Bitcoin extends gain after retaking closely watched $30,000 mark

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Bitcoin regained some of its footing, climbing back above the $30,000 level that some cryptocurrency traders view as a key support level.


The largest digital currency rose as much as 3.4 per cent was holding at about $30,800 as of 7:30 a.m. in London on Wednesday. Other cryptos advanced too, including Ether Dogecoin, while the Bloomberg Galaxy Crypto Index was also in the green.





“The fear in the market was that if Bitcoin breaks below the $30,000 mark, the price will move lower violently,” said Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst with Ava Trade Ltd. “In reality, that is not what we have seen. The Bitcoin price has been stable, we have not seen any panic selling.”


Bitcoin other cryptocurrencies have tumbled since mid-May, wiping some $1.3 trillion off their market value. Bitcoin has faced a range of obstacles, including stepped up regulatory scrutiny in China, Europe the US concerns about the energy needed by the computers underpinning it. Investors have also generally become more cautious about speculative assets.


Bitcoin may still test the $25,000 support level in the coming weeks, Ava Trade’s Aslam said.


Bitcoin’s advance this year has shrunk to about 6 per cent following a slide from an April record of almost $65,000. That compares with a 15 per cent jump in the S&P 500 index in 2021.


Proponents argue the virtual currency offers an inflation hedge will win wider institutional acceptance. Such narratives were always controversial are now under even more question, though Bitcoin’s most ardent fans continue to predict big long-term returns.


“Regulatory environmental concerns will likely keep Bitcoin heavy but improvements on both fronts should happen before the end of the year,” Edward Moya, senior market analyst for the Americas at Oanda, wrote in a note. He added institutional investors “are ready to place big long-term bets” if a plunge toward $20,000 is avoided.

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‘A systemic failure’: vaccine misinformation remains rampant on Facebook, experts say | Facebook

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Facebook is under fire once again over the proliferation of vaccine misinformation on its platform, after Joe Biden said tech giants such as Facebook are “killing people” for failing to tackle the problem.

The White House has also zeroed in on the “disinformation dozen”: accounts that have been shown to be responsible for the bulk of anti-vaccine misinformation on social media platforms.

And while Facebook has defended itself, saying it has removed more than 18m pieces of Covid misinformation, experts who study online misinformation say it has still largely failed to address the issue that falsehoods about the vaccine are still reaching millions of people.

“Facebook has repeatedly said it is going to take action, but in reality we have seen a piecemeal enforcement of its own community standards where some accounts are taken off Instagram but not Facebook vice versa,” said Imran Ahmed, the CEO of the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), the organization behind the “disinformation dozen” study cited by the White House. “There has been a systemic failure to address this.”

That report from March identified the 12 “superspreader” accounts. A Facebook spokesman said the company permanently bans pages, groups, accounts that “repeatedly break our rules on Covid misinformation”, including “more than a dozen pages, groups, accounts from these individuals”.

In the months since the study was released, the CCDH confirmed social platforms have taken action against members of the “dozen”, removing 35 accounts across social media. They have lost 41% of their followers – 5.8 million – but still have 8.4 million followers total 62 active accounts.

Misinformation experts have condemned platforms for taking down some of the most egregious accounts, but not others. For instance, the anti-vaccine figurehead Robert F Kennedy Jr still has an account on Facebook, despite being banned from Instagram, which is owned by Facebook.

The alternative medicine doctor Joseph Mercola also remains on Facebook, where he has made a number of vaccine-skeptical posts in recent weeks that were reshared hundreds of times by his 1.7 million followers. He has also used the platform to promote his anti-vaccination book The Truth About Covid-19.

Other research has also shown the scale of the problem remains vast. Many posts falsely imply that the vaccine is not safe, not effective, or not worth getting despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. One prevailing, baseless conspiracy theory is that the vaccine implants users with a tracking microchip.

Experts say these posts are particularly prevalent on Spanish-language Facebook – an area of the platform they say Facebook does not devote enough resources to moderating.

“Facebook needs a much better mechanism to stop the spread of false information about the vaccine, they need to make sure they’re doing that across languages,” said Jessica González, the co-CEO at Free Press, a media equity group. She added it is difficult to gauge the scope of the issue when Facebook does not share figures.

According to the social media watchdog Accountable Tech, 11 out of the top 15 vaccine related-posts on Facebook last week contained disinformation or were anti-vaccine. Another leading post on Facebook about the Covid-19 vaccines last week was a deeply inaccurate anti-vaccine rant from the rightwing Candace Owens, according to FWIW, a newsletter which tracks digital ad spends.

And the number one Facebook post in the entire country about the vaccine on Friday was Marjorie Taylor Greene calling removal of Covid disinformation “communism”, according to Facebook’s in-house analysis tool Crowdtangle.

Taylor Greene – who is not named in the top 12 disinformation spreaders but is often flagged for sharing falsehoods about Covid other issues – was temporarily suspended from Twitter on Monday. Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.

Biden’s stark condemnation comes as Covid-19 vaccine uptake is plateauing in the US new cases are again on the rise. The administration missed its 4 July target of 70% of Americans receiving at least one Covid-19 vaccine dose. As of 8 July, only 67% American adults had received one dose of the vaccine, while 58% were fully vaccinated.

Federal officials are increasingly blaming flagging vaccination rates rising cases in the US on social media platforms that have failed to police misinformation tied to vaccine hesitancy. “There is an overarching narrative being shared that the vaccine is not effective,” said Vivek Murthy, the US surgeon general, recently. “Health misinformation is a serious threat to public health.”

A Facebook spokesman pointed the Guardian to a blogpost penned by Guy Rosen, the vice-president of content policy, in which he asserted the platform’s users have shown increased vaccine acceptance rates over the past six months.

“The data shows that 85% of Facebook users in the US have been or want to be vaccinated against Covid-19,” he said. “President Biden’s goal was for 70% of Americans to be vaccinated by July 4. Facebook is not the reason this goal was missed.”

The spread of health misinformation is the latest hurdle for social media firms as they stare down potential antitrust action. On Sunday, the Democratic senator Amy Klobuchar said action should be taken regarding vaccine misinformation.

“Social media has greatly contributed to this misinformation – there’s no doubt,” she said. “When we have a public health crisis people are dying every day, enough is enough.”



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Google Maps’ new features are designed to help you navigate life after lockdown

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Google has introduced a few Maps features that could help you ease back into the world, now that COVID-19 vaccines are available. One of the most useful changes to Maps is the expansion of transit crowdedness predictions to over 10,000 cities in 100 countries. 

Companies are expecting their staff to get back to the office in the near future, crowdedness prediction can let you know if the train or bus line you’re waiting for has a lot of open seats, or if it’s already crowded. That way, you can decide whether to hop on or wait for the next one in hopes that it isn’t as jam-packed. Maps can make predictions by combining AI tech with contributions from people using Google Maps, along with historical location trends.

Google

If you’re in New York Sydney, you can even see a train’s level of crowdedness down to transit car level in real time. Maps will mark the least crowded cars, so you can line up for one of them, thanks to data from transport agencies in the areas. It’s still a pilot at the moment, but Google says the feature will be available in more cities soon. 

In addition, the tech giant has launched a new Timeline Insights tab for the Maps app. So long as you’re on Android you have Location History switched on, you’ll be able to view “monthly trends about how you’re navigating the world.” For instance, that’s where you can see how much time you spend at different places, such as shops or airports, the distance time for each mode of transportation you’ve taken. The tech giant says it developed the feature after users told the company that they want “to be more intentional about how they spend their time” after living through the pandemic.

Finally, Trips in the Timeline tab is now available to everyone on Android, so you can relive the vacations you’ve had in the past. In case your favorite travel destination still isn’t welcoming tourists, you can go to the section virtually visit hotels, restaurants other places you’ve previously enjoyed.

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US life expectancy in 2020 saw biggest drop since WWII

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U.S. life expectancy fell by a year a half in 2020, the largest one-year decline since World War II, public health officials said Wednesday. The decrease for both Black Americans Hispanic Americans was even worse: three years.

The drop spelled out by the Centers for Disease Control Prevention is due mainly to the COVID-19 pandemic, which health officials said is responsible for close to 74% of the overall life expectancy decline. More than 3.3 million Americans died last year, far more than any other year in U.S. history, with COVID-19 accounting for about 11% of those deaths.

Black life expectancy has not fallen so much in one year since the mid-1930s, during the Great Depression. Health officials have not tracked Hispanic life expectancy for nearly as long, but the 2020 decline was the largest recorded one-year drop.

JOHNSON & JOHNSON VACCINE LESS EFFECTIVE AGAINST DELTA VARIANT: STUDY

A couple walks through a park at sunset in Kansas City, Mo on March 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

The abrupt fall is “basically catastrophic,” said Mark Hayward, a University of Texas sociology professor who studies changes in U.S. mortality.

Killers other than COVID-19 played a role. Drug overdoses pushed life expectancy down, particularly for whites. And rising homicides were a small but significant reason for the decline for Black Americans, said Elizabeth Arias, the report’s lead author.

Other problems affected Black Hispanic people, including lack of access to quality health care, more crowded living conditions, a greater share of the population in lower-paying jobs that required them to keep working when the pandemic was at its worst, experts said.

Life expectancy is an estimate of the average number of years a baby born in a given year might expect to live. It’s an important statistical snapshot of a country’s health that can be influenced both by sustained trends such as obesity as well as more temporary threats like pandemics or war that might not endanger those newborns in their lifetimes.

For decades, U.S. life expectancy was on the upswing. But that trend stalled in 2015, for several years, before hitting 78 years, 10 months in 2019. Last year, the CDC said, it dropped to about 77 years, 4 months.

Other findings in the new CDC report:

—Hispanic Americans have a longer life expectancy than white or Black Americans but had the largest decline in 2020. The three-year drop was the largest since the CDC started tracking Hispanic life expectancy 15 years ago.

—Black life expectancy dropped nearly three years, to 71 years, 10 months. It has not been that low since 2000.

—White life expectancy fell by roughly 14 months to about 77 years, 7 months. That was the lowest life expectancy for that population since 2002.

—COVID-19’s role varied by race ethnicity. The coronavirus was responsible for 90% of the decline in life expectancy among Hispanics, 68% among white people, 59% among Black Americans.

—Life expectancy fell nearly two years for men, but about one year for women, widening a longstanding gap. The CDC estimated life expectancy of 74 years, 6 months for boys vs. 80 years, 2 months for girls.

DE BLASIO TO MANDATE COVID VACCINATIONS FOR PUBLIC HOSPITALS STAFF

More than 80% of last year’s COVID deaths were people 65 older, CDC data shows. That actually diminished the pandemic’s toll on life expectancy at birth, which is swayed more by deaths of younger adults children than those among seniors.

That’s why last year’s decline was just half as much as the three-year drop between 1942 1943 when young soldiers were dying in World War II. And it was just a fraction of the drop between 1917 1918 when World War I a Spanish flu pandemic devastated younger generations.

Life expectancy bounced back after those drops, experts believe it will this time, too. But some said it could take years.

Too many people have already died from COVID-19 this year, while variants of the coronavirus are spreading among unvaccinated Americans — many of them younger adults, some experts said.

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“We can’t. In 2021, we can’t get back to pre-pandemic” life expectancy, said Noreen Goldman, a Princeton University researcher.

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In an ICU, a Photographer’s View of a Desperate Covid Fight

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Times Insider explains who we are what we do, delivers behind-the-scenes insights into how our journalism comes together.

As I photographed people in Covid-19 intensive care units early this year, I was protected by four sets of plastic: glasses, goggles, face shield viewfinder. But there is no protection for the pain one takes in.

I captured images for a recent Times article about a last-resort Covid treatment called ECMO, documenting coronavirus patients the medical professionals caring for them at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif. The families allowed me to share in the darkest moments of their lives.

I felt privileged to be let into these sacred spaces. As a journalist, I feel it is my responsibility to have the emotional bandwidth to be with people in moments that most of society cannot handle. Despite safety guidelines that advised against spending long periods inside ICU rooms, I spent hours with each patient, lingering for an extended amount of time to be able to get a sense of the person bring forth an emotional spectrum of moments.

Verbal interaction helps me connect with those I photograph. On this assignment, some people were not awake or couldn’t speak, the most powerful connection was often silent.

I would stnext to the bed of Alfred Sablan, 25, imagine the sound of his voice, trying to sense the gentle manner his mother described. I would lean over the bed of Dr. David Gutierrez, 62, a physician who had become a patient himself, remind him who I was. He would look back, unable to respond with words, but I felt our connection over the classic rock playing on his iPad.

Periodically, a staff member would enter to check on Mr. Sablan or Dr. Gutierrez. “Are you OK?” asked a nurse as she cracked the door of Dr. Gutierrez’s room. He nodded “yes.”

Amid all the pain, there were reminders of grace.

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