, according to the CDC, but the U.S. stopped vaccinating the general public for smallpox in 1972. In 2019, the Food and Drug Administration approved a smallpox vaccine that also protects people from monkeypox, but it’s not widely available. Experts think that vaccine could help reduce symptoms or prevent disease if administered shortly after someone gets infected. The CDC website states that “in the event of another outbreak of monkeypox in the U.S., CDC will establish guidelines explaining who should be vaccinated.”

For now, Rao said, the risk to the general population is very low.

“I would not want people to be too terribly alarmed right now and to be changing their behaviors too much,” she said.

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Wagatha Christie trial: New WhatsApp messages between Rebekah and Jamie Vardy from the 2016 Euros released | UK News


WhatsApp messages Rebekah Vardy sent to her footballer husband Jamie during the 2016 Euros have been revealed for the first time, as part of a 300-page bundle of evidence released by the High Court.

Screenshots of the various stars’ private messages and Instagram accounts were submitted as part of Vardy’s high-profile libel claim against fellow WAG Coleen Rooney.

Barristers for both sides finished their closing arguments on Thursday, with Justice Karen Steyn set to deliver her judgment later this year.

The Wagatha Christie case explained

Vardy, 40, took legal action against Rooney, 36, accusing her of defamation in a viral social media post in 2019, in which Rooney accused Vardy of leaking stories about her to the press.

Rooney said she had planted a series of false stories about herself on her personal Instagram stories account (which disappeared after 24 hours) but changed the settings so they could only be viewed by Vardy’s account.

Vardy is suing her for libel, while Rooney is defending the claim on the basis her post was “substantially true”.

Below is the evidence released by the High Court today. It also included images of the trolling Vardy has suffered – all of which is too graphic to publish.

The Vardys and the 2016 Euros

In court, Wayne Rooney claimed he was asked to speak to teammate Jamie Vardy at the 2016 Euros about his wife’s media work.

Jamie Vardy, speaking outside the court, said Rooney was “talking nonsense”.

“He must be confused because he never spoke to me about issues concerning Becky’s media work at Euro 2016,” he said.

New messages, dated 23 June 2016, appear to show that Jamie Vardy wasn’t spoken to during the championship about his wife’s behaviour.

EDITORS NOTE LANGUAGE IN MESSAGES Screen grab dated 23/06/16 issued by Kingsley Napley of text messages between Rebekah and Jamie Vardy after reports Wayne Rooney was asked to tell Jamie Vardy his wife needed to reduce her media presence. This content has been shown as evidence at the Royal Courts Of Justice, London, in the libel proceedings between Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney. Issue date: Friday May 20, 2022.

In one message, Rebekah shares a link to a story that calls her a “distraction”, saying “Seriously???”

Jamie responds: “Not at all babes.”

In a later message, he says “no one [has] said a word” to him about her social media profile.

Messages with her agent

More than a thousand messages between Vardy and her agent, Caroline Watt have been disclosed to the court throughout the course of the seven-day trial.

In his closing statement, Vardy’s barrister argued that while these were often inappropriate they amounted to very little more than gossip between friends.

Hugh Tomlinson also argued that in some of the messages the pair guessed the stories were false – and even speculated about who could be leaking them.

Vardy and Ms Watt “understood” Rooney was trying to catch the leak, he said, and therefore it would have been “reckless in the extreme” for her to have given these posts to the press.

Coleen Rooney / Rebekah Vardy libel trial documents

Much was made in court of the missing WhatsApp file, which Vardy’s team claimed was accidentally corrupted when she tried to export it.

Rooney’s barrister, David Sherborne, said Vardy systematically deleted the evidence manually and then “lied under oath” about it.

However, new messages appear to show Vardy lamenting the loss of the files.

Coleen Rooney / Rebekah Vardy libel trial documents

In other messages, taken from 2020, Vardy appears reluctant to give out her Instagram password again.

Coleen Rooney / Rebekah Vardy libel trial documents

The pair also speculate that an issue with Vardy’s phone could be why she had viewed the stories.

Coleen Rooney / Rebekah Vardy libel trial documents

The warnings

Rooney told the court she posted warnings on her personal Instagram account “many times” from 2017 – but the personal story leaks continued.

Undated handout screen grab issued by Kingsley Napley of a post on Coleen Rooney's private instagram account, referred to in court as the "Pyjama post" which was later allegedly described in an article in The Sun. This content has been shown as evidence at the Royal Courts Of Justice, London, in the libel proceedings between Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney. Issue date: Friday May 20, 2022.

In one instance, Coleen posted an image on her private Instagram of Wayne in bed with their three sons after his conviction for drink driving. She posted a similar picture – without Wayne – on her public account.

The Sun reported on the existence of the private photo, prompting Coleen to post a warning on her page with the caption: “The grass strikes again” and a snake emoji.

Coleen Rooney / Rebekah Vardy libel trial documents
Coleen Rooney / Rebekah Vardy libel trial documents

She later posted a number of other similar warnings.

Coleen Rooney / Rebekah Vardy libel trial documents
Coleen Rooney / Rebekah Vardy libel trial documents

Rooney celebrated after completing her sting operation – and finding which account, she said, was responsible for the leaks.

Undated handout screen grab issued by Kingsley Napley of one of two posts from Coleen Rooney's private instagram made on the day of her viral public post accusing "Rebekah Vardy's account". This content has been shown as evidence at the Royal Courts Of Justice, London, in the libel proceedings between Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney. Issue date: Friday May 20, 2022.
Undated handout screen grab issued by Kingsley Napley of one of two posts from Coleen Rooney's private instagram made on the day of her viral public post accusing "Rebekah Vardy's account". This content has been shown as evidence at the Royal Courts Of Justice, London, in the libel proceedings between Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney. Issue date: Friday May 20, 2022.

The sting operation

Over the course of several months, Rooney posted a number of Instagram stories that could only be seen by Vardy’s account, in a bid to track down who was leaking stories about her to the press.

A number of these have already been released, but now more examples of her sting operation have been made public, including posts about her feeling broody, returning to TV and setting up an events company.

Coleen Rooney / Rebekah Vardy libel trial documents
Coleen Rooney / Rebekah Vardy libel trial documents
Coleen Rooney / Rebekah Vardy libel trial documents
Coleen Rooney / Rebekah Vardy libel trial documents
Coleen Rooney / Rebekah Vardy libel trial documents
Undated handout screen grab issued by Kingsley Napley of a post from Coleen Rooney's private instagram story from the lead up to her so called "Gender Selection". This content has been shown as evidence at the Royal Courts Of Justice, London, in the libel proceedings between Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney. Issue date: Friday May 20, 2022.

The majority of these stories were seen by just one account.

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S&P 500 falls again Thursday, inching closer to bear market territory


The S&P 500 fell Thursday as the benchmark inched closer to a bear market. Investors continued to dump equities on fears Federal Reserve rate hikes to fight rapid inflation would tip the economy into a recession.

The broad market index fell 0.58% to 3,900.79, after falling 4% on Wednesday. The index is teetering on bear market territory sitting about 19% below its record reached in January.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 236.94 points, or 0.75%, to 31,253.13 — a day after it too experienced the biggest one-day drop since 2020 in the prior session, losing 1,164 points. The Nasdaq Composite was down 0.26% to 11,388.50 — following a 4.7% decline on Wednesday.

“The main takeaway for investors is to brace for extended volatility,” said Greg Bassuk, CEO at AXS Investments. “We believe that volatility is going to be the investor narrative for the balance of Q2, and frankly, you know, for the balance of 2022.”

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq are both down more than 3% for the week, while the Dow has lost 2.9%. Those losses were driven in part by back-to-back quarterly reports from Target and Walmart that showed higher fuel costs and restrained consumer demand hurting results amid the hottest inflation in decades. Even after a 24% drop on Wednesday, Target shares were lower again Thursday by 5.1%.

“The sharp sell-off in these companies (as well as other goods/consumer companies this quarter) shows that inflationary pressures are finally having an impact on earnings,” Maneesh S. Deshpande, head of U.S. equity strategy at Barclays, said in a Thursday note. “Despite heightened inflation for a better part of a year, [S&P 500] margins and forward earnings have remained resilient, which no longer seems to be the case.”

Cisco was the latest major company to plunge on results with the tech bellwether down 13.7% on Thursday. Cisco said after the bell Wednesday that quarterly revenue fell short of analysts expectations and it warned revenue would disappoint in the current quarter.

On the other hand, a rebound in some tech stocks boosted the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite at various points during Thursday trading. Shares of Synopsys gained 10.3% in Thursday trading after the software company posted an earnings beat. Shares of cloud company Datadog jumped 9.6%.

Nvidia and Amazon also closed into the green Thursday.

Stocks have been under pressure all year with investors first pivoting away from highly-valued tech stocks with little profits. But the sell-off has since spread to more sectors of the economy, including banks and retail, as growing fears of a recession spooked investors.

A number of notable stocks in the S&P 500 hit new 52-week lows on Thursday. Target shares are trading at lows not seen since November 2020. Walmart shares are trading at their lowest point since July 2020. Shares of Bank of America and Charles Schwab dropped to their worst level since February 2021. Intel shares have fallen to lows not seen since October 2017.

“The issue now is there really appears to be nowhere to hide,” wrote Jonathan Krinsky, chief market technician with BTIG. On Wednesday, “they came for consumer names, but they still sold beaten down growth. In other words, money is rotating into cash instead of between different sectors.”

“While it won’t be a straight line, [this] is confirmation that selling rallies in bear markets is much easier than buying dips,” Krinsky said.

Several Wall Street strategists issued some dire forecasts for stocks should the Fed’s rate increases tip the economy into a recession. GDP in the first quarter decreased at a 1.4% rate so some slowing is already being seen.

Deutsche Bank cut its official target for the S&P 500 overnight, but said a recession would bring even bigger losses.

“In the event we slide into a recession imminently, we see the market selloff going well beyond average, i.e., into the upper half of the historical range and given elevated initial overvaluation, -35% to -40% or S&P 500 3000,” wrote Binky Chadha, Deutsche Bank’s chief global strategist in a note.

During a Wall Street Journal conference earlier this week, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell reiterated his comments that “there won’t be any hesitation” to bring down inflation.

Meanwhile, U.S. weekly jobless claims rose to 218,000 for the week ending May 14, the Labor Department said Thursday, the latest hint that economic growth is slowing.

Sarah Min contributed reporting.

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Elvis and Viva Las Vegas director battled for Ann-Margret’s affections | Films | Entertainment


Ann-Margret blew Elvis away even though she was far from his usual type. The King famously preferred less assertive and more innocent (and often much younger) women. Priscilla had been 14 when they met, and now, still only 17, she found herself waiting anxiously back home at Graceland while reports spread that her man was, once again, romancing one of his co-stars. Only this time was like no other. It was a love and bond that lasted all of Elvis’ life, with Ann-Margret even being invited to his funeral. From the moment they met, the actress beguiled him – but he wasn’t the only one fighting for her affections. Even worse, to his fury Elvis found himself upstaged on-screen – including in the film’s famous last scene.

Sidney and Ann-Marget had already rasied eyebrows canoodling on set on 1963’s Bye Bye Birdie.

Coincidentally, the film was based on a 1960 Broadway musical that had actually been inspired by Elvis’ time in the army. The King was offered the role of rock star-turned-GI Conrad Birdie but his manager Colonel Parker turned it down.

The film catapulted Ann-Margret to superstardom and Sidney’s infatuation was clear from the way he expanded her character’s role. It apparently infuriated leading lady Janet Leigh, who was a major star after the 1960 Hitchcock thriller Psycho, so much that she slapped Sidney.

Their co-star Dick Van Dyke described one moment when he and Leigh walked on to a sound stage to find Ann-Margret sitting on Sidney’s lap. Both apparently looked at each other and said, “Uh-oh.”

Leigh was also furious to discover a new title song had been filmed in secret showcasing Ann-Margret (see below). This pattern would continue on Viva Las Vegas, angering Elvis.

The Viva Las Vegas shoot was a hotbed of passions, with Sidney continuing his adoration of the actress, while she, in turn, began her highly-publicised affair with Elvis.

She later said of The King: ”We both felt a current, an electricity that went straight through us. It would become a force we couldn’t control.”

Friends described Elvis and Ann-Marget sexily cat dancing across a room with him growling, “You’ve got me running,” and her snarling, “You’ve got me hiding.” Elvis even bought her a round pink bed for her apartment in Beverly Hills. 

While Ann-Margret embraced her passionate connection with The King, she also enjoyed the devoted attention from Sidney who, once again, gave her scene-stealing opportunities, favourable close-ups and extended musical sequences.

He even famously managed to squeeze her into the final scene, stealing Elvis’ thunder. Scroll down to see exactly what we mean.

This lead to major confrontations with Colonel Parker and even Elvis himself.

The King was perfectly happy to pursue the Swedish beauty off screen but he did not appreciate being upstaged on screen.

Sidney later said: “We made this picture, no problem. The only problem was Elvis didn’t want the girl Ann-Margret to have any close-ups. He wanted all the close-ups. And he didn’t want her to have any numbers. Well, I said, ‘No… I’m directing the picture. I’ll do it my way.'”

This extended to the famous split-screen final scene where Elvis comes out singing while Ann-Margret dances and poses. They were clearly shot separately and it was reported that Elvis had not wanted to share the limelight so Sidney secretly filmed Ann-Margret and then inserted her (see below).

The drama continued after the film was released.

Sidney said: “Well the picture went out in New York and they didn’t even put his name up above the picture. And they, his people, wanted to sue.”

In the end, Viva Las Vegas was a box office hit and both Elvis and Ann-Margret were praised for their performances.

Meanwhile their affair continued, with the actress using the code name Thumper whenever she called Graceland. When the dalliance hit the gossip columns with reports they were engaged, Priscilla was so angry she she threw a vase across the room and finally confronted Elvis.

Even after the affair ended, Elvis (or EP as she called him) continued to send Ann-Margret guitar-shaped flower arrangements whenever she opened a cabaret in Las Vegas. 

Ann-Margret went on to marry film producer Roger Smith in 1967 and they remained devoted to each other until his death in 2017.

Sidney, meanwhile, soon retired from directing. His final film, the musical Half A Sixpence (1968), is famous for Tommy Steele’s spectacular Flash-Bang-Wallop routine celebrating photography.

He remained a major force in film and television. His first feature film, Anchors Aweigh in 1945, starred Frank Sinatra and famously saw Gene Kelly dance with the mouse from Tom and Jerry. This led to a lifelong involvement with cartoons and he founded animation studio Hanna-Barbera Productions in 1957.

Sidney was called in by studios and directors to consult on film projects right up to his death in 2002.

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Elvis wedding: Last minute snub left Memphis Mafia members furious ‘So offended he left’ | Music | Entertainment


Elvis’ wedding party had assembled at his Palm Spring house the day before and he’d had organised for two planes to take them all to Las Vegas.

Yet The Colonel, who had arranged a press conference immediately after the ceremony, broke the news last minute to some of the inner circle that they would have to sit out and wait for the $10,000 reception afterwards.

The wedding ceremony snub caused a rift between the Memphis Mafia, with Red West being left furious.

He and his wife had been personally invited by Elvis, but the couple were refused entry right beforehand.

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COVID cases up 76% among kids in recent weeks


COVID-19 cases among kids have climbed 76% in recent weeks, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. 

The increase comes as Pfizer’s booster shot for kids ages 5 to 11 was recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — even though only 28% of children in that age group have received their two doses. 

“This current wave of infections among kids could well land a lot of kids in the hospital,” Kaiser Health News’ Dr. Celine Gounder told CBS News. 

It’s not just among kids — infections are on the rise nationwide. In the past month alone, COVID cases have soared more than 168%. New cases are nearing 100,000 per day. Nationwide, hospitalizations are on the rise in 40 states and cases are increasing in 41 states. 

“The reality is much worse because we’re undercounting COVID cases,” Gounder said. “Many people are testing at home, using at-home rapid tests and many people are not testing at all.” 

Some health officials are concerned it could be the beginning of a fifth wave. 

About one-third of the nation lives in areas where COVID infections are at medium or high risk levels. Public health officials are urging some communities with rising cases to return to stricter pandemic measures, including indoor masks. 

In Connecticut, COVID cases are up nearly 118% in the past month. That’s where Bridget Tichar is raising two young, immunocompromised kids. Five-year-old Teddy and 3-year-old Liza have type 1 diabetes. 

“Vaccine is so important to us because it’s basically another tool, another weapon in our arsenal to keep them safe,” she told CBS News. “It’s been wildly stressful the way that I think all parents are dealing with the unknown. That is doubled or maybe even tripled for us.” 

Her son got his first dose on his fifth birthday two weeks ago. 

But Tichar said she feels like parents are only thinking about their own children in making the decision whether or not to get them vaccinated. 

“The vaccine really does save lives and protects lives,” she said.  

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Alan Fletcher: Neighbours star opens up on alopecia battle after fans share concern over hair loss | Ents & Arts News


Neighbours star Alan Fletcher has addressed his recent hair loss after fans shared concern over his health.

The Australian actor, best known for playing silver fox Karl Kennedy on the long-running soap for almost three decades, recently shocked fans after appearing completely bald.

The 65-year-old has now reassured his followers on social media by explaining he lost his trademark grey hair and stubble due to a battle with alopecia areata, which he said caused patchy hair loss.

He wrote on Instagram: “There’s been concern expressed on the web that I am unwell. I can assure you I am fit and well and very busy filming the last episodes of Neighbours EVER!

“I have a disorder called alopecia areata that causes patchy hair loss. I have recorded a video explaining the condition which you can view on my website and on the Neighbours Facebook page.

“Thank you for your concern and support. Fletch.”

In a video uploaded to Neighbours’ official Twitter, he removed his hat to show his new look and said many people would be shocked.

Fletcher said: “I shaved my beard off, and then my hair became so patchy on my head I had to get rid of most of that as well.

“Now UK audiences have seen Dr Karl without hair, Australian audiences will see on 2 June so stay tuned for that.

“I have no problem with it, in fact, it’s kind of fun.

Alan Fletcher and Jackie Woodburne as Karl and Susan Kennedy in Neighbours
Alan Fletcher has played Dr Karl Kennedy for nearly 30 years

Read more:
Karl Kennedy star Alan Fletcher on the final goodbye
Kylie Minogue pays tribute as soap is axed after 37 years

“But one thing I will say is that alopecia areata can be quite serious to people, particularly from an emotional point of view. Sudden hair loss is really troubling for a lot of people, particularly for young people who can be terribly bullied. There is support out there.

“But let me assure you I’m absolutely fit and well and thank you for your concern.”

Fans have also been preparing to see less of his popular character Dr Karl Kennedy as Neighbours comes to an end after 37 years this summer.

The last episode is set to air in August.

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Bruce Willis’s wife Emma Heming Willis reveals ‘toll’ on mental health after Die Hard star’s aphasia diagnosis | Ents & Arts News


Bruce Willis’s wife has revealed her struggles with mental health after the Hollywood star was diagnosed with a brain disorder.

Emma Heming Willis admitted putting her family’s needs above her own had taken a “toll”, but had learned to make space for herself.

The 43-year-old model, who shares two daughters, Mabel, 10, and Evelyn, eight, with the Die Hard actor, also spoke poignantly about how their time together was precious, and she does not take it for granted.

She made her comments to a US parenting website following the disclosure earlier this year that her 67-year-old husband was retiring due to a condition called aphasia, which causes difficulties with language or speech.

Willis told The Bump: “I struggle with making the time for self-care every day.

“I put my family’s needs above my own, which I found does not make me any kind of hero.

“That amount of care for everyone else within my household had taken a toll on my mental health and overall health, and it served no one in my family.

“Someone told me not long ago that when you over-care for someone, you end up under-caring for yourself.

“That stopped me in my tracks and really resonated with me.

“I don’t mother myself perfectly, but I know that I have some basic baseline needs that are a must, like first and foremost, exercise.

“It’s a time I can disconnect and can do something that I know makes me feel good overall.

“I think it’s important to find that one thing that makes you feel good and build from there.”

Actor Bruce Willis touches his new star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles October 16, 2006. REUTERS/Chris Pizzello (UNITED STATES)
Willis was honoured with a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame in 2006

‘Time is precious’

She added: “The girls bring so much love, laughter, and life into our home.

“For us as a family, it’s always been about making memories.

“I’m not even sure we have rituals or traditions.

“We just love spending time with each other, and we know that time is precious, and I don’t take that for granted.”

Bruce Willis has starred in a string of hit films including the Die Hard series, Pulp Fiction, Armageddon, Moonrise Kingdom, 12 Monkeys and Looper.

He married actress Demi Moore in 1987 and had his three eldest children, Rumer, Scout and Tallulah.

The pair separated in 2000, but remained on good terms, and Willis married actress Emma Heming in 2009.

Announcing his diagnosis back in March, Willis’s family said it had been a “really challenging time” for them and thanked fans for their “continued love, compassion and support”.

“To Bruce’s amazing supporters, as a family we wanted to share that our beloved Bruce has been experiencing some health issues and has recently been diagnosed with aphasia, which is impacting his cognitive abilities,” a statement shared on Instagram read.

“As a result of this and with much consideration Bruce is stepping away from the career that has meant so much to him.”

What is aphasia?

Aphasia is a condition that affects sufferers’ cognitive abilities with the most obvious problems in speech.

People with aphasia may make mistakes with the words they use, perhaps using the wrong word, using the wrong sounds in a word, or putting words together incorrectly.

Most people with aphasia have some trouble with their speaking, and a mixture of issues with writing, reading and perhaps listening.

Speech and language therapy is the main type of treatment for people with aphasia.

In some cases, it can lead to isolation, anxiety and depression.

A stroke is the most common cause of aphasia, but it can also result from a severe head injury, a brain tumour or progressive neurological conditions,
such as dementia.

Aphasia can affect people of all ages, but it’s most common in those aged over 65.

Willis has been nominated for multiple awards, including five Golden Globes, of which he has won one, and three Primetime Emmys, of which he won two.

In 2006, he was honoured with a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame in Los Angeles.

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CDC clears Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine boosters for children as young as five


A panel of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s outside vaccine advisers voted nearly unanimously on Thursday to recommend a third dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children as young as five years old, as early as five months after the second shot. 

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky signed off on the recommendations Thursday evening, clearing the final hurdle before the additional shots can be rolled out. 

“With over 18 million doses administered in this age group, we know that these vaccines are safe, and we must continue to increase the number of children who are protected. I encourage parents to keep their children up to date with CDC’s COVID-19 vaccine recommendations,” Walensky said in a statement

Walensky’s decision to clear the additional shots comes as the country is facing a renewed surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations driven by different Omicron subvariants than those that fueled the winter surge. 

A growing share of the country is now seeing levels of disease high enough to warrant masking by all Americans indoors, according to the CDC’s data. Hospitalizations have surged among the oldest Americans, beyond peaks seen during the Delta variant wave last year. 

The CDC also said Thursday it would step up its recommendation that adults ages 50 and older, as well as Americans who are immunocompromised, receive a second booster. 

The groups had previously been allowed to receive the extra dose, but the agency had said some — like those who had survived an infection recently — could wait. Receiving the second dose had previously not been required to be counted as “up to date.” 

“While older Americans have the highest coverage of any age group of first booster doses, most older Americans received their last dose (either their primary series or their first booster dose) many months ago, leaving many who are vulnerable without the protection they may need to prevent severe disease, hospitalization, and death,” the agency said. 

Walensky’s moves comes after a day-long meeting of the agency’s advisers weighing the potential benefits a third dose could offer an age group that has largely survived COVID-19 infections with lagging rates of vaccination.

Less than a third of children ages five to 11 years old are fully vaccinated with two shots of Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine and will become eligible for the booster.

The agency’s surveys suggest vaccine hesitancy has climbed among children, but remains a minority. Approximately 39% of parents of children in the age group say they “probably or definitely” will not ever get their kids vaccinated. 

CDC figures presented to the advisers suggest that around 77% of children in the age group have antibodies from at least one prior infection at some point during the pandemic.

However, those antibodies from prior infections did little to fend off a large wave of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in an age group where the disease now ranks as a leading cause of death. 

By contrast, the agency officials estimated that some 1,000 hospitalizations were prevented by vaccination among the 7.5 million children who have received two shots. 

How long that protection against hospitalization will last for the youngest children is unclear, officials told the group. 

A nurse puts a bandaid on a girl’s arm after administering a pediatric dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at a L.A. Care Health Plan vaccination clinic at Los Angeles Mission College in the Sylmar neighborhood in Los Angeles, California, January 19, 2022. 

ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

Findings from the agency’s ongoing studies presented to the committee suggest vaccine effectiveness against infection declined quickly in children following two doses during the Omicron wave. Vaccine effectiveness against hospitalization also fell among unboosted adolescents 12 to 15 years old, but there was not enough data to confirm whether protection against hospitalization is waning in unboosted children ages 5 to 11 years old. 

“It wouldn’t make sense that five to 11 year olds are the only group among the age eligible for whom a third dose isn’t necessary to achieve a more durable and effective immune response,” Dr. Matthew Daley, head of the committee’s work group on COVID-19 vaccines, said ahead of the vote. 

Like in older age groups, data presented to the panel from 401 children in Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine trials suggests the third dose raised no new safety risks. 

The company also found the third shot offered a significant increase in antibodies, regardless of whether the child had a previous infection. However, that was measured in children who received the third dose as late as nine months after their second shot.  

“The expectation would be that all the antibody responses might be a little bit lower, but they still should be providing additional protection, much as you’ve seen in other populations,” Dr. William Gruber, head of Pfizer’s vaccine research, told the committee. 

Reactions to the third dose were largely mild or moderate, another Pfizer scientist told the panel. Only a handful of side effects – like headache, chills, or muscle pain – were reported slightly more frequently in recipients of the third shot. 

“Data do not suggest potential safety concerns regarding a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine booster for children five to 11 years of age, beyond those previously identified in older age groups,” Dr. Keipp Talbot, head of the panel’s vaccine safety work group, said. 

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