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New WHO group may be last chance to find COVID virus origins

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The World Health Organisation says a new taskforce may be the last chance to find the origins of COVID-19

A medical worker takes a swab sample from a resident to be tested for the COVID-19 coronavirus in Wuhan in China’s central Hubei province on May 14, 2020. – Nervous residents of China’s pandemic epicentre of Wuhan queued up across the city to be tested for the coronavirus on May 14 after a new cluster of cases sparked a mass screening campaign. (Photo by STR / AFP) / China OUT

The WHO has nominated 26 experts to join the body, more than a year-and-a-half since the virus emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

The new team will consider if the virus jumped from animals to humans in Wuhan markets, or leaked in a lab accident.

China has strongly denied the lab leak theory.

It follows an earlier investigation from the WHO that concluded the virus had probably come from bats but that more work was needed.

But the WHO’s Director General said the investigation had been hampered by a lack of data and transparency from China.

The WHO has set up the Scientific Advisory Group on the Origins of Novel Pathogens known as ‘Sago’ to lead the taskforce

The proposed members of the Sago group include six experts who visited China as part of the previous team.

Aside from coronavirus, Sago will also look into the origins of other high-risk pathogens.

“Understanding where new pathogens come from is essential for preventing future outbreaks,” said Dr Tedros said.

In a joint editorial in the journal Science, Dr Tedros and other WHO officials said “a lab accident cannot be ruled out”.

Costa is a news producer at ticker NEWS. He has previously worked as a regional journalist at the Southern Highlands Express newspaper. He also has several years' experience in the fire and emergency services sector, where he has worked with researchers, policymakers and local communities. He has also worked at the Seven Network during their Olympic Games coverage and in the ABC Melbourne newsroom. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts (Professional), with expertise in journalism, politics and international relations. His other interests include colonial legacies in the Pacific, counter-terrorism, aviation and travel.

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How the U.S. could respond to a Ukraine nuclear blast

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As concerns grow over Russian President Vladimir Putin’s nuclear saber-rattling, what would a U.S. response look like?

While U.S. officials have stressed there are plans being developed to counter a range of moves by Moscow, they have thus far kept specifics under wraps.

Here are some of the options reportedly under consideration:

1. Economic sanctions: This is seen as the least provocative option, and one that would likely have the most international support. It would also be the easiest to implement, as the Treasury Department has already put together a list of high-profile Russian individuals and entities that could be targeted.

2. Military action: While not off the table, this is considered a last resort due to the risks involved. Possible scenarios include positioning additional U.S. troops and equipment in NATO countries bordering Russia, or carrying out precision strikes on Russian targets in Ukraine.

3. Cyberattacks: Stuxnet-style malware could be used to take down critical infrastructure inside Russia, or disruptive attacks could be launched against government websites and other online resources.

4. Forcefully breaking up Russia’s energy exports: This would involve using diplomatic and economic pressure to dissuade European countries from buying oil and gas from Russia, which is its main source of revenue.

 

5. Supporting regime change in Moscow: While this option is not being actively pursued by the Biden administration, some hawkish lawmakers have called for it. This would likely involve funding opposition groups inside Russia and working to foment popular discontent with Putin’s rule.

 

With tensions between the U.S. and Russia at their highest levels since the end of the Cold War, it’s clear that somethingneeds to be done to prevent further escalation.

The question is, what? economic sanctions, military action, cyberattacks, breaking up Russia’s energy exports, or regime change in Moscow?

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Biden says nuclear ‘armageddon’ threat is back

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U.S. President says the nuclear ‘armageddon’ threat is back for first time since Cuban Missile Crisis

The president was speaking at a fundraiser event, where he said Russian President Vladimir Putin was “not joking when he spoke about the use of tactical nuclear weapons.

U.S. officials have been warning that Russia could use weapons of mass destruction in Ukraine.

But they believe there’s been no change to Russia’s nuclear forces for the time being.

It comes as the leaders of more than 40 European nations convened in Prague to discuss Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Ukraine’s leader Volodymyr Zelensky spoke via video link.

UK Prime Minister Liz Truss says the summit is “not about moving closer to Europe” but “about working with Europe”.

When pressed about her working relationship with Macron, Truss admitted he is a ‘friend’.

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Spectator dead following violent clashes at a football stadium

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One person has died in clashes at an Argentinian football stadium

Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas to stop fans from pushing into the crowded venue.

But that wasn’t enough, with many fans squeezing through fencing to escape the violence and get onto the field.

The incident took place around 50 kilometres south of the nation’s capital

The game was suspended nine minutes into play.

A 57-year-old man experienced cardiac arrest while being transferred from the stadium to the hospital.

It comes five days after 131 people died in a stampede prompted by Indonesian police firing tear gas inside a stadium.

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